[COLUMN] Where are thou?

MARTIN Buber, the Jewish theologian, tells the story of an encounter between a jailed rabbi and the chief jailer:

Touched by the majestic and quiet face of the rabbi, who was in deep in meditation, the chief jailer asked him:

“How are we to understand that God the all-knowing said to Adam: “Where art thou?”

“Do you believe” answered the rabbi, “that the scriptures are eternal and that every era, every generation, and everyone is included in them?”

“I believe this,” the jailer responded.

“Well,” said the rabbi, “in every era, God calls to everyone:  ‘Where are you in your world?’ So many years and days of those allotted you have passed, and how far have you gotten in your world?” So God says something like this: “You have lived forty-six years. How far are you?”

When the chief jailer heard his age mentioned, he pulled himself together, laid his hand on the rabbi’s shoulder, and cried: “Bravo!” Bu his heart trembled.

Buber’s story provokes us to answer the same question the rabbi raised to his jailer: “Where are you in the world?” So, likewise, God asks the same question today to jolt us into examining our lives and taking responsibility for our way of being.

In his book, By Way of the Heart, Wilkie Au says that this decisive heart-searching is, according to Buber, the beginning of a spiritual way for human beings. He explains that so long as we do not face the still, small Voice asking us, “Where art thou,” we will forever remain way-less.

Indeed, where are you now in your life in the world, brothers, and sisters? It’s a relevant question to reflect on as we meditate on the Scripture Readings this Sunday.

Where are you in your Christian faith as you hear Christ’s summon to be a witness of your faith in Him to other people during these challenging times in our church and the world? Where are you in the moral principles of living with integrity and truth? Where do you stand on life, racial, gender, gun, and safety issues?

On the personal level, where are you as you balance your life between prayer, family responsibility, and the urge to do something for your parish and others? Where are you in terms of the peace of your soul and relationships?

I hope that you take the time to answer these questions. It’s because my desire for you all is that of St. Paul, as stated in today’s Second Reading (Eph 1:17-23):

“May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him. May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe.”

Your loving pastor,

Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas.

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.


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