No Bother – Arnel Aquino, SJ

Mark 5:21-43, 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The late Fr Archie Intengan was always very busy. Fr Archie was never a man of half measures when it came to his responsibilities, especially in taking care of us. We have funny stories of how quirky Fr Archie could sometimes be, precisely because of his intensity and attention to detail. But that was due to his full-throttle approach to his mission, including taking care of us. What we loved most about Fr Archie, sisters and brothers, was that we could always interrupt him, especially when we ailed, when we were sick of something. As many of you know, he was a doctor, a surgeon (which, I think, was also a driving force in his intensity and attention to detail). But even if we knew we were interrupting him, he was never haphazard or perfunctory with us in our need. I guess, that was because Fr Archie loved being a priest as well as being a doctor. We could interrupt him, but he never made us feel we were a bother.

Our Gospel today is a story of interruptions. Untimely death interrupted the life of a 12-year-old. For the same length of time, a woman’s life and purity had been disrupted by hemorrhage. How could her doctors cure her? They couldn’t be bothered risking their purity by examining her closely. No wonder she snuck up on Jesus’ cloak. Really very sweet of her, if you think about it. If Jesus was unaware that an impure woman had touched him, he wouldn’t have to bother over going through re-purification rites. The synagogue official also interrupted something: his religious principles. He was synagogue official: supervisor &and sergeant-at-arms. But remember how they ejected Jesus after he taught off of Isaiah? Even tried to jostle him off a hill? Under normal circumstances, Jairus would’ve had nothing to do with a blasphemer. Well, he’d have to swallow all that now if he wanted to hazard a cure for his daughter. Jesus himself was interrupted. He couldn’t get to the little girl soon enough because of a crowd. His disciples were interrupted, too, with Jesus’ ridiculous, untimely question, “Who touched me?” while slogging through a crowd?! Then, when Jesus reached the girl, she was already dead. So, why bother?

Why bother? That’s a question that was probably alien to our Lord. Sa pagkakakilala natin sa kanya, Jesus was someone people always interrupted: interrupted for a cure, for an exorcism, interrupt for some food, for a piece of advice. But for some wondrous reason, Jesus seems to have never considered any of it a bother. People in dire need were never a nuisance. Mas naistorbo pa ‘yung mga disipulo niya, ‘di ba? “Pauwiin na natin mga ‘yan. Wala tayong ipapakain ‘jan?” they said before Jesus fed the five-thousand. “Sshh, ‘wag ka ngang magsisigaw ‘jan,” they shushed blind Bartimaeus who shouted only the louder for Jesus. They were also keeping the kids away from him, whereupon he said, “Sssst, hayaan n’yo kasing lumapit sa akin gang mga bata.” Jesus was always interrupted. But he never considered it a bother. Walang isto-istorbo ‘pag mahal mo.

Kung talagang makapangyarihan ka, que presidente ka o CEO, que obispo o pari o fund-raiser, ang tanda ng tunay na kapangyarihan ay kung pwede kang istorbohin ng karaniwang tao sa oras ng pangangailangn. That’s the authority that looks like and sounds like and feels like Jesus, isn’t it? When someone in need can still interrupt us, and it’s not a bother. That’s why we, ourselves, we find it very touching when someone who’s way up there still makes us feel we were not a bother, even if we know we’ve interrupted him for something we need. Contrariwise, that’s why we have expressions like ‘di ka na ma-reach, or taas na ng lipad mo, or isnabero ka na. That’s when friends notice the change, that we can’t be bothered anymore over people and things we used to really care for, back when we were powerless.

Sometimes, though, it’s God who disturbs. When things go wrong, or we go wrong, but it doesn’t bother us anymore, then, we really need to be interrupted. We need to be disturbed. My dear sisters and brothers, we’ve had so many interruptions: justice interruption by death squads, truth interruption by media suppression, patrimony disruption by foreign encroachment, health, economic, life interruption by Covid. More than enough interruptions, but the majority still do not seem disturbed. Hindi pa rin tayo nabubulabog. Ano pa kayang mas matinding interruption ang inaantay nating yumanig sa natin, hindi lang para magulumihanan tayo, kundi para gawan natin ng paraan bilang mamamayan. Meanwhile, as we slog through this crowd of interruptions, there are already too many untimely deaths, and our national hemorrhage is yet to be staunched.

Dear sisters and brothers, God loves us and will always love us. We can keep on interrupting him to beseech him for what we need, and he will never consider us a bother. But when he interrupts us in order to disturb us, sisters and brothers, may we be bothered enough so we’d make the right choices this time.

*Image from the Internet @Disney

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