Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Gospel Reflection

October 23, 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 6:12-18

Brothers and sisters: Sin must not reign over your mortal bodies so that you obey their desires. And do not present the parts of your bodies to sin as weapons for wickedness,  but present yourselves to God as raised from the dead to life and the parts of your bodies to God as weapons for righteousness.  For sin is not to have any power over you, since you are not under the law but under grace.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace?  Of course not! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, although you were once slaves of sin, you have become obedient from the heart to the pattern of teaching to which you were entrusted. Freed from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness.

Responsorial Psalm PS 124:1b-3, 4-6, 7-8

R. (8a) Our help is in the name of the Lord.
Had not the LORD been with us,
let Israel say, had not the LORD been with us–
When men rose up against us,
then would they have swallowed us alive;
When their fury was inflamed against us.
R. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
Then would the waters have overwhelmed us;
The torrent would have swept over us;
over us then would have swept the raging waters.
Blessed be the LORD, who did not leave us
a prey to their teeth.
R. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
We were rescued like a bird
from the fowlers’ snare;
Broken was the snare,
and we were freed.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
R. Our help is in the name of the Lord.

Gospel Lk 12:39-48

Jesus said to his disciples:  “Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Then Peter said, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?” And the Lord replied, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. Truly, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish the servant severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly.  Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”


If you have been going to our Holy Eucharist since Monday, you will notice that our Readings, especially today's First Reading and our Gospel, speak of a common theme. And what is the theme that is being discussed since Monday? It is the theme of servanthood. The theme of surrendering to the Lord. The theme of allowing the Lord to be Lord of our life. 

Tamang tama. Ano ba ang original word or root word of the word 'Lord'? It comes from the Latin word 'dominus', where we get the word 'domination'. And so, in a way, our Gospel is telling us to let us allow the Lord to dominate us. 

And for the modern man, whenever we hear the word 'domination', we are allergic to that word. Ayaw nating marinig ang ganyang mga salita. For example, in our First Reading for today in the letter of St. Paul to the Romans, Paul kept on referring to himself as the slave of the Lord. Imagine calling himself a slave. In our modern parlance, in our modern milieu, we don't use the word 'slave' anymore, because the term 'slave' has a negative connotation. 

And in our Gospel for today, Jesus gives us a parable of Christians awaiting the return of the Master, although in our Gospel for today, the word being used is already 'servants'. But when we look at the original Greek word that was used in the Gospel, it is 'doulos', which literally also means 'slave', not a 'servant'. So, both the First Reading and the Gospel are consistent in telling us that we need to be slaves before the Lord. 

But how are we going to understand it? We will only be able to appreciate the meaning of the term if we purify it with our modern-day understanding. Kasi, sa panahon natin ngayon, when we hear the word 'slave', ang naaalala natin ay mga alipin. But in the Gospel, whenever the word 'slave' is being used, it only refers to the overall effect and influence of God in every area of our life. Meaning, the Lord will truly be 'dominus'. He will dominate each and every aspect and dimension of our life. And that is what it means to be a slave before the Lord. 

I remember reading a quote from a philosopher who said, "....better to reign in hell, than to serve in heaven." Why? Because we are allergic to the word 'service'. Because whenever we hear the word 'service' or 'slavery', we look at it as an anti-thesis to our own freedom and our own dignity. 

And yet, in our Gospel for today, Jesus reminds us - do not be afraid to surrender yourself to the dominion of the Lord. Why? Because the master-slave mentality does not exist in the Gospel. Why? Because when Jesus came, He already changed and purified the meaning of the word 'Master'. Before the coming of the Lord, the word 'Master' refers to someone who dominates the slave. But when Jesus came, what did He do? He purified and changed the meaning of the word 'Master'. And how do we comprehend the word 'Master' now? Jesus is the One who came, not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.

This means that ever since the Incarnation, the word 'Master' is already understood in a different way in the Gospel. Kaya nga sa ating simbahan ngayon, you often hear the word 'servant-leader'. This term is derivative of the meaning of 'Master' in the Gospels. 'Master' is no longer one who dominates. 'Master' is now one who donates and gives himself and gives his life for many. 

So sa araw na ito, ano ang pwede nating gawin? How do we understand or exercise the word 'Master'? I'm sure, all of us here, we are all masters in our little capacities. So how do we exercise the position of being a master? Second, we can also ask ourselves. How do we react, or how do we embrace the meaning of the word 'servant'? Are we allergic to the word 'servant'? Are we unnecessarily afraid of the word 'servant'? And therefore, are we also afraid to surrender ourself to the domination of God? 

In our Gospel for today, Jesus telling us how blessed we are when we expect the coming of the Lord in the spirit of servanthood. As we continue in this Holy Mass, let that be the grace that we will ask from the Lord. Lord, it is in surrendering to You, that we become more free. And it is in surrendering to Your dominion, that true freedom will be given to us. Amen.