November 27, 2008


1st Sunday of Advent – B

Mark 13: 33 – 37

In the Gospel of Mark, this passage comes immediately before the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus. With this placement, the parable of the master’s unexpected return and the warning to the servants to keep watch take on a different meaning than just any generic story or warning. We should read this parable in light of the events surrounding the last days of Jesus and his disciples before Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion.

Jesus has warned the disciples to “Be watchful! Be alert!” and to “Watch” because the lord of the house might come in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. The events of the Passion, as recorded by Mark, unfold during those moments. First, the Last Supper takes place in the evening. During the meal, Jesus predicts that Peter would deny him, and the rest will be scattered. Then, in the night, Jesus takes the disciples to Gethsemane. There he prays, while the disciples fall asleep. Still in the night, the high priests and the scribes put Jesus on trial. And the disciples disappear out of fear. Peter follows Jesus at a distance. Yet, in the courtyard, Peter denies Jesus, and the cock crows. Then “as soon as it [is] morning,” Jesus is led to Pilate’s court. All throughout Jesus’ ordeal, the disciples fail to heed his warning.[1]

Consequently, for the disciples of Jesus and the early Church, this parable and Jesus’ warning to watch must have been very real. They learned the lesson from painful experiences. And in faith in Jesus’ promise and mercy, they passed on the lesson to us. Now, we should “be watchful and alert.”

And Jesus, in this short parable teaches us how to be watchful and alert. That is by carrying out the order the lord of the house gives to each of us, according to our responsibilities and our own work.
[1] Moloney, Francis J. The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002; p. 271.

November 22, 2008


Christ the King – A
Matthew 25: 31 – 46

The King Present in the Least Ones

The parable begins with a description of the majestic Son of Man coming in glory. He is identified as Son of Man, king, shepherd, and Son of God (indirectly, in referring to God as “my Father”). He is portrayed with phrases like “comes in glory,” “sits upon his glorious throne,” with the nations “assembled before him.”[1] He is definitely the majestic and victorious king.

It is then even more remarkable that this majestic king identifies himself with the hungry, the thirsty, strangers, the naked, the sick, and prisoners. Moreover, he even lowers himself to the level of “one of these least ones.”

In this way, through this parable, Jesus reminds us more than a moral demand of caring for the needy. In fact, he teaches us how we can live the mystery of the incarnation in our daily life. The Emmanuel, God-with-us, lives among us in the least ones. That is why he makes the second commandment of loving our neighbor “like” the first, namely, loving God. (Matthew 22:39)

[1] Meier, John P. Matthew. New Testament Message Series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press; p. 302.

November 15, 2008


33rd Sunday - A

Matthew 25: 14 - 30

Do it immediately, and keep going.

After the master leaves, the servant with the five talents immediately goes and trades with them and makes another five. Likewise, the one with the two talents makes another two. They waste no time. They are on a mission. They are willing to take risks. And they succeed.

Interestingly, after the master returns, a part of the rewards that he gives the faithful and productive servants is great responsibilities. They still have work to do. It seems that their risk taking has won the master’s trust.

The third servant, on the contrary, plays it safe. He goes off and buries his master’s money in the ground. What he does is a common practice in unstable war-torn Palestine. Some scholars even suggest that the practice is considered “the best security against theft.” In addition, the servant would be “freed from liability”[1]

One wonders if the master is also a risk taker. Jesus tells us that he entrusts his money to the servants according to their ability. Moreover, he rewards the servants who are more adventurous. Now, he even entrusts them with great responsibility.

In contrast, the servant who plays it safe is punished.

Think of the talents we all have receive as the gift of faith and the mission to spread the Kingdom of God. We can’t play it safe. We have to take risk. And we have no time to waste. We have to do it immediately. And even when we have succeeded in some areas, there is more to do. We will then be entrusted with great responsibilities. We can’t just return what we have received as is.

[1] Harrington, Daniel J. The Gospel of Matthew. Sacra Pagina Series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, p. 352.

November 8, 2008


Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran

John 2: 13 –22

Zeal for God’s House

For the Pharisees, as well as the animal sellers and the money-changers, the Temple is a temple. It is an object or a building. No surprises then when they treat it the way the Gospel passage describes, and turn it into “a marketplace” (v. 16)

For Jesus, the Temple is “my Father’s house.” This belief is not new, since for the Jews, the Temple is the dwelling place of God among his people.[1] The difference is not in the belief but in one’s attitude toward the Temple.

At the same time, Jesus expands the understanding of the Father’s house from a building to the Temple his own body when he speaks of his resurrection in verse 19. In this way, he shows his audience the presence of God in him.

This understanding that Jesus gives to the presence of God in his own Body gives us some insights as we celebrate the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran. This basilica is the mother church of Christianity and the Cathedral of the Pope, the Bishop of Rome. As Christians, we believe that God dwells in His Church, the Body of Christ. Therefore, we are invited to love, respect the Church, and do all we can to make it more truly the dwelling place of God.

The Christian family is the domestic church. In our family, God truly dwells. We pray and work to bring that divine presence to all members of our families, as well as to those who come in contact with our families.

Then, each Christian, by the grace of Baptism, is a Temple of the Holy Spirit, God’s dwelling place. (St. Paul emphasizes this point in 1 Corinthians 3: 16 – 17, today’s second reading). The life mission of each Christian, consequently, is to show others that presence of God in the way we live our lives. In this way, God’s salvation will reach our brothers and sisters and give them life.

Finally, God is present in all men and women God has created in God’s own image and likeness. Now, this is the source of human dignity. Thus, we are invited to find the presence of God in all.

[1] Moloney, Francis J, SDB., The Gospel of John. Sacra Pagina Series, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1998; p. 81.

November 7, 2008

Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome (Nov. 9, 2008)


(Photo source:

November 1, 2008


Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls)
(31st Sunday - A)

John 6: 37 - 40

It's the Father's will

One of the major themes in the Gospel of John is that Jesus and his death to save us are gifts of love from God the Father. In John 3:16, this theme is introduced, "God so loves the world that he gave us his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal live." Here we see that the Father has sent the Son "to bring the possibility of eternal life and the salvation of the world."[1]

The Prologue refers first to this theme in 1: 12, “To those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name.”

That gift of being adopted by God begins for us here in this life. And it does not end with earthly death.

Now in chapter 6, to the people who have tasted the bread that Jesus gave them from the multiplication of the loaves, Jesus speaks to them of a greater gift, the gift of the bread of eternal life. Jesus also reaffirms what he has earlier said in chapter 3, it is the Father’s will that Jesus came to save those who believe in him. Twice Jesus says, “This is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life.”

Yes, it is the Father's will that the Son came, so that by his death on the cross out of obedience to the Father, all those who believe in him may live as God’s children.

[1] Moloney, Francis J., The Gospel of John. Sacra Pagina Series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, p. 96.

All the Faithful Departed - Nov. 2, 2008