Together We Have and We Can.


September 6, 2020 – 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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How come Filipinos manage and remain to be resilient and strong in times of crisis and disasters? How come, Filipinos can easily bounce back and rebuild their lives despite worst life-conditions and terrible events in life? 

During typhoon Ondoy back September 2009, I happened to be in Belgium finishing my master’s degrees and licentiate in Theology. The above-questions were raised by my professors, colleagues and classmates which even I myself cannot help but also wonder. In response to their questions, I narrated to them a testimony of Ondoy-survivor which was published in Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper few days after the incident.

During the typhoon, residents of an apartment seek refuge on the rooftop of their building. As they settle-in, while waiting for rescue and/or for the flood to subside, they started to pray the rosary together even if without their beads but by just using their fingers to count. After rosary, they pulled-out whatever provisions they were able to recover, and shared it with one another. As they had their fill, they began to share their stories – their experiences and backgrounds, hopes and dreams, fears and frustrations, as well as jokes and life-dramas.

In others words, as answer to these questions, it is because we, Filipinos do and share things together especially during times of life-crisis and difficulties. We are not perfect people. We do have our own shortcomings and limitations. Nevertheless, we do have a common life. We usually live life together as family and community. And particularly, we usually pray, eat and share our stories together in good times and bad times.

Somehow our Filipino togetherness, our common life as Filipino reflects the values Jesus upholds in our gospel today. For Jesus, Christian life must be lived and witnessed in the spirit of the following morals.

First, together we pray. Christian life should have and share a common recognition and faith in God. Jesus said, “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst.” God’s presence, love and mercy are assured and promised whenever we pray together in His name. Second, together we eat. Christian life should also have and share a common concerns and regards for others. Ours and the salvation of others is our responsibility. Not the judge or the savior, but we are all our brother’s keeper. They are in our watch and it is our responsibility to correct them when they are at fault, feed them when hungry, and take care of them when they need help. And lastly, together we share our life-stories. As Christians, we must also have and share common meanings, ideals and morals in life. Jesus said, “what we declare bound or loosed on earth shall be held bound or loosed in heaven”. Our life as community is the bearer of God’s salvation. God’s grace of redemption reveals itself and happens in and through our community, i.e. in partnership with our life together as community. What we value and give importance in life is sacred before God’s eyes. We also accept what God deems important to our lives which is Love.

While we do have our shortcomings and still struggling, we cannot deny as Filipino we do possess these values and qualities as people. As reflected in our aspired values of maka-Dios, makatao at maka-Pilipino, we do have the basic orientation towards others (Dios, tao at Pilipino) as well as of doing, sharing and living life together in common. Thus, together we have and we can overcome life-worse crises.

It was once said that we, human being as like angels, but angels with only one wing. For us to fly and rise, we need one another, we need each other. Together we do our part so that in partnership with God, we can be with Him always.

Pandemic times has indeed rendered us physically & socially distance from one another and has deeply challenged our common life,  but it would not hinder us Filipinos together to share our Faith by our prayers, our Charity by our food-agape, & our values & meanings by our stories with one another, and with others. As the world struggles with the challenges of pandemic times, we take note of numbers of Filipinos on the frontlines, both here & abroad who raised to the occasion, been responsible and tirelessly sharing to the world all time, talents, and experiences of our common Filipino resiliency and strength by the witness of our faith, charity & stories especially during times of worse life-crises. May our life and faith as Filipino Catholic Christian people & communities be a constant gift and witness now and always to the world especially at this pandemic times. Amen

By  Fr. Aphelie Mario Masangcay, CSsR (a former Filipino Redemptorist Missionary for Filipino Migrants in South Korea who, due to immune compromised diabetic condition, stationed back home  in the Philippines for now).

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