Sunday Reflections: In the middle of the world
Meeting acquaintances from the past could make you reflect, and reflect deeply.
This Sunday, I went to the third installment of the talk series for Lingkod’s Christian Life Program (CLP). Since I arrived late, and there were around 40 new faces in the crowd, I decided to renew my ties with the “silent committee”. I stayed in the far corner, sipped a cup of black coffee while listening and had my peace. Or so I thought.
Tony, a Lingkod brother who works at the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) gave a hearty and meaty talk on the “Mission of Jesus Christ”.
As the session ended and people greeted each other, I managed to say hellos to my friends, until a guy from among the participants blurted out: “You look familiar! I think I know you from Iloilo!”.
Oh boy, occasions like this, make me shiver. Did this guy see me when I arrived late for my boat to Iloilo from Cagayan de Oro in June 1996? The coast guard, now it can be told, made me jump to the tow boat just so I could catch the trip. As I landed on the starboard side, people in the Negros Navigation vessel clapped their hands in jeers! Was he among them?
Did he seat beside me in one of those trips when I was snoring loud in the jeep when I attended classes in UP’s two campuses in Iloilo between 1994 and 1999? Was he among my students when I taught economics there?
I wondered if I have “amnesia” but I managed a smile. Alas, Dex introduced himself as a schoolmate in Miagao, Iloilo. He sensed that I forgot (that was almost 10 years ago!) so he reminded me that we were classmates in Political Science 11 under Prof. Teddy Ledesma. Classes under Ted, as we called him, were relatively smaller, because, he was among Miag-ao’s known “terror”- mentors.
His reputation included the supposed teacher of the only subject where now Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago failed in UP Visayas. Mindanawons who studied in UP Visayas, in a time when there was still no UP Mindanao; would know what I’m talking about.
I connected with that reference right away. But I was worried how he could have remembered me. I felt so sorry I couldn’t remember his name and face.
“You were among Ted’s favorite students,” he said. I know he was kidding. Ted gave us hell every meeting. He liked to “terrorize” students and I was one of them. But I was lucky I passed my two subjects with him, Pol Sci 11 and also Science, Technology, and Society (STS). His “assault” method in teaching contributed in my formation to think critically and also not to fear my mentors. But that doesn’t mean to be also cynical, of course.
Anyway, Dex left right away for his Bar exams review class. As he was leaving, he asked: “What are you doing here? Are you a member of this group? Why?
I could have answered his questions, but he has left.
Why not? Why shouldn’t I be in a Charismatic community praising God, especially on a Sunday? Why did he sound so surprised to see his political science classmate in a Christian Life Program?
I don’t want to prejudge Dex. I know the meeting was a surprise in the first place. Imagine he was from Iloilo. He also did not know, perhaps, that I am from Mindanao.
But he could be among those people who think that Church service should be left only to those who have nothing else to do in their lives, those who were not able to go to school, and those retiring amd tired senior citizens.
I walked home with that thought. I think we all were called to make God’s love real in our society, specifically in the communities where we live and work. Some of us were called to preach, just like the priests and the pastors. But all of us were called to make use of our work to show God’s love to his peoples. There is “s” in that word. That’s because, especially in the Mindanao context, the approach should be open and inter-faith, both to non-Catholics and non-Christians like our Muslim brothers and sisters.
I have reflected that loving God and doing our work should go hand in hand. How we act as spiritual people should be visible also in how we act as economic and social animals.
Also, seeing myself worried about how Dex would remember me, as we met almost 10 years ago, made me think about what kind of life I was living 10 years ago? Did I do good?
On the other hand, it also made me think of who I will become 10 years from now. Will I still be here? Will people remember me for any good deed? Will I be a help or a menace?
Looking behind 10 years ago and looking forward 10 years from now, I asked: Lord, did I serve my purpose? Am I on the right path? What are my good deeds? Bad deeds? What things do I need to improve? How can I serve better?
“Lord, Thank you for everything. If you will, you can make me clean. Make me a worthy instrument, Lord. A work in progress. I know you equip, as you call.”
Let this be my prayer. Amen.