Word Alive By Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD / March 22, 2020 / 4th Sunday of Lent

A lady once approached a priest and confided, “I feel guilty, Father. This morning, before coming to Mass, I committed the sin of pride. I sat for an hour in front of my mirror admiring my beauty.” Will I have to do penance?

The priest, looking at her, replied: “Not at all, my child. You only have to do penance for a sin; not imagination.”

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In the gospel of this 4th Sunday of Lent, we encounter people who, like that lady, are blind (read Jn 9,1-41). They are two kinds: one who is physically blind and people who are spiritually blind; one who wants to see and people who refuse to see.

Of the latter Jesus, who’s referring to the Pharisees (religious leaders), says, “They have eyes but do not see.”

These self-righteous leaders could not see because of hubris, an extreme form of pride, which could not accept Jesus’ teachings and his profession that he was the Son of God. Aren’t we in some ways like the blind Pharisees? For instance, in arguments we insist we’re right when it’s clearly the opposite; all because we think it’s weakness to yield or accept the truth. Or, there are husbands and wives who choose to remain in the dark about what’s wrong with their marriage instead of seeking help or counseling because of amor propio.

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Pride is the worst of all sins. It is the sin that makes a man feel that he is better than others, and that he doesn’t need help from anyone, including God.

Remember the biggest boat ever built in the 1900’s, the TITANIC? The owners boasted: “Not even God can sink this ship!”

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In 1912 when the ship made its maiden voyage accompanied by much fanfare to New York, USA, it struck a huge iceberg which opened a gaping hole on its side and caused it to sink to its watery grave. As the biblical Proverb puts it: “Pride goes before the fall!”

The COVID-19 pandemic that is infecting our world today should teach us humility. It shows that human capability, despite its amazing advances in science and technology, is limited.

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May the season of Lent help us to get rid of our spiritual blindness, see our limitations and accept our weaknesses so the Lord will enter our life and heal us.

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Something impossible is happening between two fierce and warring countries in the Middle East–Israel and Palestine.

Khaled Abu Toameh, The Gatestone Institute, writes that Israelite medical experts are working overtime with the Palestinians to curb and prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Israel has been doing more. Israeli authorities delivered 200 coronavirus testing kits to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria].

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The Israeli authorities have also delivered 200 coronavirus testing kits to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, despite the thousands and incendiary and bomb-carrying balloons that the ruling government, Hamas, has launched from there towards Israel.

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Khaled Abu noted that the Arab countries, like Egypt, has not moved finger to help the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip border. Hardliner Arabs view the gesture of collaboration between Israel and Palestine as a betrayal of their Arabic dominion.

As the saying goes, “Calamities bring out the best and worst in us.” And “the best” with Israel and Palestine is starting to happen. We pray that this will be the beginning of a long, lasting, and peaceful relationship between the two.

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In our country, we see the “best side” of our kababayans. To mention some: medical workers called “frontlines” expose themselves to virus infection by their services and sacrifices; in the PBA, Commissioner Willie Marcial and coach Jeffrey Cariaso have initiated and pledged cash donations to support game personnel who are severely affected by COVID-19; soldiers and police officers manning the check points, engage in verbal tussle with stubborn pilosopos and pasaways.

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“True compassion is understanding the problems of others and reaching out to them.” The most important is the last part.

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