The day before deadline, I was driving to Manila when the 1971 revival of the 1965 hit “What the World Needs Now is Love” playing on the radio brought back memories.
Wikipedia says the song begins with a man asking a young boy to define such words as bigotry, segregation and hatred—to which the boy says he doesn’t know.
The boy explains, prejudice is “when someone’s sick.” This is followed by a sound bite of a drill sergeant leading a platoon into training, the sound of gunfire in the background and snippets of the two songs, as recorded by The Blackberries.
Also heard are excerpts of speeches by John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, the eulogy by Ted Kennedy after Robert’s assassination, and Martin Luther King Jr., and sound bites of the news of assassination of each one.
The song ends with a reprise of the introduction.
Creation from chaos
Listening, I felt a lump in my throat and tears welling in my eyes. I was flooded with memories of that era—from the ’60s to the ’70s, when we went through much turmoil in various levels—personal (adolescence), national (the First Quarter Storm and martial law) and global (over a decade of earthshaking shifts in the Church, politics, science and culture).
Despite the limited technology of that time, we were more in touch with our soul and the soul of humanity.
Despite the flaws and absurdities of that era, a tremendous amount of life force and creativity emerged from the radical reorientation of the Catholic Church through Vatican II, the emergence of The Beatles, and the immortalization of such icons as Martin Luther King and Pope John XXIII.
In the Philippines, school made us aware of nation-building efforts in the post-World War II decades. From industry to education to politics, we were a vibrant society and stood tall among our Asean neighbors.
This flood of memories was triggered by one song that touched my soul.
Then I realized that this is the experience of the Resurrection. This is the encounter of Mary Magdalene, John and Peter with the empty tomb on the first Easter morning.
Sad and fearful, somewhat joyful and hopeful, most certainly perplexed, they saw an empty tomb “and believed.”
In the minutes, the hours, the days that followed, Christ’s closest friends and companions understood and remembered everything that Christ had told them; they remembered the story.
And as the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus succinctly synthesized the grace of the Resurrection, “Were not our hearts burning within” as he walked with us and recounted the story with us?
Hope and eager expectation
This wonderful grace of the Resurrection gives us an entirely new perspective of our life and experiences.
At the same time, it is a grace-filled remembering and reconnecting with the innermost core of our relationship with Christ as it passes through the Passion and Cross, and breaks through to the Resurrection.
We feel “our hearts burning within” again—that is grace.
The past two and a half weeks, I’ve been making the rounds of recollection talks for Lent.
The experience left me tired and burnt out, yet buoyant with a sense of hope and eager expectation that the decade of work will soon bear fruit.
In a far greater and definitive way, this is the promise and the grace of Easter.
The Risen Lord guarantees us that as we remember him and his Paschal Mystery, God’s dream will continue to be alive and vibrant in our midst.