Sunday, April 8, 2012

Gospel Reflection

April 08, 2012
Easter Sunday (Solemnity)
by Rev. Fr. Stephen Mifsud (MSSP – Quezon City)
(Batchawan, Bataan)

First Reading:               Acts 10:34, 37-43  
Psalm:                         Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23  
Second Reading:          Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6-8
Gospel:                        John 20:1-9

1Now on the first day of the week Mary Mag'dalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." 3Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. 4They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; 5and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, 7and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.


A certain kindergarten teacher was telling her students the story of Jesus. In her class was a little boy who came from a non-Christian family. He was paying very close attention to the story because it was all new to him. As the teacher told how Jesus was condemned and nailed to the cross to die the boy murmured, "No! That's too bad!" The teacher then went on to tell how on the third day Jesus rose from the dead and came back to life. The boy's eyes lit up with delight and he exclaimed, "Totally awesome!" 

During this week we heard the story of the suffering and death of Jesus. Like the little boy many of us felt like "No! That's too bad!" Today we hear the rest of the story and again with the little boy we can now exclaim "Yes! Totally awesome!" Today we can again sing "Halleluiah" that we have not sung all through Lent. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad (Psalm 118:24).

Why do we rejoice today? We rejoice because truth has triumphed over falsity, justice over injustice and tragedy has turned into comedy and evil turned to goodness.
Jesus was falsely charged of crimes he did not commit, and unjustly sentenced to a death he did not deserve. {Haven’t you ever experience being the subject of tchismis and judged unjustly by others. 
Jesus’ friend Judas betrayed him, his trusted companions deserted him and Peter denied him. {Haven’t you sometimes felt abandoned by your close friends or family?  

The people Jesus loved and preached to, demanded his crucifixion and chose to have the bandit Barabbas released in his place. {Haven’t you experienced people that after you help them, do harmful things to you or others and sometimes turn against you? 

Jesus’ story is one of betrayal and lies, dishonesty and meanness, unfaithfulness and wicked violence directed against an innocent... If that were the end of the story that would be a bad story, a tragedy. But thanks be to God it is not.

Today’s celebration reminds us that Jesus rose from the dead and conquers sin, injustice and death.  Jesus’ life is more powerful than death...  light is more powerful than darkness.  I ask you: Which is the most powerful, light or darkness?  If you put them together who wins? Light!
We all have moments of darkness, problems to face. That’s why the Liturgy today helps us to remember not to get discouraged with our problems.  Do not give up on doing what is right even when the world around us is doing the opposite. Continue to do the right things.

We must learn to believe in the sun even when it is not shining. That is why the church asks us today to rejoice and be glad. Even when we are going through very difficult times: through betrayal, unjust discrimination, lies, loneliness, misrepresentations;. Today Christ has won. And we know that if we are with Christ we shall overcome our sins, our oppositions and death itself. 

Rejoice and be glad ! Alleluia !

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Gospel Reflection

April 01, 2012
Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion
by Rev. Fr. Stephen Mifsud (MSSP – Quezon City)
(Batchawan, Bataan)

First Reading:               Isaiah 50:4-7  
Psalm:                         Psalm 22:8-9, 17-20, 23-24  
Second Reading:          Philippians 2:6-11  
Gospel:                        Mark 15:1-39

1 And as soon as it was morning the chief priests, with the elders and scribes, and the whole council held a consultation; and they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him to Pilate. 2 And Pilate asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" And he answered him, "You have said so." 3 And the chief priests accused him of many things. 4 And Pilate again asked him, "Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you." 5 But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate wondered. 6 Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. 7 And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barab'bas. 8 And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he was wont to do for them. 9 And he answered them, "Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?" 10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barab'bas instead. 12 And Pilate again said to them, "Then what shall I do with the man whom you call the King of the Jews?" 13 And they cried out again, "Crucify him." 14 And Pilate said to them, "Why, what evil has he done?" But they shouted all the more, "Crucify him." 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barab'bas; and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. 16 And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the praetorium); and they called together the whole battalion. 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on him. 18 And they began to salute him, "Hail, King of the Jews!" 19 And they struck his head with a reed, and spat upon him, and they knelt down in homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak, and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him. 21 And they compelled a passer-by, Simon of Cyre'ne, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. 22 And they brought him to the place called Gol'gotha (which means the place of a skull). 23 And they offered him wine mingled with myrrh; but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him, and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. 25 And it was the third hour, when they crucified him. 26 And the inscription of the charge against him read, "The King of the Jews." 27 And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. 29 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads, and saying, "Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!" 31 So also the chief priests mocked him to one another with the scribes, saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe." Those who were crucified with him also reviled him. 33 And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, "E'lo-i, E'lo-i, la'ma sabach-tha'ni?" which means, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" 35 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, "Behold, he is calling Eli'jah." 36 And one ran and, filling a sponge full of vinegar, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, "Wait, let us see whether Eli'jah will come to take him down." 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that he thus breathed his last, he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God!"


I was always fascinated by the image of Jesus entering Jerusalem with the cheering of people, waving palms throwing cloths on floor to welcome him in their city and Jesus riding a small donkey what a contrast!

Donkey is a symbol of humility, simplicity, no importance, an ordinary animal, used only to carry things and people.

But on that day when Jesus rode it, this little donkey became special, important.  And was important because of Jesus.  Keep in mind that people’s attention and cheering were to Jesus.  No one was cheering the donkey.

Yet the young donkey was carrying the Son of God.  What an important job!  ... Carrying Jesus
Many of you are still young, all of us are common people. 

So the first thing that the Liturgy of today teaches us is that all of us can carry Jesus... and not only a baby Jesus but a full-grown Jesus. 

What a privilege to have Jesus Christ, riding in our lives,  living inside of us!  Whenever we read and listen to god’s word, when we receive Eucharist, whenever our heart and mind are on Jesus, when we pray... we are carrying Jesus ... like the donkey.
That means God can do powerful things through common and young people!  I am so happy when I see these young men praying and sharing their experience of Jesus with others...not only children but also adults.

In practice, how do I carry Jesus to others?

With my life, in my every day duties – if we them with lov...  If Jesus is in me I and let him change me, I start to think as he thinks, to love as he loves. And people start seeing Jesus in me.   Many times no need to talk about Him although its important also.

When I was in Calapan I went to a squatter area with so much mud  to visit an old women who couldn’t get out.  When I told her that I am religious, she started crying... and told me... “I am so happy, in this place no priest ever came!

By our lives, by giving our heart, giving our listening ear, giving our time, we  can bring Jesus to others.

So the first point is that like the small donkey, we are special and happy only when we carry Christ in our lives.

The second point: Jesus did not ride a big horse, or even the mother donkey, but He showed us how to be humble, by riding a young donkey.

Our call as Christians is not to make ourselves famous, or want people to look up to us. But like the donkey, we let other people see Jesus.  If we do our job in leading them to Jesus, we will see many people changed by the power of God. 

So let us carry Jesus and in love and humility keep Jesus at the center of our lives and others.