Each one of you is to stay in his own cell or nearby, pondering the Lord’s law day and night and keeping watch at his prayers unless attending to some other duty.
Have you ever felt that you’ve been seen zoned by God? Like you are in the middle of so much turmoil, you ask for help from Him, in your desperation, but no answer seems to be coming from Him? Or even small things that you feel won’t be difficult for Him to give, like passing your exam perhaps? Or getting the promotion you’ve been working on for years? Or how about mending a broken relationship?
Now, how do you think God would feel every time you seen zone Him?
Edita Burgos, a discalced lay Carmelite and wife of Jose Burgos, Jr., a well known opposition journalist during the Martial Law years of the dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, lost her son, farmer-activist Jonas Burgos, and until now is seeking justice for his disappearance.
Her son was abducted by government agents on April 28, 2007 in a very busy mall on broad daylight, with hundreds of people witnessing the abduction. The people were just there, doing their own business. They must have their reason why they were not disturbed by what was unfolding.
Edita shared that initially, her campaign on the disappearance of her son was for justice, but eventually she came to realize that the campaign is something even bigger. She feels that our society no longer reflects the face of God.
In his parable on the end times, Jesus related the story of the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 25:31-46). To the righteous, the king would say: “Come you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me…. Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:34-36, 40).
But to the unrighteous who seen zoned him by not caring for those in need, the king said: “Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41).
We do not need a Jonas for us to show our concern for our brothers. We only need to look around and see – the small vendors who could hardly meet the needs of their family, the homeless, the sick, the workers who have been unjustly laid off by their greedy employers, the missionaries who have been rejected because they cared for the poor.
The Rule of St. Albert would have us Carmelites stay in our cells pondering the Lord’s law day and night, and this has become an easy excuse for us not to be involved in addressing the ills of society. But Bl. Titus Brandsma would put it that contemplation can be interrupted “when necessity compels one to go out and speak to men of the things of God.” For the “care of souls” and “love of neighbor.”
Today, we are made to contemplate on the face of God in the midst of His struggling people, to see God in poverty, in the pains of His people, in their joys and in their hopes.
But more than just seeing and looking and contemplating on these troubling signs that abound in our society, it remains a challenge to translate one’s faith into concrete action that would help liberate society from such ills. And so the question remains, are we seen zoning God?
In what way have I responded to God’s call in caring for those in need?
Then the righteous will answer him and say, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?” And the king will say to them in reply, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
Lord, grant me a heart that not just listens and sees the cry and the wailing of the poor, but one that is inflamed with the desire and the will to be with them and to help them with their needs. Amen.