Bea de Leon, the former team captain of the Ateneo women's volleyball team, on Sunday offered her thoughts on the Easter homily of Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ.
Villarin celebrated the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday evening, streamed live on YouTube via Radyo Katipunan. In his homily, Villarin reflected on the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on society, and on the changes it will inevitably bring to the country once the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is lifted.
This is de Leon's reflection, in full:
Yesterday for the first time in the ECQ, I "heard mass" through Facebook live. I haven’t been able to pray much lately, to be honest. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I find it hard to pray when I’m not in the chapel. Maybe it’s the vibe that a chapel brings as compared to just being in my room. It’s a more “authentic” experience for me. I feel like I’m actually talking to Him there. Anyway, I wanted to make sure to “hear mass” because Fr. Jett was the celebrant. And forgive my bias but I’ve always looked forward to his homilies. As expected, it did not disappoint.
Towards the end of it, Fr. Jett had invited everyone to share their thoughts and their dreams about what they believe should be the world after this pandemic (I’m still honestly in disbelief how the use of the word “pandemic” is the norm). Personally, I can’t seem to get a firm grasp on what I believe the world will be like after. It’s too unfamiliar a situation for me to have a dream based on my realities. The pandemic was something we thought we would only see in movies. It’s happened in the past, but not in our reality that is today.
Today, it is Easter. And many theologians would agree that the best “proof” of the resurrection would be the courage and change that was seen in the apostles after Christ’s death. That despite the impossibilities, they paved the way for His memory and teachings to live on forever. Siguro in their time (the apostles'), 'di rin nila akalaing mangyayari yun. That today, (as our Lasallian friends say) Jesus has lived in our hearts forever. Who would have thought something this big, something that stood the test of time, would be possible?
But maybe that’s exactly it. Maybe it’s time to think bigger. Maybe it’s time to revisit those dreams we have long set aside because they seemed so impossible.
Fr. Jett ended by asking, "Do we know what we actually ask for when we ask the Lord to send us His spirit to renew the face of the Earth? Do we think that the Spirit can do just that without wounds being inflicted and crosses being borne on our shoulders? Will the world and our hearts just renew themselves without resistance?"
I found answers to these challenges by celebrating the truest spirit of Easter. By celebrating with joy, hope and courage. I find so much joy in seeing so many people coming together for a single cause. I find so much joy in the sense of community I’ve only felt the past few weeks.
And that gives me hope. Hope that despite the imperfect system we have, change is now closest than it’s actually ever been. If so, of course, that we allow this experience to move us as it should - with kindness, compassion and most of all, the thought of always doing better and being better for the next person.
And finally, courage. Courage to look at our reality today straight in the eye and admit that something difficult – something close to impossible can be and must be done. And that is to change.
So I come back again today to the dream I took with me when I graduated from Ateneo. When I took to heart the words of one of the most memorable professors I’ve ever had in my time there – Ray Aguas. He was my Theology professor, and he explained to me the true meaning of “thy Kingdom come.” As a kid, I always thought it meant that if we all did some good and it was enough, Jesus would finally come descending from a cloud with angels singing and all, much like a scene from a video game and that would be it. When that day comes, “His will be done” and the whole world will have an abundance of milk, cookies, ginataang bilo bilo, palitaw, bibingka and everything else that’s good and everyone will be happy.
But it’s actually “thy Kingdom come” because it was never about us trying to reach for the heavens so when “the day” comes, He’ll say you get a golden ticket to go inside the chocolate factory. But it was about us, using all the means we have and may have gained trying so hard to reach the heavens to get a grasp of Him, bringing it down, to make the Earth, a heaven to all.
Happy Easter everyone!
Watch Villarin's homily here:
Bea de Leon played for five seasons for the Ateneo Lady Eagles, helping them win the championship in UAAP Seasons 77 and 81. She was the team's captain in her final year, and emerged as the Finals MVP in their conquest of University of Santo Tomas.
Ateneo Lady Eagles, Easter Sunday, Bea de Leon, Fr. Jett Villarin SJ