SONRIENDO Has Dicho Mi Nombre

“Gently smiling, You have spoken my name.”

Image source : ASEAN CRS Network

By Fr Roderick Salazar SVD

It always gets me, this line, especially in Spanish.

Popular in the Spanish-speaking Catholic world,
the title of the song of which it is a part is
PESCADOR DE HOMBRES: Fisher of Men.

It was written by Basque Spanish Roman Catholic
priest, biblical theologian and liturgical composer,
Cesareo Gabarain in 1979.

There have been two English translations since
then, but the Spanish original was how I first
heard it and got enamored with it.

For the longest time since the 1990s, and for nearly
twenty years I was privileged to represent Catholic
Education in the Philippines and in Asia in the annual
meeting of an international organization of Catholic
schools that was founded in 1952 in Switzerland.
It has three official languages, starting with its name,
and in all its documents, meetings and activities:
French, Spanish, and English.

Office de l’Enseignement Catholique (OIEC)
Oficina Internacional De La Educacion Catolica
International Office of Catholic Education

At our meetings, including our daily liturgy,
the three language groups each had its turn in
presiding. Every time the Spanish group led the
Holy Mass, inevitably the song would come up.

At the first line of the refrain, my heart would start
beating faster, but at the second line, I would just
be stilled, I would sigh, even silently cry:

“Senor, me has mirado a los ojos
Lord, with Your eyes set upon me
SONRIENDO, has dicho mi nombre
Gently smiling, You have spoken my name
En la arena he dejado mi barca
In the sand, I’ve abandoned my boat
Junto a ti, buscare otro mar
By Your side, I will seek other shores.”

Smiling, gently smiling, says the song.

Bravely does it say it, though one never finds in
all four gospels that Jesus smiled or laughed.
That He wept, Yes. That He was angry, yes, too.
But that He laughed or smiled, there is nothing.
Though I am positive that completely human as
Jesus was, in His life He would have laughed or
smiled, naturally. Perhaps at Zaccheus who
climbed a tree just to see Him. Perhaps at the
children whom He gathered around Him, despite
His disciples scolding the little ones and their mothers.

So it is such a thrill for me to imagine Jesus
“gently smiling as He speaks my name.”

It is another way of expressing what Isaiah had said:

“But now, this is what the Lord says – He who
created you, Jacob, He who formed you, Israel:
‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you.
I have summoned you by name.
You are mine.”

I pray that all of us, especially in those moments
when we feel neglected, forgotten, abandoned
by God, remember that He loves us, smilingly.

I did not have to be in this world. But I am here.
Why? How? I come from my parents, yes, and
I have my set of biological brothers and sisters
and relatives and all my friends and colleagues.
How? Why? Why was I not born in 1888 or at the
time of the dinosaurs? Why precisely on the date
that I was born in the place where I saw light?

Because God created me, wanted my existence,
my life, loved me. He created me out of nothing.
Or better yet, from Himself. My biological parts
through my parents, but my soul, the living I,
from where? Where else but from – HIM.

Just as He has created each of us and all of us.

I pause to marvel, to wonder — at this mystery.

This song that I love so much, the composer wrote
from a meditation on the call of Jesus of Simon and
Andrew, James and John at the shore of the Lake
of Galilee, as narrated in Luke, 5, 1-11.

There is another “call story” in Mark 3, 13-19.
Here, all Twelve Apostles are named and called
individually, including Judas Iscariot, with that
sad description, “who betrayed Him.”

Verse 13 says, “He went up the mountain, and
summoned THOSE WHOM HE WANTED, and
they came to Him.”

THOSE WHOM HE WANTED!!! Explicit choice.

The verse continues that Jesus wanted to send
them forth to preach and to have authority
over demons. But before this line is a phrase
often missed or just glossed over by many
a reader, even by priests.

The FIRST REASON that Jesus called His Apostles
by name was: That they might BE WITH HIM.

To be WITH HIM, first.
Then only, but still with Him – to go and preach.
If we are not WITH HIM, we are lost.

I take this Gospel text as not only referring to those
called to be priests or religious but to EVERY ONE.

You and I were called to BEING to BE WITH GOD.

This is the reason why we are who we are.

Our life now is but a preparation for, a practicing
TO BE WITH GOD for all eternity.

Would that each of us and all of us realize this.
Now, even now, we need to pause and appreciate this.

Maybe this is the reason why I am stilled and I sigh
and I cry when I hear the song Pescador de Hombres.

Because it touches the core of my being.

“O Lord, with Your eyes set upon me
Gently smiling, You have spoken my name
In the sand, I’ve abandoned my boat
By Your side, I will seek other shores…”

“Senor, me has mirado a los ojos
SONRIENDO has dicho mi nombre
En la arena he dejado mi barca
Junto a Ti, buscare otro mar …”

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