Sunday, September 29, 2013

Gospel Reflection

September 29, 2013
Sunday – Year of Faith – Ordinary Time
by Rev. Fr. Gerome Hernandez, Mission Society of the Philippines (MSP) 
(Director, MSP Associate Program)
4:30PM Sunday Anticipated Mass, Sto. Nino de Paz Chapel (Greenbelt Chapel), Makati

Reading 1 Am 6:1a, 4-7

Thus says the LORD the God of hosts: Woe to the complacent in Zion! Lying upon beds of ivory, stretched comfortably on their couches, they eat lambs taken from the flock, and calves from the stall! Improvising to the music of the harp, like David, they devise their own accompaniment. They drink wine from bowls and anoint themselves with the best oils; yet they are not made ill by the collapse of Joseph! Therefore, now they shall be the first to go into exile, and their wanton revelry shall be done away with.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 146:7, 8-9, 9-10

R. (1b) Praise the Lord, my soul!
R. Alleluia.
Blessed he who keeps faith forever,
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets captives free.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
R. Alleluia.
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!
R. Alleluia.
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!
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 1 Tm 6:11-16

But you, man of God, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.  Compete well for the faith.  Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you before God, who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus, who gave testimony under Pontius Pilate for the noble confession, to keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ that the blessed and only ruler will make manifest at the proper time, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, and whom no human being has seen or can see.  To him be honor and eternal power. Amen.

Gospel Lk 16:19-31

Jesus said to the Pharisees: "There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man's table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.  The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me.  Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.' Abraham replied, 'My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime  while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’ He said, 'Then I beg you, father, send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.' But Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.' He said, 'Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' Then Abraham said, 'If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.'"


Magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat, sa kabila nang maulan na hapon. 

In today's Liturgy, the rich and the powerful are the first to go to exile, not for their wealth, but for their failure to share their wealth. Not for their power, but for their indifference to the poor. This is the essence - the core of our Readings today. Let us try to go back again to the Word of God being proclaimed to us today. 

In the First Reading today in the Book of Amos, we heard how God would like to punish those who neglected Joseph. Unti-unting bumagsak ang bayan ng Israel kung saan ang Diyos ay nakipagtipan. And we heard in the First Reading that because of this, they are the first ones to go into exile. Inalis sa kanila ang kanilang kayamanan at kapangyarihan. 

The Second Reading is a reminder to us Christians. St. Paul says that we were baptized, and with this baptism, we share in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we should pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness. And this is connected to our First Reading today. We should pursue love - love for the poor, love for those who are in need, those who are neglected. We have to be patient to the people entrusted to us. 

In our Gospel today, it was Jesus who told us about the story of the rich man and the poor man Lazarus. What happened to these two people? Dumating ang panahon na naging pantay na lang sila sa kamatayan. But in the other life, Lazarus was comforted by Abraham whereas the rich man was in torment. 

And this is a beautiful reminder for us today. You know that when we read the newspapers today or watch TV, our Gospel today is very much alive and happening. And what is the challenge of our Gospel today? First, let us not build a great chasm between us and God. Whatever God has given us - these riches, this power - we should use it wisely for the poor, to express our loving concern and patience to them. Let us use our riches and power as an opportunity to help those who are in need. As the Lord said, whatever we do to the least of our brothers and sisters, we do unto Him. And who are these? Those who are in prison, those who are sick, those who have nothing to eat nor drink, those who are homeless and have nothing to wear. Let us not turn our back on this people. Huwag tayong magbulag-bulagan sa mga bagay na ito. 

Secondly, God entrusted to us His people. Our Gospel today speaks about social justice. Our Gospel today speaks about wealth and the poor. And there is one thing that God wants us to do. That in our love for God, we may show it completely in our daily life. Sana ay makita sa atin ng mga tao ang pagmamahal natin sa Diyos, sa ating pang-araw araw na pamumuhay. Pagdating ng ating pagharap sa Diyos, hindi natin pwedeng sabihin, 'Pwede po bang humingi ng isa pang pagkakataon?' 

This is a big challenge for all of us, especially at this time. Hindi natin pwedeng ipikit ang ating mga mata at sabihin nating 'Ito ay akin. Ito ay pinaghirapan ko, bunga ng aking pawis at dugo, kaya ito ay para lamang sa akin', while others are suffering. 

I remember, I received a call from a couple from the U.S., who are retired doctors. They called me up and asked my help to book them a flight going to Zamboanga. Sabi ko sa kanila, ano ang gagawin nila sa Zamboanga, baka mabaril pa sila doon. I told them to just enjoy their life in the U.S. But the couple insisted and the husband said, 'No Father. Na-enjoy na po namin ang aming retirement, pero nakikita namin ang mga taong naghihirap sa Zamboanga, kaya gusto naming bumalik at gamitin muli ang aming pagiging doktor para matulungan po ang mga taong ito'. They may be retired already, but they still want to help.

My dear friends, may our Gospel be our power, a strong reminder for all of us, not to neglect the poor and not to be indifferent to those who are in need.