June 21, 2024

Prophet Isaiah 55:1-3 narrates the need of man, thirsty for water and hungry for bread. Isaiah consoled the people. He tried to lift the human need to its order of priority and the hierarchy of need.
“Thus, says the Lord: All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; come without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk! Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy? Heed me and you shall eat well.”
The pandemic gave birth to many social, political, mental, and health issues into the world. Millions are now suffering from hunger and poverty brought by the pandemic.
Restaurants, inns, and other businesses are gravely suffering from bankruptcy and closure.
Misunderstanding among politicians, government agencies, church, and families is becoming common.
Senior citizens who used to be active are bored at home and sick.
The youth and children too are vulnerable sectors gravely affected not only physically but emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically.
On Aug. 4, the youth of Sagada gathered at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church for a spiritual recollection. The recollection gave the youthful participants an opportunity to examine themselves and share their faith and life during this pandemic. Their self-examination and testimonies proved that there are many youth suffering from mental challenges and spiritual thirst and hunger. Some even dared to share their suicidal attempts. It is alarming and yet an eye-opener. It is not enough to address the physical hunger with social amelioration and to bombard them with health protocols.
Our youth are hungry for the Word of God. They are hungry and thirsting for spiritual activities.
Many of our youth are challenged emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. I saw the spiritual recollection as God’s way to communicate with the young people.
Psalm 145:9 says it well, “The eyes of all look hopefully to you, and you give them their food in due season, you open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” It makes sense to trust in the Lord. It makes sense to encounter and experience him in the sacraments. It makes sense to participate in the Holy Mass, it makes sense to give Him what is due especially on Sunday. On this pandemic, let us hope and trust in the Lord and he will take charge. The third commandment is not a mere responsibility but a reminder of God’s faithfulness and providence, “Remember to keep the Lord’s day holy.”
The multiplication of the bread was a miracle that opened the eyes of the apostles. (Matthew 14:13-21) They failed to realize that Jesus was an extraordinary man who can perform miracles. “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.” They failed to see that Jesus is the Son of God. The apostles remained in the physical need with a human remedy for hunger. They failed to see God in their midst.
The hunger that burdened the apostles can be the same hunger brought by the pandemic today. We need to open our eyes. We need to examine ourselves that we are not capable to overcome the virus by mere human capability. We need a miracle today. The miracle can only happen in God and our generosity to share. It was a youth who shared his bread and fish. Let our youth today be a part in the daily miracle amidst the virus. Let them realize that they can contribute a lot.
Miracles amidst pandemic can happen with these two elements: the mighty intervention of God and the generosity of each one.
The recent youth recollection was like the miracle of the multiplication of bread and fish. Its strength was the presence of God and the active participation of the youth, and the support of many people, especially the Mission Pastoral Council (MPC) under the headship of Erlinda Lumbaya, who journeyed with the youth for the whole duration of the activity. They stayed, brought snacks, cooked the food for lunch, and listened to the voice of the young people. It was a miracle on pandemic.
During the pandemic, there will be many temptations and deceptions of the Devil to meet the physical need. Human reaction is to immediately address the physical need, especially of hunger. Assistance comes in the form of relief goods and financial assistance. We tend to forget the needs of the emotional and spiritual aspects of life.
The danger is our tendency to forget and even neglect the needs of the soul. Jesus is clear in his message, “Man does not live by bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Aug. 4 was also the feast day of St. Jean Marie Vianney. I sensed that the saint touched some of the youth to enter the seminary and nunnery.
It was also the day of priest which I spent with the Lord through the young people.
Our prayers were offered as well for Bishop Valentin Dimoc who celebrated his 5th Episcopal ordination anniversary.
Significantly, it was also the 37th death anniversary of my dad Ikoy. May he rest in peace.
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