Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Gospel Reflection

June 26, 2013
Wednesday – Year of Faith – Ordinary Time
by Rev.  Fr. Joel Jason (Dean of Studies, Graduate School of Theology San Carlos Seminary)
12:15PM Mass, Chapel of the Eucharistic Lord (Megamall Chapel)


Reading 1 Gn 15:1-12, 17-18

The word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:

“Fear not, Abram! I am your shield; I will make your reward very great.”

But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what good will your gifts be, if I keep on being childless and have as my heir the steward of my house, Eliezer?” Abram continued, “See, you have given me no offspring, and so one of my servants will be my heir.” Then the word of the LORD came to him: “No, that one shall not be your heir; your own issue shall be your heir.” He took him outside and said: “Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so,” he added, “shall your descendants be.” Abram put his faith in the LORD, who credited it to him as an act of righteousness.

He then said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as a possession.” “O Lord GOD,” he asked, “how am I to know that I shall possess it?” He answered him, “Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old she-goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Abram brought him all these, split them in two, and placed each half opposite the other; but the birds he did not cut up. Birds of prey swooped down on the carcasses, but Abram stayed with them. As the sun was about to set, a trance fell upon Abram, and a deep, terrifying darkness enveloped him.

When the sun had set and it was dark, there appeared a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch, which passed between those pieces. It was on that occasion that the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River the Euphrates.”


Responsorial Psalm PS 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9

R. (8a) The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
R. Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
make known among the nations his deeds.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
proclaim all his wondrous deeds.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
R. Alleluia.
Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
Look to the LORD in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
R. Alleluia.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
R. Alleluia.
He remembers forever his covenant
which he made binding for a thousand generations—
Which he entered into with Abraham
and by his oath to Isaac.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
R. Alleluia.


Gospel Mt 7:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.”


"A good tree can't bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit."

In the Gospel for today, Jesus presents to us a very simple principle. What is outside is usually a manifestation of what is going on inside. Our Gospel does not only speak of an agriculture image. Our Gospel is actually an invitation for all of us to look into ourselves and see whether what is going on outside of us, is in correspondence with what is going on inside of us. Because it is quite possible na maganda 'yong nakikita sa ating kalabasan, pero 'yong sa ating kalooban ay nabubulok na. When that happens, we become like dead men walking, we become like zombies.

I don't know, but have you seen the movie, 'World War Z'? After this mass, go to the moviehouse and watch 'World War Z'. (laughs) It is about zombies, about people who look like people, but inside, they are actually dying already. They are already dead, and that is a tragedy. Mukha kang buhay, pero sa loob, ikaw pala ay namamatay na.

Last night, I was going through some readings, and I encountered one article that says, '10 indications that you are dying spiritually'. I will not mention 10, I will just mention 5. Pero magandang pagnilayan 'yan, ano - signs that we are already dying spiritually. Because it is possible that we are still alive, but deep inside, we are already dead spiritually.

What is the first sign? It is when the story of the Cross no longer moves you. That is a sign that you are already dying spiritually. Pwedeng mangyari 'yan. That when we look at the Cross, it no longer evokes a spirit of gratitude to God for the sacrifice that He has given us. Marami sa atin, pag nakikita natin 'yong Krus - aah....ano na lang ' Why do you wear cross? Kasi magandang tignan. Kapag nakasuot ako ng krus ay mukha akong banal. The Cross becomes simply an accessory for us, a jewelry. It is no longer a reminder of what God has done for us. So siguro magandang tignan natin - does the Cross still move you emotionally, that leads you to prayer and gratitude?

The second indication that we may be dying spiritually is when church services bore you. Pag ikaw ay nabo-bore na kapag ikaw ay nasa loob ng misa, or any form of community worship. That is a sign that you are dying spiritually. Totoo 'yan. Pag kasi tayo ay nagpupunta sa misa, minsan ano 'yong ating number one intention? Oh, I want to be entertained. And so when we go to mass, if the mass is not 'entertaining', we say it is a terrible mass. Sometimes, what is our criteria going to mass? Oh, the priest must be handsome. (laughs) The church must be beautiful; it must be air-conditioned. Buti na lang kung laging nasa Megamall kayo nagsisimba. At buti na lang kung laging Wednesday noontime mass ang inyong sinisimbahan. (laughs) Ayan baka ma-fulfill ang inyong wish na kailangang guwapo ang pari. (loud laughs) But it is possible. Baka kapag hindi gwapo 'yong pari, 'ay wala ring nangyari, walang kwenta 'yong mass na 'yon....boring'. St. Josemaria Escriva one time was asked, "Why is it that I find the mass too long?" His response was, "If you find the mass too long, that means your love is too short." Totoo, di ba? Kapag ikaw ay nagmamahal, walang mahaba, walang matagal. Kaya pag ikaw ay natatagalan sa misa, ahh...that may be a sign that you are dying spiritually.

Pangatlo, ang sabi, you are dying spiritually when you run away from opportunities to witness to your faith. 'Yon bang mga pagkakataon na itinatago natin 'yong ating pananampalataya. 'Ay, parang ayokong mag-sign of the Cross bago kumain, dito sa food court. Nakakahiya naman kapag may nakakita." O kaya naman, if you are in a conversation and the church is being attacked unnecessarily, do you take it as an opportunity to defend the faith, or maybe clarify things that will help the person understand the faith more? O ang nangyayari, "Ay nakakahiya naman, hindi na lang ako magsasalita." That may be a sign that you are already dying spiritually.

Fourth, it says, when material goods attract you more forcefully than spiritual ones. There are many false prophets now. At the beginning of the Gospel it says beware of false prophets who will come to you in sheep's clothing, who will preach to you. And who are these false prophets? O, gamitin mo ito, gaganda ka. Gamitin mo itong shampoo na ito, lalago ang buhok mo. Gamitin mo itong cream na ito, kikinis ang kutis mo. Usong-uso ngayon ang mga stem cell research na 'yan, pampaganda. Pero 'yong pagpapaganda ng kalooban, hindi natin pinakikinggan 'yon. Ang pinakikinggan lang natin ay ang mga propetang nagsasabi kung paano gaganda ang ating panlabas na anyo. Pero 'yong mga propetang nagsasabi kung paano tayo gaganda sa kalooban, hindi natin binibigyan ng pansin. Beware of these false prophets, and see whether you are attracted to these false prophets than the genuine ones.

Lastly, if the word of a celebrity interests you more than the words of Christ. That may be a sign that you are dying spiritually. Alam po ba ninyo na si Pope Francis ay may Twitter account? Sino sa inyo ang nagfa-follow kay Pope Francis? (silence) Ang Vatican ay mayroon ding Facebook account. Sino sa inyo ang nag-like na ng Facebook account na 'yon, so that you can follow the words of the Pope or of the Church? Kasi every now and then they will give out good spiritual guides. But many of us are followers of Lady Gaga. (laughs) I just discovered that Lady Gaga is the most followed celebrity in the world, with I think more than 25 million followers on Twitter. That is an indication that the world is more excited to follow the words of a celebrity than the Word of Christ. That means many of us are dying spiritually.

As we continue this Holy mass, let that be the grace that we will ask from the Lord. The Lord said that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, just as a rotten tree cannot bear good fruit. Let this be an occasion to look into ourselves. Ano na ba ang nangyayari sa aking kalooban? Am I still alive spiritually so that what people see outside will be a reflection of what's really going on inside?

As we receive the Lord later on in Holy Communion, let that be the grace that we will ask from Him - that we may be nourished and rejuvenated inside and out. Amen.