Images of the Times

When I was still a young boy, I’d always look forward to a dry summer, which always included swimming in the beach, getting fresh rinsing in the cool river, running the wind, and munching fruits grown locally. Guavas, bananas and other native fruits grow in abundance (these were mostly planted by my beloved grandmother) in my father’s garden. There’s also this tree called the sineguelas (Spanish plum) that shreds its leaves before giving its soft, sweet and delicious fruits. It has this unique feature in that after fruiting, the leaves slowly come one after the other until it fills and thickens up its canopy, covering the ground from the hot summer sky. These images are great to recall especially as I reflect back on the journey and the times spent in childhood.

This Sunday Our Lord continue to speak about the end of days,

“…after trials of every sort the sun will be darkened, the moon will not shed its light, stars will fall out of the skies, and the heavenly hosts will be shaken. Then men will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. He will dispatch his angels and assemble his chosen from the four winds, from the farthest bounds of earth and sky. Learn a lesson from the fig tree. Once the sap of its branches runs high and it begins to sprout leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, you will know that he is near, even at the door.” (Mk. 13: 24-29)

Jesus conjures the imagery of the tree a lot; from the mustard seed, the withering vine, and in this Gospel, the fig tree. When asked about the signs of the end times, He didn’t gave a vivid description, He just simply pointed to the changes in how the fig tree looks. Changes in the earth tell about changes in the seasons; similarly, He urges us to see what the future brings by looking at what’s happening around us. Our Lord tells us that when we experience these things happen, know that He is near, even at the door! The message is powerful because in another sense, regardless of the circumstances of our lives, we are comforted that He is present and shares the journey with us.

As the time draws near, what we should make sure is that we belong to Him. We shouldn’t behave and live like those who don’t. We can’t be proud and arrogant, selfish, envious, and lustful of things of this world, lest we be like “stars that fall out of the skies”. We should be able to share what we have with the less fortunate of God’s people.

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending my daughter Alexa and her Ateneo chorale group perform in “Throwback”, the 2015 edition of the Association of Philippine Medical Colleges (APMC) Student Network event. Among the beneficiaries of the shows are the children who belong to the Philippine Organization of Orphan Disorders (POOD). These children are affected with diseases so rare, that even pharmaceutical companies don’t bother to conduct and study their afflictions as the profit potential is so small to generate fair returns. During the show, some of these children performed a dance number, and what touched me more was their vigor and enthusiasm despite the apparent sadness and difficulty of their lives. The children are fighting it out; they are hopeful that the future will be kinder to them. While they may look unfortunate, I’d like to believe that they are much more blessed than the rest of us, because they have already suffered and endured much. We should remember that those who belong to Jesus share His humility and meekness, obedience and total submission to the will of the Father. I see these in the little children that performed in Throwback.

As we approach the end of this Liturgical Year, let us pause to reflect on the path we choose to tread ahead. Let us remember that all roads eventully lead to Jesus, and that all that we can do is act on His will for us and pray that Our Lord stays with us on the journey too.

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