Sunday Readings and Reflections

May 6, 2018

When Peter entered, Cornelius met him
and, falling at his feet, paid him homage.
Peter, however, raised him up, saying,
“Get up. I myself am also a human being.”

Then Peter proceeded to speak and said,
“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly
is acceptable to him.”

While Peter was still speaking these things,
the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the word.
The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter
were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit
should have been poured out on the Gentiles also,
for they could hear them speaking in tongues and glorifying God.
Then Peter responded,
“Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people,
who have received the Holy Spirit even as we have?”
He ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

Responsorial Psalm PS 98:1, 2-3, 3-4

R. (cf. 2b) The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power. or: R. Alleluia.

Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.

R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
R. Alleluia.

The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.

R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
R. Alleluia.

All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.

R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
R. Alleluia.


Reading 2 1 JN 4:7-10

Beloved, let us love one another,
because love is of God;
everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.
In this way the love of God was revealed to us:
God sent his only Son into the world
so that we might have life through him.
In this is love:
not that we have loved God, but that he loved us
and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.

Alleluia JN 14:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia. Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord, and my Father will love him and we will come to him.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 15:9-17

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and your joy might be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another.”

Source: are living in the part of the world that violence and death have become our daily consumption. Every day, people’s lives are forcibly snatched away for unbelievably trivial reasons. Parents kill their babies. Brothers murder their brothers. Friends manipulate and sell their friends. Some of us used to go down on the street and cry for justice. Yet, many of us are just busy with daily pressing concerns like works, study and chores. We become numb or blind to the soil that has been painted red by the blood of our brothers and sisters. The life, precious in the eyes of God, turns out to be cheap at the hands of men.

However, few days ago, I was deeply troubled by the news of a young priest brutally murdered. His name is Fr. Mark Ventura, and he was just 37 years old when he was merciless gunned down. His life was taken moments after he celebrated his morning mass in Cagayan, Philippines. He was still inside the small chapel, had given his blessing to children and suddenly, an unidentified man shot him. His advocacy for justice and peace in his place may be the reason why he lived so short.

His death is less dramatic than of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador. The holy bishop was killed right after consecration of the body and blood of Christ, and he fell to the ground, his blood was mingled with the blood of Christ. Another bishop, a Dominican Bishop Pierre Claverie, OP of Oran, Algeria suffered the same fate. The terrorists planted a bomb in his car, and its explosion did not only kill Bishop Pierre, but also his young Muslim friend and driver. In a bloody scene, his flesh was mixed with the flesh of his Muslim friend. Yet, that is beside the point. Witnessing Fr. Mark’s body laying soulless on the ground and soaked with blood, is not only deeply disturbing, but is also deeply hurtful. It is enormously disturbing because it gives us the chilling effect that if these evil men could mercilessly kill a priest, the herald of forgiveness and mercy, now they may kill anyone who stands on their way. Yet, his death is also painful because his death is also our death as the People of God. His white soutane soiled and colored by blood, is our white garment we wore during our baptism. His lifeless hands used to bless the people and consecrate the holy hosts and wine, are also our hands that raise our children and build our society. His silenced mouth used to proclaim the Good News, to forgive sins, and to denounce evil, are also our mouth that receive the Holy Communion and teach wisdom to our children. The murder of Fr. Mark is a murder of a priest, and symbolically it is the killing of all of us, Christians.

The way of the priesthood is what some of us choose, the way that often provides us with earthly comforts, and unexpected bonuses; the way that catapults us from a rug to a rich kid; and the way that showers us with fame, success, and glory. Yet, it is the same way that confronts us with the face of evil; the way that challenges us to be at the side of the victims and to denounce injustice; and the way that gets us persecuted, mocked and killed. The choice is ours. To end my humble reflection, let me quote Archbishop Oscar Romero, “A church that doesn’t provoke any crises, a gospel that doesn’t unsettle, a word of God that doesn’t get under anyone’s skin, a word of God that doesn’t touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed — what gospel is that?”

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