Someone commented that some people are like Google: They never quite allow you to finish your questions. There are people who don’t really listen, and right away they have answers, recommendations and suggestions.
In today’s Gospel (Mt. 18, 15-20), Jesus tells His disciples the importance of fraternal correction that leads to reconciliation. Yes, the kingdom is not only within us, but between and among us. The Cross reminds us that our relationship with God is not only vertical but also horizontal—i.e., it includes our brothers and sisters.
Fraternal correction is not easy. Confronted with such a situation, we often would dismiss it, or just look the other way, or just say it is none of our business. Jesus tells us it is our business to do so, to build up the kingdom of God.
Keep trying. We must not give up in pointing out what is true and what is good. The alternative is to shut up and not care at all. Blessed are they who continue to perform their prophetic role especially in these days, braving persecution and oppression. We take consolation from our Lord who said that He would acknowledge before His heavenly Father those who were not ashamed of Him.
To facilitate fraternal correction, I often advise husbands and wives to use a “password” signaling that they need to talk about something. Words like “coffee,” “sandwich,” “heart to heart”—whatever. Try it. Just start it, and the Holy Spirit will do the rest. Yes, the Lord is with us, between us, and among us.
Fr. Herminio “Among” Ricafort, SVD, 78, had no degree in higher studies, but he had a doctorate in human relations. This was how Fr. Resty Lumanlan, SVD, described his classmate and cabalen in his homily at Father Among’s funeral last Sept. 7. He did not know how to use a computer, he did not even have a cell phone, but he touched the hearts of so many people, in different places. He was one person who reached out. He was not afraid to correct, and he always exerted efforts to connect.
It was by far the biggest funeral at Christ the King Seminary. Pocholo Murillo, president of the SVD ex-seminarians, counted about 120 concelebrants during the Mass. He was not only a formator, but he was a father, an “Among” to us, open and welcoming. He cared, he listened—and that was all that mattered. And he was kind. People forget how intelligent, how talented, how powerful or how wealthy we are. But people never forget our kindness, especially when they needed it most.
I had the privilege to live with Father Among in the last three years of his life in our Mission Center in San Jose, Batangas, which he started in 2000. He stayed put alone for five years, making the place functional. The trees he personally planted are bearing fruit now, and so are the apostolates he started there.
Father Among was a good cook, the Kapampangan that he was. I have never met an SVD who would cook for his confreres. On a personal note, when my dog (my faithful companion) was run over by a vehicle in December 2014, he made sure that it had a decent resting place, complete with a tombstone.
I was also edified by his personal love for and devotion to Mama Mary. Thank you, Father Among, for the care and the prayers together; for sharing the dream of putting up a Marian Sanctuary/hermitage somewhere; for the lessons learned from you for life, for the priesthood, for the ministry.
“Be faithful. Serve the Church. Love the SVD.” This was Father Among’s constant message, in words and by his very life example. He was among the best of the SVD. A beautiful and gentle September moon lighted his path/stairway to heaven.
Inviting you to the “2nd Sacred Heart Congress” on Sept. 23, 1 p.m.-7 p.m., at the Sacred Heart Parish, Kamuning, Quezon City. The congress is an opportunity to deepen our understanding, devotion, and sense of mission following the inspiration of the Sacred Heart. The speakers are yours truly, Sr. Angel Libron, SSpS, and Fr. Jerome Marquez, SVD, as Mass presider. For details, please call 9290419.
A moment with the Lord:
Lord, remind us that You are with us, between us, and among us always. Amen.
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