July 5, 2009

I Believe in You

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mark 6: 1-6 “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place”

A father and son love to collect rare paintings. Their collections were much sought and envied by art collectors and museums. One day the son volunteered in Vietnam War and died after saving another soldier. A month later, the soldier visited the grieving father and gave him a portrait of his son. It was not a beautiful painting but the father placed it in the middle of his priceless collections. After two years, the father died without anybody to inherit his wealth including the paintings. Millionaires and famous people went to the auction, ready to spend millions of dollars for the rare paintings of Van Gogh, Picasso, and Juan Luna. All were excited but the auctioneer begun with the soldier’s painting of the son. He said, “Any bid? 100 dollars?” Everybody laughed and said, “We want the paintings of Picasso, Klimt, and Pollock! Not that one!” But the auctioneer just continued, “50 dollars? Thirty? Ten? Five? No takers?“ Then an old man shouted, “I will take it! That boy in the painting saved my son in Vietnam.” Everybody said, “Good. Take it. Let’s move to the real things!” Much to their surprise, the auctioneer said, “The auction is over. The father, in his last will, requested that anyone who buys the portrait of his son will get all the paintings for free.”

Our gospel for today is like that. It was tragic that the town mates of Jesus did not believe his authority and failed to see who Jesus was, the Son of God. They questioned Jesus’ teaching and healing authority because they know him well (Mk 6:3-4). He was once one of them! Indeed, familiarity breeds contempt. Familiarity stops us to see the positive in others. He was just an ordinary carpenter and the son of Mary, and so they did not have faith in him. Because of this, “he was not able to perform any mighty deed there…” (Mk 6:5). It’s crystal clear: Without faith, expect no miracle.

First and foremost, our gospel calls us to take the Son. We proclaim with our lips that we believe in Jesus. And yet our action betrays what we proclaim. We proclaim that we trust God, and yet we could not let go of many things. We say I believe and yet you look sad and worry a lot. We say that God is our priority and yet we only give him one hour every Sunday. If you want to see miracles in your life, believe in Jesus. Seek the giver and not the gifts. Prioritize the Son. As Matthew said, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Mt. 6:33) Take the Son and possess everything.

Second, our gospel also calls us to believe with one another. We seldom see miracle or breaks in our families and communities because we always doubt in each other’s potential and talents. Familiarity breeds contempt. We raised our eyebrows when one does something innovative. We seldom encourage and complement people, but we are quick in criticizing and judging. All of us are gifted, for God created us that way, but many of us will die without discovering their full potential. We should be “talent spotters.” When was the last time you say to someone, “I believe in you.” Or tap the shoulder of someone and say, “Kaya mo yan! Ikaw pa!” But the sad part of our story is, when somebody gained little confidence to fly, instead of giving him more wings to fly, somebody from us will shoot the poor guy’s wings with criticism and contempt. Miracle stops when we cease to believe with one another. But
when there is encouragement, there is always miracle to expect.

When I was in college, to speak in public and to write an article were my two greatest waterloos. Today, I still have butterflies each time I give a talk and still grasping for words each time I write a homily. But with friends and God around to encourage me, it gives me some guts to speak and write as well. Miracles do take place, if you believe.

- Fr. Willy M. Samson,SJ
Carmelite Monastery / July 5, 2009

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