Sunday Gospel Reflection
Third Sunday of Easter
Peace Be with You!
Bro. JM Nuqui
While strolling through my Facebook feed, I saw this story shared by a Jesuit priest on his encounter and experience at the Philippine General Hospital. He retold the story of a young pregnant mother, who brought herself alone to the hospital, leaving her husband at home due to fever and coughing. While she was delivering the baby, news broke out that her husband died of COVID at home. “Ang lungkot Father, wala na akong asawang mauuwian […] Hindi ko man lang maibalita na may 2nd baby na kami. Hindi man lang sila nagkita ng anak namin,” the mother said.
Then I continued scrolling. I saw a screenshot of a conversation posted by a teacher. It turns out that her student cursed her after she tried to follow up his requirement for the subject. “Ayan na maam p*****i** mo.” The teacher shared her grief, dismay, sadness, hurt, and disappointments. At the end of the long post, she wrote, “Napakasakit. Nanginginig pa rin ako […] Sa walong taon kong pagtuturo, ito ang natanggap ko.”
Two different posts. Two different stories. Same tragedy.
Dalawang magkaibang istorya, ngunit parehas ng sakit na dulot sa puso.
My dear brothers and sisters, we are on the Third Sunday of Easter. We are still in the season of rejoicing. Mahaba-haba pa ang ating lalakbayin (we roughly have 50 days of Easter! The longest season in fact!) Then you might ask, “Bro, akala ko ba joy? Akala ko ba muling pagkabuhay? Bakit naman pang Good Friday ang mga kwento mo?”
The stories shared above somewhat depict what this pandemic has brought into our lives. Death. Loss of loved ones. Hunger. Anger. Fear. Grief. Anxieties. Life adjustments. Confusions. Retrenchments. Too many frustrations and disappointments. And the list goes on. But in the face and midst of all of these comes Jesus’ assurance for us.
“Peace be with you.” We have been hearing this from Jesus since the start of the Easter season. Hindi panunumbat ang salubong niya sa Kanyang mga alagad at kaibigan. “Shalom!” We see the same offer of peace to Thomas, despite his doubts. “Tomas, halika! Ito ang aking mga sugat. Sariwa pa, pero hindi na masakit.” Shalom! We heard it again in today’s Gospel as Jesus greeted and met the disciples in their fear and confusion. And these stories of encounter go on – Jesus eating fish with them; Jesus walking with them on the road to Emmaus; Jesus making breakfast for His disciples. “Tara kain tayo!” Shalom! Kapayapaan!
To the widowed mother and to all of us who experience deaths and loss because of this pandemic, the Lord says, “Peace be with you.”
To the teacher and to all of us who are wounded and hurt and find it difficult to forgive, the Lord assures, “Peace be with you.”
To all of us whose fear and doubt continue to overshadow us, the Lord promises, “Peace be with you.”
Sapagkat ito ang pangako ng Muling Pagkabuhay. Looking back at our lives, we see how God has always raised us up from our fears, from all the deaths we have to suffer, especially for the people we love. Lagi tayong nakakabangon. Lagi tayong binabangon ng Diyos – always through and with the same love and peace.
And keeping this peace doesn’t mean we become “bliss ninnies” – those who waft above reality, smiling and pretending that all is well and wonderful. We are an Easter people. We believe that all won’t turn out to be well and wonderful. We are under no illusion that life can be hard and unfair and cruel. But through Jesus’ offer of peace, we refuse to live in fear and doubt. Kasi alam natin na tayo ay mahalaga, na malayo ang mararating ng pag-ibig natin. And when things get tough, we draw strength and hope again from the peace and love of God.
“Peace be with you” isn’t just a pleasant greeting. Ito ay regalo, biyaya, at pangako ng Diyos sa atin.
“Shalom! Kapayapaan! Tara kain tayo! Uy, almusal muna tayo! O eto mga sugat ko, sariwa pa pero hindi na masakit.”
Peace be with you all!