2 July 2007. Monday of the 13th Week in Ordinary Time
Matthew 8, 18-22 Nothing to lay His head
When I entered Sacred Heart Novitiate as a Jesuit novice, the first thing Momok Barbaza did was to show me my new room. Compared to the rest of the rooms, that room was large. It faced the huge balete tree of the novitiate. My mom and dad accompanied me there, bringing my luggage that contained all I needed for a new life ahead. I thought it would be a permanent room. After fifteen days, however, in a heartwarming ceremony called, “The Habit Day,” I would be asked to transfer to one of the rooms at the second floor. The Habit Day, marked by the first soutane we would wear, also marked the beginning of formal Jesuit training.
After a brief semester, we would again move from one room to the other. The bi-annual transfer was called, mutationes. The objective was to let each novice feel that nothing is indeed permanent, except God. It is also to prevent one from being attached to one’s room. It is suppose to make us free; we can sleep anywhere, anytime without complaints. There is nothing we can call our own. Everything is indeed owned by the community. And we live by the grace of God and the generosity of people. This, I believe, is nothing new to all who have known Fr. John Patrick Delaney SJ. He would rely on each household in UP for his meals. He would eat breakfast in one house, and lunch in another.
Jesus said to the scribe who asked to follow him, “Foxes have lairs, the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest His head on.” He meant that following Him had its consequences. There was a price to pay. Jesus would like the scribe to know what he was getting into. You see, the scribe witnessed Jesus preached and healed people. The scribe so admired Jesus that he called him, Rabbi (Hebrew) or Didaskalos (Greek) or Teacher. That address was an honor. The scribe may have been swept away by Jesus’ personality and manner of teaching, but Jesus had to bring him to reality.
There are times in our lives that we are swept by emotions; we become so inspired. For example, after an exhilarating basketball game, an aficionado would like to become a basketball star. But the coach should ask the enthusiast if he is prepared for the training ahead. Or, after a piano concert, a young person would like to become a pianist. He should be prepared for the rigorous practices that come with the dream.
The same way with life vocations. We have to be prepared for a mutationes, a change. If one decides to get married, he or she should be prepared to change their lifestyle to what suits family life; including relocation. If one decides to become a religious missionary, one has to be prepared to move from one place to another where God calls one to be. It may mean in the Philippines, or in other countries. Following Christ is not an easy thing to do. It comes with a package of crosses. It comes with a price. It comes with a feeling of insecurity — a feeling that everyone dislikes these days.
*Many Philippine Province Jesuits celebrate their vow day on the 31st of May. Traditionally, when one professes the first and perpetual vows, a Jesuit is given a cross like this one in the picture.