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The Word, The Truth

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Homily for Wednesday of the Third week of Easter, 04 May 2022, Jn 6:35-40

Our first reading today is a story of redemption. It is about the man named Saul who persecuted the disciples of Jesus and tried to destroy the Church. How he had caused the Christians in Jerusalem to be scattered throughout Judea, Samaria and other countries abroad. (Ironically, it was this persecution that paved the way for the earliest missions to the Gentiles.) How this murderous man would later be converted, from Saul the Persecutor to Paul the Propagator of the Christian faith. How Paul’s own life story would become a story of redemption, an example of God “writing straight with crooked lines.”

For the past few days now, I have been hearing about true stories of redemption. Two of them had to do with people who dared to come out and retract the false testimonies that they had made earlier, testimonies that had kept Senator De Lima in jail for the past five years now for allegedly accepting campaign money from illegal drug lords. Can you imagine all the injustice and humiliation that she had been submitted to, only to be told now by two of the people who had testified against her, “Sorry, everything that we said against you was false. We were just forced by powerful people to do it, and we did it because we were afraid of the possible consequences for our loved ones. We hope you can forgive us.”

The other two stories were just as heart-wrenching. One had to do with a daughter who discovered through her own research that her father was indeed a criminal who had caused a lot of sufferings on many martial law victims during the time of the dictatorship. She had been raised in luxury in a Forbes Park mansion, and then educated outside the country. It was like she had lived a shielded life inside a bubble and kept totally unaware of her father’s role in the crimes committed by the dictatorial regime that also enriched her own family. When she learned the truth, her conscience was so stricken she publicly expressed remorse and apologized to the victims for her late father’s sins.

The other one was the story of a son who disowned his mother, a famous former journalist-turned-politician for entering into a political alliance with politicians he calls fascists. He said, “For weeks I have been crying…, screaming every day until I spat out blood. The decision she’s made is so profoundly unthinkable, unconscionable, unforgivable.”

I feel sorry for them both. I hope they are at least able to distinguish between the actions and the persons of their loved ones. You know, the classic expression, “Hate the sin but love the sinner nevertheless.”

Yesterday I posted a reflection in which I commended the two men who had retracted their false testimonies for doing the right thing. For finding the courage to set themselves free from the unbearable weight of conscience. I said, “Our faith holds on to a stubborn belief in a merciful God. No one is beyond redemption for as long as they are willing to humbly ADMIT their wrongdoings, express REMORSE and make concrete acts of REPARATION for them.”

But I also mentioned what the Scripture says about those who stubbornly persist in their wicked ways. In Exodus 20:5, we read, “…I, the LORD, your God…will inflict punishment for the wickedness of parents on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation…”

What a dreadful thought this must be for their children and their children’s children. But here’s the good news; the succeeding generations are not doomed to the sins of their ancestors. They have the option to break the spell of wickedness in their own generation by acknowledging the sins of the previous generation and vowing not to perpetuate them.

In our Gospel, I hear an echo of this good news when Jesus says, “I will not reject anyone who comes to me because I came down to do the will of the one who sent me… that I should not lose anything of what he gave me but that I should raise it on the last day.”

It is what Jesus’ mission is all about—the REDEMPTION of sinners.

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Veritas Editorial

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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