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HOMILY: To Be Christ’s Heart Today

Column Titles 2023 20240226 134313 0000

(Homily delivered on the commemoration of EDSA I on the 2nd Sunday of Lent, 25 February 2024 at the MIC Cursillo House in Davao City)

In the readings today, we are confronted with the poignant dilemma faced by Abraham and the reluctance of Peter. Abraham, the father of faith, found himself torn between obeying God’s command to sacrifice his only child, Isaac, and his paternal instincts to protect him. Similarly, Peter thought that putting up their tents and just staying on the mountain would be better than journeying to Jerusalem. His hesitation reflects the weight of the impending suffering they will be facing, yet it also underscores the necessity of going there for the mission.

These passages speak about the reality of struggle — the tension between obedience and human instinct, between security and sacrifice, between right and wrong.

As a young priest who hasn’t directly lived through EDSA I and the tumultuous times of both the Church as an institution and the Filipino people as a nation, I often wrestle with the sense that my perspective holds little weight. How many times have I heard people telling me: “Wala man gud ninyo nasinati ang among nasinati sa una,” which is like a slap to my face, telling me that I have no right to say anything about it, because my ideas are far from the struggles of those who were there during those years. While that may be true, I also feel that this does not negate my understanding of what it means to grapple with adversity, to struggle.

Fr. Paul John Banaybanay, who celebrated the mass to commemorate the 38th anniversary of the People Power Revolution in Davao City on 25 February 2024, celebrated his 28th birthday earlier this month.

While I may not have been physically present during EDSA, I know the struggle of raising one’s voice in spaces where one’s thought is not readily welcomed, of fighting for justice from a disadvantaged position, and of holding one’s ground despite threats and attempts to silence.

The struggles of the past continue into the present, although in different forms.

While our circumstances may differ from those of 38 years ago, the essence of standing up for righteousness and condemning injustice remains unchanged — it is still a struggle.

But, commemorating what happened 38 years ago, and talking about the efforts made to fight against corruption, at the core of our current challenges lies one formidable opponent: indifference.

Indifference is the choice to remain apathetic, to turn a blind eye to the struggles of others. Experience will tell us that It is often easier to retreat into our own comfort zones, to stay within the confines of our own “tents,” where we feel secured and unaffected. In the face of threats, remaining silent, and forgetting to care, can seem like the safest option, a way to avoid danger and discomfort.

And this is, personally, what I feel needs to be done: to always remind ourselves that people are still in struggle, and they need our attention.

By revisiting the experiences of EDSA, we confront indifference head-on. We are reminded that even in the darkest times, something remarkable can emerge — that something good can still come out from the worst of situations.

EDSA serves as a beacon of hope, a testament to the resilience of the human spirit against indifference. It’s a call to action, urging us to break free from complacency and embrace the transformative potential of collective care and compassion—as church, and as people of this nation.

Fr. Paul John “PJ” Banaybanay delivers his homily during the mass to commemorate the 38th anniversary of the People Power Revolution in Davao City on Sunday, 25 February 2024. MindaNews photo

As we reflect and commemorate the EDSA revolution in the 2nd Sunday of Lent, it becomes clear that God’s message to us is one of choosing to confront the barriers to salvation and freedom. Jesus had the option to remain where he was and just avoid Jerusalem, a known perilous territory under the control of “the powers that be.” But instead, He chose to journey there, descended from the mountain of indifference, boldly proclaiming God’s hope and salvation while resisting the oppressive forces of his time.

Long before the events of 1986, Jesus actively advocated for the Truth, even as he endured the path that led to the Cross.

But by ourselves alone, we can only do so much. In order to carry on the legacy of EDSA I, we must seek the grace of courage: the same courage that resided within the heart of Jesus.

Allow me to conclude by sharing with you a few lines from a song composed by Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ, my theology professor. This song articulates the same plea, beseeching for the grace to possess and embody the heart of Jesus—something that anyone needs in the face of struggle.

Composed in the spirit of EDSA people power 1 and dedicated to the late Ninoy Aquino and the late Former President Cory Aquino, these lyrics resonate deeply our prayers and desires:

“Lord, grant me courage, grant me strength, grant me compassion, that I may be your heart today. And when I’ve done all that I could, yet there are hearts I cannot move, Lord, give me hope. That I may be your heart today.”

(Fr. Paul John “PJ” Banaybanay was born 10 years after the 1986 People Power Revolution.  He was ordained priest on August 7, 2023 and is presently the Vocation Director of the Diocese of Tagum in Davao del Norte. He is also the Director of the Propaedeutic Formation Year of the Queen of Apostles College Seminary in Tagum City. He posted this on his FB page on Sunday. MindaNews was granted permission to publish this).

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