Sunday, July 21, 2013

Gospel Reflection

July 21, 2013
Sunday – Year of Faith – Ordinary Time
by Rev. Fr. Rufino "Jun" C. Sescon, Jr. - Chaplain, Sto. Nino de Paz Chapel (Greenbelt Chapel), Makati
6:00PM Sunday Mass at Sto. Nino de Paz Chapel, (Greenbelt Chapel) Makati


Reading 1 Gn 18:1-10a

The LORD appeared to Abraham by the terebinth of Mamre, as he sat in the entrance of his tent, while the day was growing hot.  Looking up, Abraham saw three men standing nearby.  When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them; and bowing to the ground, he said: “Sir, if I may ask you this favor, please do not go on past your servant.  Let some water be brought, that you may bathe your feet, and then rest yourselves under the tree.  Now that you have come this close to your servant, let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves; and afterward you may go on your way.”  The men replied, “Very well, do as you have said.”

Abraham hastened into the tent and told Sarah, “Quick, three measures of fine flour! Knead it and make rolls.”  He ran to the herd, picked out a tender, choice steer, and gave it to a servant, who quickly prepared it.  Then Abraham got some curds and milk, as well as the steer that had been prepared, and set these before the three men; and he waited on them under the tree while they ate.

They asked Abraham, “Where is your wife Sarah?” He replied, “There in the tent.”  One of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah will then have a son.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 15:2-3, 3-4, 5

R. (1a) He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.
One who walks blamelessly and does justice;
who thinks the truth in his heart
and slanders not with his tongue.
R. He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.
Who harms not his fellow man,
nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor;
by whom the reprobate is despised,
while he honors those who fear the LORD.
R. He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.
Who lends not his money at usury
and accepts no bribe against the innocent.
One who does these things
shall never be disturbed.
R. He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

Reading 2 Col 1:24-28

Brothers and sisters: Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church, of which I am a minister in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God, the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past. But now it has been manifested to his holy ones, to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; it is Christ in you, the hope for glory.  It is he whom we proclaim, admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.

Gospel Lk 10:38-42

Jesus entered a village  where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.  Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?  Tell her to help me.”  The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.  There is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”


At first glance, you would notice that our readings speak of hospitality, of which we, Filipinos, are very famous for - our warm hospitality, our warm welcome. And if there is any incentive, hospitable people are always blessed by the Lord.

Even in Christian literature, you will encounter that. Noong mga bata tayo, di po ba binabasa sa atin ang fairy tale ng mga ermitanyo, mga hari, na kunwari ay mga pulubi, kunwari ay mga ketongin, kunwari ay mga sakitin at kakatok sa bahay, and if we accept them, if we welcome them, then we are blessed. And we remember Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew saying, "Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to Me." And, of course, there is the very famous story of St. Martin of Tours, the general who eventually became a bishop and then a saint, who encountered a beggar on the road shivering from the cold. St. Martin cut his cloak into half and gave it to the beggar. And when he went to the church in prayer, he saw Christ wearing the cloak that he gave to the beggar. Even in the monastic tradition, in the rule of St. Benedict, it is reminded of the monks to welcome a stranger, and you welcome Christ.

We all know the story of today's Gospel on Martha and Mary. Si Martha daw po 'yong abalang abala sa kusina, samantalang si Mary ay nakaupo lang sa paanan ni Jesus, nakikinig. And we all know what happened - Martha complained, and Jesus said Mary chose the better part.

Today, we ask ourselves - what did Jesus mean when He said 'Mary chose the better part'? What is the better part? Baka sabihin ng iba, 'Yon pala Father eh, mas ok lang 'yong nakatunganga, umupo na lang at walang gawin, kasi si Martha, ang daming ginagawa, pero sabi ni Jesus, she did not choose the better part'. Jesus is not advocating passivity or laziness. Hindi po sinasabi ni Jesus na huwag na tayong magtrabaho, huwag na tayong mag-asikaso. But what did Jesus mean?

Actually, both Martha and Mary did the good thing. Doing the chores, listening to the Lord, are both ways of serving the Lord. There are times when we have to listen. There are times we don't have to do anything. On the other hand, there are times when we must be very active, when we must be very involved. But what was the difference? Why did Mary choose the better part according to Jesus?

The problem with Martha was that her choice led her to anxiously worry about herself. But Mary's choice led her to listening peacefully, and being closer to Jesus. Alam nating tama ang ginawa ni Mary at ni Martha. Pero 'yong resulta, doon sila nagkaiba. Pansinin ninyo si Martha - abalang abala siya, at bandang huli, alalang alala siya. Mary was also busy - busy listening to Jesus. But in the end, she found peace, she found the presence of the Lord. Martha's choice led her to self-concern and worry, while Mary led her to Christ's peace and presence. Both options had the potential for leading them closer to Jesus. The problem with Martha was that her worry drowned her and her service to the Lord.

Worry - pag-aalala. 'Yan ang numero unong kalaban ng isang Kristiyano. At hindi lang po 'yan spiritual. Ang tao ho ay nag-aalala lagi. Syempre lagi siyang ninenerbiyos. At kung lagi siyang ninenerbiyos, tumataas tuloy ang blood pressure. At dahil din po ninenerbiyos, hindi makatulog, hindi makakain. Kaya nagkakasakit sa puso. Worrying is not good for our health. Martha did the right thing already, but the problem was she got worried in return. Nag-aalala siya sa oras.

Nakatagpo na po ba kayo ng tao na wala nang ginawa kundi mag-alala? Lagi na lang ninenerbiyos. Merong kwento ng mag-asawa. Meron silang anak - first time nilang magka-anak, tuwang tuwa sila. Pero pag gabi, laging nag-aalala si misis. Konting iyak lang ng bata, bumabangon na siya, as if something bad might happen to the child. And that became a source of sleeplessness for the couple. So they consulted a doctor. "Doc, anong gagawin namin? Laging umiiyak sa gabi ang aming baby, nag-aalala kami." Sabi ng doctor, "Sige, ibigay n'yo itong gatas na ito. Sigurado, makakatulog siya nang mahimbing." And so the couple said, "For the first time, makakatulog na tayo nang walang patid." So, pinainom nila ng gatas si baby, nakatulog nga siya nang mahimbing, at nakatulog na ang mag-asawa. But at midnight, the wife was waking up the husband, "Gumising ka, gumising ka." Sabi ng lalaki, "Bakit mo ako ginising? Hindi naman umiiyak 'yong bata, eh." And the wife said, "Tingnan mo nga eh. Hindi nga umiiyak ang bata, baka may nangyari." (laughs) Umiyak at hindi umiyak, nag-aalala pa rin.

May mga taong ganoon. Hindi pa rin mapanuto. Kaya minsan 'yong mga bata, sumagot o hindi sumagot, pagagalitan pa rin. Ano ba talaga ang gagawin? May mga taong napaparalisa, dahil sa sobrang pag-aalala sa buhay. Minsan kaming mga pari din, minsan hindi namin po alam kung saan namin ilalagay ang sarili namin. Naalala ko ho 'yong isang pari po, inigsian niya ang Homily niya. After the mass, may lumapit sa kanya, ang sabi, "Father, may sakit ba kayo? Bakit maigsi ang misa ninyo?" Noong ginanahan naman siya isang beses, humaba nang konti ang misa, lumampas nang 10 minutes sa 1 hour, may lumapit sa kanya sa sacristy, "Father, bakit ang haba ng misa ninyo?" Sabi ng pari, "Ano ba talaga ang gusto n'yo? Maigsi o hindi ang misa, nag-aalala." Hindi tayo mapanuto.

And that is the problem with Martha. Martha's body was paralyzed by worry. But you know, there is another effect of worry. Did you know that worry also affects our vision? Ang tao raw na maaalahanin, na-aapektuhan pati pagtingin. Bakit daw? Let's go back to Martha in the Gospel. She told Jesus, "Lord, look at my sister. She has left me by myself to do all the work." Naghihiwa siya, nagluluto siya, pero nakatingin siya kay Mary. At ano'ng sabi niya kay Jesus, 'Iniwan ako nitong kapatid ko'. But did Mary really leave Martha? The problem with Martha was that she was too worried and stressed out, it affected her vision. It prevented her from seeing anything other than herself and her situation. Ang tao raw na punong-puno ng alalahanin, ang taong stressed na stressed dahil laging nag-aalala, ang lagi lang nakikita ay ang sarili niya. Hindi niya talaga nakikita ang ibang tao. Kaya tingnan n'yo po 'yong litanya ni Martha. Lord, iniwan na ako ng kapatid ko. Pinabayaan na niya ako. Hindi na niya ako tinutulungan.

There have been times when we felt as if we are the only ones doing the work. Nararamdaman n'yo ho ba 'yon? Nagdarasal tayo minsan, 'Lord, parang ako lang ang nagtatrabaho. Parang ako lang ang nagmamalasakit sa kumpanyang ito. Parang ako lang ang gumagawa ng lahat'. May mga taong punong-puno ng drama sa buhay, laging gano'n ang litanya nila. 'Ako na lang ba ang may malasakit sa bahay na ito? Ako na lang ba ang gagawa at magtatrabaho?' There is so much worry, as if we are the only ones doing everything. We end up feeling unappreciated and alone. Our worries can strain the best relationships, and can ruin the warmest fellowships.

And our worries do not only dampen our social circle. Eventually, our relationship with God gets affected. 'Yong tao raw na punong-puno nang alala, hindi lang masisira ang relationship niya sa kapwa niya, sa pamilya niya, sa mga kaibigan niya. Eventually, his or her relationship with God will get affected. Again, let's go back to Martha. Ano'ng sabi ni Martha, "Lord, do You not care anymore?" In other words, 'Lord, hindi Mo na ba ako mahal?' It is not really a question. It is already an accusation by Martha. The worry of the moment ruined Martha's bond with Jesus. She is now questioning the Lord's love for her. 'Lord, don't You know what I am going through? Lord, don't You care that I'm the only one working, that no one is helping me? Lord, hindi Mo na ba ako mahal?'

Dumarating ba sa punto na gano'n na ang dasal natin, gano'n na ang tanong natin sa Diyos? Pag gano'n na po ang tono ng dasal natin, ingat po. Baka sobra na kayong nag-aalala sa buhay. Pati ang pagmamahal ng Diyos, pinagdududahan natin. Pati ang pagkalinga ng Diyos sa atin, inaalala na natin. I'm sure Jesus was smiling, as Martha was saying those words - 'Lord, don't You care for me anymore? I am doing this for You. And this is what I get in return?' If we are not careful, we can begin to resent the ones we really love.

Mary chose the better part, because what she was doing led her closer to Jesus. Martha's choice led her more to herself, toward stress, to her misgivings, to her suspicions, to her doubts. Do you know the Old English word for 'worry'? It is 'to choke', 'to strangle'. Sinasakal dahil ang taong panay na nag-aalala, unti-unting nawawalan ng buhay. Unti-unting nawawalan ng koneksiyon. Koneksiyon sa kapwa, koneksiyon sa sarili, at higit sa lahat, koneksiyon sa Diyos.

Sometimes, we do a lot of good things. We serve the church, we help the poor, we support our family, we do a lot of civil and social work, we are very active in the office, we are so involved in many activities. But let us ask ourselves. Where are we heading at? Marami nga tayong magandang ginagawa - mabuting ginagawa - pero kung katulad ni Martha, sa bandang huli, ang mabubuting ginagawang ito ang nagpapa-alala sa atin, baka magandang tanungin natin ang sarili natin. Are we choosing really the better part? We are looking for so many things. We want to be happy. We want to be good. But the question is - are we trusting enough? Are we trusting enough, especially in the Lord?

I am sure right now, some of us are joining the world in shock on the death of Cory Monteith. Kilala n'yo po ba si Cory Monteith? Kung hindi po ninyo siya kilala, ay kami lang pong mga kabataan ang nakakakilala sa kanya. (laughs) Cory Monteith is the actor who starred in the musical TV series 'Glee'. Siguro sasabihin n'yo, 'Kung kasing guwapo lang niya ako, kung kasing ganda lang niya 'kong kumanta, kung kasing sikat lang niya 'ko...' Pero bakit siya namatay? Bakit siya na-overdose? He is a picture of a man trying to do good, but a man also worrying a lot. A man perhaps enjoying what the world has to offer, but a man also asking, "Lord, do You really care for me?" Siguro sabi n'yo, 'kung ako lang 'yon, baka iba ang nangyari'. I don't think so. Because like Martha, we can be doing good, but if we are not careful, our worries, our doubts, our anxieties, our suspicions, may drown us. Let us make sure that we are doing something good, but more importantly, let us make sure we are doing something better like Mary.

As Christians, there will be times we will be called to sit at Christ's feet and listen to Him. May mga pagkakataong kailangan nating makinig. May mga pagkakataong kailangan nating gumalaw. Pero sa lahat ng pagkakataon, kailangan nating lumapit sa Diyos.

Where are you heading at? What do you really want in life? Have you chosen the better part? Amen.