Saturday, June 22, 2013

Gospel Reflection

June 22, 2013
Saturday – Year of Faith – Ordinary Time
by Rev. Fr. Ernie M. Cruz, SDB - Rector, St. John Bosco Parish Church, Makati
6:30AM Mass, St. John Bosco Parish Church, Makati

Reading 1 2 Cor 12:1-10

Brothers and sisters: I must boast; not that it is profitable, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who, fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows), was caught up to the third heaven. And I know that this man (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows) was caught up into Paradise and heard ineffable things, which no one may utter. About this man I will boast, but about myself I will not boast, except about my weaknesses. Although if I should wish to boast, I would not be foolish, for I would be telling the truth. But I refrain, so that no one may think more of me than what he sees in me or hears from me because of the abundance of the revelations. Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Responsorial Psalm PS 34:8-9, 10-11, 12-13

R. (9a) Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Fear the LORD, you his holy ones,
for nought is lacking to those who fear him.
The great grow poor and hungry;
but those who seek the LORD want for no good thing.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Come, children, hear me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
Which of you desires life,
and takes delight in prosperous days?
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Gospel Mt 6:24-34

Jesus said to his disciples: “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”


Some of us may be reading lives of saints. Some saints would write about their mystical experiences - St. Therese of Avila, St. Therese of the Child Jesus, St. John of the Cross. They would talk about their experience of God. They are wrapped up in God, that they could almost feel God. They are like in the netherworld, and they will talk about this experience of being very close to God. 

St. Paul also talked about his experience of God. When he talked about what he wanted to boast - about things, he would talk in the first person. But when he talked about his experience that is so different, so divine, he would talk in the third person.  

That is what we heard in the First Reading of today - St. Paul's experience with God. But then, St. Paul talks about his experience with God, not to boast, but in order to put forward that God is everything, and that everything comes from God's grace. What St. Paul can boast about himself are all his sins and weaknesses and God's grace that helped him through it. 

St. Paul said that for three times, he asked God to remove his 'pain in the flesh', whatever that is, which may be a big temptation or difficulty he was going through. And as he asked, the Lord said, "My grace is sufficient for you. Do not worry." That is why when we talk about St. Paul, we talk about a person who has placed his priority on God. He knew who God was. That is why he said he can talk about God, because he is the man who knows. He has experienced God. In spite of his many trials, pains and difficulties, God was supporting Him, and Jesus would not let him down. That was St. Paul's faith statement. 

That is what Jesus tells us in the Gospel of today. Do not worry about so many things; God will not let you down. If He can take care of the birds of the air, the fish, and all the beautiful flowers which flourish now and die tomorrow, we are much more than all of these. God will not let us down. 

That is why in the Gospel, we should look at ourselves and see our distance from what God wants us to be. Sometimes, we can get so engrossed in material things that God becomes a second priority. It is not really being the best, or having the most, or having a very big deposit in the bank. It is all about seeking God's Word, seeking God's will and the greater glory of God. As. St. Ignatius would say, it is all a matter of seeking God. And in that seeking, we will be able to find and discover that God truly cares. We may never reach that peak moment when we have reached the greater glory of God, but we know that the very act of seeking God's will is already a cause for joy in us. 

A lot of people now have a certain culture that gives a lot of time to working and accumulating wealth, where the number one priority is work, with family only second. They leave early for work and stay late, and just go back home to rest. And then the next day, gano'n ulit. Our expats here will work late, then have a good time to pass on the traffic, and then work again the next day. We can just imagine how far probably is God in their priorities. 

And that could also be the same for us. Where is the place of God in our priorities? When we try seeking what God wants, everything will be put in place. When we read the Magnificat, we know that the Blessed Mother gave everything, and yet, she did not lack anything. Most of all, we believe that our Blessed Mother was most happy. 
The joy of a person is when he is placed, right where God wants Him to be. How happy is that person who places his full trust and priority in God. How nice it is to see people who come into a certain age, surrounded by their family, children and grandchildren, and they will look at their families, saying, "I have done my best, and God has given me this reward and blessing of being very happy for what I have done." At times, what we have that we did not expect, are the best gifts that God gives to us. But then He tells us to seek first His glory, and everything will be in place. Let us boast, not of what we have, but boast of the goodness and love of God for us. 
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.