Head, Heart and Hands
12 September 2021, 24th Sunday in the Ordinary Time
Mk 8: 27-35
How well do we know the Lord Jesus? Many of us understand knowledge as ideas that we gained from reading, from studies and from research. Now a days, if you want to find out something, google it. Even a website is now a verb! Performance Tasks, Assignments, Research/Project Papers and Major Exams must be done. Because knowledge is associated with things that are academic, it has to be complied and graded. In this time of pandemic, our learners are engaged with modules. In one Facebook meme, it says, “Ano ang nagpapahirap sa buhay? Sagot: Mga Modules.”
But there is something greater than knowledge as academic. The real test that one truly knows is when one loves. Relationships that are deep and intimate are breeding grounds for authentic learning, living and loving. Love is not just a feeling. It is doing good for the good of others. And this entails a sacrifice.
Like the disciples, we know Jesus. Thanks to the catechetical programs that accompany us through the various stages of our life. But, how well do we know the Lord Jesus? We cannot just rely on what we can recall, have read and researched. When Jesus asks, “Who do YOU say that I AM?” The Lord is calling us to look into our personal relationship with Him. Thus, we are invited to discern with our HEAD, to desire Him with our whole HEART and to decide by putting into action with our HANDS. Head. Heart. Hands.
HEAD. It was Peter who gave the perfect answer to the question, “Who do you say that I am?” by telling Jesus, “You are the Christ!” The disciples have been following Jesus. They were moved by His words. They were awestruck by His works. Living with Him and learning from Him, they got to know many things about Him that led them to be convinced that Jesus is the Christ. Good! Very Good! Excellent! 1.0! AAA! But there is a twist. Jesus told them that their perspective of “Christ” is not the way He’s meant to be. He is not the Christ who seeks power, position and prestige but the Christ who must suffer, be rejected, killed and be raised. To this, Peter rebuked the Lord. Peter as rock is now a stumbling block. To this, Jesus rebuked Peter, “Get behind me Satan!” which means, “Peter, stay behind and follow me.” When expectations do not meet the reality, we tend to manipulate and dominate in order to get what we want. But discipleship is not about being ahead to get many perks. Discipleship, as following the Lord, is to think, to love, to act like Jesus, even if it entails suffering and pain, sacrifice and letting go of many things in life.
HEART. Avoiding suffering and pain is a natural human tendency. We can resonate with Peter and the disciples. We do not want to get sick. We pray not to get COVID. We avoid accidents. But suffering and pain are crises, crossroads and crosses in life that are inevitable. Yes, we pray. But if they come, what kind of attitude must we have as followers of Jesus? Isaiah, in the 1st Reading, prophecies that the Christ is the Suffering Servant trusts in God’s help. Last month, my mother had to go in-and-out of the hospital because of a severe stomach pain. The doctors found out that her intestines have lesions. Being far from her and the rest of my family, I was affected, feeling agitated and afraid. But I prayed for greater perseverance to trust, for patience in doing God’s will and for peace in the midst of inner conflict. On 24 August 2021, after 3 days in the hospital, she was discharged.
The hardest working muscle is the heart. It pumps out 2 ounces of blood at every heartbeat. Daily the heart pumps at least 2,500 gallons of blood. Trials in life are moments to flex our relationship with the Lord. Yes, we can be weakened by trials. But realizing our need of God and praying to Him, God comes, God comforts and God helps through others. When the Lord calls us to journey in faith from head to heart, our knowledge of Him is not just from the books, lessons and lectures. Triggered by life’s challenges, we are reminded, “Where there is crisis, Christ is.” (+Fr Mike La Guardia, SDB)
HANDS. If we have encountered God as our help and healing, comfort and consolation, we are called to move our faith in Jesus as knowing (head) and hoping (heart) to loving, that is, we actualize our faith as symbolized by our HANDS. In the 2nd Reading, James proclaims that faith without action is dead. If we believe and hope in the Lord, we also love one another. Many of those who experienced being helped, after undergoing tremendous hardships in life, help others as well. Yes, they’re wounded by painful experiences. But perceiving their personal struggles as faith stories to proclaim, they extend themselves to other people in ways that they can as counselors, therapists, spiritual directors, volunteers, catechists, medical personnel in the barrios and other ways that can make this world more human and humane. They help others in carrying their own crosses. They accompany those who are at the crossroads. They help them see crises not as stumbling blocks but as opportunities for growth.
How well do we know the Lord Jesus? The real test that one truly knows is when one loves. Relationships that are deep and intimate are breeding grounds for authentic learning, living and loving. Jesus is no longer physically present. But He is ever present in His Body, the Church. With Jesus as our head, we are His heart that loves and hands that care. We belong to Christ! We are Christified! We are Christifying! Amen.
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