In the book “Presence” is a study on the effects of positive vibrations on matter. It was conducted by a Japanese scientist, Masaru Emoto, and what he did was he froze water from Lourdes, natural spring water, cave water, distilled water, and polluted water. Then applying magnetic resonance imaging microscope he took pictures of the frozen water.
The Lourdes, natural spring and cave water had beautiful patterns very similar to jewels or the representation of a snowflake. The distilled water was plain and the patterns were underdeveloped, that is, had not formed beautiful designs. The polluted water formed no patterns.
Emoto placed distilled water in vials and exposed these to various stimuli. To some he played classical music and Korean folk music; to others he had a Buddhist monk pray or meditate beside the vials. After several hours of this, he froze the water and took pictures. The vials to which music was played did form beautiful patterns, which reflected the structure and complexity of the music; the classical music of Mozart, “the order and flow,” and Bach, “the geometric precision,” and “the beautiful simplicity” of the Korean folk song. The water beside which the Buddhist monk prayed had exquisitely beautiful patterns.
This study shows us the power of positive vibrations or positive energy. Positive energy—from prayer, faith, hope, wishing others well, music, laughter, care, love—does transform even matter itself. Other studies have similar findings.
This Sunday’s Gospel shows the power of prayer and faith. The most obvious effect is that the mother’s love, faith and prayer for her daughter helped obtain the healing of her daughter (possessed by a demon).
But there are two other effects or transformations. The woman herself was transformed. At the start of her pleading, she calls Jesus “Son of David,” a messianic title that views the messiah as a powerful ruler and is a misconception. In their exchange, the woman transforms her plea or request to a prayer and in this transformation she also transforms her view of Jesus and addresses him “Lord,” a title of the divine, the Risen Lord.
Jesus Himself is moved by the faith, prayer and love of the woman. At the start He refuses her request, since she is a Gentile and a Canaanite at that, the mortal enemies of the Jews, but when her faith, prayer and love deepens as she humbles herself, Jesus is moved and grants her request.
Breaking down of barriers
In this simple story we see the breaking down of cultural and historical barriers, the transformation of animosity to compassion, the healing and transformation of people, all because of the power of faith, hope, prayer, compassion and love.
Positive vibrations or energy can and does transform people and situations and, as many scripture commentators would say of this passage, becomes one of the foundations of the Universal Church. With Jesus healing the Canaanite woman’s daughter, He brings the good news of healing and salvation to the Gentiles and prefigures the universal character of the Church.
There is something to learn from this Sunday’s Gospel or, at the very least, something to reflect on. Amid the growing negativity and pessimism in our world and our Philippine society, it is good to remember and turn to the power of faith, prayer, compassion, and love.
Let me just cite three recent events involving the members of our Catholic Church. A few months ago there was a heated exchange between the pro-RH and the anti-RH advocates. It resulted in name-calling and an ugly spectacle that seemed to have brought out the worst in many.
The past few weeks we have the controversial art exhibit at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, which again is showing an ugly situation of name-calling and illogical behavior. Let me get to the third event a bit later.
In the RH bill and CCP controversies, I am actually happy that people and groups are taking clear stands. At least it shows that people are concerned and are willing to stand up for what they believe in and value. However, resorting to name-calling, “condemning” people to the fires of hell, behaving uncouthly, and creating divisions are sad results of an otherwise supposedly good and healthy process in the development and growth of a community where there supposedly are respect, compassion, and love for one another.
Perhaps in these two controversies, there will be winners and losers, but will we come out a better community of respect, compassion and love?
The third recent event is the PCSO controversy involving some bishops and the SUVs. It was ugly, but what I thought saved the day, so to speak, was the Senate hearing where the bishops concerned humbly apologized and the senators treated the bishops with respect and kindness.
At that moment I felt pride and hope in our institutions. It showed how decency, respect and compassion—and love—can resolve contentious issues. It showed that with respect and kindness, compassion and love we can still grow into a real community.
Even the smallest act of kindness can make a difference in the life of a person and in our world, making our world a better place. Let me end with a story of gratitude.
Over two years ago I was having dinner with Ryan and Juday Agoncillo—then planning their “secret” wedding. Several times at dinner, people, mostly kids, would come up and politely request to have a picture with the couple who kindly obliged. I noticed there was a young man standing at a distance with his, I assumed, girlfriend and seeming to wait for their turn.
When the next set of kids came up to Ryan and Juday the young man approached our table and went to me. He smiled and asked me, “Father, do you remember me?” I responded saying that I do recognize him and he was a student in the high school when I was principal. Then he asked if I remember the last time we talked. I asked him to refresh my memory.
When he told me that he had approached me for help in his appeal for the law school, the memory came back to me vividly and I told him, “Yes, we were standing in front of my secretary’s desk and I told you to rush to the law school because your appeal was approved, etc.”
I think he was moved by my remembering that moment. Then he told me, “Father, I want to thank you and let you know that I just passed the bar and graduated among the top 10 of my class in the law school.” We exchanged contact information.
The next day I sent him an SMS to thank him for coming up to me and letting me know how well he did. His response was, “Father, you do not know how much I prayed for that moment to be able to thank you personally.”
The smallest act of kindness can make a tremendous difference in the life of someone and make our world a better place. I often use this story in my sessions with teachers and I ask them what is more important, educating a bar passer and a top 10 graduate, or forming a person filled with gratitude for the chance and blessings given him?
If we all do our share—a small act of kindness, an expression of love and compassion, a smile, a prayer, an expression of faith and hope—we may still transform one another to respect and love one another, whether we agree or disagree on issues. If we do our share, we may still transform our communities and society into environments of respect and love; communities of respect and love where all may become the best they can be, nurturing beautiful patterns of attitudes and values of care and service, inspiring patterns of compassion and love in our life.