✔ By syndrome (as in agape syndrome) we generally refer to a pattern of symptoms that characterize or indicate a particular social condition. In pathology and psychiatry (as in Williams syndrome), a syndrome is understood as a group of symptoms that together are characteristic of a specific disorder, disease.
✔ Williams syndrome (WS or WMS; also Williams–Beuren syndrome or WBS) is a rare neurodevelopmental disorder caused by a deletion of about 26 genes from the long arm of chromosome 7. It is characterized by a distinctive, “elfin” facial appearance, along with a low nasal bridge; an unusually cheerful demeanor and ease with strangers; developmental delay coupled with unusual (for persons who are diagnosed as developmentally delayed) language skills; and cardiovascular problems, such as supravalvular aortic stenosis and transient hypercalcaemia. The syndrome was first identified in 1961 by Dr. J. C. P. Williams of New Zealand.
Isabelle’s Fearless Love
✔ Meet Isabelle, eight years old. Isabelle can’t stop loving you, or anyone else for that matter. She has a rare genetic disorder called Williams’ Syndrome that makes her fearless with other people
✔ By fearless we mean that she has no fear of strangers and is incapable of discerning potentially dangerous people and situations. She will walk up to a complete stranger, one that a normal person would avoid and be cautious around, and ask to sit in his lap and tell him that she loves him!
✔ Children with Williams’ are often physically small and frequently have developmental delays. But also, kids and adults with Williams love people, and they are literally pathologically trusting. They have no social fear. Researchers theorize that this is probably because of a problem in their limbic system, the part of the brain that regulates emotion. There appears to be a dysregulation in one of the chemicals called oxytocin, that signals when to trust and when to distrust.
✔ This means that it is essentially biologically impossible for kids like Isabelle to distrust. “They don’t have that kind of evolutionary thing that other kids have, that little twinge of anxiety like ‘Who is this person?, What should I do here?'”, Jessica, Isabelle’s mother, explains. “They just don’t have it. She just doesn’t have that, an early-warning system of sorts.”
✔ For instance, when Isabelle was younger, she was chronically happy. She smiled at anything. She loved everyone: family, friends, strangers. She reached for them all, and, in return, everyone loved her. Strangers would stop Jessica to tell about how adorably loving Isabelle was.
✔ But as Isabelle got older, the negative side of her trusting nature began to play a larger role. Jessica and her husband had to rethink even the most basic elements of Isabelle’s day-to-day life as she was always in danger being too overly trusting and “loving”.
✔ It’s not just Jessica and her family who must be vigilant. Every teacher at Isabelle’s public school has been warned. Isabelle is not allowed to tell them that she loves them. Isabelle is not supposed to tell other schoolchildren that she loves them. And these are just some of the minor restrictions.
✔While Williams’ Syndrome focuses on what Isabelle lacks in her brain, let us for a moment shift to what Isabelle possesses due to this lack: a trusting and loving spirit.
✔Think about it. A new heaven and a new earth where every individual possesses what Isabelle has. Isn’t that the ideal?
✔In the gospel of John 13: 34, Jesus issues the Great Command to “love one another.” He says, “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”
✔Indeed, at first glance, this kind of loving has “pathological” features similar to William’s Syndrome.
Some would say that it goes beyond what is “normal” for human beings!
✔But Jesus was aware of what we considered “normal” when he said, “You have heard that it was said. ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ That was normal!
“You have heard that it was said. ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ (Mt 5:38, 43.) That, too, was normal, in the old mind-set!
But then He drops the bomb, when He says, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” (Jn 14:6). In other words, Jesus was saying, “I give you a new norm! I am re-defining what ‘normal’ is all about for my followers.” Jesus explicitates this new norm, when he said, “But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.” -Mt 5:39
“But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father. -Mt 5: 44-45
That is the reason why Jesus refers to Agape as a new commandment (Jn 13:34). Agape is the new norm of Being, Doing, Relating and Living for Christians. That is what we refer to as the Agape Syndrome.
SYMPTOMS OF AGAPE SYNDROME
What are some symptoms of Agape Love?
✔Are you NOT greedy, not covetous, not lazy, not gluttonous, not envious, not jealous, not boastful, not proud, not rude, not self-seeking, not easily angered, not keeping a record of wrongs, not evil, not lustful?
✔Do you rejoice in truth, protect others from evil? Do you trust? Are you hopeful? Do you persevere? Are you faithful? Do you forgive? Are you humble enough to ask forgiveness from others?
If you said YES to all these, Congratulations, you have the Agape Syndrome. By God’s standards, You are the most normal Christian around. Keep it that way. But please, don’t talk to others about it, or you lose one of the signs.
✔ So, let our life time project be: Normalize! Be an Agape Person!
Let us reclaim the lost innocence, the loving and trusting spirit we originally had if we want to hasten the realization of the new heaven and the new earth God had planned for us all!
Loving is Being and Doing
° Mga Magandang Mungkahi:
> Feeding program. Kahit once a week or once every two weeks – may garahe ka, magpakain ka man lang ng ilang mga batang lansangan. Kahit lugaw ni Aleng Leni! Teach them to pray before and after meals.
> BEC & Parish Renewal Experience. Maki-alam. Sumali. Lumapit. Magtanong. Take the initiative.
> Education Sponsorship. Mag-sponsor ka man lang kahit isang batang walang wala ang mga magulang para makatungtong man lang sa elementary ang kanilang anak. Pls. no alibis & excuses: e baka hindi ko rin naman matustusan yan hanggang grade 12, e sayang naman.
Friend, it’s time to act out our Love di ba? Long overdue na! Matagal-tagal na rin naman ikaw bini-bless ni Lord. Let the love flow! ♥
Good Shepherd Sunday: Shepherding 101
THE PETER PRINCIPLE
Have you heard of the Peter Principle? The Peter principle states that a person who is competent at their job will earn a promotion to a position that requires different skills. If the promoted person lacks the skills required for the new role, they will be incompetent at the new level, and will not be promoted again. Haha a strange principle, right? No, it is not named after St. Peter; St Peter was promoted to the papacy and had proven himself very very competent by offering his life to the Lord. Rather, the Peter principle is named after Laurence J. Peter, a Canadian educator.
Laurence J. Peter observed this, for example, usually, in technical industries, where skilled employees are naturally promoted to managerial roles. It happens despite the fact that the competence of such workers is based on their technical prowess rather than their ability to manage or lead. The end result is always devastating for the entire indutry. Not to mince words here, our point is, especially as we face national and local elections tomorrow, do not dare promote people into public office who are skilled at manipulation, trickery and deception. This will be a great loss for the nation, for each of us and our children. Please, you must promote good public servants who have proven track records of Good Shepherding. But, let’s leave the polls to God’s mighty hands for now. Laurence J. Peter, author of Peter’s Principle, incidentally also stated something like this:
“The seaman tells stories of winds, the ploughman of bulls; the soldier details his wounds, the shepherd his sheep.” I agree. So, for us to appreciate who the Good Shepherd is, let us hear what a good shepherd has to say about himself.
PART 1: THE AGAPE SHEPHERD
Who is a Shepherd?
♥ I guide my sheep in many ways. They always need a rest on their journey. But sometimes they will not. They won’t rest when they’re hungry. So I always provide for them. They won’t rest when they’re afraid.
So I protect them. And they won’t rest when they’re fighting or witnessing fighting among others at the flock.
♥ So I use my staff to direct them away from strife. When they know all is well they will lie down in the pastures I lead them to and take the deep rest they require to restore their strength. I am a good shepherd.
I always find them a least some sweet grass whatever season we are in.
♥ I’ve led them through tall grass using the rod to sweep a clear path and frighten away any enemies. I am armed against all the enemies of my flock: snakes, wolves, coyotes, even a mountain lion that roams looking for my sheep wanting to tear them limb from limb and devour them. My sheep know the side of this cudgel and they trust it.
♥ I also carry a staff. With it I climb ahead and make sure that crevices and caves on our path are clear of rocks and other potentially harmful things. I also use it to reach the sheep farthest from me.
♥ So I gather them close around me and we cross through the dark places together. I know each of my sheep even when they’re running from me. It may sound odd to one who’s not familiar with this life… but I love my sheep. I would search to the edge of the desert to find one lost. …I have always been an Agape Shepherd.
PART 2: THE SHEEP SENSE
After knowing who the shepherd is, let us get to know ourselves, the sheep and flock that we are. Here are some characteristics of sheep.
1º FLOCKING BEHAVIOR. Sheep are best known for their strong flocking, herding and following instinct. They will run from what frightens them and band together in large groups for protection. This is the only protection they have from predators aside from the protection of their shepherd. üBeing a member of Christ’s flock, do you have this strong bond with your Church?
2º BEHAVIOR OF FOLLOWING THE LEADER. When one sheep moves, the rest will follow, even if it is not a good idea. The flocking and following instinct of sheep is so strong that it caused the death of 400 sheep in 2006 in eastern Turkey. The sheep plunged to their death after one of the sheep tried to cross a 15-meter deep ravine, and the rest of the flock followed.
♥That is why, even despite the bonding instinct, we are enjoined to be more discerning in choosing the teachers we learn from, the teachings they offer and the Spirit-led life the lead. If you are a Catholic who is not well formed in and informed about your faith, have second thoughts about saying yes to invitations to attend in non-Catholic gatherings where there are teachings and indoctrinations.
3º SOCIAL BEHAVIOR. Sheep are a very social animal. In a grazing situation, they need to see other sheep. According to animal behaviorists, a sheep will become highly agitated if it is separated from the rest of the flock. üThis explains why you as a family should be affected when a member of your family starts attending a non-Catholic church. Because that means a major shift in your social behavior as a whole family unit.
♥ Sense of Sight. Sheep depend heavily upon their vision. Behavior scientists speculate that the placement and structure of the sheep’s eyes are due to nature’s designation of sheep as a prey animal. Sheep have a very large pupil that is somewhat rectangular in shape. With only slight head movement, sheep are able to scan their surroundings. Their field of vision ranges from 191 to 306 degrees, depending upon the amount of wool on their face. However, sheep have poor depth perception, doing poorly in three dimensional vision, especially if they are moving with their heads up. This is why they will often stop to examine something more closely. Sheep have difficulty picking out small details, such as an open space created by a partially opened gate. They tend to avoid shadows and sharp contrasts between light and dark. They are reluctant to go where they can’t see.
♥ Sense of Hearing. To compensate for this poor perception, Sheep have excellent hearing. They can amplify and pinpoint sound with their ears. In fact, sound arrives at each ear at a different time. Sheep are frightened by sudden loud noises, such as yelling or barking. In response to loud noises and other unnatural sounds, sheep become nervous and more difficult to handle. To minimize stress, the handler should speak in a quiet, calm voice. Sheep should not be worked in the presence of barking dogs.
PART 3: PECUS & PECCATUM
♥ Pecus means sheep and peccatum means sin. Both share two common characteristics.
1º Short-Sightedness. üAs we have seen, due to the sheep’s poor eyesight, the shepherd has to call the sheep with a gentle voice and often, when possible, by name. The sheep literally depends only on the shepherd’s voice for direction.
♥ Similarly, sin, is the effect of short-sightedness. It is the effect of enjoying gratification in the here and now and forgetting everything good we’ve already known and seen before.
2º The Cure: Listening. Their second common characteristic is that both the short-sightedness of the sheep and sin, can be cured by listening to a voice.
♥ Just as the shepherd’s voice is a cure for the sheep’s short-sightedness, so too, the short-sightedness of man leading him to sin may be prevented by his listening to the voice of the Good Shepherd. ©Yes, we all suffer from some form of spiritual short-sightedness from time to time. Some even suffer from spiritual blindness the rest of one’s life. But the good news is that this blindness, this short-sightedness, can be cured, can be helped, can be healed, by listening. No wonder, Jesus assures us, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.”- Jn 10:27
PART 4: MAY 9, 2022 CHALLENGE:
♥ Take care of your vote. Do not sell it. It is sacred. Your vote is not only your right. Your vote is also your power; your power to change our society. No matter how poor you are, your vote has the same value with that of the richest and most powerful person in the country. And BY YOUR VOTE, YOU WILL TELL PEOPLE WHAT KIND OF PERSON YOUREALLY ARE. -Most Rev. Raul B. Dael, DD, Bishop of Tandag♥
♥ Para sa Mga Botanteng Kristyano ♥
Ang issue ng pag boto sa araw ng halalan 2022 ay hindi lang tungkol sa political issues at personal na opinion. Ito ay, higit sa lahat, isang moral na issue, na mas malalim, mas mataas at mas malawak kaysa sa political at personal na opinion mo. Kaya, totoo: YOUR VOTE REFLECTS YOUR MORAL STANDARDS.
Totoo, we respect every political and personal opinion. Pero pag dating sa moral na aspeto, ang Diyos lamang ang ating standard. Kung hindi naka ayon sa standard ng Diyos ang political at personal na opinion natin, sa Diyos ng Katotohan lang tayo mananagot; PERO buong bayan ang pagdurusahin ng ating maling boto. YOUR VOTE REFLECTS YOUR MORAL STANDARDS.
“Respect my opinion” kamo? Oo naman. PERO, respect God’s moral standards muna. Hindi ka naman diyos eh. We respect you naman, pero, sorry ha, super baba ang respeto ng mabubuting puso sa mga taong pumipili at bumuboto sa kasamaan, kasinungalingan, kamanhiran, kabastusan, at pangloloko. Ang maliit na respetong natitira sa puso ng mabubuti ay ipahahayag na lang sa pagdalangin para huwag kang (at ang mga mahal mo sa buhay) USIGIN at PESTEHIN ng masasamang espiritu habang buhay. YOUR VOTE REFLECTS YOUR MORAL STANDARDS.
At, hindi naman kagulat-gulat kung ang ating mga anak at ang susunod na henerasyon ay lalaki tulad ng mga iboboto natin na maging pastol ng bayan. Kaya bumoto ka naman para sa susunod na salinlahi. YOUR VOTE REFLECTS YOUR MORAL STANDARDS.♥
GOD’S GOODNESS and THE PROBLEM OF EVIL
Please Choose the Right Statement:
S1: Ang isang bagay ay mabuti dahil niloloob ng Diyos.
(Something is good because God wills it.)
S2: Ang isang bagay ay mabuti kaya niloloob ng Diyos.
(Something is good that is why God wills it.)
S1: says that something is good because God wants it to be good. This implies that the goodness of a thing or an act depends on God’s fiat – His judgment of it to be good. Seems like nothing is wrong here. He’s God anyway. Thus, as in OT times, killing is sometimes wrong (cf. punishment of Cain in Gen 4:8-12) and is sometimes right (e.g. killing your enemies like the Philistines in 1 Chron 14:10ff), “depende sa will ni Lord” (depending on the will of God).
S2: says that some things are already good from the beginning and that goodness is the reason why God wills them. It also implies that God only wills what is good.
It is easy to accept S1. It respects the power of God who decides which is good or bad. S2 is a bit complicated – it begs the questions: Who created these good things in the first place, ‘di ba si God din? God also created evil, ‘di ba? Is this why He can allow evil things to happen to good people? Hmm…now it’s more complicated.
S1 is a very common position. After a tragic experience, we are often consoled by friends: “Hindi ka naman bibigyan ni Lord ng pag-subok na hindi mo kaya eh. Tignan mo na lang kung ano’ng message ni Lord para sa iyo sa kabila ng trahedyang ito. Baka parusa yan sa iyong mga kasalanan!” Consoling naman na malaman na galing pala kay Lord ang snatcher ng cell phone mo. At may blessing pala ni Lord ang lasenggong driver na sumagasa sa anak mo? Consoling din na you deserve what you got from the hands of God nevertheless. Hmmm Ganun nga ba? If you are an S1 person, ganun nga. Pero maling mali! You are very wrong!
B.WHY IS S1 VERY WRONG?
1. The end does not justify the means. Besides, it is wrong to look for consolation in the lie that evils are willed by God simply to tell you “I love you my child.” An oxymoronic idea of God you have!
2. There are moral absolutes. Killing, robbing, etc. are evils. No God (who is the Absolute Good) will arbitrarily decide otherwise.
3. God’s gift of responsible use of freedom is irrevocable. He just doesn’t strike dead a criminal before, during or after a heist. Only in that sense of respecting human freedom that He allows evil to co-exist with the good.
4. It is wrong to presume that your “cross” comes from God. Even Christ’s cross didn’t. It’s okay, though, if you think you are as holy as Job or better than Jesus Christ. Mabuti ka pa!
5. While sin causes tragedies, it is not always the immediate cause of the calamities in our lives! And Jesus tells us that what happens to people is not something sent by God for his purposes.
√ The Gospel (Lk 13:1-9) affirms that things (good or bad) can indeed happen at random to any one. Bad things do happen to good people while bad people are beneficiaries of good things too! Indeed, randomness governs the distribution of events in our lives – a good reply to those who ask “Why me?” BUT, is this a good response, really? Is it enough to say, “Talagang ganyan ang buhay, swerte swerte lang” and expect to find consolation?Nope, I say. So, why do bad things happen at all? Let’s see.
In 1978, Harold Kushner, a rabbi, published When Bad Things Happen to Good People, where he attempted to answer the ancient query: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Excerpts of his responses follow: “There is no reason for those particular people to be afflicted rather than the others. These events do not reflect God’s choices. They happen at random…”(p.53). Our lesson to learn is to “accept the idea that some things happen for no reason, that there is randomness in the universe” (p.46). (These excerpts are cited from A critique of “When Bad Things Happen to Good People, by Rabbi Harold Kushner” by Dr. Norman Geisler).
√ Kushner cites randomness of events too just like our Gospel lesson. However, a further reading will reveal Kushner’s wrong premises, as one critic observes: God wants the righteous to live peaceful, happy lives, but sometimes “even He can’t bring that about” (p. 43). Why? Because God Himself “is not perfect…” (p. 148). If God were all-perfect the world would not be so imperfect as it obviously is. An imperfect world indicates an imperfect God. As a matter of fact, “There are some things God does not control…” (p. 45). Thus, the world is out of whack because it is out of control.
The Wrong Question
An imperfect God? Certainly, such audacious position is unacceptable. Besides to believe in an imperfect God is to deny the very existence of the God you believe in! But how did Kushner arrive at such a fallacious answer? Quite simple. By asking the wrong question.
Instead of asking“Why do bad things happen to good people?” we should be asking instead“Why should anything good happen to people at all?”Or to be more specific, “After all that we have done – proving ourselves unworthy of His calling to be His children – what merits do we possess in order to deserve God’s blessings?” Putting the question this way makes us realize, “Aba, oo nga naman. We are all imperfect creatures. Iba’t-iba nga lang ang levels and degrees of sinfulness natin.” So when we ask“Why me, Lord, mabuti naman akong tao?”we really presume we’re perfectly good – a bold thing to do. Besides, if we claim we are perfect, then we prove we are not. The hard fact is we aren’t. Is this pessimism? No. It is just an acceptance that we are born into this world in need of God, a perfect God.
Jesus twice reminds us to balance this principle of randomness of events with personal atonement and moral responsibility. He says: “But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”(vv 3,5) – referring to the victimized Galileans and the victims of the Siloam tower tragedy respectively. In other words, what Jesus seem to tell his disciples is this: “Oo nga, mabait kayo o hindi pwede kayong makaranas ng kasamaan. Kung gayon, mas mainam pang magsisi na kayo at magbagong buhay ngayong mas may alam na kayo kaysa kanila na inabutan ng kamatayan nang hindi naka-handa.”
This is a reminder too of yet another principle: “You reap what you sow.”You sow spiritual unpreparedness, you reap eternal destruction. Jesus does not remove personal responsibility in the person who experiences either the good or the bad.
Let us go back to our S1 / S2 choice at the beginning of this lecturette. The common wrong choice is S1, the idea that good and evil depend on God’s willing it. So that when evil happens, God is the culprit. The consolation is that He uses evil to love us more. Of course, this is wrong! Beware: if you further pursue this thinking, you will end up embracing Kushner’s positions too!
The Catholic position is in S2: Something is good that is why God wills it. The concept therein is that God is Good all the time and all of God’s creation is good! The Good is out there objectively and not arbitrarily determined by God as S1 implies. S2 means that you believe that no evil can come from Him. He can only will good things to happen to you! S2 means that you also affirm the existence of evil; that evil is man’s abuse of the gift of freedom.
So, how do we treat the evils happening to us?
St. Paul gives the answer: “All things work together for good for those who love God” (Rom 8:28). With Love for God, nothing in impossible in the face of tribulations!
In the face of moral evil, let us remember what Pope Francis reminds us when he says: “The only war that we must all fight is the one against (moral) evil. We must not believe the Evil One when he tells us that there is nothing we can do in the face of violence, injustice and sin.”♥