15 July 2012
15th Sunday in Ordinary Time B
7 Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.
8 These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”
12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
What Drama Are You In?
On Friday afternoon (July 13), Sage Moonblood Stallone, 36, the son of action-movie icon Sylvester Stallone, was found dead by police in his Los Angeles home, after a suspected overdose of pills. Sage made his screen debut as a 14-year-old in 1990 playing Rocky Balboa Jr. in Rocky V, the fifth installment of his father’s blockbuster boxing franchise.
Rocky V was a commercial and cinematic disaster. Commenting on Rocky V’s flop in the box office, Stallone made a straightforward assessment. In an interview I read, he made no excuse: “I got greedy.” In essence he was saying he should have given the character a rest but he couldn’t let go of the Rocky mystique, and the cash flow. In fact, there was even a sixth installment entitled Rocky Balboa. It similarly got a cold reception in the cinematic and commercial department.
I think it’s worth noting that almost all the Rocky films were written/co-written, produced, directed and starred in by Sylvester Stallone himself, with one having the special participation of his son.
I have no intention to cast judgment on Mr. Stallone, but this reminded me of what renowned theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar, once designated as the two different dramas people live out: an ego-drama (from the Latin ego – self) or a Theo-Drama (from the Latin theo – God).
We live an ego-drama when we draw our basic energies from our ego, i.e. the self. I live in an ego drama when it’s-all-about-me: written, directed, produced and starring me. The Beatle George Harrison complained about this tendency for self-absorption when he cried, “All through the day, I Me Mine, I Me Mine, I Me Mine.” A bumper sticker declared, “ Everyone is entitled to My opinion.” When the only source of energy and drive is the ego, it is bound to dry up sometime. It will eventually get boring, unexciting and cold. Performers in the ego drama eventually end up tired, lonely, isolated and unfulfilled.
When I was young, I too lived in my own ego drama. Ask my friends and they will tell you: I was not priest-material when I was young. I would say I was relatively a good boy: attending Mass every Sunday, serving at Mass, didn’t get involved in bad company. But that was it. While I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to be when I grow up, priesthood was not in my personal radar then. One day, a stranger (I see him regularly at Mass though) stopped me on the road and said, “I think you will become a priest.” Then he handed me an address of seminary named St. Camillus. I visited the seminary without telling my parents and took an exam and an interview. The priest wanted me to stay right there and then. I went home and never came back and forgot all about it. A year later, a friend of mine, who also took the exam at St. Camillus but failed, asked me to accompany him to another seminary: San Carlos Seminary. I went with him to San Carlos. The priest there suggested that I take the exam as well. Guess who passed?
It was then that I felt that God was inviting me to get out of my ego drama. I eventually entered San Carlos after high school and became a priest nine years after.
In today’s Gospel, we read the commissioning of the twelve disciples as they were sent out on a mission. Remember, before the call of Jesus, they too were starring in their own ego dramas. They were following and fulfilling their own dreams. Most of them were probably fishermen, one was a tax collector, one was a member of a political party. But in today’s commissioning, Jesus initiated them into a different drama, the Theo-drama. They were to be the main actors in a plot, produced, written and directed not by themselves, but by God.
Ron Rolheiser, a priest, a renowned spiritual writer and blogger commented on Balthasar’s Theo-drama. He wrote, “we live a Theo-Drama when we draw our energies from something beyond ourselves, from God. When we do this the highs and lows of our daily lives do not affect us so deeply and we are less prone to discouragement, anger, and depression because we are drawing meaning and energy from something beyond the fluctuations of our own egos.”
When we participate in the Theo-drama, we draw from an unending stream, nourished as it were deep within, by a river of living water.
The Theo-drama need not always be interpreted in the hermeneutic of a religious vocation. Even in the marketplace of life, we can live out the script of the Theo-drama. Every time I place my life at the service of something beyond my narrow sphere of reference, I am living out the Theo-drama. Every time I go out of myself place my gifts at the altar of the common good, I am living out the Theo-drama. In short, every time I respond to the program of love, to the projects of the Gospel message, I am growing in my craft as an actor in the Theo-drama. And the curtain of this drama never closes. The Theo-drama reel rolls on and on, unto blessed eternity.
So, ano ang drama mo sa buhay?