The officers and volunteers of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, dearly beloved in Christ:
I gladly take this opportunity to thank all of you for this important task of serving the nation, of bringing the light of the Gospel and Christian presence into the political realm. Allow the sweet odor of Christ to permeate all that you do as PPCRV volunteers.
Makikilala raw tayo sa panahon ng krisis. Itong panahon ng pandemya ay naging panahon ng kabayahihan at kabanalan. Pope Francis said that during this pandemic, we have seen heroes and saints next door. Nawa’y ang misyon ninyo bilang mga PPCRV volunteers ay maging misyon ng kabanalan at kabayanihan.
In ancient and modern times, the sheep were given shelter at night in areas with a single access to a sort of gate. Shepherds were serious about their role of protecting the sheep from predators both human and animal. Jesus introduces himself as the gate for the sheep.
Ang pastol handang isuong ang sariling buhay sa pangangalaga at pagtatanggol sa kawan. Pinatunayan ito ni Hesus ng inalay niya ang buhay sa krus – para sa ating kaligtasan – upang ipagkasundo tayo sa Ama. Sinabi ni Hesus sa ebanghelyo kahapon: “kalian may hindi sila mapapahamak, hindi sila maagaw sa akin ninuman.” Ito ang malaking kaibahan ng upahan sa isang mabuting pastol. Ang upahan tumatakas kapag may panganib.
The prophet Ezekiel once denounced priests, prophets and kings who took advantage of the flock for personal pleasure or profit. Today’s Gospel calls them thieves and robbers.
Jesus gives us the qualities of those who have the right to enter the sheep gate. A bible scholar articulated these qualities thus: “shoulders broad enough to carry burdens, a heart big enough to contain compassion for everyone, and hands flexible enough to help in many different ways as needed.”
It is not a coincidence that on this day that we reflect on the qualities of a good shepherd, we have chosen the leaders who will shepherd our country for the next six years or even beyond. We pray that they will have these qualities: “shoulders broad enough to carry burdens, a heart big enough to contain compassion for everyone, and hands flexible enough to help in many different ways as needed.”
May dalawang mahalagang tanong daw tayo na dapat sagutin sa buhay. Ang unang tanong na hinaharap natin ay: Sino ako? Who am I? Mula pagkabata hanggang sa pagtanda natin, patuloy ang pagtatanong at pagtuklas natin kung sino tayo – kung paano tayo naiiba sa iba – “what make me me.” Hinuhubog tayo ng tanong na ito kasama ng mga pasya, pag-uugali at pagkilos natin.
Ang ikalawang tanong na mahalaga nating sagutin upang natuklasan ang tunay na kahulugan ng buhay natin ay: “Kanino tayo?” “Whose are you?” “To whom do we belong?” Hindi lang ito sinasagot ng mga relasyon at uganayan natin kundi mga pinahahalagahan natin. To whom to we belong? We answer this question not only with the self-defining relationships we keep but also the life-shaping commitments we make.
Sa pagpapakilala ni Hesus bilang Mabuting Pastol at tayo bilang kanyang mga tupa – ipinapaala sa atin ni Hesus ang isang mahalagang katotohanan – tayo ay kay Hesus, we belong to Jesus. Tayo’y kanyang mga tupa. We are his sheep. We are his.
Ngunit hindi lang tayo kanya – siya’y atin rin. Hindi niya lang tayo mga tupa. Siya’y pastol natin. We are not only his sheep. He is our Good Shepherd.
St. Teresa of Avila tells the story of one of her religious experiences involving the Christ Child himself. According to the story, one day at the convent she meets a mysterious child coming down the stairs. The child stops in his tracks and asks her who she is. “Teresa of Jesus,” she replies before asking, “And who are you?”
The child looks at her and says, “I am Jesus of Teresa.”
Not only does our relationship define us as his, but the Lord loves us so much that he does the unthinkable: He also allows our relationship to define him. By claiming us as his, he makes himself ours. (RCAM-AOC | Photo from Radio Veritas)