Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Gospel Reflection

January 22, 2013
Tuesday – Year of Faith 
Day of prayer for the legal protection of unborn children.
by Rev. Fr. (Major) Harley B. Flores
CHS Chancellor, Military Ordinariate of the Philippines
12:15 PM Mass at Megamall, Chapel of the Eucharistic Lord
Reading 1 Heb 6:10-20

Brothers and sisters: God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones. We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of hope until the end, so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who, through faith and patience, are inheriting the promises.

When God made the promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, and said, I will indeed bless you and multiply you. And so, after patient waiting, Abraham obtained the promise. Now, men swear by someone greater than themselves; for them an oath serves as a guarantee and puts an end to all argument. So when God wanted to give the heirs of his promise an even clearer demonstration of the immutability of his purpose, he intervened with an oath, so that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to hold fast to the hope that lies before us. This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm, which reaches into the interior behind the veil, where Jesus has entered on our behalf as forerunner, becoming high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Responsorial Psalm ps 111:1-2, 4-5, 9 and 10c

R. (5) The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
R. Alleluia.
I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart
in the company and assembly of the just.
Great are the works of the LORD,
exquisite in all their delights.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
R. Alleluia.
He has won renown for his wondrous deeds;
gracious and merciful is the LORD.
He has given food to those who fear him;
he will forever be mindful of his covenant.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
R. Alleluia.
He has sent deliverance to his people;
he has ratified his covenant forever;
holy and awesome is his name.
His praise endures forever.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
R. Alleluia.

Gospel Mk 2:23-28

As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. At this the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?” He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry? How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?”
Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”


My dear brothers and sisters, there is this book written in 1971, which states that in a survey that was conducted, there are two favorite religious images of the Filipinos. One is the image of the Sto. Nino (child Christ), that is why we celebrated the fiesta of the Sto. Nino last Sunday, and the other favorite image of the Filipinos is the Sto. Entierro (dead Christ). However, there was a comment regarding these two images. The comment was - one reason why most Filipinos have this immature faith, or a child-like attitude on faith, is because of the superficial way we adore our favorite images.

It could really be that most Filipinos have an immature expression of faith. And one example that I can give you is, as a priest for 10 years, kung minsan nga naman ho pag may ni-request po tayo sa pari at hindi napagbigyan, ay nakasimangot na, at kung minsan ay marami tayong sinasabi at ini-intriga ang pari. I tell my parishioners na kung may tao namang mahilig mang-intriga sa pari, minsan ito ay ang mga taong malapit din sa simbahan. And this is true. I hope this is not true here (referring to the Megamall chapel). This is an expression of immature faith, a childish act of faith. 

On the other hand, Filipinos also have a passive faith. That is why in trying to interpret the sacrifice of the Santo Entierro, napakaraming Filipino ngayon ang masayang naghihirap. Why? It is because most Filipinos believe that they are closer to God when they suffer, when they sacrifice. Pakiramdam ng ilan sa atin na mas masaya sila kapag naghihirap sila, sapagkat mas malapit sila sa Panginoon. Sinasabi nila na darating din ang araw, may awa rin ang Diyos. Hindi naman nawawala ang awa ng Diyos. Yes, blessed are the poor. Blessed are the poor in spirit. But some Filipinos misinterpret it, as if they just want to remain poor, as if they do not want to move on from their system of life. 

I believe that God does not want His people to suffer. God always wants His people to be happy, to be at his best, to be at his magnanimity. That's why the Gospel tells us that every law of the Church, every law of God was made for man. The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Why? Because of all the creatures of God, in the history of creation, the highest point, the fulfillment, or the masterpiece of God's creation, was the creation of man. Therefore, all creatures were to submit to man, and man must submit himself to God.
At kung ang tao ang pinakadakilang nilalang ng Panginoon, ng Kanyang nilikha, therefore, we expect the best for man. God plans what is best for us. God wants us to be the best and to be happy always.
As we are God's best creation, His masterpiece, what should be our response? The First Reading tells us, 'it is only through faith and goodness'.
Let me share with you a reading regarding the combination of faith and goodness as an expression of our response to God as His masterpiece. This is from a book entitled, "Simple Principles to Enjoy Life and Be Happy".....and I quote:

"Think of the happiest people we know. If we ask the secret of their contentment, they would probably tell you that their happiness stems from faith. Indeed, faith places an integral role in happiness. But why? For one, faith provides answers where there seems to be none. On the contrary, the faithless seems to come up short of answers all the time. For example, many of us spend much of our lives trying to figure out why bad things happen to good people. Why does the young girl with no family history get cancer? Why does the thief live to be 90 years old, while the good-hearted man - a generous man - has his life cut short too soon?"
"....There are so many injustices. But in having faith, everything happens because it fits in the grand plan of God....Believing in a grand plan or something larger than us, will help put life's setbacks and disappointments into perspective, and will even improve your health. In fact....about the healing property of faith, in a study of 232 patients who have undergone open-heart surgery, those who were able to find strength and comfort in their religious outlook had a survival rate, three times higher than those who were found to have no foundation of faith...." 
"....Having a sense of spirituality can also help establish and strengthen one's values, and the right sense of goodness, especially knowing what is right and wrong. By cultivating a self standard of action, such as being a good, generous, decent person, they are more likely to treat family, friends, and even strangers, with respect and kindness. Through religious and spiritual practices, they develop a sense of responsibility and respect for history, fellow humans, and the environment."
"Let us try to use these common principles to reflect our faith, and articulate a set of values, especially goodness...that is an important foundation. These principles will show you that even in the darkest times, faith can help you find your way back to happiness."
Again, my dear friends, God wants us to be happy. God wants us to be the best. On what condition? Faith and goodness.