Homily by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 07 July 2022 Capping and Pinning Ceremony of Nursing Students Our Lady of Fatima University, Valenzuela City
If there is one thing that the world needs so badly now in these days of the pandemic is what we call “tender loving care” or TLC. And that is why nurses are so in demand everywhere in the world today, especially those imbued with TLC.
I had the opportunities of exercising my ministry briefly in the States and Canada in the early 2000 during my vacations there. One of the things I always heard from white people I have met in hospitals and retirement homes as well as those in parishes was the statement that “my nurse is a Filipino” or that their caregiver is from the Philippines. And they say it with pride and conviction! Fact is, I never heard people there even our own kababayan speaking so proud of us Filipino priests! Laging binibida sa akin noon yung nurse na Pinoy!
Why? Kasi mabubuti daw ang mga nurse na Filipino. And most likely, mabubyuti din!
“Mabuti” means good and kind, like God. And that trait is something so natural for us Filipinos because of our religiosity and high regard for good education which I can safely claim with pride you can find here at Our Lady of Fatima University. Thank you for choosing us for your education and formation as future nurses of then world.
Next to Veritas (Truth) in our University motto is Misericordia or mercy in English. In the bible we find the mercy of God is part of his quality of being tender and caring, the two qualities of nurses I wish to reflect today for you to be TLC like God, that is, with “tender loving care”.
Misericordia literally means “to move the heart” or “to stir the heart” wherein one’s heart is moved into action, into doing something to alleviate other’s sufferings. More than the feeling of pity, there were the hands doing something to help those sufferings.
Mercy implies an involvement of the person to another going through pains and sufferings like a father or a mother as the prophet Hosea described God so like our daddy in the truest sense in the first reading, full of tenderness and care for Israel representing us today; and despite our sinfulness and ingratitude to him, God spares us of his wrath.
Thus says the Lord: when Israel was a child I loved him, out of Egypt I called my son. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, who took them in my arms; I drew him with human cords, with bands of love; I fostered them like one who raises an infant to his cheeks; yet though I stooped to feed my child, they did not know that I was their healer. My heart is overwhelmed; my pity stirred. I will not give vent to my blazing anger, I will not destroy Ephraim again. For I am God not man, the Holy One present among you; I will not let the flames consume you.Hosea 11:1, 3-4, 8-9
Hindi ba ganun din ang nurse, tatay na nanay like God?
In his book on Rembrandt’s painting of the return of the prodigal son in Luke’s gospel, the late Fr. Henri Nouwen noted how the father’s two hands are of a father and a mother. The father’s hand looked firm evoking senses of being supportive, empowering, and encouraging while the mother’s hand looked soft that is consoling, caressing and comforting.
Tenderness is being like God, of having both the hand of a father and of a mother with a big heart able to accommodate those suffering because you know and realize the gravity of what they are going through. You forego plans of getting even, of vengeance, of punishing because a tender person is one who tries not to add more insult to one’s injuries or rub salt onto one’s wounds so to speak.
A tender person is one who tries to soothe and calm a hurting person, trying to heal his/her wounds like God often portrayed in many instances in the bible in lovingly dealing with sinners filled with mercy. Like God, a person filled with tenderness is one who comes to comfort and heal the sick and those taking on a lot of beatings in life.
When Jesus Christ came, he personified this tenderness of God like when he is moved with pity and compassion for the sick, the widows, the women and the children and the voiceless in the society. Tenderness is coming to heal the wounds of those wounded and hurt, trying to “lullaby” the restless and sleepless.
That was the tenderness exemplified by your role model, Florence of Nightingale in all her life that is why she is always portrayed holding a lamp bringing light into the world plunged to the darkness of war and sickness that continues to these days.
Later, you will be lighting your candles from those giant lamps while your professors along with the Dean put on your cap and pin to signify your going to hospital duties as part of your formation as future nurses. Totohanin ninyo na!
You are already a nurse once you receive that cap and pin.
Take care of that light that you are supposed to illumine the world. Most of all, take care of that light that also signifies every patient you shall be taking care of. Do not let the flame of life be extinguished.
Care, on the other hand, means to have compassion, from the Latin words cum patior, to suffer with. To care is to be human because care is recognizing the other person is my brother or sister, a human who is weak and vulnerable just like me.
When Jesus told his Apostles in our gospel today to “cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and drive our demons” (Mt.10:8), it is not literal at all. Remember before that he instructed the Twelve to proclaim “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” which means the most important is for others to realize and experience they are not alone, they have God with them amid all their miseries and sickness. And surely, amidst all of these is the certainty of death. Very often, as you would experience later, we cannot heal and cure all the sick.
What matters most is that they are cared for with all the tenderness so that even in their final moments, they feel they are not alone. That is why, nursing is more than a profession but also a vocation. A call from God to be like him, tender and caring to others, especially the sick and the dying. May God bless you more, our dear Nursing students along with all the nurses of the world. Amen.