Saturday, January 19, 2013

Gospel Reflection

January 19, 2013
Saturday – Year of Faith – Weekday
by Rev. Fr. Dave Buenaventura, (SDB)
7:30AM Mass, St. John Bosco Parish Church, Makati
Reading 1 Heb 4:12-16

The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit,
joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.

Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

Responsorial Psalm PS 19:8, 9, 10, 15

R.(see John 6:63c) Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart
find favor before you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

Gospel Mk 2:13-17

Jesus went out along the sea. All the crowd came to him and he taught them. As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the customs post. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed Jesus. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him. Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners and tax collectors and said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  Jesus heard this and said to them, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”


In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Good morning to everyone.

My dear brothers and sisters, before I share with you a thought regarding our Gospel in today's liturgy, let me introduce to you one of our statues at the gallery of the saints. Last week, I was asked, "Father, who is that saint in our gallery of saints, who has a horn on his head?" His name is St. Jude Thaddeus, and what we call the horn is not really a horn. It is supposed to be a flame of fire. But it is not colored well, that many think that it is a horn, although it is a flame of fire. And the person in his heart is none other than Jesus. Now, as we pray, we know that the new statue is that of St. Jude Thaddeus, the saint of the hopeless and the impossible.

My dear brothers and sisters, in many families, we often find someone who we tag as 'black sheep'. And we all know who he is. He or she is the child who is always in trouble, who is supposed to be unmanageable through ordinary discipline. He or she is a child who has his own ideas, or is used to doing things different from the rest of the children. He gets poor marks in school, disobedient in many ways, and whose conduct is near the borderline of delinquency.

And what do parents do with a black sheep? The selfish and unworthy parents withdraw their affection from the child. They kick him out of the house, once they feel that the child is old enough to look after himself. But the good parents do everything in their power to bring back the 'black sheep' from his dangerous path. Many times, good parents fail in their efforts, but they will never give up on their wayward child. They will dedicate a greater part of their care and concern for the 'black sheep', than for any other of their children. Why? Is it because they love him more? No. It is because the 'black sheep' needs more of their attention than the other children.

And this is precisely what is seen in the example of Jesus. Matthew - or Levi (his Hebrew name) - was a scum in the Jewish community. He collected taxes from his own people to give to the Romans, who are the enemies of his people. And Jesus favored Matthew and the other tax collectors and sinners mentioned in our Gospel, more than those who were good, simply because they needed Him more. 

My dear brothers and sisters, if you happen to be a 'black sheep' of God, let us not boast too quickly that we are the favorites of the Lord, and hence, can remain forever as His 'black sheep' and be assured of our salvation, because the Lord has a special predilection for us. The love of Jesus for us needs a response. And this is what Matthew did. When he felt the love of Jesus for him, he abandoned everything connected to his evil past, and followed Jesus. He did not tell himself, "Well, since this man loves me very much, and they call Him 'Lord", and some even say that He is the Son of God, so I will remain a sinner, because I know His love will save me." No. The love of Jesus for us who are sinners needs our personal response.

If Matthew simply boasted of his personal relationship with Jesus, but remained a tax collector, he would have been lost in perpetuity, not because God did not care for hm, but because he did not care for the love of Jesus for him. He did not give an answer to the call of God that the Lord made for him.

In one way or another, we can count ourselves as 'black sheep' in God's fold, because of our sinfulness. Our Gospel is a challenge for us to follow the example of Matthew. Let us give our favorable response to Jesus' love, His compassion, His understanding, His forgiveness, and His mercy.

My word of God for you today is, "Love covers a multitude of sins." In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.