Anticipating the return of our savior Jesus Christ, how do you live out your being a follower of Christ?
Today is the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary time and our readings remind us to be vigilant for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but the question that we need to constantly ask ourselves is, what are we doing to prepare for the promised coming of our Lord?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Since we know neither the day nor the hour, we should follow the advice of the Lord and watch constantly so that, when the single course of our earthly life is completed, we may merit to enter with him into the marriage feast and be numbered among the blessed, and not, like the wicked and slothful servants, be ordered to depart into the eternal fire, into the outer darkness where ‘men will weep and gnash their teeth.’” (1036).
Despite this reminder, we see all around us the sorrow that we cause each other, how we are being remiss in our obligation to love God above all things and to love our neighbor as Christ loved us.
The world is a never-ending war fueled by the gods of greed, lust, and hate. While Israel plots and executes the genocide of the Palestinian people, here in our country, activists and those who live out their prophetic ministry of denouncing the evils of society like the corrupt practices of politicians and the blatant disregard for the welfare of the poor, the orphans, the widows, the indigenous peoples, those in the margins of our society are being maligned, harassed, abducted, and even worse, killed.
In the past months we have heard various stories of abductions, some of those who were abducted have surfaced, but some continue to remain missing. The bravery of environmental activists Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro to assert that they are victims of enforced disappearance masterminded by the Philippine military and the notorious lie-spinner National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, during a press conference hosted by the NTF-ELCAC intended for their alleged “admission” that they are surrenderers.
Because of the embarrassment that this caused the task force, the two are now facing perjury charges for signing documents of their alleged “admission”. The two maintain that they were forced to sign the document for fear for their lives and that of their loved ones.
Earlier this year, Cebu-based development workers Dyan Gumanao and Armand Dayoha also went missing for six days, only to surface when a video of their abduction went viral on social media.
Not as lucky as Dyan, Armand, Jhed, and Jonila, however, are the 11 Desaparecidos who went missing from the start Ferdinand Marcos Jr sat in office – Elgene Mungcal, Ma. Elena Pampoza, Ariel Badiang, Renel delos Santos, Denald Laloy Mialen, Lyn Grace Martullinas, Dexter Capuyan, Gene Roz Jamil de Jesus, Deah Lopez, Lee Sudario, Norman Ortiz.
What are there sins that caused their abduction? They fought for their rights, for land, for food, for education, for the people in government to be more responsible, and to stand by their sworn duty to serve and protect the people, especially the poor. Their sin was that they were desperate and they were brave enough to call out the sins of our society.
As followers of Christ, how are we supposed to respond to these events, to this evil? Our response is based on our desire, on our anticipation, on believing in the promise of Christ, on our faith in Christ that he will come again, that he is coming.
Anticipating his return we make sure that when he comes we are sure that he would be pleased with us… that he would like what he sees, because what would he see? That we are living his words.
Amidst all the evil in our world, how are we living out Christ’s simple instruction of loving God and loving our neighbor?
Do we keep mum despite knowing the injustices happening against our brothers and sisters in the margins – the indigenous peoples, the urban and rural poor, the people who are fighting for justice, and those who are calling out the people in power to do what is right? Is this how we are preparing ourselves for the coming of Eternal Bridegroom?
In our Gospel reading we heard of the parable of the ten bridesmaids who waited for the arrival of the bridegroom. They would not know when the bridegroom would arrive since, after the marriage contract had been signed, the groom would return to his father’s house and prepare a home for the bride.
Only after the home has been finished would the groom return to fetch his bride for the consummation of the marriage. No one really knows when he would finish making their home and that is why, everyone, expecting, knowing, and trusting that he would return, would truly prepare themselves.
We are to prepare ourselves for the coming of the bridegroom by making sure that we do what he asks of us, and what he expects from us, and God expects us to take care of each other.
Let us then take care of each other, most especially our brothers and sisters who are in need, so that with the coming of the bridegroom, we can present to him that which pleases him, the works we have done for the sake of the least, the last, and the lost.
In Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he reminded the faithful not to be afraid, not to fear for their lives when they live out what is right. He reminded them that Christ has already conquered death, so what is there to be afraid of?
Go on, go ahead, stand for what is right, fight for our brothers and sisters who are being taken advantage of, and prepare yourself for Christ’s coming by giving your lives for our brothers and sisters in need, in that way you allow yourself to be the conduit of God’s love for the least, the lost, the last, and most especially for our brothers and sisters who were disappeared because they lived out their lives for the sake of others.
Yes, do not be afraid because “we shall always be with the Lord.”
Let our lives as Christians be a constant preparation of the Bridegroom coming, by giving it for others and for the Other.
Gospel reflection of Fr. Ritche Salgado, OCarm for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Wis 6:12-16, Ps 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 1 Thes 4:13-18, Mt 25:1-13