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Beholding Jesus, Being Held by Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe Week 2-B, 14 January 2018
1Samuel 3:3-10,19///1Corinthians 6:13-15,17-20///John 1:35-42

The month of January is from the name of the Roman god Janus, their god of beginnings and transitions as well as of gates and doorways. Janus is depicted as having two faces, one looking to the past and the other looking into the future, exactly what January conveys to us. For us Christians, we begin the Ordinary Time of our liturgical calendar on this month of January when we also celebrate the two most popular Christ devotions in the country: Quiapo’s “Black Nazarene” on January 9 and the “Sto. Nino” every Third Sunday. Quite like Janus in a sense, these devotions picturesquely depict to us of the two faces of Christ, the adult Hesus Nazareno and the child Sto. Nino that also show us our two images as Filipino Christians: patient and persevering at one end, fun-loving and carefree as a child at the other extreme.

For our reflection on this Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, let us focus on the Black Nazarene whose feast we have celebrated which is actually a commemoration of the transfer or “Traslacion” of the Black Nazarene from Intramuros to the Quiapo Church about 200 years ago. In that great sea of humanity where people are hoping every year to touch or at least catch a glimpse of the Black Nazarene in the day-long procession we find the very same scene narrated in our gospel today of Jesus in solidarity with sinners after being baptized by John the Baptist at the Jordan River. Every January 9 when we celebrate the Traslacion, millions of Filipinos follow John’s call to “behold the Lamb of God.”

John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” – which translated means Teacher – , “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”(Jn.1:35-39)

To behold means more than just to look at; when we behold something or someone, there is always that sense of wonder and awe because it always leads to something deep within us when our lives are also transformed. Beholding always requires openness on our part to truly “see” and experience the one we are beholding. When John the Baptist told Andrew and his other disciple to “Behold, the Lamb of God,” he was asking them, including us today, to cast out our fears, to briefly stop from our busyness to open ourselves to the very presence of Jesus Christ. To behold Jesus the Lamb of God is to experience His loving presence, to embrace Him and most of all, to allow Him to embrace us too!

Last Tuesday I was invited to join the panel discussion of Ariel Ureta and Winnie Cordero for DZMM’s special coverage of Traslacion. Winnie was overwhelmed by her coverage this year of the Traslacion because it was only last Tuesday she was able to get so close enough to the Black Nazarene. She almost had the chance of touching the revered image had it not a lone man kept shouting nearby that “hindi iyan tama!” in apparent upholding of the tradition that only men are allowed to “ride” the “andas” or carriage. According to Winnie, so many other things were running through her mind at that time, remembering how her father was a devotee of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo since she was a child. Most of all were the nagging questions about faith within her until she finally decided not to get onto the andas to touch the Black Nazarene and went back to her anchoring job with much difficulty passing through the crowd.

When she and Ariel asked me to comment, I first congratulated Winnie for her beautiful reflections on her experience. Then I told her that her being at the coverage was the blessing, the very grace of God to her; that, in her attempt to touch the Black Nazarene, it was Jesus Himself who had touched her that early morning and even long before covering the Traslacion. I told Winnie that Jesus has always been touching her, embracing her, making her feel His love for her. It was at that time when Winnie wiped tears in her eyes, telling me how I have made her cry. But deep inside me, it was Jesus who made her shed tears of joy. An hour later, Vic De Leon Lima asked me to join his following program to give my reflections too. Again, he shed some tears during the program when I told him about the great love and mercy of Jesus for us all sinners expressed in the Black Nazarene devotion.

What happened? I really do not know except that I prayed hard the night before and early that morning before going to ABS-CBN at noon. Like John the Baptist, I simply told these great broadcast journalists to “Behold, the Lamb of God” – the Black Nazarene making its way through vast crowds onto the small streets of Quiapo. And much to their credit, I was so glad Winnie and Vic opened their hearts to Jesus, allowing Him to make them experience His warmth and love even if they were just following the Traslacion in their newsroom.

On this Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons, the Church is inviting us all to be another Andrew known as the “Protokletos” or “protoclete” that means “first to be called” in Greek. He was the first follower Jesus had called as per Gospel of John: “come, and you will see.” And what did Andrew see in coming to the place of Jesus? More than the Christ, he must have found himself too! Andrew must have found he was right all along in his searching and waiting for the Messiah of Israel. He must have found that he was right all along in being a disciple first of John the Baptist in preparation for the coming of Jesus. Andrew must have seen above all that he is loved by Jesus. He felt so good in himself in finding Jesus and finding his very self that the very next day, he brought along his brother Simon to the Lord. It was undoubtedly very good that Andrew thought first of his brother to come and see Jesus too.

In every celebration of the Eucharist, Jesus is calling us personally to “come, and you will see” not only Him but also the many wonderful things He has for each one of us. And the greatest of this is our very selves, our giftedness as persons. Every time we behold Jesus, we also see our own face, our own selves in Him for we are all created in His image and likeness. May God bless us today, open hearts like Samuel to always listen to His calls and most of all, keep our body and soul clean from all immoralities that He may dwell in us always. Amen.

Fr.Nicanor F. Lalog II,
Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista,
Gov. F. Halili Ave., bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan 3022

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