November 28, 2009


1st Sunday of Advent - C
Luke 21:25-28, 34-36

Do Not Be Drowsy Because of the Anxieties of Daily Life.

The Gospel for this year's First Sunday of Advent does not look at the key Biblical figures commonly associated with Advent and Christmas, such as Isaiah, John the Baptist, Elizabeth, or the Virgin Mary. Nor does it speak of preparation for the first coming of the Messiah in Bethlehem. Instead, it speaks of the future coming of the Son of Man in the first half of the passage (verses 25-28).

Jesus uses images common to his Jewish audience to speak of the end time, the time of his return. The message, as vivid as it may sound, says nothing about the exact time of such events. We know from Jesus' teachings elsewhere, and from human experience, that we do not know the time nor the hour. Moreover, it is beyond our control. It's in God's hands.

The only thing we can do is how we live our lives in the here and now. And that is the best preparation for the Messiah's future coming.

The second part of the Gospel passage (verses 34-36) then instructs us how to live the present moment. Jesus warns us not to "become drowsy." Drowsiness is often caused by "carousing and drunkenness." But Jesus also warns us of another sourse of drowsiness, namely, "the anxieties of daily life."

If I believe that God loves me and cares for me, then I would not become anxious of daily life.

The same loving God who watches over my future, and in fact, the future of the whole universe, is the God who loves me today. It is the same God who gives me this day out of love. And that's the only thing I have for sure. It's only today that I can and need to live well. And if I live well today, I would not be drowsy and miss the presence of God in my daily life, nor will I miss the Messiah on the day he comes.

November 18, 2009


Christ the King
John 18:33b-37

Truth and Love- the Qualities of the King and His People

It is quite clear in Jesus' response to Pilate's interrogation that Jesus' Kingdom is in the world, but not of the world: "My kingdom does not belong to this world." He does not deny his kingship, but he adds, "as it is, my kingdom is not here."

As it is, the kingdom is not here. So, what conditions must there be for Jesus' kingdom to be among us?

The answer is given in the mission that Jesus identifies himself with. "For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth."

And Jesus gives us the truth at another place in John's gospel, "God so loves the world that he gave his only Son" (John 3:16). The truth is "God is love." (1 John 4:8, 16) [1]

That truth reaches its climax on the cross, when Jesus gives his life out of love. [2]

And citizenship in the Kingdom Jesus established on the cross is for "Everyone who belongs to the truth" -- the truth of love.

[1] Francis J Moloney, SDB. This is the Gospel of the Lord: Year B. Homebush, NSW, Australia: St. Paul, 1993, p. 203.
[2] Ibid.

November 14, 2009


33rd Sunday - B
Mark 13:24-32

What's certain, and what's not?

The way Jesus explains it, everything of this world that we take for granted will not last. That's certain. It begins with the end of the physical realities of the sun and the moon darkened, and the stars falling from the sky -- traditional Jewish cosmic signs of the end time. And it extends to the powers that people might think control events of life. All will end. And that is certain.

It is also certain that the power of God, revealed in "the Son of Man" will prevail. And it is not by accident. He will come to "gather his elect."

When that will happen is uncertain to us.

Yet, that we are God's elect is certain. And Jesus assures us that his words will not pass away. That fact should give us hope, even when everything we know passes away.

November 7, 2009


32nd Sunday - B
Mark 12:38-44

The Widow who Offers Her Life to God

The English translation of the currency in Mark 12:42 does not provide a clear idea of how little money the poor widow puts in the treasury. In the Greek text, we learn that she puts in two lepta, which are worth 1/64 (one-sixty-fourth) of a denarius - a day's salary of a regular laborer. [1]

She may have offered just a tiny amount of money, but it's "her whole livelihood." (v. 44) In fact, the word bios used for livelihood also means "life." This double meaning of the word suggests that she offers to God more than just what she has to live on, but her very life. For this trusting generosity, Jesus praises her, commenting "This poor widow put in more than all the other contributors." (v.43)

In the larger context of the entire Gospel according to Mark, the disciples of Jesus have given up their livelihood when they abandons everything to follow him (1:16-20; 2:13-14). Then, throughout the Gospel, especially after each time Jesus predicts his passion and death, Jesus invites them to give up their lives in serving other (9:33-37; 10:41-44), and in carrying the cross and follow him (8:34; 10:38-40). Now, he points out to them an example in the trusting and generous widow who gives all she has, even her life. [2]

[1] Francis J. Moloney. The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002; footnote 168, p. 247.
[2] Ibid., p. 247.