Rev E B Belizar, Jr., SThD
YES, it happened when I was reviewing the photo gallery in my cellphone. I saw three or four photos that puzzled me. Three or four varying versions of my left foot found themselves among my visual memories of the past years that I have been jealously guarding and keeping. I laughed and wondered when and why I took those photos. Then it dawned on me that I could have been carrying my cellphone face down and accidentally turned on its camera, now wrongly focused naturally on my left foot. Then, without my knowing it, I could have pressed the camera button, and the rest of the story need not be told. I tried to make light of the situation and talked to—who else but—my left foot. “Lucky you. With your ugly scars, the camera has a huge crush on you.”
Believe it or not, those weird-looking representations of one of my two natural means of transportation, with its scars from a motorcycle mishap in an earlier period of my life, suddenly sent me into a thinking mode. Isn’t God, I asked myself, like my cellphone camera and am I not like my scarred left foot? Actually it was a recent answer by the Holy Father Pope Francis to the question of “what is your image of yourself?” while on a visit to Japan that obliquely caused my own musings. He said he sees himself as a “sinner” who is nevertheless “loved by God”. Yes, I mused, just like my scarred left foot on which my cellphone camera has a huge crush. Still, we might ask the Holy Father, who else doesn’t fit into this “self-image”? The pope’s self-effacing way of seeing himself is, in a word, part and parcel of his gospel portrait of who the human person is: a sinner but a “loved one”. That is, someone who, despite the scars of sinfulness that blights his soul, matters immeasurably to the One to whom nobody doesn’t matter. John the evangelist will agree. “For God so loved the world,” says he, “that he gave us his only Son so that those who believe in him may not perish but may have everlasting life” (Jn 3:16).
The reader might ask: All this just because of those left foot photos? To that I could say in reply: Well, I was just getting started.
We could also be the camera. Instead of being focused, correctly, on God and his kingdom, we could also be wrongly fixed on things that draw us away from him: pursuit of money, fame and fortune, power and pleasure as substitutes to true joy.
Wrongly focused cameras could describe many of us. On the other hand, Mark the Gospel writer’s account of four men who bring down a paralytic friend to Jesus through a hole they opened in a roof, unable to reach him because of the huge crowd (Mk 2:1-12) are, to me, the Christian answers. They are like cameras with the right focus because their eyes are fixed on Jesus Christ in whom the Kingdom reigns and on their paralytic friend who will benefit from its healing signs. The faith of the four friends, which leads Jesus to say to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven” (Mk 2:5) is a living parable of what the Church is and could be. We are “sinners loved by God” called to concretely love fellow sinners by sharing our faith with them, by allowing this faith to become a tool in beseeching the Lord to bless all paralytic souls—including those in purgatory—with his saving and healing love.
Having said all this, I now rest my left foot.