Sunday, June 16, 2013

Gospel Reflection

June 16, 2013
Sunday – Year of Faith – Ordinary Time
by Rev. Fr. Rufino "Jun" C. Sescon, Jr. - Chaplain, Sto. Nino de Paz Chapel (Greenbelt Chapel), Makati
4;30PM Sunday Mass at Sto. Nino de Paz Chapel, (Greenbelt Chapel) Makati

Reading 1 2 Sm 12:7-10, 13

Nathan said to David:  “Thus says the LORD God of Israel:  ‘I anointed you king of Israel. I rescued you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your lord’s house and your lord’s wives for your own. I gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were not enough, I could count up for you still more. Why have you spurned the Lord and done evil in his sight? You have cut down Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you took his wife as your own, and him you killed with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah to be your wife.’ Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan answered David: “The LORD on his part has forgiven your sin: you shall not die.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 32:1-2, 5, 7, 11

R. (cf. 5c) Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.
Blessed is the one whose fault is taken away,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed the man to whom the LORD imputes not guilt,
in whose spirit there is no guile.
R. Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.
I acknowledged my sin to you,
my guilt I covered not.
I said, “I confess my faults to the LORD,”
and you took away the guilt of my sin.
R. Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.
You are my shelter; from distress you will preserve me;
with glad cries of freedom you will ring me round.
R. Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.
Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you just;
exult, all you upright of heart.
R. Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.

Reading 2 Gal 2:16, 19-21

Brothers and sisters: We who know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. For through the law I died to the law, that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.

A Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty. Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?” Simon said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.” He said to him, “You have judged rightly.”

Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Afterward he journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.

Today, as we continue our observance of Sundays in ordinary time, in the secular sphere, we also observe a very special day. We observe Father's Day. And so before I begin my reflection, I invite all the fathers present to please stand up and be recognized by the community. Palakpakan natin ang ating mga Tatay. (loud applause from the congregation)

I don't know if I was also the one who celebrated the 4:30pm mass on Mother's Day, but just for the sake of sharing it, I said before that when it is Father's Day, almost all the restaurants are filled up, and there is really a sense of celebration. And I commented that - why is it that during Mother's Day, hindi ganoong kapuno ang mga restaurant? Sabi ko, bakit ganoon? Ibig sabihin ba no'n, mas loveable ang mga fathers, kasi mas may celebration?

And then I shared that a woman approached me after the mass and said, "I don't think so, Father, that the air is more celebratory during Father's Day, not because fathers are more loveable." And then she told me, "You know why Father? Why the restaurants are filled up, why there are many activities for Father's Day? Because the mothers are the ones organizing them. (laughs) That's why they are all filled up. Unlike Mother's Day, si Father ay di nag-o-organize daw, di nag-re-reservation, kaya parang mas masaya ang Father's Day kasi si Mommy ang nag-o-organize. Baka medyo totoo nga po iyon, ano. Kasi pag si Daddy, "Ay, Mother's Day ba?" Doon lang naalala on the day itself. Pero si Mommy, pinaghahandaan 'yan, I am sure. Kaya kayong mga Mommy - patunayan n'yong meron kayong hinandang surprise para kay Daddy.

And there is another point that I want to mention before I proceed to the reflection. You see, our Gospel is supposed to be in a longer form, but I decided to read the shorter form. Why? Because the longer form has given rise to a controversy in the Church. If you would read the Gospel of Luke in the longer form from Chapter 7 and proceed to Verses 36 to Chapter 8, the last part would mention Jesus with a group of women. And the last part would mention, 'that was the woman from whom several evil spirits were expelled, and she was named Mary Magdalene.'

But Mary Magdalene is different from the woman I just read in today's Gospel, who anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped the feet of Jesus with her hair. And normally, this woman, the one in the Gospel today, is considered a prostitute. That is why in the tradition of the church, we must admit, when biblical scholarship was not yet precise, they attributed this woman, the prostitute, to Mary Magdalene - which we now retract. I want to make it clear. The Church is retracting that. Because by scholarship investigation, and all the scholars agree, we found out that those are two different women. Kaya unfair naman po. To give justice to Mary Magdalene, she is not a prostitute. Kaya pasensiya na si Freddie Aguilar sa kanta niyang 'Magdalena', sapagkat hindi ho siya gano'n. Of course, we cannot blame them, because at that time, there was not enough scientific investigation to compare the findings. But the basis of that wrong notion is the longer form of the Gospel. Kaya para hindi po malito ang mga tao, sabi ko, babasahin ko na lang ang short form para hindi nila ma-associate si Mary Magdalene do'n sa babaeng humalik sa paa ni Hesus.

I will now proceed to the reflection.....Akala ninyo tapos na po 'yong Homily, ano? Introduction pa lang ho 'yon. (laughs)

You know, when several people gather, whether it be in the family, a class, in an office, there are several personalities. That's obvious. And they make life colorful. Kasi pag pare-pareho naman tayo ng personality, boring naman 'yon. For example, in the family or in the class, there is the singer. There is also the joker. I remember the seven dwarves of Snow White. There is the Grumpy one - 'yong laging nakasimangot. Meron diyan 'yong laging naka-smile. Meron din namang serious palagi.

In our class, we also have different personalities. There is a walking encyclopedia - the nerdy type, who would know everything. But there is this classmate of ours who is our favorite. Why? Because he is the most generous one. Siya ang paborito naming lahat, lalo na pag lalabas kami, siya ang gusto naming kasama. Kasi pag kami ay mamamasahe sa bus, sa taxi, pag kakain sa labas, pag manonood kami ng sine, siya ang unang-unang bumubunot, kaya siya ang gusto naming kasama palagi. Meron namang ayaw mong kasama kasi alam mo pag kakain na, doon magsi-CR. Pag tatawagin na ninyo 'yong waiter, sasabihin, "Ay lalabas lang ako saglit." Kasi alam nilang magsisingilan na, ano. Tapos pagbalik sasabihin, "O, bakit naman nagsibayad na kayo, magbibigay pa naman sana ako." O 'yong iba naman ay deadma pag magbabayaran na. But this classmate of ours is very generous, and we like him for that. Never was there an occasion when he did not pay for us, at magagalit siya pag hindi siya ang nagbayad. Kundi ka ba naman matuwa sa gano'ng kaibigan ano. Siya, ang gusto niya, siya ang nagbabayad. But if you would look it at it, that classmate of ours is really not that rich. He's not really that moneyed, but he is that generous. And so I ask myself - how can he be like that? How can he be so generous? Galante, sabi nga natin.  

Of course, not all people can give. There are people who are willing to give. It is just that they do not have enough. And I perfectly understand. There are many sincere people who say, "Father, kung may pera lang ho talaga ako...." Alam mong sincere sila, pag sinabi nila 'yon. It's just that they do not have. They could not give. They are inadequate. Gustuhin man nila, hanggang do'n lang ang nakakayanan nila.

But on the other hand, we must admit that there are people who have, who can afford, who possess so much, but they still do not give. And I told you that that very generous classmate of mine is not really the richest in the batch. There are several who are more prosperous than him. Pero 'yong mga mas mayayaman, parang sila 'yong nagtatago pa. Sila 'yong hindi kumikibo pag singilan na. Sila 'yong kunwari bubunot, pero di matanggal-tanggal 'yong wallet sa bulsa nila. Kunwari lang bubunot, pero hindi naman matanggal-tanggal. Palabas lang.

How come? They cannot still share because deep in their heart, they do not believe they have enough. They still do not believe they are rich. Why don't they give despite of their affluence? They are not yet convinced that they are secure and stable. For them, every centavo, every drop, every crumb, every piece matters. Because if they are convinced that they have more than enough, they will not hesitate to give something away. They cannot afford to be lavish, because they are afraid that they will still lose something. Now, I understand. They do not give, because in their minds and hearts, they still do not have much.

Kaya siguro 'yong iba sa inyo, nagtataka. Bakit milyonaryo na siya, hindi pa siya makapagbigay. Kung ako lang ang milyonaryo, kung ako lang ang may perang gano'n, gagawin ko 'yon. Because perhaps some of them are not convinced that those millions are enough. That's why they want the billions, not the millions. They want the thousands, not the hundreds. Enough is not in the vocabulary of a greedy person. The world is not even enough, when there's greed.

Dear friends, in today's Gospel, Jesus praised the gestures of a simple woman. She washed His feet with her tears. She anointed His head with precious oil. She was able to love Jesus so lavishly. Why? Because Jesus says, she has received much love. She has been forgiven. Her debt to God has been cancelled, that is why she is overflowing with gratitude. That was the case of the simple woman. She is generous, because she believes she has received much. Because you cannot give what you do not have.

On the other hand, Simon the Pharisee was the opposite. He was the so-called righteous and upright man. He was supposed to be filled with God; he should have been overflowing with holiness, obedience and compassion. But how come Simon, the host, saw the woman with contempt? How come he scorned her in front of Jesus? Why did he did not even take care of Jesus, since he was actually the host? He was not even courteous enough to Jesus as a guest. Why was Simon not generous, unlike the woman?

Simon was not gracious, because actually, there was no grace in his heart. There is nothing to give. You cannot give what you do not have. There is scarcity of love in his heart. There is little forgiveness and compassion in him. Since there is little forgiveness, there is little love. I agree. Simon could not give love, because there is little forgiveness in his heart. Unlike the woman, she gave so much love, because there is so much forgiveness in her heart.

But why is there little forgiveness in Simon's heart? Bakit po kokonti lang ang kapatawaran sa puso ni Simon? There is little love, there is little forgiveness, not because he is sinless, not because nobody wants to forgive him. There is little forgiveness because there is little repentance, little contrition, little humility. He did not see anything wrong with his life. Hindi siya humihingi ng tawad sa Diyos. Kaya katiting ang kapatawaran niya. At bakit hindi siya humihingi ng tawad sa Diyos? Una, akala niya, wala siyang mali. Ikalawa, ayaw niyang aminin ang kanyang mali. At 'yon ang pagkakaiba niya do'n sa babae na nag-uumapaw ang pag-ibig, nag-uumapaw ang kapatawaran. 'Yong babae, inamin niya ang kanyang pagkakamali. Ikalawa, nagsisi siya kay Hesus. And because of that, she was overflowing with love.

Brothers and sisters, in this mass, we ask the Lord for that grace. That there is honesty, humility and repentance in our hearts. A repentant person is a loving person. A person who knows how to humbly acknowledge his or her sins, will receive God's forgiveness. And since one rightfully receives forgiveness, he can now celebrate and share mercy and forgiveness in the world.

Masdan po ninyo mga kapatid. Ang hindi sanay magsisi, hindi sanay magpatawad. At ang taong marunong magsisi, marunong magpatawad, sapagkat alam niya, ramdan niya, kung papa'nong ikaw naman ay humihingi ng tawad.

Let us ask ourselves - is it easy or hard for us to forgive? Is it easy for us to share mercy? Baka ho kaya hirap tayong magpatawad, hirap tayong magbahagi ng awa, ay dahil wala tayong natatanggap na awa at kapatawaran sa Diyos. At baka kaya wala tayong kapatawaran o wala tayong natatanggap na awa, eh kasi hindi tayo humihingi ng tawad sa Diyos. The woman - she did not miss that opportunity when Jesus came, because she was humble and honest enough. We ask the Lord that this grace may be in our hearts, so that we may be generous and gracious.  

And it is very nice that the scenes of Jesus will always be in meals, in tables. The Gospel was in the context of a table fellowship. Kumakain sila. Doesn't it sound and look familiar? We are here on the table of the Lord. Let us not imitate Simon who missed that opportunity, who did not see anything wrong with him. Rather, let us imitate that woman, who, at the table of the Lord, realized what was wrong with her, what was weak in her, and consequently, discovered, what was strong and gracious in the Lord.

Kaya pala ang first part ng misa natin, pagharap natin sa table ni Lord, ano po ang sinasabi ng pari? "As we prepare to celebrate this sacred mystery, let us acknowledge our sins, and beg the Lord's mercy." Because when we acknowledge our sins, we will receive much, and we will share much. Amen.