Sunday, August 26, 2012

Walang Iwanan!


The Word: Jn 6:60-69

Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”  Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh  is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”



Walang iwanan ha!” (“Do not leave [me] okay!”) is a popular modern phrase commonly used by Filipinos, which basically asks the person you are speaking with, to respond with their pledge of loyalty.  For instance, a barkada (group of friends) that is about to graduate from high school would say this to one another, in fear that college life might force them to drift apart; or when an organization is about to embark on a big project, its leader would probably tell his members, “Walang iwanan ha!,” and this is tantamount to asking for their re-assurance to stick it out through thick and thin until the project is done.  He too, fears that he might be left alone when the going gets tough.

Jesus’ question, “Do you also want to leave?” may have sounded more like a challenge than a cry for help.  But behind this question, was perhaps also a plea of sorts.  Jesus knew that his disciples would have a hard time understanding his teachings.  He knew that they were a bit afraid of the consequences of being His followers. By asking this, Jesus was giving them a chance to make a stand and decide once and for all if they were with Him all the way.

In our day-to-day journey as Christians, in both small and big matters, we too are faced with this question.  We often find ourselves at a crossroads, having to decide whether we are for Christ or against Him. It may be as simple as deciding whether or not to lie about something wrong that you have done, or to give into the temptation of corruption at work everyday.  It could also be much larger-scale, like making a stand on moral issues.  In these situations, Jesus is always standing there at the intersection, ready to take you on the right path.  He is there, asking, “Are you with me, or do you want to go the other way?”  

It says in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  
Though the road may be narrow, it doesn’t automatically mean that it is a rough one.  We are usually afraid of choosing this path simply because it seems uncertain.  However, as we train ourselves to trust God more and more, we begin to discover that it’s not such a difficult road to be on after all.  We soon realize that there is much peace and quiet along this little path... “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Phil 4:7).

So the next time you are at that crossroad, firmly respond the way Simon Peter did, “We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

Sana nga, walang iwanan. (I do hope, you will not leave.)

- Fr. Randy Flores, SVD
  Divine Word Seminary – Tagaytay City

* The WORD in Other Words Bible Diary is an annual project of Logos Publications containing daily scripture readings and reflections written by priests, brothers and sisters of the congregations founded by St. Arnold Janssen (the SVD and SSps).  It hopes to serve as a daily companion to readers who continually seek the correlation of the Word of God and human experience.