We Stand on the Shoulders of the Giants!

Feast of Sts. Simon & Jude
October 28, 2015

Maryknoll Missionary Fr. James Kroeger shares to us the missionary dimension in the life of the Blessed Mother.

Maryknoll Missionary Fr. James Kroeger shares to us the missionary dimension in the life of the Blessed Mother.

The English expression “standing on the shoulders of giants” fascinates me.

Perhaps because it gives a vivid picture of how standing on one’s shoulders—much more, on the very shoulders of giants—makes a whole lot of  difference in helping one to see more, in reaching greater heights by building on the works of those previous ones who have come before us.

In our very own FIN province for example, I can easily think of the “giants” whom I personally encountered: Fr George Schwartz, Fr. Luis Iriarte, Fr. Pepe, Fr. Alton Fernandez, to name a few. Their valuable contributions to the ground-breaking work of Don Bosco in the Philippines, in forming the Filipino youth to become “good Christians and honest citizens,” will surely last for a lifetime.

And we who are here—Filipinos and foreigners alike—follow their steps in continuing the ministry they have begun.

This is what Paul affirms in our first reading, he tells us that we make up the house whose “foundations are the apostles and the prophets,” and what is more, the very cornerstone of this house, its very capstone, is our Lord Jesus, who is the Good News of the Father.

Last night, Br Marc and I went to the shrine to attend the talk of the renowned missiologist Fr. James Kroeger. He began his talk with an exposition on how Paul VI through Evangelii Nuntiandi understands evangelization. He sees it as the “bringing of the gospel to all strata of humanity,” in the words of our responsorial psalm, to “bring the message throughout all the earth.”

This must have been the reason why there is also diversity in Jesus’s choosing of His closest followers:

The Gospel we just heard proclaimed, the account of St. Luke highlights the important detail that Jesus prayed the whole night before finally naming his apostles… Jesus prayed the entire night.

Towards the conclusion of the same Gospel, we find Jesus, in the garden of Gethsemane, gently harking back on His disciples to pray. St. Luke paints an image of Jesus who does not just bring about healing and miracles, but someone who is intimately connected with the Father through His life of prayer.

Today, we honor two apostles, Sts. Simon and Jude, who have learned from the feet of the Divine Master how to pray, how to forge an intimate relationship with the Father. We do not have records to prove that they did amazing things in their missionary work. But this we know, they have remained steadfast in bringing the gospel to all strata of humanity, they have remained steadfast in living up to the demands of the faith, and they prove this up until giving up their lives for what they believe in.

Our liturgy makes us realize that our ministry is built on the work and lives of these great apostles. Emboldened by this truth makes us all the more grateful to the Lord in calling us to work on His vineyard, to stand on the shoulders of these His giants, as He invites us to keep on cultivating intimate relationship with His Father through our life of prayer.

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