Away from the crowd | Inquirer Opinion

Away from the crowd

The story is told about a couple who observed that the mayor officiated their wedding ceremony in a whispering way. When they asked him why he did everything in a hushed and subdued tone, his whispering response was: “Yours is a secret marriage, right?”

In today’s Gospel (Mk. 7:31-37), Jesus healed a man who had a hearing and speech impediment. But there was something Jesus did prior to the healing: He took him off by himself away from the crowd. It is in the quiet, in the silence, in secret and solitude that real healing happens to our bodies and our souls.


For almost a month now, as if on cue, about 6 o’clock every evening, the cicadas and the crickets start their song of praise to the Creator, starting low and slow, and then building up into a beautiful symphony, joining me as I pray the Holy Rosary at our Mission House Chapel. It is in the silence that we can really listen to God and to other people, and to His other creatures.

To be away from the crowd does not mean to be uncaring and unmindful of the crowd. On the contrary, in prayer, we can be united and be in solidarity with the world in more ways than one. One thing I have learned through the years is the value of humble prayer, and if we have not learned that, we have not learned much, or learned nothing at all.


Ed Agbayani just came back last week from a solo pilgrimage on foot from Fátima, Portugal, to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, via the Camino Naciente. He walked for 15 days, covering about 300 kilometers, braving the heat wave, deprivations, blisters, dangers and loneliness. The lowest point of his pilgrimage was when he fell and bruised his knee and had to sit alone and helpless for an hour or so in an isolated place. It was just he and God, and that’s where, he said, he felt the embrace of God most.

Ed shared with me, too, the importance of traveling light, as light as possible. Otherwise, the journey will be difficult and burdensome. Same, too, in life. He also got lost many times, and this happened whenever he took the cemented and comfortable roads. So, too, in life—it is in the rough, narrow and winding byways where we really get to know ourselves and reach our true destination.

The bottom line for Ed is that he gained from his experience what he calls the “pilgrim’s perspective,” i.e., we are all just passing by in a journey to God’s heart, and that we travel with fellow pilgrims who are basically good, and are also in search of God.

Take note that when the Lord sets you aside from the crowd—whether by sickness, persecutions, deprivations or failures—He is surely leading you to His heart. At such times, let us just be still, listen, obey and trust.

Our Blessed Mother is our model in taking the “road less traveled.” She avoided the limelight, the klieg lights and the flashbulbs during her lifetime. What people do these days just to be noticed, to be recognized, to be acknowledged! Please remember, the crowd will always be a crowd, and that you and I can never please the crowd. Nor should we. We please God, and that’s all. That’s it.

In the thick of the grindsparks and the flashbulbs, let us not miss the candleglow… May we not be so stressed with work, or be so lost in socializing, that we forgo and forget moments with God, with our loved ones and with our true selves.

Think about this: “God will carry you through every storm and give you the necessary strength to brave it. And, remember, there is a reason, there is a mission in everything that happens or does not happen in your life. Trust.”


A moment with the Lord:

Thank You for the times, Lord, You take me away from the crowd to bring me closer to Your heart. Amen.

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