Saturday, March 23, 2013

Gospel Reflection

March 23, 2013
Saturday – Year of Faith – Lenten Seasons
by Rev. Fr. David 'Dave' T. Buenaventura,
SDB, Councilor and Pugad Centre Director and Counsellor, St. John Bosco Parish, Makati
7:30AM Mass, St. John Bosco Parish Church, Makati
Reading 1 Ez 37:21-28

Thus says the Lord GOD: I will take the children of Israel from among the nations to which they have come, and gather them from all sides to bring them back to their land. I will make them one nation upon the land, in the mountains of Israel, and there shall be one prince for them all. Never again shall they be two nations, and never again shall they be divided into two kingdoms.

No longer shall they defile themselves with their idols, their abominations, and all their transgressions. I will deliver them from all their sins of apostasy, and cleanse them so that they may be my people and I may be their God. My servant David shall be prince over them, and there shall be one shepherd for them all; they shall live by my statutes and carefully observe my decrees. They shall live on the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where their fathers lived; they shall live on it forever, they, and their children, and their children’s children, with my servant David their prince forever. I will make with them a covenant of peace;
it shall be an everlasting covenant with them, and I will multiply them, and put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling shall be with them; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Thus the nations shall know that it is I, the LORD, who make Israel holy, when my sanctuary shall be set up among them forever.

Responsorial Psalm Jer 31:10, 11-12abcd, 13

R. (see 10d) The Lord will guard us, as a shepherd guards his flock.
Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,
proclaim it on distant isles, and say:
He who scattered Israel, now gathers them together,
he guards them as a shepherd his flock.
R. The Lord will guard us, as a shepherd guards his flock.
The LORD shall ransom Jacob,
he shall redeem him from the hand of his conqueror.
Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion,
they shall come streaming to the LORD’s blessings:
The grain, the wine, and the oil,
the sheep and the oxen.
R. The Lord will guard us, as a shepherd guards his flock.
Then the virgins shall make merry and dance,
and young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into joy,
I will console and gladden them after their sorrows.
R. The Lord will guard us, as a shepherd guards his flock.

Gospel Jn 11:45-56

Many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what Jesus had done began to believe in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and said, “What are we going to do?  This man is performing many signs. If we leave him alone, all will believe in him, and the Romans will come
and take away both our land and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing, nor do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish.” He did not say this on his own, but since he was high priest for that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God. So from that day on they planned to kill him.

So Jesus no longer walked about in public among the Jews, but he left for the region near the desert, to a town called Ephraim, and there he remained with his disciples.

Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before Passover to purify themselves. They looked for Jesus and said to one another as they were in the temple area, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast?”


Good morning to everyone. 

My dear brothers and sisters, we just received this circular from the Archdiocese of Manila telling all of us that today, March 23, we have the liturgical commemoration of St. Pedro Calungsod. It should be tomorrow, but since tomorrow is Palm Sunday, it has been transferred the day before, and it is today. 

Allow me to refresh you once again regarding this great Filipino martyr saint by the name of Pedro Calungsod. Very little is known about him. We do not even know how he looked like. It is said that the official portrait of the saint was modeled after Ronald Tubid. Personally, I do not know the basketball player from the PBA; perhaps some of you know him. 

We do not also know where he really came from, but there are at least four towns in the Visayas, claiming him to be their 'son'. Typically Filipino - each one would like to claim someone great for their own. 2 towns in Cebu, Loboc in Bohol, and Leon in Iloilo. So the Cebuanos and the Ilonggos are now fighting and saying "He belongs to us." Cebu and Bohol are rated more probable as places of origin of Pedro Calungsod. But Leon in Iloilo rates the highest in probability. What is indisputable is Pedro Calungsod was a Visayan and a young man. He was known as 'joven Visayan' - the young Visayan. And all the documents of the times say this repeatedly, that he belonged to the Diocese of Cebu. At that time, all the Visayas - Eastern and Western - and even the island of Guam, belonged to the Diocese of Cebu. 

Our saint was a brown-skinned native. It doesn't really matter if he was ultimately from Cebu, from Bohol, or from Iloilo. All the Visayans can rightly claim him as their own. But if we, Filipinos, were to claim San Pedro Calungsod as our own, we should allow his works and examples to transform our very own lives, and become better persons, outstanding Filipinos, and authentic Christians. What is the use of having two martyrs as Filipinos, when we are not able to become like them? So what are we proud of, anyway? In what way have their lives influenced our very own lives as Filipinos? I think that it is just proper that if we are proud to have these particular men as our saints, the consequence should be, that we are transformed by them, to become really better Christians. 

Pedro did not become a martyr and a saint overnight. His courage to die for the faith was the fruit of his day-to-day openness to the teachings and examples of his Jesuit mentors who were responsible for his formation. I don't think that is difficult to practice. We have our mentor, the Lord. And all we have to do is, with perserverance, we should obey the Lord's teachings in our daily life. That is how we grow in our quest for holiness. 

St. Pedro Calungsod was a missionary by vocation. He answered the call of Father Diego Luis de Sanvitores to join him on a mission trip to Guam. And it is said that Pedro left the Philippines at the age of either 13 or 14. Pedro was a 'jack of all trades'. He served as catechist, a sacristan, and a bearer of baskets and provision bags on mission journeys. He was an all-around worker in the mission, which is another secret of his holiness. It was in doing these little things with great humility, faith and love, that Pedro Calungsod sanctified himself. 

Pedro is actually telling us that you do not have to press for great things to transform yourself and become a better person. Simply do your ordinary duties extraordinarily well, and that is already a secret to become a better person. 

It is good to remind ourselves today on his feast that we are all missionaries, not by vocation, but by baptism. By baptism, we are mandated to fulfill the essence of our faith. And what is the essence of our faith? To love one another as Jesus loves us. By means of this, everyone will know that we are truly Christians, that we are disciples of Jesus. 

We can be missionaries in our own family. I am asking you now. How is your family? Are you, parents, still true to your vow to journey in holiness, as husband and wife? Are you catechists to your children? What are you teaching your children? That is being part of being a missionary in the family. But how can you teach your children, when you yourselves are not studying your Christian faith? I guess many parents are forgetting that they are also catechists like St. Pedro Calungsod. Are your children recipients of your holiness, in your words and examples? And are your children proud of you and they say that 'my mom and dad are really good parents'? What is it of Christ in you, that you are able to share with them?

We are in the season of Lent, and it is good to examine and ask ourselves - what is it of Christ that I have acquired so far? I am 55 years old, I am 65 years old. What is it of Christ that, through these years, I can really say is a part of me? It would truly be very unfortunate if we are growing in age, but not in holiness. 

We can be missionaries with our friends. Are you better persons when you are with them? Or are you better persons when you are NOT with them? That will be very unfortunate indeed. We can be missionaries within our Christian community. Do your Christian brothers and sisters feel the warmth of your being a Christian? Do they see you as a hardworking, respectful, joyful, prayerful member of your Christian community? Many converts have come to the church because their lives have been touched by the goodness of Catholic men and women who lived Christ's teachings in their daily, ordinary lives. 

My dear brothers and sisters, today is, indeed, a day of rejoicing for all of us Filipinos. But let us not just be proud of having another Filipino declared as saint on the altar. May the life of San Pedro Calungsod be an inspiration for us to become obedient sons and daughters of our Catholic church, having a communal intent in the transformation of the spiritual and moral lives of our fellow Filipinos. 

My word of God for you this morning is this: We are all called to martyrdom. St. Pedro Calungsod was a martyr by intensity. We are all martyrs by duration. 

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.