The Gospel Today
Friday of the First Week of Lent
Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you,
unless your righteousness surpasses that
of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.
“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment,
and whoever says to his brother, Raqa,
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin,
and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”
Reflection (Sem. Julius de Gracia):
Often than not we ourselves are mesmerized by our personal prayers to God. We use flowery or rhetorical words the way we used to talk to our boss or superiors in our seeking for approval, the way we talk to our audience and clients selling our products and all the rest. Our normal serious conversations are usually geared towards conveying, convincing and pleasing. Thus our minds and mouth go together to attain this objective. But our gospel and our readings today remind us of the truth that God primarily is interested not on the rhetorics of our mouths but rather on what our hearts truly feels. Hindi nakikinig ang Diyos sa buladas at pagiging makata ng ating mga bibig, bagkus dining ng Diyos ang bawat panaghoy ng ating mga puso.
Our gospel today is reminding each one of us to look deeper into ourselves, into the inner core of our being. That is our heart for it is where God is, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church #27 teaches; “…the desire for God is written in the human heart, for man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself”, thus it is upright that we should always check, listen and be sensitive to the motivations and desires of our hearts. Jesus said in our gospel today; “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 5:20) Yes were doing the good that we set out to do and what is expected to us, but the converging point and the measure of difference is the HEART. What motivates what kind of desire and what is the reason/purpose for the good deed? Like any other NGO’s and philanthropic institutions there are programs and activities for education/scholarship, housing, livelihood, social justice and communications and other means that addressed our needy and desolate brothers and sisters. But what makes us different from them as a Catholic Church? I believe the voice of Mother Church through Pope Francis gives us the answer; “…that all our programs and activities should be rooted in Christ and primarily He is the reason.”
When the Church gives assistance or help to the poor and the needy, it does not just give economic and practical reasons to continue to survive but rather it gives every person to HOPE. Hope does not solve any kind of misery and misfortunes in life, but hope gives MEANING and PURPOSE to each person. That is why amidst affliction, pain and challenges the people of God the Church; continue to hope, for in hope each and every member of the Church giver and recipient of any good deeds continue to believe in God’s grace. This hope for God in our search for meaning and purpose despite and in spite of what is happening in our lives, it all starts in the heart.
We can forgive like any other, but when we forgive in the context of the believer it is not just about forgiving the wrong or the mistake, but as well as it is about forgetting or holding no grudge anymore. “pinapatawad na kita pero hindi ko pa rin makakalimutan ang ginawa mo sa akin.” We can love and serve like any other institutions and people, but when we do service of love in the Church or apostolates, we do it apart from publicity and improvement of approval ratings.
How about you brothers and sisters? In your daily doings of goodness and love, what is in your heart? Is it done out of generosity and with grateful heart? Or is it for others to see for good impression or it flows dearly and clearly from the purity of your heart?