Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Gospel Reflection

March 26, 2013
Holy Tuesday – Year of Faith – Lenten Seasons
Holy Week
by Rev. Fr. Jason H. Laguerta, Parish Priest, Holy Cross Parish, J.P. Rizal, Makati
7:00PM Mass at Sto. Nino de Paz Chapel, Greenbelt Makati
Reading 1 Is 49:1-6

Hear me, O islands, listen, O distant peoples. The LORD called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm. He made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me. You are my servant, he said to me, Israel, through whom I show my glory.

Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength, Yet my reward is with the LORD, my recompense is with my God. For now the LORD has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb, That Jacob may be brought back to him and Israel gathered to him; And I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD, and my God is now my strength! It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

R. (see 15ab) I will sing of your salvation.
In you, O LORD, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me, and deliver me;
incline your ear to me, and save me.
R. I will sing of your salvation.
Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked.
R. I will sing of your salvation.
For you are my hope, O Lord;
my trust, O God, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
from my mother’s womb you are my strength.
R. I will sing of your salvation.
My mouth shall declare your justice,
day by day your salvation.
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.
R. I will sing of your salvation.

Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant. One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus’ side. So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant. He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him,
“Master, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.” So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him. So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him. Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or to give something to the poor. So Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night.

When he had left, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.”

Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now,
though you will follow later.” Peter said to him, “Master, why can I not follow you now?  I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.”


If we are to summarize the Gospel reading today as well all the readings this Holy Week, we will find it in the verse that said, "And it was night." Indeed, these days of the Holy Week, no matter how clear the sky is, or the sun rises, whether it is high noon or early afternoon, it is still night. This entire week is called 'night' or 'in the dark' because all that Jesus had to endure in order to save us, happened in these days that we call the Holy Week. 

It is all night because during these days, Jesus will finally meet His persecutors and tormentors, and eventually, would meet His end. This is all night. Beginning on Palm Sunday, yes, there was joy, there was much rejoicing when the people welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem. But deep in the heart of Jesus that day, before He entered Jerusalem, He already knew what will happen. When He was at the Mount of Olives, while looking at the city of Jerusalem, before He finally entered it, He cried, He wept, not for the city, but because He knew that the city will reject Him. And He will eventually find His end within the city of Jerusalem.

Therefore, it was all night for Jesus, because He was filled, perhaps with anxiety, with fear perhaps, and of course, with the knowledge that even His disciples whom He knew will betray Him. In the conversation in our Gospel reading today between Jesus and His disciples, He was telling them, "One of you will betray me."  If you take a look at it closely, you will find there a master, a friend, who is, in one way or another, appealing to His friends not to do it against Him. And yet He knew there will be someone who will betray Him. He knew that this 12 before Him will betray and leave Him. 

Not even John came up clean. Why? Because in the Gospel that we have heard, it was only John who knew who will betray Jesus. Remember, he asked the Lord, "Lord, who is it that will betray You?" And the Lord whispered to John, "It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it." John knew it was Judas, because it was to him that Jesus handed the morsel. The rest did not know anything about it, because they, in one way or another, did not hear the conversation between Jesus and John. Yet, John did not do anything about it, even with the knowledge that Judas will betray the Lord. 

When Judas went out of the Last Supper room, when he went into the night, there was one who knew why He went out. Not the other 10, but John knew. However, he did not do anything about it. So each and every one of Jesus' disciples had, in one way or another, allowed these things to happen to their Master. In one way or another, everyone deserted the Lord in His moment of need, in His moment of loneliness.

It was night. It was the most difficult night for the Lord when He went to Calvary. It was the most difficult night for the Lord, when He was acclaimed by the people, but eventually deserted by His friends. It was all night. 

And many times in our lives, we also go through all night, when everything is always night. Whatever we do, it is dark. Whatever is happening, there is no sense, there is no ray of light, not even a hint of hope. All night, everything dark. This is how we describe the Holy Week before Easter. 

So we journey with Jesus, my dear friends, in Calvary. Let us enter into this darkness for Jesus. Let us enter into this darkness, and experience once again how sad and lonely it was for the Lord. How painful it was for the Lord to see His friends go away. Let us be with the Lord in these nights, so that as we feel His isolation and sadness, we also begin to decipher the courage that He was trying to muster in His heart, trying to hang on and trying to tell the Father, "Let this cup pass Me by, but still Your will be done." As Jesus was still trying to grapple with that, trying to grapple with a decision, whether to go on or go out of Jerusalem and go back to His simple life in Nazareth, let us journey with Jesus. These are all nights for the Lord. 

And so we are here as silent witnesses. Let us try to see how the Lord handles His Cross so that by observing how He moves while He is in the dark, we will also learn how to handle our darkness, the nights of our lives. We are here, dear friends. We are in the Holy Week once more, to listen and observe, to journey and to be there with the Lord. Let us enter into that story. Let us enter into that night, so that we may understand what it means to rise above the darkness, and what it means to embrace the light once more. 

If you enter into the night with the Lord, then you will know how different it is when the light comes. It is night. And we are in the middle of it all. It is all dark. So, we journey with Jesus. We try to be patient. We try to observe carefully. We try to be there for Him. Even if His friends have abandoned Him, we try, in one way or another, as much as possible, to be one with the Lord.

We are here, dear friends, in this mass of Holy Tuesday. My invitation for all of you is that, whatever you do this Holy Week, try to go inside the church, join the celebrations, and try to remember this beautiful story of salvation. This love of God that has found Him dying on the Cross. And eventually, this God will be victorious, as He overcomes the darkness of our lives. We shall also be one with Him when He welcomes the light of a new day. 

Brothers and sisters, let us journey with the Lord. Agonize with Him. Be crucified with Him. So that we would know what it means to rise again. We are in the night of the life of Jesus. We are in the dark with Him. So be it. Because by learning how to navigate the darkness, we also learn how to deal with the darkness of our lives.