Balato

“…For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him…” (Mark 3:10)

The scene was both ironic and comical bordering on the pathetic.

It was in a suburban squatter’s area. The TV Game Show host had a big smile on his face, screaming delightfully as he spoke through the microphone. In his hand was an enlarged model of a check for a whooping One Million Pesos as he excitedly handed it over to Mang Rudy (not his real name), resident of that squatter’s area and winner for the month of the said gameshow. Behind Mang Rudy was an old woman flashing her toothless grin to the camera. Shirtless men, cheering women, noisy kids and several onlookers crowded the front of Mang Rudy’s house. The irony of it all was this: Everyone looked happy except Mang Rudy. Why? Because most of his guests were there not to cheer for him but to steal from him. In Filipino, we use a more hard hitting term: “Balato”. To receive a “balato” simply means to get a percentage from the winnings of another. And in the case of Mang Rudy, you can be pretty sure that as soon as the network crew leaves the squatter’s area, the crowd would cave in on poor Mang Rudy for their share of his winnings.

I watched this scene on TV last weekend with mixed feelings, both of anger and pity. And I realized that perhaps Jesus felt what Mang Rudy felt sometime ago while ministering in Galilee.

“…For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him…” (Mark 3:10)

Why was the crowd following Jesus? Why were they drawn to him? Why did they want to touch him? THe passage above gives us a glimpse of their motive — “for he had healed many”.

THey were there for their “balato” — to receive and to benefit. Most were not after Jesus but what they can get from him.

Suppose Jesus said that for that day he won’t perfom any healing but that he would want to just spend time with them. Do you think the crowd would stay? I doubt it. Because most came for the healing, not the healer.

Friend, sometimes we treat God the same way. We serve. We pray. We love others. Because we are blessed. What if we don’t get anything in return? What if God decides not to answer our prayers but promises us that he will be with us in our times of prayer? Would we remain faithful to Him? Would we continue to love him?

If we really want to grow in loving God, try loving Him through those who cannot pay you back: the sick, the prisoners, the poor and even the dead.

The sick can’t pay you back.
The prisoners can’t pay you back.
THe poor can’t pay you back.
THe dead can’t pay you back (although they might want to pay you a visit!)

My family and I attended two wakes last night. Although very exhausted, we summoned all our strength to visit, not because the dead can pay us, but because we wanted to show our love for the living who were left behind.

Friend, perhaps the highest form of loving God is loving Him without asking anything in return. Even without the blessings. Even when He is silent. In the mdist of pain. In the midst of disappointment. In the midst of fatigue. Love God more than His blessings.

I exhort you, dear friend. In the Christian life, your “balato” must be God Himself and yes, God alone.

God bless your day!

I remain, your friend in Christ,

BObby Q.

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