Friday, July 5, 2013

Gospel Reflection

July 05, 2013
Friday – Year of Faith – Ordinary Time
First Friday of the Month
by Fr. Dominador “Domie” G. Guzman Jr. (Society of Saint Paul)
12;15PM Mass, Chapel of the Eucharistic Lord (Megamall Chapel)

The span of Sarah’s life was one hundred and twenty-seven years. She died in Kiriatharba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham performed the customary mourning rites for her. Then he left the side of his dead one and addressed the Hittites: “Although I am a resident alien among you, sell me from your holdings a piece of property for a burial ground, that I may bury my dead wife.”

After the transaction, Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave of the field of Machpelah, facing Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan.

Abraham had now reached a ripe old age, and the LORD had blessed him in every way. Abraham said to the senior servant of his household, who had charge of all his possessions: “Put your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not procure a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites among whom I live, but that you will go to my own land and to my kindred to get a wife for my son Isaac.” The servant asked him: “What if the woman is unwilling to follow me to this land? Should I then take your son back to the land from which you migrated?” “Never take my son back there for any reason,” Abraham told him. “The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and the land of my kin, and who confirmed by oath the promise he then made to me, ‘I will give this land to your descendants’– he will send his messenger before you, and you will obtain a wife for my son there. If the woman is unwilling to follow you, you will be released from this oath. But never take my son back there!”

A long time later, Isaac went to live in the region of the Negeb. One day toward evening he went out . . . in the field, and as he looked around, he noticed that camels were approaching. Rebekah, too, was looking about, and when she saw him, she alighted from her camel and asked the servant, “Who is the man out there, walking through the fields toward us?” “That is my master,” replied the servant. Then she covered herself with her veil.

The servant recounted to Isaac all the things he had done. Then Isaac took Rebekah into his tent; he married her, and thus she became his wife. In his love for her, Isaac found solace after the death of his mother Sarah.

Responsorial Psalm PS 106:1b-2, 3-4a, 4b-5

R. (1b) Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
Who can tell the mighty deeds of the LORD,
or proclaim all his praises?
R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
Blessed are they who observe what is right,
who do always what is just.
Remember us, O LORD, as you favor your people.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
Visit me with your saving help,
That I may see the prosperity of your chosen ones,
rejoice in the joy of your people,
and glory with your inheritance.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

Gospel Mt 9:9-13

As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”


Sinimulan po nating makinig sa Salita ng Diyos sa misa, sa isang mahabang kwento ng Old Testament - ang kwento ni Abraham. Para doon sa mga nagbabasa, hindi lang ng Gospel kundi pati 'yong First Reading of the day, mahahalata po ninyo na nitong mga nakalipas na mga araw, except on the day of the Feast of St. Thomas, ang mga First Readings natin ay mga kwento sa Genesis tungkol kay Abraham.

But now, we are coming to the end of this cycle of stories of Abraham. In fact, in our First Reading today, we heard the sad death and burial of Sarah. Although siguro sasabihin natin, "Father, overdue na 'yan. 127 years old na si Sarah." (laughs) Pagkatapos niyan, in-introduce sa atin ang kasal ni Isaac. Kasi mula kay Abraham, ang kwento ng kaligtasan ay magtutuloy sa cycle naman ng mga kwento kay Isaac at Rebekah, patungo kay Jacob. Si Jacob ang magiging ancestor ng labindalawang tribo ng Israel.

Sa ating Ebanghelyo naman ay narinig natin ang pagpapatuloy din ng ating pagbabasa ng kwento ng Ebanghelyo ni St. Matthew. At sa Gospel natin ngayon, mismo ay narinig natin ang vocation story ni St. Matthew - kung papaano siya nabingwit ni Hesus bilang isa sa magiging labindalawang alagad Niya.

Our stories are centuries apart. The story of Abraham is 2,000 years before Christ. Pero magkaganun man, if you try to digest - and this is the beauty of the Liturgy of the Word - when you read the Liturgy of the Word, don't just focus on the Gospel. The Gospel is the most beautiful, the most important. Pero ang buong kwento po is the Liturgy of the Word. Kawawa naman 'yong mga first readings natin, ano. They are all part of the message.

Now - ano ang ibinibigay sa atin na common message pag pinagsama-sama po natin itong mga readings na ito for today - readings coming from the 13th week of Ordinary Time? As I was meditating this morning over the readings, the word that came to me is the word 'happiness'. Happiness - pagging maligaya, pagiging masaya. Meron ba sa inyong ayaw maging masaya? Kahit na ho siguro 'yong mga taong ang apelyido ay Lagrimas (tear or teardrop) o kaya'y Dalamhati (laughs) - talagang malungkutin - I am very sure in their lives, and in ours, all of us want to be happy.

Brothers and sisters, if we look back into the readings we have today, ito 'yong isa sa mga message na pwede po nating i-meditate sa ating mga pagbasa. Sa First Reading, sa kwento ni Abraham, at sa kwento ni Isaac at ni Rebekah, sa bandang dulo ng pagbasa, isa po sa mga striking verse doon ay "In his love for her, Isaac found solace after the death of his mother Sarah." Those closing words of the First Reading, in a way, brothers and sisters, remind us that in our search for happiness, many times, we look and search for happiness in our relationships. Di po ba? 'Kung maayos ang relasyon ko, Father, siguro masaya ako. Kung ok lang kami sa pamilya, Father, siguro kahit kaunti lang ang mayroon kami, masaya na ako.' We look for happiness, first of all, in fulfilling relationships. Either relationships at home, or relationships among friends. Ngunit ang 'wake up call' ng ating First Reading ay ito - relationships are passing. Ipagpalagay na natin na you are gifted with the most ideal family relationship. Kaya 'yong ibang mga anak eh singkwenta anyos na eh ayaw pang mag-asawa. Enjoy sila sa pamilya nila eh. Merong mga gano'n eh, ano? Tinataboy na ng magulang (laughs), gini-give away na, ayaw pa ring umalis, kasi enjoy sila. They feel fulfilled with what they have in the home. But even that, alam n'yo po, these things are passing. Time, life is passing. Ito nga, namatay si Sarah, nalungkot si Abraham - katapusan na ng kwento ni Abraham actually sa atin pong First Reading - ang kanyang anak na si Isaac ay kailangang maghanap ng panibagong saya, at ito naman ay nakita niya sa isang bagong relasyon - ang isang relasyon ng mag-asawa. Relationships are good, but they have their limits. If we only put our search for happiness in relationships, we may end up having our own frustrations.

Sa Ebanghelyo, narinig natin ang kwento ni Mateo. Kakaibang kwento. Siguro dito, ang happiness naman ni Matthew comes from three things. Una, 'yong kanyang position bilang tax collector. Alam n'yo ang mga tax collector noon, mga importanteng tao, as far as the Roman empire was concerned. They were feeding the resources that the Roman empire needed. Syempre sapagkat siya ay nasa poder, nasa power, nasa posisyon, aba'y nando'n 'yong influence ni Mateo sa kanyang mga kaibigan. Kaya nga 'yong table punong-puno. No'ng kumain si Hesus, punong-puno ang table. Gano'n ka eh, pag ikaw ay nasa poder, araw-araw buffet sa bahay, di ba? Maraming bisita. Ito 'yong nagbibigay ng happiness kay Matthew for a while. But notice - something seemed to be missing. Kaya pagdaan ni Hesus at sabi Niya, "follow me.", walang patumpik-tumpik, Matthew left everything and followed the Lord. Power, influence for Matthew was temporary happiness.

So where do we find happiness? Brothers and sisters, hindi ko alam kung naaala n'yo pa 'yong Responsorial Psalm. Ano'ng sinabi po sa Responsorial Psalm? Gising po ba kayo kanina, o sumasama lang sa agos? (laughs) Merong iba kapag nagre-Responsorial Psalm, sumasama lang sa agos, eh. Kanina, sa Psalm 106, our response was, "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good." We have happiness in life, if we are able to see and discover the goodness of the Lord in whatever life we have, the goodness of the Lord in the relationships that we have, the goodness of the Lord in the passing positions that we have. Never to be attached in relationships and positions, but looking for the good in all of these things, we say thank you to the Lord. 'Yon po ang happiness. Hindi ibig sabihin ng happiness eh wala ka nang relasyon. Hindi ibig sabihin ng happiness eh mamaya ipamigay mo na lahat ng ari-arian mo. Hindi po. The point of our Responsorial Psalm is - look for the goodness of the Lord in the life you have now, in the relationship you have now, in the power that you have now, in the position you have now, in everything. Know that all of these things are passing, but the goodness of the Lord is forever. And we have to be thankful for that. Kapag gano'ng uri ng attitude meron po tayo sa ating buhay, kahit na paiba-iba ang weather, you will always find a reason to be happy. Kahit na kung minsan marami, kung minsan wala, you will find a reason to be happy, because you always find goodness in what you are going through.

Habang tayo ay naghi-healing mass dito sa Megamall chapel, kasi wala na naman ang aking kaibigang si Father Joey Faller - di ko alam kung saan na naman nag-travel - while we are here for a healing mass, my thoughts go somewhere else. My Mom is now one week in the hospital. Heart enlargement, diabetes, water in the lungs. Alam n'yo ok lang 'yon. Ang problema, pag nasa ospital ang isang mahal sa buhay, maliban sa disrupted lahat ng schedule - kasi kailangang bibisi-bisita ako, kahit napaka-busy ko - eh alam natin na ang ospital ay parang taxi. (laughs) Bawat silip ng attending physician, bawat itinuturok sa iyo, pumapatak 'yon. (laughs) Buti pa 'yong taxi alam mo kung ano'ng patak eh. Minsan sa ospital, makikita mo na lang doon sa billing statement pag nag-update ka, "Huh! Gano'n pala kamahal 'yong tusok na 'yon." But as I go through this experience with my family, I still am happy. And I will tell you why.

I have just celebrated three weeks ago my renewal of vows for 25 years in the priesthood. (loud applause) At alam n'yo po, sa tatlong umabot sa Silver Jubilee ng pagka-pari, I realized that I was the only one with complete parents, after 25 years. (applause) Kaya sabi ko, eh bahagi 'yon. Kung may tumatanda kang magulang, kasama sa pagtanda ng magulang, parang tumatandang kotse, tumataas ang maintenance. (laughs) Pero mamili ka - may magulang o wala? Di ba? The important thing is to look for the goodness of God in whatever life you go through, and to be thankful.

Palagay ko ho kung gano'n ang tingin natin sa buhay natin, we can always smile. Ang hirap lang sa Pilipino, tayong mga Pilipino meron tayong bad habit. Pag sino 'yong huling nakausap mo, ang palaging sinasabi mo, "Buti ka pa". Tapos nakausap mo naman 'yong isa, "Buti ka pa". Lahat ng kabutihan nakita mo sa buhay ng ibang tao. (laughs) Di ba? Pero 'yong sarili mo, hindi mo nakita may kabutihan din na nasa iyo. It is when we begin to see that which is good, and we begin to be thankful, that indeed, joy comes from the heart. God bless us.