Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Gideon in Us

In today's first reading, God asked Gideon to deliver Israel from her enemies. This after Gideon asked how come bad things happened to them if they really were the chosen people, special to the LORD. As if saying that we ought to be part of the solution when we complain or question, God replied by commissioning Gideon, calling him a "great warrior", to lead His army. Gideon's reply was something I could relate to - he said his clan was the weakest and he was least in their family. He spoke the truth and he had a major point there. Why did God appoint someone who obviously had little going for him to do such an important task? Further down the book we would find out how God stood by Gideon and gave him victory against all odds.

Sometimes we have such conversations with God. In our prayer time we complain, "Lord, I am an active member of a community that used to be bursting with members, how come scandals have affected us and we are now smaller in number?" or "Lord, I have been serving you for a long time, why did you allow misfortunes to happen to my family left and right?" or this, from me, "Father, if the Philippines is the only Catholic and Christian country in Asia, how come we are in a constant political and economic crisis? When will poverty, pollution and corruption end?" Sometimes, God's reply is not to send some other hero or leader to use his magic wand or staff to bring about a miraculous change in our situation. No, we have seen how God would sometimes ask us to be part of the solution. In our community, workplace, family, parish, or country, God looks for people who question, because they are the ones who care the most. We know that man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. Therefore God has made some famous choices of people who are most unlikely to serve him - Abraham, who was old and childless; David who was young and prone to fits of passion; Gideon, who was least in his family and who came from the weakest clan; Mary, who was a virgin and who was about to marry Joseph.

God clearly explained His ways through His Son Jesus - the most unlikely choice of all to be the Messiah, as He was born to a carpenter, refused to take part in the political issues of his time and thus in the eyes of the Jews, He could not be the Savior they were waiting for. Yes, Jesus was the Ultimate Example of what we read in today's gospel reading. Peter asked Jesus what was in store for the disciples like him who left everything to follow Him. While reading the text during my morning prayers, I strained to see how Jesus worded His reply, for I asked the same question from my heart. Jesus said that all who left parents, children, fields (that is, work or profession, ahem) for His name's sake have a place in heaven, but He also emphasized and reiterated that "the first shall be last and the last shall be first". Those who are considered insignificant and unworthy in the world are the ones whom God would raise up with His Son Jesus at the end of time, to heaven, where there would be no more crying or pain or hunger evermore.

Until then, I like Gideon have a tendency to complain. It is not easy being last. What helps me snap out of moments of doubt, anxiety, loneliness and depression are prayer, Scriptures, sacraments, service, and community. These spokes of the Holy Spirit remind me that in order to claim my heavenly inheritance, I have to follow the example of characters in the Bible, most especially Jesus who is my Lord.

1 comment:

Nathski said...

hey ella, i know my comment is verrrryyyy late in coming, maybe its because i tend to save such things later for i know when a sharing like yours has touched me very personal...

The date itself is very significant...that in only after august 16, 2005 my faith was to be tested, when my mom had a mild stroke, and found cancer cells in her lungs that caused that stroke...compunded by my own struggles in the community in ALNP-Manila, it was reassuring to read ur reflection...that indeed GOD looks inside of our own hearts, and not so much by our accomplishments and tasks done...faithfulness and not success...

thanks again for the reflection i surely needed to read this article...