Cardinal Sin is not completely well yet. But he is a lot better than when we brought him to the hospital more than a week ago. His attending physicians marvel at his ability to bounce back so soon. I know from experience how Cardinal Sin handles stress and tension. He prays, listens to good music, and takes a warm, refreshing bath. His critics, he handles with an open mind but always in stride. His boot lickers he dismisses by warning them of the disadvantages of glorifying Sin, His capacity to handle public ridicule and criticism is, for me, admirable. He does not allow those who belittle him and his work to dampen his vigor.

For the last ten days, I saw too his gift for bouncing back physically. He has gained back his pinkish color and has his good appetite again. His laboratory tests are steadily improving. According to his physicians, with the fast rate of his recovery, he will be up and about again sooner than we thought.

What have the past days taught me? What lessons are there for me to learn?

First of all, I appreciate even more the beauty of transparency, especially for people in responsible positions in society. It is unfair to withhold such an important aspect of human life as health from the people we are tasked to serve. We remember how rumors and speculations filled the air a decade ago over the health of the Philippine president. It was unfair. The people have a right to the truth, especially the truth about the health of their leaders. A medical update on the Church leaders like Cardinal Sin is a right of the people. It does not make the leader weak. It does not lessen his authority. It does not diminish his power. In fact, in the case of Cardinal Sin, he became a million times more powerful because of the prayer power, the love power, and the sacrifice power of those who came to know about his ailment. They all prayed. Prayer is the strength of man and the weakness of God. If leaders are sure of the love of their constituents for them, why should they hesitate to inform the people of their health? If they are loved, it will result in a multiplication of support and get-well wishes. I saw this in the sickness that afflicted Cardinal Sin.

I also saw the depth and greatness of this religious leader. His public Masses had to be canceled or delegated to his auxiliary bishops. His speaking commitments he had to give up for obvious reasons. His flow of visitors and counselees had to be lessened. Even then, his leadership continued. He was offering every discomfort for his priests, his best-loved treasures. He never missed celebrating his daily Masses, even if he had to do them sitting down. He continued his fifteen mysteries of the rosary and the stations of the cross for the spiritual benefit of his sheep. In the end, it is the prayers and sacrifices that make a man a true spiritual leader. The Holy Bible says: “Deep waters cannot quench love nor floods sweep it away.” Sickness and ailments cannot quench love. Love endures. There is no greater love than to lay down life for friends. Leadership is not so much in doing things. The core of life is not so much in having but in being. In order to give, we do not need to have much “much” health, “much” money, or “much” strength. In order to give, we need to love much.

Last, of all, this experience taught me the value of cheerfulness and humor. Smile has a power, laughter heals. I believe this is the reason behind his speedy recovery. The overwhelming flow of get-well greetings and his admirable ready good cheer healed him fast and the anxious doctors too. The doctors’ anxieties and doubts were all dispelled by his sense of humor. He talked about the principles of Buddha with his Chinese surgeon. He talked about Nur Misuari with his guests from Malacanang. He watched and enjoyed “Kung fu” films in his suite. He does not know the word “depression.”

These are lessons from the anxiety of the past week: the need to be truthful always, the admirable leadership by love, and the power of humor and good cheer.

Jesus Our Light

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