40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II Homily, Wednesday in Lent Week IV, 17 March 2021 Isaiah 49:8-15 + ++ John 5:17-30
Today we resumed the community Masses on a limited basis at the Our Lady of Fatima University (OLFU) and Fatima University Medical Center (FUMC) in Valenzuela where I am now serving as their chaplain.
Our aim is very simple: to share Jesus with everyone in our Fatima community including their families and friends.
Sharing Jesus means being tender and caring with one another like God our Father in heaven who gave us the loveliest description of these attributes in the first reading today by being like a mother.
Thus says the Lord: “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.”isaiah 49:15
If there is one thing missing in our country in this one year old pandemic and lockdown, it must be tenderness.
In the gospel of St. Luke, we find Zechariah singing praises to God at the birth of his son John the Baptist:
“In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”Luke 1:78-79
St. Luke used the Greek word “splaghna” to designate tenderness as “tender mercy of God”.
Mercy, or “misericordia” which is also our University motto is from the Latin “misereor” that means to stir, to move. More than a feeling, mercy is compassion in action wherein one is moved or stirred in the heart to go down, reach out and be one with the suffering like Jesus Christ. And that is when we are filled with tenderness of God. Then we become caring.
Tenderness of God as tender compassion is misericordia that is “tagos sa buto” as in “sagad-sagad” that even if we feel tired and hungry, or afraid and anxious, we still go out to help, to uplift, to keep company and inspire those in pain and suffering, those about to give up in life, those who are lost because of sickness, poverty, and other difficulties.
This we find and do in Jesus, through Jesus, with Jesus who said in our gospel today, “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work” (Jn.5:17).
Remember that scene of the feeding of five thousand in the wilderness when Jesus and the Twelve crossed the lake to the other side to rest but a vast crowd followed them and even got ahead of them to the site. When Jesus saw them, he was moved with pity because they were like “sheep without shepherd” that despite his being hungry and tired, he taught them many things, healed their sick, exorcised the possessed and later, fed and satisfied them all from just five loaves of bread and three pieces of fish.
Tenderness is when we are moved to help those in need while we ourselves are also suffering. Hence, it is not surprising at all to find that the most tender and caring people are also the ones who suffer most. Like moms and these days, the medical front liners who continue to serve us amid the risks they face!
Being tender and caring are essentially the works of God made known to us in Jesus Christ.
It has been a year since we had the longest lockdown in the world. It is fitting that as we recall those days even if dark clouds still loom above us these days that we remember the people who have cared for us and made life bearable: all those working in the hospitals supporting our doctors and nurses; the market vendors who ensured we have food on the table; the staff members of the botica we usually visited to get our medicines; the panadero who prepared our daily bread; our teachers who braved the digital world so we may continue with our schooling and learning process, and many more.
It is a tremendous grace from God to be able to be tender with someone because that means we care like Jesus Christ.
Today, God reminds us that amid this great darkness still looming above us in this time of the pandemic, He cares for us very much and wants us to care for one another too, especially for those going through many trials and difficulties in life.
Let us give Jesus our hands and our hearts to be vessels of his divine Tender Loving Care. Amen.