The Gospel Today
Memorial of Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr
There was a man there who had a withered hand.
They watched Jesus closely
to see if he would cure him on the sabbath
so that they might accuse him.
He said to the man with the withered hand,
“Come up here before us.”
Then he said to the Pharisees,
“Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?”
But they remained silent.
Looking around at them with anger
and grieved at their hardness of heart,
Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”
He stretched it out and his hand was restored.
The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel
with the Herodians against him to put him to death.
I believe that man has a discipline of knowing what is right and what is wrong. But there are times that through these laws, man is able to manipulate what are observed in these laws. Even in our time, manipulation of laws is a big problem. There might be some who do these obviously. There are also others who are very good in discretely doing this anomaly. But what is saddening me even now? That even the laws made by God are used in favor of man.
We observe the sacredness of the day of the Lord. I believe that we are certain that God wanted us to spend time with Him especially on days of obligation. Every Mass reminds us to go out and do good to our neighbor and to follow God. But is this being observed nowadays?
I would go back to my work experience as a nurse. As we know, we never had holidays. Everyday was a day for duty. We were “on-call” nurses so even Sundays were part of the ordinary days for work. Every holiday of obligation was an opportunity for a double salary pay so I usually grabbed it. But I believe that in this kind of set-up, this was purely a scenario for a usual hospital duty. We were trained to be in the service of the people and be with them whatever weather conditions it may be or even whatever time of the year it may be. How then can we still attend to the prescriptions of our faith?
Despite the strong call of duty, I believe that I was still in touch with my faith especially with my service in our parish. I had been the pianist of our choir group since third year college. Literally, I was serving day and night; rain or shine. It was my struggle, I believe, to keep this holy obligation not only because I was the official pianist but also because it was the day of the Lord.
This experience led me to reflect on the importance of doing good especially when it is something that I do for God. I was not a perfect nurse or an ideal Catholic Christian but I believe that the love that I gave to my service with the sick people was authentic. I felt the happiness and peace that God gave me whenever I saw them continuously recovering especially if they were under my care. I believe that this peace and happiness were grace from God despite the fact that I was not able to fulfill His call with my obligation to attend the Holy Mass.
As a seminarian, seminary formation is making me realize further the importance of the Lord’s day and most especially the Holy Eucharist. But now, it is not just about how I can do the services for the sick like before. I am now in a situation that the Mass is already within my reach and no excuses can be given. Now, I am reflecting on how I participate during the mass and how I live my life as a priest-in-process. Saying “to do good”, I believe is easy but the action or the doing which is also external defines this “goodness” better. I am praying with the intercession of St. Agnes, to have this perseverance like hers in loving and keeping myself humbled with God’s law. Amen.