Vocational Letters, April 2018.

“Were not our hearts burning within us when he was talking to us on the road and explaining the Scriptures?” There was so much amazement and elation when the two disciples were able to recognize that the person who walked with them on their road to Emmaus was Jesus. Our Risen Lord also appeared to the Eleven and their companions while they were at table. “Yes it is true, the Lord is risen.” Their once crushed hopes were replaced with great fervor, their sorrow turned to joy and gladness, their hardness of heart and unbelief into faith and confidence. Then Jesus told them to “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation.”

               Jesus’s Easter command appertains to us Claretians as Servants of the Word. The Ministry of the Word belongs to the core of our charismatic heritage and identity. The proclamation of the Word using timely and effective means possible most especially to the poor, displaced, vulnerable, defenseless, exploited, those in the peripheries, and the disadvantaged is of utmost importance to our missionary activities. One cannot be a Claretian if he acts as if the poor do not exist and without denouncing and fighting unfair structures and systems that subjugate the poor. (MS 42-45, 49-52)

               There won’t have an effective evangelization unless we become like Mary who welcomes and meditates the Word in our heart. We therefore need to listen to God who speaks to us in various means and manners: in creation, in the Scripture, in the Church, and in a definitive way in Jesus, the Emmanuel, the Word made flesh. God speaks to us also in the various contexts, spaces, traditions, cultures and life events especially of the poor, the oppressed and the excluded. Listening to the Word generates in us habits of silence, adoration, contemplation and discernment. However, effective listening can be hampered by various factors such as noises, and fears.

               In my personal experience, the noises that are caused by physical forces could not compare to the loudness of the shouts, cries and shrills that are coming from deep in our hearts and minds. The stresses of life, unresolved issues, and problems could sometimes feel like being in an extremely large, powerful and extremely destructive super typhoon – that the noise caused by the heavy downpour of rain, strong gushing of winds and the roaring of thunder that follows the violent flashes of lightning drowns even your own voice.  In the storm we naturally feel fear. Listening to the events of life of people especially of the poor and of those who suffer violence and injustice evokes a different kind of fear. It’s not the fear that one may also experience the misery, violence, injury, and damage that the poor experiences. When we immerse ourselves in the life of the poor and the oppressed, our life views are challenged, our comforts are disturbed, and our positions and stances may be changed. When we fully involve and plunge ourselves in the world and life of the poor, we could not help it but be moved and be impelled to action. Being removed from our comfort zones, challenged, disturbed and impelled to act is fearsome because it brings us to the unknown, the uncertain, the uneasy and to the uncomfortable.

               There will always be noises and fears in our life but let us be consoled by the spirit of this Easter season. Amidst the disciples’ panic, fright and fear, Jesus appeared among them and told them “Peace be with you!” and to not be afraid. In our fears and uncertainties, we should not be troubled for the Risen Lord is assuring us of his presence and his gift of the Holy Spirit who will bestow on us boldness and creativity, heartfelt compassion, joy, humility and meekness in our continuous listening to the plight of the poor and the oppressed and in the proclamation of the Gospel even against the tide, persecution and death, at all times and places.

               Alleluia, truly the Lord is risen! Caritas Christi urget nos!

 

Bro. Joseph Roy Villarín CMF

Philippines