Thursday, January 31, 2013

Gospel Reflection

January 31, 2013
Thursday – Year of Faith – Weekday
Memoriall of Saint John Bosco, Priest
by Rev. Fr. Benjo Fajota (Vice Rector of the EDSA Shrine)
5:30PM Mass at Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace (Our Lady of EDSA)

Reading 1 Heb 10:19-25

Brothers and sisters: Since through the Blood of Jesus we have confidence of entrance into the sanctuary by the new and living way he opened for us through the veil, that is, his flesh, and since we have “a great priest over the house of God,” let us approach with a sincere heart and in absolute trust, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy. We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works. We should not stay away from our assembly, as is the custom of some, but encourage one another, and this all the more as you see the day drawing near.


Responsorial Psalm PS 24:1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

R. (see 6)  Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks for him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.


Gospel Mk 4:21-25

Jesus said to his disciples, “Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand? For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light. Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.” He also told them, “Take care what you hear. The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you. To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”


St. Thomas Aquinas defines faith, simply as "the education of the heart". How do we educate the heart? Educators and psychologists say that people retain only 10% of what they have learned in school. Yes, only 10%. Why is this so? Because it is a passive way of learning. That is why in our Eucharistic celebration, we are encouraged to act quickly, consciously, and truly participate in the celebration - in our responses, in our prayers, in our joining in the singing. That is why we always remember. 

During the time of our grandparents, 'yong mga matatanda pa sa atin, kapag ang isang babae ay nagsabing mag-aasawa na siya, laging mayroong "say" ang kanyang mga magulang. Sasabihin nila, "Pag pinili mo 'yang katipan mo ngayon, hindi gaanong maganda ang iyong kinabukasan. Pero kapag pinili mo itong isang manliligaw mo, meron siyang isang salita, responsable siya, at mayroon siyang galang sa matatanda, magkakaroon ka ng magandang kinabukasan." At ang huling sasabihin sa iyo ng iyong mga magulang ay, "Matututunan mo rin siyang mahalin."

Kaya't ang pag-ibig ay natututunan, kapag ito ay ipinapakita, hindi lamang sinasabi. We show our love, not merely in words, but more so, with our actions. 

In the Eucharist, we always remember the memorial and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. That's why we will not forget the Great Sacrifice that He made for all of us. Nang dahil sa pag-ibig. Kaya ang ating Eukaristiya....It is not merely a set of rituals that we do, but the mass enlightens our memory to always remember the Great Sacrifice of God. 

And that is also true in our faith. Kapag ito ay ipinapahayag, ibinabahagi, isinasabuhay, paulit-ulit nating makikita na ang liwanag ng Ebanghelyo ay nakikita sa ating buhay. Hindi natin ito ipinapahayag sa pamamagitan lamang ng ating salita, kung hindi sa ating gawa. And this is an invitation and a challenge for both of us. Let the Word of God transform us, change us, and change others. Amen.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Gospel Reflection

January 30, 2013
Wednesday – Year of Faith – Weekday
by Rev.  Fr. Joel Jason (Dean, Graduate School of Theology San Carlos Seminary)
12;15PM Mass at Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace (Our Lady of EDSA)

Reading 1 Heb 10:11-18

Every priest stands daily at his ministry, offering frequently those same sacrifices that can never take away sins. But this one offered one sacrifice for sins, and took his seat forever at the right hand of God; now he waits until his enemies are made his footstool. For by one offering he has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated. The Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying:

This is the covenant I will establish with them after those days, says the Lord: “I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them upon their minds,” he also says: Their sins and their evildoing I will remember no more. Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer offering for sin.


Responsorial Psalm ps 110:1, 2, 3, 4

R. (4b) You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand
till I make your enemies your footstool.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The scepter of your power the LORD will stretch forth from Zion:
“Rule in the midst of your enemies.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
“Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor;
before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD has sworn, and he will not repent:
“You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.


Gospel Mk 4:1-20

On another occasion, Jesus began to teach by the sea. A very large crowd gathered around him so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down. And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land. And he taught them at length in parables, and in the course of his instruction he said to them, “Hear this! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep. And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots.  Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain. And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”

And when he was alone, those present along with the Twelve questioned him about the parables. He answered them, “The mystery of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you. But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that they may look and see but not perceive, and hear and listen but not understand, in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.”

Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown. As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once and takes away the word sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who, when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy. But they have no roots; they last only for a time. Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word, but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit. But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”


Kung nakinig kayo nang mabuti doon sa Ebanghelyo, parang hindi na ako dapat mag-Homily. Because at the second part of the Gospel, Jesus Himself already explained the meaning of the parable of the sower.

But you know....the parable of the sower is not a parable that speaks only about the importance of hearing the Word of God. Hindi naman ito tungkol lamang sa kahalagahan ng pandinig natin sa Salita ng Diyos. The parable of the sower is actually a description of our basic attitude before God, and before His offer of salvation. The different kinds of soil that were enumerated in the Gospel for today is a metaphor and a symbol of the different kinds of people, and the different kinds of reaction that we have in the invitation of God for our salvation.

Alam n'yo po noong binabasa ko itong Ebanghelyong ito, I remember a quotation attributed to Saint Augustine. Sabi ni Saint Augustine, "God who created you without asking you, cannot save you, without asking you." Let me repeat. "God who created you without asking you, cannot save you, without asking you." Ano'ng ibig niyang sabihin? Noong nilikha daw tayo ng Diyos, hindi naman Niya tayo tinanong. 'Yong paglilikha Niya sa atin, 'yong ating buhay, 'yan ay isang handog. It is a gift, a free gift that is given to us. And we were not consulted, if we wanted to be given life. And that is why all of life is always a gift. But when you talk about salvation, it's a different thing. Bakit? God will not save us, without consulting us. God cannot save us, without asking us. Ano'ng ibig sabihin no'n? 'Yong kaligtasan, hindi 'yan sapilitan.

Alam n'yo 'yong kinanta ng choir kanina, in the opening of our mass, is very appropriate. It says, "Come to the table, and enter His presence." Notice the words. It says 'come'. Halika. Walang pumipilit sa 'yo. No'ng kayo ay pumasok diyan sa gate na 'yan, wala namang nagtulak sa inyo. (laughs) Enter His presence. Tayo ay inaanyayahan na pumasok, Hindi ito sapilitan. That is the dynamic of salvation. The invitation for salvation is always free. It is always given. But the decision is ours to take it, or to leave it. Kaya sabi ni Saint Augustine, the God who created you without asking you, cannot save you, without consulting you.

The parable of the sower is a description of how people have reacted all throughout the years in God's offer of salvation. May mga tumutugon, pero marami din namang tumatanggi. May mga tumutugon nang panandalian, but after some time, nawawala. The challenge of the parable is to locate where we are in the different kinds of soil enumerated in the parable. And the challenge of the parable is for us to look at our own freedom. Kung paano natin ginagamit 'yong ating kalayaan.

Naalala ko, no'ng bata po ako, mayroon time, may affair do'n sa aming bahay, may party. And I was asking something from my mother. Eh hindi ko nakuha 'yong gusto ko. Ano'ng ginawa ko? Nagmukmok ako. Nagkulong ako do'n sa kwarto. And then, habang nandoon na ang mga pinsan ko, 'yong mga bisita, nagkakasayahan na doon sa baba, umakyat ang Nanay ko. Sabi niya, " na. Bumaba ka na. Nagkakainan na. Nagkakasayahan na." Ano'ng ginawa ko? Dahil do'n sa aking pride, sabi ko, "Ayoko, dito lang ako."

After ten minutes, umakyat na naman ang Nanay ko. "O....nagkakainan na. Magsisimula na 'yong palaro, hindi ka ba bababa?" "Ayoko, ayoko." All throughout that night, hindi ako lumabas ng kwarto ko. Pero ano'ng nararamdaman ko? Inggit na inggit ako do'n sa mga nasa baba. (laughs) Iniisip ko, "Naku, eh pwede naman akong sumama do'n eh. 'Yong pride ko lang naman ang pumipigil sa akin. Ayoko lang talagang bumaba at makisalo sa kanila."

I'm sure, all of us, at one time or another, have behaved that way. Kalayaan lang naman natin 'yan eh. Nandoon 'yong paanyaya, nandoon 'yong invitation. God is telling us, come to the feast. Come to the salvation that I'm offering you. But because of our pride, because of our sin, because of our wrong decisions, we choose to remain in our own isolated world. And that is the glory, and at the same time, the risk of human freedom.

Freedom is God's greatest gift. But freedom is also God's greatest risk that He took. Sa misang ito, ipinalangin natin that we will not waste the gift of freedom that God has given us. The invitation to be with God is always there. Let us use our freedom wisely. Amen.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Gospel Reflection

January 29, 2013
Tuesday – Year of Faith – Weekday
by Rev.  Fr. Joel Jason (Dean, Graduate School of Theology San Carlos Seminary)
12:15PM Mass at Megamall, Chapel of the Eucharistic Lord

Reading 1 Heb 10:1-10

Brothers and sisters: Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of them, it can never make perfect those who come to worship by the same sacrifices that they offer continually each year. Otherwise, would not the sacrifices have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, once cleansed, would no longer have had any consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is only a yearly remembrance of sins, for it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats
take away sins. For this reason, when he came into the world, he said:

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you took no delight. Then I said, As is written of me in the scroll, Behold, I come to do your will, O God.

First he says, Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings, you neither desired nor delighted in. These are offered according to the law. Then he says, Behold, I come to do your will. He takes away the first to establish the second. By this “will,” we have been consecrated through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all.


Responsorial Psalm ps 40:2 and 4ab, 7-8a, 10, 11

R. (8a and 9a) Here am I Lord; I come to do your will.
I have waited, waited for the LORD,
and he stooped toward me.
And he put a new song into my mouth,
a hymn to our God.
R. Here am I Lord; I come to do your will.
Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Burnt offerings or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”
R. Here am I Lord; I come to do your will.
I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R. Here am I Lord; I come to do your will.
Your justice I kept not hid within my heart;
your faithfulness and your salvation I have spoken of;
I have made no secret of your kindness and your truth
in the vast assembly.
R. Here am I Lord; I come to do your will.


Gospel Mk 3:31-35

The mother of Jesus and his brothers arrived at the house. Standing outside, they sent word to Jesus and called him. A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers and your sisters are outside asking for you.” But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”


There was once a Hindu and a Christian who were in a conversation. The Hindu wanted to be converted to the Christian faith. And so the Christian who was over eager and a little bit arrogant, said, "Ok, I want you to become a Christian, I will give you a Bible. Study this Bible and maybe, after some months, I will get back to you and see whether you have been a good Christian."

After some months, they met again. The over eager Christian asked the Hindu, "So, are you now a Christian?" The Hindu said, "Yes, yes. Actually I have been baptized at the nearest parish." Then the over eager Christian said, "Ok, let me test you....How many disciples did Jesus have?" And the Hindu could not recall. "What is the name of the mother of Jesus?" The Hindu could not recall either. "What is the name of the mother of John the Baptist?" The Hindu also could not recall. The Christian asked the Hindu many details about the Bible, and he could not answer the questions. And the Christian said, "So how could you call yourself a Christian, when you cannot even answer the basic facts about the Bible?" And then the Hindu said, "Well, I could not answer the questions that you asked me, but since I became a Christian, this is what I can say. I stopped cheating people. I stopped lying. I stopped my vices. I stopped hitting my wife. I guess you can call me a Christian because of that.".....End of the story. 

Now what is the story telling us? When I read this story, I remembered one old text message that I received. It says, "Well done is better than well said." Well done is better than well said. Most of our Christianity is at the level of the 'well said'. I am sure anyone of us here, if I ask you how many disciples did Jesus have, all of you can answer that question. If I ask you the name of the father and mother of St. John the Baptist, I'm sure all of you could answer that question. And if I ask you several facts on our Lord in the Bible, I'm sure most, if not all of you, can answer the question.

But remember the Christian principle: "Well done is better than well said." Our Responsorial Psalm says it well. "Here I am, Lord, I come to do Your will." 

In our Gospel for today, what did we hear? A controversy about Jesus and His relatives. Jesus was teaching, and His relatives came. Dumating sila doon. And the people said, "Lord, Your mother, and Your sisters and Your brothers are here." And then what did Jesus say? Who are my mother and my brothers? Who are my sisters? They are those who do the will of the Father. 

Jesus is telling us that our affinity, our identification, our claim towards Jesus, is not only at the level of the well said. 'Yong masasabi natin, "Oh, I know people. I know your relatives. I am your relative. I know things about you." That could be a part, but that is not all. And the heart of Christianity is what our Responsorial Psalm says. "Here I am, Lord, I come to do Your will." 

Whenever we go to mass, we hear the priest say at the time of Consecration, "Do this in remembrance of Me." Jesus said, "Do this." He did not say, "Memorize this", or "Put this into your memory, in remembrance of Me." Marami sa atin, marami tayong naaalala tungkol kay Hesus. Pero ang tunay na sukatan ng ating pagiging Kristiyano ay kung ito ay ating isinasabuhay. 

As we receive the Lord later on in Communion, let that be the grace that we will ask from the Lord. That we may translate into action the many things we know about the Lord at the level of our minds. May our minds and our hearts be one, as we continue our Holy Eucharist. Amen.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Gospel Reflection

January 28, 2013
Monday – Year of Faith – Weekday
Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church
by Rev. Fr. Godwin Tatlonghari
(Assistant Commissioner for Office Administration, Commission on Liturgy Minister,
Ministry on Liturgical Environment and Art,  Archdiocese of Manila)
5:30PM Mass at Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace (Our Lady of EDSA)

Reading 1 Heb 9:15, 24-28

Christ is mediator of a new covenant: since a death has taken place  for deliverance from transgressions under the first covenant,  those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.

For Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf. Not that he might offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary with blood that is not his own; if that were so, he would have had to suffer repeatedly from the foundation of the world. But now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages  to take away sin by his sacrifice. Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgment, so also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.

Responsorial Psalm PS 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4, 5-6

R. (1a) Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
Sing praise to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and melodious song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
sing joyfully before the King, the LORD.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.


Gospel Mk 3:22-30

The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.”

Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him. But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house. Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin. For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”


Jesus has always faced the opposition of religious leaders during His time. They say that Mark, the evangelist, has given five specific events in the ministry of Jesus where we can find the Scribes' accusations against Him. The first one is that Jesus forgives sins. That is why their accusation was blasphemy. Second, He eats with sinners. Their accusation was immorality. The third is, Jesus does not fast together with His followers, unlike the disciples of John. Their accusation was Jesus was being sacrilegious. The fourth is He was picking heads of grain, and the fifth is, he heals a man with a withered hand, where Jesus was being accused of breaking the law of the Sabbath. 

Following the line of thinking of St. Mark, he wanted to prove something, and that is, how the attitude of the Scribes progress against Jesus. Dalawang bagay ang mapapansin natin sa mga Eskriba noong panahon ni Kristo. 'Yong una, 'yong gradual hardening of heart. Unti-unting tumitigas ang kanilang puso para kay Kristo. Why? It is because they perceive Jesus as a threat. Sapagkat si Kristo ay maraming mga kinukuwestiyon tungkol sa batas na itinuturo ng mga Eskriba. Jesus was also questioning about the spirit of the Sabbath. Maraming mga bagay ang ginagawa nila dati na, noong dumating si Kristo, ay nagkaroon ng malaking katanungan para sa mga Hudyo. 

Pangalawa ay hindi matanggap ng mga Eskriba ang katotohanang ipinapahayag ni Kristo. That is why in the end, the truth, for them, is something subjective. They are after what they think, after what they feel, and not on what Jesus is telling them. 

That is why when you look at our Gospel, mayroong tatlong bagay tayong pwedeng mapuna. Tatlong letter 'C'. 

The first 'C' is confrontation. Ano ang sinasabi diyan? In our Gospel, we see Jesus doing good. He was curing people, He was expelling evil spirits. Marami siyang ginawang mabuti. Pero ang problema ay ang kanilang gustong makita ay hindi ang kabutihang ginagawa ni Kristo, kundi ang ka-liit-liitang bagay na maaari nilang makuha bilang puna laban kay Kristo. 'Yon po ay ating tignan sa ating Ebanghelyo. People are confronting Christ with anger in their hearts. Ang kanilang hinahanap ay hindi 'yong mabuti kay Kristo. Ang kanilang hinahanap ay di 'yong maganda kay Kristo, kundi kung ano ang pwedeng gamitin laban kay Kristo. Pero ang maganda kay Kristo ay ito. Jesus will never change what He is preaching, just because of the people around Him. Jesus always chooses fidelity to the truth, rather than popularity.

Alam po ninyo, mayroon po akong nabasang isang quote from an author, who said, "Jesus would not be controlled by others. He would speak the truth, even if it meant confrontation, and ultimately, offense....You must make it a purpose in your heart to speak the Word of God, and perform God's will, even at the risk of offending others."   

Ito po ay paala-ala sa atin. Are there times when we try to alter or change the good, because we choose popularity? Nakakahiya. Baka mabawasan ang mga taong naniniwala sa akin. Nakakahiya. Baka sila ay magalit sa akin. Kay Kristo, hindi 'yon ang Kanyang pinili. In our Gospel, He was confronting the Scribes, not with popularity, but with the truth. Confrontation. Sa ating buhay, pinipili ba natin kung ano 'yong tama, o kung ano 'yong magiging daan para tayo ay sumikat o maging mabango sa ating kapwa? 

The second 'C' in our Gospel is the 'counter evidence' coming from Jesus. Jesus knows where His power comes from. Pero ang problema ay hindi handa ang mga Scribes na humarap kay Kristo. Kaya nga ano ang kanilang ginawa? They resorted to slander or gossip. Why? In the Gospel, Jesus said, "How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen against himself and is divided, he cannot stand. That is the end of him." Ano ang pinapakita doon? Whatever Jesus thinks is always logical. Pero ang problema sa mga Scribes and Pharisees ay ang katotohanan para sa kanila ay kung ano ang gusto nilang maging tama, hindi kung ano talaga ang tunay na tama. 

Ito ang pangalawang hamon ng ating Ebanghelyo. Are there times when we are confronted with the truth, but our reaction or response is not conversion, but to stop the proclamation of the truth? Patahimikin ang taong may dala ng Mabuting Balita? In our Gospel today, Jesus is ready. Sino ang hindi handa? 'Yong mga Eskriba na hindi handang tanggapin kung ano 'yong totoo, sapagkat hindi nila kayang baguhin ang kanilang mga sarili. 

Counter evidence of Jesus. Let us look at ourselves. May mga pagkakataon bang nalaman natin ang totoo, nalaman natin kung ano 'yong tama, pero ano ba 'yong ating binago? Binago ba natin 'yong tama, o binago natin 'yong ating buhay para maitugma kung ano 'yong tama?

The third 'C' in our Gospel is that we have a 'choice'. At the end of our Gospel, it was not Jesus who judged the Scribes; it was the Scribes who judged themselves. Why? Because after hearing Jesus' proclamation about the good, and about where His power comes from, it was up to the Scribes if they will follow Jesus or continue hating Jesus. In our Gospel, that is the problem. The Scribes connived with other leaders to put Jesus down. That was their choice. That is why at the end, Jesus said that there is an unforgivable sin. And what is that? The sin against the Holy Spirit. Why? Because the Holy Spirit reminds us of our own sinfulness. The Spirit convinces us about the truth. Kaya kapag 'yong tao ay manhid na sa Espiritu Santo, manhid na rin siya sa kung ano 'yong talagang tama. Kung ano 'yong talagang mabuti. Kaya kahit tayo ay gustong iligtas ng Panginoon, kung tayo mismo ang ayaw, at 'yon ang ating pinili, hindi pwedeng ipagpilitan ng Panginoon ang Kanyang sarili sa atin. 

Ito po 'yong pangatlong hamon sa atin. Are there times when we are given a choice, but at the end, we chose what we want, and not what is right and true? May pagkakataon din po ba na ating sinisisi ang ating kapwa, pati ang ating Panginoon? Every day, we are given a choice by God. But the question is - what do we choose?

Noong isang araw, nanood po ako ng sine. 'Yong pelikulang Les Miserables. Maybe you have seen that. We know that the story of Les Miserables is about a slave named Jean Valjean, played by Hugh Jackman. The slave was given parole. Sa simula ng pelikula, siya ay kinupkop ng isang simbahan para pakainin at patulugin. And while everyone was sleeping, ano ang kanyang ginawa? Ninakaw niya 'yong mga silverware ng simbahan, tsaka siya umalis. Noong siya ay nahuli ng mga pulis, ibinalik muli siya sa simbahan. At ang sabi ng mga pulis, "Bishop, sabi ng lalaking ito, ibinigay mo raw sa kanya itong mga silverware na ito." At ang sabi ng Obispo, "Tama, ibinigay ko nga 'yan sa kanya." Pero ang sabi niya doon sa slave, "Sandali lamang, sa pagmamadali mo ay may nakalimutan ka." Kinuha ng Obispo ang kanyang dalawang silver candle holder, at ang sabi niya, "Ito pa naman ang pinakamahal." And then ibinigay niya ito kay Hugh Jackman. And when he was giving it to Hugh Jackman, ano ang sabi ng Obispo? "Use this for your salvation."

Alam n'yo mga kapatid, no'ng narinig ko 'yon sa pelikula, sabi ko, tayo rin ay mayroong mga biyaya mula sa Panginoon. Mayroon tayong power, mayroon tayong position. Mayroon tayong intellect, mayroon tayong wisdom. Mayroon tayong talent and time. Do we use all these blessings for our salvation? Or at the end, are we being condemned because we use them not wisely, but selfishly?

At the end of the movie, there are two characters there - si Hugh Jackman, at tsaka si Russell Crowe (Javert). Si Hugh Jackman, because of that incident, nagbago talaga ang kanyang buhay. There was conversion. Hanggang siya ay makakatulong sa kanyang kapwa, ginagawa niya. Bakit? Kasi naramdaman niya 'yong awa, 'yong kapatawaran ng Panginoong Diyos. Pero ang nakakalungkot ay ang character ni Russell Crowe. Bakit? Sapagkat kahit siya'y isang commander, isang leader, siya ay alipin ng kanyang galit. Kahit na ano'ng mangyari, talagang gusto niyang hulihin at ibalik sa bilangguan si Hugh Jackman. 

Sa ating buhay, ganoon din. Mayroon tayong choice. Pwede tayong maging malaya, katulad ni Hugh Jackman, o pwede rin tayong maging alipin ng ating galit o sama ng loob, katulad ni Russell Crowe. 

May isa na naman po akong quote mula sa libro, at ang sabi roon, 'yong galit daw ay parang asido. Kapag yaan ay nilagay mo sa isang lalagyan, sinisira niya muna 'yong lalagyan, bago niya sirain 'yong iba. Tingin ko po sa ating buhay, ang galit ay ganoon din. It will destroy us first. It will destroy our heart, before it destroys other people. 

Sabi ng Ebanghelyo, 'yong galit ng mga Eskriba ay naging daan para sila ay masira kaysa kanilang masira si Kristo. 

Tatlong 'C' sa ating Ebanghelyo ang ating tatandaan. First, we see 'confrontation'. Sa ating buhay ba, do we choose fidelity to the truth, or popularity? Second, 'counter evidence'. Are we ready to face the truth, or at times, we resolve to slander and gossip? And the third is 'choice'. Every day, we can become better, because of God's mercy, or we can become bitter, because of our anger.