January 31, 2009


4th Sunday - B
Mark 1:21-28

Jesus Teaches with Authority

In the ancient world, calling a person by name gives the caller certain control and authority over the one who is called. That is the evil spirit's attempt. Yet, Jesus overcomes the evil spirit's power (1).

Witnessing this event, the people in the synagogue of Capernaum acknowledge that Jesus teaches with authority. Indeed, with authority and power both in words and actions, Jesus proclaims the Kingdom of God.

Yet, surprisingly, their acknowledgement of his authority only gets them as far as amazement. It is not enough to lead them to having faith in Jesus. Is Jesus just another outstanding rabbi for them?

In our world, there are many teachings that claim authority and power over others. Many people claim to have the truth. In fact, the influence of relativism makes us easily believe that everybody is entitled to his/her own truth.

What does the teaching of Jesus mean for me? Is he just another wise man? Does his teaching mean something special for me? Or is it just another claim to a truth?
(1) Moloney, Francis J. The Gospel of Mark: a Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002; p. 54.

January 30, 2009

Prayer Request

Please pray for us, followers of St. John Bosco, who are also known as Salesians (priests, brothers, sisters, cooperators, lay collaborators,... and especially young people) as we celebrate the feastday of our Founder (January 31).

4th Sunday - B (Feb. 1, 2009)

January 24, 2009


3rd Sunday - B
Mark 1:14-20

An invitation to a radical change

In this passage, St. Mark gives us three points related to conversion.

First, it is God's invitation. Jesus came from God to offer us the invitation in the form of his gospel.

Second, the reason for the invitation to converstion is the fact that the Kingdom of God is at hand. And the kingdom is a gift from God.

And finally, St. Mark offers us some models of how one can respond to God's invitation to repent and believe in the gift of the Kingdom. The disciples, once heard the invitation, give a total response and a radical abandonment of everything that they know and have. They are fishermen who abandon their nets, boats, and their hired men. They are sons who leave their father, and consequently, their inheritance. But more than just the inheritance. By leaving their father, the disciples also leave "their connections to a family and a family tradition."(1) And it is all done immediately. Theirs is a radical response. All because they have heard the invitation from God and have accepted it as a gift.

One final note, all of this happened after John the Baptist had been "arrested." This is the exact same verb St. Mark used to speak of what would happen to Jesus throughout his gospel. (2) For the first generation of Christians who read and heard the call of the disciples and their radical response, it must have been so meaningful and real since the events in the life of the Christ and his disciples were fresh on their minds. They knew what it meant to respond to God's invitation in a radical way.

That same gift and that same invitation are being offered me today. How is my response?
(1) Moloney, Francis J. The Gospel of Mark: a Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002; p. 53.
(2) Ibid. p. 48.

3rd Sunday - B (Jan. 25, 2009)

January 17, 2009


2nd Sunday - B
John 1: 35-42

Come and You Will See

The two disciples heard the testimony of John the Baptist and followed Jesus. But it is Jesus who takes the initiative and reaches out to them when he asks them, "What are you looking for?"

Then Jesus invites them, "Come, and you will see." Again, it is Jesus' initiative.

The two stay with Jesus for the day.

John has introduced Jesus to the two as "the Lamb of God." However, at the initial encounter, to them Jesus is a rabbi, just another teacher. Yet, after they have spent the day with Jesus, they know know him as "the Messiah" as Andrew shares the news with his brother Simon. One day spent with Jesus makes the difference. We know from reading the rest of the Gospel According to John that their faith at this stage is not yet complete. Nevertheless, they now know Jesus no longer as just any rabbi, but the Messiah.

Jesus continues to offer us the same invitation, "Come and you will see." Only in Him can we find the true longing of our hearts.

January 10, 2009


Baptism of the Lord
Mark 1: 7-11

The Heavens Open

Jesus, who has come in fulfilling God the Father's plan, is superior to John. Mark emphasizes that point in John's humble testimony. He considers himself not even worthy to be Jesus' slave. (Since removing the master's sandals is a job so lowly that a Hebrew servant is not expected to do. It is reserved to non-Jew slaves) (1).

The short passage from the Gospel according to Mark is full of actions, intentional actions, surrounding Jesus. First, "Jesus came" an action described by a verb with intention, not an accident. Then, "the heavens [were] torn open." Next, "the Spirit, like a dove, [descended] upon him." Finally, "a voice came from the heavens."

Yes, Jesus, who is God's beloved Son, and who is superior to all, has chosen to come among us. And that is a part of God's plan so that we may be come God's children. His coming tore the heavens open, and the Holy Spirit descends upon us at our baptism to make us God's sons and daughters. The Father is now addressing us, "you are my beloved sons and daughters."

(1) Moloney, Francis J. The Gospel of Mark: a Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002; p. 35.

January 1, 2009


Epiphany of the Lord
Matthew 2:1-12

Some lives are spent looking for the King, while to others, His coming is a disturbance

Matthew contrasts the magi from the east, who are Gentiles, with Herod and those with him in Jerusalem in a number of ways.

First, Matthew subtly indicates his attittude about the authenticity of the two kings. "In the days of king Herod," the magi arrive in Jerusalem looking for the king of the Jews. Ironically, Herod had the title "King of the Jews" as appointed by the Roman senate (1). We know from history that Herod secured his rule with political manipulations and schemes, and violence. Already in Matthew's narrative, we know how cruel Herod could be. As a result, many Jews never recognize Herod as their legitimate king. Jesus' legitimacy, on the other hand, is made known to the Gentile magi with a sign in the heaven.

Secondly, the magi are not part of the chosen people of Israel. They do not enjoy the knowledge of Scriptures, an ancestral covenant, nor a faith tradition that teaches them to wait for the promised Messiah (2). The chosen people, in particular, the chief priests and the scribes assembled by Herod, enjoy all those benefits. They know about the Messiah. Yet, they do not know Him.

The first two differences naturally lead to the third one. The magi find themselves in Jerusalem searching for the king, a search they began the moment they saw his star. In contrast, Herod is "greatly troubled and all Jerusalem with him" at the news.

God continues to break into our lives. We can have the magi's attitude and allow him to enter and change our lives. Or we can find him a disturbance to our routine and be troubled.

(1) Harrington, Daniel J., The Gospel of Matthew. Sacra Pagina series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991; p. 41.
(2) Moloney, Francis J. The Gospel of the Lord: Reflections on the Gospel Readings : Year B. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1994; p. 82.