Thursday, April 4, 2013

Gospel Reflection

April 04, 2013
Thursday – Year of Faith – Easter Season
In the Octave of Easter
by Rev. Fr. Roberto 'Bert' V. Fabillo, LRMS (Parochial Vicar, St. Peter the Apostle Parish Church, Paco, Manila)
12:15PM Mass at Sto. Nino de Paz Chapel, Greenbelt Makati
Reading 1 Acts 3:11-26

As the crippled man who had been cured clung to Peter and John, all the people hurried in amazement toward them in the portico called “Solomon’s Portico.” When Peter saw this, he addressed the people, “You children of Israel, why are you amazed at this, and why do you look so intently at us as if we had made him walk by our own power or piety? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence, when he had decided to release him. You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses. And by faith in his name, this man, whom you see and know, his name has made strong, and the faith that comes through it has given him this perfect health,
in the presence of all of you. Now I know, brothers and sisters, that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did; but God has thus brought to fulfillment what he had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer. Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away, and that the Lord may grant you times of refreshment and send you the Christ already appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the times of universal restoration of which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.
For Moses said: A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you from among your own kin; to him you shall listen in all that he may say to you. Everyone who does not listen to that prophet will be cut off from the people.

“Moreover, all the prophets who spoke, from Samuel and those afterwards, also announced these days. You are the children of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your ancestors when he said to Abraham, In your offspring all the families of the earth shall be blessed. For you first, God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 8:2ab and 5, 6-7, 8-9

R. (2ab) O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
R. Alleluia.
O LORD, our Lord,
how glorious is your name over all the earth!
What is man that you should be mindful of him,
or the son of man that you should care for him?
R. O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
R. Alleluia.
You have made him little less than the angels,
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him rule over the works of your hands,
putting all things under his feet.
R. O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
R. Alleluia.
All sheep and oxen,
yes, and the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air, the fishes of the sea,
and whatever swims the paths of the seas.
R. O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
R. Alleluia.

Gospel Lk 24:35-48

The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place along the way, and how they had come to recognize him in the breaking of bread.

While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.” And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.

He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”


I thought that this sense of pity for Christ, the sense for loneliness for what happened to Christ was already over during the Holy Week and Easter Sunday.

But while I was reflecting on today's Gospel my dear friends, this sense of pity for Christ once again reverberated in my heart. Because after suffering and dying on the Cross alone, here is Jesus alive, but now He is trying to prove to His disciples and apostles that it is He, indeed, who rose from the dead.

Yesterday, Jesus talked to His two disciples on the way to Emmaus and allowed them to recognize Him in the breaking of bread. Why? It is to awaken them, to convince them that indeed, He is alive. He did the same thing to His Apostles - showing them His hands and His feet. The pressure is still on Jesus, to prove to His followers that He rose from the dead. "It is I....It is I...." Aside from showing His wounds, Jesus had to eat in front of them, to let them know that He is alive, and to prove that all that has been said in Scripture is true.
But Jesus' effort to convince his disciples had an effect in their lives. It arose in them, not only acceptance, but true, deep conviction - a change of the will and point of view. Because of this conviction that the Lord is alive, Jesus' disciples were no longer afraid of the dark, as they know that there was Jesus, the Light. Isn't it that during the Easter Vigil celebration, the priest or the deacon who holds the candle sings or shouts, "Lumen Christi!"? It means "Christ the Light". That is why the disciples from Emmaus went back to Jerusalem, because they know that Jesus the Light will guide them. What happened to Jesus' apostles who were now in one house together with the two disciples from Emmaus? While they were conversing about Jesus, there came Jesus, who seconded to the truth of the testimony of the two disciples.
In our First Reading, we can see that Peter has become a different person. If you have seen Peter before and during the crucifixion, you will see that he is a different person, now boldly proclaiming that indeed, Jesus is alive. In Jesus' name, His disciples have become bonded together in proclaiming the Good News. And this is where we Catholics are weak. We are not closely bonded. In my fifteen years of priesthood, I have encountered and talked to Catholics who have become born again, and one of the common denominators for their conversion is that they never felt that sense of belongingness whenever they worshipped Christ. In their community, they don't feel alienated; they feel united in faith and in action. Sa atin iba. "Bahala ka diyan. Maupo ka diyan. Basta ako maghahanap ng kakilala ko. Dapat kakilala ko ang aking katabi, at baka pagnakawan ako."
This is one of the lessons that we should learn from Jesus' apostles. Because they believed in Jesus, they were closely bonded together. They were no longer separated from one another, they helped one another. In fact, that is the first teaching that they shared with the first Christians. They gathered together in the name of Christ, as one community, and they broke bread in the name of Christ. The apostles, with their deep conviction and strong faith, testified for Christ. And their testimony has reached us. We hope and pray that like them, we will also be united as Catholics in the name of Christ. Instead of focusing on our individuality, let us look at each other's strength on how we can show other religions or denominations that we are united in Christ. Our conviction on the Resurrected Christ should lead us to testify and to show that there is a difference between being a Catholic and a non-Catholic. We draw from Jesus' body and break bread, to share to others the Good News that Jesus is alive.