Saturday, June 25, 2005



JUNE 26, 2005

2 KINGS 4:8-11, 14-16A
One day Elisha came to Shunem, where there was a woman of influence,
who urged him to dine with her. Afterward, whenever he passed by, he
used to stop there to dine. So she said to her husband, "I know that
Elisha is a holy man of God. Since he visits us often, let us arrange
a little room on the roof and furnish it for him with a bed, table,
chair, and lamp, so that when he comes to us he can stay there."
Sometime later Elisha arrived and stayed in the room overnight.
Later Elisha asked, "Can something be done for her?" His servant
Gehazi answered, "Yes! She has no son, and her husband is getting on
in years." Elisha said, "Call her." When the woman had been called
and stood at the door, Elisha promised, "This time next year you will
be fondling a baby son."

ROMANS 6:3-4, 8-11
Brothers and sisters: Are you unaware that we who were baptized into
Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with
him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised
from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in
newness of life. If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that
we shall also live with him. We know that Christ, raised from the
dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him. As to his
death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for
God. Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as dead to sin
and living for God in Christ Jesus.

MATTHEW 10:37-42
Jesus said to his apostles: "Whoever loves father or mother more than
me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than
me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and
follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose
it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Whoever
receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one
who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will
receive a prophet's reward, and whoever receives a righteous man
because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward.
And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little
ones to drink because the little one is a disciple-- amen, I say to
you, he will surely not lose his reward."

We often hear the older generation talk about "the good old days."
For example, before the invention of elevators and escalators, people
actually climbed flights of stairs and walked to "get somewhere."
People used to walk to their churches or to their downtown shops, or
out into their fields to do their farming, or to other homes to visit
friends and neighbors.

By becoming more "sedentary" nowadays, we've created the need
to "stimulate" what we used to do naturally. In the process, what
was once a way to connect or to accomplish something outside of us
has turned into a rather self-focused "exercise" to stay in shape.
There's no "sin" in exercise. In fact though, it can be self-
serving - "How am I doing?" "How do I look?" "How much fat have I
burned?" "How is my heart?"

In a world that is in the habit of asking "How am I doing?" Jesus
changes the focus to: "How is the Gospel doing?" The Gospel today is
a call to come out of our self-centeredness and be a person for the
Gospel. Jesus does not demand that we turn against families,
husbands, wives or children. Jesus' command is directed against a
spirit which focuses entirely on oneself and on one's own needs.

All our energy needs to be focused towards the Gospel and the spread
of the Gospel message. Like the woman who helped Elijah, we can
become people who minister to the spread of God's word before we
think of what's in it for us.

There are two important statements of Jesus in today's Gospel
passage, which emphasize the highest value in life: the love of God
more than love of family, and the love of God - even if it means
carrying the cross and following Christ in his footsteps.

The family is a beautiful institution, one of the pearls of God's
creation. And so, the love of one's family is certainly a good and
beautiful thing. In fact, God made it one of the Ten Commandments,
when He said, "Honor your father and your mother."

However, love for one's family, like anything human, can be distorted
into something ugly. Some people place their family above everything
else, even their conscience. Just like the fanatics, who say of
their country, "My country, right or wrong." They say, "My family
right or wrong." Even at the expense of other people.

Examples of this are many. Nepotism is one of them. When a person
gives a position of responsibility to an incompetent or dishonest
relative just because he is a relative. That person places love of
family above love of God and neighbor.

When an immature or irresponsible young man or woman breaks the law,
and the influential parents or relatives come to protect the culprit
from facing the consequence of the law, or when a person sides with a
relative in a quarrel, while knowing perfectly well that his relative
is in the wrong, these persons place the love of family above truth
and justice.

When families pressure two young people into marriage of convenience
to reinforce alliance of power and fortune, or to save the so-
called "family honor" in the case of illegitimate pregnancy, or when
families prevent a son or daughter from pursuing marriage annulment,
when the grounds for annulment are clear, the lives and happiness of
the young couple are sacrificed for the sake of the so-called "family
honor," these families place themselves above the respect for these
young people's freedom and happiness. They sin against God and man.

Here we must examine our consciences most carefully. In the examples
just mentioned and other similar instances, what would I choose?
Would I favor my relatives even if that meant hurting innocent
people, or would I choose to be faithful to God and my conscience.

To follow Jesus does not mean not to love one's parents or one's
children. On the contrary, he who really sets about to follow Jesus
acquires a new freedom, the true freedom to love his parents and
everybody else authentically. But that love is a new kind of love,
one which enables a person to love others because of God, in God,
with the very love of God. However, before the disciple can become
capable of this, it is essential for him first to choose in favor of
Christ totally. But this is not always easy.

Jesus also tells his disciples: "He who will not take up his cross
and come after me is not worthy of me."

Many of us follow Jesus up to the cross, but not onto the cross. We
follow Jesus up to a point but we back off when we have to carry our
cross, when to be with Jesus is risky or painful.

When some tragedy or hardship strikes us, we are tempted not to pick
up the cross and follow Jesus. We are tempted to turn away from
Jesus and no longer follow his footsteps.

For example, it's hard for a young woman to pick up her cross and
follow Jesus after being betrayed and cast aside by someone she loved
deeply. It's hard for an old man to pick up his cross and follow
Jesus when he feels unwanted, insecure, and abandoned by his family.
It's hard for a wife to pick up her cross and follow Jesus when she
is left at home with her children, while her husband is having a good
time with his favorite mistress. It's hard for a young man to pick
up his cross and follow Jesus after a drunken driver has doomed him
to spend the rest of his life on a wheelchair.

What do people like these do when the cross that has suddenly been
thrust upon them seems to exceed their strength to carry it? What do
we do when a cross suddenly thrust upon us seems too heavy to carry?

When such a cross finds its way into our life, we must recall that
there was a time in the life of Jesus when his cross was too heavy.
And when that time came, Jesus had to accept the help of a stranger,
Simon of Cyrene.

If the Son of God had the humility to do this, then certainly we
should have the humility to follow suit. When the cross in our life
becomes too heavy for us to carry, we should reach out for help as
Jesus did.

To whom do we reach out? First and foremost, we should reach out to
Jesus himself. Aside from reaching out to Jesus, however, we should
also reach out to other people - a spouse, a parent, a priest, a
sister, or a professional counselor, if need be.

Let us close with a prayer:

Give us the grace, Lord, to be persons of the Gospel.
Help us to love you above all things.

Give us your strength, Lord,
To take up our cross and follow you.

Give us your strength, Lord.
For sometimes things get tough,
And we are ready to quit.

Give us your love, Lord.
Because sometimes people reject us,
And we are tempted to hate.

Give us your eyes, Lord.
Because sometimes life gets dark,
And we lose our way.

Give us your courage, Lord.
Because often we are put under pressure,
And it's hard to do what is right.

Give us yourself, Lord.
Because our hearts were made for you,
And we will not rest until we rest in you. Amen.

We pray ...
- for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the
- for the speedy recovery of Felicitas (Embi) Simeon.
- for the special intentions of Veronica Adriano, Noel Tanjeco,
Ernesto Tanjeco.
- for the eternal repose of the soul of Jaime Cardinal Sin, D.D.
Eternal rest grant unto him and may perpetual light shine upon him.
May he rest in peace.
- for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary.
- In Memoriam: Pelagia C. Tan
- for world peace and reconciliation.

Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our
prayers and for those who need our prayers the most.

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2005 Daily-Homily (c)

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