During my summer apostolate in the mountains of Porac, I conducted a Bible story-telling with the Aeta children. I curiously asked them, “What is love?” One of them raised her hand enthusiastically and she innocently replied, “Apin itang balang mumuli ya y tatang ku ibat obra at makyalung ya kekami. Balang ingatan nakaming ima ku at paglutu nakami. At balang I ingkung ingatan ne ing bale mi!” (It is when my dad goes home from work then plays with us. It is when my mother cooks food and takes care of us. It is when my grandfather takes care of our house.) I was amazed with her reply. I was thinking of a different explanation but her response opened my mind and heart with her simple yet profound definition.
In this modern world, we have the tendency to complicate things. We tend to choose to deconstruct everything into bits and pieces, tearing and tinkering every part until we see every little detail. We try even to complicate simple words such as love which makes these words difficult to measure and express. In our Gospel reading for today, Jesus reminds us the true basis and measure of our love—God’s mercy. He teaches us simple yet practical lessons of how we can be loving—be merciful, stop judging, stop condemning, forgive, and give. But in all of these, we must look at Jesus on the cross, the epitome of God’s love and mercy. In His love for us, He willingly offered His life on the cross. That immeasurable self-giving of Jesus should be our measure for loving others. Meditating on this, we will be able to realize how immeasurable is God’s love to us and so respond generously and gratuitously to His love.
Soon, by God’s grace, I will shepherd a flock. It is my responsibility as early as now to live out Jesus’ love as the basis and measure on how I love others. Like the answer of the little Aeta girl, it is not only in the greatness of an act with which we can measure love, but it is in our little “dyings” and small acts of self-giving that we can really respond to the question, “What is love?”
By Sem. Justin Gatus
THE GOSPEL TODAY
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”