Christ has no body but yours,Not many Filipinos are getting proper sleep these days, wherever they are in the world, after super typhoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda) flattened entire cities and towns, claimed lives, and destroyed property in unprecedented levels. Most are doing everything to actually help the victims. The rest of us who are abroad are bothered and depressed.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours. - Teresa of Avila (1515–1582)
The Philippines is used to typhoons. Filipinos are, as a result, no stranger to weathering storms and rebuilding lives. But this is the worst disaster to have hit us, which resulted to what eyewitnesses have described as apocalyptic scenes. Almost every Filipino is either anxious to hear from his/her relatives who are cut off from all communication lines in the islands, or know someone who is in that difficult state.
Since I was not there physically, and I had been glued to Twitter/Facebook/CNN almost 24/7 to catch every bit of useful information I could find and pass on, I was left with two choices: tear my hair in frustration, or Do Something. But what could I do? I was too far away and in another time zone at that, to pack relief goods or to help clean up debris. I could not fly a plane, or simply fly, no matter how much I wanted to. But I could pray.
I realized what I should be doing more of: interceding in prayer, instead of being an armchair critic of the government. I could pray for the media personalities, that their reporting may be helpful; for the government officials, that they be up to the challenge on their shoulders; and for the international community, that they find where their help is needed most.
I went to mass last Sunday and the parish priest in that Sydney suburb talked about the Gospel in ways that soothed me even as thousands of innocent people had just died in central Philippines.
I sat there in church, helpless, questioning God, and He answered me by showing me the eternal perspective, and that reminding me that earth is not the final destination of the typhoon victims. They have a Heaven to come home to, where their sufferings shall come to an end. And Jesus is waiting for them there.
As the outpouring of help flooded from all over the world, I saw on social media how Filipinos did what they did best. They volunteered their time and resources for the relief operations, with the bayanihan spirit. Still, the search and rescue operations were hampered by another tropical depression and the sheer difficulty of moving through a virtual wasteland.
I stared at photographs of my dead countrymen and cried silent tears of helplessness. Yes we have poor people, weak infrastructure, and a corrupt system. But it is my hope that the desolation brought by typhoon Haiyan will give birth to a new Philippines.
When I opened my Bible readings for 12 November, the words went straight into my heart. I had been praying for those who perished and those who were still suffering as aid was slow in coming. After reading these words, I knew that our God is with them.
But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace.
When the just cry out, the Lord hears them, and from all their distress he rescues them. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.First Reading and Psalm for 12 November 2013:
23 God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him. 24 But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who are in his possession experience it. 3: 1 But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. 2 They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction 3 and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace. 4 For if before men, indeed, they be punished, yet is their hope full of immortality; 5 chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself. 6 As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself. 7 In the time of their visitation they shall shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble; 8 they shall judge nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord shall be their King forever. 9 Those who trust in him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with him in love: Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones, and his care is with the elect.
Psalm 34:2-3, 16-17, 18-19
R: I will bless the Lord at all times.
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be ever in my mouth. Let my soul glory in the Lord; the lowly will hear me and be glad. (R)
The Lord has eyes for the just, and ears for their cry. The Lord confronts the evildoers, to destroy remembrance of them from the earth. (R)
When the just cry out, the Lord hears them, and from all their distress he rescues them. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves. (R)Before going to bed last night, I worried about the people who were still going without food and water after five days. And I remembered when our Lord Jesus fed the multitudes. He asked first the disciples what they had. I reflected on this, and saw that Jesus was asking us, what can we offer, and after we lift our offerings to Him, He can see to it that there is more than enough supply for every need. What is impossible becomes possible. Still, we need a system to distribute the food properly.
Corinne May wrote a beautiful song, Five Loaves and Two Fishes, and I wrote about it here. It is what I pray,
Take my five loaves and two fishes
Do with it as you will
Take my fears and my inhibitions
All my burdens, my ambitions
You can use it all to feed them all
I often think about that boy when I'm feeling small
And I worry that the work I do means nothing at all
But every single tear I cry is a diamond in His hands
And every door that slams in my face, I will offer up in prayer
So I'll give you every breath that I have
Oh Lord, you can work miracles
All that you need is my "Amen."