Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gospel Reflection

December 19, 2012
Wednesday – Advent – Year of Faith
Fourth Day – Misa de Gallo
by Monsignor Bong Lo, Chaplain, Chapel of the Eucharistic Lord, Megamall 4:30AM Mass at Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace (Our Lady of EDSA)

Reading 1 Jgs 13:2-7, 24-25a

There was a certain man from Zorah, of the clan of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. His wife was barren and had borne no children. An angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, "Though you are barren and have had no children, yet you will conceive and bear a son. Now, then, be careful to take no wine or strong drink and to eat nothing unclean. As for the son you will conceive and bear, no razor shall touch his head, for this boy is to be consecrated to God from the womb. It is he who will begin the deliverance of Israel from the power of the Philistines."

The woman went and told her husband, "A man of God came to me; he had the appearance of an angel of God, terrible indeed. I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name. But he said to me, 'You will be with child and will bear a son. So take neither wine nor strong drink, and eat nothing unclean. For the boy shall be consecrated to God from the womb, until the day of his death.'"

The woman bore a son and named him Samson. The boy grew up and the LORD blessed him; the Spirit of the LORD stirred him.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 71:3-4a, 5-6ab, 16-17

R. (see 8) My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked.
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
For you are my hope, O LORD;
my trust, O God, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
from my mother's womb you are my strength.
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
I will treat of the mighty works of the LORD;
O God, I will tell of your singular justice.
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!

Gospel Lk 1:5-25

In the days of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah; his wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years.

Once when he was serving as priest in his division's turn before God, according to the practice of the priestly service, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense. Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside at the hour of the incense offering, the angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense. Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him.

But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers toward children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord."

Then Zechariah said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." And the angel said to him in reply, "I am Gabriel, who stand before God. I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news. But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time." Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and were amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary. But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He was gesturing to them but remained mute.

Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home.

After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived, and she went into seclusion for five months, saying, "So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others."


Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat.

Today is December 19. How many days to go? (people say 6) Ilan po? 2 days more to go, December 21 na po. (laughs) Ayon sa Mayan calendar, bye-bye. (laughs) Bye-bye na.

When people ask me, "Father, bakit ayon sa Mayan calendar, mag-e-end of the world na sa December 21?" Sabi ko, "Hindi. Matatapos ang Mayan calendar sa December 21, 2012 kasi naubusan sila ng ink., ng tinta." (laughs) But my dear sisters and brothers, according to experts of the Mayan culture, the Mayan calendar ends on December 21, 2012, but it does not mean it is the end of the world. Rather, it is the end of an era. It is the end of an epoch. The end of a cycle. 

But you and I know that the end of a cycle heralds the beginning of a new cycle. The end of an era is the advent of a new era. Hindi ho ba noong nag-graduate tayo sa school, ano ho ba ang nakasulat sa likod ng stage? Commencement exercises. Why commencement? End na nga eh. Bakit commencement, which means beginning? Kasi ho pala, the end of one phase means the beginning of another phase. Graduate na tayo sa elementary, we are about to start high school. Graduate na tayo ng high school, we are about to begin college. Tapos na tayo ng college, magsisimula ka na ng iyong professional life. Sabi nga nila, pag ikaw ay young professional, ano'ng tawag nila sa iyo? Yuppie. Kapag mga 30 years old ka na, ang tawag sa iyo, yummy. (laughs) At pag may edad ka na tulad ko, ang tawag sa iyo, yucky. (more laughs)
My sisters and brothers, we are now in the season of Advent. And after the season of Advent is the season of Christmas. After Christmas, it will already be Ordinary time in the Liturgical calendar. Then after a few weeks of Ordinary time, we will have the season of Lent, and after the season of Lent, we will have the season of Easter. Then Ordinary time again, that will culminate on the Solemnity of Christ the King. And after Christ the King will again be the season of Advent. Then Christmas again, Ordinary Time, and Lent, and Easter, and so on and so forth. 

"Eh Father, ang buhay pala natin, kahit sa simbahan, ang liturgical life natin, ang church calendar natin, paulit-ulit lang. Para palang sirang plaka ano po? Parang 'yong asawa ko, Father (laughs), paulit-ulit lang, parang sirang plaka." Correct? Wrong....wrong. Hindi dapat parang sirang plaka, na paulit-ulit lang, na walang patutunguhan na maganda. Dapat ho pala ay para tayong drill. 'Yong electric drill. Ano po sa Tagalog ang drill? Barena. Sa amin sa Bacolod, matigas 'yan - barina (laughs). Sa inyo malambot, barena.
Alam naman po natin na ang barena ay paikot-ikot din, hindi ho ba? Ngunit ang barena po ay hindi parang sirang plaka, na paikot-ikot, paulit-ulit, walang patutunguhan. Mayroon pong patutunguhan ang barena. With each turn, papasok nang papasok. With each turn, palalim nang palalim. Nawa po ang ating liturgical life, ang ating church life, ang ating Christian life, hindi parang sirang plakang paikot-ikot, paulit-ulit, walang patutunguhan, kundi sana, ito ay parang barena. Spiritual drill kumbaga, na habang tumatagal, with each turn, papasok nang papasok sa plano ng Diyos. Ikaw at ako, papasok nang papasok sa plano ng Diyos, hindi palayo nang palayo sa plano ng Diyos. Sana ang relasyon natin sa Diyos at sa kapwa, palalim nang palalim. May our relationship with God and with each other deepen with the passage of time.

This is what we call to grow old gracefully. Matanda na ba kayo? Hindi pa naman. So ang tanong pa sa iyo, how young are you? Pero ang totoo, how old are you? Okay lang na tumanda tayo. Hindi naman talaga mapipigilan 'yan eh. Basta ang mahalaga, we grow old gracefully. What does it mean to grow old gracefully? To grow old gracefully is to grow old graciously - in the grace of God. Sana, habang lumilipas ang panahon, with each cycle, with each turn of the season, we grow old gracefully, we grow old in the grace of God, we grow old graciously.
Pakisabi po, "May I grow old gracefully." (people repeats) "May I grow old graciously." (people repeats) "May I grow old in the grace of God." (people repeats) Pakisabi ninyo sa inyong katabi, "May you grow old, period." (laughs) If you say that to your katabi, then you, yourselves, are not growing old gracefully. You, yourselves, are not growing old graciously. Hindi ka gracious. At kung wala kang grasya, ano ang mayroon? Disgrasya. (laughs) Opo. Malaking disgrasya na tumanda tayo na not in the grace of God. Malaking disgrasya na tumanda tayo na walang pinagkatandaan. Malaking disgrasya na tumanda tayo na hindi pumapasok sa plano ng Diyos, na hindi lumalalim ang ugnayan sa Diyos at sa kapwa.
My sisters and brothers, pang-49th Advent season ko na ito ngayon. Next week, pang 49th Christmas ko na. (looking at a young lady) Ikaw, pang-ilang Advent season mo na ito? (pause, then Father asks in a confused voice) Hindi mo alam? (laughs) Sa tingin ko, pang 65 mo na. (more laughs) Ay noong ipinanganak ka pala, 1965. Mga kapatid, pang-ilang Advent season n'yo na? Pag turn na po ng cycle, may nangyayari ho ba? Sana, mayroon. Sana ngayong taon, may mangyayaring maganda. 

In our First Reading for today, from the book of Judges, and the Gospel reading according to Luke, may dalawang babae. Sa First Reading, ito ang asawa ni Manoah, hindi nabanggit ang name, pero sigurado tayong ang tawag sa kanya ay si Mrs. Manoah. At sa Gospel Reading naman ay si Elizabeth na asawa ni Zechariah. Dalawang babae, na grabe ang pananalig sa Panginoon. Grabe ang pananampalataya sa Panginoon. Talagang hindi sila bumitaw, talagang humawak sila sa Panginoon. They did not give up. They did not give in to discouragement. Although tumatanda na sila na hindi napagbigyan ang hinihiling, hindi nabigay ang pangangailangan, they remained barren, their lives remained fruitless, naging fruitless ang relasyon nila sa kanilang asawa, talagang they were looked down, because at that time, not having a child is considered a curse. Sinumpa. Tingnan nyo kaming mga pari, mukhang isinumpa. (laughs) Lalo na ako. Wala nang anak, wala pang buhok (more laughs), parang isinumpa.
My sisters and brothers, these two women. Ilang cycles na ang dumaan sa buhay nila, parang tumatanda na sila disgraciously, tumatanda na sila na parang fruitless ang buhay. But these two women held on to their faith in God, held on to their prayers, held on to their trust in the Lord, and that is precisely what we mean by faith. We are in the Year of Faith, and faith, first and foremost, means a personal relationship with God. Sana po, sa pag-ikot ng cycle, 'yong ating personal relationship sa Panginoon, lumalalim at lumalapit. Sana po sa bawat cycle, lalo tayong pumapasok into that personal relationship with God.
Pero mga kapatid, kung gusto nating pumasok tayo sa ating personal relationship with God, at lumalim at tumatag ang ating personal relationship with God tulad nila Mrs. Manoah and Mrs. Zechariah, dapat, at the same time, ang ating relationship sa isa't isa ay lumalim din, tumatag. Bakit po? Kasi we only have one heart. Iisa lang po ang puso natin. Although may mga nag-iilusyon diyan, ano. Kapag dalawang babae ang nililigawan, sasabihin, 'sana dalawa ang puso ko'. Alam nyo po, pag dalawa ang puso nyo, patay kayo. (laughs) Dapat isa lang ho talaga ang puso. At dahil nag-iisa ang puso, that heart cannot be open to God and at the same time be closed to others. Dahil iisa lang ang puso, hindi pwede na sa isang dako, ito ay bukas sa Diyos, pero sa kabilang dako, ito ay sarado sa kapwa. Kung ang puso sarado sa kapwa, then that heart cannot but also be closed to God, sarado din sa Diyos. Kung ang puso na ito ay bukas sa Diyos, then it cannot but be, at the same time, open to others. 

Kaya sa bawat cycle, sa bawat ikot ng cycle, lumalalim din sana, at tumatatag din ang relasyon natin sa ating kapwa. Lalo na ang mga kasama natin sa bahay, sa school, sa work, at lalo na sa church. Kung minsan sa church, ang daming chika at intriga. Dito pa nga nasisira ang mga relasyon. Sasabihin ng isa, "May sasabihin ako sa iyo." Sasabihin naman ng isa, "Ay hindi pwede ang chika dito." Sasabihin naman noong isa, "Ay hindi naman chika ito eh. Sharing ito eh." (laughs) My sisters and brothers, let us pray in this mass, in this season, na sana po talagang ang relationship natin sa Diyos at sa ating kapwa ay lumalim.
Finally, ano po ang effect, ano po ang bunga, paano po natin matanto na talagang we are growing old graciously - in the grace of God? Paano po natin matanto na talagang pumapasok tayo sa plano ng Diyos at lumalalim ang ugnayan sa Kanya, habang tumatatag naman ang ating ugnayan sa kapwa? What is the sign? The sign is - peace of heart. 'Yong peace, kapayapaan sa ating puso. 'Yan ang dinala ng Panginoong Hesus. Noong ipinanganak Siya, kumanta ang mga anghel ng, "Glory to God in the highest and peace to His people on earth." Noong inutusan Ni Hesus ang Kanyang mga alagad, sabi Niya, "Whatever house you enter, the first thing you have to tell the owners of the house is to greet them with the word of 'peace'." 

I-try mo yan gawin mamaya, Pagdating mo sa bahay, sabihin mo sa iyong mga kasama, sa iyong mga anak, "Peace be with you." Ang sasabihin nila, "Ngyeh." (laughs) Di ba ano? But that is the first thing that we should say in the house. Hindi 'yong, "Uy may makakain ba tayo diyan?" Hindi 'yong pagpasok na pagpasok n'yo, 'Uy pautang naman". (laughs)
During the Last Supper, ano ang sinabi ni Hesus sa Kanyang mga alagad? "I give you My peace, the peace that the world cannot give." And after the Resurrection, the first time na nagpakita siya sa Kanyang mga alagad, ano ang first word na sinabi Niya sa kanila? "Peace." Because peace is total well-being. Hindi lang physical kundi spiritual. Hindi lang individual, kundi communal. Peace is total well-being. At 'yan ang dala sa atin ng Panginoon, 'yan ang hangad Niya para sa atin, at 'yan ang hinahanap natin, at ito ay mapapasa-atin kung sa bawat ikot ng cycle ay pumapasok tayo sa plano Niya, na matatag ang ugnayan natin sa Kanya at sa ating kapwa, and we grow graciously. Then we shall have peace.
Kaya sa misa, sinasabi ng pari before Communion, "Let us give each other the sign of.....peace." After the mass, sinasabi ng pari, "Go in....peace." At kung nasa bahay naman kayo at gusto ninyong sabihan ang inyong kasama na siya ay magpahinga, at gusto nyo na niyang matulog, sasabihin mo sa kanya, "May you rest in....." (laughs) O bakit? Hindi ba pwede 'yon? Eh oras ng pahinga eh. Hindi mo naman pwedeng sabihing, may you sleep full of troubles, or may you rest unpeacefully. May you rest in....peace. (laughs)
My dear sisters and brothers, peace is not the absence of problems. Peace is the presence of God. Ito po ang ating ipagdasal, sa misang ito, at sa bawat misa natin, sa ating bawat panalangin. May we grow old graciously, pumapasok sa plano ng Diyos, lumalalim ang relasyon sa Diyos at sa kapwa, and through Him, having that peace that the world cannot give, the peace that the world cannot understand. Amen. 

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