Sunday, April 25, 2010

Voices From All Over

We have been hearing different voices coming from different people now that May 10 is near. Voices from the loudspeakers of a mobile propaganda team of a certain politician or a political party that roam around our streets. Voices coming from the media amplifying political advertisements. Voices from political sorties be it proclamation rally or miting de avance.
These are voices that made us deaf as a nation and as a people of God.

Last week, we have conducted a series of Candidates'Forum dubbed, "Kaunlaran ng Kanlurang Mindoro, Dangal ng Mamamayan", but as usual, most of the things we got are pointless words and voices.

Sadly because of this earthly voices, we somehow forgotten the voice of Jesus that hardly finds attention in our present situation, specially today that election time is just a few sleeps away. The clearest voice we hear and understand, it seems, are the ones coming not from the Risen Lord but from the political lords in our midst.

We have forgotten Mary Magdalene, a woman of ill repute, fearlessly went to the tomb with her oils to show once more her love for Jesus who loved her and showed what real love meant. After her frustrating search, Mary was called twice by name and she recognized the Risen Lord’s voice. In this encounter, what Christ said about the shepherd and the sheep is fulfilled. Remember what Jesus said : “I am the good shepherd. My sheep know thy voice.” With this encounter, Mary Magdalene is considered "apostle of the apostles".

It seems that the staunch supporters of our two local political titans in Occidental Mindoro follow other voices rather than the voice of the shepherd. By the way, the Good Shepherd is the Risen Lord that is why we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday (and that is today!) within Easter. Indeed Mary is a good member of Jesus’ flock so she recognized her Good Shepherd.

By the way, happy fiesta today to Fr. Rod Salazar, SVD and his parishioners in Magsaysay, Occidental Mindoro!

From Mary Magdalene, let us go to Peter. Peter as introduced to us by the evangelists is the apostle who denied the Good Shepherd in order for him to save his (Peter’s) life. But Peter ultimately became a changed person. Unlike most of the politicians we hear a lot today. They never changed their old bad ways and becoming worse each year. Many of them remained corrupt and self-centered.

Three times Jesus told Peter : “Feed my lambs, feed my sheep”, thus Peter became a new person with a new mission. On the contrary, the traditional politicians here in my place of birth just became “same dogs with new collars”, they say. They shift loyalties from one patron to another. They slander each other like pagans of yore. They treat people like cattle they have to own.

Peter is tasked to start a new history,- not unlike what we expect from our future political leaders, for the Good Shepherd will be no longer be around physically. What the Good Shepherd is saying is this, I presume : “You Peter will now be in-charge of my sheep but I want emphasize that they are MY sheep. I am not giving you a sheep of your own. They are mine.”

This insight on Mary Magdalene and Peter is supplied by Imus Bishop Luis "Chito" Tagle in one of his books but its title skipped my memory.

But my favorite is the image depicting Jesus carrying lost lamb over his shoulders for it conveys that leaders must also impose punishment against an erring black sheep (?). Somebody told me that during those times, shepherd break a leg of any member of his flock who go astray in order to give the animal a lesson. If that is so, the Good Shepherd is telling us that as a leader, it is imperative that we appropriately employ discipline to anyone who commit serious misdeed. After this punishment, I am certain that the Good Shepherd took extra care of his “prodigal sheep” until it’s back to normal life again,- walking and rejoining the rest of the flock.

In a way, the Good Shepherd is calling all the political leaders,- including political aspirants, of today to die for the sheep but they will not own anything and anyone. In short,- for me, here’s Jesus’ timely call : “Do the task of the shepherd out of pure service!”

The Risen Lord-Good Shepherd, as I see it is telling us,- voters and politicians including election officials, the words he told Peter, "Follow me"...

(Photo from Edith Escalante's collection)

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