Thursday, March 7, 2013

Gospel Reflection

March 07, 2013
Thursday – Year of Faith – Lenten Seasons
Memorial of Saint Perpetua and Saint Felicity
by Msgr. Bong Lo (Chaplain, Chapel of Eucharistic Lord)
6:00PM Mass at Megamall, Chapel of the Eucharistic Lord
Reading 1 Jer 7:23-28

Thus says the LORD: This is what I commanded my people: Listen to my voice; then I will be your God and you shall be my people. Walk in all the ways that I command you, so that you may prosper.

But they obeyed not, nor did they pay heed. They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts and turned their backs, not their faces, to me. From the day that your fathers left the land of Egypt even to this day, I have sent you untiringly all my servants the prophets. Yet they have not obeyed me nor paid heed; they have stiffened their necks and done worse than their fathers. When you speak all these words to them, they will not listen to you either; when you call to them, they will not answer you. Say to them: This is the nation that does not listen to the voice of the LORD, its God, or take correction. Faithfulness has disappeared; the word itself is banished from their speech.

Responsorial Psalm PS 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9

R. (8) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works.”
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Gospel Lk 11:14-23

Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute, and when the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke and the crowds were amazed. Some of them said, “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons.” Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven. But he knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house. And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons. If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own people drive them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man fully armed guards his palace, his possessions are safe. But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, he takes away the armor on which he relied and distributes the spoils. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”


Some time ago, I have a friend that really caused me irritation. Kasi po, when we were talking to each other, halos after each sentence na sinasabi ko, kaagad siyang magsasabi ng, "What did you say? Pardon me? Paki-ulit nga." At first, nagpasensiya ako. I had to repeat myself over and over again. But at one point, talagang nairita na ako, so I asked her, "Nakikinig ka ba talaga? May iniisip ka bang iba? May problema ka ba?" 

It turned out na may problema pala talaga siya. She has a hearing problem. Mahirap po talagang makipag-usap sa tao, kung ikaw ay may hearing problem. But my friend really tried to listen. And if she could not hear clearly or could not understand a word, she would ask, "Paki-ulit nga." She was interested to hear what I am saying. She was interested to understand what it is that I am trying to communicate. Kahit na may hearing problem siya, she was really open and interested. 

This is precisely the message of God in our readings today. In the First Reading, we heard from the book of the prophet Jeremiah that Jesus was telling his people in Israel, "Listen to My voice...But they obeyed not, nor did they pay heed...I have sent you untiringly all my servants, the prophets. Yet they have not obeyed Me nor paid heed. They have stiffened their necks and done worse than their fathers." So paulit-ulit na pinadala ni Hesus ang Kanyang mga mensahero, upang ipahayag ang Kanyang kalooban, ang Kanyang plano. Pero ano ang nangyari? "Faithfulness has disappeared. The word itself is banished from their speech." 

My sisters and brothers, in the Gospel Reading, Jesus is able to exorcise demons, to expel the evil spirit, to cure the sick and those possessed by the power of darkness. And yet, many of His contemporaries could not accept the power of God and the grace of God that Jesus was bringing. They could not deny that something good is happening, and yet they could not accept that Jesus is an authentic messenger from the Father. And so they accused Him of using the power of evil, to expel evil. That is why Jesus taught they were illogical. Kung ibang tao ang nag-exorcise, kung ibang tao ang nag-expel ng demons, tanggap nyo, pero kung Ako, hindi. That is why Jesus told them, "If you are not with Me, you're against Me....and whoever does not gather with Me, scatters."

My sisters and brothers, marami po sa atin ang nagbibingi-bingihan. Marami po sa atin ang nagbubulag-bulagan. Marami po sa atin ang nagde-deadma-deadmahan. Pero sana, pagdating sa Panginoon, pagdating sa pangangailangan ng kapwa, huwag tayong magbingi-bingihan, huwag tayong magbulag-bulagan, huwag tayong magdeadma-deadmahan. That is why in the Responsorial Psalm, we say, "If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts." Ultimately, it's not a question of the eyes. It's not a question of the ears. It is a question of the heart. 

May dalawa akong kaibigan. Parehong matalino, parehong successful sa buhay. Kaya lang parehong strong ang kanilang personalities. Sad to say, nagkaroon ng lamat ang kanilang relationship. Nagkaroon ng hurts sa isa't isa. The other day, pinakita sa akin noong isa 'yong exchange of e-mail nilang dalawa. "Father, simple lang naman 'yong sinasabi ko. Napakalinaw naman ng sinasabi ko. Bakit hindi niya masakyan? Bakit hindi niya makuha ang punto ko? Why does she keep on misunderstanding my points?" Matalino naman silang dalawa. Pero dahil may hurts, hindi makita ang punto. 

Whereas kung ok ang relationship, kahit na nandoon siya sa isang corner, nandoon ka sa kabilang corner, puno ang lugar ng tao at maingay, nagtinginan lang kayo, nagkindatan, nagkaintindihan na. Bakit? Dahil ang puso ay bukas sa isa't isa. 

My sisters and brothers, let us pray that if today we hear God's voice, we harden not our hearts. That we may harden not our hearts to Him, and to our neighbors. Kung minsan talagang may biases tayo, may mga prejudices tayo. Let us pray that as we grow older, lalong lumawak ang ating pang-unawa. That more and more, we overcome our biases and our prejudices. That we may have an open mind and open heart to God and to our neighbor. 

Sometimes, God wants us to be biased. Biased in favor of Him. Biased in favor of those who are in need - the lost, the last, and the least. God sometimes wants us to be prejudiced. Prejudiced in favor of God. Prejudiced in favor of the needy, with preferential option for the sick and the poor. Let us pray that we shall not scatter, but that we shall gather in Jesus.