(My Homily on the Occasion of the Inauguration of Newly-Elected Officials in Palawan)

Napag-utusan lang po ako na magsermon ngayon. Out of respect po sa nag-utos sana po makinig naman kayo. Hehehe…

The German philosopher by the name of Friedrich Schleiermacher is known for this contention about feelings. He considers faith as a “feeling of absolute dependence.” Furthermore, he avers that this feeling makes one virtually united to the object, or to an infinite being. “In other words, we can be so absorbed by feelings.”

Feeling is easily translated into Tagalog as “pakiramdam.” But I think the more appropriate, and emphatic, term could be “pandama.” To be absorbed means “damang-dama mo.” Pakiramdam would connote doubt and the like. Pakiramdam ko pari ako. It should rather be, “Damang-dama ko na pari ako.” Kung hindi mo damang-dama at tila pakiramdam lamang, may problema ka-something is lacking or something must be wrong.

That said, the question right now for us is, “How are you feeling today?” or, “What is your feeling right now?” It must not be translated as “Ano ang iyong pakiramdam ngayon?” but as “Ano ang iyong pandama?” Today is Day One that you can tell yourself, “Damang dama ko ang aking pagka-governor.” “Damang-dama ko ang aking pagka-congressman… pagka-board member, etc.”

I think today’s Gospel Reading says something about feelings too. It tells a story about our Lord Jesus healing a paralytic. It can also be our story.

Somebody who has no pandama could be considered a paralytic. We may be physically fit, but we can also be suffering from paralysis, emotionally, psychologically, or even spiritually.

We cannot be forgiving if we are paralyzed by bitterness, anger, or envy. If we put others in a box without the benefit of getting to know them well, perhaps we may be paralyzed with biases and prejudices. We are also poisoned inside by the adverse stories around us. Maging sa ating sarili mismo, kapag mababa ang tingin natin sa ating sarili baka paralizado na rin ang ating tunay na pagkilala at paglalago ng kalooban. Let us learn from Nelson Mandela, “Kinulong nila ako ng mahabang panahon, pero kailan ay hindi nila naigapos ang aking diwa at adhika.”

Another sort of pandama in the Gospel is the gesture of the paralytic’s friends. For the obvious reason that he could not move, it was his friends who brought him to be close to Jesus for healing. This is the kind of friendship that we need in life—those who would bring us closer to God. Ang tunay na kaibigan ay damang-dama ang kalagayan ng kanyang kaibigan.

Dahil kayo ngayon ay fresh at nasa posisyon, maraming makikipagkaibigan sa inyo. Ingat lang po kayo- naglipana na po ngayon ang mga kaibigan na fake. Choose well the kind of friends that you must keep. I would rather have a friend who can challenge me or criticize me. I should say that I need a friend who can argue with me. To say the least, we don’t need a friend who will just say “yes” to anything we propose. That sort of friend may have ulterior motives. Beware. Wika nga, “Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are.”

Another point of pandama is the command of Jesus to the paralytic, “Courage, child…” The word “courage” is itself a feeling. It comes from the Latin word “cor”. Its Spanish counterpart is “corazon” which is “heart.” Hence, to be courageous actually to have a heart.

It’s interesting to note that heart in Spanish is “corazon”. It is two words, actually — “co” and “razon.” “Razon” is reason or mind. “Razon” and “Co-razon” go together. This should be the kind of courage that we all need. I think as I love or I love as I use of my mind. Love intelligently.

Lastly, after the healing, Jesus told the man, “Rise… and go home.” Home is where our hearts should be. As politicians, I know you are always away from home. But do yourself a favor – do come back home. You may have reached that far in your career but if you don’t have a place called home you would just tire yourself out. You will eventually regret that you’ve been far away but have not come back home. Remember, no amount of success for failure in the family.

Mother Teresa was once asked about world peace. Her answer was soothing, “World Peace? … Go back home and love your family.”

All said, bawat isa sa atin ay damang-dama ng Diyos. Sana mapagtanto po natin ito ng palagian. He also expects that at each end of our day – we have true friends around us plus we have a home in the very heart of our God. AMEN.