October 17, 2017
Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr
The Gospel Today
After Jesus had spoken,
a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home.
He entered and reclined at table to eat.
The Pharisee was amazed to see
that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal.
The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees!
Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish,
inside you are filled with plunder and evil.
Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?
But as to what is within, give alms,
and behold, everything will be clean for you.”
Reflection (Sem. John Paul S. Adia)
A good priest shared in his homily a common story that somehow is timely to reflect upon especially for today’s Gospel. He said that when we die, God will not ask us about the quantity of good deeds that we had, even the quality of holy life that we lived out. Although these are important in this temporal world as we strive to be followers of Jesus and as we carry our crosses everyday. But the question, he said, that would be asked is, “How did you love?” and “How much did you love?”
The Pharisees are experts of the law. They were formed to memorize the numerous laws given from the time of Moses. But they forgot the greatest law given by God. First is “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.” Second is “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22: 37-39). More than any other law, this is what Jesus would like us to live out. This is what should be instilled in our whole being – mind, heart and soul. But on the contrary, it was otherwise. Pride, power and sin control us.
Our hearts are like jars. They need to be emptied out for them to be filled. Love is like what fills the jar. It needs to be shared so that there will be space to receive more. But if we cling on things that cause us not to give or not to love, our hearts are like hardened stone. There is no space for it to receive nor to give. Then our hearts become possessed.
What possesses my heart? Or, what keeps me from loving? This world dictates what we call “important” or “priority.” Fame over simplicity, wealth over poverty, power over servanthood, and anything that will draw us to self-centeredness rather than selflessness. We were left numb to empathy, mercy, kindness, charity, and other virtues that will help live out the law of God. Possession is not just about material thing. It is also what is inside our hearts. I may be living out a life of a seminarian but if in my heart, I feel entitled to the privileges I am receiving, I am not making myself configured to Jesus. To empty my heart is to embrace sacrifice. This is, then, what it means to follow Jesus. To love as Father loves us and to carry our crosses everyday of our lives.