Be opened

"Have compassion on all those who sinned or were sinned against, and die trying to eradicate wickedness forever"

Reflection for the 23rd Sunday of in Ordinary Time (Cycle B)

May your eyes be opened, and start to gaze beyond the precipitous walls of your created enclave. Peer through the small cracks in your fortress gates, and see what for the sake of obedience you have been forbidden to see: the muted chaos and violence of the streets outside yet amidst of which, the inexplicable boisterous banter of poor strangers smiling and looking back in at you.

How can such an impoverished disorderliness lead to what appears to be a fulfilled happiness? And why in contrast, is your richly-provided castle on the inside – obsessively disciplined to achieve the highest efficiencies – always seems to lack this same happiness?

All this time, is there something we are still blind to about the Spirit? Or is there something we are still blind to about our own?

In spite of all the prosperity, our spirits are poor, yearning for answers from God. In spite of all its triumphs across history, our spirits are humbled and subjugated to the manipulative ways of a world of our own making. In spite of all the controls we have over everything else, our spirits are restless and overwhelmed by the powers it possesses. In spite of the despair, our spirits are anxious yet hopeful for a better tomorrow.

Leave then the fantasy of yesterday, and be opened to the reality of today. May your ears hear the cries of anguish you may not have heard before. Listen to the pitiful stories of the real people behind strange faces, and how they have to work hard for something being literally handed to you daily on a silver platter.

Listen to how they would always not have enough money for an urgent medical treatment nor for a long-term education, nor enough opportunities for having enough money. Listen to the sad irrationality of their splurging for a desensitizing merry-making, and of their full trust in so many quacks and swindlers and falling victim to them.

- Newsletter -

Listen to an endless litany of their tragedies: huge debts, a broken family, an entire house lost through fire or flood, or someone in crime or destroyed by it. And listen to how uncannily their faith in the Lord can be more stubborn than yours.

For perhaps the first time, immerse yourself in their peculiar conditions. Smell and taste the bitterness in their lives. Eat and drink as they do, in the air of the cesspool beside their shanty dwellings. Be amazed in the destructive lack of nutrition in their meals, which they have to consume anyway just to get through the day.

Why then should we blame them for knowing so little, for not wanting to do so much, and of always not having enough for what they need? Why then should we blame them for turning to evil, whereas there may be more evil in us in having much more than enough for what we want?

Teens from an urban poor community in the Philippine capital walk on a pile of thrash in the outskirts of Manila in this undated photo. (Photo by Jimmy Domingo)

Hold their hands and touch through the coarseness of their skin, which has already lost its natural radiance, burned through the conflagration of everyday life. Feel the roughness of the corners of their small home, a crammed and humid niche in perpetual clutter.

But may you also be mesmerized in the warmth of their closeness, a bond built unwittingly in the constraints of space. How then can we in our private palaces have so much room, and yet be so alienated?

May your minds be opened to the paradox of our times. Limitless wealth brings limitless worries and the disheveling angst that “God is dead.” Limitless power brings a subtle powerlessness over the fatigue and stress that comes with retaining that power. Flimsy reputations are floating in a sea of people who hardly know one another.

There is joy and hope as well as frustration and anger, a growing realization of the need for transformation as well as a growing disillusionment leading to the need for subversion. Why did we end up in such a situation of inner turmoil and unjust disparity?

Have we not been born the same way? What sense is there in someone “who should be rich” and in another someone “who should be poor,” when we are all becoming miserable anyway? Oppression is not only unfair, but it is also ridiculous.

May your hearts be opened to the renewal of our times. There is no sense in being discriminating “judges with evil designs;” there is sense only in everyone without exception being emptied in spirit so that we are all filled by the Spirit. There is no such thing as two worlds or castes; rather a single world, a unified realm of justice and peace.

God is yearning for everybody to live in his providence of “streams bursting forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe; of burning sands becoming pools, and the thirsty ground turning into springs of water.”

So may your hands and feet help you to proclaim what has been opened in you. Give sight to the blind, a voice to the voiceless, and freedom to the forsaken. Have compassion on all those who sinned or were sinned against, and die trying to eradicate wickedness forever.

Brother Jess Matias is a professed brother of the Secular Franciscan Order. He serves as minister of the St. Pio of Pietrelcina Fraternity at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Mandaluyong City, coordinator of the Padre Pio Prayer Groups of the Capuchins in the Philippines and prison counselor and catechist for the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

The views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of

© Copyright All rights reserved. Republication of this article without express permission from is strictly prohibited. For republication rights, please contact us at: [email protected]

Leave a Reply


We work tirelessly each day to tell the stories of those living on the fringe of society in Asia and how the Church in all its forms - be it lay, religious or priests - carries out its mission to support those in need, the neglected and the voiceless.
We need your help to continue our work each day. Make a difference and donate today.