Are you in a Relationship?

Monsignor Ding, Father Douglas, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ.

I have a brand new laptop. It was given to me last Christmas but it arrived only recently. When I opened the box, when I removed the styrofoam and the wrapping, I was thrilled and said “wow”. I texted the person who gave it to me and all he said was, “Father, that is the latest design.” Latest design. Computers have designs. Not just computers. The Church also has a design. You call that architecture. The city also has a design. Engineers are responsible for that. There is design in electrical systems. There is design in managements. There is design in human beings.

What is the design of human beings? Computers, buildings, cities have designs. What is the design of human beings? You will understand the design of human beings, when you look at babies. Why? The baby at birth or for the first few weeks can see only around 7 to 9 inches from itself. Why 7 to 9 inches? Because that is enough distance to be able to see the baby’s mother’s face. 7 to 9 inches is all that is required for the baby to see his mother. How long does the baby learn to walk? The baby horses can gallop in 24 hours. Human beings can walk maybe after 18 months, 2 years, 3 years.

But just the same, they need to be fed, they need to be assisted in the toilet. They need to be assisted when taking bath until around 10 years old, 9 years old. Human beings have eyes. The eyes are always in front. It may be better to also have eyes at the back of our heads so we could see the back-stabbers. But no. Our eyes were put in front because the design for us is to look at one another, to see one another. We are not able to walk right away because the design for us is to be taught how to walk. We are not able to see right away because the design for us is to see our mother first more than everyone else. In other words, my dear brothers and sisters, if you are going to ask me – what is the design of human beings… the design of human beings is relationship. All human beings want to be in a relationship.

On Facebook, there you can announce if you’re “in a relationship”. If it were Monsignor Ding or I who put it out there, we might figure in a scandal that we are “in a relationship”. But the truth is, “in a relationship” is the design of all human beings. We were not created to be alone. That is why in the book of Genesis, the writer said it is not good for man to be alone. Let us make a helpmate for him because our design is relationships. These eyes were given so that we can look at one another. These eyes were not designed to look at back-stabbers. These eyes are meant to look at one another, to see one another. These legs, this body…we were all designed to depend on one another. And then we grew up, we started to be independent. Mother said, “Now that your bones are strong, you no longer want to obey me.” Our parents are saying, “You’re trying to be independent. It seems you have forgotten where you came from.”

Our destiny is relationships. I have this favorite writer. And he said, we are all inter-related.  Right now, you are far apart from one another. Right now, you are separated from one another. We are not allowed to stay near each other. But if our Lord would give us eyes to see not just the now but also the past. So we can see that in our future, we will find the truth from the song “lahat tayo ay magkakaugnay” (we are all inter-related). Our design is relationship. We were not created to be alone. Our design is relationship. We were not created to be separated. We were created to depend, we were created to learn, we were created to forgive, we were created to love and serve.

This is the teaching of today’s Gospel. Why did God choose to become man?  Because He wants a relationship with us. And what was the biggest burden of the leper in the Gospel? That he could not be in a relationship because he had to be quarantined, he has to be isolated because he was considered dirty. My dear brothers and sisters, computers have designs. Human beings have designs also. And do not forget that in every human being, there is a design for relationship. There is a design to be touched. There is a design to touch. There is a design to embrace. There is a design to shake hands. There is a design to live together. Because God condemned living alone. We are born for relationships. And the great hurt of our time is relationship. The great ache of our time is relationship.

Last year, when we started the lockdown, we all feared getting sick. But now, what is hurting us the most? Isn’t it that we couldn’t gather together? That we are not allowed to be laugh together, fearing that droplets might spread. We are not allowed to shake hands for fear of transferring the virus. Our relationships are hurting. And when Covid passes away and the vaccine has caused herd immunity in our society, we would still be hurting because our relationships have been broken and we have been isolated, and it hurts to be isolated. St. Paul teaches us that the Church, this community, is the Body of Christ. What is meant by the Body of Christ?  We are in a relationship. We are all different – different yet inter-related.

And how are we right now? Some of us are following this mass by Facebook livestream. We are connected but we are not in a relationship. We are connected but we do not know one another anymore. We are connected but we are disconnected. We seem to be connected but we are actually not connected. And we are all aching and hurting because we cannot be in relationships. We are the Body of Christ and we are designed for relationship. Those among you who are following us on social media platforms, I pray that there will be dissatisfaction in your heart right now. Because this virtual relationship is not the design of God for us. The design of God for us is that we live in relationships, we live in love, because at the sunset of our lives. God is going to ask us, “Did you feed, did you visit, did you console, did you encourage, did you give drink to the thirsty?” And if all you can say is, “I fed myself. I gave drink to myself. I consoled myself. I helped myself. I consoled myself.” The Lord is going to say to you, “That is not what I meant. Because when I told you to give drink, to feed and to console, I was pushing you to be in relationships.

We are the body of Christ. And our design is relationship. The leper was longing for it and God gave him the relationship he needed. And God knows that we were designed for relationship that is why He came among us and He will express His love again for us today by entering into communion, in a relationship of love coming in as food.

Finally, my dear brothers and sisters, the Church is not only the body of Christ. The Church is also the bride of Christ. Earlier, there was a wedding that took place here and I officiated the wedding. All men and women, when they get married, they all look handsome and beautiful. When you look at them, there is only one expression, that of joy. To be in a relationship, is to have joy for each other. To be in a relationship, is to delight each other. To be in a relationship is to be excited to see one another. Let us bring it back. The person beside you is not a Covid 19 carrier. Before Covid, he is your brother, she is your sister. And in Covid and beyond Covid, we are brothers and sisters. Let us delight in one another. Let us relate to one another.

The Lord touched the leper. The Lord touched the leper not with disgust but with joy, with longing and eagerness. To delight in the leper. To delight in one another. We are all different from one another but we are all inter-related. And our design is relationship. We were created to relate to one another. We were not created to be alone. We were created for each other. No one lives for himself alone.

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