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Who is brave?

I have heard many definitions of bravery, but this one really made me laugh: “Bravery is about a man who has
diarrhea and taking a chance to fart.”

In today’s Gospel (Mt. 5, 38-48), Jesus shows us a different kind of bravery. He was not afraid to speak His truth to crowds. He did not tone down or water down His message just to please the crowds or get their approval. That’s what bravery is all about: proclaiming what is good and doing what is good, no matter what.

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To offer no resistance to one who is evil, to turn the other cheek, to hand over one’s tunic and cloak as well, to go the extra mile, to give to those who ask, and not to turn one’s back on one who wants to borrow—all these are foolish, if not downright stupid, for a man of this world! And yet this was Jesus’ brave challenge then, and, more so, his brave challenge now.

Jesus goes on to encourage us to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us, to love not only those who love us, to greet even those who are not our brothers and sisters… Wow! Masyadong too much. Sobrang over! But the challenge remains. It is difficult to be a real Christian. It is difficult to love according to Christ’s standards and terms. As someone aptly put it: “No wonder why Christ had very few friends.”

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Who is brave? The world tells us this: Brave are those who are tough and rough, those who kill and who are not afraid to be killed. Jesus tells us that brave are those who are willing to give in, to “lose,” and to sacrifice.

We lost a brave confrere in the person of Fr. Martin Mandin, SVD, last Feb. 14, the Day of Hearts. He faced cancer and death with a brave heart. In life, he was not afraid to operate from the heart, and he did not belittle matters of the heart. He was a formator and a professor with a licentiate in moral theology, but he remained humble and human. He was intelligent, with a heart.

Father Martin was not afraid to laugh, to be jolly, to be warm, and to be funny. One got the feeling that he just wanted to make people happy, especially the sick and the lonely, to whom he ministered generously. He was not afraid to be disturbed in his comfort zone.

Father Martin was not afraid to be simple. He was very casual and free. To some, he was a man who was not driven, who had no agenda. They are correct. He was not driven to be successful or popular. He had no agenda other than to be faithful and true to his calling.

At one time Father Martin shared with me how intrigued he was about a sign outside a shop in Tacloban City that read: “We repair saints.” He entered the shop, and found out that it was in the business of repairing broken statues of saints. He said it made him reflect that we all, especially the holier-than-thou or the better-than-thou among us, need repairing.

Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, was a very cold day. Literally. The morning temperature in Metro Manila was in the low 20s. It was also a cold and lonely day for some because of solitude, loneliness, separation, death, fear, guilt, and sinfulness. This is where precisely the power of Jesus’ “foolish” message about forgiveness and true love can bring light and warmth to many cold and lonely hearts. Humility is the key, forgiveness is the door, and love is the bounty. Let’s be courageous, let’s be brave, let’s do it His way.

Think about this: “Be tender with the young; compassionate with the aged; sympathetic with the striving; tolerant with the weak and wrong. Sometime in our life we will have been all of these.”

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Bantay Matanda invites you to a lay  forum on “Disaster preparedness for the elderly” at the Tuklong ni San Jose, Christ the King Seminary, E. Rodriguez Sr.  Avenue, Quezon City. For inquiries, please call 3732262, 9982548, or 0917-4167849.

A moment with the Lord:
Lord, remind us that true courage is not about being tough and rough, but being open to humility and sacrifice. Amen.

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TAGS: bravery, Father Martin, Jesus
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