Thursday, December 26, 2013

Holy Family (A) - Get Up!

Mt 2:13-15, 19-23
December 29, 2013

GOSPEL READING: The Flight to and Return from Egypt
When they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there. And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee. He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He shall be called a Nazorean.”


I was struck by this passage from the Gospel according to Matthew:“So get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you to leave.” Get up”, what a powerful word and command used by an angel of God to the family of Jesus. “Get up” means salvation and is equivalent to “Faith and Hope". This is always what I say to my patients: "Have faith and never cease hoping that God will heal you. Get up, get up, you can do it!"

As a pastoral care worker, I always visit the sick most especially the seriously and terminally ill patients. In one of my visitation, I met Dave, 23 years old, single, and shy but a jolly person. His parents were there, taking turns in caring for him, although, both are working the whole day. My frequent visit made him to open up and shared to me about his life and his illness. They are not a close-knit family; they seldom see and gather together due to their busy schedules. He talks to them when he needs something or when there are issues that need their approval. Most often, he spends his time with his friends or ”barkadas” doing lots of “gimmicks” every night and one of this is going to a gay bar. From there, he learned how to earn easy money and to obtain properties. At first, he was reluctant and afraid to do it, but later on, he indulged himself in drinking hard liquor and in a gay relationship not only with one but with several partners. He was so happy and felt love and could buy anything he wants. Although occupied with so much works, his parents still attend to his needs and advise him to curb his night out with his friends and focus more on his studies. The influence of his friends and obsession led him to ignore his parents’ warning and advice. Eventually, he got sick and weak. He thought that it was just a common fever until wounds and pus came out of his external genitalia. He open up to his parents and brought him at once to the hospital. Several examinations were done and he was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. His health deteriorated and his parents were very shock and sad about it. They have heard about HIV/AIDS except that they are not well informed. The attending physician explained to them everything and what precautions to be made.

Learning about his condition, I’m happy to share to him what I have learned in our seminars about issues on HIV/AIDS. During my daily visit, I did my best to explain to him and to his parents about HIV/AIDS. I told him that the source of his illness is through sexual contact with many partners regardless of their gender. And I added that another way of transmission is through mother-to-child transfer either during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding or through blood transfusion. It can also be transmitted through needle stick injury or from tattooing. And I emphasized to him that there is no transmission of HIV through coughing, sneezing, mosquito bites, swimming in the same pool, using the same toilet bowl, kissing, hugging, and eating at the same table or from the same plate or drinking from the same glass. The people around were surprised and relieved because they thought that they cannot be with people and need to be isolated totally.  The disease is contagious to some extent. My knowledge and understanding of this disease, helps me to be bold and confident and encourage many to “get up” and not to “give up”. God gave us “will power” in order to live. Faith in Him is needed. Remember when Jesus said, “Come to me all of you who are heavily burden and I will give you rest …” When I received complaints regarding discrimination, I talked and enlightened our medical staff about this matter and even advised them to treat HIV/AIDS patients with dignity, compassion and respect.

As Christians, we are made in the image and likeness of God including those affected with different contagious diseases.  I suggested the family to bring Dave to San Lazaro Hospital where free medication is given and where all the victims are housed together. There are religious and lay volunteers who help in educating and treating their illness in all aspects: physical, emotional, etc. While confined in our hospital, Dave is slowly recovering, he also receives Christ back in his heart through the sacraments, daily communion, blessing of the sick and counseling. Dave recognized his mistake, realized and felt the love of his parents to him and determined to help himself to recovery and even encourage his friends to undergo treatment without fear and anxiety.

As a recommendation, I told him to live a chaste life, dedicate one’s life to Christ through service to others, prayer, frequent attendance at Mass, etc., to foster a spirit of fellowship, support and help others and be good example to others. For Dave, he can say “I’m home” not only to himself but also in the arms of his parents and our Savior Jesus Christ.

SR. CORAZON DE LEON, OP is a member of the Congregation of the Religious Missionaries of St. Dominic. She is a Sister Chaplain of the Pastoral Care Service of UST Hospital in Manila. She can be contacted though her e-mail at 


Christmas, Cycle A, OP Sisters, HIV, AIDS, Motivation, Pastoral Care, Hospital

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