October 10, 2014

The Gospel Today

Friday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Luke.  11: 15 – 26

When Jesus had driven out a demon, some of the crowd said:
“By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons,
he drives out demons.”
Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven.
But he knew their thoughts and said to them,
“Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste
and house will fall against house.
And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?
For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons.
If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul,
by whom do your own people drive them out?
Therefore they will be your judges.
But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons,
then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.
When a strong man fully armed guards his palace,
his possessions are safe.
But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him,
he takes away the armor on which he relied
and distributes the spoils.
Whoever is not with me is against me,
and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

“When an unclean spirit goes out of someone,
it roams through arid regions searching for rest
but, finding none, it says,
‘I shall return to my home from which I came.’
But upon returning, it finds it swept clean and put in order.
Then it goes and brings back seven other spirits
more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there,
and the last condition of that man is worse than the first.”

Reflection (Sem. Rodel Aclan):

“ Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against  house.”  These words of our Lord Jesus Christ struck me as I read the Gospel.  As we revisit the history  of the kingdoms and government that fell and collapsed in  different countries we would  find out  that the  common reason behind the failure in governance and eventual fall is the lack of unity among those in power.  There is lack of unity because of division and internal conflict.  This arises because of greed for power, fame, influence and wealth among the people running the kingdom of government.  In fact, one faction will work hard to discredit the other faction when the latter is gaining progress in the performance of their responsibilities and approval of the people.  Division is the natural enemy of  a  harmonious and peaceful life of the people.  It undermines  the command of God to love one another as He loves everyone.

As I further reflected  on the  Gospel, I remember the community life as  one of the pillars of  HASS  formation. There are many times I heard that community life of the seminarians must always be prioritized.  Meetings and other activities would  not start unless everybody  is present.  We seminarians are reminded that we must look after one another.  At first,  I am  not fully  convinced of  this kind of set up.  I asked myself,  “Am I  my brother’s  keeper?”  Gradually as I encounter my brother seminarians in our daily life in the seminary,   I realized  how important  is this pillar of  seminary formation for me as a priest in process.   My participation in the community life of the seminary and the same with the others  will help foster unity in the community.  Unity embraces the   uniqueness of each one  but it should  not allow groupings of those who have same skills and talents that eventually lead to competition.  Unity  embraces  each other’s  weaknesses, furthermore , with the help of the whole community, one is able to overcome one’s limitations. Therefore unity does  not allow alienation of the weak . Moreover, unity would  not tolerate the  cover up of someone’s wrongdoings.  Instead, it must respond by correcting the person through fraternal correction.  Unity is not simply the consensus of all but it must always lean towards the achievement of common good and  witnessing to the  truth.

The Gospel led me to examine how I conduct myself here in the seminary particularly  how I relate and communicate with the other seminarians.  Do I cause division or am I  an  agent of unity in the community?   Division will always  lead to the fall of the goal and purpose of the community.  The warning of our Lord against division is a reminder for me as a priest in process to learn how to deny myself, to empty myself  for the sake of unity.  It is so,  because  achieving unity always depend on how much we  can give ourselves for that purpose.  Division enters when we allow ourselves to think and act first  based on our own interest.  Then  our goal becomes fixed and centered for our own well-being.  Our Christian faith is not  individualistic because it  is always connected to others.  Our faith in God is not for our own only rather  we are tasked by Christ to share it with others.

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