Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Gospel Reflection

January 23, 2013
Wednesday – Year of Faith – Weekday
by Msgr. Bong Lo (Chaplain, Chapel of Eucharistic Lord)
12;15PM Mass at Megamall, Chapel of the Eucharistic Lord

Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High, met Abraham as he returned from his defeat of the kings
and blessed him. And Abraham apportioned to him a tenth of everything. His name first means righteous king, and he was also “king of Salem,” that is, king of peace. Without father, mother, or ancestry, without beginning of days or end of life, thus made to resemble the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.

It is even more obvious if another priest is raised up after the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become so, not by a law expressed in a commandment concerning physical descent but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed. For it is testified:

You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Responsorial Psalm ps 110:1, 2, 3, 4

R. (4b) You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand
till I make your enemies your footstool.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The scepter of your power the LORD will stretch forth from Zion:
“Rule in the midst of your enemies.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
“Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor;
before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD has sworn, and he will not repent:
“You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

Gospel Mk 3:1-6

Jesus entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They watched Jesus closely to see if he would cure him on the Sabbath so that they might accuse him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up here before us.” Then he said to the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” But they remained silent. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death.


I heard a story about a Filipino Chinese who owned a small factory, with only around 25 employees. There was a labor problem and so one day, the employees went for a strike. Later on, the employer saw the placards, saying "Itaas ang sweldo" and he also saw some placards saying, "Ibagsak ang Aquino-US rehimen", "Patalsikin ang Imperialismo", etc. So sabi noong employer, "Yong pagtaas ng sweldo, pwede tayong mag-usap diyan, pero ang ibagsak ang Aquino-US rehimen, mukhang di ko na kaya 'yan. O kaya ipatalsik ang imperialismo. Eh ano'ng koneksiyon niyan sa ating kumpanya?"

The point of the story is - you and I must be clear about the immediate issues. The real concerns. Yes, there are so many issues. There are so many concerns. But at the end of the day, in the final analysis, first things first. Ano po ba talaga ang dapat nating harapin?

In the Gospel Reading for today, for example, it was a Sabbath day. And there are many issues related to the Sabbath. And if you read the Gospel, Jesus is - over and over again - accused of violating the law of the Sabbath. Jesus, again and again, is condemned for not observing the law of the Sabbath. Ano ho ba talaga ang issue? What is at the heart of it all?

For Jesus, this is the main issue. Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath, rather than to do evil? To save life, rather than to destroy it?

Kasi nga, according to the law of the Sabbath, it is a day of rest. But what does it mean to rest? For some people, to rest is to lie down in bed. Gagawin n'yo ba 'yan the whole day? Try n'yo po mamaya after lunch. Mahiga kayo buong araw hanggang bukas po nang tanghali. Will it be considered rest? Nakakapagod pong humiga buong araw, hindi ho ba? Kung ayaw ninyong maniwala, try it. (laughs) Kung nakakapagod pong magtrabaho, mas nakakapagod po ang walang trabaho. Try n'yong mag-resign sa trabaho. (laughs) Nakakapagod po.

Yes, Sabbath is a day of rest, but it does not mean that you don't do anything.

You know, in 1997, 15 and a half years ago, I went to the Holy Land. I went to Israel. Nabigla ako kung bakit 'yong elevator sa hotel namin, kahit na anong pindot ko, hindi pumupula doon sa floor kung saan dapat ako pumunta. Halimbawa nasa 5th floor ako. So from the ground floor, pindot ako nang pindot ng 5th floor, hindi pumupula. Na-notice ko, paakyat siya, every other two floors. Even numbers. Titigil siya sa 2nd floor, 4th floor, 6th floor, 8th floor, 10th floor. Hindi siya tumitigil sa odd numbers. Eh di lumampas na ako. 5th floor ang kuwarto ko, nakarating na ako sa 10th floor. (laughs) Tapos pagbaba naman, odd numbers naman. 11th floor, 9th floor, (laughs) sabi ko, "Bakit ganito, ano?"

Tapos maya-maya may pumasok na Jewish couple na very conservative looking, kasi there are different groupings naman within Judaism eh, may liberal, may conservative. So 'yong pumasok na couple very conservative, makikita mo sa kanilang pananamit, 'yong may mga buhok pa silang mahahaba sa patilya. Tapos noong nakita nila akong pindot nang pindot, ang sama ng tingin nila sa akin. (laughs) Ang sama ng tingin nila. Pero sila hindi nagpindot. 'Yon pala, it was a Sabbath day. And since it was a Sabbath day, according to the conservative understanding, you should not do anything. (laughs) Pati pagpindot sa elevator (more laughs) Kaya pala 'yong elevator, automatic naka-program na 'yon pag Sabbath day. Pre-programmed na, na titigil siya sa lahat ng even numbers pataas, at titigil naman siya sa lahat ng odd numbers pababa, kasi you are not supposed to pindot-pindot it. (laughs) So it is a very extreme understanding.

So Jesus invited them. Hey, at the heart of the matter, what is really the point? Yes, don't work, don't do unnecessary jobs, in order to set aside a time to worship God, to set aside a time to read the word of God, to set aside a time to do something good. But at the heart of it all, is Jesus allowed to heal somebody, to cure somebody? Of course they may say, "Anyway, it is not a life-and-death situation, you can wait until tomorrow, don't cure him now." My God, if you were in the situation of that person - every hour counts, every minute counts. And for Jesus, what is needed most is not only to cure the paralyzed hand of the person, but to cure the hardened hearts of the people around. To make them realize what's really the point, what's really the heart of the matter.

That is why nakasulat dito sa Gospel ano - 'looking around at them with anger and grief at their hardness of heart'. When Jesus was confronted by a sinner, he was not angry, merciful Siya. But Jesus was angry with them, because of the hardness of their hearts. That is why He was concerned, not only to make the paralyzed hand of the paralytic become alive again. He was, at the same time, concerned that their hard heart would be softened.  

My sisters and brothers, there are so many issues in life. So many concerns. But at the end of the day, what's really the point? What's really the heart of the matter? The heart of the matter is our heart. Whether our heart is hard, or not. Whether our heart is giving, or not. Whether our heart is charitable, or not. Let us pray that as Jesus cured the paralyzed hand of the paralytic, your heart and my heart will beat with Jesus' heart, and become more and more like His heart.