April 24, 2010


4th Sunday of Easter
John 10:27-30

Jesus - the Good Shepherd - God's Presence Among Us

This Gospel passage is a part of John 10:22-42 on Jesus' time in Jerusalem for the celebration of the feast of the Dedication of the Temple (John 10:22-23 indicates "The feast of the Dedication was then taking place in Jerusalem. It was winter. And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon.")

To understand the meaning of the passage, it would be useful to look at the history of this Feast of Dedication. In 175 BC, Antiochus IV became king in Syria. He invaded Egypt and began to spread his influence to the neighboring nations. Many Jews resisted him. However, there were members of the political and religious leadership of the Jewish people who, wanting personal gains and power, established an alliance with the king and introduced the pagan way of life to Israel. Consequently, they led the people to abandon the faith of their ancestors and God's commandments.

Eventually, the king decreed that all peoples must worship Zeus or face execution. He desecrated the Temple of God and put many faithful Jews to death. [1]

To defend their faith and their nation, those Jews who were faithful to the covenant and God's commandments rose up in a revolt led by the priest Mattathias and his son Judas Maccabeus. They eventually defeated the Greeks. In 164 BC, they rededicated the Temple (see 1 Maccabees 4 or 2 Maccabees 10: 1-8) and they established an annual celebration to commemorate this event.

The Feast of Dedication is the celebration of God's presence and care for God's chosen people. "The Temple was the visible sign of God's presence." Moreover, it reminds the Jewish nation that the sins of idolatry and apostasy once "led to the desecration and destruction of the Temple" and the ruin of their nation. It warns them "Never again!" and urges them to remain faithful to God's law and covenant.

Against the background of the Feast of Dedication, Jesus reveals Himself to be the new and perfect presence of God among humanity. "The Father and I are one." And Jesus invites the people to listen to him. In Him all find God.

Throughout his Gospel, John repeatedly points out that people fail to listen to Jesus. The example of their ancestors should be a warning to them.

On the other hand, those who hear the voice of the shepherd and follow him will never be lost. The Good Shepherd gives them eternal life. [2]

[1] For further reference: 1 Maccabees, chapters 1-3.
[2] Francis J. Moloney, SDB., The Gospel of John, Sacra Pagina series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1998; pages 313-315.

4th Sunday of Easter (April 25, 2010)

April 17, 2010


3rd Sunday of Easter
John 21:1-19

Places of Encountering with the Risen Christ

The disciples, especially Simon Peter and the Beloved Disciple, have come to believe in the Lord's resurrection from seeing the empty tomb, and from seeing the Lord appearing to them in the locked room (ref. Gospels of the 2 previous Sundays). Yet, they seem so quickly to return to their previous life, as if nothing has happened. "Simon Peter said to them, 'I am going fishing.' They said to him, 'We also will come with you.'” How could they go fishing? The darkness of the surroundings is a symbol of their inner darkness.

It's to these disciples who seem confused and lost, the Risen Christ appears. Not to just one of them, but to the whole group. It is in the community of believers, who all have their struggles and ups and downs in their faith journey, that we encounter the Risen Christ together.

To the community, the Risen Lord speaks. His words continue to bring to life His presence among His disciples of all times.

In His words, like Peter, we also come to know God's mercy, forgiveness and love. To Simon, who has denied Him, and has led his friends to go away on this fishing trip, Jesus asks, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?

And the Risen Christ feeds the community of hungry and tired followers with a prepared meal. The Lord still prepares for us the meal of his life and love today.

Finally, to Simon Peter, the repented sinner, the Risen Lord entrusts his followers, "Feed my sheep." In and through Peter, the Lord is still leading his followers. Thus the invitation at the end of dialogue between the Risen Christ and Peter, "Follow me."

April 10, 2010


2nd Sunday of Easter
John 20;19-31

A Personal Encounter with the Risen Lord

Thomas hears about Jesus' presence and resurrection from the other disciples. Thomas himself is "one of the Twelve" as the writer of John's Gospel reminds us. Yet, hearing about Jesus and his resurrection, even from his friends, is not enough for Thomas to have faith.

Thomas "[comes] to believe" and is able to profess his faith, "My Lord and my God" only after he himself has had a personal encounter with the Risen Christ.

We, as disciples of the Risen Christ, may not be able to "see the mark of the nails in his hands and put [our] finger into the nailmarks and put [our hands] into his side." Nevertheless, we continue to encounter the Lord in the community, in His Word, and in the Eucharist. The blessing Jesus promises to "those who have not seeen and have believed" is for us.

In addition, in our efforts to witness to the Risen Christ, it is never enough to speak to others about Him and His presence. In order to come to believe, people must have a personal encounter with the Lord. We do so if in our lives others can see, hear, touch, and are loved by the Lord. Jesus' commission to forgive sins enables us to be like God. In our forgiving of others' offenses, and in our efforts to share Christ's gift of peace, we become the loving presence of God to our brothers and sisters.

2nd Sunday of Easter - C (April 11, 2010)

Christ and St. Thomas by Andrea del Verrocchio

April 3, 2010


Easter Sunday (April 4, 2010)
John 20:1-9

Where God's Action is Found

Mary of Magdala runs away from the tomb, where God's glorious action has taken place. Thus, like the darkness surrounding her, she has not yet come to believe.

Simon and the other disciple, on the other hand, upon hearing the news, run toward the tomb. They see the evidence of God's action (the burial cloths and the cloth that has covered Jesus' head), and believe.

The tomb, the place of the death, by God's action, has become the place of life and faith.

This passage on Christ's Resurrection in John's gospel invites us to see God's action in our life, especially in times of sufferings and death.

Christ has conquered death. He is alive.