Saturday, July 30, 2016

Where you heart is, there where your treasure shall be.

 PERSONAL REFLECTIONS ON TODAY’S GOSPEL READING. 
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Lectionary 114
Luke 12:13-21

On Greed, Avarice and Real Treasures
By Herbert B. Rosana, Ph.D.

The gospel narrative is always an eye opener for each time we open its pages to read, it offers us new insights.  Today’s gospel reading brings to my attention several points to ponder.  Not only because it is poignant and enigmatic but because it challenges my way of thinking and induces self-examination.

First I was impressed by the realization that life is transitory, we are aware of this but many of us live and act as if we will live forever on this earth.  We are bothered by mundane problems, we engaged in conflicts about properties, monies and wealth.  When our Lord was asked by the young man to mediate with his brother about inheritance, Jesus rebuked him by saying: “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”  This shows that even our legitimate legal battles about possessions can be a source of greed.  This is the reason why our Lord said we have to take care, we have to guard against greed.  Greed is also deceptive, it may appear in the form of justice, legality and all types of fronts.  But Greed is the inordinate desire to acquire possessions.  Though possessions are necessary they are not ultimate measure of life, thus our Lord said, “Life does not consist of possessions.”

Second, I realize that we need to reflect more often and set our priorities straight.  Maybe we should have a bucket lists of what we need and what we want and rank order these according to importance.  Sometimes we always assume that it is okay to be greedy or it is okay to cheat and defraud our neighbors or business partners, anyway, we assume, that in the end we shall be forgiven.  But Jesus reminded us that there is an end to life and there is accountability that cannot be erased by a haphazard form of repentance.  In today’s reading I was reminded by the passage: “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?”.  St. Augustine of Hippo said: “Late repentance is seldom genuine, but genuine it is never too late.”

Third, I realize that money or wealth is not really the problem.  Wealth and money are means of exchange, they symbolize and represent the material goods that we use to live well.  The problem is with us, with every individual person.  The love of money and not money itself is the root of all evils.  St. Paul reminded Timothy thus: “Those who want to be rich, however, fall into temptation and become ensnared by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, by craving it some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.  But you Oh man of God, flee from these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love and perseverance, and gentleness.” (1 Timothy 6:9-11).  Greed is our enemy, this is the little monster that lurks in our minds and tempts us especially in our attempt to make a living.  But we have to guard against it.  Life does not consist in money and properties.  We should be clear with the utilitarian purpose of money.  We should aim for a personal transformation.  We should be rich in the eyes of God and not in the eyes of men.  Thus the saying is true: “My religion is kindness.”  This is the only way we can be rich in the eyes of God.  To love God and our neighbor – that is the measure of heavenly treasure.  The reward is futuristic but there is a foretaste of that on earth too – but the immensity of this truth calls for faith.  But if the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?

Amen.


Saturday, July 9, 2016

WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR? A REFLECTION ON THE PARABLE OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN

THE PARABLE OF THE HIGH PRIEST, THE LEVITE AND THE GOOD SAMARITAN: SUNDAY REFLECTION
By Herbert B. Rosana, Ph.D.
The gospel reading today in our lectionary was taken from the gospel according to Luke 10:25-37. Commonly this is referred to as the parable of the good samaritan. In the gospel reading a young man was asking Jesus how a person can obtain eternal life. Jesus answered by asking him what the Law of Moses requires and he answered correctly that one has to love God above all things and then the neighbor. One important point to consider in this reading is the emphasis on the connection between religious practice and practical deeds. How easy it is to be religious. How comforting it is to be religious. How easy it is to say that we are serving God because we are worshiping Him. How easy it is to say we are obedient to the law. But one requirement we have in order to be acceptable to God is that we are required to love our neighbor. The difference between the observance of religious obligation and the practical side of it is that the former is easy to comply with, but the latter is difficult because it requires us to move beyond our comfort zone, to empathize and to be in solidarity with our neighbor.
The second point in this reflection is the question of who is our NEIGHBOR. Human nature as it is, always follow that which is easy. Hence we choose our friends and associates from the rich, the well to do and from those who could help advanced our interests. Seldom do we see the marginalized and those in the fringes of society as our neighbor. But essentially the parable given by our Lord tells us that these very people whom we ignore and we see as unimportant are the ones truly important in God's sight. Let us remember the scripture which says that what is esteemed by men is an abomination with God (Luke 6:15).
Painting by Vincent Van Gogh
The third point in this reflection is that we should never judged people because of their status in life. God would want us to see the value and innate goodness in every human being. This is the main reason perhaps why our Lord use the Samaritan as the image of good neighborliness. But who are the Samaritan? It will be a long explanation but let me be brief. After the Assyrian invasion of the Land of Samaria, the Israelite were deported, hence we have the term "the lost ten tribes of Israel". Only Juda, Benjamin and Levi were the tribes who remained in the Kingdom of Judah. Since then the original ten tribes never returned, But the population that rehabilitated the land of Samaria were non-Israelites, they were gentiles who imitated the religion of the Israelites from Samaria, and have set up a rival temple in Samaria. Hence during the Hasmonean period and up the Roman era, the Jews living in Galilee and Judah despised the Samaritans as fake Jews, unclean and pagans. Samaria was sandwhich between Galilee and Judea. Jews coming from Galilee would even avoid passing on the west bank if only to avoid contact with the Samaritans. It is not surprising that Jesus used the image of the Samaritan to illustrate good neighborliness. Perhaps the Lord was trying to emphasize to us that everyone of us regardless of our origins and belief is a reflection of God's goodness and because of that we have the capacity to do good and be good to others. Good neighborliness is not choosy, it values every human person as it is. Every human being is worthy of redemption, this is the reason why our Lord was crucified and that today we use that symbol of crucifixion as the sign of God's redeeming love, a door of opening and a hope for a new life and finally resurrection in the Kingdom of God. May he leads us into that way. Thank you Lord for showing us the way. Amen.

WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR? A REFLECTION ON THE PARABLE OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN

THE PARABLE OF THE HIGH PRIEST, THE LEVITE AND THE GOOD SAMARITAN: SUNDAY REFLECTION

By Herbert B. Rosana, Ph.D.

The gospel reading today in our lectionary was taken from the gospel according to Luke 10:25-37. Commonly this is referred to as the parable of the good samaritan. In the gospel reading a young man was asking Jesus how a person can obtain eternal life. Jesus answered by asking him what the Law of Moses requires and he answered correctly that one has to love God above all things and then the neighbor. One important point to consider in this reading is the emphasis on the connection between religious practice and practical deeds. How easy it is to be religious. How comforting it is to be religious. How easy it is to say that we are serving God because we are worshiping Him. How easy it is to say we are obedient to the law. But one requirement we have in order to be acceptable to God is that we are required to love our neighbor. The difference between the observance of religious obligation and the practical side of it is that the former is easy to comply with, but the latter is difficult because it requires us to move beyond our comfort zone, to empathize and to be in solidarity with our neighbor.
The second point in this reflection is the question of who is our NEIGHBOR. Human nature as it is, always follow that which is easy. Hence we choose our friends and associates from the rich, the well to do and from those who could help advanced our interests. Seldom do we see the marginalized and those in the fringes of society as our neighbor. But essentially the parable given by our Lord tells us that these very people whom we ignore and we see as unimportant are the ones truly important in God's sight. Let us remember the scripture which says that what is esteemed by men is an abomination with God (Luke 6:15).
Painting by Vincent Van Gogh

The third point in this reflection is that we should never judged people because of their status in life. God would want us to see the value and innate goodness in every human being. This is the main reason perhaps why our Lord use the Samaritan as the image of good neighborliness. But who are the Samaritan? It will be a long explanation but let me be brief. After the Assyrian invasion of the Land of Samaria, the Israelite were deported, hence we have the term "the lost ten tribes of Israel". Only Juda, Benjamin and Levi were the tribes who remained in the Kingdom of Judah. Since then the original ten tribes never returned, But the population that rehabilitated the land of Samaria were non-Israelites, they were gentiles who imitated the religion of the Israelites from Samaria, and have set up a rival temple in Samaria. Hence during the Hasmonean period and up the Roman era, the Jews living in Galilee and Judah despised the Samaritans as fake Jews, unclean and pagans. Samaria was sandwhich between Galilee and Judea. Jews coming from Galilee would even avoid passing on the west bank if only to avoid contact with the Samaritans. It is not surprising that Jesus used the image of the Samaritan to illustrate good neighborliness. Perhaps the Lord was trying to emphasize to us that everyone of us regardless of our origins and belief is a reflection of God's goodness and because of that we have the capacity to do good and be good to others. Good neighborliness is not choosy, it values every human person as it is. Every human being is worthy of redemption, this is the reason why our Lord was crucified and that today we use that symbol of crucifixion as the sign of God's redeeming love, a door of opening and a hope for a new life and finally resurrection in the Kingdom of God. May he leads us into that way. Thank you Lord for showing us the way. Amen.