Sunday, September 8, 2013

Gospel Reflection

September 08, 2013
Sunday – Year of Faith – Ordinary Time
by Rev. Fr. Larry Tan, S.D.B. (Salesians of Don Bosco)
6:00PM Anticipated Sunday Mass at Sto. Nino de Paz Chapel, (Greenbelt Chapel) Makati

Reading 1 Wis 9:13-18b

Who can know God’s counsel, or who can conceive what the LORD intends? For the deliberations of mortals are timid, and unsure are our plans. For the corruptible body burdens the soul and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns. And scarce do we guess the things on earth, and what is within our grasp we find with difficulty; but when things are in heaven, who can search them out? Or who ever knew your counsel, except you had given wisdom and sent your holy spirit from on high? And thus were the paths of those on earth made straight.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14-17

R. (1) In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
You turn man back to dust,
saying, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in your sight
are as yesterday, now that it is past,
or as a watch of the night.
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
You make an end of them in their sleep;
the next morning they are like the changing grass,
Which at dawn springs up anew,
but by evening wilts and fades.
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
And may the gracious care of the LORD our God be ours;
prosper the work of our hands for us!
Prosper the work of our hands!
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

Reading 2 Phmn 9-10, 12-17

I, Paul, an old man, and now also a prisoner for Christ Jesus, urge you on behalf of my child Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment; I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you. I should have liked to retain him for myself, so that he might serve me on your behalf in my imprisonment for the gospel, but I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that the good you do might not be forced but voluntary. Perhaps this is why he was away from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a brother, beloved especially to me, but even more so to you, as a man and in the Lord.  So if you regard me as a partner, welcome him as you would me.

Gospel Lk 14:25-33

Great crowds were traveling with Jesus, and he turned and addressed them, “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion?  Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’ Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?  But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.  In the same way, anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”


Actually, this is one of my first public appearances after my hip replacement operation. I have been feeling the pain for the last two years, but I delayed the operation, because of the uncertain condition of my mother when she was sick in the U.S. But then when she finally passed away last March, I felt that it was time to go ahead with the operation. The Makati Med diagnosed it as severe osteoarthritis of the hips. In other words, old age. (laughs) Kaya ngayon ay feel na feel ko na kapag sinasabi nilang 'sagad to the bones' (laughs) dahil masakit. Di na madala ng gamot o ng pray-over, kasi ang problema ay structural, so I had my operation done on August 14, after I got back from the U.S.

You know these past few months, talagang nabagabag ang ating bansa dahil sa mga nangyayari sa ating paligid. It is so unfortunate because so many people are poor and trying to make both ends meet. There is a rise in criminality, dahil sa kahirapan. Yesterday in the news, may binaril yata sa Batangas dahil gusto nilang kunin ang pera para maipambayad sa kanilang placement fee overseas. Napakaraming nagbebenta ng sampaguita, o kahit ng trapo diyan along EDSA, only to realize na napakayaman pala ng ating bansa. 'Yon nga lang, ang yaman na 'yan ay hindi talaga nakaka-abot sa mga mahihirap at sa mga nangangailangan, kundi sa bulsa ng iilan.

In the cover page of Biz News, there is a picture of the Congress and what is said about it? It is seen as the biggest syndicate in the Philippines. It is sad. One time, a friend of mine asked me - what ever happened to Catholic education? Dahil sabi nga nila, karamihan sa mga napapagbintangan (daw) ay produkto ng iba't ibang exclusive schools, at karamihan doon ay Catholic schools. Sila ay estudyante ng....Ateneo de Manila (laughs).....estudyante ng De La Salle, graduates pa ang iba ng AIM.....Assumption....Mabuti hindi binanggit ang Don Bosco (laughs) Pero meron din kami do'n. Sa totoo lang, may dalawa din kami do'n na nakasama sa picture. Nakakahiya. Imagine from prep to grade school, hanggang sa college, sa post graduate studies.

And it is something that a lot of people have been asking, and it is quite mind-boggling, because in spite of all the things that we learn, the things that we go through, we pride ourselves of being the only Catholic nation in Asia, and so on and so forth, yet, there is such a wide gap between our faith and how we live our life on earth. This is what one Jesuit says as 'split level of Christianity'. Karamihan sa kanila, nagsisimba pa tuwing Linggo, pero pagkatapos, nagagawa nila ang mga bagay-bagay na hindi natin maisip-isip. At ang pinag-uusapan natin ay hindi lamang daan-daan, hindi lamang libo-libo, hindi lang milyon....ngayon ang pinag-uusapan natin ay bilyon....bilyon.....Kayo nagbabayad ng buwis. Kaltas kaagad 'yan, no choice, unless of course underground ang kita ninyo. But for an ordinary worker, kaltas kaagad 'yan, bawas kaagad. Dapat lang magalit ang tao.

Kaya nga dito natin makikita kung ano ang binibigyan ng priority talaga ng tao - kung ano ang ginagawa nilang Diyos sa buhay nila. The Gospel of today reminds us that beyond and above all, we should make Jesus our top priority. If anyone does not renounce father, mother, brother, sister, children, for God's sake, cannot be His disciple. Not that we are supposed to hate our family or relatives. No. God reminds us that above and beyond everyone, beyond and above anything else, dapat ang Diyos ang number one. And this is entirely the exact opposite of what we see today in our society. Depende kung sino at kung ano ang ginagawa mong Diyos sa buhay mo, 'yan ang magiging direksiyon ng iyong buhay.

And the Lord also reminds us that we cannot serve both God and money. It's either you love one and hate the other, or be faithful to one and not to the other. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines already made a statement that the scam to which many of our politicians are allegedly involved, is almost tantamount to terrorism. Dahil biro mo, talagang nilapastangan mo ang mga taong naghihirap, dahil sa mga bagay-bagay na ginawa nila, alang-alang lang sa kanilang kapakanan. Habang sila ay nagpapasasa sa kanilang luho, napakarami sa ating mga mamamayan ang talagang naghihirap at nagdurusa.

Bakit ganyan? No wonder Mahatma Gandhi used to say na ang galing at admirable talaga ang Ebanghelyo at ang mga morals and teachings ng Panginoon sa Ebanghelyo. But then he says that he does not want to be a Christian, simply because he sees so few who live by it. That is why, my dear brothers and sisters, the challenge of the Gospel today is to put the Lord first. Therefore, kung ang Panginoon ang pangunahin at pinakamahalaga sa buhay natin, dapat itong makita, hindi lamang sa salita, kundi lalong-lalo na sa ating gawain. God should have the number one place in our life.

What does it mean, therefore, na siya ang number one, ang top priority? Kayong mga nagsisimba dito, kung ang pagsisimba ninyo o ang pagdarasal ninyo ay hindi nakakatulong sa inyo upang maging mas mabuting Kristiyano kayo, there's something wrong. May problema tayo. You know, the longest journey, and also the most difficult journey, is not the journey from Earth to Mars or any other planet, but from here (Father Larry points at the forehead) to here (Father points at the chest near where the heart is located). Mula sa ulo hanggang sa puso - 12 inches lang 'yan. But that is the longest journey, and it is a journey of a lifetime.

Pero sana, ang ginagawa natin, tuwing Linggo, tuwing tayo'y nagdarasal, ay makatulong naman sa atin ito unti-unti na lumapit naman o mag-synchronize ang ating pananampalataya at ang ating paniniwala at ang ating pang-araw-araw na gawain. Dahil kung mahal nating ang Panginoon, ibig sabihin, gagawin natin at tutupdin natin ang Kanyang mga utos. In the Gospel of Matthew, God said that if we love Him, we should keep His commandments. No wonder the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines reminded our leaders, 'Do not steal; Do not covet thy neighbor's goods.' Simply put, you cannot say you love the Lord and yet defy His commandments. We have to abide and live by His teachings, by His commandments. Napaka-simple lamang. The basic requirement is to follow the 10 commandments. Pero pag hindi natin ito ginagawa, ano'ng pinag-uusapan natin? Palabas lang ang pananampalataya natin. And that is why we speak of the split level of Christianity.

The Gospel of today, my dear brothers and sisters, challenges us. Ano ba talaga? Sino ba talaga ang minamahal natin, at ano ba talaga ang binibigyan natin ng kahulugan? Tandaan ninyo, tandaan nating lahat....Sino ba talaga ang ginagawa nating Diyos ng buhay natin? Ang pera, hindi n'yo mababaon, hindi n'yo madadala. Ang iba sa mga mambabatas natin, nobenta na....Nobenta na! (laughs) Ilang taon na lang ang naiiwan at natitira sa buhay mo. Kahit na gaano kalawak ang lupa mo, ang kailangan mo 6 by 4 lang - ito parang itong altar lang (laughs). At kung ikaw ay ike-cremate, siguro 'yan, isang lalagyan ka lang ng kandila, palakihan mo lang nang kaunti ang casing (laughs)

Kahit na may sampu o dalawampu kang Hermes, hindi mo naman isasaksak sa kabaong mo 'yan eh. (laughs) And besides, hindi mo naman pwedeng gamitin ang sampu o dalawampung Hermes nang sabay-sabay. Hello....Alangan namang maglalakad ka dito sa Greenbelt tapos nakadipa ka dala mo lahat ng Hermes mo. (laughs) Ano ka - sira? (loud laughs) Kahit na ilang libo pa ang sapatos mo, isa lang ang pwede mong suotin eh. At pag ika'y nakaburol, medyas ka lang. (laughs) Kahit na gaano kadami ang iyong jewelry, siguro sa wake pwede pa ilagay 'yan, pero pag ililibing na, tinatanggal 'yon. Otherwise, huhukayin ng magnanakaw ang libingan mo. (laughs)

As the saying goes, in the U.S., 'you do not see a funeral procession with a u-haul in line'. O sige, kung hindi n'yo alam ang u-haul, 'lipat-bahay' na lang, para local. (laughs) Ibig sabihin, wala kang bitbit, wala kang dala, pag namatay ka na. After all has been said and done, what you can only bring before the Lord is yourself, and the good that you have done, while you were still alive. And woe to those na maraming atraso sa Panginoon. Imagine, haharap ka sa Panginoon na maraming bagahe. Di ba nakakatakot? Di ka ba natatakot para sa kaluluwa mo? That is why blessed are those who live in the ways of the Lord. Pag harap nila, wala silang takot.

Sino ngayon ang parang daga o parang ipis na kung anu-ano ang mga dahilan? Ang hirap pa ng mga dahilan nila, nakaka-gago pa. Ginagago pa tayo. Double jeopardy. Pero kung hindi man sila makakatikim ng hustisya dito sa lupa, ang Diyos ang may huling salita. Sinasabi nga natin na ang Diyos ay mapagmahal at maawain, tama ka. But at the end of the day, at the twilight of our lives, the Lord is just, and He will judge us according to our deeds. Nakakatakot kung tayo ay may mga bagahe, mga atraso na hindi maayos. And so, the only thing that we can bring before the Lord is none other than a life well lived.

So, my dear brothers and sisters, ngayon pa lang, sikapin natin na mamuhay nang matuwid at maayos, because that is what the Lord wants from us - to put Him first. The challenge is to make Him our top priority. And how do we show it? Not only in words, but in our actions, by trying to live God's commandments as faithfully as we can, in our relationship with one another, as well as by living a life of love and justice. Let us pray in this Holy Eucharist that we may be given the strength and the grace to be always faithful to the Lord, not only in words, but importantly, in our life.