10th May marks the 133rd birth anniversary of Brother Felix Ysagun Manalo. He led the Church of Christ (Iglesia Ni Cristo) for almost 50 dynamic years starting with pretty much nothing but the Bible in his hands. He preached wherever he could and to whomever would listen. And people did listen.
People listened to him because he did not draw attention to himself. He never wished to be exalted. He simply taught God’s words. To him, obedience to God’s words were enough. If you obeyed all the commandments, there was nothing else.
1 John 2:5
“But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him”
Some people may think I’m oversimplifying our doctrines. Just obey?! In a sense yes. Not as in obey blindly and never complain but when it comes to the pure teachings, if you obey the words of God there would be no need to prove your loyalty to the one speaking or showing you are one with them or what have you. If you are living by God’s commands, then you have already proven you are obedient and that shows the Messenger already did his part. There was no need to praise Brother Felix. He always said, he was just a man. He was humble man who fulfilled his God given duty.
Why did Brother Felix not want to be exalted? After all, he was God’s messenger – as the book of Revelations says, a messenger is an angel. Is it proper to exalt and bow before a messenger?
“Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things.
Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” Revelation 2:8-9
Apostle John was told by the angel not to bow down to him. The angel said, “DO NOT DO THAT. I am your fellow servant”. That is why even bother Felix’s son, Brother Eraño also refused people to bow to him. They understood their roles and their duties well, and they were humble about it. That is why Brother Felix often said, “Don’t believe Manalo. I know nothing. My head is empty! Believe in the Bible!” It was never about him.
What some people do not realise about Brother Felix Manalo was that he truly loved his mother. He loved her so much that he used her last name in her honour. So instead of using Ysagun which was his father’s last name, he used Manalo.
Since the 12th of May is Mother’s Day, I’d like to greet all our lovely mothers a Happy Mother’s Day.
Just like Brother Felix who loved and honoured his mother, let us all show our respect to our mums on Sunday and every day. But the best example of all is of course, Jesus Christ, from the time of his youth to the day of his death, he showed love and respect for his mother:
Luke 2:51 – “Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them; and his mother stored away all these things in her heart.”
Even in suffering, Jesus was concerned of who would take care of His mother:
John 19:26-27 – “When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.
One of the most touching moments in Jesus’ life was at the last few moments before death; He thought about the welfare of his own dear mother. He endorsed her to his disciple to make sure that in her old age, she would be cared for.
So may we all learn from the Saviour himself and Brother Felix Manalo who showed their love, respect and concern for their mothers. Follow the good examples. There are bad examples all around but let us learn from the ones who are truly good.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27
Our mothers will not always be around. Neither will we. So while we have the time and opportunity, love and care for them. It’s what the Messenger would have wanted because it is pleasing to God
“Your leaders are rebels and friends of thieves; they are always accepting gifts and bribes. They never defend orphans in court or listen when widows present their case.”