September 13, 2015

The Gospel Today

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 8:27-35

Jesus and his disciples set out
for the villages of Caesarea Philippi.
Along the way he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that I am?”
They said in reply,
“John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others one of the prophets.”
And he asked them,
“But who do you say that I am?”
Peter said to him in reply,
“You are the Christ.”
Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.

He began to teach them
that the Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed, and rise after three days.
He spoke this openly.
Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples,
rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake
and that of the gospel will save it.”

Reflection (Sem. Edgar R. Calma)

9.13

One of the famous quotes of Socrates that I have encountered in one of my philosophy classes is, “One thing only I know, and that I know nothing.” This is what we call a paradox. It is a statement that may seem to be contradictory or opposed in meaning and yet seems to be true and would somehow illicit reflection. I believe we all have a share of the many paradoxes in life that we sometimes experience on a daily basis, such as it is in giving that we receive, formation entails deformation, and growing requires pruning.

Today’s Gospel has something to do with these paradoxes of life. Jesus said to His disciples, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.” I focused my reflection on these words of our Lord Jesus Christ, because to me, it entails a tension between self-preservation and self-sacrifice. That every day in life, I am invited to deepen my witnessing through self-denial. I recall an experience, when I received my first salary about 20 year ago. Instead of spending the money in buying things for myself, I opted to give my full salary to my parents who had been through financial problems due to loss of livelihood. At that moment, I could not explain the feeling of contentment when my mother embraced me and just felt her tears flowing on my shoulders. I felt how grateful she was for what I did. She just uttered to me: “Maraming maraming salamat, anak” (Thank you very much son).

I realized that it was not all about myself but the persons whom I love. Although it was not very easy, because it entailed the struggle of choosing between my own wants and the needs of my parents. I know that this is easier said than done. But, reality and experience tell me that there is more to life than allowing myself to be controlled by self-concern. Because genuine happiness and joy comes in sharing and imitating our Lord Jesus Christ’s unwavering selfless love and sacrifice for all of us.

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