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A Third Look at Jesus

Posted by Prosy Delacruz













The Children's Choir of Our Lady of Loreto

Fr. Rodel Balagtas of IHMC Church

A Third Look at Jesus

By Prosy Abarquez-Delacruz, J.D.

“We are but bamboo flutes…through which flow the Divine Music. The flute has to be silent so that the music may flow…” - Fr. Carlos H.(Abe) Abesamis

Recently, Marilen lost her brother, Fr. Carlos Abesamis, who I believed was a special person, even if I had not met him.

Imagine preparing a 313-page scrapbook, about what folks feel about you and having it printed in book form. Imagine the loving Fr. Abe venturing beyond his fears to write an essay (a first), a poem (a first try), or even a reflection (a first from a yaya who took care of Fr. Abe and his siblings -- her wisdom recited in Tagalog and written as part of the book.)

It was unlike anything I have ever seen, even for people who are so loved by their families. It was a permanent record of folks’ adulation and abiding love. But more than that, it is Fr. Abe's account of his enduring influence, through his theological principles, about the Third Look of Jesus to priests of all denominations -- protestant ministers, nuns of diverse religious orders, countless students, colleages, family, and friends around the world.

He even influenced Tony Meloto, founder of Gawad Kalinga and author of Builder of Dreams. On page 128 of Meloto's book, he quotes Fr. Abesamis on Christ’s mission: “ I have come to call not those who call themselves righteous but those whom they call sinners. I,the physician, extend my Kingdom call and life-blessings not to self-appointed saints but to the broken members of our human community – the tax collectors, thieves and prostitutes. I dare to replace tax collectors with politicians as reflective of our present reality. Forgiveness of sins in the pre-crucifixion stage of Jesus’ life was part of his mission. But it is incorrect to think that ‘sin and forgiveness ‘ is the adequate and complete resume of Jesus’ mission. Rather, health for the sick, life for the dead, liberation for the poor and similar blessings are also integral to the mission."

What entails having "A Third Look at Jesus?"

“I will bless you and you will be a blessing to others."(Genesis 12)

“Give your life away and you’ll find your life given back. But not merely given back, given back with bonus and blessing." (Luke 6)

When I first looked at these two verses with a strict perspective, I perceived it to suggest that a person of faith will be blessed, provided that one stays anchored to God and his life’s purpose be from God.

It may be quite ritualistic, but a first look at Jesus persuades you to simply stay connected to him, and to consider sharing yourself with others. A regular church-going person, who sometimes give alms and even some good-natured deeds from time to time, satisfies what he/she believes is a first look at the Word of God.

The second look is the way the Bible is interpreted by church institutions and their representatives. Fr. John Era, CM, a Vincentian Priest from the Philippines who is taking his Masters Degree in Illinois, spoke of how we are exporters of cultural values to the next generation when he celebrated a simbang gabi mass on December 17.

The reading was about the lineage of Abraham, which ran up to the time of David the King -- 14 generations in all. The Bible readings spoke of at least three interchanges of 14 generations to the present, about 2,700 years ago.

He also spoke of how we, as Filipinos, are generous and kind to those close us. According to a psychologist, proximity is a determinant of generosity.

In Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, over 80% of its parishioners pledged to the church’s capital endowment project to remodel its structures at close to $2,000,000 with over $154,536 already received as cash on hand.

For a faithful person, a tithing of over 15% might be enough to show one’s piety. Others would go much further, and give their time and talent, in addition to their treasures.

Take Pete Avendano, a tenor who conducts the

Immaculate Heart of Mary Choir. He devoted a lot of his weekends recently to practice with the entire choir for their December 6 performance for the Filipino American Symphony Orchestra at the Pasadena Civic Center.

Pete and the IMHC choir went a bit further with their faith by dedicating a portion of their lives in order to share their musical talents.

They hone and nurture their talents by practicing countless hours to learn new musical arrangements and by building stronger ties with each other -- thus giving their best at each service and performance.This is their second look at Jesus.

Filipinos in America and around the globe remit to the tune of $14 billion every year to the Philippines to support their families. Their sharing is the extension of their faith.

Even with the worst US recession in years, Filipinos gave generously to Typhoon Ondoy’s survivors. Ayala Foundation USA's November 2009 financial report indicates that they received $200,000 for the victims of Typhoon Ondoy.

UNICEF challenged the generosity of Filipino-Americans and Americans alike when they announced a challenge grant of $100,000. In two days, they increased it to $500,000, after the $100,000 challenge was met in just a few days.

But, is this really the third look at Jesus? If the Bible’s “Justice shall flourish in his time and fullness of peace forever,” is to be fulfilled, is it enough that we are simply focused on caring for our families here and back home?

Should we broaden justice to ensure that everyone gets their due? Should we regard strangers who are among the poorest of poor as our brothers or sisters and provide them with our kalinga as well?

Tony Meloto with Roger Oriel

Like Fr. Carl Abesamis, Tony Meloto believes in the Third Look at Jesus. In order for the Philippines to have justice and lasting peace and become a part of the First World Nations in 2020, Gawad Kalinga places its confidence on the necessities of providing land for the landless, home for the homeless, healthcare for the sick, education for children and adults, and livelihood projects to keep folks in productive endeavors.

I would even add jobs with living wages to support families so that the 85% of the population will no longer be wallowing in poverty (Poverty figures were obtained in an interview with Jose Ma. Montelibano, Dec. 6, 2009).

During his book launch, Meloto announced that Gawad Kalinga has enough land to build for 50,000 communities. He, however, did not disclose its equivalent monetary value.

The homes can be built in no time, with the volunteerism of “village builders."

Dylan Wilk, his son-in-law, spoke of how Meloto refused his $100,000 donation. Instead, he was invited to help build homes. Dylan was so taken by Meloto's bold gesture of refusing his contribution. He sold his BMW, built 400 homes and then married Tony’s daughter.

Today, Dylan is considered a Filipino by heart. He has embraced Gawad Kalinga and has recently launched Human Nature Products from organically-grown ingredients in Gawad Kalinga agricultural farms. The new homeowners, who were once rejects of society, are now productive citizens. When Typhoon Ondoy hit, they became leaders and participants for relief efforts.

Indeed, “Justice shall flourish in his time and fullness of peace forever! “

It is what Chris Lowney describes as “the willingness to work without a script and to dream up imaginative new approaches to problems that have stymied others."

Gawad Kalinga worked with warring datus to build homes in both Muslim and Catholic communities. Over 300 folks came to Mindanao from all parts of the Philippines to build homes for these villages.

This happened weeks before the unfortunate Ampatuan massacre that left of 57 people dead (including 32 journalists; 22 of the victims were women, 5 of whom were raped). Within a span of weeks, the goodwill built by Gawad Kalinga and the peace that it thought would last forever was overturned by a family’s grip on power.

Before the political massacre, Gawad Kalinga received tremendous support from warring tribes -- the unconditional support of Muslims and Catholics, including the local government. In the aftermath of the tragedy, the Philippines became the most dangerous country in the world, next to Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

If you find yourself at the helm of steering social change, how would you provide justice so that the fullness of peace reigns forever? How would you know if you're living by the third look at Jesus? How would our faith become not just beliefs, but also thoughts, actions and perhaps even our legacy?

I would like to tackle this more on the second part of this piece as an offering for New Year 2010. Until the next issue, and please email me your thoughts at prosyad@hotmail.com. As always, may God’s blessings and abundance be yours!

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