Today’s Reading

Lectionary 241: Friday of the Third Week of Lent
Hosea 14:2-10; Psalm 81; Mark 12:28-34

Open your mouth wide and I will fill it (Ps 81:10c)

Is it tainted worship
if my earthly mouth
offers praises in the
colonizer’s tongue?

wish my songs were
sugarcane and coconut
(and my motherland
were left unplundered).

Father of confession boxes,
my Basilican tongue
is all I have to give.

Ang Katawan ni Kristo,
behold, the body of Christ.
Our families, broken and blessed.1

We immigrants and exiles,
native tongues and Google
translate: One family,
strengthened and healed.

Let the fruit of our lips
blossom in the earth,
a full offering basket,
a choice sacrifice.

Reflection

In Mark 12, Jesus proclaims that “To love him (the Lord) with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (v.33).

Yet when I think of the profane things done to my country & my people over 400 years of colonial history – from being passed as a possession between Spain and the U.S., and being forcibly occupied by Japan, to the modern reality of Overseas Filipino Workers as unpaid or underpaid labor – I find hard to love.

My first desire is that these painful stories would become offerings to be burned away.

Yet, God constantly invites me to reimagine the way I love by pressing into these painful histories, worshipping in the “colonizer’s tongue,” (the only tongue “native” for many Filipino Americans) and choosing to create beauty.

How is God inviting you towards a painful history, and towards God’s beautiful promises?

Footnote
4th Stanza is from Ang Katawaan ni Kristo. Ricky Manalo.

  • R.A.B. is a Filipino poet living in California, and writes on the spiritual experiences of diaspora, young adulthood, and faithfulness. R.A.B. works in full-time ministry, helping young adults to have Jesus’ heart for those far from them.