Cost of Loving
Blue and red shirts greeted my early morning mass in the parish. It was the signal that the campaign period has come. Prayers of different aspirants for barangay offices went up to heaven. I joined my heart’s intention with them on the altar of sacrifice praying for a peaceful, orderly and clean election.
Even at the lowest level, Philippine politics has always been money-oriented and personality-based. With a multi-party system, many will run forgetting that the real purpose for getting elected is for public service. For this reason, one of the things I felt I needed to do as a pastor in my parish is to hold a “pulong-pulong” for all who wished to run for office. We spent half-a-day reflecting and praying together. After all, the election is only for a day. The rest of the year they are neighbors, friends or relatives.
Today’s gospel has a timely reminder. Jesus says: “as the Father has loved me, so I have loved you” (Jn 15:9). This reveals the vision statement of Jesus. Christianity is really based on a relationship of love. These words of Jesus are meant to direct our life. This scripture passage is, in fact, one of the most popular readings at weddings linking the love of God and human love.
We realize that the love we feel for others comes from a source outside ourselves. We love because we experienced being loved. Thus when we love, we are actually re-enacting something we have inherited from our past. We remember someone – a parent, teacher or friend – who made a deep impression on us. We would return to that experience because we were touched by it. Love, then, has a history.
When my cousin Carlo died of massive heart failure last month, it was devastating for his family. At 39 years old with two little kids, he was gone too soon. At the wake, I found his Grade 4, eldest daughter just playing around. But I was surprised that during our mass, she was crying all the time as she stood in front of the altar. She remembered a love she now sorely missed.
Jesus also experienced such a love from his parents. One meaningful painting I saw shows St. Joseph in his carpentry shop working on a table while keeping an eye on baby Jesus. On the other hand, baby Jesus is imitating his dad also busy in carpentry works. Indeed, we learn everything from our mentors: traits, skills and human qualities. What he experiences, Jesus now passes on to us.
Indeed, if we truly love God we are to love one another. This love is expressed in concrete terms as when a parent waste time playing with her son, a father takes care of a sick daughter, accepting missionary work far from home or serving the people selflessly as a public servant. Genuine love will cost us something. Such love is also a source of peace and joy in life.
This article also appeared in the Faith Column “Sharing the Word” of Cebu Daily News, May 6, 2018