Sunday, October 27, 2013

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Sir 35:15-17, 20-22; 2 Tim 4:6-8, 16-18; Lk 18:9-14

In order to give a lesson to the self-righteous, Jesus narrates the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.

The Pharisee is a devout observer of the Law. He commits himself to a life of regular prayer, tithing and fasting. We might think that with these religious practices, the Pharisee would easily please God. Yet, according to the parable, the Lord criticizes the Pharisee because in his prayer he shows some kind of arrogance and self-righteousness. This is what the Pharisee says: “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity – greedy, dishonest, adulterous – or even like this tax collector.” Obviously, the Pharisee recognizes the moral frailties of others but not his own human weaknesses. He behaves like he is a perfect individual, incapable of sinning.

In his letter to the Romans, Saint Paul reminds us that all have sinned, no one is exempted (3:22b-23a). Hence, God offers mercy to all of humanity through his Son Jesus Christ. The Pharisee is wrong when he separates himself from his fellow sinners. Because of this, he no longer feels the need to ask for God’s mercy and forgiveness.

The tax collector is regarded as someone with no moral integrity by virtue of his employment. By working for the pagan Roman occupiers, he and other publicans are considered traitors and sinners. Surprisingly, however, the Lord praises the tax collector for praying with all sincerity and humility. The parable says that he continues to beat his breast and prays: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” His humility to accept his unworthiness and sinfulness leads him to beg for God’s mercy. And for this, the tax collector goes home justified.

The story is told that one day Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, visited a prison and talked with each of the inmates. There were endless tales of innocence, of misunderstood motives, and of exploitation. Finally the king stopped at the cell of a convict who remained silent. “Well,” remarked Frederick, “I suppose you are an innocent victim too?” “No, sir, I’m not,” replied the man. “I’m guilty and deserve my punishment.” Turning to the warden, the king said, “Here, release this rascal before he corrupts all these fine innocent people here!”

(The story is from Throw Fire by John Fuellenbach)

What do we learn from today’s gospel?

First of all, we are taught that the virtue of humility is an important foundation of prayer. Like the tax collector in the parable, we need to approach God with a humble heart.  Jesus says that “the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” The first reading affirms by saying that “the prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds; it does not rest till it reaches its goal” (Sir 35:17)

Second, we are inspired to recognize our wounded nature and our sinfulness. Like the tax collector, let us entrust ourselves to the immeasurable mercy of God which is definitely greater than any sin we might have committed.

And finally, we are reminded not to look down on our fellow sinners who also need God’s mercy and forgiveness. Let us not follow the example of the Pharisee in the story whose arrogance goes to the extent of criticizing another worshipper at the temple. Instead, may we learn to support one another in our battle against all forces of evil and to pray for the salvation of all!

A voyaging ship was wrecked during a storm at sea and only two of the men on it were able to swim to a small, desert like island. Not knowing what else to do, the two survivors agree that they had no other recourse but to pray to God.

However, to find out whose prayer was more powerful, they agreed to divide the territory between them and stay on opposite sides of the island.

The first thing they prayed for was food. The next morning, the first man saw a fruit-bearing tree on his side of the land, and he was able to eat its fruit. The other man’s parcel of land remained barren.

After a week, the first man was lonely and he decided to pray for a wife. The next day, there was a woman who swam to his side of the land. On the other side of the island, there was nothing.

Soon the first man prayed for a house, clothes, more food. The next day, like magic, all of these were given to him. However, the second man still had nothing.

Finally, the first man prayed for a ship, so that he and his wife could leave the island. In the morning, he found a ship docked at his side of the island. The first man boarded the ship with his wife and decided to leave the second man on the island. He considered the other man unworthy to receive God's blessings, since none of his prayers had been answered.

As the ship was about to leave, the first man heard a voice from heaven booming, “Why are you leaving your companion on the island?”

“My blessings are mine alone, since I was the one who prayed for them," the first man answered. "His prayers were all unanswered and so he does not deserve anything.”

“You are mistaken!” the voice rebuked him. “He had only one prayer, which I answered. If not for that, you would not have received any of my blessings.”

“Tell me,” the first man asked the voice, “what did he pray for that I should owe him anything?”

“He prayed that all your prayers be answered.”

(The story is from an unknown author)

Friday, October 11, 2013

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

2 Kgs 5:14-17; 2 Tim 2:8-13; Lk 17:11-19

A little girl was going to a party and her mother told her to be a good girl and to remember, when she was leaving, to thank her hostess. When she arrived home the mother asked if she had thanked her hostess and the little girl replied: “No, the girl in front of me did and the lady said, ‘Don’t mention it’ – so I didn’t!” (The story is from More Quotes and Anecdotes by Anthony P. Castle)
As little children, we were taught by our parents to say “Thank you” every time we receive a gift or something good from others. And yet, from time to time, we still find ourselves failing to thank those who have helped us in some way or another. Sometimes, we even forget to thank God who is the source of all goodness and blessings.
“Thank you” is the language of a grateful person. The readings give us two examples of people who have possessed or developed a thankful heart. The Second Book of Kings tells us how Naaman, a Syrian general, tried to express his deep gratitude to the prophet Elisha for making possible his cure from leprosy. In like manner, the gospel of Luke narrates how a Samaritan came back to thank Jesus after being healed from his leprosy. Actually, there were ten lepers who received healing, but only one cared to return and give thanks to Jesus. Realizing this, the Lord asked: “Were not all ten made clean? The other nine, where are they?” The gospel suggests that God would like us to show gratitude whenever we receive a gift or a blessing, be it from him or from others. Let us not be like the nine lepers who, after being healed, ran away and forgot the source of their blessing.
Somebody made up the following story:
The Lord was walking around heaven when he noticed one room full of busy angels. They were busy answering the phones.
“What is keeping you occupied here?” The Lord asked.
An angel replied, “Lord, this is the Office of Requests and Demands. Here, we are receiving thousands of calls per second from earth. People are asking countless things, many of which are not really essential.”
The Lord simply smiled as he moved to walk to another corner on the streets. Then he came to another room full of angels who were sleeping on the job.
“Are you not supposed to be working at this time of the day,” the Lord demanded.
An angel replied, “Lord, this is the Acknowledgment Office. We don’t receive a lot of calls from earth here. In fact, very few would call to give you thanks. So, what else can we do but sleep?”(The story is from unknown author)
Some people are not grateful because they take for granted the many blessings that are given to them everyday. Fresh air, clean water, food, health, education, children and friends are just few of God’s blessings that make this world habitable and that make our life meaningful. Others do not find the need to say “Thank You” because they consider their achievements as their own doing only. They believe they can succeed without the help of God or of others.
In contrast, grateful people are those who appreciate every little thing that makes their life easier, or every person that makes their life worth living, or every opportunity that opens a window to success. Moreover, thankful people are those who recognize their dependence on others, particularly on the goodness of God. They know that life becomes beautiful only when it is lived in an endless cycle of generous giving and grateful receiving.
Today, we are reminded that saying “Thank You” or writing a note of gratitude is an important gospel value.  Whenever we say “Thank You”, we recognize the many gifts, big and small, that we received from God and from others.  Importantly, we also begin to appreciate the value of these gifts as expressions of God’s love for us.

Saturday of the 27th Week in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Lucas 11:27-28. Kinsa man ang labing bulahan kanatong tanan? Dihay miingon kang Cristo: “Pagkabulahan sa babaye nga nagsabak ug nagmatuto kanimo!”  Apan gitubag kini niya: “Bulahan ang mga tawo nga naminaw sa Pulong sa Dios ug nagpuyo niini”. Kining ebanghelyo wala makapaubos sa bili sa papel ni Maria isip inahan ni Jesus. Gani, kini naghimo sa Mahal nga Birhen nga mas dalaygon tungod kay siya man ang labing nindot nga modelo sa usa ka tawo nga nagpuyo sa mga paagi sa Dios. Sa iyang pagka-inahan ni Jesus, si Maria wala nahimong mapahitas-on; hinuon, nagpabilin siyang mapaubsanon ug masinugtanon sa kabubut-on sa Dios. Karong adlawa gitawag kita nga magbaton sa susamang mga hiyas diha sa atong pagsunod kang Cristo. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Friday of the 27th Week in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Lucas 11:15-26. Unsa may atong buhaton aron ang katarong magmadaugon? Gipasanginlan si Jesus nga nagpapahawag daotang espiritu pinaagi sa gahom ni Satanas. Apan gihimo niya kining kahigayonan sa pagtudlo sa kabililhon sa panaghiusa: “Kon diha sa gingharian ni Satanas may mga pundok nga nag-unay'g away, unsaon man paglungtad niini?” Ug miingon pa siya: “Ang dili dapig kanako, batok gayod kanako; ang dili motabang kanako pagtigom, nagpatibulaag.” Nga sa ato pa, ang kampo sa mga daotan ug ang pundok sa mga matarong pareho nga nanginahanglan og kahiusahan aron molungtad. Ang hagit kanato karon mao kini: Kitang mga anak sa Dios angay'ng maghiusa sa pagbuhat og maayo. Kon dili nato kini mahimo, magmadaugon ang mga sakop sa demonyo.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Thursday of the 27th Week in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Lucas 11:5-13. Unsa may gipasabot ni Jesus sa iyang pag-ingon: “Pangayo kamo, ug kamo hatagan; pangita kamo, ug kamo makakaplag; tuktok kamo, ug kamo ablihan.” Pinaagi niini, kita gidasig ni Jesus sa pagduol ug pagpatabang sa Iyang Amahan sa panahon sa kalisod ug panginahanglan. Isip mapinanggaong Amahan, ang Ginoo dili makatalikod kanato nga Iyang mga anak. Apan wala kini magpasabot nga makapangayo kita bisan unsa na lang diha sa atong pag-ampo. Ang Dios, nga labing nasayod unsay maayo, mohatag lamang sa mga butang nga makatabang kanato. Busa, dili kita mabalaka o mangluod kon ugaling dili ihatag sa Dios ang atong gipangayo. Hinuon, angay natong isipon nga kita giiway lamang sa Ginoo sa butang nga makadaot sa atong kahimtang.