Monday, January 28, 2013

Gospel Reflection

January 28, 2013
Monday – Year of Faith – Weekday
Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church
by Rev. Fr. Godwin Tatlonghari
(Assistant Commissioner for Office Administration, Commission on Liturgy Minister,
Ministry on Liturgical Environment and Art,  Archdiocese of Manila)
5:30PM Mass at Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace (Our Lady of EDSA)

Reading 1 Heb 9:15, 24-28

Christ is mediator of a new covenant: since a death has taken place  for deliverance from transgressions under the first covenant,  those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.

For Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf. Not that he might offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary with blood that is not his own; if that were so, he would have had to suffer repeatedly from the foundation of the world. But now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages  to take away sin by his sacrifice. Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgment, so also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.

Responsorial Psalm PS 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4, 5-6

R. (1a) Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
Sing praise to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and melodious song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
sing joyfully before the King, the LORD.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.


Gospel Mk 3:22-30

The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.”

Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him. But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house. Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin. For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”


Jesus has always faced the opposition of religious leaders during His time. They say that Mark, the evangelist, has given five specific events in the ministry of Jesus where we can find the Scribes' accusations against Him. The first one is that Jesus forgives sins. That is why their accusation was blasphemy. Second, He eats with sinners. Their accusation was immorality. The third is, Jesus does not fast together with His followers, unlike the disciples of John. Their accusation was Jesus was being sacrilegious. The fourth is He was picking heads of grain, and the fifth is, he heals a man with a withered hand, where Jesus was being accused of breaking the law of the Sabbath. 

Following the line of thinking of St. Mark, he wanted to prove something, and that is, how the attitude of the Scribes progress against Jesus. Dalawang bagay ang mapapansin natin sa mga Eskriba noong panahon ni Kristo. 'Yong una, 'yong gradual hardening of heart. Unti-unting tumitigas ang kanilang puso para kay Kristo. Why? It is because they perceive Jesus as a threat. Sapagkat si Kristo ay maraming mga kinukuwestiyon tungkol sa batas na itinuturo ng mga Eskriba. Jesus was also questioning about the spirit of the Sabbath. Maraming mga bagay ang ginagawa nila dati na, noong dumating si Kristo, ay nagkaroon ng malaking katanungan para sa mga Hudyo. 

Pangalawa ay hindi matanggap ng mga Eskriba ang katotohanang ipinapahayag ni Kristo. That is why in the end, the truth, for them, is something subjective. They are after what they think, after what they feel, and not on what Jesus is telling them. 

That is why when you look at our Gospel, mayroong tatlong bagay tayong pwedeng mapuna. Tatlong letter 'C'. 

The first 'C' is confrontation. Ano ang sinasabi diyan? In our Gospel, we see Jesus doing good. He was curing people, He was expelling evil spirits. Marami siyang ginawang mabuti. Pero ang problema ay ang kanilang gustong makita ay hindi ang kabutihang ginagawa ni Kristo, kundi ang ka-liit-liitang bagay na maaari nilang makuha bilang puna laban kay Kristo. 'Yon po ay ating tignan sa ating Ebanghelyo. People are confronting Christ with anger in their hearts. Ang kanilang hinahanap ay hindi 'yong mabuti kay Kristo. Ang kanilang hinahanap ay di 'yong maganda kay Kristo, kundi kung ano ang pwedeng gamitin laban kay Kristo. Pero ang maganda kay Kristo ay ito. Jesus will never change what He is preaching, just because of the people around Him. Jesus always chooses fidelity to the truth, rather than popularity.

Alam po ninyo, mayroon po akong nabasang isang quote from an author, who said, "Jesus would not be controlled by others. He would speak the truth, even if it meant confrontation, and ultimately, offense....You must make it a purpose in your heart to speak the Word of God, and perform God's will, even at the risk of offending others."   

Ito po ay paala-ala sa atin. Are there times when we try to alter or change the good, because we choose popularity? Nakakahiya. Baka mabawasan ang mga taong naniniwala sa akin. Nakakahiya. Baka sila ay magalit sa akin. Kay Kristo, hindi 'yon ang Kanyang pinili. In our Gospel, He was confronting the Scribes, not with popularity, but with the truth. Confrontation. Sa ating buhay, pinipili ba natin kung ano 'yong tama, o kung ano 'yong magiging daan para tayo ay sumikat o maging mabango sa ating kapwa? 

The second 'C' in our Gospel is the 'counter evidence' coming from Jesus. Jesus knows where His power comes from. Pero ang problema ay hindi handa ang mga Scribes na humarap kay Kristo. Kaya nga ano ang kanilang ginawa? They resorted to slander or gossip. Why? In the Gospel, Jesus said, "How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen against himself and is divided, he cannot stand. That is the end of him." Ano ang pinapakita doon? Whatever Jesus thinks is always logical. Pero ang problema sa mga Scribes and Pharisees ay ang katotohanan para sa kanila ay kung ano ang gusto nilang maging tama, hindi kung ano talaga ang tunay na tama. 

Ito ang pangalawang hamon ng ating Ebanghelyo. Are there times when we are confronted with the truth, but our reaction or response is not conversion, but to stop the proclamation of the truth? Patahimikin ang taong may dala ng Mabuting Balita? In our Gospel today, Jesus is ready. Sino ang hindi handa? 'Yong mga Eskriba na hindi handang tanggapin kung ano 'yong totoo, sapagkat hindi nila kayang baguhin ang kanilang mga sarili. 

Counter evidence of Jesus. Let us look at ourselves. May mga pagkakataon bang nalaman natin ang totoo, nalaman natin kung ano 'yong tama, pero ano ba 'yong ating binago? Binago ba natin 'yong tama, o binago natin 'yong ating buhay para maitugma kung ano 'yong tama?

The third 'C' in our Gospel is that we have a 'choice'. At the end of our Gospel, it was not Jesus who judged the Scribes; it was the Scribes who judged themselves. Why? Because after hearing Jesus' proclamation about the good, and about where His power comes from, it was up to the Scribes if they will follow Jesus or continue hating Jesus. In our Gospel, that is the problem. The Scribes connived with other leaders to put Jesus down. That was their choice. That is why at the end, Jesus said that there is an unforgivable sin. And what is that? The sin against the Holy Spirit. Why? Because the Holy Spirit reminds us of our own sinfulness. The Spirit convinces us about the truth. Kaya kapag 'yong tao ay manhid na sa Espiritu Santo, manhid na rin siya sa kung ano 'yong talagang tama. Kung ano 'yong talagang mabuti. Kaya kahit tayo ay gustong iligtas ng Panginoon, kung tayo mismo ang ayaw, at 'yon ang ating pinili, hindi pwedeng ipagpilitan ng Panginoon ang Kanyang sarili sa atin. 

Ito po 'yong pangatlong hamon sa atin. Are there times when we are given a choice, but at the end, we chose what we want, and not what is right and true? May pagkakataon din po ba na ating sinisisi ang ating kapwa, pati ang ating Panginoon? Every day, we are given a choice by God. But the question is - what do we choose?

Noong isang araw, nanood po ako ng sine. 'Yong pelikulang Les Miserables. Maybe you have seen that. We know that the story of Les Miserables is about a slave named Jean Valjean, played by Hugh Jackman. The slave was given parole. Sa simula ng pelikula, siya ay kinupkop ng isang simbahan para pakainin at patulugin. And while everyone was sleeping, ano ang kanyang ginawa? Ninakaw niya 'yong mga silverware ng simbahan, tsaka siya umalis. Noong siya ay nahuli ng mga pulis, ibinalik muli siya sa simbahan. At ang sabi ng mga pulis, "Bishop, sabi ng lalaking ito, ibinigay mo raw sa kanya itong mga silverware na ito." At ang sabi ng Obispo, "Tama, ibinigay ko nga 'yan sa kanya." Pero ang sabi niya doon sa slave, "Sandali lamang, sa pagmamadali mo ay may nakalimutan ka." Kinuha ng Obispo ang kanyang dalawang silver candle holder, at ang sabi niya, "Ito pa naman ang pinakamahal." And then ibinigay niya ito kay Hugh Jackman. And when he was giving it to Hugh Jackman, ano ang sabi ng Obispo? "Use this for your salvation."

Alam n'yo mga kapatid, no'ng narinig ko 'yon sa pelikula, sabi ko, tayo rin ay mayroong mga biyaya mula sa Panginoon. Mayroon tayong power, mayroon tayong position. Mayroon tayong intellect, mayroon tayong wisdom. Mayroon tayong talent and time. Do we use all these blessings for our salvation? Or at the end, are we being condemned because we use them not wisely, but selfishly?

At the end of the movie, there are two characters there - si Hugh Jackman, at tsaka si Russell Crowe (Javert). Si Hugh Jackman, because of that incident, nagbago talaga ang kanyang buhay. There was conversion. Hanggang siya ay makakatulong sa kanyang kapwa, ginagawa niya. Bakit? Kasi naramdaman niya 'yong awa, 'yong kapatawaran ng Panginoong Diyos. Pero ang nakakalungkot ay ang character ni Russell Crowe. Bakit? Sapagkat kahit siya'y isang commander, isang leader, siya ay alipin ng kanyang galit. Kahit na ano'ng mangyari, talagang gusto niyang hulihin at ibalik sa bilangguan si Hugh Jackman. 

Sa ating buhay, ganoon din. Mayroon tayong choice. Pwede tayong maging malaya, katulad ni Hugh Jackman, o pwede rin tayong maging alipin ng ating galit o sama ng loob, katulad ni Russell Crowe. 

May isa na naman po akong quote mula sa libro, at ang sabi roon, 'yong galit daw ay parang asido. Kapag yaan ay nilagay mo sa isang lalagyan, sinisira niya muna 'yong lalagyan, bago niya sirain 'yong iba. Tingin ko po sa ating buhay, ang galit ay ganoon din. It will destroy us first. It will destroy our heart, before it destroys other people. 

Sabi ng Ebanghelyo, 'yong galit ng mga Eskriba ay naging daan para sila ay masira kaysa kanilang masira si Kristo. 

Tatlong 'C' sa ating Ebanghelyo ang ating tatandaan. First, we see 'confrontation'. Sa ating buhay ba, do we choose fidelity to the truth, or popularity? Second, 'counter evidence'. Are we ready to face the truth, or at times, we resolve to slander and gossip? And the third is 'choice'. Every day, we can become better, because of God's mercy, or we can become bitter, because of our anger.