No Faith, No Love, No Time, and Dr. Lazaro
No Faith, No Love, No Time, and Dr. Lazaro
The short story “Faith, Love, Time, and Dr. Lazaro” of Brillantes is caught in a juxtaposition and irony by the abstract elements of the title. This paper hopes to make these abstract elements concrete to further understand the story better. Furthermore, this paper will present a comparison and contrast of mainly two characters, Dr. Lazaro and Ben, as counterpoints. Faith often leads to the spiritual belief of the existence of a Higher or Supreme Being, in this case God (for the Catholics), which is contextualized in the story. On another level, faith is also believing in oneself, and this belief initiates the believer to proclaim, and spread such faith to others who are “non-believers. This is shown during the younger years of Dr. Lazaro, who firmly believed in God, but because of certain critical events in his life, lead to a loss of his faith. Looking at it on another level and from a professional perspective as a physician, Dr. Lazaro is emotionally and objectively detached, as is required by his medical profession.
On the other hand, Dr Lazaro’s inherent power to either save and heal or allow the ravages of disease to snuff life are perhaps reasons why he had been hard and emotionally detached. Firstly, after seeing a cancer patient suffering so much that even morphine, a kind of pain reliever, couldn’t even ease the pain of the patient, he was just back in his element, back in his coldness, numbness, and apathy. Lastly, his seeming air of detachment from reality while curing the tetanus of the child, juxtaposes with the impending reality of death and misery in the child’s family. But what could have done this to him? Perhaps, as a doctor, exposed to seeing patients undergo traumatic pain and deep suffering, could have anesthetized Dr Lazaro’s emotions. But this detachment, even aloofness is striking. His fear of having to deal with more pain prevented him to be at his best, especially after having experienced it himself. His son committed suicide by slashing his own wrist, and he could not do anything to save him. He felt that his efforts of saving life was useless. If he was not able to even rescue his own son’s life, what more others?
These maybe are the underlying doubt and question that is in Dr. Lazaro’s mind that diminished his self-esteem, that made him emotionally detached. Because as a doctor, there are no room for doubts and fears but rather only the belief in oneself and in one’s capability to help other people. Dr. Lazaro’s counterpoint, Ben, is different. Even at a young age, he was sure of what he wanted to be, and believes that he can follow a religious vocation. Although he may have a good career and become successful in being a doctor, surgeon or even an engineer, but is this really what he wanted to become? Ben’s faith in God, as well as his faith in himself, galvanized his stand to serve others by becoming a priest. Many clues and textual evidences to Ben’s desired career are shown. First, was his reading of a biography of a man who became a monk. Second, was when he baptized the child. Lastly, was when he was called Father Lazaro by his own father, Dr. Lazaro – after he performed the rite of baptism on the sick child.. The three showed concrete evidences of his wanting to become a priest. Love is passion and desire in disguise. It is when you do something, and you do it with your heart, mind and soul because of your desire, passion and love. This characteristic is shown by Ben in his passion of serving others by his desire to enter the priestly vocation.
This desire to become a priest to serve others as minister of God rather than become a lucrative doctor or an eminent engineer became apparent when he subsumed others over and above and over self interest. The setting of the story has also intensified the color of love for Ben. It was set in April, midsummer, the hottest days of the summer season. Like April heat, it made love more raging and fiery. Ben didn’t have to be in Tarlac and stay with his father, he and his mother could have gone up to Baguio for a cool summer. But no, he stayed. He, like the April heat, is raging in love and desire to be of help to other people. The act of considering others before oneself is definitely a selfless act defined by love – made concrete through his desire of becoming of a priest. This is shown when he baptized the dying child, he baptized the child as a symbol of his love, his love of wanting to see him in the kingdom of God.
Although Dr. Lazaro at first had the desire to also serve others, the death of his most loved son, killed off any love left for the doctor to serve, albeit mechanically, acting out a physician’s obligation, devoid of compassion and depth of feeling. His son who died was a reflection of himself. It was a treasure of his that he loved so much but which vanished so quickly. With the pains and sufferings, he grew more in hatred and not in love. Nevertheless, his blaming Adam for eating the apple was an unwitting sign of still believing in the word of God. Nonetheless, to make matter worse, he hated God for taking away his treasure, the son, from him which is why he lost faith in God. It’s as if he had lost the willpower to live again. Time is an abstract element. Time is made manifest in the story not only by the sequence of events portrayed progressively by the plot, but by the seeming imperviousness of Dr. Lazaro to temporal matters that are expected of him – that of sharing moments as father to his family which he does not; preferring instead to spend time ensconced in his study after work listening to classical music. Time is also the gap not only in the chronological difference between father and son, but more so by the glaring chasm that has separated both from each other – figuratively and emotionally.
The detached air by which Dr. Lazaro tries to interact with Ben, and the trepidation faced by Ben to inform his father of his plans to enter the priesthood is indicative of a temporal and filial gap. Thus, no precious moments are shared by father and son except for the talk, which had to happen in the course of the long drive for sick call. Time can also be seen in the recollection of Dr. Lazaro. As he travels back in time and space, it proves only one thing that the past is not yet dead to him. He lives more on the past, than on the present. Regretting and wanting to have been able to show love, faith, he wished that he and his dead son must have spent more time together. He finds himself lost in time, and can’t express love and faith to anybody else. The name Lazaro has likened itself to that of the parable of Lazarus. There was a rich man who can have any human valuables in his life, but never dared to share it with anyone else. Lazarus was a beggar with sores lying at the gate who waited for leftovers and food scraps to fall from the rich man’s table to eat.. When rich man and Lazarus died, the former was tormented in hell and the latter went to Abraham’s side.
The rich man asked Abraham to dip the finger of Lazarus in water to cool his tongue. But the chasm and gap had separated heaven and hell, hence, no one from any side could cross over the other side. He then requested to send Lazarus to his father’s house for he had five more brothers and warn them of this place of torment. Abraham replied that they must listen to Moses and the Prophets. But the rich man insisted to send someone from the dead to go his family and they will repent. Abraham replied that if they will not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even when someone rises from the dead. Dr. Lazaro was an allusion, pretty much like the rich man in the parable. Firstly, he had no faith in the existence of the Superior being, just like the rich man in the parable who never practiced his faith of sharing his riches with others.
The rich man showed his love by way of his request to send back from the dead Lazarus to warn his equally delinquent brothers to mend their ways. Such action is definitely precipitated by concern and love to spare them from the same hellish fate. Dr. Lazaro, much like the rich man, only showed a semblance of love when there was already a big gap. Lastly, both the rich man and Dr Lazaro idled their time – the former surrounded by luxury and comfort oblivious of what goes around him, and the latter who prefers listening to classical music Needless to say, the story’s title should really means “No Faith, No Love, No time for Dr. Lazaro”.