Sunday, June 23, 2013

Gospel Reflection

June 23, 2013
Sunday – Year of Faith – Ordinary Time
by Rev. Fr. Jim Ferry (San Carlos Pastoral Formation Complex EDSA, Guadalupe, Makati)
4:30PM Mass at Sto. Nino de Paz Chapel, Greenbelt, Makati

Thus says the LORD: I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and petition; and they shall look on him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son, and they shall grieve over him as one grieves over a firstborn.

On that day the mourning in Jerusalem shall be as great as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo.

On that day there shall be open to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, a fountain to purify from sin and uncleanness.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9

R. (2b) My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
O God, you are my God whom I seek;
for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts
like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary
to see your power and your glory,
For your kindness is a greater good than life;
my lips shall glorify you.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
Thus will I bless you while I live;
lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name.
As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied,
and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
You are my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.
My soul clings fast to you;
your right hand upholds me.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

Reading 2 Gal 3:26-29

Brothers and sisters: Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise.

Gospel Lk 9:18-24

Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.” He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.

He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”


During these liturgies in ordinary time, we mentioned before that each of the Readings seems to have a theme that, in some way, magnifies a particular aspect of the life of Jesus. In Zechariah, we hear that a prophesy is made that there will be a Messiah who will come, and He will suffer, and He will die, in order that He might express His great love, in order to be an avenue of conversion, in order to be One who brings about reconciliation. And then we have in Galatians, St. Paul speaking to the people about the consequence of baptism. Because of baptism, we are filled with faith. And because of faith, we have the ability to testify to our belief in Jesus. And in the Gospel, Jesus is saying to us who He is. He is the fulfillment of the prophesy in Zechariah. He is the One with whom we place our faith. He is the One who is the Christ, the Anointed One, the One filled with the Spirit.

If we look for a word, going through these three Readings, which can be applied to ourselves, it would be 'baptism'. In baptism, we testify in a very public way, by the pouring of water, that we believe in the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. And the consequence of that belief is that we will take up our cross each day, and follow Jesus. Why? Because we are a people of faith. A gift that is given to us, a gift that enables us to say 'yes' to the mystery of salvation, say 'yes' to the mystery of God's forgiving love, say 'yes' to that vocation, which, in itself, will be impossible to follow - that vocation of taking up our cross and be identified with the sufferings of Jesus, sufferings that are brought about by sin.

And when we testify against sin, people will reject us. When we stand for truth and confront lies and falsehood, people will insult and reject us. When we stand for life - the very basic meaning of baptism - and when we wish to stir up in the hearts of people that conviction that all are equal - just as Paul tells us in baptism, the poor are equal to the rich, women are equal to men, a child in the womb is equal to the child born - all of these, we celebrate and live out in faith, the consequence of being bathed with water at baptism, in the name of the Triune God. And then being Spirit-filled, we receive the strength against our enemies, to testify, to remain thankful, and to be witnesses of this forgiving and all-embracing love of Jesus.

Think for a few moments this afternoon. The Liturgy of the Word reveals to us the deeper meaning of baptism, being identified with Jesus in new life, the gift of faith, and the ability to carry our crosses. And because of that, when we die with Jesus in our rejection of all that is evil, as He Himself died, rather than be with evil, then we rise with Him to new life, even now, filled with that presence of God within us, ultimately, to celebrate that presence, face-to-face, having lived a life of faithfulness to Jesus, identified with Jesus, and looking at one another in a very humble and equal way. If we are truly one with Christ, then we live out that oneness without division. No power, no pride, no dominance, no falsehood, no being centered on ourselves, but we live out who we are. God's holy people, filled with faith. God's holy people, identified with the Cross of Jesus. God's holy people, who, being identified with Jesus now, will be identified with Him, for all eternity.

This particular aspect of the life of Jesus is in the Gospel of Mark. The very beginning of that Gospel is - 'now begins the Good News of Jesus'. And when does it begin? When Jesus is at the Jordan, and He is baptized by John. The Spirit comes down on Jesus and says to Jesus, 'You are My beloved Son.' He is the Son of God. We have faith in the Son of God. We want to be identified with the Cross of the Son of God. In grief, we wish each day to be identified with Jesus - the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world - all division, all untruthfulness, all selfishness - and makes us one in His heart. Truly, if we live our faith, we will live our lives, so that the world can recognize that you are my brothers and sisters, and I am your brother, one in the Body of Jesus.

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