Sunday, December 9, 2012

Gospel Reflection

December 09, 2012
Second Sunday of Advent – Year of Faith
by Rev. Fr. Benjo Fajota (Vice Rector of the EDSA Shrine)
11:00 AM Mass at Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace (Our Lady of EDSA)

Reading 1 Bar 5:1-9

Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever: wrapped in the cloak of justice from God, bear on your head the mitre that displays the glory of the eternal name. For God will show all the earth your splendor: you will be named by God forever the peace of justice, the glory of God's worship.

Up, Jerusalem! stand upon the heights; look to the east and see your children gathered from the east and the west at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that they are remembered by God. Led away on foot by their enemies they left you: but God will bring them back to you borne aloft in glory as on royal thrones. For God has commanded that every lofty mountain be made low, and that the age-old depths and gorges be filled to level ground, that Israel may advance secure in the glory of God. The forests and every fragrant kind of tree have overshadowed Israel at God's command; for God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory, with his mercy and justice for company.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6.

R. (3) The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Then they said among the nations,
"The LORD has done great things for them."
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those who sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

Reading 2 Phil 1:4-6, 8-11

Brothers and sisters: I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

Gospel Lk 3:1-6

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert. John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one crying out in the desert: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God."


A young, newly ordained priest was assigned in a parish where he had an elderly priest. One day, when he started his ministry, he asked his parish priest. "What do I preach about?" And the parish priest answered him, "Preach about 10 minutes." The elder priest explained that the young priest should make his homilies short, for people get easily bored. Totoo po ba 'yon? Gawin daw maiksi, mabilis ang misa, dahil madali daw ma-bore ang mga tao? 

So that was what the assistant parish priest did. But after a few months, one time, one of the choirs of the parish gave a concert. After three hours, the people were shouting for more. The assistant parish priest could not understand why people would be listening up to three hours for a good concert, but for the word of God, 10 or 15 minutes would be so boring, would be so long. Bakit kaya ganoon?

Let us look at the first line of the Gospel of St. Luke. It is said that 'the Word of God came to John, the son of Zechariah, in the desert'. Sasabihin natin, "Eh panahon pa nila 'yon eh, na dumating ang Salita ng Diyos. So ano ang kahulugan nito sa ating buhay ngayon? Eh hindi naman ngayon dumating, noon dumating."

St. John the Baptist was a very fearful man because it also says in the Gospel that he proclaimed a baptism of repentance. Ano ang sinabi niya? "Magsisi kayo sa inyong mga kasalanan. Patagin ninyo ang mga baku-bakong landas ng inyong buhay at magbalik-loob sa Diyos. Talikuran ang buhay kadiliman." Does it have any meaning at all at our present time, in our lives? Meron bang dating? Sasabihin natin "Eh lagi naman nating naririnig ang Salita ng Diyos pero bakit walang dating?"

Kung minsan sasabihin natin - ano nga ba ang katuturan o kahulugan ng pagiging isang Katolikong Kristiyano? We hear the Word of God but the question that we must ask is this. May kapangyarihan ba ang Salita ng Diyos na baguhin ang ating puso, ang ating pag-iisip at ang ating buhay, ang ating pakikitungo sa ating kapwa tao? O naririnig ko lang dahil kung minsan magandang pakinggan, pero balewala, hindi ito magkakaroon ng epekto sa aking buhay?

A lot us claim that we are Catholics, but do we adhere to, or listen to the teachings of the priests and bishops? 'Wala na 'yan, Father. Sinauna na 'yang mga itinuturo ninyo. Hindi na uso. Hindi na napapanahon.'

But the Word of God remains the same, yesterday, today, and forever. And not because a lot of people are doing a certain thing, makes a thing right. Not because a lot of people are already pro-RH makes this bill right. Eto na naman si Father, pag-uusapan na naman ang isang bagay na wala silang alam, na wala silang karapatan. When it pertains to our moral life, meron kaming katungkulan at karapatan na ipahayag ang katotohanan. Hindi kami nagsasalita nang sa amin lang. Kamukha ni Hesus, pag Siya ay nagtuturo, sasabihin Niya, "Itong mga salitang ito ay hindi nanggagaling sa Akin, kundi sa Aking Amang nasa langit." Kami rin, kapag kami ay nagtuturo, ibinabase namin ito sa Salita ng Diyos na nanggaling sa Diyos Ama sa langit. Hindi ganang aming sarili lang. Hindi kami nagmamagaling, hindi kami nagmamarunong. Ibinibahagi lang namin ang aming katungkulang ipahayag ang katotohanan.

And what is the truth? Sabi dito "forgiveness of sins". Lahat tayo ay makasalanan. Pero lahat ba tayo ay nagsisisi sa ating kasalanan? Or a lot of us are already insensitive to sin, kaya hindi na tayo tinatamaan ng Salita ng Diyos? 

Ipinapahayag ngayon ang kagalakan, dahil ang Salita ng Diyos ay dumarating sa atin. The Word of God came to John. Tatlong bagay. First, John went to the desert. Second, the Word of God came upon him. And third, John left the desert and proclaimed the Good News.

Ngayon, pumunta tayo sa desyerto ng ating mga puso. At kapag sinabing desyerto ng ating mga puso, ang makikita lamang natin doon ay ang ating sarili. Walang ibang tao. Walang magsasabi na ikaw ay nagkakamali o gumagawa ng kasalanan. Ang tanging makapagsasabi sa iyo niyan ay ang Salita ng Diyos. In the silence of your heart, the Word of God will speak. Binibigyang daan ba natin ang ating Panginoon na mangusap, na magsalita sa atin? Dapat tayo ay tumatahimik. We should go to a desert, a certain place where we could be alone with God, and to let Him speak to us in the recesses of our hearts. Sa kaibuturan ng iyong puso, dapat marinig mo ang tinig ng Diyos.

Kaming mga pari ay nabibigyan ng katungkulang ipahayag o ipaliwanag ang Salita ng Diyos, kahit na kayo ay masaktan, kahit na kayo ay magalit. Dahil kailangan naming gampanan ang aming katungkulan. Papaano natin ito tatanggapin sa ating buhay kung hindi natin kilala ang Diyos? Paano natin malalaman o mauunawaan kung ano ang kagalakan, kung wala naman tayong sariling pakikipag-ugnayan sa Diyos? It is like me telling you about love, and you have not experienced love, so you will not understand what it is. It is like reading to you poetry when you don't even know what poetry is. So, pag sinasabi ko sa inyong magalak kayo sa Salita ng Diyos, parang walang dating, dahil hindi natin nararanasang madama ang kagalakan ng pakikipag-ugnayan sa Diyos. God wants us to be with Him. Lagi niya tayong inaanyayahang magbalik loob sa Kanya. Tingnan natin kung paano natin ito mai-a-apply sa ating buhay.

Ngayon, sinasabing paghandaan natin ang pagdating ng Diyos. But how do we prepare for the coming of the Messiah, the One who will save us from our sins? Shopping dito, shopping doon. Kahapon nabasa ko po sa diyaryo - five things people want to receive for Christmas. Number one, gadgets. We want a new cellphone, a new iPhone, iPad, cameras, laptops. 76% of the people who were surveyed want these for Christmas. Second, clothes and shoes. Then books, travel abroad, jewelry, money. Ito ba ang gusto natin ngayong Pasko? Ito ba ang ginagawa nating paghahanda?

I might disturb you, I might offend you, but that is the purpose of the Gospel. It is like a two-edged sword. To give comfort to those who are disturbed, and to disturb those who are comfortable. We might be very complacent in our lives, masarap ang buhay natin, matiwasay, walang gaanong problema, ok lang gawin ang kahit ano. Pero ito ba ay talagang naayon sa diwa at aral ng Ebanghelyo? Ang Salita ng Diyos ba ay kumikilos sa atin, o marinig man natin ito, paglabas naman natin ng simbahan ay ganoon din ang ating ginagawa - no room for forgiveness to our enemies, no room for sharing to the underprivileged, no room for giving to the poor. Ang lahat ay ginagawa natin para lamang sa ating sarili, para lamang sa ating kapakanan.

Tignan natin kung ano ang tunay na hinahanap ng tao - what will give us joy, rather than happiness. Ano po ba ang pagkakaiba? Happiness is something that is measured or founded on external things. You have good health, a good job, a good family, a lot money. But joy is only measured and founded on one thing - the presence of God. Lahat tayo ay nagugutom. Lahat tayo ay naghahangad sa ating mga ambisyon. Pero isa lang ang tunay nating hinahanap sa buhay, at ito ang presensiya ng Diyos.

Let me share with you this story, which happened after World War II. There was bombing in the city of London, and some soldiers were assigned to keep track and to man the city. It was a very early morning of December 25. Hindi po malalaman na Pasko na pala noong araw na 'yon. Puro usok, walang taong nasa labas, walang taong nagsasaya. And these soldiers happened to pass by an orphanage. And they decided to enter the orphanage. Pagpasok ng mga sundalo, nakita nilang bagong gising ang mga bata, children who lost their parents during the bombings of World War II. And so the soldiers decided to give small presents to these children. They got everything they could get out of their pockets - key chains, ballpens, candies, just to make the spirit of Christmas alive.

Pero mayroong isang batang lalaki ang hindi kumikilos, tahimik na nandoon sa kanyang pwesto. Nilapitan siya ng isang sundalo. And the soldier asked him, "You little boy, what do you want?" And the little boy answered, "I want a hug." (pause) Niyakap ng sundalo ang bata, habang siya ay lumuluha, and he felt the spirit of Christmas.

Hinahanap natin ang mga materyal na bagay, mga bagay na akala natin ay magpapasaya at magpapaligaya sa ating mga minamahal. Ngunit ang tunay na kaligayahan o kagalakan na kanilang hinahanap ay ang ating presensiya. Ang presensiya na maibahagi si Kristo sa kanila.

In the third year of the Presidency of Ninoy Aquino, Jr., when Benjamin Abalos, Jr. was the mayor of Mandaluyong, when Franklin Santos was the Chairman of the MMDA, when Pope Benedict XVI was head of the Catholic Church, when Archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle was the head of the Archdiocese, the Word of God came to you, to me. Amen.