July 13, 2008
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
For almost two weeks now, an inter-island ship in the Philippines, MV Princes of the Stars sunk near Romblon province and carrying more than 800 passengers. Everybody prayed for more survivors but unfortunately, less than 200 survived from this tragedy. On its first few days, the families of the passengers were all praying that their father, mother, children, relatives and friends were able to survive. But after week, they changed their prayers. They just want to find the body of their loved ones. They want to them to be found and bring them home for a descent burial. They want them home.
A friend of mine, after staying for more than 8 years in Blacktown, Sydney, have decided to go home and visit his family and relatives in Bohol. For the Boholanos, when their town feast comes, all roads lead to Bohol. They want to go home.
When all of us are tired and weary from all our works...when everything seems falling apart ... we want to go home and just spend some quality moments with our families. Home is where we are true to ourselves and where we find solace in this difficult world. Home is when one is truly welcomed and accepted without any condition and prejudices.
The word home in Pilipino, the language in the Philippines is “Tahanan” which means “Tahan na” … and can be translated “Wipe away your tears... Do not be afraid. I am here beside you”
Our gospel for today is call for us to go home and return to God, Our Father when Jesus said. “Come to me all of you who are tired and heavy burden, and I will give you rest.” We have sailed and journeyed a lot in this world called life. And that’s part of our life and or our being, but we need to rest also once in a while for us to know that all our journeys should lead us to God. There is a God who sees us in all our journeys and who sees all our sufferings and tears. He is just waiting for our return. And for us to realize that a journey without God is lonely and meaningless journey. We need God in our journey because we are part of God’s family.
I realized that in all my journeys outside the Philippines, the first thing that I want to do is to find a Filipino family or community. I feel happy every time I hear somebody talking in our native language. In spite of my love for Japanese and French food, I feel happier to eat Filipino food. I feel home away from home and all my fears in any foreign land disappear.
Surely, we are all citizens of heaven, God the Father is our real Father and heaven is our real destiny. But we are not yet there, we are still journeying and this wonderful world God has created for us. But the challenge being posted by our Gospel for today is our family our “little heaven away from Heaven?” Coming from a very tiring work or busy school schedule, are we excited to go home everyday because our home is place of tranquillity and love, where all my fears, tiredness, and hopelessness ceases?
Today, we begin the MAGIS 08 Immersion Program all over Australia in preparation for the World Youth Day Celebration with Pope Benedict, the Father of the Church. The Chatswood Parish here in Sydney welcomes all the participants, especially the Germans, Irish and Singaporeans. We hope that this community will allow you to feel that this is your home away from home for the next 7 days. Let’s journey together as one family and experience God from one another as we share our life, time and talents together. We pray that our stay here in Sydney be a moment of knowing God in our midst and resting in his loving presence with one another. For the Magis participants, “Maligayang Pagdating … Welcome Home.”