4 February 2011 Friday of the 4th week in Ordinary Time
Hebrews 13: 1-8; Psalm 27; Mark 6: 14-29
“Let mutual love continue… Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment, and of the I’ll-treated as of yourselves, for you also are in the body.” Hebrews 13: 1-3
Eliseo worked in the Middle East for 8 years as a construction worker. He sent his hard-earned income to his wife for their family. On one of his visits to the Philippines, he saw his wife in bed with another. In rage, he murdered his wife, but her lover was able to escape. Convicted now, Eliseo serves his sentence at the National Penitentiary where I served as assistant chaplain.
I do not have a similar experience as Eliseo, but I understand the deep pain and anger of betrayal. Our individual experiences are never the same. We respond to the environment differently. Our background and contexts are unique from each other. So it is said that our personal experiences cannot be contested.
But listening to Eliseo’s story sure got me hooked and engrossed. I ‘lost’ myself in his sharing that I felt the layers of feelings in his heart as if they too were mine.
We are capable of empathy. We have the ability to understand the feelings of another. Such that we can share in each other’s burdens and relief, sorrow and joy, sacriﬁces and successes. Thus, when someone is grieving over the loss of a loved one, we can deeply identify with them especially if we have analogous, though not the same, experience. This is how mutual love continues: when we share our hearts with one another.
When Jesus hears of the death of His cousin, John the Baptist, we can somehow read “between the lines” of Scripture. Not everything is written: but we can glean that Jesus is saddened by it. We can imagine the twitching and perhaps the welling of tears in His eyes. Maybe, He is speechless at ﬁrst, then looks down, sits and covers His face. We can empathize with Jesus and perhaps the disciples of John. When we share the pain of Jesus, then we are able to know and love the person of Jesus. Our experience of Jesusbecomes truly personal.
But Jesus’ experience of imprisonment is not superﬁcial. He knows what it means to have a cousin, friend and precursor in prison. He knows the experience of a death sentence. He himself died as a criminal on the cross. He knows betrayal ﬁrst hand from Judas and Peter. Thus, He is truly one with Eliseo, except sin.
The same thing in our lives. We can ‘continue’ our mutual love for each other if we listen and share each other’s lives. We do not know individuals in Egypt, but we are affected by the violent protests there today. We are not physically present in Egypt, but we can genuinely say that the unrest must stop because many lives are in danger.
Thus, we can also participate with whatever we can do: raise awareness of the issue, express our opinions through social networks so that our voices are also heard and the more, not the least, that we can do is to pray. God is NOT the least and last resort. Jesus knows the mob and what it can do.