Will You Love God Even Without the Promise of Heaven?

18 October 2009. 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 53, 10-11; Psalm 33; Heb 4, 14-16; Mark 10, 35-45

Note: This is the homily on TV5 Sunday mass “Humayo’t Ihayag”. The previous post is about mission (Today is Mission Sunday). Use whichever you find useful. Apologies to non-Filipino readers. Paraphrase translations are in italics and at the end of the article. Thank you very much.

There was a little girl who talked to her mom after religion class. The child told her mom that they talked about Jesus going up to heaven and that now He is sitting beside God. As they continued to talk, the mother noticed a picture of a rainbow. She said, “Look at the beautiful rainbow God has painted for us!” The little girl replied, “Think Mommy, God did it all with his left hand.” The mother replied, “What do you mean? Can’t God use both His hands?” The girl said, “Of course not, Mom, my teacher said that Jesus is sitting on His right hand!”

May mga taong mataas ang ating pagtingin dahil siya ang “kanang kamay” ng presidente o ng isang mataas na opisyal sa gobyerno. The right-hand person is usually the chief assistant or an indispensable helper. Importante, kailangan at bigatin ang kanang-kamay ng isang opisyal. Siya ang pinagkakatiwalaan. Siya ang nakakaalam ng maraming bagay, kasama sa lahat nang ginagawa ng kanyang amo. (The right-hand person is well-trusted by his employer.) Dahil dito, makikita natin ang pinag-aambisyunan ng mga anak ni Zebedeo, sina Santiago at Juan. Nais nilang matamo ang pinakamataas na posisyon sa kaharian. Ang umuupo sa kanan o kaliwa ng trono ang pinakamakapangyarihan at pinakaimportante sa lahat ng tao maliban sa hari. (The sons of Zebedee wants the position and power of being the trusted aide of God.)

Ngunit sabi ni Hesus, “Hindi ninyo nalalaman ang hinihingi ninyo. Maka-iinom ba kayo sa kopa na aking iinuman at matatanggap ang binyag na aking tatanggapin?” Ibig sabihin, kaya nyo bang danasin ang paraan ng aking pagpapakasakit? At tugon ni Santiago at Juan ay isang masinsinang “OPO”. (Jesus said to them that they don’t know what they’re asking. Can they drink from the cup of which He will drink?)

We are no different from James and John who are ambitious. We are dazzled by the prospect of having the highest position in government or in our work. And without blame: the higher we climb the ladder, the bigger the pay, the more we can avail of the comforts of life both for ourselves and our families.

The answer of Jesus to both James and John is divided into two:

First, are you willing to drink the cup that I drink; to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized? Oftentimes it is not motivation that is the issue. The disciples wanted to follow Jesus. We would like to follow Jesus — and we are following Him indeed. But do we really know what we’re asking. Are we willing to go through the agony and cross just as Jesus did? Are we willing to stand by Jesus all the way; go through His agony unto His death? Proof of this willingness is seen in the decisions we make in the midst of painful trails and tragedies. Will you stick it out to Jesus when everything is going wrong. When we experience failure after failure; accidents and deaths after another; losing a game after another; not meeting both our expectations of ourselves or the expectations of others.

And just like the disciples, we have answered with an eager “Yes”! Think of the many times we have said “Yes to Jesus” “Amen!” after every retreat, recollection, an answered prayer or a life-changing event, that we are so eager to promise to follow Jesus.

May dalawang lalaking sa gitna ng dagat na nasalanta ng isang malaking alon. Lumulubog na ang bangkang sakay, kaya napadasal nang malakas ang isa: “Panginoon, alam kong makakasala ako. Ilang beses na akong nagsinungaling, naki-apid, naging hindi mabuting ama sa aking mga anak. Ilang beses na ring hindi ako naging tapat sa aking asawa. Kung ililigtas mo ako at bibigyan ng isa pang pagkakataon, magbabago na ako. Promise. Magiging mabait na ako! Mamahalin ko na ang aking mga anak, at hiwalayan ko na ang aking kalagu …” “Juan!” sabi ng kasama, “huwag mo nang habaan pa ang pangako, may barko nang paparating!” **

But Jesus challenged us further: “It is up to God to give out the seats with you!” In other words, the reward is up to God. Will you remain faithful to without thinking of who gets the credit. In the prayer of generosity of St. Ignatius, he said “Teach me to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, labor and ask not for reward….”

Magagawa mo bang maglingkod na “anonymous” lang ang pangalan mo. Walang recognition. Walang nakasulat “Donated by” or “Gawa sa kagandahan loob ng Mayor …” Magbabago ka ba kung walang langit? Gagawin mo pa rin ba para sa Diyos, meron o walang kapalit? ***

** Two men were drowning from a big wave, their boat sunk, so one of them prayed: “Lord if you would save me, I promise to be kind and to be a good father to my kids. I promise never again to be unfaithful to my wife. I promise to end an adulterous relationship …” “Juan,” the other man said, “Don’t lengthen the list. A boat is approaching!”
*** Can you be an anonymous benefactor? Serve without wanting to be recognized. Not wanting to place one’s name on a donation like “Donated by” or “Through the generosity of Mayor … “. Will you change even without the promise of heaven or power or position? Will you do it for God, without expecting something in return?

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