Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gospel Reflection

November 20, 2012
Tuesday - Weekday – Year of Faith
by Rev. Fr. Benjo Fajota (Vice Rector of the EDSA Shrine)
5:30 PM Mass at Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace (Our Lady of EDSA)

Reading 1 Rv 3:1-6, 14-22

I, John, heard the Lord saying to me: "To the angel of the Church in Sardis, write this: "'The one who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars says this: "I know your works, that you have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Be watchful and strengthen what is left, which is going to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember then how you accepted and heard; keep it, and repent. If you are not watchful, I will come like a thief, and you will never know at what hour I will come upon you. However, you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; they will walk with me dressed in white, because they are worthy.

"'The victor will thus be dressed in white, and I will never erase his name from the book of life but will acknowledge his name in the presence of my Father and of his angels. "'Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'" "To the angel of the Church in Laodicea, write this:

"'The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the source of God's creation, says this: "I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, 'I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything,' and yet do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich, and white garments to put on so that your shameful nakedness may not be exposed, and buy ointment to smear on your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise. Be earnest, therefore, and repent.

"'Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me. I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne, as I myself first won the victory and sit with my Father on his throne. "'Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'"

Responsorial Psalm Ps 15:2-3a, 3bc-4ab, 5

R. (Rev. 3: 21) I will seat the victor beside me on my throne.
He who walks blamelessly and does justice;
who thinks the truth in his heart
and slanders not with his tongue.
R. I will seat the victor beside me on my throne.
Who harms not his fellow man,
nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor;
By whom the reprobate is despised,
while he honors those who fear the LORD.
R. I will seat the victor beside me on my throne.
Who lends not his money at usury
and accepts no bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
shall never be disturbed.
R. I will seat the victor beside me on my throne.

Gospel Lk 19:1-10

At that time Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said, "Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house." And he came down quickly and received him with joy. When they saw this, they began to grumble, saying, "He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner." But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost."


Boris Becker, a German tennis player, became the youngest Wimbledon champion at the age of 17. At the time of his prime, he won another Wimbledon crown. He was very rich and could afford to buy anything. But he contemplated suicide because he said, "my life was empty".

Jack Higgins, the author of novels such as "The Eagle Has Landed", was once asked, "What would you have wanted to know when you were a boy?" And he answered, "That when we get to the top, there is nothing there."

Nobody knew this saying more than Zacchaeus in our story. He was very rich by today's standards. He overtaxed the people of Israel. The Israelites, therefore, hated him because he imposed every burden on them and connived with the Roman authorities. He was a pariah; nobody accepted him. He was very rich, yet he was very lonely.

How many of us would have already reached our point of successes and would tell ourselves, "What is there to all of these?" There is nothing, there is emptiness, there is no meaning in having all of these successes in life. 

And what is the challenge of today's Gospel? Jesus is asking us. Probably there are other people we see around us every day who are 'clinging to their own trees' because nobody accepts them. Zacchaeus, the tax collector, made a conversion when Jesus Christ entered his house. Jesus did not admonish him. He did not preach that "You should be converted, that you should stay away from your sins, and that you should give away all your wealth to the poor". He did not say anything. What Jesus did was simply to accept this sinner unconditionally. Tinanggap Niya ang pagkatao ng isang makasalanan.

We also don't need to boast of our wealth, of our successes, and our faith in God, because we cannot claim that it is by our own merits that we get them. Walang anuman tayong maibibigay sa Diyos para ipagmalaki na tayo ay isang matagumpay na tao. Lahat nang ito ay dahil sa awa ng Diyos. 

Ang hamon sa atin ay para anyayahan ang ating mga kapatid, ang ating kapwa na naguguluhan din, nabubulagan, at tanggapin sila nang buong buo, kahit sino pa man. And probably, with this simple gesture of inviting them, we could touch their hearts more than whatever preaching we could say. Amen.