Day 11: Saturday of 1st week of Lent

Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth

LOVING

 

  1. Document: Holy Scripture Readings

1.1.  First Reading: The Book of Deuteronomy 26: 16-19

1.2.  Gospel Reading: The Gospel of St Matthew 5: 43-48

1.3.  Simple Comment: Qadosh Israel is a Hebrew phrase pertaining to Yahweh. The prophet Hosea uses it when he refers to God as the Holy One of Israel. In his book in chapter 11, Hosea explicitly states that God is holy and by this he reports what God himself means by it: “I am God, not man, and I have no will to destroy!” Holiness then is being different, being unlike. Unlike what? Unlike man who wishes the destruction of another! The first reading says: “You will be a people sacred to the Lord your God.”  And the Gospel today exhorts us: “you must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Both come from the same context of love, specially that of the Gospel when Jesus asks his disciples to be different in the way they love: “Love your enemy… and thus you become true children of the Father who makes his sun rise on the good and the bad.”

 

  1. Monument: Nazareth

2.1.  “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” asks Nathaniel to his friend Philip. He receives this answer: “Come and see for yourself.” Nazareth is never mentioned in the Old Testament! It seems it even never existed as a town until after the Babylonian exile, when some members of the group of the Davidic Natzorean clan re-populated this land originally called Zebulon. Netzer is a Hebrew word for shoot/bud. Natzoreans claim they come from the shoot of Jesse, therefore from the tribe of King David, son of Jesse.

2.2.  Nazarene, as some scholars claim, is not so much a name taken from the place we know as Nazareth as much as a name of this Natzorean tribe which gave their name to the place they occupied. Thus, when the Gospel of Matthew claims in its infancy narrative that Joseph and Mary chose to settle in Nazareth so to fulfill the prophecy “he shall be called Nazorean!”, very probably the evangelist meant a deeper sense to the term, that is, Jesus the Nazorean belonging to the shoot of Jesse, to the tribe of King David, is the Messiah-to-come. So too, Mark’s Gospel contains this meaning of expectation of the Messiah in Jesus when the blind man of Jericho, who heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, exclaims the messianic title: Jesus, Son of David!

 

  1. Lenten Reflection

3.1.  We have at least three good people coming from Nazareth: Jesus of Nazareth, Mary of Nazareth and Joseph of Nazareth! Together we call them the Holy Family of Nazareth!

3.2.  Jesus of Nazareth exemplifies by his life the holiness of God. He is different in the way he teaches and interprets the word of God; people marvel where he got his wisdom. Above all, Jesus exemplifies this holiness by his love; people question his eating with sinners, his permitting a prostitute to anoint his feet, his citing the Samaritan, the enemy of the Jews, as an example of genuine goodness with his act of charity, and above all, his asking his Father for forgiveness for his persecutors while on the Cross. What he teaches he practices! How different – how holy – really Jesus is.

 

  1. Contemporary Filipino Question: Iba siyempre! With the bloodless EDSA revolution, the world saw something different from the Filipinos. We proudly emblazoned ourselves then with the phrases: Naiiba ang Pilipino! Handog ng Pilipino sa mundo. And it was true, what made the difference on those February days twenty-six years ago was how we treated ourselves as brothers and sisters, how we claimed a common faith under one Father, one Savior and one Mother. Our faith in God and love for each other made a difference back then. It happened once, so can’t we believe it can really happen again. There is hope, there is light, there is grace. Lent well lived, which means God and neighbor welcomed, can make the difference in our national life!