October 29, 2014

The Gospel Today

Wednesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 13: 22-30

Jesus passed through towns and villages,
teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him,
“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”
He answered them,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough.
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,
then will you stand outside knocking and saying,
‘Lord, open the door for us.’
He will say to you in reply,
‘I do not know where you are from.’
And you will say,
‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’
Then he will say to you,
‘I do not know where you are from.
Depart from me, all you evildoers!’
And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth
when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God
and you yourselves cast out.
And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the Kingdom of God.
For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last.”

Reflection (Sem. Jonathan Cigaral):

“Strive to enter through the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.”

Heeding the call of God is not like answering a call for a luxurious and relaxing vacation in an exclusive and world class beach resort.  Following Jesus Christ is never about worldly comfort and pain-free experiences.  Traversing the road toward priesthood is full of thorns and edgy rocks which make your feet hurt excruciatingly and bleed at times as you continue the journey.  Seminary formation is never easy.  After having been in formation for three years now, I can say that I am gradually being stripped-off.  Slowly, my old self is being taken out of my subcutaneous system, that no matter how agonizingly hurting the wound is, it has to happen for the healing process of God to take over.

Just recently, I have had an experience of being stripped-off.  I went home in the seminary from my apostolate area with high fever.  Since it was our apostolate weekend, most of the brothers were out in their respective areas.  That night, I felt that my body temperature was so high because I was experiencing tremors and body aches.  I attempted to walk out of my room to look for medicine but felt so weak and dizzy.  I just stayed in my room, lied down and wait for the morning to come when brothers would bring me breakfast.  I slept crying.  It was difficult being alone, especially when you are sick and in need of help.

My fever subsided after few days but a terrible cough developed.  I could not sleep well at night whenever the cough would attack incessantly.  Five days passed by and my cough grew worse.  It was Saturday morning, a week after my fever, I coughed out and spit with blood in my phlegm.  I was terrified to see the blood.  I asked permission to see a doctor which I was allowed to do so.  However, when I checked my bank account, I found out that I had no money left for my medical check-up.  I cried.  I stayed in my room and prayed to God.  Two days after, I spit blood again.  This time around, I borrowed money from a brother for me to have my check-up because I was already deeply worried.  On my way to the doctor, I was praying the rosary asking for Mama Mary’s intercession.  The Pulmonary X-ray and blood test showed that I do not have to worry for anything.  The blood in my phlegm was due to throat irritation caused by excessive coughing.

Being alone while I was sick, having no money when there was an urgent need for one, was an experience which brought me to rely only on God’s divine providence.  I had nothing during those moments but God.  What I experienced was the life of being poor.  I was stripped-off of everything which I used to have.  Was it difficult?  Definitely!  Had it not for my strong faith in God, I would have had easily gave up.

The Gospel is an invitation for me to persevere in my vocation.  Painful trials will come my way and only the strong ones will be able to survive the tests.  Total reliance on God is what I need to have.  Perseverance with the grace of God will be my guide as I continue with my journey in this priestly formation.               


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