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Ora et labora

By Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD

Once heavy rains poured down and flooded a town. As the water kept rising, inundating the houses, a man known for his piety climbed up to the second floor of his house. A rescuer on a row boat (banca) came near and yelled, “Come, I came to save you.” But the man said, “Don’t worry, I have faith in the Lord. He will save me.”

The water continued to rise. This time the man had to climb to the rooftop. A second boat was sent to rescue him. But again he said, “I trust in the Lord; He’ll save me.” The banca left without him.

Finally, the water rose so high that it went over the man’s head and he drowned. When he woke up in the next life, he came face to face with God. The pious man said, “Lord, I have always lived a good life, praying always. Why didn’t you save me when I was in that terrible flood?”
God replied, “Don’t blame me. I did everything to save you. Didn’t I send those two boats for you?”

In the gospel of this 13th Sunday, we read about the beautiful stories of faith – that of Jairus, an official of the synagogue and a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhage for twelve years.
These two episodes tell us through Jesus’ action that God, in his compassion, helps. He does have time for people: big people like Jairus and little people, like the unnamed woman.

There’s an important lesson we can learn from the two healing episodes and the story of that pious man in the above story. The sick woman and Jairus had strong faith in the Lord. But take note: each one took extra effort to look for Jesus.

Jairus and the unknown woman did MORE than just trust in the Lord, unlike that pious man who just waited for God to perform a miracle to rescue him.
The message is that while we should put our faith in the Lord in all our undertakings, we should also do our part. In short, our faith should be participative.

Some concrete instances of participative faith are: If we pray to pass our exams, we must find time to study and review; if we pray for good health, avoid an unhealthy lifestyle like smoking, excessive drinking, eating food rich in cholesterol; if we pray for national progress, government officials must avoid malversing multi-million government funds.

As the worn-out saying goes, “God helps those who help themselves.” In local parlance, “Nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa.” Incidentally, “nasa tao ang gawa” doesn’t mean “gawa nang gawa ng bata na di kayang suportahan!” (don’t keep on producing babies you cannot support!).
ASK YOURSELF: Do I always pray to the Lord in my undertakings but fail to do my part? On the reverse side, do I keep on working, trusting in myself without asking for God’s help?
The Christian ideal for success is a combination of the two: prayer and work (ora et labora).

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