February 25, 2016

The Gospel Today

Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

Luke 16:19-31

Jesus said to the Pharisees:
“There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen
and dined sumptuously each day.
And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,
who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps
that fell from the rich man’s table.
Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.
When the poor man died,
he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.
The rich man also died and was buried,
and from the netherworld, where he was in torment,
he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off
and Lazarus at his side.
And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me.
Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue,
for I am suffering torment in these flames.’
Abraham replied, ‘My child,
remember that you received what was good during your lifetime
while Lazarus likewise received what was bad;
but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.
Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established
to prevent anyone from crossing
who might wish to go from our side to yours
or from your side to ours.’
He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him
to my father’s house,
for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them,
lest they too come to this place of torment.’
But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets.
Let them listen to them.’
He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham,
but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
Then Abraham said,
‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets,
neither will they be persuaded
if someone should rise from the dead.’”

Reflection (Sem. Philip Faustino S. Volante)



“If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.” For me, if there is one word to encapsulate this statement by Abraham, it is “openness.” Here in the seminary, this is one of the most used and abused word by seminarians.

When I was in my first year in the seminary, we were asked to attend a charismatic group gathering called “Catch Fire.” Knowing the background of charismatic groups as a song and dance gathering, I told myself that this would be very funny and at the same time uncomfortable. So I planned to just sit down as they go through their songs and dances. We even teased each other in the van that we will not laugh if someone would cry in the service.

When we were there, it was very noisy and yet organized. The people were very courteous and accommodating. When we entered the hall, I saw a multitude of people! I never realized that the crowd would be that big because I thought that not everyone appreciates this kind of worship.

When the songs started, I told myself, “Here we go!” but to my amazement and surprise, I never sat down in the whole worship, and before I knew it, I was already raising my hands, singing at the top of my lungs and even crying most of the time! I really felt the presence of the Holy Spirit at that moment that it brought me to tears.

After the worship, I had a change of heart. I began to appreciate charismatic communities because, yes, they may be dancing and singing, but through these actions they express their love to God. I now see that God moves in people through different ways and possibilities. How one person relates to Jesus Christ is different from how I relate to him, and this I must be open with and respect.

I was thankful then that I opened myself to this experience because if I became closed-minded then, I would not have seen the love of God to each one present in that event.

Openness happens when one sets himself free from judgment and prejudices and lets himself be immersed in the other person. Through openness, we then understand and appreciate the other person; and better yet appreciate the love of God to the point of extending and doing extra effort to reach each and every one of us.

The Gospel is inviting us to be open to the voice and promptings of God because if we remain close to the voice of God, even the fact that Jesus died on the cross and resurrected from the dead is just a mere legend to us.

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