Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Gospel Reflection

January 28, 2014
Tuesday – Ordinary Time

Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church

by Rev. Fr. Juancho "Choy" Ramos (Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, Parish of Sta. Cruz, Manila)
5:30PM Mass, Mary, Queen of Peace Shrine (Our Lady of Peace Quasi Parish/EDSA Shrine)


Reading 1 2 sm 6:12b-15, 17-19

David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom  into the City of David amid festivities. As soon as the bearers of the ark of the LORD had advanced six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. Then David, girt with a linen apron, came dancing before the LORD with abandon, as he and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouts of joy and to the sound of the horn. The ark of the LORD was brought in and set in its place within the tent David had pitched for it. Then David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD. When he finished making these offerings,  he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts. He then distributed among all the people,  to each man and each woman in the entire multitude of Israel,  a loaf of bread, a cut of roast meat, and a raisin cake. With this, all the people left for their homes.


Responsorial Psalm ps 24:7, 8, 9, 10

R. (8) Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Lift up, O gates, your lintels;
reach up, you ancient portals,
that the king of glory may come in!
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Who is this king of glory?
The LORD, strong and mighty,
the LORD, mighty in battle.
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Lift up, O gates, your lintels;
reach up, you ancient portals,
that the king of glory may come in!
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Who is this king of glory?
The LORD of hosts; he is the king of glory.
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!


Gospel mk 3:31-35

The mother of Jesus and his brothers arrived at the house. Standing outside, they sent word to Jesus and called him. A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers and your sisters are outside asking for you.” But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”


My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, our Gospel this evening relates to us the meaning of spiritual relationship. Jesus's reply to the crowd, which we just heard - "Who are my mother, brother and sisters?' - seemingly is a remark of disrespect or rejection of his close kin. But Jesus's use of the word 'brother or sister' is a dramatic way of stressing a point, which, in this case, is that spiritual relationship is more than that of blood-relationship.

Jesus wants to tell us that true kinship is not always a matter of flesh and blood. You may have relatives, but they may hate you or even want to harm you. Or maybe you belong to a family, but you are not in good terms, always in conflict and finding it hard to forgive or accept each other. Jesus goes on to say that spiritual relationship is achieved when we do the will of God. As Jesus said, 'whoever does the will of God is my mother, my brother and sister'.

So how do we know God's will? One way is through Scriptures. The Word of God. Another way is through the Church, which teaches matters of faith and morals, with the authority of God Himself. The will of God is further manifested to us in the duties and responsibilities of our state of life, and is seen in the particular circumstances of our life. God's will can be also discerned in the events of our day-to-day life - the unexpected death of our loved ones, an incurable illness or sickness, unjust sufferings or events that are beyond our control.

Knowing God's will can't be easy. But we are called to put it into practice. For instance, Jesus says in the Scriptures, "Forgive your enemies, not 70 times, but 70 times 70 times". That is one way of doing God's will. Or "if anyone must be first, he must be last of all, and servant of all". These are all difficult to implement, isn't it? It's not easy to do God's will. But as one author said, "Knowing the will of God is the greatest knowledge. Finding the will of God is the greatest discovery. And doing the will of God is the greatest achievement."

That is why we have the saint whose feast we are celebrating today - St. Thomas Aquinas. He is a Doctor of the Church. He dedicated all his life doing the will of God, although it was not easy for him. But because he entrusted everything to God, doing God's will became his own food and his own life.

Let us pray that in this Eucharist, we may find ourselves doing God's will, and that as we go home tonight, we may find ourselves connected deeply to our own brothers and sisters, especially in our own family. Amen.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Gospel Reflection

January 27, 2014
Monday – Ordinary Time
by Rev. Fr. by Rev. Fr. Prudencio 'Jun' T. Solomon, Jr., Parochial Vicar, Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Loreto Parish, Sampaloc, Manila
12:15PM Mass, Mary, Queen of Peace Shrine (Our Lady of Peace Quasi Parish/EDSA Shrine)


Reading 1 2 sm 5:1-7, 10

All the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron and said: “Here we are, your bone and your flesh. In days past, when Saul was our king,  it was you who led the children of Israel out and brought them back. And the LORD said to you, ‘You shall shepherd my people Israel  and shall be commander of Israel.’” When all the elders of Israel came to David in Hebron, King David made an agreement with them there before the LORD,  and they anointed him king of Israel. David was thirty years old when he became king,  and he reigned for forty years: seven years and six months in Hebron over Judah, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem over all Israel and Judah.

Then the king and his men set out for Jerusalem against the Jebusites who inhabited the region. David was told, “You cannot enter here:  the blind and the lame will drive you away!” which was their way of saying, “David cannot enter here.” But David did take the stronghold of Zion, which is the City of David.

David grew steadily more powerful, for the LORD of hosts was with him.


Responsorial Psalm ps 89:20, 21-22, 25-26

R. (25a) My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him.
Once you spoke in a vision,
and to your faithful ones you said:
“On a champion I have placed a crown;
over the people I have set a youth.”
R. My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him.
“I have found David, my servant;
with my holy oil I have anointed him,
That my hand may be always with him,
and that my arm may make him strong.”
R. My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him.
“My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him,
and through my name shall his horn be exalted.
I will set his hand upon the sea,
his right hand upon the rivers.”
R. My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him.


Gospel mk 3:22-30

The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.”

Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself,  that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him. But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house. Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin.” For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”


"Sa pamamagitan ng prinsipe ng mga demonyo, siya'y nagpapalayas ng mga demonyo."

Mga kapatid, ito ang paratang ng mga Eskriba na mula sa Herusalem, na ating narinig sa ating Ebanghelyo. Pinaratangan nila na si Hesus, sa Kanyang pagpapalayas ng mga masasamang espiritu, ay nasa impluwensiya ng prinsipe ng mga demonyo. Hindi nila matanggap na ang isang taong katulad ni Hesus ay nakapagpapalayas ng mga masasamang espiritu. Bakit? Sapagkat para sa kanila, hindi karaniwang ginagawa ito ng isang tao. Ito ay maaari lamang gawin ng isang taong banal, ng isang taong ang kapangyarihan ay mula sa Diyos.

At iyon ang hindi nila matanggap. Na si Hesus ay banal. Na si Hesus at ang Kanyang kapangyarihan ay mula sa Ama. Sapagkat ang akala nila, sila lamang ang laging tama. Ang akala nila'y sila lamang ang laging banal. Sila lamang ang laging kinasisiyahan ng Diyos. Kaya't gumawa sila ng isang maling paratang, isang paninirang-puri, upang maisalba ang kanilang pangalan, ang kanilang reputasyon, ang kanilang pride. Hindi nila kayang lunukin na sila'y manliit at mapahiya sa harapan ng mga tao.

Mga kapatid, ang maling pagpaparatang, paninirang puri - lalong-lalo na kung ito ay ginagawa para maisalba ang sarili sa kahihiyan sa mukha ng ibang tao - ay nakapandaraya at nakapangloloko ng iba. Madaling gawin ngunit naiisahan din natin ang ating sarili, sapagkat tinatanggal natin sa ating sarili ang biyayang hatid ng buhay na walang hanggan. Maling pagpaparatang, paninirang puri...ito'y isang pamamaraan ng panloloko sa ibang tao, ngunit tayo ang tinatamaan. Tayo din ang humahakot sa ibinibigay nitong kaparusahan, habang tinatanggal natin sa atin ang biyaya ng buhay na walang hanggan.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Gospel Reflection

January 26, 2014
Sunday – Ordinary Time
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
by Rev. Fr. Hans Magdurulang (Parochial Vicar, Holy Spirit Parish, Santa Cruz, Manila)
6:00PM Anticipated Sunday Mass, Sto. Nino de Paz Chapel (Greenbelt Chapel), Makati


Reading 1 is 8:23-9:3

First the Lord degraded the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali; but in the end he has glorified the seaward road, the land west of the Jordan, the District of the Gentiles.

Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness: for there is no gloom where but now there was distress. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom  a light has shone.You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing, as they rejoice before you as at the harvest, as people make merry when dividing spoils. For the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder, and the rod of their taskmaster you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.


Responsorial Psalm ps 27:1, 4, 13-14

R/ (1a) The Lord is my light and my salvation.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
R/ The Lord is my light and my salvation.
One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.
R/ The Lord is my light and my salvation.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R/ The Lord is my light and my salvation.


Reading 2 1 cor 1:10-13, 17

I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters, by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you. I mean that each of you is saying, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,”  or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.


Gospel mt 4:12-23

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled: Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen. From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him. He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.


This morning, in our minor seminary, we just had the first batch of applicants for interview. These are minor students, applying for first year or second year high school. So we had the first set of those who are dreaming of becoming a priest.

I was surprised with this young boy, when I asked him the very basic question, "Why do you want to enter the seminary?" You know what he said? "Because I want to become independent." Huh? Again? "Yes, Sir. I want to become independent." I asked him how old he was and he said he is just 11 years old. Wow. Siguro hindi niya gusto ang ulam sa bahay nila. (laughs) I was surprised that an 11-year old boy can already decide like that. Siya mismo ang nag-decide, kaya niyang magdesisyon.

Kayo kaya - let me ask you. When was the last good decision that you have made? Can you still make your own decision? Are you happy with your decision? What is the best decision that you can still remember? Let me ask you. If your answer is 'yes', you have to clap your hands. Tama po ba ang desisyon ninyo nang pinakasalan ninyo ang asawa n'yo? (The people laughed at first, but a lot clapped.) Akala ko ayaw n'yong pumalakpak ha. (laughs) Sabi nga noong isa, "Hoy, katabi mo na ako, hindi ka pa pumapalakpak." (laughs) As a child, are you happy with your decision to follow your parents? (A lot clapped.) Pero 'yong ibang mga bato, o, parang nagdadalawang-isip. (laughs)

Tonight, let us reflect on our decisions in life. Each one of us has the ability to decide, young or old. Actually, hindi n'yo pa nga isinisilang ang anak n'yo, nagdesisyon na kayo. Nakaka-awa nga lang ang iba, hindi naging maganda ang naging desisyon para sa kanila.

All of us can make our own decisions. We have the chance to make our own decisions. And every day, we make choices in life. And every decision, every choice that we have to make, entails sacrifice. You have to leave something. May kailangang iwan, may kailangang itigil, may kailangang talikuran. For example, kung gusto mong pumayat, tantanan mo 'yang ice cream. Kung gusto mong pumayat, bawasan mo 'yang softdrinks. Kung gusto mong pumasa sa school, if you want to graduate, study well, bawasan mo 'yang paggamit ng gadgets, bawasan mo ang lakwatsa.

In theology, we have this term 'metanoia', which means 'a radical change'. Isang radikal na pagbabago, na kailangan nating tanggapin at gawin, kung gusto nating sumunod sa Diyos. In our Gospel, that is the first requirement of Christ. If you want to follow Me, repent. Iwan mo na, tigilan mo na, bitawan mo na. Do not be afraid to leave everything for the Kingdom. Bakit ba takot na takot ka? God is giving us now a good reminder. If you really want to have a good life, do not be afraid to take 'metanoia'.

Many wanted to follow Christ, but many were not able to follow Him. Why? Because they had so many excuses. Let me bury my father first. Let me say goodbye to my parents first. Let me finish this first. In the end, hindi sila nakasunod. But we have good examples in our Gospel. We have Peter, James. When Christ saw them, when Christ called them, immediately, they left their boat, they left their family, and followed Christ. That is radical change - that you can do sacrifices in the name, and for the sake of Christ.

Kung 'yong iiwan natin, ang kapalit naman ay si Kristo, bakit magdadalawang-isip tayo? Kaya lang sa panahon natin ngayon, mas mahirap na po. Ang dami nang ka-kompetensiya ni Kristo sa atin. Lalo na kung maganda ang trabaho mo, malaki ang sweldo mo. Sometimes, nakakalimutan mo na rin ang pagiging Kristiyano, at nakakalimutan mo na si Kristo. That is why we are now facing a difficult time to decide and to choose.

But this is the good news. Christ will never stop from calling us. God will never stop from giving us the chance to say 'yes' to Him. My dear friends, do not wait for your turn. We have an invitation here at the Greenbelt Chapel to become a lector, lay minister. Pero sinasabi natin, saka na, pag wala na akong trabaho. Saka na, pag retired na ako. Ginawa n'yo naman pong retirement house ang Greenbelt Chapel. Kailan ka pa susunod? Are you sure you still have tomorrow?

When you want to follow Christ, do it now. Do not wait for your turn. You make your turn. Because every day, God is giving us the turn to follow Him. Take the turn to follow Christ. Do not be afraid to change. People might question you. People might not believe you. Huwag n'yo po silang pansinin. If in your eyes, you are down because of your past, because of your sinfulness...if in their eyes, you are down, in the eyes of God, you are not yet done. You may be down, but you are not yet done. Because every morning, when you wake up, God is giving you one more chance. And God hopes that this time, you will choose Him. Do not be afraid to choose Christ. Do not be afraid to abandon everything in this world for the Kingdom of God.

Every first Sunday, I celebrate mass at the Manila City Jail. Doon ko po nakita at doon ko po naramdaman ang awa at pagmamahal ng Diyos para sa mga taong gustong magbago. Why? One time, I was about to say mass in Quiapo church. I was riding a jeep and I was in front of a mother with two daughters. Hawak ko po 'yong cellphone ko na Jurassic na, na pag iniwan ko po nang 2 days, pagbalik ko, nandoon pa rin, may extra load pa (laughs), may note 'Mahiya-hiya naman kayo, huwag n'yong iwan.' (laughs) When I was near the church, I was surprised may lalaki sa harapan ko, and he was talking to the mother. Ang sabi niya, 'Akin na 'yang jewelry mo.'

Naku hold-up. First time. Ninerbiyos ako. Niyakap ko pa 'yong cellphone ko, bongga ang lakas ng loob ko ano. (loud laughs) Eh hindi naman ako pinapansin. Siguro sabi ng mama, wala siyang mahihita sa cellphone ko. Umiiyak na ang babae, tinatanggal ang alahas niya. Tapos sabi ko, "Mama, para, para!" At noong bababa na ako, bumaba na rin ang holdaper, pinauna ko pa, nakalimutan ko na holdaper nga pala siya. (laughs) Natakot pa ako kasi baka akalain kasama ako kasi sabay kami bumaba! (loud laughs) Pero noong ako'y dumating nang simbahan, talagang ako'y namumutla. Sabi nila, "Father, what happened to you?" Sabi ko, "Na-holdap ang jeep." "Ano'ng nakuha sa 'yo, Father?" "Wala naman." (laughs) Pero 'yong ale, nakuha ang alahas niya.

And I was so depressed and down during the mass. It was a Father's Day. Sabi ko, mukhang Tatay 'yong holdaper. Kaya kayo po, huwag ninyong pinipilit kapag hindi kayang bilhin o ibigay kaagad. Baka mag-isip nang kung anu-ano.....

When I was giving Communion, there was this guy with tattoos, holding a baby. When I said, "The body of Christ...", hinawakan niya ang kamay ko. Sabi niya, "Father, hindi po ako magko-Communion." "Eh, bakit?" "Father, nakalimutan mo na ba ako? Ako 'yong commentator mo sa city jail. Malaya na ako!" Sasabihin ko nga sana, "Malamang, nasa labas ka na, eh." (loud laughs) Sabi niya, "Father, hinanap lang talaga kita. I just looked for you to say thank you." Sabi ko, "God bless you. God has given you another life. You live a better life now, ok?"

I just realized that there is a man - a father, might be - starting to destroy his life. While there is another man, trying to start a new life. It is your choice.

As we continue this celebration, huwag na kayo magbingi-bingihan. When are you going to choose God? When are you going to choose the Kingdom? Huwag po tayong magpaka-kampante. We're not sure of tomorrow. The past is over; what we have is the now to choose Christ. Do not be afraid to choose Christ. Do not wait for your turn; take your turn. Amen.