Sunday, March 3, 2013

Gospel Reflection

March 03, 2013
Sunday – Year of Faith – Lenten Seasons
Third Sunday of Lent
by Rev. Fr. Benjamin “Benjo” Fajota (Vice Rector of the EDSA Shrine)
12;15 PM Mass at Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace (Our Lady of EDSA)

Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. Leading the flock across the desert, he came to Horeb,
the mountain of God.There an angel of the LORD appeared to Moses in fire flaming out of a bush. As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush, though on fire, was not consumed. So Moses decided, “I must go over to look at this remarkable sight, and see why the bush is not burned.”

When the LORD saw him coming over to look at it more closely, God called out to him from the bush, AMoses! Moses!” He answered, “Here I am.” God said, “Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. I am the God of your fathers, “ he continued, “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. But the LORD said, “I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt  and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers, so I know well what they are suffering.Therefore I have come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Moses said to God, “But when I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ if they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?” God replied, “I am who am.” Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you.”

God spoke further to Moses, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites:  The LORD, the God of your fathers,  the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob,  has sent me to you.

“This is my name forever;
thus am I to be remembered through all generations.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 103: 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8, 11

R. (8a) The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
He pardons all your iniquities,
heals all your ills,
He redeems your life from destruction,
crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
The LORD secures justice
and the rights of all the oppressed.
He has made known his ways to Moses,
and his deeds to the children of Israel.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea, and all of them were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. All ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was the Christ.Yet God was not pleased with most of them, for they were struck down in the desert.

These things happened as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil things, as they did. Do not grumble as some of them did, and suffered death by the destroyer.These things happened to them as an example, and they have been written down as a warning to us, upon whom the end of the ages has come.Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall.

Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus 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.’”


Here's another story of a familiar anecdote. There is an honest man who worked in his store for more than 50 years. He was so honest and he was so helpful to his customers. When he celebrated his 75th birthday, his clients decided to give him a token for the good service he had given them throughout the years. So they donated money and gave it to the store owner. Upon receiving this, he was very much joyful and was really grateful. 

So he decided to have an overhaul. Di po ba napapanood po natin sa TV 'yong....Ano'ng tawag do'n? Make-over...'yon ang tawag doon, ano.....He changed his wardrobe, he had his hair dyed, then he had his dentures fixed. So, ibang ibang tao na siya noong lumabas siya sa shop. 

Then he met a lady. And on their first date, as he was going to their place of appointment, he was struck down by lightning, and he went up to heaven. So the man was complaining. Sabi niya, "Lord, bakit naman? Ang bait bait ko po buong buhay ko, pero bakit ngayon, may nakilala lang akong isang napalapit sa akin, ay kinuha mo akong bigla? At ang sabi ng Panginoon sa kanya ay, "Sorry ha....hindi kita nakilala eh. Nag-iba ka na ng hitsura." (laughs)

For most of us, we still look the same. 'Yong iba sa atin, noong dati makapal ang buhok, pero medyo ngayon ay maganda na 'yong bumbunan. (laughs) Nag-iiba tayo ng anyo. Pero 'yong pag-iibang anyo natin is more on sa loob. Pinanganak tayong anak ng Diyos. Pinanganak tayong mabuti. Pinanganak tayong mabait. Pero habang tayo ay lumalaki, nadaragdagan nang nadaragdagan ang ating puso, ang ating pagkatao, na hindi na tayo nakikilala ng Diyos. "Anak ko pa ba ito? Eh punong-puno na ng kasalanan." Hindi na Niya tayo nakikilala. That's why He wants us to have that make-over again. 'Yon ang tinatawag na conversion of the heart. 

When we started the Lenten season on Ash Wednesday, I asked the people in my homilies, "What did we start today?" At sumagot ang mga tao na iyon ay unang araw ng Kuwaresma. Pero sabi ko, hindi. 'Yon ang unang araw ng mga puso. Nagtawanan sila dahil the following day was Valentine's Day, and they thought I was referring to that romantic day of the hearts. Sabi ko, hindi. Tingnan n'yo po, mula noong pag-umpisa ng ating pagdiriwang ng Kuwaresma, naririnig natin lagi, "If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts." At ang kauna-unahan at pinakadakilang utos sa atin, is to love God with all your life. 

Tayo ngayon ay tinatawag na magbago ng ating mga puso. The Season of Lent is a season of the heart. Naka-focus tayo sa ating puso. Ito 'yong panahon ng conversion, ng pagbabalik-loob sa Diyos. Ating talikdan ang ating mga kasalanan. Pagsisihan natin ang ating buhay kabuktutan at kadiliman. 'Yan ang panawagan. 

Pero talagang napakatigas ng ulo ng mga tao. In the First Reading, probably, we can also be like Moses during the burning bush. When he was called by God to proclaim the goodness of God to the Israelites, what did Moses say? I am just a nobody. I don't even know Your name. Hindi ako marunong magsalita. What if the people won't believe me? Moses gave a lot of excuses. He gave a lot of rationalization. Probably, ganoon din tayo sa buhay natin. Tinatawag na tayo ng Diyos na magbalik-loob, pero sasabihin natin na malakas pa tayo, bata pa tayo, we need to experience life. Tapos biglang bigla, kukunin ka na ni Lord. Time mo na pala. Hindi na tayo nagkaraoon ng panahon para magsisi. Naroon pa rin ang patuloy na pamumuhay ng kasalanan, ng kasamaan. Wala na tayong chance magbago. 

That is why in this season of Lent, the Church reminds us to open our eyes, to open our ears, to open our hearts to the true meaning of our lives. Ano nga ba ang ginagawa natin sa buhay natin ngayon? 

Pag panahon ng Kuwaresma, makikita natin ang dalawang uri ng tao. Pero parehong ang tawag sa kanila ay 'walang hiya'. Una, may mga taong nakapila sa confessional box. Hindi sila nahihiyang ipahayag sa mga tao na sila ay makasalanan, at sila ay nangangailangan ng pagpapatawad ng Diyos. Mga walang hiya. Ngunit ang ikalawang uri ng walang hiya, ay yaong mga patuloy na gumagawa ng kabuktutan at kasamaan. 'Yon ang mga taong pagkarinig ng salita ng Diyos ay binabalewala lang ito at sinasabing, "This is not for me", and continue on with their sinful lives. 

Meron namang mga taong attitude ang sagot sa panawagan ng Diyos. Kamukha ng sinasabi ni San Pablo sa Ikalawang Pagbasa, binigyan niya ng warning ang mga tao ng Corinth, at ang sabi niya, 'Do not be so sure, that you are standing now. Be careful, and I'm warning you not to fall.' Mayroon sa atin na ang akala ay porke tayo ay nagsisimba linggo-linggo, madalas tayong nagdarasal, naglilingkod sa simbahan, akala natin ay sigurado na tayong may lugar sa langit. Be careful, you might fall. Ito 'yong tinatawag na spiritual over-confidence. Baka ang akala natin, kung madalas tayong tumatawag sa Diyos, automatic na tayo ay may lugar na sa langit. 

My dear brothers and sisters, let us continue on with our journey of Lent, and try to re-establish our relationship with God. That is why we are given the three pillars of Lent - prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Sa mga spiritual exercises na ito, makikita natin 'yong tunay nating pagkatao. Pinanganak tayong anak ng Diyos. Sana, sa huling yugto ng ating buhay, kilala pa rin tayo ng Diyos bilang Kanyang mga anak. Amen. 

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