Friday, August 23, 2013

Gospel Reflection

August 23, 2013
Friday – Year of Faith – Ordinary Time
by Rev. Fr. Benjamin “Benjo” Fajota - Vice Rector, Mary, Queen of Peace Shrine (Our Lady of Peace Quasi Parish/EDSA Shrine) 12:15PM Mass at EDSA Shrine

Once in the time of the judges there was a famine in the land; so a man from Bethlehem of Judah departed with his wife and two sons to reside on the plateau of Moab. Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons, who married Moabite women, one named Orpah, the other Ruth. When they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Chilion died also, and the woman was left with neither her two sons nor her husband. She then made ready to go back from the plateau of Moab because word reached her there that the LORD had visited his people and given them food.

Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye, but Ruth stayed with her.

Naomi said, “See now!  Your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her god. Go back after your sister-in-law!” But Ruth said, “Do not ask me to abandon or forsake you! For wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”

Thus it was that Naomi returned with the Moabite daughter-in-law, Ruth, who accompanied her back from the plateau of Moab. They arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.

R. (1b) Praise the Lord, my soul!
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD, his God,
Who made heaven and earth,
the sea and all that is in them.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
The LORD keeps faith forever,
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets captives free.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
The LORD gives sight to the blind.
The LORD raises up those who were bowed down;
The LORD loves the just.
The LORD protects strangers.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
The fatherless and the widow he sustains,
but the way of the wicked he thwarts.
The LORD shall reign forever;
your God, O Zion, through all generations. Alleluia.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!

Gospel Mt 22:34-40

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law, tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”


During the time of Jesus, there were different sects in the synagogue - the Sadducees, Pharisees, and others. And they have not really come up with one single idea of what is the greatest law. So when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had rebuffed the Sadducees in their question 'will there be life after death', they wanted to test Jesus again, and so they asked which is the greatest commandment.

For the Jews, the first five books of our Bible, which they call the 'torah', are the collection of laws and commandments. And so they asked Jesus, from among these laws, from among these instructions, which one is the greatest. And when Jesus answered them, He told them that love of God is like loving your neighbor and yourself. One cannot exist without the other. Like a coin with two sides, you cannot love God without loving your neighbor, who was created in the image and likeness of God.

Our greatest show of love for God is in our participation in the Eucharist. This is the greatest prayer that we could offer God, to thank Him for the gift of life, for all the blessings that we receive. We know this, we understand this. That's why we put so much effort and time in attending the Eucharist. But in loving our neighbor, do we share with them the idea or truth about God? We know the truth about our faith. We know that God must be the center of our lives. But do we share this with others? Do we tell them that we must do this, that we must appreciate the Eucharist as we ought to, because this is the greatest adoration that we could offer to God? But a lot of times, our faith is limited to 'my God and me alone'. The rest, wala akong pakialam. This is not the kind of love that Jesus is challenging us. Jesus tells us to love our neighbor whom we see. That's the only time that we can profess that we really love God as well.

My dear brothers and sisters, it is not important to know the commandments. What is more important is doing it, and practicing it in our lives. Amen.