Thursday, February 21, 2013

Gospel Reflection

February 21, 2013
Thursday – Year of Faith – Lenten Season
by Msgr. Bong Lo (Chaplain, Chapel of Eucharistic Lord)
12:15PM Mass at Megamall, Chapel of the Eucharistic Lord

Queen Esther, seized with mortal anguish, had recourse to the LORD. She lay prostrate upon the ground, together with her handmaids, from morning until evening, and said: “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, blessed are you. Help me, who am alone and have no help but you, for I am taking my life in my hand. As a child I used to hear from the books of my forefathers that you, O LORD, always free those who are pleasing to you. Now help me, who am alone and have no one but you, O LORD, my God.

“And now, come to help me, an orphan. Put in my mouth persuasive words in the presence of the lion and turn his heart to hatred for our enemy, so that he and those who are in league with him may perish. Save us from the hand of our enemies; turn our mourning into gladness and our sorrows into wholeness.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 138:1-2ab, 2cde-3, 7c-8

R. (3a) Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart,
for you have heard the words of my mouth;
in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise;
I will worship at your holy temple
and give thanks to your name.
R. Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.
Because of your kindness and your truth;
for you have made great above all things
your name and your promise.
When I called, you answered me;
you built up strength within me.
R. Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.
Your right hand saves me.
The LORD will complete what he has done for me;
your kindness, O LORD, endures forever;
forsake not the work of your hands.
R. Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.

Gospel Mt 7:7-12

Jesus said to his disciples: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asked for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asked for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.”


I think a couple of years ago, one of the text messages that I got was a text message that encourages one to PUSH. Paki-ulit po. (with the people) PUSH. The text said that when we do not know what to do, just.....push. When we don't know where to go, just....push. When we don't know how to do it, just....push. When you don't know why you have to go there, just....push. And it says that PUSH is to Pray Until Something Happens. PUSH. Both the First Reading of today from the Book of Esther, and the Gospel Reading, tell us precisely to do just that. PUSH. 

Although Jesus very clearly says in the Gospel Reading, "Ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will opened to you.", still, time and again, you and I feel that you have been asking and yet, you have not received what you have been asking for. You have been seeking and yet, you have not found what you have been seeking for. You have been knocking, and yet, the door remains closed. 

Of course, different people, based on their experience, based on their reflections, give different explanations. But what Jesus is telling us is that definitely, He hears all prayers, and He answers all prayers. But He did not say that the answer will always be 'yes'. The answer can also be 'no'. And it's still an answer. Of course, in the Gospel reading, He said very clearly, "Which one of you would hand his son a stone, if he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake, when he asks for fish?" If your son then asks you for a loaf of bread, definitely you will not give him a stone, unless toasted bread 'yan na naging matigas, parang stone na 'yon, 'no? (laughs) If your son asks for fish, you will not give him a snake. If you are that good, how much more God?

But the question is, sometimes, the son asks, not for bread, but for stone. Precisely sometimes, the daughter asks, not for fish, but for snake. Sometimes, we do not know what we really are asking for. Ultimately, in the long run, what we are asking for may not be good, will not be good for us, or for others, or for all. And that is why the answer sometimes is 'no'. But many times, we see that the answer is 'wait'. Wait. For you and I have our own timetable, but God has His own timetable. And His timetable is much better than yours and mine. 

In the Greek language, there are two words for time. Chronos and Kairos. Chronos in English means chronology. But Kairos means the fullness of time, at the right time. 

In the letter of St. Peter in the Holy Bible, he says that some people are complaining that God is late. But God is never late. God comes and reaches out to us in the fullness of time. He's always with us. But in response to many of our prayers, many times, He tells us to wait. Wait for the fullness of time. The Gospel Reading assures us that we can trust God. We can trust Jesus. We can trust Him. 

In one of the churches that I have visited many years ago, may nakasulat po na signage - "Please take good care of your bags, and your wallets, because some people may consider it as the answer to their prayers." (laughs) Kaya paki-ingat lang po sa inyong mga bag at wallet, kasi baka akalain ng iba, 'yan na ang sagot sa kanilang dasal. As one person complained to God, "Lord, matagal na akong nagdarasal manalo sa lotto ah." And in his dream, God appeared and said, "Eh paano ka mananalo sa lotto, eh hindi ka naman bumibili ng ticket."

The point is in the First Reading of today from the Book of Esther, Queen Esther prayed to the Lord to help her speak the right words, to have the courage to appear before the throne of the King of Persia, without being summoned, which, according to the law of Persia at that time, would mean automatic execution. Unless you are called by the king, you have no right to come into his presence. 

But Queen Esther could not wait to be called by her husband, the King of Persia - which is called Iran at present. Queen Esther was a Jew, an exile. She had to do something fast. She must PUSH, because the King was about to sign a decree that would harm her people, the Israelites. And so she prayed to God, not for God to bring magic. But she prayed to God to give her the courage, and the wisdom, and the eloquence before the King of Persia. 

My sisters and brothers, they say, "Nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa." Let us pray. And when we pray, let us be sure that you and I are committed to be an instrument in bringing about the fulfillment of that prayer. That we do our part and we do our best, and help each other, and entrust to God the rest. Amen.