Theme of the 2022 National Bible Week Celebration in the Philippines   

By: Estrella (Star) del Mar

16 For this is how God loved the world: He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.  17 For God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world but so that through him, the world might be saved. 18 No one who believes in him might be judged; but whoever does not believe is judged already, because that person does not believe in the Name of God’s only Son.  19 And the judgment is this:  though the light has come into the world, people have preferred darkness to the light because their deeds were evil. 

20 And indeed, everybody who does wrong, hates the light and avoids it, to prevent his actions from being shown up; 21 but whoever does the truth comes out into the light, so that what he is doing may plainly appear as done in God.

(John 3:16-21)

This passage is very famous for its first verse.  But the succeeding verses are equally important.  Verses 18 and the following, show the situation we are in now.  Read again verses 20 -21.

Why do our world suffer now?  Why the pandemic killing and making millions get infected? Why super typhoons destroying farmlands, houses, electrical posts and water supply?  Why earthquakes?  Why tsunami? Why big fires that burn down several houses and people?  Why war that kills civilians, women and children?  Why fake news and various kinds of activities that rob, corrupt, and make people poor?  Why so many injustices and crimes?  Why drug war and drug addicts? Then people ask “where is God?   Why does He allow all these to happen? 

We are looking at the events, effects and consequences of something that is the source of all evil.  A few seem to benefit from these all:  the rich getting richer, the powerful getting more powerful, the drug lords getting global wealth, the corrupt officials getting more corrupt working as a team, businessmen who are more concerned of their profits than of their poor workers, middlemen getting more profits than the farmers who worked and toiled the soil under the heat, ETC. ETC.  The litany seems endless!  There is so much greed, envy and thirst for power and more power.  Then people ask “where is God?  Why does He allow all these?  Why does He allow the evil to prosper?”

 And yet our theme tells us:  God’s Love heals a suffering world.  How?  Can we see, feel, experience God’s love in all that the world suffer? When we talk about a suffering world, this is not just about people.  This includes our natural world – Nature, Kalikasan, the plants and animals in the land and seas.  Many of their kinds are totally or almost extinct now.  The Philippines continued to export lumber even when our forest are getting bald for deforestation.  We tolerate illegal logging because of the powerful owners or supporters.  We allow big time farmers to deplete our soil, poison our land with pesticides and chemical fertilizers and genetic alterations to get more harvest even with their low quality.  And our small farmers who use the old method are left behind getting harvest at a losing business. 

We allow our seas to be fished by foreigners who get our most precious fish supply, brought to their country, and returned to us as frozen fish and sea food sold in our markets and restaurants.  We allow more big time fishing vessels that our small time fisher folks are left with the remains of their catch.  ETC. ETC.  Are these God’s work and God’s will?

We get more super typhoons every year.  What happened to the natural global wind movement?  Where are our mountains that used to be buffers of the wind to find its natural course around the world?  Why have we flattened the mountains and mined our rich mountains to its depletion that the future generations have none to mine anymore?

Urban cities have expanded their land acquisitions to the hillsides and mountains. Cities have all roads and byways cemented thereby making them water-proofed thereby preventing water absorption of our land to return to underground water for our wells, and reserve water for our plants/trees during summer.  Rain water runs through water repellent streets that cause floods since the drainage that brings the water to the canals and rivers could not carry the volume.

Global warming is real.  The ozone layer has been destroyed and the opening in our atmosphere is getting bigger and bigger thus we need additional protection from ultra violet radiation that cause a lot of destruction to nature and people. ETC. ETC. I could go on and on but we may be changing the topic to an Ecology lecture.

Does God wills all these to happen to us?  Are we victims or have we caused all these?  This may require a deeper and longer reflection beyond this short sharing.

So HOW does God’s LOVE HEALS a suffering world?  The answer has been given to us by God, Himself, when His warning strategies given by the Prophets were not heard by the people.  He gave His only Son to complete the covenant but that the covenant continues with us through the sacrifice of His Son – the Word made Flesh in Jesus Christ!

Those of us who have a personal relationship with Jesus know what I am talking about.  Those of us who try our best to overcome our human limitations to follow Jesus’ teachings and examples are contributing to the HEALING PROCESS of this suffering world.  Those of us who are honest and do not give in to the temptation of greed, corruption, earning big money without working.  Those who do not exploit people and abuse them simply because they were not given opportunities for better education and opportunities. Those of us who do not allow ourselves to be corrupted with easy money like dole outs, vote buying or big favors promised if they win the elections.  Those of us who do not sell our dignity and integrity for instant wealth and power.  ETC. ETC.  These are the people who have experienced and recognized God’s LOVE in their lives because they were given BLESSINGS that are shared by caring, generous people who want to share God’s love to them and ask for no repayment.  Those who show unconditional love to others – not only to family or close friends. Those who, like the poor widow, could give his/her all in spite of one’s own poverty! Look at the people who helped the victims of calamities like typhoons, earthquakes, flood, covid pandemic, etc.

Those who trust and hope in the Lord, in spite of endless frustration and seeming desperation to see people change for a better home, a better community, a better country, a better world!

Let us be inspired and encouraged by these verses in our Scripture from the Gospel of Luke 4:16-21.  “The Spirit of the Lord is on me for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the afflicted.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives; sight to the blind; to let the oppressed go free; to proclaim a year of favor from the Lord..”

“He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. Then he began to speak to them: This text, is being fulfilled today even while you are listening.”

Truly, they are being fulfilled today by millions of people who have responded to God’s Love or paying forward the blessings received. If “PAYING FORWARD” continues then more and more people are being blessed, healed and changed! 

Are you willing to share with others because you have been blessed?  Are you willing to share with others the little that you have because the joy you experience in giving is bigger than the need of the person being given? 

When we have more and more people who are conscious of being loved by God and blessed, the Spirit of the Lord is truly upon them, upon us!  Can we be among these people? 

Can we refrain from hurting, exploiting, abusing, cheating and spreading fake news to destroy the character and integrity of other people?

As St. Francis said “it is in giving that we receive…”  It is in giving love, that we receive love. 

It is also in giving hatred, destruction, character assassination, bad wishes that we receive the same. People call it “karma”.  Maybe, but I believe that when we do or wish evil things on others, we allow the evil spirit to dwell in us and allow the evil to manage our life or dictate our actions.

Do good to your “neighbor” and you get back inner joy, inner peace and self-fulfillment. You find your life purpose and happiness. You will be proud to report to the good Lord at the day of reckoning!

Just don’t allow yourselves to be exploited and abused.  That is also giving in to the evil ways around us. 

Remember, our “neighbor”, according to Jesus, is the one in need of our help beyond geographic limits!  We are the world!  We need one another!  We heal the world together!

Share God’s LOVE because God’s Love heals a suffering world!   PAY IT FORWARD!


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