October 15, 2013

The Gospel Today 

Memorial of Saint Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

Luke 11:37-41

After Jesus had spoken,
a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home.
He entered and reclined at table to eat.
The Pharisee was amazed to see
that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal.
The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees!
Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish,
inside you are filled with plunder and evil.
You fools!
Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?
But as to what is within, give alms,
and behold, everything will be clean for you.”

Reflection (Sem. Jul Elden Nuique):

         What amazes me in today’s Gospel account, is how Jesus still accepted the Pharisee’s invitation and dined in the house of someone who “cleans the outside of the cup and dish” yet inside is “filled with plunder and evil.”  It is amazing how identical I am to the Pharisee!

         A priest called by God is not to simply administer to his flock; rather, he is to be a father to all the children of God.  The malformed responses that is usual to people, but magnified in its effects coming from a public figure like a priest, requires self-transcendence, so that God, who dwells within each of us, will be visible through the words and actions of the presbyter.

         In my two and a half years in the seminary, I experience priests who have traits worthy of emulation.  Meanwhile, those with traits unbecoming of God’s minister need many prayers, for after seminary formation they are difficult to correct.  Yet even in my limited experience of the Church’s hierarchy, I can see clearly the urgency for discernment, especially among those still within the structure of priestly formation, those desiring priestly ordination.  Not only is it necessary to prepare for the challenges in ministry, it is even more essential to remain a faithful disciple of Christ, more so in a position of stature such as a Roman Catholic priest.

        So that we might not despair, the Lord himself provides us with the solution: “give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.”  Alms giving refers not only to material generosity, but pertains doubly to spiritual open-handedness.  Compassion for those who are suffering, understanding for those caught up in sin, love for all the people of God.  This alms giving is a call not just to priests but also to the entire Church.

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