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On the road

The story is told about a motorist who paid $5 to a farmer who pulled him out of a muddy hole on the road. He told the farmer: “Wow, at $5, you should be pulling people out of the mud night and day!” The farmer’s response was: “I can’t. At night, that’s when I haul water for the hole.”

In today’s Gospel (Lk. 10, 25-37), Jesus tells the story about a man who was robbed on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. It’s interesting that Jesus did not focus on the criminals, but rather on the victim of the crime. Why is that? That’s because more than prosecution, Jesus wants to teach us compassion.

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There were three people who passed by the scene of the crime. The first one was the priest who passed by on the opposite side. The second one was a Levite who also passed by on the opposite side. The third one was an unknown Samaritan traveler who stopped and got involved with much kindness and compassion. Jesus reminds us to do good, and to be good, even if nobody is looking. Being good is not for public consumption.

The Samaritan traveler literally went the “extra mile” to help the victim. And he did so with sincere care and concern. What is the quality of our helping others, if we help at all? Often, our helping is so minimal, calculating and conditional. Worse, often it is done with fanfare and for mileage. Worse still, if it is done, it is with anger, pride and condescension.

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Fr. Victor Leones, SVD, is one who has literally gone the “extra mile” as a missionary for the past 46 years in Ghana, Africa. Now 73 years old, this quiet and humble priest from Abra has stayed because “that’s where I was sent by God,” he said.

Just three weeks after they arrived in Ghana, Africa, in 1973, our Filipino missionaries,  Fr. Vic Leones, Fr. Carlos Lariosa, SVD and Fr. Glicerio Paraguya, SVD, met a car accident where Father Paraguya died. He was our first Filipino SVD to die in a foreign land. Praise God for missionaries, who show us by their lives or by their death, what it is like to really love God, and love our neighbor.

“I am happy to see what God has done.” This is how Father Leones humbly sums up his missionary life. He is right. It is not so much what we have done, but what God has done through us, unworthy as we are, that really matters in the end. Often, really, God works not so much because of us, but in spite of us.

The second Sunday of July is traditionally set aside as Sea Sunday to remember, honor and pray for our seafarers and their families. October 2020 is the World Congress and Centenary celebration of the Stella Maris Apostleship of the Sea Ministry. May Mary, the Star of the Sea (Stella Maris), continue to guide and protect us all as we journey on.

We’re all on the road. We are all just passing by. Heaven is our home, our final destination. Let us not make the journey difficult for one another. Let us help each other on.

July 16 is the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. I have been wearing the brown scapular for many years now, and I have shared it to many people because of my simple belief in the Blessed Mother’s promise that whoever wears the scapular will be under her special motherly protection, and that she will bring to heaven whoever dies wearing it. A simple belief. A simple, humble belief of a child, on the road.

A moment with the Lord:

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Lord, help us who are on the road to stay focused on You, and share each others’ load. Amen.

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