Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Gospel Reflection

October 22, 2013
Tuesday – Year of Faith – Ordinary Time
by Rev. Fr. Ramon Jade Licuanan (Head, Youth Ministry, San Carlos Seminary)
5:30PM Mass, Mary, Queen of Peace Shrine (Our Lady of Peace Quasi Parish/EDSA Shrine)

Brothers and sisters: Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned.

If by that one person’s transgression the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many. For if, by the transgression of the one, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one Jesus Christ. In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so, through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all. For just as through the disobedience of one man the many were made sinners, so, through the obedience of the one the many will be made righteous. Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Responsorial Psalm PS 40:7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 17

R. (8a and 9a) Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Burnt offerings or sin offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
May all who seek you
exult and be glad in you,
And may those who love your salvation
say ever, “The LORD be glorified.”
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Gospel Lk 12:35-38

Jesus said to his disciples: “Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants.”


Perhaps most of us, if not all, have attended wedding ceremonies. And we all know that in weddings nowadays, everything is measured - the time for the whole ceremony, the reception, the duration of the stay in the restaurant, because extending time would mean additional expenses.

But it is far, far different during the time of Jesus. In their culture, time was not really a very important matter. In their weddings, the time that guests would come and leave the venue could not be measured. That is why in the Gospel, you would notice that in the parable that Jesus used to point out a very important lesson to His disciple, He made use of a wedding as an example. The parable says that the master will return from a wedding at an unknown time - it may be late at night or the following morning, thus the servants should be alert as they could not pinpoint when their master will come back. The servants are expected to wait and to anticipate their master's return.

That is how the Lord conveyed the message of vigilance. God used the unique circumstance of a wedding to impress on us the importance of vigilance, not just during their day, but even today. It is because vigilance, if you look closer to the Gospel, would somehow spell our salvation. Our vigilance will determine whether we will go to heaven, or if we will be thrown into eternal damnation. And those who are blessed, which was also mentioned in the Gospel, are those who would remain vigilant.

When we speak of vigilance, what does it mean? Does it mean just being awake or having our eyes open or watchful, or being alert? I remember, in 2011, I was with the delegation of the Archdiocese of Manila to the World Youth Day. And on the last day of our stay in Europe, the flight from Portugal to Manila was supposed to be 5 in the morning, but we came back to the hotel late at night. I was with five more priests who would remain in Portugal. I wanted to see the Philippine delegation leave the hotel going to the airport, but I was so tired, that I unconsciously fell asleep. And when I opened my eyes, it was already 1:05am. I rushed out of the room but in the corridor, there were no more people. I went down to the lobby, it was dark. And out of the hotel, it was so cold and so dark. I realized that the Philippine delegation left already. And the incident has always been a joke among us. They will always tease me that I fell asleep, that is why I was not able to see the delegation leave.

Is this the vigilance that the Lord wants us to do? Being awake? I don't think so. It goes beyond just being awake. Vigilance that the Lord is referring to in the Gospel is about readiness. It is not just about keeping our eyes open, but it is about being able to respond even in times of surprises. Vigilance is being able to hold on to our values, even in unanticipated circumstances. It is about being able to help, even in the most difficult times that we least expect.

The recent earthquake in Bohol damaged a lot of properties and took lives. And a partial reason for that is unreadiness. As experts would tell us, we cannot forecast when an earthquake would hit and the extent of damage that it will do. It will come as a surprise. Given this, we should still be ready so that when it comes, we would know what we should do and know where to go.

And that is how it is in our faith. Our faith is not about completing our novenas or knowing fully well our prayers. It's about being ready to express what we know. Faith is about taking action, based on the faith that we profess. It's about taking action, even at an unexpected moment. That is what is needed from us today. We should be able to respond quickly but carefully in all the circumstances we're faced with. With all the things that are happening to us, what are we doing? Are we just looking, just being spectators of what is happening around us, or are we making ourselves available and ready to respond and help, in accordance with our faith? 'Yon po ang kailangan natin. Vigilance that will determine our salvation means being able to respond willingly, being able to do active responses borne out of our faith.

We should not leave our faith behind. Vigilance means translating our faith into concrete responses of action to what is happening around us. And we pray in this Eucharist, that we may be truly vigilant people, that the Lord, in His grace, may empower us and anoint us to be vigilant for His Kingdom.