July 31, 2010


18th Sunday - C
Luke 12:13-21

What's on my mind?

In order to understand the passage of Luke 12:13-21, it may be helpful to go back a few verses of Chapter 12. In 12:1, Luke reports that thousands of people have gathered around Jesus. [1] Another English translation reads "so many people were crowding together that they were trampling one another underfoot."

In the course of his teaching to the disciples with that large crowd around, Jesus tells them to trust in God's providential care for them. He says, "Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows." (verses 6-7)

Keeping in mind that background of the crowd being drawn to the power of Jesus' teaching, and the words he has just spoken to them, one wonders, "How could the man have the nerve to come in front of everybody and ask Jesus to tell his brother to share the inheritance with him?"

Is it because he has been standing too far away from Jesus, and the physical distance prevents him from hearing Jesus' words?

Or is it the distance in his heart and on his mind?

From Jesus' response, it seems quite obvious that the man has not heard a word that Jesus speaks. His preoccupation with the inheritance has blocked his ears, his mind and his heart from hearing Jesus.

And just imagine what it must be like in his family with such dispute over wealth and inheritance.

And so, just like the man in the parable that follows in verses 16-22, he fails to pay attention to the most important thing, namely life itself.

Is there anything that keeps me from living my life as God's precious and gratuitous gift?

Is there anything on my mind that prevents me from listening to God's words of eternal life?

[1] Luke Timothy Johnson, The Gospel of Luke. Sacra Pagina Series, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991, p.198.

18th Sunday - C (August 1, 2010)


July 24, 2010


17th Sunday - C
Luke 11: 1-13

Jesus the Pray-er

"Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, 'Lord, teach us to pray.'"

Think of a time when a child or a friend saw you do something that was so "wow!" and the question came out of awe, "How did you do that?" Then, "You gotta show me!"

Seeing Jesus at prayer must have been so impressive that the disciple asks Jesus to teach them to pray. [1]

But Jesus' prayer is not just impressive in that one occasion. Throughout Luke's gospel, Jesus is found at prayer often, especially before any major decision or event.

Moreover, his life is the living prayer. In his life, others could see his deep relationship with God. [2]

Let's just have a careful look at the prayer he teaches the disciples,
"Father, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test."

His life, every word, every action is about building the Father's kingdom. From the very beginning of his public ministry, he proclaimed in the Synagogue at Capernaum the good news of liberty for the poor and an acceptable year of the Lord. At that very moment, he told the people, "Today, this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing." (Luke 4:17-21). His mission is not about him or his name. It's always about the Father's name and the Father's kingdom.

Then, how does he go about glorifying the Father's name and building the Father's kingdom? He feeds the people's physical and spiritual hunger. He forgives sinners. He overcomes the tempter in the desert.

And he will continue to do so until he completes his earthly mission. In the end, he will forgive those who persecute him and his friends who abadon him. He will win the final victory over not just temptation, but sin, death, and evil itself.

Jesus is a man of his word.
[1] Francis J. Moloney, SDB. The Gospel of the Lord: Reflections on the Gospel Readings, Year C. Homebush, Australia: St. Paul Publications, 1991; p. 148
[2] Luke Timothy Johnson, The Gospel of Luke. Sacra Pagina Series, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991, p.179

17th Sunday - C (July 25, 2010)

July 17, 2010


16th Sunday - C
Luke 10:38-42

The Person First, Not the Action

This passage from Luke's gospel has so often been misinterpreted to make one way of being Christian better than another. Namely, religious life is better than the life of a Christian "in the world," or "the contemplative life is better than the active life." [1]

The context of the passage in the Gospel should help us undertand it more appropriately. In Luke's structure, the story of Jesus in the house of Martha and Mary comes immediately after the parable of the Good Samaritan (last week's gospel). At the end of the parable, Jesus tells the scholar of the law to go and do what the Samaritan does -- serving those in need.

In this context, it would make Jesus contradict himself to suggest that he scolds Martha for doing an act of charity, in this case, being hospitable in serving Jesus. Would Jesus be that mean and ungrateful?

On the contrary, Jesus points out to Martha that as a disciple, she needs to do both serving and sitting at the feet of Jesus to listen. [2] Doing one without the other is not enough.

In addition, Jesus' observation of Martha could also be translated as "You make such a fuss of yourself." [3] In fact, in her worries and anxieties, it seems more about herself than about taking care of her guest.

If we lose sight of the person we are serving, we can lose sight of why we are doing it. And in the end, it can be just about us, our ego, or our ideas, and no longer about the other.

Only attentive listening and learning from Jesus can keep our eyes focused on him present in our brothers and sisters whom we try to serve.

[1] Francis J. Moloney, SDB. The Gospel of the Lord: Reflections on the Gospel Readings, Year C. Homebush, Australia: St. Paul Publications, 1991; p. 146.
[2] Ibid., p. 147.
[3] adapted from Luke Timothy Johnson, The Gospel of Luke. Sacra Pagina Series, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991, p. 174.

16th Sunday - C (July 18, 2010)

Tintoretto, Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, 1570-75

July 10, 2010


15th Sunday - C
Luke 10:25-37

Being or Doing. What is First?

In the gospels, those who oppose Jesus often try to justify themselves. [1] In the case of the scholar of the law in this passage, the attitude of self-righteousness leads him to ask for what he "must do to inherit eternal life." There is a paradox here. If eternal life is something to inherit (from God, that is), how can it be gained by what he does? Because he relies on his action, and not God's free gift of love, he cannot be satisfied with Jesus' answer. And so he keeps asking.

The Samaritan is well-known for his actions in taking care of the victim. As a result, we, as readers and listeners of the parable, often overlook the more essential description of the man, namely his attitude. When Jesus introduces him, Jesus first points out that "he was moved with compassion at the sight." This is the same attitude of Jesus when he meets the widow of Nain who is on her way to burry her only son in Luke 7:11-13. [2]

Acts of charity have their place in Christian living. But first, we must be grateful to God for God's gracious love and God's free gift of salvation. The gift of life, both now and in eternity, is truly our inheritance from God.

Then, if we adapt Jesus' attitude like the Samaritan, then we become more like Him. In this way, our actions will be more authentic acts of love and not the result of our self-righteousness. Thus, what we do on behalf others becomes both a response and an extension of God's love for us.

[1] Here, and Luke 16:15, as pointed out by Luke Timothy Johnson, The Gospel of Luke. Sacra Pagina Series, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991, p. 172.
[2] Ibid., p. 173

15th Sunday - C (July 11, 2010)


July 3, 2010


14th Sunday - C (July 14, 2010)
Luke 10:1-12, 17-20

The Consolations of Discipleship

Last week, we began reading the second part of Luke's Gospel, and we now find Jesus on his way to Jerusalem.

As he travels, "the Lord appoints seventy-two others whom he sends ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intends to visit." This plan gives the disciples the first consolation. The mission of the disciples is to prepare the way. A disciple does not have to do it all, from start to finish. A disciple only prepares the way for the master to come and complete the mission. (We, modern disciples, enjoy even a greater consolation in this area. The Risen Lord has already gone before us to wherever we are sent. He is the Lord of all creation, of heaven and earth).

Before the seventy-two departs, Jesus instructs them to pray to the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. The disciples always have somebody who backs them up. And that somebody is the master of the harvest. The disciples do not go out on their own initiative. The disciples are sent as laborers. And the master of the harvest takes care of both the laborers and the harvest. That gives them the second consolation.

Therefore, the disciples can be sent out "like lambs among wolves." And they do not need money bags, sacks, sandals. The mission is never easy, but they are never left to be on their own.

The third consolation comes with the mission itself. The seventy-two return rejoicing because of what they have been able to perform. They, however, forget that the greater consolation is the mission given to them to proclaim to the people, "the kingdom of God is at hand for you."

Yet, that consolation is not even the greatest. Jesus rewards them with the greatest consolation, even greater than the power over the spirits: "Your names are written in heaven."

14th Sunday - C (July 4, 2010)