6th Sunday of Easter
God Inside Us
A story is told about a Roman soldier during the first centuries of Christianity. He was sent on a long military campaign, leaving behind his wife with child. While he was gone, his wife gave birth. Soon thereafter, she converted to Christianity, was baptized, and had her child baptized as well.
Meanwhile, the soldier also met some Christians and heard their explanations about the gift of faith and the grace of baptism. When he returned home, his wife was overjoyed to see him, but nervous about what his reaction would be to her baptism.
She decided to break the news gradually. First she showed him their child, casually mentioning that he had been baptized as a Christian. The husband looked shocked and became quiet. He looked again at the child, thoughtfully. Then he knelt down beside the crib. He bowed his head, closed his eyes, and started to pray silently.
His wife was surprised. Kneeling next to him, she asked what he was doing. He looked at her and said, “I am praying to the one, true God. If our son has been baptized, he has himself become a holy place! Christ the Lord, his Father the Creator of all, and the living Holy Spirit have made their home in his heart, so we can pray to God there.” (from ePriest.com Weekly Bulletin)
This may sound naïve and childish to some, but that is the truth. In Baptism, we have received the divine life, indelibly imprinted in our souls. We have in us the presence of the Triune God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jesus declared: “We will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” God resides in us. St. Paul is quite right in saying that we are the temples of the Holy Spirit.
Since eternity, this has been the desire of God – to be close to us, to be in us. That is precisely the reason for the Mystery of Incarnation. The Eternal Son of God took on the human nature to be one of us and to dwell in us. Unfortunately, we do not have this in mind. Instead of looking inside and discover the presence of God, the source of true and lasting peace and happiness, we look for something else outside. A once popular Tagalog song says: “Mahal kita, mahal mo siya, mahal niya ay iba!” (I love you, but you love someone else, who in turn loves another one.) This is the main reason why we cannot attain lasting peace, pure contentment and true happiness in our life. We are chasing something else outside – money, material things, power, prestige, human love and adulation – and we end up more frustrated and discouraged than ever. What is needed only is to obey God in love, and God will dwell in us. Then we will have peace, happiness and salvation.
Tomorrow, the 10th of May, we will have our national elections. This is our chance as Filipinos to choose our leaders and to show our Christian maturity. We have to go out and vote. It is not only our right, but also our sacred duty as citizens and as Christians for the sake of the common good. Sad to say, elections in our country always bring out the worst in us as a people. This is the period in our national life that is always marked by murders, smear campaigns, lies, cheating, vote buying, bribery, bullying and all sorts of evil manipulations.
I still believe that democracy is the best system of government, but it works well only in people who are mature, well informed, well motivated and have genuine care for one another. In all honesty, we have to admit that as a people, we do not yet possess these qualities for true democracy to effectively flourish. Politics has become the bane in Philippine society. Most of our political leaders are selfish, ambitious and greedy, and they are responsible for the sad plight of our people.
But we cannot put the blame entirely on them. In the first place, who put them into office? We, the electorate, voted for them; we placed them in office. We have become willing collaborators in putting up and sustaining a political system that is corrupt, oppressive and injurious to the common good. Many of us have sold our votes; we do not vote intelligently and according to our conscience. Many of us are no better than the bad politicians for we are equally motivated by selfishness and greed. Indeed, we deserve the leaders we have.
We take pride in being a Catholic nation in Asia. We are a nation of baptized Christians. We have to remind ourselves time and again that God resides in each of us. After all, this is what Jesus said in the Gospel today: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” Tomorrow, as we go to the polling places to cast our votes, let us not look around, for we will surely see the faces of the candidates with their most attractive smiles and alluring promises. Instead, let us look inside us and discover the presence of God, the true source of happiness and peace. In that way, when we cast our votes, we will not be motivated by our selfish ambitions and the insatiable desire for money, power, and fame. Rather, the Holy Spirit will guide and move us to choose leaders who will truly help us become a more united and loving people, living according to God’s plan for us.
Tomorrow, we have the chance to redeem ourselves. Let us show to the whole world that Filipinos are true Christians, especially in this crucial moment of our nation’s history.
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Diocese of Novaliches
Quezon City, Philippines