Thursday, November 8, 2012

Gospel Reflection

November 08, 2012
Thursday – Weekday – Year of Faith
by Rev. Fr. Agapito "Aga" Tarog (Immaculate Conception Parish, Las Pinas)
Lunch Mass at Megamall, Chapel of the Eucharistic Lord

Reading 1 Phil 3:3-8a

Brothers and sisters: We are the circumcision, we who worship through the Spirit of God, who boast in Christ Jesus and do not put our confidence in flesh, although I myself have grounds for confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he can be confident in flesh, all the more can I. Circumcised on the eighth day, of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrew parentage, in observance of the law a Pharisee, in zeal I persecuted the Church, in righteousness based on the law I was blameless. But whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider a loss because of Christ. More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 105:2-3, 4-5, 6-7

R. (3b) Let hearts rejoice who search for the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
proclaim all his wondrous deeds.
Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
R. Let hearts rejoice who search for the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
Look to the LORD in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly.
Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought,
his portents, and the judgments he has uttered.
R. Let hearts rejoice who search for the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R. Let hearts rejoice who search for the Lord.
R. Alleluia.

Gospel Lk 15:1-10

The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." So Jesus addressed this parable to them. "What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, 'Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.

"Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, 'Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.' In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents."


Brothers and sisters, St. Paul tells us: "We are the circumcision. we who worship through the Spirit of God." This pictures to us two frames of mind - the Jewish frame of mind and the Christian frame of mind, which has consequences in one's relation to God and neighbor.

The first frame of mind is from the context of who St. Paul is. St. Paul was a Pharisee. Nang sabihin niyang "we are the circumcision" - the key word here is "circumcision" - how is that understood in the Jewish and the Christian sense? The word "circumcision", both in the Jewish and Christian understanding, means an 'act of initiation'. Ito ay pintuan ng pagpasok sa isang disposisyon. Para sa isang Hudyo, circumcision is an initiation to a relationship with God, mediated by the law. One's relationship to God is spelled out in one's faithfulness to the Mosaic law. Kung ikaw ay tapat sa batas na inilapag ni Moses, then you are defined as a righteous person. Ang pagiging maka-Diyos ng isang Hudyo is defined by the faithful and meticulous observance of the law. That is Jewish.

Kung kaya't ang implikasyon po niyan, ang pakikipag-ugnayan nga tao sa kapwa tao ay very exclusive. If you are 'just', as defined by the faithful and meticulous observance of the law, which defines your being a godly person, then there is no room for a just person - in the law - to mingle with breakers of the law.

Kaya't sa Ebanghelyo, makikita ninyo ang reaksiyon ng mga Pariseo. Nagtataka sila kung bakit itong Rabbi na si Hesus ay nakikihalubilo sa mga makasalanan. It is because in the Jewish point of view, righteousness excludes the sinners, because sinners are defined as breakers of the law. If you are an observer of the law and you mingled with the sinners who are breakers of the law, the law of Moses will say that you contaminate your righteousness because of the presence of breakers of the law. Nakakasunod po ba kayo? Those who are righteous in the Jewish sense cannot even mingle with sinners because the basis is the meticulous observance of the law, which makes you ritually impure once you mingle with the law breakers.

Now, let us go to what St. Paul is trying to tell the Philippian communities. "We are the cirmcusion". Ang ibig sabihin nito, tayo ang ganap na 'initiated'. Why? According to St. Paul, "we worship through the spirit of God, who boast in Christ Jesus and do not put our confidence in the flesh". In contra-distinction to the Jew, the Christian's relationship to God is no longer defined by the meticulous observance of the law, because the mediator between God and man is no longer the law, but a person. And that is the person of Jesus Christ. That is why Jesus will tell his Disciples in the Gospel of John, "No one comes to the Father except through Me." The mediator now between God and man is already Jesus Christ - the Living Word. And the relationship of the Christian to God in terms of Jesus Christ is a matter now of LOVE. The emphasis now is love, because it is Jesus Christ who defines the relationship of man to his God.

Bakit si Kristo? Bakit pagmamahal? Ayan o (pointing to the cross). What is the crucifixion? The dying of Jesus Christ on the cross is the highest expression of love. As has been said, "there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for his friends". That is the highest definition of love. Therefore, to relate to God by way of Jesus Christ is to relate to God by way of love, which has its consequence on one's relationship with a fellow human being.

Ano ang consequence niya? Instead of the Jewish understanding of not mingling with a sinner, because the sinner is also loved by God, we who love God cannot but love our neighbor as well. The motive for searching out the one who is lost, is because of the love that one has received from Christ, the same motive that must move the Christian to look for the lost, not because he broke the law, but because you love the person who is lost, and therefore, the motive is to bring him back to the fullness of that love relationship with God, in Christ. Kitang kita ninyo ang pagkakaiba ng Hudyo sa Kristiyano. Sa Hudyo, "Wala na akong pakialam sa iyo, kung breaker ka ng batas, sapagkat ayokong madungisan ng pagkakasala mo dahil ako ay malinis sa batas."

That is why Jesus Christ was teaching His love. He had no fear; He had no qualms mingling with sinners. And if Christ is the Good Shepherd who brings back the lost sheep, we who are followers should try to follow Jesus, and must also be exhorted to exhibit this degree of love for one another. Beginning with our own home, especially those among us who have grown cold in their relationship with God, ay kinakailangan po nating mapanumbalik sa kanila ang pagmamahal sa Diyos, by means of our loving them also.

Now you will understand why Jesus Christ teaches us to "Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you." Why? Dahil kung mahal tayo ng Diyos, mahal din ng Diyos ang mga taong iyon. Kung mahal din sila ng Diyos, it is that love which should be pushing us forward to bring them back to the family, which is centered in the love of God.

So mga kapatid sa pananampalataya, hilingin po natin sa Diyos na makita po natin ito. Na tayo ay makipag-ugnayan sa Diyos - out of love - not out of meticulosity for the observance of the law.