September 19, 2020

25th Sunday - A (September 20, 2020)

 

I Deserve This.

Matthew 20: 1-16a

 

The first group of laborers complained to the landowner, “You have made them equals to us.”  (emphasis is mine).  They also credited themselves, “We bore the day’s burden and the heat.”

To be fair to them, they were there at dawn, ready to work. 

 

We hear these kind of expressions that often.  We all probably have said or thought similarly about ourselves too.  We worked hard.  We took our job seriously.  We deserved it.  Then we compare ourselves with others, “We work harder.  They don’t deserve it.”

 

There is room for a system of merits and rewards in human society.  Sometimes, it’s even a matter of justice.

 

But we are wrong to apply this way of thinking to God and God’s gift. 

 

If the landowner had not given the laborers work, all of them, including the first group, could be “standing idle all day.” 

 

God’s forgiveness, mercy, and love are all given to us unconditionally. 

 

If God had not created us, we would not even exist.  Moreover, God gave us God’s only Son to die for us sinners to save us and to make us children of God.  The Holy Spirit is present to guide us to eternal life with the Trinity. 

 

Therefore, gratitude is the only thing we have to offer.  

 

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September 12, 2020

24th Sunday - A (September 13, 2020)

God’s Gift of Conscience

Matthew 18: 21-35

 

We have “in [our] hearts a law inscribed by God” [1] that is called conscience.  Thus, conscience is God’s gift to us. 

 

One of the gifts of a well-formed conscience is it helps us know our sins.  Knowing our sins could help us be more aware of our need for God’s forgiveness.

 

The awareness our need for God’s forgiveness should then lead us to greater gratitude to God and appreciation of God’s mercy.  (On the contrary, without the awareness of God’s boundless mercy, the awareness of sins alone can easily lead us to despair).

 

Appreciation of God’s mercy in turn could help us grow in our compassion with ourselves and with others. 

 

The first servant in today’s Gospel does not know the immensity of what he owes the king.  He even brags, “I will pay you back in full” although he has “no way of paying it back.”  He is clueless of either the size of the debt or his situation.  That is similar to the unawareness of one’s sins. 

 

Consequently, the servant has no appreciation for the king who was so “moved with compassion” for him that the king just “let him go and forgave him the loan.”

 

We know the rest of the story. 

 


[1] Catechism of the Catholic Church #1776, quoted Gaudium et Spes 16, quoted Romans 2:15.

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September 5, 2020

23rd Sunday - A (September 6, 2020)

 

When We Sin

Matthew 18: 15-20

 

The verb used for “to sin” in Matthew 18: 15 is a Greek verb that “came originally from the world of archery and means "missing the mark." [1]   It also means “to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honor,” or “to wander from the law of God.” [2]

 

When we sin, we miss the mark.  We fail to be the people God creates [1] and calls to be.

 

Correction in the community, according to the way of Jesus, is an act of charity.  Its purpose is to help the community members to become who God calls us to be – “perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5: 48) 

 

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[1] https://www.progressiveinvolvement.com

[2] https://www.blueletterbible.org

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August 29, 2020

22nd Sunday - A (August 30, 2020)

 

It Is Not Easy

Matthew 16: 21-27

 

It is easier to profess with our words who Jesus is.  That was what Peter did in last Sunday’s Gospel.  Peter acclaimed that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

 

It is harder to accept that the Christ must “suffer greatly and be killed” by crucifixion.  That’s where Peter fails in today’s Gospel.

 

We know and believe that Jesus suffered and died on the cross to save us.  But it is not easy to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow him.

 

Lord Jesus, give me strength to carry my cross and follow you, because that is the way you allow me to share in your mission of saving us and the whole world from sin and death.  

 

Image source:  www.agnusday.org 
 

August 22, 2020

21st Sunday - A (August 23, 2020)

A Loaded Question

Matthew 16: 13-20

“Who do you say that I am?” 

Peter answered it then.  Each one of us still needs to answer it today. 

It’s not enough to know other people’s answers, even if they have the right answer.  Jesus reminds us that faith is a gift revealed by the heavenly Father.  And we need to embrace it.

The faith Peter professes is the faith of the Church.  The Church professes that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  This Son of God came to earth so that by his cross and resurrection, he has brought all people into the family of God, as God’s sons and daughters. 

If I accept this gift of faith from God, there are a number of consequent ramifications.  One, Jesus must be first in my life.  Two, I must treat other people as my brothers and sisters, children of the same heavenly Father.  

Let us today pray for Pope Francis, Peter's successor.

 

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August 15, 2020

20th Sunday - A (August 16, 2020)

 

“Send Her Away”

Matthew 15: 21-28

 

The disciples’ reaction to the woman asking Jesus for help is, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” 

 

Send her away for she is bothering us. 

 

Unfortunately, that kind of response to a person who is in need is not uncommon.

 

In the Gospel passage that we heard two Sundays ago, the disciples had the same reaction before Jesus fed the people.  They suggested that Jesus sent the people away.  “Dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.”

 

The disciples want to send people away, feeling they are being bothered.  

 

How often do I do the same?

 

Jesus, in spite of the apparently harsh words, responded to the woman’s request.  Moreover, he would lay down his life for all humanity. 

 


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August 1, 2020

18th Sunday - A (August 2, 2020)


“His Heart Was Moved with Pity”

Matthew 14: 13-21

 

“It’s not my problem.”   “I can’t help.”  Most, if not all of us, probably have either felt or responded in similar words when encountered a person in need, or a situation we wished we could do something to change or to improve it.   

 

The first response is about attitude.  The second is about ability or means.

 

The disciples in today’s Gospel had the same responses when they saw the hungry crowds.  Regarding their attitude, they first said to Jesus, “It’s not our problem.  Let’s send them away so ‘they can go and buy food for themselves.’”

 

But Jesus told them to give the people some food themselves.  They now responded, “We can’t help.”  They had five loaves and two fish.  Was the food what they brought for themselves and Jesus?  This was about their ability and means.  They said, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.”

 

Jesus has the divine ability to feed the hungry crowds.  But first, his attitude.  “His heart was moved with pity” for the people. 

 

We have much to learn from Jesus and for Him to change us. 



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