Saturday, September 21, 2013

Gospel Reflection

September 21, 2013
Saturday – Year of Faith – Ordinary Time
Feats of Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
Saturday, 21 September 2013 (Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and evangelist)
by Rev. Fr. Ernie M. Cruz, SDB - Rector, St. John Bosco Parish Church, Makati
6:30AM Mass, St. John Bosco Parish Church, Makati

Brothers and sisters:
I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace: one Body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

And he gave some as Apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the Body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ.

Responsorial Psalm PS 19:2-3, 4-5

R. (5) Their message goes out through all the earth.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day pours out the word to day,
and night to night imparts knowledge.
R. Their message goes out through all the earth.
Not a word nor a discourse
whose voice is not heard;
Through all the earth their voice resounds,
and to the ends of the world, their message.
R. Their message goes out through all the earth.

Gospel Mt 9:9-13

As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”


If you would look at the First Reading, we will find it so flagrant with meaning. Yesterday, we had the Readings to Timothy. Today, we have the reading from Ephesians. St. Paul is asking us to live in a manner worthy of our calling, in humility, in gentleness and patience. Then he continues on with something that is very difficult, that is, to bear with one another through love, and striving to preserve unity. It is quite difficult, because it is not always easy for us to deal with one another.

St. Paul then continues to say that we should have one Body, one Spirit, one faith, one baptism, with one God and Father of all. And lastly, what I think is so important, is that St. Paul talks about the call to ministry. Each one is called to be a minister. We pray and go to mass every day, and that is very good. But it is not enough that we pray. Without ministry, without being able to touch or influence anybody to bring him back to the Church and to God, it is not enough. Nobody is exempted from the call to ministry, whether you are young or very old, you are sick or healthy. Each one is being called to minister and bring people to God, from our own terms.

A priest could preach, yes, but that is not yet a call. Because beyond preaching is the priest's personal ministry, that on his own personal approach, he strives to bring back a person to the Lord, even without that call. That is why even the Pope says, 'I am not sure of this, but I think that those who do not strive to do ministry may not even enter heaven'. This means that we are brothers to one another. It is not the call of Abel that 'I am not my brother's keeper'. The Pope says you are your brother's keeper. You are called to ministry.

If the Philippines has 80 million Catholics - the biggest number in all of Asia - and only 15% are churchgoers, meaning practicing Catholics, and our goal or direction now is to prepare our country to the 5th millennium or the 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines, what can we do? What is our personal role toward that goal? If each person would only be able to convince only six people in six or seven years, to go back to church, the church will be teeming with people and will be so alive. In fact, we can start with just one person. For every practicing Catholic that is able to bring another person to church, at once, the number will be doubled. It could be a member of your family, or your helper, or your office mate, or your neighbor. Just one, and what difference will it already make in the Church.

St. Matthew is an example to us that nobody is so unworthy, as not to be called by God. Even if he was a tax collector who was dreaded by the people, or looked down by the people, and thought of as one who is enriching himself at the expense of the people, Jesus saw the potential in Matthew, and made him His follower. And not just one of His followers, but one of the 12 Apostles.

In the Gospel, the Pharisees were speaking against Jesus, as He was with the tax collectors and sinners. And Jesus said that it is not for the healthy that He came, but for the sick. Each one of us could find ourselves sick, but at the same time, by God's grace, we are able to bring others to health.

We continue our celebration today, asking St. Matthew's intercession, that we may be able to answer this call to ministry. It is not enough for us to be Christians and are just able to pray for ourselves. We should also bring others closer to God through our own personal ministry. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.