The Gospel Today
Thursday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink
because you belong to Christ,
amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him if a great millstone
were put around his neck
and he were thrown into the sea.
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
It is better for you to enter into life maimed
than with two hands to go into Gehenna,
into the unquenchable fire.
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off.
It is better for you to enter into life crippled
than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.
Better for you to enter into the Kingdom of God with one eye
than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna,
where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
“Everyone will be salted with fire.
Salt is good, but if salt becomes insipid,
with what will you restore its flavor?
Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another.”
I have just come back from an immersion experience in some of the remotest parishes in Mindanao and I can say that I found a church that is truly alive.
Because land is abundant in those parts, the parishes flourish with the real estate donated to them. In the end, it’s not the structures that impressed me, but the faith of the people.
Priests are held in very high esteem and people eagerly support the projects of the parishes. I know that in the city, priests are highly regarded as well but in rural areas, it is even more. Being a seminarian and a visitor from the city, I was overwhelmed by the reception given to me by the locals, as if I was the next most important person after the parish priest.
However, I know in my heart that this attention is borrowed. People respect priests and seminarians like myself because we represent God. In short, people are serving us because their faith in God commands them to tend His representatives.
And the people’s actions are justified. Jesus says in today’s Gospel that anyone who gives a cup of water to any of His disciples will be rewarded.
Ultimately for me, such generosity is an invitation for me to be really responsible for my actions. I enjoy certain things because my association with Jesus makes it possible. Still, I am not entitled to anything. I am humbled by the fact that whatever goodness people show me I won’t be able to reciprocate with the very limited capacities that I have at the moment.