Thursday, June 6, 2013

Gospel Reflection

June 06, 2013
Thursday – Year of Faith – Ordinary Time
by Rev. Fr. Benjamin “Benjo” Fajota (Vice Rector of the EDSA Shrine)
12:15PM Mass, Mary, Queen of Peace Shrine (Our Lady of Peace Quasi Parish/EDSA Shrine)

When the angel Raphael and Tobiah had entered Media and were getting close to Ecbatana, Raphael said to the boy, “Tobiah, my brother!” He replied: “Here I am!” He said: “Tonight we must stay with Raguel, who is a relative of yours. He has a daughter named Sarah.”

So he brought him to the house of Raguel, whom they found seated by his courtyard gate. They greeted him first. He said to them, “Greetings to you too, brothers! Good health to you, and welcome!” And he brought them into his home.

Raguel slaughtered a ram from the flock and gave them a cordial reception. When they had bathed and reclined to eat, Tobiah said to Raphael, “Brother Azariah, ask Raguel to let me marry my kinswoman Sarah.” Raguel overheard the words; so he said to the boy: “Eat and drink and be merry tonight, for no man is more entitled to marry my daughter Sarah than you, brother. Besides, not even I have the right to give her to anyone but you, because you are my closest relative. But I will explain the situation to you very frankly. I have given her in marriage to seven men, all of whom were kinsmen of ours, and all died on the very night they approached her. But now, son, eat and drink. I am sure the Lord will look after you both.” Tobiah answered, “I will eat or drink nothing until you set aside what belongs to me.”

Raguel said to him: “I will do it. She is yours according to the decree of the Book of Moses. Your marriage to her has been decided in heaven! Take your kinswoman; from now on you are her love, and she is your beloved. She is yours today and ever after. And tonight, son, may the Lord of heaven prosper you both. May he grant you mercy and peace.”  Then Raguel called his daughter Sarah, and she came to him. He took her by the hand and gave her to Tobiah with the words: “Take her according to the law. According to the decree written in the Book of Moses she is your wife. Take her and bring her back safely to your father. And may the God of heaven grant both of you peace and prosperity.” Raguel then called Sarah’s mother and told her to bring a scroll, so that he might draw up a marriage contract stating that he gave Sarah to Tobiah as his wife according to the decree of the Mosaic law. Her mother brought the scroll, and Raguel drew up the contract, to which they affixed their seals.

Afterward they began to eat and drink. Later Raguel called his wife Edna and said, “My love, prepare the other bedroom and bring the girl there.” She went and made the bed in the room, as she was told, and brought the girl there. After she had cried over her, she wiped away the tears and said: “Be brave, my daughter. May the Lord grant you joy in place of your grief. Courage, my daughter.” Then she left.

When the girl’s parents left the bedroom and closed the door behind them, Tobiah arose from bed and said to his wife, “My love, get up. Let us pray and beg our Lord to have mercy on us and to grant us deliverance.” She got up, and they started to pray and beg that deliverance might be theirs. And they began to say:

“Blessed are you, O God of our fathers, praised be your name forever and ever. Let the heavens and all your creation praise you forever. You made Adam and you gave him his wife Eve to be his help and support; and from these two the human race descended. You said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; let us make him a partner like himself.’ Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine not because of lust, but for a noble purpose. Call down your mercy on me and on her, and allow us to live together to a happy old age.”

They said together, “Amen, amen,” and went to bed for the night.

Responsorial Psalm PS 128:1-2, 3, 4-5

R. (see 1a) Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Blessed are you who fear the LORD,
who walk in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
Blessed shall you be, and favored.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the recesses of your home;
Your children like olive plants
around your table.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Behold, thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Gospel Mk 12:28-34

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!  The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind,  and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, He is One and there is no other than he. And to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.


The other day, the junior, or the young clergy of the Archdiocese of Manila in which I belong had an audience with Cardinal Tagle and he shared with us this anecdote. May lumapit daw pong parokyano sa kanya at sinabi, "Your Eminence, palitan n'yo na 'yong aming parish priest. Kasi ang labo-labo niya mag-Homily. Walang linaw, magulo." Tapos sabi ni Cardinal in defense of the priest, "Eh gano'n naman po kasi ang tunay na nangyayari ngayon sa daigdig. Dapat ang Ebanghelyo ay sinasalamin 'yong tunay na pangyayari sa ating mundo sa kasalukuyan. Tingnan n'yo po ang ating mundo - magulo, walang linaw, at ang labo-labo ng mga nangyayari."

My dear brothers and sisters, our world is a changing world. Our world is full of uncertainties and doubts. And when you look at the way we perceive things, the way the world is being run right now, and our attitude toward what is happening, you will have this feeling of fear. One famous Russian novelist who was put into exile was reflecting on how his country, Russia, a country of great and rich cultural heritage, has gone into barbarism, when the communist took over. He saw all the atrocities at lahat ng paghihirap na ginawa ng mga sundalo sa kanilang mga exiles. Sabi niya, 'What has happened to this great country?' And upon reflection, he came up with his conclusion and that is because men have forgotten God.

Nakalimutan na ng tao ang Diyos. But it is also very heartening that, on the contrary, a lot of corporations are now asking the church for recollections and retreats. One top honcho of a large company said, "We would like to put God back into the board room." Nakalimutan na natin ang Diyos. Hindi na natin Siya pinag-uusapan sa ordinaryo nating pag-uusap. We talk about a lot of things and ideas, but when we are already outside the church, outside the liturgical celebrations, do we talk of God? Pinag-uusapan ba natin 'yong mga experiences natin tungkol sa Diyos, o pag lumabas na tayo ng simbahan, nakalimutan na rin natin ang Diyos?

The Jews of old would say this simple prayer in the morning, in the afternoon, and at night, before they go to bed. "The Lord our God is Lord alone." And that is the key to loving God and our neighbor - remembering that God is Lord alone. Wala nang ibang Diyos. Kaya't kung uunahin natin Siya sa ating buhay, putting our best time, energy and effort in praising and thanking God even for the little things that are blessed to us, then we will always remember that loving God is loving our neighbors. Amen.