Hopeful in Trouble
5th Sunday of Easter (C)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

We live in times of trouble. There is a global food crisis, although this administration insists there is only price crisis instead of crisis of supply. Such denial also reinforces the crisis of confidence in government. The issue of food has clouded over other issues in the media. This is most true when it concerns that most precious Filipino commodity – rice. I am reminded of the 1960’s when there were long lines of people trying to buy rice from the outlets of RCA (Rice and Corn Administration). That agency has changed its name to NFA (National Food Authority) but it is still dealing with the same problem thirty years later.

To us are addressed the words of the Lord this Sunday, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and still, and trust in me” (Jn. 14:1). Jesus spoke these words in a time of crisis. He has made the decision to go to Jerusalem where He would meet his death. In a series of “farewell discourses”, He was giving assurances and last instructions to the disciples, “ I am going now to prepare a place for you, and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you with me; so that where I am you may be too” (v. 3-4).

Action starter: Meet as communities. Discuss problems. Give people tasks in problem-solving.

The way to the Father’s house passes through the way of the cross. Jesus was not denying nor downplaying the troubles ahead. He was giving words of consolation to His followers. He was telling them to remain steadfast in their faith and to continue trusting and hoping no matter what happens. He was telling them to remain close to Him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

There is a saying that gold is tested in fire. Challenges and problems bring out the best or the worst in every person. It is our attitude toward problems that make a difference in their solutions. The quality of leadership also make a big difference in critical times. It is the leader who exhorts, encourages, and challenges his people. Words make a difference, “The Filipino is worth dying for,” said Ninoy Aquino during the dark days of martial law and Marcos dictatorship. “I shall return,” promised McArthur in World War II. “We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” was the wisdom dispensed by Roosevelt during times of Depression in America. When everything seemed to be lost and Hitler was massing his forces to invade Britain, Churchill delivered these stirring words to his people, “We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall never surrender.”

What is our attitude toward crisis? The second reading illustrates how the early Christian community dealt with a food crisis in their midst. When there was a problem of food distribution in the community, the Twelve (apostles) called a meeting to discuss solutions to the problem. They came up with a decision “ It would not be right for us to neglect the word of God so as to give out food. You brothers must select from among yourselves seven men of good reputation, filled with the Spirit and with wisdom; we will hand over this duty to them” (Acts 6:2-4). These seven men became the first deacons who took care of the practical matters of administration in the early church.

As the song goes, these are times to build bridges over troubles waters. Building bridges is not a solitary task. It is the task of united communities.