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Word Alive–Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD

February 5, 2023 / 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Fr. Joseph Dau Vu, SVD, was a Catholic chaplain of the Vietnamese boat-people refugees in Morong, Bataan. He related to me how he, together with 55 compatriots, slipped out of communist Saigon on an old, decrepit motorized boat and sailed out, not knowing where they could find refuge.

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The “boat priest” reminisced with profound sadness: “When people along the coast from neighboring countries saw us, they attacked, robbed, and exploited us. They even towed our boat far away, cut the rope, leaving our boat bobbing in the deep water. But when Filipino fishermen saw our predicament, they gave food and welcomed us to their shore. “Why are Filipinos different?” Fr. Dau Vu asked and answered: “It is because Filipinos are Christians.”

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In this Sunday gospel, Jesus tells his disciples “You are the salt of the earth” (Mt 5,13).

Besides adding taste to food, salt preserves it from spoiling. In a world growing more and more callous, merciless, and materialistic because of greed and the “I-don’t-care” attitude which the heartless people showed towards the Vietnamese boat people. We followers of Christ are exhorted to preserve the gospel values like compassion, honesty, justice, peace, forgiveness, and exemplify them in life.

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“You are the LIGHT of the world” is another image Christ uses. “Let your light shine before men so that they may see your goodness and give praise to your heavenly Father” (Mt 5,16).

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Note that Jesus is not telling us to “parade” our light or trumpeting our achievements before people. He’s telling us simply that we should BE a light to them. There’s a big difference between “parading” our light and “being” a light.

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One time I was conversing with a barangay chairman. I asked why he kept on running for the top position.

He replied: “I want people to have a high regard for me and my family. I want people to recognize me and make ‘mano’ to me.”

I admired the man’s frank response but his motive was egoistic and not the primary objective of serving constituents.

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ASK YOURSELF: Do you radiate the light of good deeds? God has given you gifts like a political position, a business acumen, an inherited big bank account or a prime lot. Isn’t it only proper that you use these free gifts not only for self-glorification and enjoyment but also share with the underprivileged and less fortunate?

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Does my Christian faith make a big difference in an environment where corrupt practices, indifference, and injustices are rampant?

Like the example of those compassionate Filipino fishermen and many other good Christians, it takes only a pinch of salt to have a tremendous effect, and it takes only a tiny flame of light to dispel the darkness over a vast area.

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Husband: Our helper robbed us of our expensive towel when she left.

Wife: People nowadays have no more values. Which towel did she run off?

Husband: The one with the logo “Holiday Hotel.” (Look who’s talking about “no more moral values”).

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A doctor asked a patient: “Why did you slap the guy you were talking with?”

The angry man replied: “Imagine, he saw me very nervous about the result of my Covid test and he still said: ‘THINK POSITIVE!’”

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