May 13, 2020 – Wednesday – 5th week of Easter
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051320.cfm
During this month of May, our Parish would always have the annual “Operation Tuli” to be sponsored by the Devotees of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. This plan has already been discussed as early as November last year in order to have an organized operation. With this, it reminds me of my growing up years in elementary school.
During summer time like this, there would always be an “operation tuli” everywhere. Tuli or circumcision of the male genitalia has become a Filipino tradition and culture, an initiation process among young boys.
As I underwent the same process, I was filled with fear of the pain that I would experience. Thus, when my mother brought me to a doctor’s clinic, I was trembling but managed to get out and hid myself. Well, for a week, I was able to avoid that. But because of the tremendous pressure from my playmates and classmates especially with those who were already circumcised, I was somehow forced by them to go through the same process of “initiation.” With tuli, then, as we have believed will turn me into a man. Tuli has become an initiation process from being a small weakling boy to a “gwapo-looking” young teen and from being a boy to a young man. But I wondered, was it really necessary for a man to be a man?
This question I have brought me to the problem of the first reading. The Acts of the Apostles expresses a conflict of the early church. The Jews, especially the Pharisees who became believers of Christ insisted that pagans or non-Jewish Christians should be circumcised like them. Somehow, the Jews discriminated the pagans by thinking that pagans were unclean. For them to be cleaned they too must go through the same process of circumcision. The Jews thought that by becoming first a Jew through circumcision then one becomes a Christian.
Now, Paul was against it though he himself was a Pharisee. For him, to be converted into Christ is beyond what is physical. The Jews at that time were looking in a very legalistic point of view. Paul wanted them to realize that a person who has been captured by Christ does not need any “tuli” anymore.
What is needed is the circumcision of the heart! What does it mean? It means that one should give up or stop old habits and attitudes that keep one away from God. These include the insecurity and indifference of the Jewish Christians at that time.
For us today, what should be cut-off from us also are those thoughts, beliefs, actions and attitudes that continually keeping us away from the Lord, making us unresponsive to the invitations of the Lord, and that make us uncaring and unmoved of the difficulties and struggles of others. In other words, cut-off those that keep us indifferent to what is happening around us.
This is the invitation of the Gospel. We, who are believers in the resurrection of Jesus, must be constantly pruned just like any plant so that we will bear good fruits or flowers. What is not helpful, dangerous and oppressive must be stopped because that will only lead us into our own misery.
Jesus reminds us in the Gospel that the key to become a good Christian is “to remain in him.” To remain in Jesus means to be always aware of his presence in our life. To remain in him too is to recognize his face in all of God’s creation especially among the criminals and sinners, the young and the old, the sick and the underprivileged, the poor and the abandoned.
I would like to ask you now as we continue to deepen our faith.
What are the thoughts, actions and attitudes that keep me away from God’s presence? Or those that make me indifferent and uncaring to the needs of others?
May our Mother of Perpetual Help who is an example to all of us, inspire and teach us how to remain and recognize the Lord always. Through her help, we may be able to circumcise our hearts. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR