In our reflection on the liturgy we will use the age old principle which I discussed with you last week as our pattern of explaining what we do in the mass. The principle is lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi – the way of praying lex orandi comes from our believing lex credendi and thus influence our way of living lex vivendi. This is how we pray because this is what we believe and thus this is the way we act and live.
Let us start with the sign of the cross and the invocation of the Trinity. Our Lex orandi is In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit while we make the sign of the cross from our forehead to our navel, then to our left shoulder and to our right shoulder. This is how we pray. Why? Because of our Lex Credendi, the rule of faith. By making the sign of the cross we are starting the mass by affirming two very important tenets of our faith. Without these two tenets of the faith we cannot be called Christians. And what are these two. First we believe in the Trinity – The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit. They are three persons – the Father created us, the Son redeemed us and the Holy Spirit sanctified us. And yet they are one God. And in saying this we make the sign of the cross. We affirm that we are saved by the death of Jesus, we affirm that Jesus saved me, he died for me, that Jesus was made to suffer, he was shamed, he was spat on and finally they nailed him on the cross and he died. Why did he die? Because of me, because of you, because of love. Thus on the third day he rose from the dead. He conquered death, he conquered it for our sake. Every time we make the sign of the cross at the beginning of the mass and at the beginning of every prayer we affirm these remarkable tenets of our faith – God the Father created me, God the Holy Spirit sanctified me, and God the Son redeemed me, he died for my sake, he died that I may live. This is our lex credendi.
So how are we to live, what is our lex vivendi then? Probably you have seen the movie exorcist where the priest shouts, in the name of God, I cast you out. The Name is powerful, every knee shall bend in the heavens, on the earth and under the earth at the name of Jesus. We are conquerors because of the Name, we are not easily discouraged because we are bearers of the Name; we may suffer for a time but we will not be crushed because we are bearers of the most powerful Name. Yes we will get sick, we will one day die, but we will rise because of the Name we carry with us. Sometimes in our discouragement we say, nobody loves me, nobody pays attention to me. But you do make the sign of the cross – and you affirm that God is your Father, he created you, you are not an accident, for God created you on purpose because he loved you. And more than this Jesus saved you – how can you say you are not loved, how can you even think that nobody pays attention to you when in fact Jesus died for you?
The second point, the priest then faces the people and greets them the Lord be with you. It is a greeting. But some priests probably wanting to be more up to date and understood would add good morning. I hate that greeting good morning. I hate it for the simple reason that I am not a morning person – I am arthritic and 80 percent of my mornings are not good. More than this however is the fact that the Lord be with you is the best greeting one could ever say in the mass. The Lord be with you is the greeting. This is lex orandi. Why? Because of the lex credendi – we believe in the promise of Jesus to be with us all the days of our lives even until the end of time.
So what is our lex vivendi. The Lord be with you is a greeting, a wish. Of course the Lord is already with us because of our baptism, our communion, but most often we could not recognize him, most often we missed him. The Lord be with you means, may you see the Lord more clearly each time. The Lord be with you means, may the Lord reveal himself to you especially at those times when you feel he is absent. Sometimes you will miss the Lord, sometimes you forget him, sometimes you feel he is gone. The Lord be with you means, look more closely and you will see him in your life.
Martha, Martha you are anxious and worried about a lot of things. Her sister Mary however was seated in the presence of the Lord Jesus. Many times like Martha we will miss his presence. The Lord be with you is a reminder that Jesus is with you, so stop whining. And besides, it is better than saying good morning.
Last week we talked about the sign of the cross symbolizing the two great tenets of the Christian religion namely the Holy Trinity, and secondly the Redemption brought about by the death of Jesus on a cross. We also reflected on the meaning of the greeting “the Lord be with you,” and why good morning or good evening used as a greeting in the liturgy may sound bland and I should say, out of place inside the mass; and why the greeting the Lord be with you is such a profound and beautiful greeting.
Today we reflect on the meaning of our response to the greeting the Lord be with you. Your response is, “and with your spirit.” It is a direct and literal translation of the Latin response et cum spiritu tuo. At present when the priest says the Lord be with, we all respond “and also with you.” In December, we will start using, “and with your spirit.” This is our lex orandi, this is the rule of prayer which we should follow, at least in English. Why so? Why is it the lex orandi? Because of the lex credendi, because of its underpinnings in the rule of faith. What is the rule of faith?
We translated this text literally to avoid the confusion that when the priest greets us “the Lord be with you,” we respond “and also with you,” as if to say, “same with you, Father.” That is the danger of just merely saying “and also with you.” It’s like saying “Merry Christmas” and you say, “same to you.” No. The response to the greeting has a deeper meaning. When we say “and also with you,” or when we say in the new translation “and with your spirit,” we are affirming an important article of faith that we sometimes forget – that the priest celebrating the Eucharist, the priest celebrating the sacraments is celebrating it in persona Christi, in the person of Christ – not in the person of the priest but in the person of Christ. And with your spirit is a recognition of the gift of the priesthood in the person of the priest – a recognition that Christ comes to the priest in a unique way every time he celebrates the sacraments. In the mass it is Jesus who celebrates, not the priest. In baptism, it is Jesus who baptizes, not the priest. In marriage it is Jesus who confirms the marriage, not the priest.
That is why I really pity you, naluoy gid ako sa inyo. Bal-an nyo ngaa? Because every time you come to mass you have to make an act of faith – you have to make an act of faith to God saying – Lord I believe nga bisan law-ay ang pari, bisan indi nami ang pari nga maga-misa subong, bisan uribadon na ang pari, bisan gin-akigan ako sang pari, I believe Jesus that it is you who celebrates the mass – not the priest but you Jesus; it is you who is preaching the word to me – not the priest but you Jesus; it is you Jesus who gives me communion. This is our lex vivendi – amo ini ang aton relasyon sa pari. Budlay no? Ngaa amo sini?
Around the year 250, the church had a problem. Because of so many heresies besetting the church at that time, the question arose, what happens to those who were baptized by heretics? Do they need to be re-baptized? Bunyagan bala sila liwat? Was their baptism valid?
Some bishops said no, they need to be re-baptized because the priests who baptized them were sinful, they were disobedient, they were heretics. But the Pope, Pope St. Stephen said, no. Even if they were sinners, even if they were heretics, for as long as they did what the church intends them to do, their baptism was valid. Ang grasya sang sakramento nagadepende kay Kristo kag indi sa pari. The priest is not the cause of the grace of the sacrament by Christ.
Of course it is important that the priest should approximate Christ in the holiness of his life, in the way he lives – maayo gid tani kon maayo man ang pari. That they are not like cups that are clean in the outside but full of filth in the inside. Kuntani nami gid. That remains a challenge for most of us priest. But it does not happen all the time. You have to understand.
Lantawa bala kon ang misa nagadepende sa pagkabalaan sang pari. Ano ang matabo? Kon makasasala ang pari not valid – simba kamo liwat, kon holy ang pari valid – good. Pero ang question: Paano mo na mabal-an?
This is the content of our faith, our lex credendi, the meaning of our response and with your spirit. For when we say “and with your spirit” we are therefore affirming that there is in the priest a special grace, there is in his spirit a special gift nga bisan mag-inano pa sia, pari man sia sa gihapon, nga paagi sa iya ang tinapay kag bino mahimo nga lawas kag dugo ni Kristo, not because of his person, not because of his holiness or its absence, but because of Christ in him, because of the special grace which we recognized and affirm in the priest when we say “and with your spirit.”
Last week we reflected on our response to the greeting and with your spirit and we saw the importance of this response especially in our faith, that the priest, despite his unworthiness, celebrates the sacraments in persona Christi – not in his person but in the person of Christ. Thus it is Christ who baptizes, it is Christ who offers the mass, it is Christ who anoints.
Now we proceed to the confiteor, to the prayer “I confess to almighty God.” This is part of the Penitential Act and the most obvious change in our new translation is not really surprising because we have been using this in the Hiligaynon translation – sa akon sala, sa akon sala, sa akon daku nga tuod nga sala – through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Dala ang pokpok sang dughan .
The gesture evokes the act of washing clothes in the past when washing machines were not yet in style. Ginapakang ang bayo, ilabi na gid sang nag-uso ang maong. Ginapokpok, ginapakang agod makuha ang higko, kay man matig-a kusuon kag kabudlay kuhaon ang higko nga nagpanalupsop sa tela. Can you imagine the imagery? Ginapokpok ang dughan as you say sa akon sala, sa akon sala, sa akon daku nga tuod nga sala – through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Ang instruction naga-imply nga kaisa lang kuntani pokpokon. Pero sa akon panan-aw daw wala man na lain kon katatlo. Basi budlay gid man kuhaon ang sala, nagatapik gid, ti pakangon gid sing pila ka beses.
Actually there is not much difference in the meaning of the translation except that the new translation is more dramatic than just simply saying I have sinned through my own fault. I would say it is more emphatic of who did the sin. So this is our lex orandi. Why, what is our lex credendi?
Three things though they are deeply interconnected: our belief in human freedom, our belief in sin and our belief in God’s forgiveness. There can be no sin without the exercise of human freedom – to commit sin means to choose to do evil. And there can be no real human freedom if there are no choices in our lives.
Freedom is the power to act or not to act, it is the power to do this or to do that. Because of this we shape our own lives, we determine by our choices how we live our lives. And thus we are therefore responsible for our actions and our end. So with human freedom comes a choice, with the choice comes responsibility and with responsibility comes accountability. Thus, we have heaven and hell.
In our time there is tendency to blame everything to our genes or to blame everything to our upbringing, or to our surroundings.
Ngaa nagmuna ka? Kay ari na ni sa dugo namon; ngaa nag amo ka sina? Kay bal-an mo ang mga ginikanan sang mga ginikanan ko amo man ini sila.
Ngaa nag amo ka sina? Ano abi kay ginpadaku ako ni tatay kag ni nanay nga amo ni kag amo na.
May ara gid man nga kamatuoran sa ginapanubli halimbawa diabetes, ukon heart disease, ukon bisan gani sa aton pamatasan. But remember these are predispositions nga kon sayuron mag-andam ka. So kon may predisposition kay sa diabetes indi na magpatama softdrinks ukon gelato; kon may predisposition sa heart disease, indi na magpatama cholesterol. But you can still choose. This is our difficulty – we blame others we feign responsibility thinking that we can skirt around accountability. Sa akon sala sa akon sala sa akon daku nga tuod nga sala is a reminder that we are responsible, we determine the outcome of our lives, we are the captain of our souls. We can become success or a failures and we can even rise from our failures if we want to.
Bisan palukpan mo pa ang tanan nga bodega sang San Miguel Beer sa bilog nga Pilipinas kon indi sia luyag mag-untat inom, indi gid na sia mag-untat. Bisan ipatawag mo pa si Pope Benedict para makonbertir sia, kon indi niya luyag makonbertir indi gid ina matabo. Kay man: sa akon sala, sa akon sala sa akon daku nga tuod nga sala- we have a choice. Kon sang bata kita sang una nag-amo kita sina, it does not mean nga maamo na lang kita sini tubtob sa katapusan. Ngaa? through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Dala pokpok sang aton dughan. Actually kuntani ang ulo ang pokpokon ta kay man kon kaisa nagaminango gid kita, pero daw kalaw-ay man ina nga sa misa ginapulopokpok ta aton ulo.
Jesus said in our gospel today, “be like men who are waiting for their master to come home. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes.”
We are blessed because we choose to wait, we choose to keep awake. We will be condemned if we choose not to wait and to sleep. We can choose, so we better choose well – that is our lex vivendi.
Last week in reflecting on the confiteor or on the prayer “I confess,” specifically on reflecting on the words “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault, I emphasized personal responsibility – sin is an act of choice and it is done with free consent. In moral theology, the commission of mortal sin has three requirements – the act is grievous, there is full knowledge meaning you know that doing this is a sin, and lastly there is free consent, knowing that it is a grievous sin still one chose to do it.
But there is one other thing I would like to emphasize in this lex orandi. The prayer I confess is personal, but it is done in community even begging the other “to pray for me to the Lord our God.” Through this prayer we are made to realize that the sin of one, harms others in the same way that the goodness of one enriches also others. When a person is greedy for profit that he destroys the environment, his sin does not just affect him, but even whole communities. When a person is corrupt and steals from government he harms not just his soul but also other people, people who would have benefitted greatly if people are only honest. That also happens inside the church. The scandal of one priest affects not just the priest concerned but all the priests and even the faith of some people. In our families too, even the things we do out of sight of others or in darkness erodes trust and harms relationships. Our lex credendi, our belief teaches us that sin is powerful, it can harm even the innocent, thus we should live our lives conscious of its effect. As our gospel compares the kingdom with leaven, with yeast, we must remember that bad yeast can spoil the whole dough – this tiny amount of yeast can make or unmake the bread.
Today, we turn our sight to the Gloria – glory to God in the highest. The new translation says, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will – ginbalik na naton ang good will. Actually sa tuod-tuod lang mas manami ang bag-o nga hiligaynon nga translation – himaya sa Dios sa kahitaasan kag sa duta paghidait sa mga tawo nga iya nahamut-an. This means that God gives his peace to the people he favors – people of good will means the people God favors.
This lex orandi, this rule of prayer has strong basis on our lex credendi, on the rule of faith. Our relationship with God is sometimes wrongly likened to a business transaction – if you give me this, I will give you this; if I give you this then you have to give me this. If this is our concept of God then we are no better than the pagans – a God we need to appease every time we need something from him.
But remember everything that is in us comes from God’s own initiative. The letter of John says – It is God who loved us first. It is not, God has to be good to me because I am good to him. No. Rather we have to be good because God has been and will always be good to us.
In our first reading St. Paul compares the love of Christ to the church as an example of how a husband should love his wife. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church.” Why did Christ die for the church, why did Christ offer his life for his people – is it because she is beautiful? No she is not. Is it because Christ needed us? Of course not – he is God, he has no need for us. So is it because the church is good? No, her members are not all of them good, obviously. In fact the Fathers often call the church the chaste prostitute. So why did Christ offer his life for us. Because he loved us – not because of any merit of ours, not because we are attractive but because he loved us. No reason is given for the only reason is love, and sometimes love can be most unreasonable. This is the underlying reality when we say Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace to people of good will, peace to the people he favors. We do not deserve God’s gift to us, we do not merit them. He gave this to us because he loves us, he loved us even until death.
Last week we reflected on the Gloria, the ancient prayer, Glory to God in the highest. In particular we reflected on the greeting of the angel peace to men of good will, and we said that the gift of the incarnation was not because we deserved it, nor did God owe it to us, but that all these are divine initiatives. It is God who loved us first. He has given us graces although these are undeserved. And finally he will grant us heaven not because we are worthy of heaven but because of his mercy.
Today we look at two things, the collect and the Liturgy of the Word.
First, the collect. In the past this was called the Opening Prayer of the Mass. When we were translating the hiligaynon liturgy we wanted to use also the word collect in hiligaynon – collecta, pero nahadlok kami nga tawgon ini nga pangamuyo nga collecta kay basi matindog na ang usher kag mangolekta. Kag dayon masiling kamo, ay nagadali gid.
But the collect is a very appropriate word to describe this prayer. Collect means gathered, gintipon. So this prayer is the result of our gathered prayer, the prayer which we gathered, gintipon and made into one. This also shows that this gathered prayer comes from a gathered people. Gathered people, ang gintipon nga katawohan is the meaning of the word ecclesia, or church. We become a church, when we gather together in the Eucharist and there we pool our prayers together to make this into one. So this is what we do although diri sa chapel mas symbolic kita nga gintipon naton literally ang aton pangamuyo sa mga gagmay nga papel nga aton ginsulat kag ginbutang sa sulod sini nga box – that is literally a collecta, the collect. But of course it is enough that in the liturgy when the priest says let us pray, we keep quiet for a while and we remember what we would want to pray for, what we would want to be included in the prayers of the community, in the gathered prayer by the gathered people in the collect. That is why it is good to be reminded that in the Eucharist we are one people. It is not good nga lain akon, lain man imo, lain man ila. We do this together because we are one people. We are reminded by the collect that we are one people gathered to pray as one body in Christ.
The second point I would like to make is the Liturgy of the word. We introduce it by saying “A reading from.” This is our lex orandi. What is our lex credendi? It means that we are reading something written. It connotes something past – it was written a long time ago and we read it today as it was read in the years long past. This is not new and yet this is also not old. It is not new because these were written 4 thousand, 2 thousand years ago by prophets and apostles – this is the faith of our ancestors, the faith handed down to us. And yet it is also new, it is relevant even now, the word continues to challenge, the word continues to judge our actions, the word of God continues to console. The word of God teaches the truth and the truth is the same yesterday, today and forever. Thus when the reader says the word of the Lord, we affirm this by saying thanks be to God. This is an act of faith for if we acknowledge that this is the word of God then we take this seriously, we listen, we put to heart, we put it in mind, we remember it, we ponder it and then we allow it to move us to act. This is lex vivendi – we are a people of the word – we take seriously our bibles.
This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Vatican II. One of the effects of Vatican II is its mandate to put importance on the word of God. The first to be affected by this mandate is the liturgy when it allowed 80 percent of the bible to be read in its 3 year cycle. Gani kon nagapamati kita sa readings sa misa kag naga-attend kita misa kada adlaw then in 3 years time we could have read already 80 percent of the bible.
Dali na lang Christmas. Panumdum na kamo sang gifts nyo for Christmas, and give yourself a gift by buying yourself a bible diary ukon companion ukon ano man dira nga na-imprinta ang daily readings sang misa and bring it with you when you come to church so that as you listen you can follow kon ano ang ginabasa. Take seriously the word because every time we read it we say thanks be to God – we say thank you Lord for the invitation, thank you Lord for the challenge, thank you Lord for the consolation, thank you for your word.
Ang aton gospel nagahatag sa aton sang leksiyon nga magaabot gid ang panahon nga wala na excuse kon indi ka mamati sang inbitasyon sang Ginoo. Magaabot gid ang tion nga indi ka na makapamalibad, no more excuses if you refuse to listen and respond to God invitation. So let us take the word of God, let us take God’s daily invitation to us seriously.
Last week we reflected on two things in the mass. First, the collect and we said that these are opening prayer which are general in characteristic because it gathers all our prayers and intentions into on. Through the collect we become one community, we become the ekklesia, a sambayanan, a people gathered to offer worship and prayers to God. In the mass we do not pray alone – we pray as one community. In the mass we become more clearly the church.
Second, we reflected on the importance of the word in our lives – that though these were written thousands of years ago it is ever new, it is ever relevant, it continues to nourish us. To uplift us, to console us and it continues even to pass judgement on our actions. Jesus is present to us in his word.
Today we reflect on two things.
First we reflect on the creed. In the old translation we used to say, we believe in one God. Now our lex orandi tells us to say “I believe in one God.” We change the we into the personal pronoun singular I. It is a very simple change – but it is a change worth taking note. In the original Greek, we used the pronoun we. And this is used especially when the bishops gather for a synod, for a very important meeting in the church. So by using the we in the Greek original of the creed, the bishops are reminded of what they are standing for, what they have pledged to uphold not just individually but as a body. They are reminded of their common belief, the common creed, the common faith of the church which as bishop they must defend.
But in the mass we use the Latin, and Latin uses the personal pronoun singular I or ako. The church again uses the personal pronoun I or ako during baptism or during the renewal of that baptism. This is ako or I because baptism and renewing your baptism is something personal, it is something that you make, something that you decide on. In the mass every Sunday we renew our baptism, we renew our faith and that is the reason why it is personal singular pronoun I, nagatuo ako. Indi ka makapanago sa kami, as in kami to, kami ni, kami na ang nagbuhat. No – ako gid, akon ini, tindugan ko ni kay akon ini. Faith in God may have communal consequences but it always starts as a personal decision.
It might be good to be reminded that every Sunday we are making a personal decision to uphold the catholic faith. Basi bala nga pamangkotan ka – ngaa katoliko ka, why are you catholic? Basi ang sabat mo – well all of us are catholics, my ancestors before me were catholics, my mother and father are catholics, so I am a catholic. So nagkatoliko kita kay halin sang una amo na ina? Ukon makasiling gid man bala ikaw, katoliko ako kay nagatuo ako sa pagtulun-an nga katoliko, I am convinced, I believe, I have made a personal decision to uphold and live the catholic faith. It is a personal decision kag indi lang kay amo na ini ang akon namat-an. I believe in God. I am not hiding in the we, I say I believe in God I, I, I.
Many Catholics transferred to other religions because for so long there was actually no decision made – it was just paanod-anod, it was just palutaw-lutaw. There was never really a decision to embrace the catholic faith because of conviction.
Is your being a catholic a personal decision? All of us are given that chance every Sunday – to say it, to admit it, to profess it. This is my faith.
In this year of faith this singular personal pronoun is important. The I in the I believe is an important affirmation which we must say and do with conviction.
This is an important act otherwise you can never understand our gospel today. Kon ang imo conviction as catholic nasandig sa mga pag-amuma sa imo, kon ang imo conviction as catholic nasandig sa attention nga ginahatag sa imo sang pari, ano ayhan ang matabo kon wala na ang amuma kag kon wala na ang attention. Faith has to become conviction, personal conviction. That is our lex vivendi.
Last week we reflected on the first person singular personal pronoun I and its implications on our life when we profess the faith saying the lex orandi, I believe.
Today we now make the jump to the second part of the mass, From the liturgy of the word, we now go to the liturgy of the Eucharist. The Liturgy of the Eucharist starts with the offertory, the so called preparation of the gifts. We prepare the gifts to be offered by bringing in the bread and wine mixed with a little water. Then the priest washes his hands and invites one and all to pray that the Lord will make this sacrifice acceptable. The exact words are: Pray brethren that my sacrifice and yours may become acceptable to God the almighty Father.
We are reminded that what we are doing is a sacrifice. Many times we forget this. Sometimes we just say ma-attend ako misa, but we have to remember that this mass is not just a mass but the sacrifice of the mass.
When we speak of a sacrifice we speak of two things. First a sacrifice is a gift freely given. It is not something required. It is not something compulsory. A sacrifice can only become a sacrifice when it is freely given because it was freely chosen.
When we speak of the mass as a sacrifice we refer to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. It was not required, it was not compulsory was it forcefully exacted. It was a gift Jesus freely gave for our salvation. He gets nothing in return for what he gave but he gave anyway. This is sacrifice – it is given unconditionally out of love.
The second element required for a sacrifice is immolation. A sacrifice to become a sacrifice has to be transformed – it has to undergo a drastic and even painful change. That is why in the Old Testament, we see animals brought to the altar to be killed, to be burnt because a sacrifice to become sacrifice has to undergo a radical change. Jesus offered a sacrifice – from being unscathed, he became scathed; from a body that is whole it became a body that was literally broken up; from being alive he became dead. Jesus sacrificed because his body underwent a radical, drastic and even a very painful change. That makes his sacrifice therefore a sacrifice because of the presence of two characteristics – it was a free gift, no strings attached and it involved change that so painfully came about.
I pointed this out because I want you to appreciate what Christ has done for all of us in Calvary for which the mass is a reminder, for which the mass we celebrate is making present again and again before us every day. But also I want to remind you that this sacrifice is not just Christ’s sacrifice. It is now my sacrifice and yours. Every time we celebrate the mass we bring with us also our own offering freely given – my own sacrifices and your own sacrifices in life.
I have a deep admiration especially for husband and wife, for mother and father – not that I am planning to be one anytime soon. Pero nadumduman nyo anay sang soltero pa kamo kag soltera, nga wala kay may ginapanumdum kundi ang imo lamang kaugalingon? Ilabi na gid sadtong tion nga soltero kag soltera ka pa tapos wala ka na nagadepende sa imo ginakanan para sa imo allowance? Those were carefree days. But then all of a sudden you fall in love. Then all of a sudden you entered marriage, may gamay nga pang-alang-alang but then you accepted it with all the risks and the insecurities involved. Sigurado na gid bala ini? May palangabuhian na bala kami, bastante na bala ini? Binaylohan na ang kasadya, binaylohan na ang wala labot, wala paki-alam nga pangabuhi sa isa ka kabuhi nga puno sang responsibilidad. Dayon umabot ang kabataan – and worries abound all the more, indi ka na katulog, damo ka na ginakabalak-an, kon madamo ikaw ginabayaan halin sa pagkasoltero pagkadto sa pagpang-asawa, mas damo pa gid ang ginpangayo sa imo sang may kabataan ka na.
Pray brethren that my sacrifice and yours may become acceptable to God the Almighty Father. This is what sacrifice is and it is good to be reminded of it each time we stand to offer bread and wine on the altar – to be reminded of Christ’s sacrifice, that this sacrifice is also mine and yours – each time we give something of ourselves freely, each time we accept and embrace the painful transformations in ourselves whenever we give ourselves as gifts for others, as gifts for our children, as gifts for the church and as gifts for people who need us.
Amo na nga i-remind gid naton ang aton kabataan nga sa sining sahi sang pangabuhi dapat lang nga may gamay man nga pang-alang-alang kag indi magpadaso-daso, pero dapat may kahanda man nga magbiya sang tanan bisan pa ini masakit. If there is no sense of sacrifice ay tapos gid – pari na nagasinoltero pa, pila na kabataan nagasinoltero pa gihapon. Remember – my sacrifice and yours.
The gospel today speaks of Zacheus. Zacheus realized that to be with Jesus he has to embrace sacrifices. He did not just stop doing sin, he repaid his sins fourfold and it was not even required. Now what is that? Sacrifice.
Last week we talked about the word sacrifice – that the mass is not just a mass but the holy sacrifice of the mass. This is because the mass is the sacrifice of Jesus in Calvary and it is made present today for our benefit. But joined to this sacrifice of Jesus are our own sacrifices, that this, too, is my sacrifice and yours, for when we join our sacrifices as parents, as children, as husbands and wives, as priests and religious, when we join our sacrifices in life with that of Jesus, these too become acceptable to God the Father almighty. That is why it is recommended that in every altar there is a relic of a martyr. I do not know if our altar has a relic, but, although not required, it is something recommended.
Ngaa may relic gid?. Para magmangin balaan? No. It is not the relic of a martyr that makes the altar holy. Rather it is the altar that makes the relic holy. For it is the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross that gives meaning to the sacrifice of a martyr. It is the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, on the altar which makes holy the death of a martyr. Amo man ina sa aton – mangin balaan ang aton pag-antus, mangin balaan ang aton mga paghimakas, ang aton mga pagsakripisyo para sa isa kag isa kon ini naangot sa sakripisyo ni Kristo sa krus.
Ang tatay ni Msgr. Joemarie napatay kag ginsugid ni Msgr. nga tuman gid ang kasakit nga ginabatyag sang iya tatay tungod sang cancer of the liver. Every hour na ang pain reliever. Sa primero ginpamangkot man sang iya tatay ang iya kaugalingon ngaa masakit, ngaa maantus gid ako sing tuman, pero sia man lang ang nagasabat sang iya pamangkot. May isa ka bes nga siling niya nga ining iya kasakit isa ka pagpaambit sa kasakit ni Kristo – nga siling niya nga daw ginpapahuway niya anay si Kristo sa kasakit kag sia anay ang nagkarga sini, sia anay ang nag-antus sang mga alantuson ni Kristo para sa aton.
Ti ano na lang ayhan kon indi ka sini makakita, kon wala ka sing kasubong nga panan-aw? In Europe they want to make euthanasia legal, in fact there are countries where it is already legal. Why? Why have themselves killed? So that they won’t have to suffer anymore. Why? Because there is no more meaning to suffering. Once you take away the crucifix from your line of vision, sacrifice becomes meaningless. It is Jesus who gives meaning to our sacrifices and sufferings;, it is the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross that lends meaning to my own and your own sacrifices. This is our lex vivendi – our rule of life. Take away the cross and there are a lot of things you cannot understand in your life anymore. Sakto na ang siling ni Pope Benedict – it is Jesus who makes us human. Indi kita ido nga kon indi na kita mapuslan, kon nagamasakit kita injeksyonan na lang kita agod magtulogan kag indi na makabugtaw pa. Take away Jesus from the picture and a lot of what is human in us will also be gone.
This week I would like to reflect on the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer, specifically on the response, It is right and just. When the priest says, let us give thanks to the Lord our God. You answer, It is right and just. In the past we answered this by saying, It is right to give him thanks and praise. Today lex orandi is, it is right and just.
It is right and just to give thanks to God – God is worthy of our thanks and not only is he worthy but it is just – we are obliged to give thanks to God because we believe that God deserves to be thanked. God does not only deserve to be thanked, it is also justice to give thanks to God. It is justice to worship him, we give God what is due to God as God. This is what we call the virtue of religion.
This is a typical Filipino attitude. Ingrato, wala ka sing kabalaslan – we are referring to people who forgot to say thank you, to people who did not acknowledge a debt of gratitude. And these accusations are not taken lightly. That is why not to go to mass on Sunday is not just committing a sin against the third commandment. It is also committing a sin against a cultural and social obligation of reciprocity and giving thanks.
This is a preoccupation of the Jews as we have seen in the gospel today – the temple was filled with precious gems and precious metals. For the Jews that is justice – giving to God what is due to God because of what God has done for them -s ot he temple has to be beautified. But Jesus reminded them that this kind of justice is passing, all these will crumble to the ground. Why? Because in reality we cannot pay God his due. Indi naton mabayran ang Dios kay indi naton matupungan ang iya kaayo sa aton. Indi mo matupungan ang kaayo sang Dios.
Nevertheless, though our efforts to please God will always be found wanting we render to him what is due to him to the best of our ability. We call this the virtue of religion, we render to God what is due to God to the best of our ability.
Thus we affirm it is right and just to give thanks to God – it is an obligation, a demand of justice because God deserves to be thanked.
Today our lex orandi is Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest. In the past we were used to say, Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might. Now it is Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of hosts. This is song comes from the vision of Isaiah when he saw God surrounded by throngs upon throngs of angels singing in the divine presence Holy, Holy, Holy Lord Sabaoth. The Greek Church would call this hymn the trisagion – or the thrice holy. The Hebrew does not have an adverb to signify a superlative. There is no Hebrew for “very holy”. When it says that God is “very holy” it simply repeats the holy three times – holy, holy, holy. Daw pareho man na bala kon magsiling kita, baw ka guapa, guapa-guapa gid ya, nami-nami gid ya ukon major-major. God is the holiest, the most holy, nothing can be more holy.
But what is holiness? Where does it come from? How is it bestowed and how is it earned?
The basic meaning of holiness is separateness – ginpa-in, lain sia sang sa iban. It refers first and foremost to the separateness of God, the otherness of God. Kabudlay ipaathag no? Pero kon nakalantaw kamo Narnia, si C.S. Lewis may matahom nga explanation kon sin-o ang Dios, kon ano ang pagkabalaan sang Dios sang gintawag niya si Aslan nga indi isa ka anta nga leon. He is not a tame lion. Diin si Aslan, where is Aslan. He is not tame. You cannot put God in a box as if mapasunod mo sia sa imo luyag, as if kon luyag mo nga ara sia i-switch mo lang ang switch. Indi sia anta, isa sia ka ila nga leon. Indi mo sia madakop. Ikaw lang ang dakpon nia. May expression kita nga nagasiling, let go, let God; let God be God. This is what we affirm when we call God holy. God is holy, God is totally other, God is not like us, no one can own God – wala sing may nagapanag-iya sa Dios. Many of us think that God would dance to our music, or do our bidding. We think we can control God. That is why the Our Father, the best prayer ever, Jesus tells us to pray, “your will be done.” This is our lex credendi. This is how we see and understand God – God is holy, God is God.
Yes God is our best friend, God is nearer to us more than we are nearer to ourselves. Yes God is Father, he is sometimes even referred to as mother but he is also Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God sabaoth. He is transcendent. There are times when we lose this way of seeing God, we have lost the so called tremendum et fascinans that God is totally other. Sa Salmo 50 nagsiling ang Dios – Ano dumdom ninyo sa akon, pareho lang sa inyo. As far is the heavens is above the earth so far are your ways above our ways.
Today we savor a typhoon. We are afraid, all of us are afraid. Today we savor the raw power of nature, a power created by God. Though we pray that this will not hit us, scientist recently discovered that we need them, we need these disturbances so that the earth can maintain its present temperature. We bow at its power, we bow also at the power that created the typhoons. Today for our reflection besides being afraid I would like us all to be fascinated by this raw power. Tremendum et fascinans. As I said last Sunday in my Mass at the beginning of Advent we have lost our sense of fascination, our eye for the fantastic. Puro na lang ordinaryo ang tanan – nothing spectacular, nothing extraordinary. And yet Advent and Christmas are season where we celebrate the msot fascinating events in our salvation – a virgin was with child, angels singing gloria, gloria in excelsis Deo, shepherds adoring a future king, wise men from the east. This season not content we added another fascinating creature, Santa Claus. And now in our first reading says the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb – how do you make of that? Why would the lamb invite the wolf as a guest? Would it serve the wolf lamb chops? And when did the lion become a vegetarian that now it grazes grass and hay with the cow and its calf? Can you imagine a little child made to play at the den of the cobra? These are all fantastic things. It is out of this world, it is unbelievable, it is too good to be true. And yet they are true and they will come true. Regain this fascination in your relationship with God. Behold his power. God is totally other for God is Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Host, Lord God sabaoth.
Our lex orandi today is the very words of the consecration itself. In the past when the liturgy was too strict and the interpretation of every rule too rigid, whenever a priest mispronounces or omits a word in the consecration, he commits mortal sin. It’s not for anything but to emphasize the sacredness of the words themselves. These are sacred words, these are the words which consecrates the bread. These are the words whose effects on the bread and wine distinguish lay persons from priests. Only an ordained priest can say these words because it is through the power of these words that the bread becomes the body of Christ and the wine becomes the blood of Christ.
There is a joke regarding this consecration thing. A priest became so angry with his bishop and you know what he did. The priest went to the bakery dressed in stole and chasuble, the vestments of a priest during mass and pronounced the words of consecration. Take this all of you and eat it. And the priest left. The most outrageous thing however was when the bishop heard this. The bishop went in a huff down to the bakery and bought all the bread there. Well he thought that through the words of consecration of the priest the ugoy-ugoy, the mamon, the teren-teren, the pandesal and the ensaymada all became the body of Christ. Ang nami pamangkuton kon gin-ano niya ang mga tinapay nga binakal sa bakery – ginpakalawat, ginbutang sa tabernacle, ginabutangan kandila. Interesting, the body of Christ, ay ugoy-ugoy ang akon, the body of Christ ay mamon ang nagtupa sa akon. Masapnot man ini nga kalawat.
No, the words of consecration are not magic words. And of course not – the bread in that bakery did not become the body of Christ.
But as I said these are sacred words, the words of Jesus himself. In the words of traditional catechesis these words are the form of the sacrament while the bread and wine are the matter of the sacrament. In the same way that you cannot change the matter of the sacrament, you cannot just use any bread or any wine for that matter, so also you cannot use any form or any words for the consecration. You have to use what is prescribed by the church. The words that we use should as much as possible re-echo, or repeat accurately what Christ said during the Last Supper. That is why translations for the consecration are approved only by the pope. That is how serious the church is in preserving this short sentence that consecrates the bread and wine.
In this new translation there are 3 changes made especially in the consecration of the wine. In the consecration the priest says:
TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND DRINK FROM IT, FOR THIS IS THE CHALICE OF MY BLOOD, THE BLOOD OF THE NEW AND ETERNAL COVENANT, WHICH WILL BE POURED OUT FOR YOU AND FOR MANY FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS. DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME.
First instead of cup it now uses chalice. It uses the word chalice because cup in the ears of the translators is too ordinary. Liturgy uses ritual language, not day to day secular language and expressions, in the same way that the priest uses ritual vestments and not the ordinary street clothes. Why? because this is something different, what we are doing in the mass is not something ordinary, the mass is somethign different. In the liturgy we should be transported beyond this world, beyond time, beyond our day to day concerns. The Liturgy is different – ang panglakat mo sa SM ukon sa calle real indi kasubong sang panglakat mo sa sulod chapel – hinay lang pero indi man nga daw nagapahunay-hunay. Ang pamatasan ta sa sulod sang chapel sa misa indi kasubong sang pamatasan ta sa food court. Ang bayu ta sa chapel indi pareho sang bayu ta sa beach. It is different. Indi ta lang pagparelohoson ang tanan. Sang una may maestro kami nga pari nga kon may clase kami – nagakurog-kurog gid ina sia sa pagsiling – distinction, distinguo. Sakto indi bala? Kis-a wala na kinalain, palareho na lang.
Second it uses the word poured instead of shed. This is my blood which will be poured out. The translators re not content with just the word shed to described the act on the cross. It was really a pouring out of blood – wala lang sia nagpatulo sang dugo, gin-ula ya gid ang iya dugo for us, for each one of us. The love of God is superfluous, nagasolobra – gindasok na, ginpa-awas pa – siksik lik-lik at umaapaw. That’s the meaning of poured. Amo na nga indi gid pag-isipi ang Dios – sa imo pag-alagad sa Iya, sa imo kaalwan sa imo isigkatawo, indi gid pag-isipi ang Dios. Kay kon mag-isipay na kita gani, pierdi gid kita.
Our gospel today demonstrates this superfluous love of God. He leaves the ninety nine to look for the single lost sheep. Common sense and the practical man would tell us ti anhon mo na kay naglisa sia, pasulabihon ang 99. But not God, not God.
The third point we reserve for next week.
Last month we have reflected on the importance of the words of consecration, the words which the priest utter over the bread and wine and we said that the words of consecration makes the mass the mass, and it is what makes the Eucharist the Eucharist. Today we reflect on the consequence of these words to the bread and wine. What happens to the bread when the priest says, this is my body? What happens to the wine when the priest says this is the chalice of my blood?
As Catholics we uphold three important beliefs. We will reflect on two today?
First, we believe in the real presence. We believe that Jesus Christ is truly present, body and soul, in his humanity and in his divinity in the bread and wine which we consecrate in the mass. This is the doctrine of the real presence. Yes Jesus is in some way present in the images which we make to represent him like the Nazareno for example but this incomparable to his presence in the Eucharist because we believe he is truly present in the bread and wine. Yes he is present in his words, whenever we read and listen to the scriptures, but this can in no way supersede his presence in the bread and wine consecrated during the mass. Why? because we believe that he is truly present there. That is why we kneel during the words of consecration. We kneel in silent adoration because Christ is truly present. For as long as we are here on earth the Eucharist, the consecrated bread and wine is our clearest sign of Christ’s presence, this is his most real presence with us. In heaven we will see him as he is, as St. Paul said. But while on this earth this is the most real we can ever get to him. That is why sa binisaya we call this consecrated bread as the santisimo – indi lang santo kundi santisimo kon sayuron ang pinakabalaan – nothing can be holier – amo ini ang pinakabalaan, because this is Jesus himself. So this is the first – we believe in the real presence.
Second, we also believe in his continuing presence. Christ continues to be present in the bread and wine even if we have already ended the mass. Christ continues to be truly present in the bread and wine even if we have already gone home. He continues to be truly present in the bread and wine which we consecrated. That is why we have a tabernacle. That is why every tabernacle that contains the consecrated bread has a light beside it. It is called a sanctuary lamp and when it is lighted it announces that Christ is truly present in this chapel, Christ is really present in our midst. That is why every time we enter the chapel we genuflect with our right knees, nagaluhod kita. It is our way of acknowledging, Lord, I know you are there, I believe you are there. Then we go to our pews we do not immediately sit down. No, We kneel for a while to greet the Lord, to talk to the Lord because we believe that Jesus is truly present and his presence is continuing in our tabernacles. This is our second belief. We believe that Jesus continues to be present in our tabernacles. Manami kontani nga ipadayunon naton ang devotion naton nga pagbisita sa Santissimo. To visit the blessed sacrament before we go to work, and after work. To visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I know many of you are doing it in the adoration chapel. It is a practice that should be encouraged. Why? Because we believe in his continuing presence. Christ assured us that He will be with us until the end of time. His presence in the Eucharist and his continuing presence in the tabernacle is the most tangible assurance of this promise. He is here with us no matter what.
In our gospel Jesus multiplied the loaves. This is the image of the Eucharist, the bread that we receive in holy communion. Jesus fed thousands with five loaves. The Eucharist is just a simple bread, it is so small sa bagay nga indi kita makasiling nga amo na lang ini ang akon panyaga. No, we will still eat lunch after this mass. But nevertheless The Eucharist has nourished people spiritually since time immemorial. Jesus continues to satisfy our hunger, Jesus continues to satisfy our thirst for spiritual nourishment, our hunger for his real presence in our lives. May we grow in our appreciation for this wonderful gift of the Eucharist in our lives.
Last week we reflected on the consequences of the words of consecration on the bread and wine in the mass, and we said that through the words of consecration the bread and wine become the real body and blood of Christ. Christ becomes truly present, he is real. Thus, we kneel during the consecration, thus we give reverence when we receive Holy Communion. Why? Because it is really Jesus who is on the altar; it is really Jesus whom we receive in Holy Communion.
Also we said that through the words of consecration the real presence of Jesus becomes a continuous presence. Jesus is not just truly present while the mass is being celebrated? Jesus is not just truly present during communion. No. The presence of Jesus is continuous, it becomes permanent even. Thus, we have a tabernacle. Thus we have a tabernacle lamp which we light up to signify the presence of Jesus in this chapel.
Amo ini ang ginsiling ko last year during the anniversary of our Holy Hour. Nga sa kabuhi sang tawo may mga butang, may mga bagay-bagay nga permanente. Indi puede nga ari subong, tapos buwas wala naman. Indi puede nga pagtulok ko ara pa, tapos pagbalikid ko wala na. Indi puede nga kon napisanan sia, ara, pero kon tamaran na sia, wala. Ok lang na kon ice candy, ukon baligya – kis-a nagakawad-an. Pero may yara sa kabuhi ta nga permanente, mga bagay-bagay nga dapat naton panindugan. Indi puede nga pari ako subong, bwas indi na. Indi puede nga may asawa ako subong, buwas wala na, tapos sa isa ka buwas may ara na man. Ay ano na? Ang commitment indi puede kon san-o lang ako mapisanan. Amo man ina ang presensya ni Jesus sa tabernacle. May nagadu-aw ukon wala, ara sia. May suga ukon wala, ara sia. Ginatahod ukon ginabaliwala, ara sia. Ginakilala ukon ginayaguta, ara sia. Sa luyag ta ukon indi, ara sia. This is what Jesus is showing us by his continuous presence in our tabernacles. His presence is a commitment. His presence is permanent, it is lasting, and it will endure. Jesus will still be there long after we have abandoned him. This is to remind us that there are things in our lives that are permanent, that must stand the test of time, that there are things in our lives that we commit ourselves to for ever.
Last week I said there are three effects. Now we have come to the third. The third is, we believe that Jesus is truly present in the entire bread and in every part of that bread. We believe that Jesus is truly present in the entire bread and in every part of that bread – yara sia sa bilog nga ostias kag sa tagsa ka bahin sina nga ostias. If I break the bread into two, Jesus is truly and wholly present in both halves. If I break it into four parts Jesus is truly and wholly present in these 4 parts. Why? Because Christ is present in the entire bread and in every part. Amo ina kon ngaa magpakalawat ginasalod, agod to wala sing may ma-usik, wala sing tinipik nga madag-dag. Amo ina kon ngaa ginalimyohan sang pari ang sulodlan sang mga ostias, indi tungod kay mahigko, kundi agod nga ang tinipik indi mausik, sa baylo kan-on, kalawaton niya ini tanan. Amo ina nga kon mangalawat kamo ilabi na gid sa kamot, kay-uhon man naton. Ang tuo nga palad sa idalom sang wala nga palad. Idaho ini sa pari nga nagapangayo. Dayon mapakilid kag sa atubang sang pari kuhaon sang tuo nga kamot kag ibutang sa baba. Dayon lantawon kon bala may nabilin nga mga tinipik sa imo wala nga palad. Kon may ara, ibutang ini sa baba. Why do we do this? We do it because we believe that Christ is in the entire bread and in every part of that bread.
Our gospel today speaks of an encounter with Jesus in the synagogue. The people in the synagogue came face to face with Jesus and were amazed by him. The sick, the person possessed by the demon also encountered the Lord in a special way through the healing he received. And the demon also encountered the Lord – and it even managed to speak to Jesus face to face.
In our own day we continue to encounter the same Jesus. St. Ambrose, the great preacher of Milan who converted St. Augustine by his powerful preaching, said, “You have shown yourself to me, Christ, face to face. It is in your sacraments that I meet you.” It is in you sacraments that I meet you. No, we do not meet Jesus the symbol. We meet him really, truly or as St. Ambrose said, we meet him face to face. Where? In the sacraments! Do you believe this deep in your heart? Do you believe that every time you go to mass, every time you receive Holy Communion you are meeting Jesus face to face?
I would like to proceed with our reflection on the mass by examining the dialogue between priest and people just before holy communion. In inviting the people to holy communion the priest says: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” And the people respond saying: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
This is one of the most obvious changes in the new translation which upon closer examination means the same. But why the change? The translation was changed because we want to recapture the biblical allusions of this dialogue. By translating it literally we want the biblical allusions in this dialogue between priest and people just before Holy Communion, to come out.
What are biblical allusions? Biblical allusion refer to the words or phrases that we used nga may mga reference sa biblia. Halimbawa ang pangadi nga Hail Mary. The Hail Mary is not an invented prayer. It has biblical allusions and underpinnings. Magsiling kita, “Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with you.” These are the words of the angel Gabriel to Mary during the annunciation. Remember? So that part of the Hail Mary has a biblical allusion. To continue we then say, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Again that has a biblical allusion. It makes us recall another event – this time in the hill country of Judea when Mary and her first cousin Elizabeth met. Remember? This one prayer, then, the Hail Mary, has biblical allusions. This is not just simply prayer. It has a bigger story in it. It contains a bigger story to tell – the wonder of the incarnation when God was made man through the yes of a virgin in Nazareth, when God so loved the world he gave us his only son through a virgin; and still another we recall the joy that the zygote Jesus in the womb of Mary brought to the pregnant Elizabeth whose son John leapt for joy even in her womb. Every time we pray we are reminded of a bigger story and a bigger context and it makes the prayer even more profound. Ang mga born again ni hagi lang sila atake kon mangadi kita sang Hail Mary wala lang sila kahibalo kon ano katahum, kon ano ang contexto sini nga prayer. Pero ang mas lain pa gid diri bal-an n’yo kon ano? Kita nga Katoliko wala man kahibalo.
Going back now to this beautiful dialogue, “Blessed are they who are invited to the supper of the Lamb” – this is a biblical allusion found in the Book of Revelation chapter 19 verse 9, when at the end of time an angel announces, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” The marriage supper is the very first time when the groom and bride shall eat together, together for the first time, alone for the first time and after the supper the marriage will be consummated. What does this mean? In communion we come to that part which is the most intimate and most personal encounter with Jesus – intimate and personal. Imagina bala nga sa isa ka kwarto for the first time duha lang kamo – he is giving you his full attention, and you are giving him your full attention – that is what I mean by intimate and personal – to be invited to the supper of the Lamb.
But so how do we respond to this invitation, the invitation to supper with the lamb. We quote another passage from the scripture, from the gospel when a centurion, a gentile, an unclean person and a hated Roman officer entreated the Lord to heal his servant. And when the Lord said, “OK, we will go to your house,” the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. But only say the word, and my servant shall be healed.” So when the Lord invites us to supper with him – manyapon ta, duha lang kita – it is an invitation to an intimate encounter. Jesus comes knocking at the door of our hearts calling for a personal encounter. And yet the liturgy does not permit us to respond nga nagahara-hara. Ay sige, sige, sige. No. The liturgy makes us answer instead: I am not worthy. Don’t come in Lord, just say the word from afar. I am not worthy.
Is this not our reality? Does not this dialogue, the words of the centurion now placed on our lips speak of our reality when we come face to face with the Lord? This is the beauty of biblical allusions. It tells a bigger story, it delves a deeper context. These lines are not just about communion. It speaks of our relationship with the Lord. It asks us, how is your relationship with the Lord? Are you are mother, a brother, a sister to the Lord. Is your relationship defined by doing and accepting the will of the Lord as the gospel demands?
There are instances in the liturgy that makes you stop, and sometimes instances that can make you cry. This is one instance, when I begin to look at myself and examine my relationship with Jesus, and many times it makes me want to cry.
Last week we reflected that the communion dialogue between priest and people has a bigger story to tell than just the immediate reception of the Body of Christ in Holy Communion. Indi lang ini napertenecer sa pagbaton sang kalawat. Why? because it uses biblical allusions. When the priest says “blessed are they who are invited to the supper of the Lamb,” it means more than just receiving the Lord as food for our souls. When the people respond, Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, it does not just refer to the reception of Holy Communion. It tells a bigger story, otherwise we could have just simply said as in the past, Lord I am not worthy to receive you. But as I said this is not just about communion. Last week we said that it refers to our relationship with the Lord. How is your relationship with the Lord? How intimate is your relationship with the Lord? Is it a relationship shaped by obedience to his will or is it rather shaped by need – I need something from him? This dialogue then makes us examine our relationship with the Lord.
But there is another bigger story here and what is this?
It tells us, it reminds us of our end.
To understand this story we have to examine the Jewish wedding. The Jewish wedding consisted of three parts. First there is the signing of the contract and the payment of the dowry. The second is the wedding procession, probably months or a year later when the groom and his friends would go in procession at midnight to the house of the bride. The bride would know in advance and her maids would be ready with torches waiting for the groom and his friends. This second part consisted of waiting with lighted torches for the arrival. Then the last, the third part is the marriage supper. This is the festivity, when the groom arrives, the joyful gathering for this is now the intimate union of bride and groom.
Our relationship with Jesus is likened to a wedding. In fact Jesus said that the coming of the kingdom of God is a marriage feast. In the first part of this wedding is the payment of the dowry. This was paid by the blood of the lamb. Now we are betrothed to the Lord. Then the second part is the waiting for the coming of the groom who will come at midnight, We know that he will come and that is why we wait, we wait with our torches lighted avoiding the mistake mentioned in the parable of the ten foolish virgins. What are we waiting for? We are waiting for the third part of the wedding, the marriage supper, when the Lord will come and bring us to the wedding feast of heaven. Thus when the priest says, blessed are they who are invited to the supper of the lamb we are looking forward to that day when we will finally meet the Lord.
When the priest says blessed are they who are invited to the supper of the lamb we are reminded that we have not yet reached our goal. Earth has always been referred to as our place of exile. Why? Because this is not our home. We are pilgrims? Why? Because we have not yet reached our destiny.
Many many times our problems stem from the fact that we take earth as our goal. Many, many times our difficulties come about when we take this life and this world as our destiny.
In politics, why do we cheat and coerce, why do we kill and manipulate people. Because we thought that this is the goal, we are made to believe that our end is in this world. In business why do we take advantage of people, why do we become dishonest in our dealings with our fellowmen, why do we swindle and defraud? Because we are made to believe that this is the goal, this is our end and there is no other. In our relationships, why are we at times less than honest, less than faithful, why are we prone to be selfish, to think only of our well-being to the detriment of others? Because we are made to believe that this life is the only life we are made for.
Kon indi gani klaro ang katapusan then life becomes topsy-turvy. This is what is happening around us. But if politics is just a means to an end, if business is just a means to an end, if relationships and work are means to an end, then we know their purpose and work for that purpose. What is your goal? There is only one goal. Heaven is your goal. The marriage supper is our goal. All others are means to the goal.
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Agatha. She was martyred in the 3rd century during the reign of the Roman Emperor Decius. She suffered the most despicable of tortures. They even had her breasts cut off. And yet why did she not abandon her faith. Why was she true to our Lord? Why. Because she knew what her goal was. She knew where she was going. She knew her destiny, her goal and her end.
Every time the priest say, Blessed are they who are invited to the supper of the lamb – you are reminded of your true goal, your true home and your true destiny.
Before we end the Ordinary Time and go into Lent tomorrow, I would like to end our reflection on the Eucharist which we have continuously done starting September of last year. Probably most of you have asked, when will this ever end? So today just before we cross over to the season of Lent I would like to end this today with a reflection appropriate to every ending, which is a reflection on the dismissal of the mass which in Latin says, Ite missa est. And we respond, Deo Gratias.
The response of the people Deo gratias is easily translated as Thanks be to God, salamat sa Dios – an appropriate response because the Eucharist is after all a eukaristos, which means – thanksgiving, ang pagpasalamat. Every mass is a thanksgiving. We have been so used to making petitions during the mass. We even have intentions offered during the mass. But we should not forget that the mass is thanksgiving. By its very nature, it is a thanksgiving. In fact by its very name, it is a thanksgiving.
Many times our attitude towards life is such that we highlight, we underline our lack more than what we already have. Wala ako sini. Wala ako sina. Kinahanglan ko ini. Kinahanglan ko ina. Be reminded that for as long as we are in this world, nothing is perfect, nothing will ever make us content permanently – indi gid kita mabusog, indi gid kita mangin kontento. Otherwise kon mabusog kita kag ma-kontento na kita diri pa lang, ngaa ma-amar pa kita sang langit? Amo na siling ko sa mga seminaristas kon kadlawan nila nga indi ako kadalagan kay arthritison na ako. Siling ko, Andaman nyo lang kay pierdihon ko gid kamo sa football didto sa langit. Of course indi lang amo sina ang langit but I would just like to highlight that our imperfections are never meant to be for eternity. At least that how my faith teaches me to see things.
My point is learn to be thankful. In calling it the Eucharist, a thanksgiving the Fathers of the Church explain that God has been so good to us he did not even hesitate to give us his only Son. What more cannot be given? And what more can we ask? Ano pa ang indi mahatag, kay nahatag na niya gani ang iya Anak. Tapos, ano pa ang pangayuon mo kay nahatag na niya ang tanan bisan pa ang iya Anak.
We offer petitions because God is praised and honoured when we show our dependence on his providence and care. We offer petitions because God is adored when we look at him as our Father who gives us our daily bread. But my point in emphasizing thanksgiving is this – look at the brighter side. Why do we always have to emphasize our lack, our needs, what is not there, when there is so much in there? When I was a child we had that picture of the Sacred Heart in our home which has a caption underneath the image. It says, count your blessings, count your blessing. Deo gratias – that is supposedly our constant refrain.
I said Deo gratias is much easier to translate. But Ite missa est is difficult to translate, in the same way that we cannot translate into English the words alleluia and amen. It is a Roman expression that is understood but cannot be translated in the same way that English cannot translate the Hiligaynon word kwan – ang kwan bala. Ite missa est is what one say to end a meeting. It is not goodbye, it is not just the end. Rather it has a sense of –“ok things have been settled, now let us carry it out. Now we know, do it. Now we have decided, then carry it out.”
It means that there is an end. Tapos misa, go home, go back to your office and your responsibilities. Go and do your duty. Do not stay here, unless your work is here. Ang misa may dismissal. It ends. Difficulties come when people do not know how to end things. Indi katapos inom, indi ka-untat panglibak, indi ka-untat panunlog. Kag may iban nga indi katapos especially sang maayo niya nga ginabuhat, indi niay mapasa sa iban, indi niya mapasubli kay sia gid matapos.
I think and I would like to believe that this is what the Holy Father, Pope Benedict would like to emphasize by resigning. Tapos na. Let others take my place. The Holy Spirit used me for a while, now we allow him to use others as well. I know I have not completed what I have set out to do, but completing and perfecting is not my work. It is the work of the Holy Spirit. I am just an instrument, the pencil in the hand of God. Kon wala na, ti damo pa da iban. If you believe that the Spirit is at work in the Church, if you believe that the Spirit is at work in our lives, then you should not be afraid to go to the center of the stage and take a bow. Ti hulaton mo gid imo nga makadasma ka kag mamumo? Take a bow. In our first reading today God congratulated himself for all his work and rested. Bow
Ti halin September hasta subong sa Febrero, ang akon hambal puro lang parti sa Eucharist. Sakto na ni a. Bow. Tapos.