There was once a kid in a plane with no companion at all. He was very calm and enjoying the ride looking out of the window. The lady beside her asked: “Are you not afraid riding in an airplane?” She replied: “Nope! My father is the pilot!” Does it sound familiar? I cannot remember where I read it but it was an impressive one for me. What a confidence and trust in Father! There might be another version of this short conversation but it tells a lot to us.
Our Scripture readings for this Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time challenge us to preach Christ through our words and lives without fear because He cares and stands for us.
The first reading tells us how the prophet Jeremiah trusted in the power of God while he faced opposition for his prophetic ministry. He was intimidated by attacks upon his character, but he was unafraid to speak out in the name of the Lord. The psalmist in today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 69) trusts in God when he is misunderstood and ill-treated even by his brothers and relatives. In the second reading, Paul assures the Christians in Rome that they need not be afraid of opposition either, because they share in the death of Jesus and because they are united with Christ, the new Adam, in his Resurrection. The Gospel passage is taken from the end of Jesus’ instruction to his disciples as he sends them forth to carry on his mission of preaching and healing. He asks them to live simple lives and to expect opposition and rejection. Three times it was mentioned: fear no one/do not be afraid in verses 26, 28 & 31 and there are three reasons why the disciples of Jesus should not be frightened. First, the Lord “will bring to light the hidden things of darkness” (1 Cor 4:5) and will vindicate the faithful. That God will not permit evil to win. Second, the limited power of our opponents. They can kill the body, which dies all too soon anyway, but have no power over the soul. Only God has power over eternity. Third, God’s compassionate love. We are more important to God than sparrows. It might be difficult to believe whenever we feel abandoned and have had unanswered prayers but God knows and cares. He is our light and salvation. Whom shall I fear? (Psalm 27)
Recently, I experience being fearful because I do not know what will happen next to me. I had my regular check-up and then I bought my medicines and some things for our community as well as to find a place to fix my wristwatch and to replace the battery for it. Later on, I got a taxi to bring me immediately to the SEC Office to request for the needed documents of our center. While riding, I hurriedly ate my “baon”. I noticed something in the place where the driver was heading. I felt nervous already because it seemed we were going up to somewhere else. Yes, we were going out of the city! There were no houses along the place and I could only see tall bushes and trees, no passing cars. I was in a turmoil. I tried to calm myself down and asked him where we were. Strangely, he couldn’t even tell me the place. Then, I received a call from the driver of the van that I would take going back to our community. He asked me where I was already and I couldn’t answer him back because of the unfamiliar place. I told him, we were lost and asked him to wait for me. I believed I could arrive in the terminal as soon as I finished my errand. Then, I tried to find in the google map our place and only found out that this driver was already fooling me. At that moment, I took a deep breath, praying so hardly that “Lord, please spare me to what might happen to me”. I was already reprimanding the driver because the fare was getting higher. I told him if he needed money, he could just tell me and not make me feel anxious because I was also in a hurry that I might lost the trip going back to our place. I kept also telling to myself, Marissa… calm, calm, calm. Later on, he made another turn and we came back where we passed by and he asked for forgiveness because he got confused in the road. According to him, it was not that long that he was driving within the city as he explained. He just tried to make another route thinking we might be trapped in the traffic. At last, he did not do anything bad to me and I arrived safe in my destination. I wanted to take a picture but I cannot immediately get my cellphone. I just took again a glance of the plate number and tried to memorize it, but later on, ah…I just let it go.
Then, I remembered my tatay… my angel, too. Not only once it occured that if a distasteful circumstance happened to me, I immediately thought of my father. And looking up the sky upon leaving the city, I said to myself: “truly, God our Father never allowed me to feel alone and abandoned.” He is just around. Every now and then, I am pampered in his own mysterious ways. Otherwise, I just needed to be sensitive to the real thing that is happening to me.
A year ago, when my mother died, I knew my father was accompanying me with my trip. I was in the van wherein I was heading off to the airport, and it was raining so hard. Then, there was the lightning. Not only once it sparked but several times. By the way, I associated my Tatay with the lightning because of his death due to it and every time there is lightning, I knew he was letting me know he was around. Looking at the window with the outcry of the weather outside, I was also crying then, besides, there was no light in there. No one noticed me but it was real for me that my father was around once again. And my anxiety at that time turned out to be more trustful and told to myself, thanks to you Tatay and I am sorry Nanay I was not able to make it to be with you in your deathbed. I was then consoled. Thanks be to God I arrived safe home together with the family of my brother.
True enough, if I was not able to overcome my fears, and lose faith, I would panic and it would do no good to me. Trust is very important in our life. It is not easy to trust but it pays off. I am reminded of that incident to be fearless of struggles in life. God is present anytime, anywhere. He accompanies me and enlightens my burden in life. If there is something, I must be feared to hurt God because of my sins; my dignity is broken because of indulgence to the worldly things; and might kill my soul and be trapped in evil ways.
Nevertheless, faith is important to conquer fear. When we experience being loved by another person, it makes the fear dissipate. 1 John 4: 18 reminds us: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear.” Obviously, the greatest love is the love which GOD has for us since GOD is love (1 John 4: 17).
Like the trust and confidence of a young girl to his father that nothing undesirable might happen to her because he is just around. As I was writing this reflection, it is also timely to give honor to our heavenly Father, to my father and to all the fathers all over the world. Our earthly father might not be showy of their love to the family, others yes, but we cannot judge them because of their uniqueness and probably with their own experiences of significant others. In the beginning, I was thinking I was not my father’s girl but now I am realizing that I am. I am loved. Thanks to you Tatay for helping me overcoming my fears. I miss you but for sure you are just around like our Father above. Happy Father’s Day, Tay!
How about you? Is there anything that makes you frightened? Was it when facing circumstances which seemed beyond your control and could be harmful to you emotionally, physically, mentally, or spiritually? What did you do? When we experience love, fear will be changed into love. And when we love, we trust. And when we trust, everything will be fine and we are in the solace of peace.
It is then we must turn to the witnesses of faith: to Abraham, who “in hope… believed against hope”; to the Virgin Mary, who, in “her pilgrimage of faith,” walked into the “night of faith” in sharing the darkness of her son’s suffering and death; and to so many others. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” (CCC165)
Sr. Marissa M. Abuel, CMT