Sunday, June 23, 2013

Gospel Reflection

June 23, 2013
Sunday – Year of Faith – Ordinary Time
by Rev. Fr. Rufino "Jun" C. Sescon, Jr. - Chaplain, Sto. Nino de Paz Chapel (Greenbelt Chapel), Makati
6:00PM Sunday Mass at Sto. Nino de Paz Chapel, (Greenbelt Chapel) 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.”


Once there were two students who, on the night before their exam, went bar hopping, confident that they could easily wrestle with their exams. But they enjoyed it too much that they drank a lot, and stayed up so late that the following morning, they woke up late. And eventually, they decided not to go to school anymore and they said, "At the next class, when we meet, let's just tell our teacher that there was a flat tire, and so we did not proceed anymore." So at the next class they showed up, and they reasoned out to their professor that they had a flat tire on the way to their exam, and that it was too late for them to proceed to school. The professor simply said, "Alright, you had a flat tire, meet me later after class and I will give you a special exam."
So these two students were surprised that the professor did not ask them anything, or asked them to elaborate their excuse. They thought they had it all along, and so they asked their classmates what were the questions during the exam, thinking that they would have a good tip. And they were able to get all the questions of the exam, and were able to prepare the answer. That afternoon, they went to the faculty room, and the professor gave them the exam. And to their surprise, the exam was the same exam given to their classmates. So they said, jackpot. All the questions asked are those that they prepared for. And so they answered everything so easily.
But then the proctor said that according to the professor, there is a part 2 of the exam. And they were asked to be in separate rooms for this second part. When they got the second part of the paper, it says there that the first part of the exam is just 20%, while the second part of the exam was 80%. There was only one question. And the professor asked them, "For 80% of your grade, which tire was flat?" (laughs) I don't know if they were able to answer it correctly. The morale of the story is that if you make alibi's, make sure it is comprehensive. Baka hindi napag-usapan kung ano.
Sometimes, in life, you think you have it all. You think you have already answered all the questions, only to find out another question, or another difficult challenge is up to you. I remember another story, this time about a lady who died of cancer after a long bout with the sickness. She died and met St. Peter at the pearly gates. And St. Peter told her, "Before you enter, I have to ask you one question. You have to have one test." And the lady said, "I'm not good at tests. I may not enter heaven." And St. Peter said, "Oh, don't worry, it's so easy." "What is it?", the lady said. St. Peter said, "Well, before you enter heaven, spell 'love'." And the lady said, "Napakadali naman pala. L-O-V-E." There was jubilation among the choirs of angels and St. Peter said, "Enter heaven."
After a year, the lady was enjoying heaven and she got a call from St. Peter. St. Peter told her, "I'll be having an emergency meeting with the Boss. Can you take over my place here at the pearly gates?" The woman said, "Alright, I'll take your place." St. Peter said, "You know the test, you know the question." And the lady said, "Yeah, very easy. Spell 'love'." So this time, the lady was there at the gate. The routine was for her to say, "Before you enter, spell 'love'."
And she noticed, three or four persons away was her husband. (laughs) The husband was also very anxious, trying to listen. She noticed that her husband was really able to eavesdrop and say, " Napakadali naman pala. Spell 'love'." When the husband's turn came, the lady said, "Oh dear, how are you?" The husband said, "Wow, promoted na ang darling ko. You're here at the pearly gates." "Well, weather-weather lang", sabi no'ng babae. "By the way, before I give you the exam, how was life when I died?" The husband took a serious face and said, "Well, you know we're in heaven, I cannot anymore lie to you....You remember the nurse taking care of you? That young, beautiful nurse?" The wife said, "Well?" "When you died, we got married, because you know, unknown to you, even if she was taking care of you, we already had an affair." So the woman was trying to control herself. And then, the husband said, "Remember the inheritance you left behind?" The wife said, "Yes, I remember that." The husband said, "Well, we enjoyed it so much. We went partying and we went to the casinos. We went all around the world. That's why we went to Switzerland. There at the Alps, we had skiing. And there I had a bad fall, I hit my head, and now I'm here. I died skiing, enjoying the money." And the wife was trying to regain her composure and said, "Alright, that's what you did....You know, before you enter heaven, there's protocol here." And the husband said, "Yes, I learned there is a protocol." And the wife said, "You have to spell something." And the husband was already preparing himself when the woman said, "Spell Mississippi." (laughs)
Sometimes, you think you have the answer already, only to find out there is another question. That is what the Disciples realized. Jesus first asked them in the Gospel, "Who do others say that I am?" And they gave their brilliant answer, "Some say you're John the Baptist. Others say you're Elijah. Others say you are one of the prophets who have come back from the dead." They thought they had it all right. But then, Jesus came with another question. "How about you? Who do you say that I am?" That must have torn the Disciples. They thought the first question was enough. They thought their previous answers were enough. But Jesus now is saying, how about you? Who do you say that I am? Good for them, Peter spoke out and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!" And Peter got a summa cum laude for that. But then the Disciples could not understand what that really means. "You are the Christ."
Up to now, some people think that 'Christ' is the surname of Jesus. Up to now, people think that 'Christ' is a proper name of Jesus. No. 'Christ' is not the surname of Jesus. 'Christ' is not just a name. 'Christ' is a title. And the meaning of 'Christ' is the Anointed One. The One sent by the Lord, the One chosen by God. That's why if you remember, when you receive an invitation for baptism, another name for baptism is 'christening'. It is because we are anointed, when we are baptized. We become another Christ. We, too, are Christ, the moment we are baptized, because we, too, get anointed. We, too, get chosen. We, too, are sent by the Lord.
And when Peter said, "You are the Christ", what does it mean? You are the One, You have all the answers. You are the One who will guide me in life. That is what the answer is all about. And that is why Jesus said, 'Peter, you had it right, but I don't know if you understand what you're talking about.' Sometimes, we can say so many things, but we really don't understand what we're talking about. We could say, "Panatang makabayan, iniibig ko ang Pilipinas!" Pero ang ibig sabihin po nang 'iniibig ko ang Pilipinas', ay hindi ako magtatapon ng basura, hindi ako mandaraya sa gobyerno sa aking taxes. I will not violate traffic rules. Boboto ako nang matino at hindi ko ipagbibili ang boto ko. That is what it means when we say, 'iniibig ko ang Pilipinas'.
And that is why Jesus asked Peter if he really understands what he is talking about, saying that 'I am the Christ', which means you will obey Me, you will follow Me, I will be your Lord. And if you want Me to be your Lord, take up the cross, and follow Me. That is why Peter was surprised. 'Oops....kasama ba 'yon, Lord?' When you say 'you are the Christ', that also means you will take up your cross. If you say 'I believe in Jesus', that means you will carry your cross.
In every mass, we say 'I believe in God'. 'I believe in God' means 'Thy will be done.' Can we do that? Can we really say, 'Thy will be done'? Not my choice, not my will, not my want, but the will of God? Of course, right now, brothers and sisters, unlike the disciples, we know the whole story. We are so familiar with the Gospel - 'You are the Christ.' But brothers and sisters, I warn you. When the time comes that we will be there in the pearly gates, do not expect anymore that St. Peter or Jesus will ask you, 'Who do you say that Jesus is?' Don't expect that question anymore. I know another question will be given to us. Because we already know that Jesus is the Christ, perhaps - just perhaps, I will give you a tip - the question will be, 'Now that you know who I am, what difference does it make to you? Now that you say that I am the Christ, what difference does it make in your life?'
Brothers and sisters, does Jesus really matter to us? Does the Christ really make a big difference in our life? We can memorize the answer of Peter, 'You are the Christ.' Mga kapatid, totoo po ba talagang 'bossing' natin si Jesus? Totoo po ba talaga na siya ang Master? Napakadaling sabihin sa dasal, 'You are my Master, you are my Lord'. Pero pag nagdedesisyon ka na, sino ba talaga ang nasusunod - ang Diyos.....o ikaw? Baka kung humarap sa atin ang Diyos, sasabihin Niya, "Hindi naman Ako ang boss eh....ikaw. Hindi naman talaga Ako ang nasusunod, eh....ikaw. Hindi naman 'yong turo Ko ang gumagabay sa iyo, kundi 'yong gusto mo."
Brothers and sisters, we could answer many questions. But the more important challenge is - can we live up to our answers? Who do you say that I am? Who do you say that Christ is?
I actually prepared something for the last part of my Homily, but I think there's a computer glitch. I want to share with you one of my favorite prayers, written by the former general of the Jesuits, Father Pedro Arrupe. The title of his prayer is 'Fall In Love'. The thesis of Father Arrupe is - what you love decides everything in life. What you love will make the big difference in your life. Not what you say, not what you think, but what you actually love, whom you love.
And so let me end this reflection by sharing with you, by reading prayerfully and slowly, this prayer of Father Arrupe.
He says,
"There is nothing more practical than finding God.....than falling in love with God in a quite absolute and final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything in your life. It will decide everything. What will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekend, What you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, it decides everything in your life."
If truly we are in love with God, if we truly claim that Jesus is the Christ, then truly, He will make a big difference in our lives. Amen.

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