Friday, September 28, 2012

Gospel Reflection

September 28, 2012
Saint Lorenzo Ruiz and Companion Martyrs (Memorial)
by  Rev. Fr. Jun Sescon (Chaplain, Sto. Niño de Paz Greenbelt Chapel)
Mass at Sto. Niño de Paz Greenbelt Chapel

Reading 1 Eccl 3:1-11

There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every thing under the heavens. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them; a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces. A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away. A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to be silent, and a time to speak. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

What advantage has the worker from his toil? I have considered the task that God has appointed for the sons of men to be busied about. He has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into their hearts, without man's ever discovering, from beginning to end, the work which God has done.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 144:1b and 2abc, 3-4

R. (1) Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
my mercy and my fortress,
my stronghold, my deliverer,
My shield, in whom I trust.
R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
LORD, what is man, that you notice him;
the son of man, that you take thought of him?
Man is like a breath;
his days, like a passing shadow.
R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!

Gospel Lk 9:18-22

Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, "Who do the crowds say that I am?" They said in reply, "John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, 'One of the ancient prophets has arisen.'" Then he said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter said in reply, "The Christ of God." He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.

He said, "The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised."


Next year, I will be part of the Silver Jubilarians for high school. As early as now, some of my former classmates are calling up our friends to organize our batch, as we will be hosting the Annual Homecoming. Some of us have not seen each other for 20, 23 - some even for 25 years. Some of us even saw each other last time when we graduated from high school, and so a lot of catching up has to happen.

But I remember this classmate of mine, he was my seatmate. He was very silent, timid, very shy. He does not really stand out; he is a good guy. I met him recently, and still he was his very same self - simple, soft-spoken and timid. But then a classmate of mine called me and said, "You know his story?" And he did not tell or brag it to anyone of us. I tried to google and searched his name, and I eventually found out that he worked in the States, still not married, and a few years back, he gave away all his earnings to Gawad Kalinga just to start a village - a village, I am not talking of one house. So much so that when we met again, I told him and said, "Why did you not tell me about that? That's very inspiring - that was very generous of you. And you are not yet married - what will happen to you - you gave away almost all your earnings?" And then he told me, "Alam mo Father, pera lang naman ho 'yon. Kaya namang ipunin pa rin ho 'yon. What is important is that I am able to help, especially to our countrymen who are in need." You know when he told me that, I must confess, I got so embarrassed. Parang siya ho 'yong pari, ako 'yong praktikal na tao na nagsasabing "sayang". Parang bandang huli, I really examined myself and I told myself "mas dapat siya yata ang nagpari sa aming dalawa". But that was a shining moment for him.

My brothers and sisters, I believe all of us have been designated to have shining moments in life. In the first Reading we heard in the book of Ecclesiastes, there is a time for everything. God has appointed a time for everyone - each one of us - to have shining moments in life. In the Gospel, we see Jesus asking His disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" and Peter, for once, gave the right answer. "You are the Christ, the Son of Man." It was a shining moment for Peter. For my classmate - that was a shining moment for him, we he learned to share his blessings.

Brothers and sisters, today we celebrate the feast of our very own kababayan - Saint Lorenzo Ruiz. And you know, he was really an accidental saint. Next month we will have again another saint, Saint Pedro Calungsod. Sabi nga, si San Lorenzo, namatay sa Japan. Si San Pedro Calungsod, namatay sa Guam. Talagang tayo "export quality", 'no? Lagi tayong overseas. Si San Lorenzo, noong namatay, itinapon sa ilog. Si Pedro Calungsod tinapon din sa dagat, di na natagpuan.

Lorenzo Ruiz felt that he would not have justice in the Philippines because of discrimination, and so he just asked to accompany the friars who were actually on their way  to Taiwan and then to Japan. He was not really a missionary. Then when he was in Japan, when they were caught and he was in prison, Lorenzo actually went to the judge and asked the judge, "If I renounce my faith, will you free me?" And then the judge said, "Yes, you will be free, just deny Christ". And Lorenzo actually entertained the thought. But then, it dawned on him that "this will be my shining moment as a Christian". And so he asked the Lord for pardon for even entertaining the thought, and when he finally found the judge, he said "I've changed my mind. I will not renounce Christ." And then his famous words, "If I had a thousand lives, I will offer them all to God." And that was his shining moment. And thank God for that, because we now have our saint.

Brothers and sisters, in this mass, we pray for that grace, that we may eventually GRAB that shining moment in our lives. Our shining moments need not be spectacular like Lorenzo Ruiz, like that classmate of mine. Our shining moments can be simple - a shining moment in your family, in your office, in the church, in your personal life - all of us can have shining moments. And when will these take place? When we stand firm to what we believe in. You know the truth, tell the truth, that is your shining moment. You know what is good, do what is good, that is your shining moment. You want to serve, do it.

Brothers and sisters, there is a time for everything. And we have all been appointed a time to shine as Christians. Huwag natin sana palampasin ang pagkakataon na 'yon. Lahat tayo pwedeng magningning, pwedeng maging santo, pwedeng maging anak ng Diyos sa salita at sa gawa. And so as we continue with this Mass, we pray: Lord, thank you for choosing us. You have appointed a time for everything. In Your will, there is a shining moment - or perhaps, there will be shining moments in our lives. Lord, at times we are afraid. At times, we are reluctant. At times, we change our minds. But Lord, through the intercession of Saint Lorenzo, may we remain strong. May we be faithful, may we stand up to what we really believe in. Make firm our convictions Lord. Lord, lead us to those shining moments in our lives. Because You promised that those who believe in you, like Lorenzo Ruiz, will shine like the stars, in all eternity.

Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, dear kababayan, pray for us, Amen.

You may also want to see: A Holy Life - St. Lorenzo Ruiz

A Holy Life

Saint Lorenzo Ruiz

First Filipino Saint - Martyr

Feast day – September 28

Governor (Tormentor): If we let you live will you renounce your faith?"

St. Lorenzo Ruiz: "That I shall never do, because I am a Christian and I shall die for God, and for Him I will give many thousands of lives if I had them. And so do with me as you will please."

Lorenzo Ruiz was born in Binondo, Manila between 1600 to 1610. His father was Chinese and his mother was native Tagalog.

During his youth he was an altar boy, sarcistan at Binondo convent. He was educated by the Dominican Fathers and was their escribano because of his skillful hand and unsurpassed penmanship.

It is most commonly believed that he left the Philippines in 1639 because the Spaniards believed he had committed a crime against them.

He left the Philippines on 10 June 1636 with the aid of the Dominican Fathers and Sr. Domingo Gonzales.

In Japan, Christians were persecuted and put to death. St. Lorenzo Ruiz together with his imprisoned companions were captured and brought to Nagasaki around 10 July 1636.  There they suffered incredible torture as they were hung by their feet and submerged in water till they neared death. They also suffered 'water torture' which brought some of St. Lorenzo's companions to recant their faith. Needles were pressed in between their finger nails and skin and they were beaten unconscious. St. Lorenzo never lost his faith.

On 27 September 1637 he was taken with his companions to the "Mountain of Martyrs". There he was hung upside down into a pit in what was called a 'horca y hoya'. This was the most painful way to die in those times and involved using rocks to add weight to the person so that the person suffocates faster and is crushed from their own and added weight. After two days he died from bleeding and suffocation. His body was cremated and his ashes were thrown into the sea. He always professed his love and faith in God.

He was beatified by Pope John Paul II during the Papal visit to Manila on 18 February 1981. St. Lorenzo Ruiz was elevated to sainthood and received canonization on 18 October 1987 by His Holiness Pope John Paul II in Vatican City, Rome.

St. Lorenzo Ruiz was a layman, with two sons and a daughter. He is recognized as the first Filipino Saint and Martyr.


Sources for this article were taken from:




O most merciful and almighty God,
You bestowed as gift to Lorenzo Ruiz
The strength to withstand
The overpowering forces of death
For the sake of his faith in You.

Through his prayers,
Help us to follow his example
By overcoming all life’s trials
And eventually, increase
Our hope and love in You.

O St. Lorenzo Ruiz,
You brought honor to your country,
Having been a level-headed
And prudent father of the family,
A witness of Christ in your life
Until your death.

We present all our petitions
To God through your help
So that by our actions,
We may know more and love more
Jesus our Lord and Savior.

We humbly implore
Your intercession O dear St. Lorenzo,
For the infinite glory of God
And in honor of your triumph
As a martyr of Christ
And defender of Christianity.


St. Lorenzo Ruiz and Companion Martyrs – Pray for us