January 19, 2014

The Gospel Today 

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time 

John 1:29-34

John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
He is the one of whom I said,
‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’
I did not know him,
but the reason why I came baptizing with water
was that he might be made known to Israel.”
John testified further, saying,
“I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven
and remain upon him.
I did not know him,
but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me,
‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain,
he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’
Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”

Reflection (Sem. Edgar Calma):

     Nowadays, the standard of measure that society has is focused on superlatives and greatness. When confronted with this issue in business, entertainment, or politics, we normally ask the question: who is the greatest, richest, biggest, brightest and the smartest? Even during the time of Christ, the Jewish people and His disciples were also preoccupied with the same concern.  Who is the greatest?  More often than not, the one who has the superlative qualities would emerge as the greatest, strongest, brightest and the best.

     In the Gospel, when Jesus was confronted with this question, what He did was to give His disciples and followers the model of greatness. And there He called a child and presented Him to His disciples. He said that “unless you change and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus added a direct reply when He said, “Whoever becomes humble like this child, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

     As I reflected on the Gospel, it is very clear that Jesus would like us to emulate the most striking quality of a child, which is humility. As I deepen my reflection, I have realized that there are three important ingredients to embrace the humility of a child. To me, these important ingredients are our total surrender, complete dependence and unwavering trust in the grace of God.  In life, we all have our own share of difficulties and sufferings. Looking back, I remember when the lahar of 1995 devastated our home and the livelihood of my parents in Bacolor, Pampanga. At that point in my life, I realized that we have nothing anymore because we have lost everything.  And as a family, we have learned to appreciate what was left in us which was our faith and trust in God. It was an attitude of total surrender and complete dependence that God would not abandon us.  That He would sustain us in the midst of the difficulties brought about by the calamity.

     Last year, we experienced one calamity after the other. We saw one of the most destructive typhoon and a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit and devastated our country. The magnitude and effects of the devastation was unfathomable. After barely two months, as we look back to these experiences as a people and a nation, we are invited to draw strength from this Gospel passage as we celebrate the Feast of the Sto. Nino. We are constantly being reminded, that in the midst of all the devastating calamities we have had, God’s graciousness and mercy has never wavered. The only thing that God asks us to embrace, is to surrender everything to Him and fully trust in His divine will.  For greatness in the kingdom of God is not all about being the smartest, richest and the best… but having the attitude of total surrender, complete dependence and full trust in His love and fidelity.

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