The Gospel Today
Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Jesus addressed this parable to the Pharisees and scribes:
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance.”
Reflection (Sem. Arnel Calata, Jr.):
Today is the solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Today is also the day of prayer for the sanctification of priests. Priesthood, as St. John Marie Vianney would say, is the “love of the heart of Jesus.” The celebration of the year of priests last 2010 carried the theme “Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of Priest.” What then is faithfulness and how can priesthood be a locus of it?
I remember something significant when the Holy Apostles Senior Seminary community had a post-Christmas audience with the then Archbishop of Manila, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales last 2010. After the songs of thanksgiving were rendered to him by the community, Lolo, as how we called him, gave a short message concerning the true meaning of holiness. He emphasized that holiness is applied to all – priests, religious and laity and most especially to God. Holiness is the fidelity to who we are. God himself is faithful for being God. Moreover, all of us are called to be faithful to our identity like Jesus who is faithful to His being Savior. Thus, in priesthood, he emphasized that being holy is being a faithful priest patterned in the Priesthood of Christ. I was so stunned that time that I wrote it immediately in my journal so as not to forget the lesson imparted to us by Lolo. I was enlightened about what was meant by the theme during the Year of the Priest: “Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of Priests.” I need not look farther for Lolo has exemplified the holiness he was talking about by living out who he was called to be. He brought Christ closer to the people by his love for the poor, by his unceasing prayer and his love for the priesthood – the love of the heart of Jesus.
As members of the Church, we are invited to pray for our priests. By themselves, they cannot carry out their vocation. They need our prayers. As we unite our prayers with the whole Church, we are living out also our own vocation to holiness, being faithful to who God wants us to be. Faithfulness is not an exclusive challenge for priests. Each one is called to live out our vocation with faithfulness.