Saturday, May 18, 2013

Gospel Reflection

May 18, 2013
Saturday – Year of Faith – Easter Season
Pentecost Sunday at the Vigil Mass
by Cardinal Gaudencio Borbon Rosales, Archbishop Emeritus of Manila
12:00 noon Mass, 2013 Liturgical Congress, SM Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City


Reading 1 Gn 11:1-9

The whole world spoke the same language, using the same words. While the people were migrating in the east, they came upon a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another, “Come, let us mold bricks and harden them with fire.” They used bricks for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky, and so make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth.”

The LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the people had built. Then the LORD said: “If now, while they are one people, all speaking the same language, they have started to do this, nothing will later stop them from doing whatever they presume to do. Let us then go down there and confuse their language, so that one will not understand what another says.” Thus the LORD scattered them from there all over the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the speech of all the world. It was from that place that he scattered them all over the earth.

Moses went up the mountain to God. Then the LORD called to him and said, “Thus shall you say to the house of Jacob; tell the Israelites: You have seen for yourselves how I treated the Egyptians and how I bore you up on eagle wings and brought you here to myself. Therefore, if you hearken to my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my special possession, dearer to me than all other people, though all the earth is mine. You shall be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. That is what you must tell the Israelites.” So Moses went and summoned the elders of the people. When he set before them all that the LORD had ordered him to tell them, the people all answered together, “Everything the LORD has said, we will do.”

On the morning of the third day there were peals of thunder and lightning, and a heavy cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. But Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stationed themselves at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was all wrapped in smoke, for the LORD came down upon it in fire. The smoke rose from it as though from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. The trumpet blast grew louder and louder, while Moses was speaking, and God answering him with thunder.

When the LORD came down to the top of Mount Sinai, he summoned Moses to the top of the mountain.

The hand of the LORD came upon me, and he led me out in the spirit of the LORD and set me in the center of the plain, which was now filled with bones. He made me walk among the bones in every direction so that I saw how many they were on the surface of the plain. How dry they were! He asked me: Son of man, can these bones come to life? I answered, “Lord GOD, you alone know that.” Then he said to me: Prophesy over these bones, and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: See! I will bring spirit into you, that you may come to life. I will put sinews upon you, make flesh grow over you, cover you with skin, and put spirit in you so that you may come to life and know that I am the LORD. I, Ezekiel, prophesied as I had been told, and even as I was prophesying I heard a noise; it was a rattling as the bones came together, bone joining bone. I saw the sinews and the flesh come upon them, and the skin cover them, but there was no spirit in them. Then the LORD said to me: Prophesy to the spirit, prophesy, son of man, and say to the spirit: Thus says the Lord GOD: From the four winds come, O spirit, and breathe into these slain that they may come to life. I prophesied as he told me, and the spirit came into them; they came alive and stood upright, a vast army. Then he said to me: Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They have been saying, “Our bones are dried up, our hope is lost, and we are cut off.” Therefore, prophesy and say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD: O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people! I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land; thus you shall know that I am the LORD. I have promised, and I will do it, says the LORD.

Thus says the LORD: I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh. Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; even upon the servants and the handmaids, in those days, I will pour out my spirit. And I will work wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood, fire, and columns of smoke; the sun will be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, at the coming of the day of the LORD, the great and terrible day. Then everyone shall be rescued who calls on the name of the LORD; for on Mount Zion there shall be a remnant, as the LORD has said, and in Jerusalem survivors whom the LORD shall call.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 104:1-2, 24, 35, 27-28, 29, 30 

R. (cf. 30) Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
R. Alleluia.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
You are clothed with majesty and glory,
robed in light as with a cloak.
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
R. Alleluia.
How manifold are your works, O LORD!
In wisdom you have wrought them all—
the earth is full of your creatures;
bless the LORD, O my soul! Alleluia.
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
R. Alleluia.
Creatures all look to you
to give them food in due time.
When you give it to them, they gather it;
when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
R. Alleluia.
If you take away their breath, they perish
and return to their dust.
When you send forth your spirit, they are created,
and you renew the face of the earth.
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 Rom 8:22-27

Brothers and sisters: We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.

In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.

Gospel Jn 7:37-39

On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and exclaimed, “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. As Scripture says: Rivers of living water will flow from within him who believes in me.”

He said this in reference to the Spirit that those who came to believe in him were to receive. There was, of course, no Spirit yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.


Sisters, brothers, dear friends, members of the ministries linked with the unique, inimitable prayer of the Christian Catholic to the Father, which is the Eucharist...we are just a few hours away from the great celebration of the Feast of the Holy Spirit, Pentecost. Literally, just a few hours away. And we start our reflection with this. Confusion begins or exists in the absence of a spirit. 

In the first book of the Bible, Genesis, the first Chapter says that there was confusion and disorder on the earth, and the Spirit was hovering over that confusion. Not yet touched by the Spirit of God, there was a void; there was disorder. But the voice of God, the will of God says, "Let there be light...water...clouds, the sea...and the rest of creation...." Let the Spirit touch and you have new beings, new creation. But Genesis 1 began with disorder because of the absence of the Spirit. There was confusion, there was no Spirit. 

The First Reading said differently. There was disorder, there was confusion. But this time, the confusion was created by man, by the ambition by human persons wanting to reach God, that they built the tower of what we call Babel. Built by ambition, built by greed, built by hunger to be famous, built by the selfish ambition of human beings. 

This is a good way to start our reflection. And I don't need to refer to what's happening in the world, or to our communities. The confusion this time, is different. It is man-made. I don't want to make any accusations but the reflections will make the accusations. 

The Gospel says, "Not yet, the Spirit that will unite all these...." And those that will give man satisfaction - peace, hope, love, unity - not yet. And it is because Christ has not yet been glorified. That's how the Gospel read by Reverend Deacon ended. Wala pa, hindi pa dumadating. We are still waiting for it. 

Well, you're all here, together with your priests. What are you waiting for? And I think it is a good way to celebrate the Feast Day tomorrow, and to find your given tasks within your church or ministry. 

In the beginning of this Eucharist, we started by saying that we are part of the unique and inimitable prayer of Jesus. Somehow, you are linked with the prayer of Jesus Christ. All of us are part of the prayer of Jesus. Some are readers, some are greeters, some are choir members, some are those engaged in altar services. Name it, whatever you have in your parishes. Somehow you are linked. You are here because you are linked with the formal, public, official prayer of the Church to our Father in heaven. 

What is that prayer? You call it the mass. It is the mass of Jesus. What is the mass? It is the Eucharist of Jesus. It is not the Eucharist of the people. It is Christ offering Himself again to the Father, and somehow, we are all linked with it - the Eucharist, the highest form of official and public worship of the Church to our Father. It is from there, that we are here. We are part of Christ's offering. And our prayer becomes the prayer of Jesus. Our presence becomes the sacrifice offered by Jesus, because the Eucharist is the perpetuation of the sacrifice of Jesus - flesh and blood offered to the Father. Yes, He made that, even before He made the commitment, even before He actually gave up His life in Calvary on the cross. Already, the night before, He committed Himself to that prayer, to that sacrifice. And He did it in the form that we now have at the altar. 

You see....using bread and wine not only signifies Jesus' flesh and blood, but it gives to God, and to you and to me, that visible sign that He said, "Take this and eat." Somehow, all of us are linked to that. You are linked with the Eucharist of Christ, even before you have ever made the offering of yourself. The moment you are present in the Church, you are part of the offering of Christ. Like it or not. When Christ made that offering in Calvary, whether you are conscious of it at this moment or later on when you begin to see Christ with the help of the Spirit, God's sacrifice was for you and me, for all of us. And thank God, this noon, you are here. Because somehow, you are linked with this sacrifice of Christ, to which we are directed. And from there we get our strength. 
The beauty of being part of Christ is that we create who Christ was to His disciples. When Jesus taught His disciples, and they began listening to Him, when they became Apostles and accompanied Christ and became witnesses of His miracles, and listened to His words, and were touched by His embrace...while helping Christ, there was something happening to the Apostles. Walking with Christ, listening to Christ, seeing Christ. You know what? They slowly began to know Jesus Christ. They recognized Christ because they are close to Christ. One of them even declared that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. 

To all of you here, when you accompany Christ, somehow you will know His identity. Sino ba Siya sa iyo? The Apostles were frequent companions of Jesus. They knew who Christ was. He is the Lord, the Son of the Living God. Alam ninyo, the ordinariness of your role in the Eucharist, stay longer with Jesus. Accompany Him in His celebrations. And like the Apostles, you will know that He is the Lord. Try it. It is exactly what happened to you. How long have you been in what you do now, let's say, as a reader, a greeter, a collector, a Eucharistic minister? You know Christ better now than before you joined. A true minister will notice that. Just like what the true Apostle said, "You are the Christ." 

That is the bonus, or shall we call it the gift or the grace of doing ministry in the Church. Like the Apostles, you will know Christ better. Thank God we have this reunion or whatever they call it. Thank God for Father Genny Diwa for convening this, if only to let you know, if only to thank you for what you are doing in the Church. And we do that in this Eucharist. Remember, if only you will continue to serve just like the Apostles, you will know Christ better. 

This is the reason why we are all here. We continue the Eucharist, the prayer of Jesus. This is His prayer and offering. So every time you join and serve in the Eucharist, you are part, not only of the celebration, but of the offering of Christ. Enjoy that privilege. And ask the good Lord, as He did to the Apostles and the disciples. He will continue to bless you - your life, your livelihood, your ministry, your community, your family. And why not the whole Church? May God continue to do that as a favor and as a gift. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.