Be true missionaries

Gospel Reflection
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him,"Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." He replied, "What do you wish me to do for you?" They answered him, "Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left." Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?" They said to him, "We can." Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared." When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John. Jesus summoned them and said to them, "You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."
- Mark 10:35-45 
Photo by J.Ellao/
Recently we went to an elite Catholic school in Quezon City to bring to the student leaders the cause of the indigenous people who are victims of exploitation, harassment, vilification, extrajudicial killings, and other human rights abuses.

Our purpose was to encourage the students to take part in the upcoming Manilakbayan 2015 in whatever capacity, whether to host some of the lumads for the little less than a month they'll be in Manila to present their cause, or through food, water, and other supplies, or by simply going to the Manilakbayan sites and interact and be in solidarity with the lumads.

Three lumads were with us and they spoke about their personal experiences, their fears, and their desire of a better future for their children.

But before we arrived, a well-respected priest was already briefing the student leaders, implicitly linking the lumads with the armed revolution in the country sides. Were the students swayed to the biases of the priest?

When the lumads themselves shared their stories, all that the young leaders could ask was how they could help them.

Not contented with the result of the talk, when we left and the lumads now unable to make clarifications, the priest, who is blessed with so many academic degrees and holding significant consultative positions in government, continued to disparage and discredit the cause of the lumads.

The lumads went to the school with the plea for support as 700 of their lumad brothers and sisters will soon be culminating their walk from Mindanao to Metro Manila by November, arriving in the capital on October 26, with quite a heavy baggage of bringing their cause to the nation's attention, for us to comprehend their desperate situation and know the real story, not just the ones fed to us by the people who perpetrate the abuses.

Today as we celebrate Mission Sunday, we contemplate on the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, in today's Gospel, reminded us how, as his followers, we should be servants to our brothers and sisters, even to those who may not profess the same faith as ours.

Yes, many people, like James and Zebedee, well-meaning as they may be, would want to sit in either side of Christ, but not many are willing to share his cup of self-sacrifice and self-giving.

We do not know what the priest's intention was in trying to discredit our brother lumads, but one thing is for certain, by labeling them he is short of killing them for it is in putting labels on others that gives self-seeking individuals the justification for acting unjustly against them.

Let us be true missionaries of Christ by helping our brothers in need with whatever little that we have, after all, God does not desire us to perform wonders for Him. Our simple acts of kindness are a treasure in God's treasure vault.

The Lord said, through the prophet Isaiah,

"Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; through his suffering, my servant shall justify many and their guilt he shall bear."

Through the suffering of our lumad brothers and sisters, they shall justify many. They shall give justice to many other victims of human rights abuses perpetrated by the State-elements.

Our lumad brethrens have suffered a lot, it is about time for them, for us to help them find the peace that for a very long time they have been clamoring.

We don't need to wear clerical garbs or to carry such holy and dignified titles before and after our names for us to become true missionaries.

Instead, let us be true missionaries, not by vilifying those who disagree with our beliefs, but by becoming true followers of Christ, by loving our neighbors as ourselves, or even more than ourselves. By truly choosing the side of the poor, oppressed, exploited, and marginalized, and not be spokespersons of the exploiting class. Let us be faithful to our vows – in whatever state we are in.

And so we ask ourselves, "Have I become a true missionary of Christ by living a life consistent to Christ's teachings? Or am I merely proclaiming that I a follower of Christ but do not make his teachings alive in my life?" ###

A similar reflection was published in PCPR's Baliktanaw. Photo by Janess Ellao of


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