We heal as one: Communion, community and common good
“What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs […], if we let Him go like this, all will believe in him (John 11:47-48)”. This is how John the Evangelist narrated to us the motive behind the plot to kill Jesus. In those words, John unmasked the true colors of the Pharisees – “insecure and naiinggit”. The real reason why they are worried about Jesus’ popularity is not really out of genuine concern for the people but; “if we allow him to continue” baka matabunan tayo, baka lalo siyang sumikat – baka siya ang mas paniwalaan. This thinking led to the consensus; “we need to stop Him”. The plot to kill Jesus was hatched.
The social context of this story is that due to the Roman occupation, people were afraid of losing control over their way of life. People then were looking for a savior, for a source of hope, someone who can assure them that in the end, things will be fine. So, when Jesus and his band starts to gain approval from the people, they were perceived as competitors by the Pharisees. Kakumpitensya at hindi kakampi. John’s report made it very clear that the concerns of the Pharisees were self-interest and divisive competition, and not authentic care for the suffering people.
There is a counterpoint to this divisive competition. In the Gospel of Mark (9:38-41), when Jesus’ disciples encountered a follower of John the Baptist driving out demons – naingit din sila – and they actually told the person to stop because he is not one of them. Jesus’ response is the counterpoint. He told them; “Do not stop him […] for whoever is not against us, is for us”. The language of Jesus is not divisive competition but inclusive and constructive. Lahat kasali in the preaching and building of the Kingdom, lahat may participation in giving hope to one another, in strengthening the wavering faith, in reminding everyone of God’s abiding love.
In the context of our battle against the disease that spares no one, lahat kasali… lahat may pananagutan. Pananagutan ko ang bawat miyembro ng pamilya ko kung saan ang kaligtasan nila ay kaligtasan ko rin. But it doesn’t end there. Itong pananagutan na ito extends to my community and society. Therefore, my family’s healing cannot be separated from the healing of the whole community. Sabi nga ng battle cry natin in our fight against the spread of this virus – We Heal as One!
We should be afraid if we cannot attain this communal healing. Since, if we do not make it everybody’s business to heal as one, we risk perishing one by one.
Never has there been a point in contemporary human history that the word – communion, community, and common good requires an extraordinary meaning. Lahat kasali, walang itsa-fuera, walang salimpusa. At lahat may pangangailangan, pero lahat may maiaambag. In the words of St. John Paul II: “Nobody is so poor he has nothing to give, and nobody is so rich he has nothing to receive”.
Lastly, the beautiful Jesuit song Pananagutan cannot be more meaningful than in these times. Indeed: Walang sinuman ang nabubuhay para sa sarili lamang, walang sinuman ang namamatay para sa sarili lamang, tayong lahat ay may pananagutan sa isa’t-isa, tayong lahat ay tinipon ng Diyos na kapiling niya.
My dear brothers and sisters, perhaps, the Christian meaning of the slogan We Heal as One is contained in the passage “whoever is not against us, is for us”. The inclusive disposition of this preaching underpins our sense of communion, how we organize our communities, and how we can truly work for the common good during this pandemic or even after we weather this danger.
*a homily delivered at the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag