Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Gospel Reflection

April 24, 2013
Wednesday – Year of Faith – Easter Season
by Rev.  Fr. Joel Jason (Dean, Graduate School of Theology San Carlos Seminary)
12:15PM Mass at Megamall, Chapel of the Eucharistic Lord
Reading 1 Acts 12:24—13:5a

The word of God continued to spread and grow.

After Barnabas and Saul completed their relief mission, they returned to Jerusalem, taking with them John, who is called Mark.

Now there were in the Church at Antioch prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Symeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who was a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, completing their fasting and prayer, they laid hands on them and sent them off.

So they, sent forth by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and from there sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived in Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues.

Responsorial Psalm PS 67:2-3, 5, 6 and 8

R. (4) O God, let all the nations praise you!
R. Alleluia.
May God have pity on us and bless us;
may he let his face shine upon us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
among all nations, your salvation.
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
R. Alleluia.
May the nations be glad and exult
because you rule the peoples in equity;
the nations on the earth you guide.
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
R. Alleluia.
May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you!
May God bless us,
and may all the ends of the earth fear him!
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
R. Alleluia.

Gospel Jn 12:44-50

Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me. I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness. And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world.  Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day, because I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So what I say, I say as the Father told me.”


Magandang tanghali po sa inyong lahat.

In our First Reading for today taken from the Acts of the Apostles, we are told of the slow but sure growth of the Church. After the Resurrection of the Lord, the Apostles were sent to preach the Christian Gospel. And slowly but surely, the Gospel of Christ began to spread in different places.

In our First Reading for today, we hear the story of Paul and Barnabas. But while I was meditating on this Reading last night, one phrase caught my attention. According to the Reading, the Holy Spirit spoke, and it said, "Set apart Paul and Barnabas for the work that I will give them." Set them apart. Kumbaga our common language, i-reserve ninyo, itabi ninyo, dahil meron silang gagawing mahalaga.

You know, holiness is precisely that. When you look at the original Hebrew word for 'holiness', it comes from the word 'hagios'. That is why when you study the different lives of the saints, it is called hagiography. In Greek, the word is 'sacra' or sacred. But what is the common thing that we can find in the words hagios and sacra? Both of them mean 'holy' or 'sacred'. But when you look at the dictionary, there is a primary meaning. Dalawa talaga ang ibig sabihin niya. Ang unang-una, 'to set apart', and then only secondly, 'to become holy'.

I think we can learn from that definition. Why? You can only become holy when you first set apart. Tayo ay magiging banal kapag ang unang ginawa natin ay tayo ay mag-iisang-tabi muna, o tayo ay magre-reserve muna.

Yesterday, I was attending a prayer meeting. And there was one woman who was making her testimony. She said that in her daily life at home, she sets apart a particular time of the day to pray. And during that time, no one can disturb her. Not even her children. Her children know that that time is set apart for the Lord. All throughout the day, they can disturb her, but during that particular time, they know that it is set apart for the Lord.

Ganoon naman talaga ang una, eh. Paano ba tayo magiging banal? Kailangang mag-set aside muna tayo. Sasabihin natin, "Panginoon, itong panahong ito ay para sa iyo lamang."" But one thing that caught my attention in the sharing of that woman is that she said, "I do not only set apart. I protect that time, and I honor that time." 'Yon pala ang maganda ring gawin natin. We do not only set aside a time for the Lord. We also must protect it. And after protecting it, we must also honor it.

I'm sure all of you here set aside a particular time for your spiritual life. For example, bakit kayo nandidito? You are setting aside time for the Lord. Sa dinami-dami ng inyong schedule, sinasabi ninyo, "Panginoon, itong oras na ito ay gagamitin ko, para ako maka-attend ng banal na misa." So that's already the first step. You have already set something aside.

But something important needs to be added. We need to protect it. Kailangan nating ingatan iyon. And what does it mean to protect it? Ibig sabihin, hindi ka gagawa ng mga bagay-bagay na ma-e-endanger 'yon. And then after protecting it, you have to honor it. Kahit na ano'ng mangyari, ito ay aking igagalang. Ito'y aking kikilalanin.

Kaya lang ano ang nagiging problema minsan? Pag may mga bagay na dumarating, ang unang unang nawawala sa atin ay 'yong mga bagay na para sa Panginoon. Many times, when I hear confession, people will tell me, "Father, I missed Sunday mass." And then if I ask them, "May I know the reason why you were not able to go to Sunday mass?" "Ah, because Father last Sunday we went to the mall. And because we watched a movie and went shopping, naubusan na po kami ng panahon." Sometimes, when something comes up, ano 'yong unang unang nahuhuli? Nahuhuli 'yong mga bagay-bagay na para sa Panginoon. Why? Because we do not protect it, and we do not honor it.

It is not enough that we set things aside for the Lord. We also need to protect it, and we also need to honor it. And I am talking here, not only about time. Kasi marami tayong bagay na dapat ingatan. Halimbawa 'yong prayer ni St. Ignatius. Sabi niya, "Take, O Lord, my mind, my will, my memory, my understanding." 'Yon palang mga bagay na 'yon, dapat din nating i-set aside. Lord, I set aside my mind, only for the things that are holy. Lord. I set aside my heart, my desires, only for the things that are holy. And I wish to protect it, and I wish to honor it. So at the end of the day, ano'ng sinasabi natin sa Panginoon? Just like the prayer of St. Ignatius, "Lord, take away my mind, my will, my memory. Everything, I offer them to you." When we do that, then we are already on the road to holiness.

As we continue with this Holy mass, let that be the grace that we will ask from the Lord. That we may become more generous to the Lord. And let us ask for the grace and perseverance, that we may protect our promise to God, and more importantly, honor all our promises to God. Amen.