Thursday, October 4, 2012

Gospel Reflection

October 04, 2012
St. Francis of Assisi, Deacon, Religious, Founder of the Three Orders (Solemnity)
by Rev. Fr. Agapito "Aga" Tarog (Immaculate Conception Parish, Las Pinas)
Lunch Mass at Megamall, Chapel of the Eucharistic Lord

Reading 1 Jb 19:21-27

Job said: Pity me, pity me, O you my friends, for the hand of God has struck me! Why do you hound me as though you were divine, and insatiably prey upon me? Oh, would that my words were written down! Would that they were inscribed in a record: That with an iron chisel and with lead they were cut in the rock forever! But as for me, I know that my Vindicator lives, and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust; Whom I myself shall see: my own eyes, not another's, shall behold him, And from my flesh I shall see God; my inmost being is consumed with longing.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 27:7-8a, 8b-9abc, 13-14

R. (13) I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
Hear, O LORD, the sound of my call;
have pity on me, and answer me.
Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks.
R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
Your presence, O LORD, I seek.
Hide not your face from me;
do not in anger repel your servant.
You are my helper: cast me not off.
R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.

Gospel Lk 10:1-12

Jesus appointed seventy-two other disciples whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit.
He said to them, "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this household.' If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, 'The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.' Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, 'The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.' Yet know this: the Kingdom of God is at hand. I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town."


Today, let us look at the Reading and the Gospel in the context of the fundamental teaching regarding God's plan of salvation, which is found in Genesis Chapter 2, verses 4-6. It says,

"At the time when the LORD God made the earth and the heavens--
while as yet there was no field shrub on earth and no grass of the field had sprouted,
for the LORD God had sent no rain upon the earth and there was no man to till the soil,
but a stream was welling up out of the earth and was watering all the surface of the ground."

Did you not notice anything strange? How come walang nabubuhay samantalang may tubig naman? Science believes that if there is water, there is life, hindi po ba? Even experience will tell us lalo na kapag tag-ulan, ang lakas tumubo ng damo, tama po ba? So paanong walang tutubo samantalang nababasa naman ang lupa? Why is it that despite the presence of water, there is no life? And the writer offers us two basic reasons why this is so. Sabi niya - and this is another strange thing - it is because God has not sent rain on the earth. Eh may tubig na nga eh, and yet the writer says, "God has not yet sent rain". Point number two, "there was no man to till the soil".

Ano ang itinuturo sa atin nito - which is the fundamental thing of our salvation history. Number one, in order for life to come about, the first and most important ingredient - if we can call it that way - is the action of God. It is God's action, the grace of God, which we call the "providence of God" - the God who provides. But equally important to the providence of God, which is connected by the linking verb "and" is the "presence of man to till the soil". But the question is - hindi pa ba sapat 'yong providence ng Diyos para magkaroon ng buhay, at idinugtong pa roon ang "man to till the soil"?

Ano ang itinuturo nito sa atin, mga kapatid sa pananampalataya? The fundamental teaching is that ang buhay sa ibabaw ng mundo, is dependent not only on God himself, but also on the cooperation of man himself to the providence of God. Na ang ibig sabihin ay kumikilos ang Diyos, yes, which is the most important thing - the decision of God to provide life for everything, but equally important is the role of the human being, who was created in the image and likeness of God, to work in cooperation with the providence of God.

Thus, it is a wrong notion, contrary to Scripture, na sabihin ng tao, "Bahala na ang Diyos, at ako ay uupo na lang." That is a wrong attitude, because it is explicitly told in Scripture, that "man must till the soil". Another wrong notion is the opposite extreme. And that is when one says that "Ang ikabubuhay ko sa mundo ay nakasalalay lamang sa aking pagsisikap, walang pakialam ang Diyos." That is the other extreme - at marami pong taong ganyan, na ang paniniwala nila ay sila ay nabubuhay dito sa mundo dahil masipag sila, at walang kinalaman ang Diyos.  

Let us all remember that the first thing we need is the providence of God. If God does not provide, papaano ka makakakilos, kung hindi ibibigay ng Diyos ang opportunity for you to be able to till the soil? What if God does not give you the soil to till, hindi po ba?

Therefore, given this, we should understand what Job said in the First Reading, na sa kalagitnaan ng kanyang paghihirap and his trials, at sinusumbatan pa siya ng kanyang tatlong kaibigan, he still relies very much in the end, ultimately, on God, to be his vindicator. Job was confident that despite the trials, God will vindicate his cause. Then we will understand when Jesus told the 72 disciples to go to the places that Jesus intends to visit, to prepare and proclaim the Gospel there. As disciples, they were to rely totally on the providence of God, when Jesus said, "Do not bring a sack, not even an extra tunic." He was teaching them to live on God who provides for them, as they do what they are supposed to do.

Lastly, we will understand the spirituality of the great "poor" man, St. Francis of Assissi, whose Feast we celebrate today, that in the middle of his spiritual journey, he realizes that he is a creature like the birds and other creatures on the earth. He even calls the sun and moon, "brother sun" and "sister moon". And what did he do? Siya ay anak mayaman. But as he realizes God's providence for him, tinalikuran niya ang yaman nila, and lived a life of mendicancy. Namamalimos siya para sa kanyang kakainin. He walks around town barefoot, only clothed with a simple garment. Why? It is because it is clear to him that he lives his life not according to his own ability, but by the grace of God.

And so, mga kapatid sa pananampalataya, pagnilayan po natin ang ating pamumuhay sa kasalukuyang panahon. Kung tayo man ay nabubuhay ngayon, it is because of two things - God's providence, and our effort in cooperation with the providence of God. Let us not fall into the error of thinking na ang lahat ng bagay, sa Diyos na lang, at ako ay hindi na kikilos. We are made in the image and likeness of God, therefore, we share in the creativity of the Divine Lord. Let us not also fall into the error of thinking na ang lahat ng ikinabubuhay ko dito ay bunga lang ng aking abilidad, excluding God. It is very clear that in order for life to come about, there has to be, first and foremost, the providence of God, and the effort of man in cooperation with the providence of God. Maging prinsipyo nawa natin ito sa buhay, nang sa gayon ay magkaroon tayo nang buhay na ganap.
St. Francis of Assisi – Pray for us

You may also want to see: A Holy Life - St. Francis of Assisi