November 14, 2021 – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/111421.cfm)
Corrie Ten Boom, a Nazi concentration camp Christian survivor, now a well-known inspirational writer, once said: “If you look at the world, you will be distressed. If you look within yourself, you will be depressed. If you look at God, you will be at rest.” These words of wisdom are learned from her life-experience of the cruelty of war and racism, not only before her captivity in Amsterdam while her family were helping in hiding escaping Jews, and during her captivity in the concentration camp of Germany, and after her release and liberation, but also based from her experience of life struggles and faith journey in general, as Christian.
If and whenever we reflect on these words, we somehow can relate with her on how we also experience our life-struggles and faith-journey as Christian in general. Though we may not share the same experience of life with her, but her words offer us a realistic but still hopeful view of our Christian life: “If you look at the world, you will be distressed. If you look within yourself, you will be depressed. If you look at God, you will be at rest.”
True indeed, distressing it is to look at world today. With a lot of things going on – war, racism, discrimination, alienation, poverty, moral decadence, corruption, crisis, natural and human disaster, migration, pandemic and other, we cannot help but be distressed, upset, worried and be bothered with life nowadays and in near future. And while looking at our world today with distress, we cannot also help but be depressed, helpless, and hopeless within ourselves as we try to adjust, adopt, and respond to our troubling world. Addiction, crimes, sex, violence, drugs, suicide, abortions, marital breakdowns are just mere manifestations of how depressed we are and we can be within ourselves, due to the reality of our world outside and our life within. These are the common pains we are experiencing life nowadays as it is.
Worse, Jesus in our gospel today even warns us of these on-going and coming distressing and depressing realities of life in the world to happen. We cannot help but be bothered of Jesus’ cosmic depiction of the end-time, “Sun will be darkened, moon will give not its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” We may not have yet experienced end-time as Jesus described it, but with our experience of our life’s common pains nowadays of increasing fatality & sickness, easy for us to see that at most we are already on our way towards destruction and end-game of life.
We might have been experiencing life at its worse nowadays, however, Jesus promises us a life, not as how we look and experience it, but Eternal Life with God. Jesus proclaims and promises us: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Lilipas man ang Langit at Lupa, ngunit ang aking mga salita ay hindi lilipas: Mahanaw man and langit ug yuta, apan akong pulong dili gayud mahanaw).
Here Jesus is teaching us that eternal life is not about life without end, or endless life, or our life/world now not passing away. Eternal life with God is not the extension and expansion of our life as we look and experience it. Surely, we desire not the extension and expansion of our common pains & struggles in life. But what Jesus promises us is eternal life that gives us meaning and purpose as we experience life’s common pains.
In & with our experience of life’s common pains, Jesus is thus offering us eternal life of common purpose. He is offering us Himself as our Way, Truth and Life that would give us meaning, direction and purpose as we struggle with life and journey in faith amidst our common pains of life. Jesus wants us to live our Life In & With Christ.
In other words, Jesus offers us Common purpose and meaning amidst common pains of life. Common pains thus take place and will happen in our life here on earth, but rest assured, Jesus, God’s word, and love for us remains for us and with us forever. Ika nga: (Matupok man lahat ang buong daigdig, hindi magmamaliw ang aking pag-ibig.
So, whenever we find our life distressing and depressing, and as we long for rest and peace in life, just be reminded of and learn from the wisdom-shared to us by Corrie ten Boom: “If you look at the world, you will be distressed. If you look within yourself, you will be depressed. If you look at God, you will be at rest.”
Siya Nawa. Hinaut pa unta. Amen.