May 31, 2008
Matthew 7: 21-27
Doing the Father's will
What does the Father want us to do?
It is significant to note that the passage chosen for this Sunday comes at the end of the Sermon on the Mount (Chapters 5 - 7). In this Sermon, he reaffirms the validity of God's commandments, "Whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (5:19). He then goes beyond the Jewish understanding of the law to give his teaching regarding divorce, adultery, oath taking, and avoidance of sin ("if your hand causes you troubles ...). And very significantly, Jesus gives us the Beatitudes. He also tells us that we are the salt of the earth and light of the world. Chapter 5 ends with the revolutionary commandment, "I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father" and the demand "be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."
In Chapter 6, Jesus teaches us how to pray, fast, and give alms as children of God. He also teaches what to pray for with the Our Father. Chapter 6 ends with the reassurance that God, our Father, cares for us.
The early part of Chapter 7 tells us what it means to trust in God with the parables of the son asking his earthly father for fish and bread. Jesus also warns us not to judge, and to avoid the wide and easy way.
With the content of the Sermon on the Mount in mind, we can recognize what Jesus refers to as "these words of mine." Jesus does not talk theory when he exhorts us to act on his words. He does not speak theory when he teaches us to "do the will of my Father." God's command is not something in the sky. It is in the concrete things of our daily life that we find God's will. It is in the concrete things of our daily life that we can live as God's children.
May 23, 2008
John 6: 51-58
Food of Eternal Life
The passage comes near the end of Chapter 6 in the Gospel of John. Earlier in this chapter, we learn that “a large crowd followed [Jesus], because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick” (v. 2). He then multiplied five loaves of bread and two fish to feed over 5,000 people. In fact, the miracle was so great that the people wanted to carry him off and make him king (v. 15). And they were still not satisfied, so the next day, when they found out that he had left the area, they went looking for him. In the interval, Jesus also walked on the stormy sea to come to the disciples who had gone on ahead of him.
Yet, all of these miracles were not enough for the people to have faith in him. They asked for more as they said to him, "What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do?” (v. 30)
Receiving God’s blessings and witnessing the miracles done by Jesus did not appear enough to give the people faith. They could not move beyond their own ideas of Jesus. Even some of his disciples, who we can presume had witnessed both the miracles of the multiplication of bread and fish and Jesus’ walking on the sea, left him because they could not accept his teachings (v. 66).
The passage selected for this feast of Corpus Christi, taken against the background of the remainder of Chapter 6, then teaches us the supreme role of Jesus’ gift of himself in our faith journey. Nothing can replace this gift. No other miracles, and no blessings, even the ones we acknowledge as coming from God, can replace the Eucharist. It is the greatest of all God’s gifts.
We just can’t skip this gift of Jesus Christ himself if we want to receive God’s life. Here, two small details emphasize this aspect. First, Jesus uses the verb trogein in v. 54 when he says, “whoever eats my flesh.” This verb literally means “to chew” or “the physical experience, ‘to munch,’ ‘to crunch.’” Besides, this verb appears only here in 6:54-48 and 13:18, which is another passage with a Eucharistic background (in 13:18, during The Last Supper, Jesus predicts Judas’ betrayal, quoting Scriptures, “The one who ate my food has raised his heel against me.” ) Secondly, the phrase “eternal life” in “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life” is essential to our faith in the Eucharist. In the theology of John’s Gospel, eternal life is not limited to the life after our earthly existence, but it is God’s life, which through Jesus, God shares with us even now.
We can’t have God's life unless we “munch” on the Eucharist, the greatest gift of God. In the Eucharist, God Himself became flesh so that we can share in His divine life.
May 21, 2008
May 17, 2008
Trinity Sunday – Year A
John 3: 16 - 18
“God so loves the world that he gave his only Son.”
Here we have what can be considered one of the most essential themes of the Gospel according to John, and in fact, of the Good News of Jesus. Or in the words of Fr. Michael Winstanley, SDB, it “sums up the whole Christian message of salvation. It is the Gospel in a nutshell.” The Good News that Jesus proclaims by his preaching and action, by his presence and his very life is that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
Moreover, this eternal life refers not only to the life after our earthly existence. It is God’s life, which through Jesus, God shares with us even now. Here, we can see the link with what John had written in the Prologue, “He came, … those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God.” (1:11-12)
Jesus was sent to bring “eternal life and salvation to the world”. He came to save, and not to judge. “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” And that is the reality of God’s love: Jesus is God’s gift of love for the life of the world.
Given that background, the second half of the Gospel passage becomes clearer. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (v. 18) Jesus did not come to judge. Nor does God judge. One who refuses God’s love in the Son brings condemnation on oneself.
This Gospel passage was chosen for this Trinity Sunday to remind us that while we can never fully understand the mystery of the Trinity, we live the reality of the Trinity every moment of our life. In Jesus the Son, we share and live the divine love. Again, the words of the Prologue, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth” (). That love and that glory reach the climax on the cross. That is how much God loves us.
May 13, 2008
May 11, 2008
A presence that brings peace and joy
In Genesis, we find that before God’s act of creation, “the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters” (1:2). In another English, “the mighty wind” is translated as “a divine wind.” (Jerusalem New Bible). The word wind is from the Hebrew ruah, which means breath, wind, or spirit. This divine wind, together with the word of God, put order into chaos, light into darkness, and all things were created. That event marked the beginning of creation.
In John 20:19-23, Jesus appears to the disciples who have lost heart and are fearful. They are in a different kind of chaos and turmoil. He breathes on them. His word and his presence give them peace and joy. (He said to them, “Peace be with you.” And “the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.”) This parallel indicates a new beginning, the beginning of the Church, the beginning of a new creation.
The Spirit of God is in all Christians who are sent by Jesus, just as the Father has sent him (v.21), to bring peace and joy to the world. Into a world of chaos for not having God’s Word, the disciples are sent to bring peace. Into a world of suffering for not knowing God, the disciples are sent to bring joy. This mission is accomplished only if in us others find the presence of God. Then, the whole world will enjoy the new beginning that the Holy Spirit brings.
May 6, 2008
Eternal life is to know God
"This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ" (v. 3)
How often do we value the knowledge of God as it deserves? We study and learn many things. We spend years of hard work to acquire knowledge and train for various careers. But the only one thing that matters is that we know God.
Jesus came to reveal God's name to us. “I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world." Thanks to Him, we are saved and now, we belong to God (v. 6).
We, as followers of Christ, have the same mission, that is to reveal God name to the whole world, so that all we come to know God and have life, eternal life.
That is not an easy job. But we can do it, because we are not alone. Moreover, Jesus prays for us with the Father (v.9).