Friday, 1st Week of Lent   

            Today’s gospel passage is already a ‘sermon’ in itself – in fact, it is a very down-to-earth sermon. One does not have to be an expert or knowledgeable about the Bible in order to understand its meaning and its message. We do not even have to interpret it; we just have to put it into practice.

            Instead of delivering a homily, in my usual way, allow me to just add some more practical applications of the gospel message. Let me just paraphrase the gospel reading… “If you are inside a chapel praying, and there you recall that your brother has a grudge against you, leave your prayer, go first to your brother and be reconciled with him.” “If you are inside the church attending Mass, and you remember that you got mad at your sister and said some nasty things, leave first the Mass, and find a way to say ‘Sorry’ to her.” “If you are praying the rosary, and you realize that you have not spoken with a friend for several days now because of some ‘tampuhan,’ drop first your rosary, set your differences with your friend.”

            Allow me to paraphrase the words of Jesus in a blunt way: “Do not come to me, do not go to church, do not attend Mass, do not give or offer anything to me – gifts, donations, flowers, songs…” “Do not give of offer me anything, unless you are genuinely reconciled with your sisters and brothers.”

            The kingdom of heaven calls for reconciliation with our sisters and brothers – not just an acknowledgment of violent thoughts, hurtful words, harmful deeds, wrongful attitudes, and mean behaviors. Jesus is telling us very clearly that we must make it our first concern or priority to be reconciled with our sisters and brothers before offering our gift to God. In fact, our prayers and offerings at the altar, our attending the Mass and other liturgical celebrations, our praying the rosary and novena prayers to the saints, are worthless, meaningless, and senseless, if there is something that is breaking or damaging our relationship with our sisters and brothers and we are not doing anything to fix it.

            Today’s gospel contains a very important Lenten message for us: “Go first and be reconciled with your brother (or sister), and then come and offer your gift.” Let us heed this… and have a meaningful Lent.

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