May 3, 2020 – Fourth Sunday of Easter
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/050320.cfm)
The Jewish converts asked Peter and other apostles in our first reading, “What are we to do, brothers?”
As today’s Easter people – baptized, repenting and receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we Christian find ourselves confronted still with the same question: “what should we do?” especially now in today’s pandemic times. We do wonder what would be our Christian forefathers advice and say to us now as we deal with our life in today’s changing world.
Somehow St. Peter offers us words of wisdom and guidance as to how we can and should adjust and adapt with our changing realities. He said to us today: “If you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God”. Meaning, “Grace before God” is what we seek in life, as well as what God offers us in life. Jesus in our gospel today reminded us that He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly before God. In Jesus, God thus promises us and wills for us betterment and well being in life. And for St. Paul then, we as God’s children and followers of Christ, to share with God’s grace, we must be PATIENT IN SUFFERING AS WE DO WHAT IS GOOD.
In other words, as we navigate with our changing world of pandemic, distancing and quarantine along with God’s grace and our Christian faith, our forefathers in faith would advice us today to:
First, continue to DO GOOD and BE GOOD before God. Jesus in describing us the good shepherd implicitly inviting us to be His good sheep who hears and recognizes His voice, follows Him obediently as He dearly calls us by our name. As Good shepherd, Jesus knows His sheep and we, His sheep knows (should know) Him. Goodness is thus reflected in our intimate, respectful, and responsible relationship with our risen Lord. Same as, Good trees are known by its fruits, Good parents, teachers, coaches, doctors and pastors are also known through their good children, students, players, patients, and faithful. So, do good and be a good Christian, citizen, God’s child, and person before the Lord.
Second, do right and be right in SUFFERING before others. In today’s high tech, globalized, fast-pacing world, we tend to do things haphazardly. We want things done instantly, rendering us chronically living a stressful, high-strunged & addictive life-style. However, we do need to do right things rightly. This would mean we don’t just do THINGS right, but we have to do the RIGHT things. Here we need to prioritize what is RIGHT essential things and learn to do away with non-essential things in life. And in doing so, we need to contend with the natural painstaking slow-pacing process of things. Meaning, go back to and learn the basics of things, no more shortcuts, palakas, excuses, and to non-essentials. In other words, do RIGHT things rightly and suffer along with it.
And again, BE PATIENT with Oneself and Others. Nowadays, we suffer a lot in patience. As our world today stood still, slowed-down, and quarantined, we are painstakingly waiting back for our normal active life. But our situation now might be teaching us to learn again and anew how to be and why we need to be patient with ourselves and others in life. In better and worse times, we do need to learn to be patiently waiting in life.
Why? Because God is not finished with us yet. As promised, Jesus has more abundant life in store for us. God prepares everything for us … in His own pace and timing (not ours). This might entail us a lot of patience and deep faith, BUT God’s life-offer is worth the WAIT.
So, what can, should, are we to do, during these trying times? BE PATIENT IN SUFFERING AS WE DO WHAT IS RIGHT…. For God is not finished with us YET as well as God’s promise of abundant life is worth OUR WAIT.
May we always have a patiently waiting and faith-filled Easter-resolved during these pandemic times. Amen.
(By: Fr. Aphelie Mario Masangcay CSsR, a Filipino Redemptorist Missionary stationed in Gwangju South Korea, though now still stranded in Cebu until further notice for available flights.)