WORD Becoming, Spiritual Reflection by Fr Rod Salazar Jr, SVD (Philippines)
Most of us being priests,
we concelebrate our daily Mass
at Villa Cristo Rey,
our retirement and recuperating house,
seated in the pews with only
the main celebrant
at the altar. But we pray together.
I was awake, though drowsy,
when saying “This is My Body,
This is My Blood.”
I must have dozed off after that
jolted to reality just in time for
“Lord, I am not worthy..”
But in that short span
between “say but the word”
my eyes must have closed again.
Then he gently touched my hand,
Father Dom did, saying “Body of Christ”
softly but loud enough
to stir me to say, “Amen”.
Oh I am sorry, Lord. And thank you.
Sorry, sorry, sorry.
Did I blush?
I was too groggy to even remember.
Maybe. Maybe not. O Lord, have mercy.
What is it “to blush”?
Blushing is the spontaneous reaction
of the body when we are embarrassed
or put to shame.
The blood rushes to the face
and we turn red or pink depending on our complexion.
And we like it or not, depending on the situation.
There’s really nothing we can do about it.
It’s just part of our system.
Some of us feel good when that happens
especially when we are told
“You’re cute when you smile
your dimples show.”
And we redden even more.
There are those who purposely
put on a blusher or blush-on
as part of make-up so that
the cheeks show spots of red or pink
making them feel even more lovely..
More than the hoped-for attractiveness
that put-on blushing does,
it is really a reminder that we may have done
something wrong, or said something stupid,
prompting us to be more careful the next time.
What happens, though,
When the body does not react
And we do not blush?
What would that mean?
I found it rather thrilling
when I read in the book of the prophet Jeremiah
that even in his time, some 600 years BC,
even he knew about – BLUSHING.
He used the term to depict
the shamelessness of the people.
Twice in his book, Jeremiah 6:15
And 8:12, he mentions BLUSHING.
“Are they ashamed of their disgusting conduct?
No, they have NO SHAME at all;
THEY HAVE FORGOTTEN HOW TO BLUSH.
So they will fall among the fallen;
They will be brought down
when they are punished, says the Lord.”
What does it mean
to have forgotten how to blush ?
It means that the self no longer
reacts to the reminder from within
that something needs correcting.
So one wrong leads to another
And another and another
Until one loses count
The conscience is killed.
and we become WALANG HIYA.
Back in 1957, Ayn Rand
released her book ATLAS SHRUGGED.
A piercing remark:
“When you see that trading is done,
not by consent, but by compulsion;
when you see that in order to produce,
you need permission from men who
when you see that money is flowing
to those who deal, not in goods
but in favors;
when you see that men get richer
by graft and by pull rather than by work,
and your laws don’t protect you against them,
but protect them against you;
when you see corruption being rewarded
and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice –
YOU MAY KNOW THAT YOUR SOCIETY IS DOOMED.”
Such a society comes to be when
people having done wrong
FORGET HOW TO BLUSH.
Or ignore what the blushing prompts.
As Lord Acton, 19th century British historian
once said, “POWER CORRUPTS.
and ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY.
In the movie, Judgment at Nuremberg,
produced in 1961 but set in 1948
with the Second World War ended,
Nazi judges are brought to trial
for their crimes against humanity.
The exchange between Ernst Janning
and presiding Judge Dan Heywood
is very telling.
Having actually condemned
millions of Jews to the gas chamber,
Nazi Ernst Janning explains that
he did not know
“IT WOULD COME TO THAT”.
Judge Heywood replies:
— IT CAME TO THAT –
the first time
you sentenced a man to death
you knew to be innocent.”
Ignoring the probable blushing the first time
led to no more blushing the millionth time
that justice was not served.
What to do, then?
Live the attentive life.
Regularly enter the quiet
Listen to the prompting of the Spirit.
Many years ago,
a Latin poetry competition was held.
The topic was the Miracle at Cana (John 2, 1-11)
when Jesus turned WATER into WINE.
The winner was a one-line poem.
Taking a cue from Psalm 77:17 which says
“The waters saw you, O God, and trembled”,
the winner wrote (in translation)
“The waters of Cana saw their God and BLUSHED.”
O Lord, please make me sensitive to Your Presence
Every time anywhere —
as the waters of Cana were.
Make tender my conscience.
Help me to listen to Your voice from within.
Teach me please to
REMEMBER HOW TO BLUSH.