Thursday, October 31, 2013

Gospel Reflection

October 31, 2013
Thursday – Year of Faith – Ordinary Time
by Rev. Fr. Benjo Fajota, Vice Rector, Mary, Queen of Peace Shrine (Our Lady of Peace Quasi Parish/EDSA Shrine)
5:30 PM Mass at the EDSA Shrine

Reading 1 Rom 8:31b-39

Brothers and sisters: If God is for us, who can be against us? He did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who acquits us. Who will condemn? It is Christ Jesus who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?

As it is written:

For your sake we are being slain all the day;
we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.

No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Responsorial Psalm PS 109:21-22, 26-27, 30-31

R. (26b) Save me, O Lord, in your mercy.
Do you, O GOD, my Lord, deal kindly with me for your name’s sake;
in your generous mercy rescue me;
For I am wretched and poor,
and my heart is pierced within me.
R. Save me, O Lord, in your mercy.
Help me, O LORD, my God;
save me, in your mercy,
And let them know that this is your hand;
that you, O LORD, have done this.
R. Save me, O Lord, in your mercy.
I will speak my thanks earnestly to the LORD,
and in the midst of the throng I will praise him,
For he stood at the right hand of the poor man,
to save him from those who would condemn his soul.
R. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.

Gospel Lk 13:31-35

Some Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Go away, leave this area because Herod wants to kill you.” He replied, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and I perform healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I accomplish my purpose. Yet I must continue on my way today, tomorrow, and the following day, for it is impossible that a prophet should die outside of Jerusalem.’

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling! Behold, your house will be abandoned. But I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”


How does one become a saint? I will tell you true stories.

There was one religious sister who loved Mathematics for 50 years in high school and in college. When she was no longer able to teach, she set up an apostolate that gathered day-old bread from different bake shops, and distributed these to the poor. When she could no longer do this, she was placed in a retirement house. Walking with a cane and a bent back, she would always greet everyone that she comes across with, with a smile. One day, a younger sister told her, 'Sister, I just want you to know that your smile means a lot to me.' And to this, she answered, 'This is all I have to give.'

There is also this 9-year old boy who was able to save his allowances to buy an old poster of Titanic. When he learned that the mother of his best friend was going to be operated on and they don't have enough money, he sold his poster. A TV program learned about it and bought the poster for $60,000.

There is also this family which lost their house on fire. While they were watching, they were so shocked and could not do anything because everything was burned. Then there is this pizza delivery boy who was passing through. He decided to give a box of pizza to the family who was so shocked and distraught over the burned house. After giving the pizza, he already left. 

Another story is that of St. Gianna Beretta Molla, the last Italian saint who was canonized by Pope John Paul II. For her fourth child, she learned that she had a tumor in her ovary, and that the doctors told her that she would die if her pregnancy would push through. During the day of her delivery, she told the doctors, 'If you are to make a decision between me and my child, protect the child. Deliver her, forget about me.'

My dear brothers and sisters, sainthood is not about doing great things and a lot of sacrifices. Sainthood is about doing and seeing things with the eyes of Jesus Christ. It is doing and seeing things differently. For they know that religion is not a set of rules, not a set of commandments, not a set of prayers, but a relationship with God, and doing and seeing things for the sake of God's Kingdom. 

Let us all be saints. Amen. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Gospel Reflection

October 30, 2013
Wednesday – Year of Faith – Ordinary Time
by Rev. Fr. Joel Jason (Dean of Studies, Graduate School of Theology San Carlos Seminary)
12:15PM Mass, Chapel of the Eucharistic Lord (SM Megamall Chapel)

Reading 1 Rom 8:26-30

Brothers and sisters: The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the holy ones  according to God’s will.

We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 13:4-5, 6

R. (6a) My hope, O Lord, is in your mercy.
Look, answer me, O LORD, my God!
Give light to my eyes that I may not sleep in death
lest my enemy say, “I have overcome him”;
lest my foes rejoice at my downfall.
R. My hope, O Lord, is in your mercy.
Though I trusted in your mercy,
Let my heart rejoice in your salvation;
let me sing of the LORD, “He has been good to me.”
R. My hope, O Lord, is in your mercy.

Gospel Lk 13:22-30

Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answered them,  “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’ Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!’ And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out. And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the Kingdom of God. For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”


Dahil malapit na po ang Undas at ginugunita natin ang Araw ng mga Patay, naalala ko po 'yong kwento noong isang lalaki na dinalaw ng Anghel ng Kamatayan - the Angel of Death. When the Angel of Death appeared to the man, he said, 'It is now your time to die today, because your name is on the top of my list, and I always follow this list.' Kinabahan 'yong lalaki. So ang ginawa noong lalaki, kumuha muna siya ng pagkain, and then pinakain niya 'yong Angel of Death. Pero 'yong pagkain na 'yon, merong sleeping pills. So when the Angel of Death ate it, he fell asleep. And while the Angel of Death was sleeping, the man took the list and erased his name on top of the list, and put it at the very bottom. So natuwa na siya, nakangiti na siya. When the Angel of Death woke up, he said, ' have been very good. You gave me food, and I was able to sleep after eating it. As a reward, I will begin from the bottom of my list.' (loud laughs), siya rin ang mauuna ano. Sabi nga ng Gospel, '....some who are first will be last, and some who are last will be first'.

Alam po ninyo, in our Gospel for today, Jesus was asked a very simple but important question. 'Lord, ilan kaya ang maliligtas? Kakaunti lang kaya ang maliligtas?' The man who asked that question was a little bit....siguro may konting kayabangan 'yong tanong, eh. Siguro itong lalaking lumapit sa Panginoon, he was someone who was very knowledgeable of the law. He, perhaps, was someone who was very religious. Kaya ang pakiramdam niya, isa siya sa mga 'few who will be saved'. Kaya ang yabang ng tanong niya sa Panginoon, eh.

And as a response, what did Jesus say? Jesus said that salvation is not a matter of belonging in a list. It is not a matter of maybe buying yourself into, or out of the list. The essence of the salvation is not scholarship or knowledge of the law, or knowledge about Jesus. The essence of salvation is, ultimately, relationship - a relationship with God, and not scholarship. And that is why we should change our question.

At sa araw na ito, 'yon ang magandang itanong natin. Paano ba ako maliligtas? Am I going to be saved, because my name is listed in the names of those who are baptized? Am I going to be saved, because my name is listed among the members of the Catholic Church? Not necessarily. What is the Lord reminding us today? To strive to enter through the narrow gate. Ang ating kaligtasan ay nakasalalay sa ating pang-araw-araw na gawi, at 'yong ating araw-araw na pagsasabuhay ng ating pananampalataya.

Ang ibig sabihin, whenever we go out of the chapel....pwede kasing mangyari niyan na nagkakaroon tayo ng transformation. Halimbawa po dito sa loob ng chapel ay napakabait nating lahat, ano....pero pag labas natin diyan sa chapel, isusuot na natin ang ating mga sungay, at ise-celebrate na natin ang Halloween. Dito sa chapel ang sinasamba natin ay ang Panginoon. Paglabas natin mamaya, magmumukha na tayong mga maligno, mga demonyo.

Kagabi, doon sa balita, tinanong 'yong mga tao. Kasi po ang CBCP, nagpalabas ng paalala sa mga tao, that we should Christianize our celebration of Halloween. Because the way we celebrate Halloween today is not really Christian anymore. Eh ang origin naman ng Halloween ay talagang very Christian. Originally, Halloween is Hallow's Eve, when we celebrate the eve of All Saints' Day. And when is All Saints' Day? November 1. That is why on October 31, we celebrate Hallows' Eve. Ano ba 'yong meaning ng 'hallow'? Hindi mababaw ha. 'Hallow' means 'holy'. That is why whenever we pray the 'Our Father', we say '...hallowed be Thy Name...' Maging banal nawa ang Iyong Pangalan. And so, October 31 is actually a Christian celebration of the Eve of All Saints. Kaya lang ano'ng ginawa ng kultura? Unti-unting binago 'yan eh. Instead of the celebration of all saints, naging celebration na ito ng all demons and devils. Kaya 'yong mga bata, dinadamitan natin nang kung anu-anong mga nakakatakot na kasuotan.

Doon po sa mga medyo matatanda na dito, inabutan n'yo pa po ba 'yong 'nangangaluluwa'? Meron pa po bang nangangaluluwa ngayon? Wala na po yata. Pero noon yata, ang sabi ng mga matatanda, during Hallow's Eve, meron daw pong mga nangangaluluwa. Ano po ang ginagawa ng mga nangangaluluwa? Hindi po sila nananakot. They are not dressed like devils. Ang ginagawa ng mga nangangaluluwa, sila'y pumupunta sa mga bahay-bahay, kumakanta, and they are offering prayers for those who are departed, nang sa gayon 'yong mga yumao ay makabalik o makapasok sa kaharian ng langit. That was the origin of the Pinoy celebration of Hallow's Eve. Eh kaya lang ngayon, medyo gaya-gaya tayo eh. Gusto nating ginagawa 'yong nasa Kanluran. Therefore, we want to do trick-or-treat, tapos dadamitan natin ng mga maskarang mukhang aswang at tiyanak 'yong mga bata. (laughs)

The CBCP tells us that instead of dressing our little children like devils, let us dress them up like what? Maybe heroes. Or more properly, even like saints. Why? Para mas makilala ng ating mga bata 'yong mga banal. Dahil katulad nga po ng sinabi ko kanina, Christianity is not a matter of scholarship, but relationship. At magandang habang bata pa lang ay unti-unti nang nakikilala ng mga bata kung sino ba itong mga banal na ito, and we begin to introduce them to the lives of the saints, so that we, ourselves, as adults, will be challenged to live according to the lives of the saints, so that we can mirror them to our children. This is the way to our salvation. Hindi sapat na sabihin nating 'Panginoon, nakapagsimba naman ako, eh. Siguro maliligtas na ako.' No. In every moment of our life, we are to live out our Christianity.

May isang babaeng in-interview sa TV kagabi. Tinanong siya, 'Sang-ayon ka ba na ipagbabawal ng CBCP na magdamit demonyo 'yong mga bata?' Ang sabi ng babae, 'Eh...all throughout the year naman, si Jesus naman at si Mary ay nasa puso na natin, eh. Maganda namang once a year....' (laughs) Sabi ko, ano'ng ibig niyang sabihin? Once a year, demonyo naman (loud laughs) ang nasa puso mo. Minsan gano'n tayo mag-isip ano. No. Dapat, all throughout the year, Jesus will be in our hearts. And that is why Jesus is telling us - try to enter through the narrow gate. Because every day, our Christian life will be called to task.

As we continue this Holy Eucharist, we pray for that grace, that we may live our Christianity, year in and year out. Amen.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Gospel Reflection

October 29, 2013
Tuesday – Year of Faith – Ordinary Time
by Rev. Fr. Benjo Fajota, Vice Rector, Mary, Queen of Peace Shrine (Our Lady of Peace Quasi Parish/EDSA Shrine)
5:30 PM Mass at the EDSA Shrine

Reading 1 Rom 8:18-25

Brothers and sisters: I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope.  For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.

Responsorial Psalm PS 126:1b-2ab, 2cd-3, 4-5, 6

R. (3a) The Lord has done marvels for us.
When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done marvels for us.
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed.
R. The Lord has done marvels for us.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those that sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done marvels for us.
Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves.
R. The Lord has done marvels for us.

Gospel Lk 13:18-21

Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? To what can I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in the garden. When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.”

Again he said, “To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch of dough was leavened.”


'No one who has encountered Christ will ever be the same again.' This is a quote from Archbishop Soc Villegas. No one who has encountered the Word of God and His very presence in the Eucharist will be the same person.

This is what is expected of us. We know that evil and good exist in this world. Evil operates on the principle of contamination. A single rotten apple would rotten the whole basket of apples. Good, on the other hand, works on the principle of contagion. Smile begets smile, peace begets peace, and love begets love.

Ang sinasabi sa atin sa Ebanghelyo ay maitanim sa mga puso natin ang Salita ng Diyos. At dapat, ito ay lumalago, para magkaroon ng bunga sa Kaharian ng Diyos.

We have been hearing the Word of God since we were small. The question is - has the Word of God influenced us in our daily lives? Let's take for example the worldly tradition or practice of Halloween. A lot of parents will tell me, 'Father, this is just innocent entertainment or enjoyment for the children. Wala namang ibig sabihin ito.' Wala nga sigurong ibig sabihin, but what value do we teach our children? Pagsusuotin natin sila ng mga maskara ng mga bungo, mga bampira, mga zombies. What values do we give to them? We are sort of uplifting the culture of death.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Lord of Resurrection, and that is what we are looking forward to. At the end of our lives here on earth, we will also be resurrected, the same way as Jesus Christ.

My dear brothers and sisters, the Word of God must not only be spread in the world. It must change our hearts, change our attitude, change the very person we are. Remember - no one who has encountered Christ will ever be the same again. Amen.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Gospel Reflection

October 28, 2013
Monday – Year of Faith – Ordinary Time
Feast of Saint Simon and Jude, Apostles
12:15PM Mass, Chapel of the Eucharistic Lord (Megamall Chapel)

Reading 1 Eph 2:19-22

Brothers and sisters: You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God,  built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

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

R. (5a) 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 Lk 6:12-16

Jesus went up to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called a Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.


My dear brothers and sisters, each of one of us has made a major decision at some point in our lives, and for sure, later on, we will still have to make major decisions. The question is - what do we do when we have to make major decisions, like getting married, studying, looking for a job? What do we do before making an important decision? Some of us think and study all aspects of the situation, while some of us rely on our emotions, or on what we feel.

We heard in the Gospel today that before making the major decision of selecting his Apostles, what did Jesus do? The night before, He spent His time praying to the Father. How about us? Do we also pray before making major and important decisions? We should not forget what Jesus did - we have to pray. It is in prayer that we are enlightened. In praying, we will be able to see and understanding things better. It will help us to be back again and stay at the right direction.

Jesus' Apostles faced a lot of challenges in their life, but they remained steadfast through prayer. Prayer will strengthen our faith, and give us renewed courage to remain faithful, humble and active missionaries of the Lord. Let us, therefore, not forget to spend time in prayer.