August 3, 2008

The Tiger and the Fox

18TH Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 14: 13-21 “Give them some food yourselves

Once there lived a fox in the forest that cannot walk. God in his mercy asked the tiger to give food to the fox. Every day the tiger would hunt an animal for the fox to eat. One day a man saw this great feat and said if God does this to this useless fox, how much more he would do to me the prime of creation. So he sat in the middle of the forest hoping that someone would come and feed him. After a week nothing happened. He was about to die. Then he heard God’s voice: “Go and do like the tiger and not like the fox.”

Somehow our gospel for today reverberate the sayings, “It is better to give than to receive.” I am sure the disciples were caught flat-footed and surprised when Jesus asked them to feed the crowd. What? Feed the 5,000 male plus the female and children? But Jesus is dead serious and definite with his command, “Give them some food yourselves.” Go and be like the tiger and not like the fox.

Jesus is challenging his disciples to be of ready service. The disciples expressed their limitations and inadequacy and said, “But we have only five loves and two fish.” But Jesus just wanted them to share what they have; and from what they have shared and given, multiplication of bread took place. Jesus made the miracle, only when the disciples gave something to be multiplied. And when the loaves have already multiplied by thousands, He did not feed the crowd directly but asked his disciples to do the feeding. .He still does today. He makes use of us to support other human needs in this world. We are called to be in the giving end and not in the receiving end. Go and be like a tiger and not like the fox.

The call of our gospel is the call to involvement. God wants us to be part of the miracle. We cannot deny the fact that it is God that will make the miracle, but he wants our involvement – our participation – our share.

At this very moment of our life here in Mindanao, we know that the GRP panel (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and MILF will be signing a peace pact agreement in Malaysia this Tuesday, August 5. The MoA says “that there shall be established government entity, the so-called Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE), which will have the authority and jurisdiction over the areas claimed by the MILF as part of their ancestral domain," We are caught and unaware of some salient points they agreed upon. We only learned that 737 barangays all over Mindanao will be part of this expanded ARMM territory. But unfortunately, both panels have agreed not to reveal the 737 barangays and that makes the MoA in bad faith. We have learned that 8 barangays in Zamboanga city will be under the BJE and the public were not informed and consulted about their inclusion. The local church and local government are disappointed because they were not consulted by the peace panel when the MoA was being drafted.

Our own Archbishop of Zamboanga, Romulo Valles, had already released a pastoral letter and expressed his disappointment. In the pastoral letter he released yesterday, he encourages us to join the peaceful rally on Monday so as to just voice out our own sentiments and views regarding this issues. Fr.Tony Moreno, the President of Ateneo de Zamboanga encouraged us to join public discussions and forums to update ourselves. We are for peace and we aspire peace in Mindanao. We are willing to support any agreement between the GRP and MILF provided that all concerned parties are fully informed and consulted.

The problem of peace in Mindanao has been with us for many years. We aspire and dream for this peace but it eludes us. We need miracle. But we cannot just wait for the miracle to happen. Jesus is asking us now, “What can you give?” What can you share? He wants our involvement if we want a miracle to take place.

I guess in the end, God wants us to participate or to give something of ourselves if we want to see miracle in our lives. He is just asking our “five loaves of bread and two fish” and he will multiply them in our midst. The miracle begins if somebody will genuinely share his bread and fish to God.

In the gospel of John, we were told that the five loaves of bread and the two fish came from a child and not from the disciples. Unlike any other person, a child is always more trustful, selfless, and a “now” person. Anybody who is “young in spirit” is also like that child – more trustful, selfless, and a “now” person. The more we add year in our age, the more we become doubtful, selfish, and always thinking of our own “future” … and so we don’t want to share ourselves anymore to others.

The challenge is to recover the “child” within us - that “young spirit” that make us other-oriented persons; ever ready to share something of ourselves. “Young in spirit” people are tigers. They are not foxes. And they see miracle everyday in their lives.

Fr. Willy M. Samson,SJ
Ateneo de Zamboanga

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