Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
“Days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” Jesus was speaking about the temple of Jerusalem that was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings. But upon hearing these words, how could we not think of the heritage churches of Bohol that were destroyed by a strong earthquake? How could we not forget the 400 year old Guian Church that was destroyed by Yolanda – not mentioning the other churches and buildings that were devastated by calamities as well? Images of ruined lives and properties continue to preoccupy both the international and local media even though a week has passed since the tragic event. Listening to the readings today, we are easily tempted to ask: Are these the signs? Is the end really near? And the Lord warns us: Do not be deceived. Tragic catastrophes have marked various points of human history. What age did not have its share of wars, famines, earthquakes, storms, and plagues? What our Lord said is true: Do not be terrified, for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.
These tragic events, even if they be of biblical or epic proportions, ought not to disturb nor paralyze us. For such is life: there is an end for everything. Humanity might pride itself of monuments that salute the human spirit. However, all will come to an end: all the proud and evildoers will be stubble. If the Temple, which is the monument built by the Israelites to the honor of God, collapses without leaving a stone upon another stone, how could other less dignified structures fair even better? All will come to an end. All of human history goes by this path. However, we must not be disturbed nor be terrified. Instead, our concern must be to give testimony to Christ by facing trials and difficulties, even if such be caused by those whom we loved like parents, brothers, relatives and friends. We must continue to work quietly like the apostles who night and day worked in toil and drudgery [nagpagal araw at gabi] so as not to be a burden to anyone. And is this not the witness that our countrymen are giving to the world? Anderson Cooper had these words about what he saw in Tacloban: “When everything else is taken away, broken and battered, so raw, stripped bare… you see things, you see people as they really are. This week in Tacloban, Samar and Cebu, amidst the hunger and thirst, the chaos and confusion, we've seen the best in the Filipino people. Their strength…Their courage: I can't get it out of my mind…Imagine the strength it takes a mother to search alone for her missing kids…the strength to sleep near the body of her child…We've seen people with every reason to despair, their right to be angry… instead find ways to laugh, to love, to stand up, to move forward. A storm breaks wood and bone, brings hurt and heartbreak…in the end the wind the water, the horrid wind is not the end of the storm. With aid and assistance, compassion and care... this place... these people... they will make it through. They already survived the worst. They're bowed perhaps, tired and traumatized, but they are not broken. Mabuhay, Philippines. Maraming salamat for all you've shown us. Maraming salamat for showing us how to live."
Our countrymen are presently suffering. But in their suffering, they are giving their valuable witness to Christ before all the earth. It is true that the whole world is giving them aid. But the victims of the typhoon are giving to the world a firm testimony of their faith in Christ. Their patience and long suffering show us how to live out the admonition of the Lord: “Stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” Indeed, what the Lord assures us is worth our belief: “Not a hair of your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance, you will secure your lives.”
Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.