The Gospel Today
Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi,
Luke 10: 17-24
The seventy-two disciples returned rejoicing and said to Jesus,
“Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.”
Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.
Behold, I have given you the power
‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions
and upon the full force of the enemy
and nothing will harm you.
Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
At that very moment he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said,
“I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows who the Son is except the Father,
and who the Father is except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”
Turning to the disciples in private he said,
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.
For I say to you,
many prophets and kings desired to see what you see,
but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
Reflection (Sem. Eldrick Peña):
The words “Your names are written in heaven” struck me most in today’s Gospel. It made me engage in introspection as regards my relationship with my Master and Creator. As a Christian, the sacraments of baptism and confirmation have commissioned me in a mission to become a bearer of Christ’s message of salvation to the ends of the earth. As a seminarian, I am challenged further to become an instrument of God’s healing presence to everyone I come into contact with through a life of witnessing to the Gospel and to the Lord’s constant love and infinite mercy.
In our apostolate, we come to encounter people from various walks of life. We are invited to be able to journey with these people in their joys and sufferings, in their triumphs and misfortunes, in their dreams and frustrations. I once was able to encounter an old woman, Lola Juana, around 70 years old during our hospital apostolate. She was seated in the stairwell, playing with her granddaughter, around age 5. I engaged in conversation with her and I found out that she could not get out of the hospital yet because she has not settled the hospital bill. She was confined and stayed in the ward for 3 days because of diarrhea. The bill was not that high but because they were poor, they could not settle it. But her situation did not dishearten her. She was instead very hopeful and optimistic that her relatives could raise the needed money to get her out soon. She related to me that she is a collector in their parish church and this she does with great joy and faith. During our conversation, she was always smiling and possessed a happy disposition in spite of her situation; her joy radiating from within her, because she is sure that the Lord will not abandon her. “May awa ang Diyos” she would always quip.
How I wish I also have the trusting attitude like that of Lola Juana’s. That when beset with problems and trials, I could confidently say that “May awa ang Diyos, hindi Niya ako pababayaan.”
Reflecting on the experience, I could say that Lola Juana is a witness. She lives a life of faith and submission to the will of God. She never loses hope in the face of trials and adversity. And people like her, I believe have “their names written in heaven.”
Today, we celebrate the memorial of St. Francis of Assisi. His example of poverty, simplicity and total self denial in following Christ has continued to inspire many people the world over to adopt the same lifestyle in radically following Christ. Let us pray that through the intercession of St. Francis, we could have the openness and awareness to the prompting of the Holy Spirit as to where the Lord is leading us. Let us become witnesses to Christ as we go about and live our Christian vocation.
What is my own story of Christian witnessing?