Mark 6, 53-56: The Insistent Demand for Jesus
The Philippine Star’s headline yesterday,
We can make a simple analogy with the Gospel today. It tells us that as soon as Jesus disembarked from his boat, large throngs of people in great need came to him. It is said that as soon as the people recognized him, they literally ran towards him, hordes of people almost at a stampede. Just like the Wowowee victims, many of them came from the countryside, villages, and towns.
Let us compare both stories. First, we recognize the great desire of people to escape from poverty. Those from the Wowowee stampede had hoped for prizes that would be given during the show: jeepneys, houses, tricycles, cash prizes. The crowd in the Gospel also hoped to escape from their illnesses. Second, we have people who madly shoved, pushed, and rushed in their insistent demand to get what they wanted. In Wowowee, the pushing resulted to 73 dead, and 356 people injured. In the Gospel, the insistent demand of the crowd would have made Jesus tired. Third, we have icons of hope. The Star told us that one man pinned his hopes on Willie Revillame, the host. He said, “Willie always said that no one would go home weeping when he invited everyone to the show’s first anniversary.” Annabel Pabilona and Loida Abinez who lived as neighbors in a shanty in Sampaloc, Manila said that despite the tragedy, they would continue participating in game shows hoping for that one chance to escape poverty. The Gospel today has Jesus as an icon of hope. Those who came to him or those who were able to touch the tassel of his cloak were healed.
There are things nonetheless that should be brought to our attention. In both stories, the crowd came to get something out of Jesus or Wowowee. I perfectly agree that it is natural that we should come to get what we actually need, but there is something shameful in human nature that should be brought to our attention: that of inconsideration. Let me give you some examples.
For many young people, their homes have become boarding houses, a place that should cater to their needs and comfort. And for those especially with househelps, there is a pervading attitude that their house is a place to eat, sleep and getting things done for them. But try to request them to help in some way at home, whether to wash the dishes, do the laundry, or even fix their rooms, many of the present generation would complain. Surely to make a house a home, we have to ask what we can contribute.
In terms of friendship, some people become our friends when they need something from us, and when we become not so much of a use to them, we cease to be their buddies. In terms of our faith, many people come to the church to have their children baptized, married, or buried; or for students in helpless cases like being at the brink of a board exam. Other than that, the church has no place in their lives. In other words, the church becomes a safe house, just in case there is such a thing as heaven, hell, God or failure.
And in terms of our relationship with God, we can be people who use God: our prayers remain supplications of our personal need. We expect from God to fetch anything we request of Him, anything that we need. Prayer practically means demanding God what we want.
What difference it would have made if people have been considerate of WHAT others need. If those who were lining up at the ULTRA have been considerate of others, there would have been no deaths. If we could have been more selfless, then perhaps many needs of people could have found their solution: poverty or sickness for that matter. The sad thing about all these is the realization that to some extent, we are all guilty of what had happened. We all have contributed to a culture of selfishness and inconsideration. All that matters is that what we want and what we need are met by hook or by crook.
All you need to prove this is to go out and drive in Philippine traffic. This shameful attitude is embedded in our language: it is called, gitgitan. And it has to go.