Saturday, October 27, 2012

Gospel Reflection

October 27, 2012
Saturday – Weekday – Year of Faith
by Msgr. Bong Lo (Chaplain, Chapel of Eucharistic Lord)
Lunch Mass at Megamall, Chapel of the Eucharistic Lord

Reading 1 Eph 4:7-16

Brothers and sisters: Grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ"s gift. Therefore, it says: He ascended on high and took prisoners captive; he gave gifts to men. What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended into the lower regions of the earth? The one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.

And he gave some as Apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the Body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood to the extent of the full stature of Christ, so that we may no longer be infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming. Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole Body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the Body's growth and builds itself up in love.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 122:1-2, 3-4ab, 4cd-5

R. (1) Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
I rejoiced because they said to me,
"We will go up to the house of the LORD."
And now we have set foot
within your gates, O Jerusalem.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Jerusalem, built as a city
with compact unity.
To it the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
According to the decree for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
In it are set up judgment seats,
seats for the house of David.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.

Gospel Lk 13:1-9

Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. He said to them in reply, "Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them? do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!"

And he told them this parable: "There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, 'For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?' He said to him in reply, 'Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.'"


In a Catechism class or Religion class, a teacher asks his students, "Since Noah spent 40 days and 40 nights inside the ark, do you think that he spent a lot of time fishing?" Syempre boring din doon ano, and anyway, naikutan sila ng dagat, ng tubig. And one student said, "No." Then the teacher said, "How sure are you that Noah did not spend many days fishing?" Sabi ng bata, "Hindi ho ba Teacher, noong pumasok si Noah sa ark, kasama niya ang lahat ng hayop, pero one pair each lang po? Eh dalawa lang 'yong worm na dala niya eh. So ang ibig sabihin po ay hindi siya pwedeng mag-fishing nang maraming araw kasi dalawa lang ang kanyang worm". Ang galing ng batang ito ano?

Now let me check with you, my sisters and brothers. Did you study your Catechism well? Did you study your religion well? Nowadays, people are fond of saying the word 'karma'. We hear people say "makarma ka sana". My sisters and brothers, 'karma' is not a Christian word. 'Karma' is not a Christian concept. It is not a Christian teaching. As good Christians, as good Catholics, from now on, never, never use the word 'karma' again. It is not biblical; it is not in accord with the teaching of the Bible. It is not in accord with the teaching of Christ. Huwag na huwag nyo nang ulitin ang salitang 'karma'. Pag inulit ninyo 'yan, makarma sana kayo. (laughs)

You see, 'karma' is originally a Hindu teaching. It means kung ano ang itinanim mo, iyon ang aanihin mo. Do good, and you will be blessed; do bad, and you will be cursed. It is also true; nasa teaching din natin 'yan. But there is a big difference. Kasi sa 'karma', it is automatic eh. One plus one equals two. One divided by one is equal to one. It is an impersonal force; an impersonal law of nature. But in the biblical and the Christian teaching, there is something personal, and that is the grace of God. The mercy of God. The love of God.

In the Gospel Reading of today, sabi ni Jesus sa kanyang mga contemporaries, "Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way, they were greater sinners than all other Galileans?....Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them?" Do you think they were more guilty? Kasi usually 'yan ang thinking ng 'karma'. When you see someone suffer, you say, "Ay siguro, pinarusahan 'yan." But one of the most important question in the Bible is this - Why is it that some good people suffer, and some bad people prosper? Read Psalm 1, and then the story of Job. It becomes a very difficult question - why do some good people suffer? Eh kung 'karma' 'yan, dapat good people prosper and bad people suffer. Pero hindi eh. Even very good people sometimes suffer, and very bad people sometimes prosper.

Halimbawa ang baha, hindi porke good ka, hindi ka na malulunod. Hindi porke bad ka, malulunod ka. O pag may lindol, hindi porke good ka, hindi ka mamamatay. Hindi porke bad ka, mamamatay ka. Walang kinikilala ang lindol. Walang kinikilala ang baha, good or bad. If you don't do your part, if you don't do your best, good ka man ay mamamatay ka rin. If you do your part, if you do your best, masama ka man, mabubuhay ka rin.

So you may ask, "Father, what is the use of being good, if that is the case?" My sisters and brothers, let us be good because God is good. Let us be faithful to Him, because He is faithful to us. Let us love Him, because He loves us. Our motivation as Christians, our purpose is not 'karma', but the love of God. Whether we are successful or not, whether we survive or not, is secondary. But we know that ultimately, the love of God will prevail. That is why in the second part of the Gospel reading Jesus said that we all must repent, we all must be converted, we all must bear fruit. Kailangang maging fruitful ang buhay natin kasi sa First Reading, narinig natin, He has blessed all of us. He has blessed each one of us. Just as the body has different parts, we all play different parts in the Church. We have different functions. Tayo ay may kanya-kanyang blessings. Tayo ay may kanya-kanyang gifts. And we have to do our part. We have to develop our blessings, and we have to extend service to one another. But doing this does not mean na walang masamang mangyayari sa atin. Posibleng may masamang mangyari. Pero mayroon tayong paniniwala. We continue doing what we have to do, because of love.

My dear sisters and brothers, it is not 'karma' that will determine our fate. It is God's love that determines our destiny. Let us respond to His love.