by Rev. Fr. Tristan Jasper D. Laforteza
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (February 3, 2019). One day a father brought his son and ass to the market. While on the way, they met a couple who called out the father and said, “Place your son on the ass because that’s the purpose of your pet.” So the father did it willingly.
Again, they met another couple who summoned the boy and said, “Aren’t you ashamed? Let your father get up on the ass. He seems to be so tired.”
Thus, the father got up and exchanged with his son. Then, they proceeded on their journey. Another person caught sight of them and yelled, “Look at this lazy father! He allows his poor child to walk!” So, the son immediately got up with his father on the ass. Continuing on, a group of travellers alluded to them and said, “How insensitive it is to make their poor ass suffer.” As soon as the father heard it, he and his son got down. They searched for a pole and tied up the ass on it. Then placing the pole on their shoulders, they carried the ass with no complains. Those who see them keep on laughing to death. Unfortunately, the ass begun to fear the water as they passed by the bridge. Hence, it suddenly got out of its leash and run away.
The father and son were not able to make it to the market and have a peaceful journey because they listened to what others dictated them to do.
Undoubtedly at times, people would try to give us the best compliments we can hear. Sadly, there are also instances that other people tend to focus their attention simply on our imperfections and weaknesses. Yet some would keep on digging into something in order to find our faults and mistakes. Hence, it is really a tough thing to face with for we cannot really get the approval of everybody.
The First Reading tells us of the fact that God has a plan for each one of us. Everything that God intends must have to be the best. The reading depicts to us the call of Jeremiah to become a prophet. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you. But do you gird your loins; stand up and tell them all that I command you…They will fight against you but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord” (Jer. 1:4-5, 17-19). Since God is the Divine Creator, He perfectly knows what we are supposed to do and achieve. Facing life’s crossroads, let us pray and ask God to make our plans and decisions truly pleasing before Him.
Along the way, we encounter people who will pull us back and bring us confusion. In the Gospel, Jesus spoke in the synagogue in Nazareth about the Scripture. After which, he was drove out by his own relatives and people. “And he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place…When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury” (Luke 4:21-30). People were dismayed for not being able to find faults against Jesus. They could not accept that Jesus would have that remarkable wisdom and holiness greatly different and far from them. Though, truly depressing, Jesus did not allow Himself to be destroyed and dissuaded by the doubtful gestures of his own relatives and people. It was very clear on His part whom to follow, to listen to, and please, none other than His Father in Heaven.
What then is the remedy? In the midst of increasing culture of criticism and fear of losing, the Second Reading reminds us the imperative value of Love. The reading provides with exact definitions of what true love is.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous. It is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 12:31—13:13). God is Love. Therefore, if we love, we make God genuinely alive in ourselves.
Then, it is tantamount to following what truly pleases God. Confronted by threats and rejections in spite of the good that we do, it is only love that sustains us and makes us resilient. Love restrains us from taking revenge or being discouraged to perform what is right and true. It helps us to see the beauty of following God’s Will regardless of the struggles and temptations that we need to overcome.
In the end, let me share with you these powerful words of St. Augustine: “Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.”