Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Gospel Reflection

February 26, 2013
Tuesday – Year of Faith – Lenten Season
by Rev. Fr. Simplicio Pugasan, Jr. (Archdiocese of Cebu)
5:30PM Mass at Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace (Our Lady of EDSA)
Reading 1 Is 1:10, 16-20

Hear the word of the LORD, princes of Sodom! Listen to the instruction of our God, people of Gomorrah!

Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.

Come now, let us set things right, says the LORD: Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; Though they be crimson red, they may become white as wool. If you are willing, and obey, you shall eat the good things of the land; But if you refuse and resist, the sword shall consume you: for the mouth of the LORD has spoken!

Responsorial Psalm Ps 50:8-9, 16bc-17, 21 and 23

R. (23b) To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,
for your burnt offerings are before me always.
I take from your house no bullock,
no goats out of your fold.”
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“Why do you recite my statutes,
and profess my covenant with your mouth,
Though you hate discipline
and cast my words behind you?”
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“When you do these things, shall I be deaf to it?
Or do you think that I am like yourself?
I will correct you by drawing them up before your eyes.
He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me;
and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God.”
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

Gospel Mt 23:1-12

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen.They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”


Our Gospel today gives us a criterion for unconditional love. Unconditional love is one that goes beyond what human laws will define. It is the love that a father has for his children, or a leader for his constituents. It is being able to suffer with those whom we love or serve. Mapagmalasakit sa kapwa. 

Our Christian faith is characterized by having significance on the Cross and the resurrected Christ. That is why all of us see the value of suffering as something redemptive. We believe that at times, we are victims of the sins of others. And God allows us to experience His healing at His own time, so that we can say, "We are no longer victims, we are redeemed." In the order of grace, we become who we are, as a gift from God. 

The Pharisees and those who interpret Jewish laws are in constant struggle to be popularly known as people deserving of honor in the society. These people strictly abide by what human laws give. Jesus is correcting them, and teaching them how to live what they are preaching. But they do not recognize the faith that was given to them, by the mere presence of the Messiah - Christ, the Good Teacher. Jesus sees how untrue they are to what they teach. Jesus corrects them by the example of His Father, who has sent Him to save all people regardless of social status. Jesus corrects them, but they do not listen. To be great, my dear brothers and sisters, is to be a servant to all. This is the message of Jesus to those who are hypocrites. 

It is through Jesus that we come to know the unconditional love of the Father in heaven. That is why we can call God as our Father, because it is through Jesus and with Jesus, that we all become God's beloved children. God is great, and His greatness is shown to us by His fidelity. He is a God who stoops down in order for us to partake of His divine love. 

Jesus does not question leadership, but simply rectifies the manner of serving others. There is nothing wrong if honor is given to someone who deserves it, as a compliment to how efficient or effective one has been as a servant. But let us ask ourselves. Does my service or my example allow others to attain the fullness of their humanity? Does my leadership encourage my people to perpetuate the values that respect humanity? If not, we cannot call ourselves a leader. 

Then we should do justice. If giving up your position is necessary, do so for the greater glory of God. Give up your position. It is only in giving up that you realize how powerless you are, and that there is someone greater up there. Even if you are great in the eyes of the world, you should remember that you are, in fact, powerless. You are always powerless; you are always in need of God. And it is when you are powerless that you come to know that you cannot carry the weight of the world, but you are assured of the redemption or rest that you can only find in the One who has already carried your cross. This is what the Scribes and Pharisees have failed to do. 

My dear brothers and sisters, let us not be like the Scribes and Pharisees. Let us be the source of truth, order and harmony in our society. Let us pursue happiness by allowing God to be our Father. And that is what our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Brother and our Friend, teaches every now and then, especially in the celebration of the sacraments. Jesus is teaching us to be like Him, in view of His redemptive suffering. Maging mapagmalasakit tayo sa iba. Amen.