March 5, 2014

The Gospel Today

Ash Wednesday

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms,
do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast,
do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast,
anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

Reflection (Sem. John Paul Adia):

     I believe that Ash Wednesday is a call for humility. The cross marked on my forehead is a reminder that I am nothing without God and it is in following God’s will that I come to humble myself.

     Our formators in the seminary always remind us about our identity as a seminarian. I would ask myself, “What is the big deal about it? Of course I will keep my seminarian image.” But during my first semestral break, I experienced the difficulty of being true with this image. I was even driven to hypocrisy just to tell the whole world that I am a seminarian.

     How do I come up with this idea? Whenever I pray especially inside the church or in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I am very much conscious of the people around me. What are they thinking about me? Do I look holy with my actions? It only revealed my hypocritical attitude. I am not really praying instead I am wondering if I am making a good impression. And so with this realization, I am invited to examine myself. Is this the seminarian or the priest-in-process that I want to be? I am behaving like an actor that shows what is appealing to my audiences. I want to learn more how to tame this selfishness in me (the pride inside me) that keeps me in prioritizing my self-image of hypocrisy. As a motivation for change, I went back to my former invitation to myself and that is to love and give heart to the “basic” prayers. I want to feel more and reflect more on the prayers Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be. Like what my friend nun told me, “Aren’t those prayers beautiful for you just to recite them?” That was a great call.

     It is a reality that humility will never be achieved in just one night or even a month. This humility that I am praying for will never even come from me. That is why I am asking God to bless me with His humility for me to give myself more. No mask or even a stage will cover me anymore to glorify Him in my mind and in my heart. Amen.

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