Friday, February 15, 2013

Gospel Reflection

February 15, 2013
Friday – Year of Faith – Lenten Season
by Rev.  Fr. Nilo Mangussad (Rector, Our Lady of Peace Quasi-Parish)
6:30AM Mass at Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace (Our Lady of EDSA)
Reading 1 Is 58:1-9a

Thus says the Lord GOD: Cry out full-throated and unsparingly, lift up your voice like a trumpet blast; Tell my people their wickedness and the house of Jacob their sins. They seek me day after day, and desire to know my ways, like a nation that has done what is just and not abandoned the law of their God; They ask me to declare what is due them, pleased to gain access to God. “Why do we fast, and you do not see it? Afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?”

Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits, and drive all your laborers. Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting, striking with wicked claw. Would that today you might fast so as to make your voice heard on high! Is this the manner of fasting I wish, of keeping a day of penance: That a man bows his head like a reed and lie in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; Your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!

Responsorial Psalm Ps 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 18-19

R. (19b) A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
For I acknowledge my offense,
and my sin is before me always:
“Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight.”
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

Gospel Mt 9:14-15

The disciples of John approached Jesus and said, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”


There was this 90-year old man who was frail and weak. On Ash Wednesday, his family was so surprised because he was not eating at all. He was just lying down sleeping. At the end of the day, the family was so worried that they asked their family doctor to come over. The doctor asked the elderly man, "Why are you not eating? Don't you have any appetite for it?" The old man said, "It's Ash Wednesday, isn't it? Therefore, it is a day of fasting and abstinence." "Yes", said the doctor, "but you are exempted from it. You're 90 years old." But the elderly man said, "No, I would like to fast because it makes me feel lighter. Because it makes me control my body inclinations. Because I would like to be closer to God and not be controlled by anything material."

My brothers and sisters, if an elderly man of 90 can do something like this, why can't we? What Gandhi said is true. "Fasting crucifies the flesh, therefore, sets the soul free." If we can only learn the meaning of these words.....

We are being controlled by our bodily appetites. We like to eat lechon, we like to eat cream. We like to eat all things. Everything that is not good for our earthly bodies. It is good to taste them once in a while, but not to indulge. However, the people of the present time more than just indulge. It has become a lifestyle to eat these foods. That destroys our bodies.

Here, the Lord is reminding us. Fasting helps us to set our thoughts, our minds, our soul back to the light of our salvation. It is not preventing us from eating and enjoying life here on earth. It is setting our soul free. We have a choice. Giving up certain things is not simply lying there fasting, but aligning ourselves to our true identity as God's children.  

In this season of Lent, are we doing the alignment for our heavenly inheritance, or are we simply doing this because everybody is doing it?