Then Jesus said to them, âRemember the words I spoke to you when I was still with you: Everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms, must be fulfilled.â Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.Â And he said, âso it was written the Messiah had to suffer, and on the third day rise from the dead.Â Then repentance and forgiveness in his name would be proclaimed to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.Â And you are witnesses to these things. (Luke 24: 44 â 48)
As witnesses of all the things that God has done for us, we proclaim his greatness beyond all telling.Â The disciples were able to preach what they have seen and experienced in their daily encounters with Jesus and His teachings. The Risen Christ had sent his disciples to proclaim to all the nations and all creatures. The Risen Christ empowered us to be fresh again, renewed in spirit and in flesh. With Christâs resurrection, we become a new creation.Â The saving love of God made us more whole and holy, united with Him to be his own.
Early this month of April, I was given the opportunity to join the 2nd National Congress of Carmel Youth Philippines in Escalante City, Negros Occidental, and was so touched by the young peopleâs zest for life. They were very enthusiastic, very alive in their youthfulness and very eager to meet new friends: co-journeyers, co-pilgrims on the road. They celebrate life in their community prayers, group dynamics, interaction and team building.Â They were so engrossed with the Word of God and so full of life as they were willing to commit themselves for the mission of the Church and of Carmel. This was a concrete sign of hope with a fresh outlook on the life of the Church for these young men and women today who are ready to bring the message of the Risen Christ to the world.
I also addressed the 13th BCC Congress of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Old Poblacion Escalante in the same province of Negros Occidental, and was struck by the very lives of so simple and dedicated GKK (Gagmayâng Kristohanong Katilingban or Basic Christian Community) leaders and members who had been with us since the 60âs and who continue to make the Church renewed and fresh.
It was good to see old faces that I had met when I was assigned in Negros as a young missionary. I have had memorable encounters with the âoldies, veteransâ of this particular parish and their respective Christian communities. Truly, I was teary-eyed during the opening liturgy whenÂ men and women in their golden age representing the sectors of the obreros (sugarcane workers), the fisher folks, the small vendors, children, students and youth, and BCC leaders call on God and Â humbly Â present their petitions to God in his mercy.Â They prayed in full trust from their hearts asking the Risen Christ to listen to their prayers.Â A very sacred moment and place where I was standing, for these witnesses had proclaimed the goodness and mercy of God all the timesâin good times and in bad times.Â They were there as they had risen with Christ.
Asking the assembly on why they are still present after all these years, one elderly said: âThe Lord is so good to us, and we want to share that goodness with the others.â The parish is 152 years old and had given birth to the present surrounding parishes in the last decades.Â The parishioners may not be materially rich but so generous and very rich in their faith, wisdom, service; thus genuine witnessing of the parish and its BCCs are testaments of what they have witnessed all these years.
The said 2012 Carmel Youth Day and BCC Congress celebrations in Escalante were moments of resurrection for me as they mirror what it is exactly to be fully human and fully alive. They were all full of life and hope. The old and young BCC leaders and youth leaders taught me how to hope and keep the vision of the Church ever alive. They gave me a wider and broader perspectives of what mission is, accompanying the pilgrim community of believers and the young people today not only in Escalante but elsewhere.
The âelder BCC leadersâ have inspired the young, and the young had inspired the âelderÂ BCC leadersâ in return.Â They are enriched and empowered by the Spirit of the Risen Christ sent by the Father. The grace to take the right path follow the footsteps of Jesus towards the Kingdom is best expressed in the sharing of the faith and care for one another.
What do we have to proclaim?Â What have we witnessed for? Have we suffered and rose again to life like what happened to Jesus?Â In every high or low moments of our lives, have we remembered and believed in what Jesus said when he was still with his disciples?Â What shall we proclaim then? This time, it is not from Jerusalem, but from our very own hearts. Most of the time, we meet God when we are in âawe.â We experience and encounter Jesus in moments when we do not expect Him. One is astounded and wonder.
Let us pause and in silence reflect on the guide questions:
What are my âaweâ moments?
What are my awesome moments?Â What are my awful moments?
Have I recognized God in my âaweâ moments?
Have I witnessed the forgiveness and mercy of God?Â Have I experienced the love of God in the present disposition today?
Prayer:Â Lord of Life, Lord of Hope, thank you for giving us Jesus, your Son to be our savior.Â He has shown us the way to life, to have fullness of life when we are one and united in the one direction of righteousness and holiness.Â As we have witnessed all these wondrous things, send us to proclaim the greatness of God that endures forever. Amen.