BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish Diocese of Novaliches


Lk 9:43b-45

While they were all amazed at his every deed, Jesus said to his disciples, “Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.” But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them so that they should not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

In the Gospel today, Jesus makes the second announcement of His Passion, Death and Resurrection. He makes sure that His disciples get this message and bear it in mind all the time. And so He says, “Pay attention to what I am telling you.” Unfortunately, they do not understand the Lord’s declaration. And even though they do not understand it, “they were afraid to ask Him about this saying.”

Most likely, they are hesitant to ask for an explanation because they are afraid that Jesus will confirm this frightening truth. So, they would rather keep quiet in the hope that the issue passes away, and not be discussed again. Many of us can resonate with this. There are those among us who, despite feeling something is not right with their health, still refuse to see a doctor. This is because they are afraid to know the truth about their illness.

Or perhaps, the disciples are not interested at all to know and understand what the Lord is really trying to tell them because they have other things in mind. Their focus is not on His teachings, but in the position, power and prestige they are expecting to get when Jesus eventually takes full control. As a matter of fact, there are already heated discussions as to who is the greatest among them.

And of course, if what Jesus says is true and is certain to happen, they are afraid to face the issue because that would surely mean being implicated in His predicament and be involved in His suffering. And for most of them, having to suffer is not part of their agenda and expectations. It is even possible that some may have already entertained regrets of being followers of a suffering Messiah. If only Jesus talked about it early on, they would not have followed Him this far.

But what they do not realize is that trying to avoid sufferings brings more sufferings. Thomas Merton said, “The more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you, in proportion to your fear of being hurt. The one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the end, the one who suffers most.” It is very similar to a person who avoids the dentist for fear of the pain. But what he fails to see is that He will surely suffer even more when his tooth gets infected.

This now leads us to reflect on the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At a very young age, she received the message from the Angel Gabriel that she is to be the Mother of the Savior. Definitely, she did not understand the meaning of such a mysterious message and its tremendous implications on herself and on the whole world.

Yet there is no fear in Mary even in the face of such an infinitely profound mystery. This is because her heart is so full of love. Such is what the Apostle John declared in his First Letter: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love” (1 Jn 4:18). Secondly, there is no fear in Mary because, being the Immaculate Conception, she is untainted by pride, envy and any kind of sin. And finally, she is not afraid because of her complete and absolute trust in God. Her cousin, Elizabeth, confirmed this at the Visitation: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Lk 1:45). And because of this trust, her obedience to God’s will is unconditional and resolute: “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Lk 2:19).

There are countless things in our life that we will never fully understand. But this is not a reason to doubt God’s abiding presence and almighty power, nor to fear whatever is ahead of us. Like Mary, let us just strive to strengthen our love for God so that our fears vanish, and our obedience to His will, though incomprehensible to us, becomes complete and unconditional.

Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches

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