Thursday, May 9, 2013

Gospel Reflection

May 09, 2013
Thursday – Year of Faith – Easter Season
by Rev. Fr. Rufino "Jun" C. Sescon, Jr. - Chaplain, Sto. Nino de Paz Chapel (Greenbelt Chapel), Makati
5:45PM Mass at Sto. Nino de Paz Chapel, (Greenbelt Chapel) Makati


Reading 1 Acts 18:1-8

Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. He went to visit them and, because he practiced the same trade, stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. Every sabbath, he entered into discussions in the synagogue, attempting to convince both Jews and Greeks.

When Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began to occupy himself totally with preaching the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. When they opposed him and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your heads! I am clear of responsibility.  From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” So he left there and went to a house belonging to a man named Titus Justus, a worshiper of God; his house was next to a synagogue. Crispus, the synagogue official, came to believe in the Lord along with his entire household, and many of the Corinthians who heard believed and were baptized.

Responsorial Psalm PS 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4

R. (see 2b) The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
R. Alleluia.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
R. Alleluia.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
R. Alleluia.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
R. Alleluia.

Gospel Jn 16:16-20

Jesus said to his disciples:  “A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me.” So some of his disciples said to one another, “What does this mean that he is saying to us, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” So they said, “What is this ‘little while’ of which he speaks? We do not know what he means.”  Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Are you discussing with one another what I said, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.”


St. Ignatius of Loyola developed what we now call the spiritual exercises. It is a series of retreats, reflections and examination of conscience. And it was a fruit of his own spiritual journey. Ignatius started as a soldier, living a very worldly life. And when he was struck by a canon ball that made him bed-ridden for a long time, that was the moment he reflected on life. It was then that he realized the cycle of life. He realized that when he wanted to enjoy the ways of the world - money, women, power - yes, he was happy. But then he said, after a while, he is not happy again. He said that the happiness of this world seems to fade away, as he continues. 

On the other hand, Ignatius said that with the Lord, there is desolation, there is emptiness, but once you experience that peace of God, that joy of the Lord, he said that it is longer, it is more sustaining. So that is why he said it is a choice of where you really want to be happy, and which happiness really would persist. Yes, you drink a lot, and you will feel happy. But when you wake up in the morning, all you have is hang-over, and the problem is back. Yes, there is happiness, but only for a while. 

That is why St. Ignatius says that it is a choice on what consolation do you really want. A temporary consolation? Yes, all of us will have desolation. But what kind of desolation would you want? A temporary desolation? That is why the advice of St. Ignatius is, in moments of desolation, remember consolation. And in moments of consolation, remember desolation. 

What does it mean? In moments when you are happy, in moments of consolation, remember that there is desolation, because that will make you more humble and rooted in reality. Totoo naman ho 'yon, di ba, dahil minsan, sa sobrang saya natin sa buhay, akala mo magtatagal 'yong saya mo, nakalimutan mo kung papaano ang totoong buhay. Minsan gastos ka nang gastos hanggang sa magising ka na lang isang umaga, sa bandang huli, ubos na ang lahat ng pera mo, may utang ka pa. 

On the other hand, in moments of desolation, perhaps, for example, you are working hard, remember consolation. And that's the time, you will realize afterwards, your hard work paid off. And now you are reaping the rewards of your hard work. So St. Ignatius says, learn the balance of life, and learn which is more permanent. Siguro nga, nahihirapan ka sa trabaho mo, but because you persist, then the consolation of life, the consolation cycle will come in. Ayaw mong masaktan, siguro nga umiiwas ka, o sandali lang, mare-realize mo na hindi ka rin sasaya nang matagalan dahil ayaw mong masaktan. 

In our Gospel today, Jesus used the analogy of a woman giving birth. I remember there was a doctor who said, that there is now painless normal delivery. Wala nang masakit, hindi katulad dati. During the time of our Lord, anesthesia was not yet fully developed, so maririnig mo siguro ang mga humihiyaw na mga nanay na nanganganak. But a better analogy that I now see, and I myself experienced, is the analogy of physical therapy. I myself underwent that when I got operated on the shoulder. When the therapist will tell me to stretch, it is so painful and I will resist. And the doctor said, "Alright Father, if you don't want to stretch it, you will not be in pain. But you will not also be completely healed. But if you stretch it, yes, there is momentary pain. But there is a longer relief later on." 

And that is very true with life. There is momentary pain, a momentary challenge, a momentary setback, but if we persevere with the Lord, the longer consolation takes place. 

In the First Reading, that is what St. Paul experienced. He was preaching with much fervor, but he was rejected by the Jews. That is why St. Paul said, from now on he will go to the Gentiles. St. Paul experienced rejection, desolation, pain. But then he said he believes the Lord. This is momentary, this is not permanent. And that is why when he went to the Gentiles, he succeeded. Desolation became consolation. Jesus said, 'your grief will become joy'. 

We want to choose joy, most of the time, in life. We want to enjoy, most of the time in life. Sometimes, those choices are just temporary. When we wake up, the hang-over, the debts, the problems are there. But the consolation with the Lord....maybe at the beginning it will be painful, it will be difficult. But what St. Ignatius realized is when that joy and peace comes, it is lasting, it is permanent, it is deeper. 

And so as we continue with this mass, we pray for that grace. Na sa buhay natin, Lord, sana po, ituro N'yo sa amin, hindi lang ang panandaliang saya, ang panandaliang ginhawa, panandaliang kayamanan. Lord, ituro N'yo po sa amin, 'yong talagang makapagbibigay lunas sa aming buhay. 'Yong talagang makapagbibigay kahulugan, makapagbibigay ng kapayapaan. At sa mga sandaling kami ay sinusubok at nahihirapan, ipaalala N'yo rin sa amin Panginoon, hindi po ito magtatagal. Sapagkat meron pang nakalaan na tunay na kaligayahan para sa aming lahat. Amen.