The WORD in other words (2022) by Fr Bel San Luis SVD – Christ the King Seminary, Quezon City
Tuesday 5th Week of Lent
In today’s Gospel, the Pharisees, the Jewish religious leaders, could not accept what Jesus openly said that he was the Messiah sent by his Father. For this, he responded in strong words, “You will die in your sins.”
How about us present-day Christians? To be fair, Filipinos are generally religious, prayerful, and God-fearing. We would not totally reject Christ. However, we can and do reject him in certain instances of our life.
For instance, when tragedies strike, like the excruciating deaths of the Covid-19 pandemic victims, the untold financial sufferings caused by the extended lockdowns, companies closing down, and workers losing their jobs, don’t we sometimes take them against God? “How could a good and merciful God allow this to happen?” we say.
Our faith falters, too, when we’re faced with Christ’s “hard sayings.” Once a priest was delivering a fiery homily one Sunday. “Thou shalt not kill!” he boomed.
A fired-up politician in the front row exclaimed in agreement, “Amen, Father, amen.” “Thou shalt not commit adultery!” the priest fulminated. “Amen!” again the politician practically shouted.
The preacher paused with the tension rising and declared with his full voice, ‘’Thou shalt not steal!”
“Oops, oops, Father,” said the parishioner. “You have stopped preaching. You are now meddling with my life.” The politician was involved in graft and corruption.
It’s easy enough to accept the teachings of Christ as long as they don’t go against our grain. But once they do and we are directly hit (“tinamaan”), we cop out or rationalize our wrongdoing.
“Forgive your enemies—and, mind you, not seven times but seven times seventy!” (cf Matthew 18, 22) “If you want to be my disciple, carry your cross and follow me.” (cf. Mark 8, 34; Luke 9, 23; Matthew 16, 24)
Indeed, we should pray that God will help us. But we cannot fashion him according to our own image or our wants. God is good and will help, but he will not always give us what we want.
Remember: Jesus as Messiah could not win the hearts of his kababayans (countrymen). And their greatest opposition of him culminated in his crucifixion.
And the reason? God’s way is not always our way. And this is where the Pharisees and his countrymen failed and elicited Jesus’ harsh condemnation.