Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Gospel Reflection

October 23, 2012
Tuesday – Weekday – Year of Faith
by Rev. Fr. Ulysses Navarro (Society of St. Paul)
5:30pm Mass at Sto. Nino de Paz Chapel, Greenbelt, Makati

Reading 1 Eph 2:12-22

Brothers and sisters: You were at that time without Christ, alienated from the community of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the Blood of Christ.

For he is our peace, he made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his Flesh, abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one Body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it. He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 85:9ab-10, 11-12, 13-14

R. (see 9) The Lord speaks of peace to his people.
I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD--for he proclaims peace.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.
R. The Lord speaks of peace to his people.
Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.
R. The Lord speaks of peace to his people.
The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and salvation, along the way of his steps.
R. The Lord speaks of peace to his people.

Gospel Lk 12:35-38

Jesus said to his disciples: "Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master's return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants."


From time to time, in our Gospel Reading, or even in the other Scriptures that we read, we are given an insight to the cultural world of the Jews, particularly during the time of our Lord. And many times, this is really reflected in the language used in Scriptures. Although what we proclaim in our Liturgy is in English form, many of these phrases, many of these idiomatic expressions, retained their essential form. In fact, some of these idiomatic expressions also found their way into the English language.

In the Gospel Reading today, we heard Jesus saying to His disciples, "gird your loins". This is a typical term which has reference to the Passover when the Jews were in a hurry to leave Egypt. In fact, they were instructed na kung sila ay kakain, sila ay nakatayo, as if they were in flight or sila ay nagmamadali. In today's usage, the phrase has assumed several meanings, like 'tightening up your belt as you prepare yourself for a series of actions'. Nandoon lagi ang element ng paghahanda ng sarili. The phrase also serves as a warning to 'wear your full armor' as if you are going to a battle. Since in a battle our bodies are exposed, the instruction would be to move always forward.

If you Google this phrase, it refers to the long garments worn by those who go to near Eastern missions, when they "tuck up their loins" whenever they go on a long journey, or whenever they are employed in a particular labor. When servants serve at weddings ganoon din ano. Alam natin na 'yong weddings sa panahon ng mga Hudyo ay hindi isang araw na paghahanda lamang. It takes several days and nights. At 'yong mga light bearers sa mga weddings would have to "tuck their loins" around their waist, always ready to bring out the light.

The search for the meaning of this particular idiom may go on and on. But the basic meaning is simply "always be prepared". 'Yon ang pagiging handa lagi. It is an action that dictates one's readiness to move to a more important action, leaving behind kung ano man 'yong ginagawa mo pansamantala. And being ready is what Jesus is telling us in today's Gospel. If we look at the Gospel, we can see traces of the Parable of the Ten Virgins, because our Gospel for today also spoke about the servants waiting for the return of the Master. Unlike the Ten Virgins though, in our Gospel today, mga lalalaki ang naghihintay, to open the gates when their Master arrives, so that when their Master comes, the servants will be ready to open the gate without any delay, kahit na anong oras pa dumating ang kanilang Master.

In the Gospel today, it is clearly said that there is a reward - a surprising and blessed reward for servants who are prepared, for servants who have been waiting for the return of the Master. When the Master comes back and finds His servants awake and ready, He will seat them at the table and Himself will wait on them. Parang magkakaroon ng reversal of roles. Sa pagdating ng Master, kapag nakita Niyang handa ang kanyang mga alagad, sila naman ang Kanyang paglilingkuran.
Remember that it is Jesus Himself who have come to serve, and not to be served. He is the One who, as Master and Lord, washed the feet of His disciples. And even when the Master comes in the middle of the night, or before dawn, or at any time of the day, blessed indeed are those servants who are ready for His return. So walang matutulog, walang magre-relax relax, any moment, we wait for the Lord, because we do not know when He will come. Just in case he comes later, an hour from now, two hours from now, around midnight, past midnight, we will be ready to open the door for Him. 

Now my dear friends, this need for readiness should not be a reason for us to be anxious or to be afraid. Maaari kasi nating isipin diba - paano kaya 'yan? Hindi ko naman alam kung anong oras si Hesus darating sa aking buhay. I don't know at what time of the day will He come knocking at my door. Again, let us not be anxious. Reason and experience tell us again and again that the Lord's call comes at the most unexpected time. Therefore, we should not waste time thinking - kailan kaya Siya darating? The most important thing is to be ready here and now, at this present moment, and leaving the future to take care of itself. Remember my dear friends, in our relationship with God, it is always the present which counts.

Last Sunday, we have witnessed the canonization of our compatriot Pedro Calungsod. And it was explained that in the life of a martyr, hindi mahalaga kung ano ang naging buhay niya before the martyrdom. Hindi na kailangang silipin kung anong klaseng tao siya before the martyrdom. Because what is most important was the time when he decided to give his life to the Lord - the present moment when he surrendered his life to God.

Before the canonization, a Jesuit priest was interviewed and was asked why during the rite of canonization, the first names to be called where the martyrs. Dalawa po ang martir doon - isang French priest at si Pedro Calungsod. And the explanation was given this way: "Martyrdom is the highest form of the imitation of Christ." At that moment, Pedro Calungsod was ready when Christ came knocking at His door. Maaaring hindi tayo tawagin sa ganoong paraan, but in our own vocation, sa ating sariling pamumuhay, we must always see to it that just like Pedro Calungsod, and just like what we heard in today's Gospel, we could be servants ready to accept the Lord. May God bless us all.