December 31, 2011

Mary, Mother of God (January 1, 2012)

Commentary

Three Responses

(This reflection is mostly based on the writing of Fr. Francis Moloney, SDB, the [*] indicates Fr. Moloney's words) [1]

In this Gospel passage, St. Luke offers three different responses from the people to the events of the birth of Christ.

The first response is that of "all who heard it" from the shepherds. They were simply "amazed." "However, there is no indication that their 'hearing' leads to faith. Not do they make any attempt to 'see' the newly born child. All they do is wonder." [*]

The second response is that of the shepherds. In response to the message from the angel (verses 9 & 10), they "went in haste" to look for the child. And once they have witnessed it, they glorified and praised God. They also "made known the message that had been told them about the child."

However, "they are never heard of again." There is no indication that they were among Jesus' audiences when he later preached and ministered. [*] And no shepherd is recounted among those standing by the cross of Jesus or in the Upper Room after the Crucifixion.

Then, there is the third response, the response from Mary. She will be "present during the life and death of Jesus, and who is still present in the life of the Church." She is able to do that because she "kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart."[*]

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[1] Francis J. Moloney, S.D.B., The Gospel of the Lord: Reflections of the Gospel Readings - Year A. Homebush, Australia: St. Paul Publications, 1992; p. 78-79.

Mary, Mother of God (January 1, 2012)


Readings

December 24, 2011

Christmas - Mass During the Night

Commentary

God Is Here!

Except for Mark, each of the other three Gospel writers has a unique way of teaching the core revealed belief of Christianity of a God who comes to live among us. (Mark begins his Gospel with John the Baptist's preaching and Jesus' public ministry)

In the words of the angel of the Lord to Joseph, Matthew, deeply rooted in Jewish tradition, provided the name "Emmanuel" and its meaning "God is with us" (Matthew 1:23). In Jesus, God fulfills the promise given through the words of Isaiah to a people under attack by foreign invaders (Isaiah 7:14).

John wrote, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." The expression "making his dwelling" can be literally translated "pitching is tent." The experience of having God who dwells in a tent among God's chosen people also recalls Jewish history of the days in the desert. There, God lived with the people. [1] Now, the Son, who is God, comes to live among us.

Luke identified the time and place of Jesus' birth. It was in Bethlehem of Judea, during the reign of Caesar Augustus, with Quirinius governor of Syria when Mary "gave birth to her firstborn son."

Indeed, our God has chosen to come and live among us. God is with us in our human conditions, with our concrete circumstances. In Jesus Christ, God is here with us.
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[1] New American Bible, Revised Edition,

Christmas - Mass During the Night


Readings

December 17, 2011

4th Sunday of Advent - B (December 18, 2011)

Commentary
Luke 1: 26 - 38

A Long Plan

The event of the Annunciation can sometimes appear simple, even mundane. A private event happened to a simple young woman, in an insignificant town of a territory occupied by foreign forces. There were no red carpets, drum rolls or floats.

It is important that believers recognize how incredible God's way is. It is beyond human imagination and standards that God favors and chooses one of God's lowly servants. In fact, that is a part of God's mysterious design.

And often times, the focus is on how a simple woman of faith, out of obedience to God's will, changed the course of human history.

All of that is true.

Yet, we should not allow the apparent simplicity of the event of the Annunciation lead us to think that God ever takes things lightly.

"Nothing will be impossible for God" means God can do anything in whatever way. Yet, this almighty God actually has a plan for the salvation of the human race. In fact, it is was long plan in the making.

Just the references to Jacob and David, two of Jesus' ancestors can give us a hint of how far back God's plan goes. David, whose throne will be given to Jesus, was the king of Israel about 1,000 years before the time of the Annunciation. The dates and the person of the patriarch Jacob were harder to pinpoint. Nevertheless, the Jewish people became aware of their identity of God's chosen people as the house of Jacob went back hundreds of years before David.

So, just on the human level, it was thousands of years of preparation for this moment of fulfillment in God's plan for our salvation. And again, this is the God for whom nothing is impossible.

God does not take our salvation lightly.

How should I take my salvation?

4th Sunday of Advent - B (December 18, 2011)

Readings


Image: Fra Angelico (1387 - 1455) The Annunciation, Museo di San Marco, Florence
http://www.artbible.info/art/large/255.html

December 10, 2011

3rd Sunday of Advent - B (December 11, 2011)

Commentary

Who Am I? Who Am I Not?

John the Baptist is clearly identified here, "He was not the light, but came to testify to the light."
More importantly, he was "sent from God."

John himself knew who he was, and what his mission was. He was a messenger from God, sent "to testify."

His life, his words, and his action were evidently marked by his identity. As a result, his life, his words and his action served to fulfill that identity and his mission.

How about me? Do I believe that I am from God with a mission? Are my life, words and actions truthful to that identity? Do my life, words and actions serve that God-given mission?

3rd Sunday of Advent - B (December 11, 2011)


Readings
Preaching of John the Baptist by Adam_Elsheimer

December 3, 2011

2nd Sunday of Advent - B (December 4, 2011)

Commentary

Our Task: Preparing the Way for the King

It's probably helpful to link this Sunday's Gospel with the Gospel we listened to a week ago from Mark 13: 33-37. There, "the Lord of the house" so trusts us that when "he leaves home, [he] places his servants in charge, each with his own work."

Today, in the words of John the Baptist quoting the prophet, God Himself speaks to us. [1] And God invites us to prepare the way for the Kingdom established by the Messiah in the power of the Holy Spirit. There is the work for Christ's followers, who have been baptized, not with water, but with the Holy Spirit.

Isaiah the Prophet spoke to the people of Israel who were then in exile that their nation will one day be the place where God's glory shines forth (Isaiah 40: 1-5). [2] That was the message for a people with no hope.

The prophet's message is now applied to us, a people who have been redeemed! And we are not preparing the way for any earthly rule, but the Kingdom of the Christ anointed by God's Holy Spirit!

------------------------------------------
[1] Francis J. Moloney, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002; p. 32.
[2] Footnote for Mark 1: 2-3 in The New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE), 2011.



2nd Sunday of Advent - B (December 4, 2011)


Readings
St John the Baptist by Jacopo del Sellaio

November 26, 2011

1st Sunday of Advent - B

Commentary
Mark 13: 33-37

We Are In Charge

Today, Jesus uses a parable to teach his followers the appropriate attitude they should have while they wait for "the lord of the house" to return.

The command to "watch" can give the wrong connotation of a passive waiting for disaster to happen. That, however, does not seem to be Jesus' intention.

In the parable, the lord of the house,
before leaving, "places his servants in charge, each with his own work." He trusts them. And each of them is entrusted with a task to do. This trust does not suggest passivity or fear as the attitude the servants should have.

For the disciples of Christ, the parable takes on a new meaning when read in the context of the Gospel of Mark. There, this parable is Jesus' very last teaching before the events of his last Passover, when he is betrayed, arrested, and crucified. During these fateful events, the disciples fail miserably. First, they could not stay awake when Jesus was praying, even though he has told them to "remain here and keep watch" (14: 34). Then, one of them betrays him, the leader denies knowing him, and the rest all run for their lives.

Yet, to these very disciples, who have failed miserably, Jesus entrusts each with a task to do.
In fact, it is the most important task. They are to continue his mission.

Prior to this parable, Jesus tells them in 13: 9 - 10, to preach the Gospel "to all nations" with the warning, "
“Watch out for yourselves. They will hand you over to the courts. You will be beaten in synagogues. You will be arraigned before governors and kings because of me, as a witness before them." [1]

Then, the Gospel ends as Jesus repeats the command, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature" before his ascension (16: 15).

Passive waiting is not an option here. We, the followers of Christ, have been given a great mission. And it is given out of his trust for us, no matter how often we are not worthy of it.

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[1] Francis J. Moloney, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002; p. 271-272.


1st Sunday of Advent - B (November 27, 2011)

Link

November 19, 2011

Christ the King - A (November 20, 2011)

Commentary

The King's Identity

The Son of Man who "comes in his glory."
The king who sits on "his glorious throne."
The judge "of all the nations."

These are the titles of the one Jesus Christ, the Anointed One, who is God.

This same Anointed One identifies himself with the neediest of the world, those who are hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, ill, and imprisoned. Moreover, he identifies himself as the brother of "the least ones."

By human standards, this is unthinkable and may be even ridiculous.

By God's standard, that is the boundless extent of the mystery of the incarnation and the miracle of God's love for humanity.

Out of love, Christ becomes the brother of the least ones.

Christ the King - A (November 20, 2011)


Readings

Image from www.qumran2.net



November 11, 2011

33rd Sunday - A (November 13, 2011)

Commentary
Matthew 25: 14 -30

Each According to His Ability

For three weeks straight, the Gospel parables are about the end of time and how one should act in the in-between time.

Today, in Jesus' words, the master gave his possessions to his servants, "to each according to his ability."

Upon his return, the servant who received five talents was rewarded for making five more, "according to his ability." In the same way, the servant who received two talents was rewarded for making two more, "according to his ability." He did not have to make five.

In the same logic, the third servant is expected to make just one talent, "according to his ability."
The master is not "a demanding person" as this servant believes him to be.

This servant fails to make profit of what has been entrusted to him, "according to his ability."

God always gives us more than we acknowledge. It's time for us to look with gratitude into the gifts we have received, and make profit with them according to our ability.




33rd Sunday - A (November 13, 2011)

Readings
Image from www.qumran2.net



November 5, 2011

32nd Sunday - A (November 6, 2011)

Commentary
Matthew 25: 1-13

Within and Without My Control

In life, certain things happen to everybody, regardless of one's ability, status, wealth.... There are things that nobody has control over. In the case of the ten virgins in today's parable, when the bridegroom was delayed, "they all became drowsy and fell asleep." They had no control over the bridegroom's delay. And there is the sense that as the wait dragged on, they could not help it but becoming drowsy and falling asleep.

Then there are things that are within our control.

Jesus' original audience knew that the kind of delay in the parable could happen in their society's marriage tradition. Negotiations between the two families on the terms of the marriage could drag on [1]. There was also the long ritual exchange of gifts [2]. The wise virgins knew this, and they brought extra oil. The foolish ones did not.

Besides, with the bridegroom's delay, the foolish ones had the chance to go and buy some oil. They did not take that chance.

Life presents certain blessings and challenges that are beyond human control. Then, there are things that rational human beings could take charge of.

Then, there is the gift of God's Kingdom. It is a gift from God that none of us deserves. Yet, there are things we could do to become more worthy of that gift.
How do I respond to that great gift from God?

Besides, we are called to advance the Kingdom.
How do I live my vocation of a builder of God's Reign?

---------------------------
[1]. Daniel J. Harrington, SJ. The Gospel of Matthew. Sacra Pagina series. Collegeville, MN.: Liturgical Press, 1991; p. 348.

[2]. Francis J. Moloney, S.D.B., The Gospel of the Lord: Reflections of the Gospel Readings - Year A. Homebush, Australia: St. Paul Publications, 1992; p. 192.



32nd Sunday - A (November 6, 2011)

Readings
Image from www.qumran2.net




October 29, 2011

31st Sunday - A (October 30, 2011)

Commentary
Matthew 23: 1-12

After listening for some weeks on the debates and controversies between Jesus and those who opposed him, today, we have a passage in which Jesus speaks to us, his disciples [1].

Jesus warns his followers not to do things, religious or otherwise, for show. That is the wrong motivation. When we do that, pride, recognition, and prestige become our master.

Today, religious practices are not necessary the things people do for recognition. In fact, in our contemporary society, having a religious faith or believing in God may not be the "cool" thing.

It may be even more now than the time of Jesus that we must ask ourselves, "What is my motivation? Who is my master? and what is my reason to believe in God and to live my faith?"

-----------------------------
[1]. Francis J. Moloney, S.D.B., The Gospel of the Lord: Reflections of the Gospel Readings - Year A. Homebush, Australia: St. Paul Publications, 1992; p. 188.



31st Sunday - A (October 30, 2011)

Readings


Image from www.qumran2.net

October 23, 2011

30th Sunday - A (October 23, 2011)

Commentary
Matthew 22: 34-40

With or Without Love

The Jewish religious people observed 613 commandments as found in the Torah, "248 positive ('you shall') and 365 negative ('you shall not.') [1]

That is a lot of commandments.

What would it be like to observe them all without a purpose and understanding? One would surely become legalistic.

Jesus does not invent the two greatest commandments (they are both familiar to all devout Jews from the law given by God to Moses). Jesus, however, teaches the reason and purpose of all the commandments.

Moreover, Jesus makes it just ONE commandment. The commandment of love.

With love, it all makes sense. Without love, all we have is the burden of restriction.

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[1] Daniel J. Harrington, SJ. The Gospel of Matthew. Sacra Pagina series. Collegeville, MN.: Liturgical Press, 1991; p. 316.

30th Sunday - A (October 23, 2011)


Readings

Image from www.qumran2.net

October 15, 2011

29th Sunday - A (October 16, 2011)

Commentary
Matthew 22: 15 - 21

Words and Actions

It is quite obvious that Jesus' opponents words and actions contradicted each other.

In order to trap Jesus, they betrayed their own principles. The Pharisees, who claimed absolute loyalty to the traditions of the ancestors, joined forces of the Herodians, who betrayed their own nation, and worked with the Romans to be in power.

The Pharisees knew that the alliance was not good for their reputation. This might have been the reason why they themselves did not go to Jesus themselves with their trick question. Rather, they sent their disciples [1].

Jesus, on the contrary, is always consistent in his words and actions. In fact, his whole life is the revelation of the eternal truth - God. His words and actions bring to humanity God's love and salvation.

How do I live my life as a child of God in my words and actions?

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[1] Francis J. Moloney, S.D.B., The Gospel of the Lord: Reflections of the Gospel Readings - Year A. Homebush, Australia: St. Paul Publications, 1992; p. 186.

29th Sunday - A (October 16, 2011)


Image: John Singleton Copley, The Tribute Money, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1782
http://cccchoirnotes.blogspot.com/2008_10_01_archive.htm
l


October 7, 2011

28th Sunday - A (October 9, 2011)

Commentary

God Wants Us There

In this parable, the king spares no efforts to bring his guests to the banquet.

It is no ordinary banquet. It is "not just any wedding." It is "a wedding given by the king for his son" [1].

And the king wants his guests there. He does all in his power to bring them in. He keeps on trying.

In Scripture, the image of the wedding feast is used to indicate the moment of God's reign reaching its fullness in Jesus Christ [2].

For us, the Eucharistic banquet is this wedding feast, the reality of God's greatest love for us in the death and resurrection of God's only Son.

It is up to me to respond to the invitation.

----------------------
[1] Francis J. Moloney, S.D.B., The Gospel of the Lord: Reflections of the Gospel Readings - Year A. Homebush, Australia: St. Paul Publications, 1992; p. 184.
[2] Ibid.


28th Sunday - A (October 9, 2011)


Readings
Image from www.qumran2.net




October 1, 2011

27th Sunday - A (October 2, 2011)

Commentary
Matthew 21: 33 - 43

It's a Great Vineyard

The vineyard is a familiar image used in Scripture to symbolize God's chosen people (Isaiah 5: 7) [1].

In Jesus' parable, the owner makes sure it is a good vineyard. He also sets it up ready to produce. So, he "put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower."

The tower can also be understood as a symbol of how he cares for those to whom he entrusts the vineyard. It serves both as "a watchpost and [their] shelter" [2]. Through the words of the Prophet Isaiah, God shows how much God cares for his vineyard, "What more was there to do for my vineyard that I had not done?" (5: 4) [3].

What is the portion of God's great vineyard entrusted to us? See how much cares God gives to it!
How do I care for it?

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[1]. This Sunday's First Reading.
[2]. Daniel J. Harrington, SJ. The Gospel of Matthew. Sacra Pagina series. Collegeville, MN.: Liturgical Press, 1991; p. 302.
[3]. This Sunday's First Reading.

27th Sunday - A (October 2, 2011)


Readings



September 24, 2011

26th Sunday - A (September 25, 2011)

Commentary

Who Does the Father's Will?

In this parable, Jesus gives the scenario of the two sons and their responses to a demand from their father. He then asks the chief priests and the elders of the people for their judgment, "Which of the two did the father's will?"

It is, however, not the parable, but Jesus' life, that gives the perfect answer to that question.

This passage is from the second half of Chapter 21 of Matthew. By this time, Jesus has entered Jerusalem (21: 1 - 9). He did this knowing exactly what awaiting him there. On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus told the disciples, not once, but three times, that he would "be handed over" and "condemned to death" by crucifixion (the third time is in 20: 17 - 19). Yes, he knows the Father's will.

And he clearly states his intention of fulfilling the Father's will, "The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many" (20: 28).

And the Father's will is the salvation of sinners, the tax collectors and prostitutes who accepted the Son.


26th Sunday - A (September 25, 2011)


Readings
Image from www.qumran2.net




September 17, 2011

25th Sunday - A (September 18, 2011)

Commentary

There is Work for Everybody

Often when we read or reflect on this parable, we tend to look at the peculiar way the employer hires and pays his workers.

But there is another peculiar detail here, in the fact that regardless of what time of the day a group of laborers is hired, there is still work for them. This detail of the abundance of work suggests that the story takes place during harvest time [1].

Jesus begins his parable saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like." Clearly, this parable is about some aspects of the kingdom of heaven.

Earlier in Matthew 9: 35 - 38, we see a Jesus who feels the urgency of his mission, "Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness."

Matthew also tells us the reason for this sense of urgency in Jesus, "At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd." Indeed, his compassion urges him to proclaim the gospel in his words and actions. His life becomes the reality of God's mercy for those who are "troubled and abandoned."

"Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.'”

And at the end of his earthly life, Jesus commissioned his disciples to continue his mission, with the same urgency, "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations." (28: 19).

Yes, there is always work in spreading God's kingdom.

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[1] Daniel J. Harrington, SJ. The Gospel of Matthew. Sacra Pagina series. Collegeville, MN.: Liturgical Press, 1991; p. 284.

25th Sunday - A (September 18, 2011)



Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:View_from_the_Lavaux.jpg

September 10, 2011

Commentary

24th Sunday - A

It's not How Often, but How Much

The Gospel passage for this Sunday follows immediately where we left off last week (It was Matthew 18: 15-20)

The reason behind Jesus' demand of forgiveness is the same, namely, for the offender's salvation, even if it is totally his/her fault, as Jesus puts it, "When your brother sins against you" (See commentary for the 23rd Sunday).

One wonders if Peter has not gotten the lesson, or whether he wants a clarification when he asks, beginning with the same phrase, "If my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive?"

Jesus first answers with a number "seventy-seven times," even though it is impossible to count such a number of times one must forgive. He then responds to Peter's request for clarification with a clarification.

"A single talent was the largest unit of money known in the (ancient) Near East, and ten thousand the largest number. Thus ten thousand talents is our 'billions of dollars.'" Therefore, "it would be impossible for any servant to have such a debt, and even more impossible to ever pay it back." [1]

The lesson, then, is not how often must we forgive, it is how much.

Thus, Jesus ends his parable asking Peter and us to "forgive your brother from your heart."

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[1] Francis J. Moloney, S.D.B., The Gospel of the Lord: Reflections of the Gospel Readings - Year A. Homebush, Australia: St. Paul Publications, 1992; p. 176.


24th Sunday - A (September 11, 2011)


Readings




September 3, 2011

23rd Sunday - A

Commentary

Why Bother?

Jesus seems to demand us a lot when "a brother sins against" me. It's the brother who sins to begin with. "It's not my fault." "He did it." Those would be our normal reactions and responses.

Why all these efforts? First, between you and him. If it doesn't work, bring more people in to talk to him. If it still does not work, then tell the church.... All along, Jesus keeps identifying the sinner as "your brother" twice.

Why bother? Why all the troubles?

To understand Jesus' reason, it is probably best to go back a few verses in this Chapter 18 of Matthew (here, the passage for this Sunday begins with verse 15).

First, Jesus teaches his disciples that children are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Thus, woe to anyone who causes one of such little ones to sin. "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." (v. 6)

Then, Jesus continues with his teaching of the importance of one's salvation. Using rather drastic images, Jesus stresses that if a part of the body causes one to sin, then it is better to lose that body part than to lose the promise of eternal life (verses 7-11).
7
Finally, beginning with verse 12, Jesus tells the parable of the man who is willing to leave ninety-nine sheep behind to go searching for just one lost sheep. He then comments, "it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost." (v. 14).

23rd Sunday - A (September 4, 2011)

Readings


August 27, 2011

22nd Sunday - A

Commentary

The Cross - Do I Get It?

In the Gospel reading of last week (Matthew 16: 13-20), Simon Peter, in the name of the other disciples, acknowledges that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the living God." In response, Jesus says to him, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father." Thus, Peter is the rock upon which Jesus builds the Church.

A few verses later, in the same chapter, as we hear today, the same Simon Peter misses the point. And Jesus calls him "Satan."

The difference is the cross.

In the first dialogue, Peter gets the correct answer because he only has to follow a Jesus who is the Messiah by his standard. This is the Jesus who bestows on Peter power and authority.

In the second dialogue, it is a different mode of a Messiah that Peter must follow. This is not a Messiah who conquers and destroys. This is not a Messiah who gives earthly power and authority.

This Messiah is on his way to Jerusalem to "suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed." Only then, "on the third day" he is raised.

Not only is the Messiah here different than Peter's expectation, he tells Peter to take up his cross and follow.

Can I do that? Can I handle the cross? Or better, can I follow a Messiah who carries the cross?


22nd Sunday - A (August 28, 2011)


Readings




July 29, 2011

18th Sunday - A

Commentary

Give It All

After listening to some of Jesus' parables for a couple of weeks, we now return to the narrative part of the Gospel According to Matthew.

This section begins with Jesus being rejected by the people of his own town (13: 53-58). Then the story of the death of John the Baptist follows.

Jesus knows too well what awaits him. But "his heart was moved with pity for" the crowds and he would not abandon them

The disciples must have been exhausted by the size of the crowd. It is not quite clear whether in retrieving to the deserted place, Jesus wants to take his disciples away from the danger for the time being or to give them some rest.

Nevertheless, the disciples have had enough of the crowd.

Jesus would give his beloved his own life. Therefore, he can demand his disciples, no matter how tired they are, "Give them some food yourselves."

He is asking the same of me now!




18th Sunday - A (July 31, 2011)


Readings

July 23, 2011

17th Sunday - A

Commentary

By Chance of On Purpose

The verb "to find" can refer to the act of coming across something by chance or the act of looking for something with an intention.

In the two parallel parables of the treasure buried in the field and the pearl of great price, the second parable seems to suggest the use of the first meaning of "to find." The verb "to search" that Jesus uses in the second parable clearly indicates a sense of purpose.

It is true that the Kingdom of God is first and foremost a gift from God's unbounded love and generosity (think of the parable of the sower and the way he sows the seed). Nevertheless, we should not take it for granted.

The two characters in these parables operate with a clear sense of purpose, both while they are looking for the treasure or the pearl, and even more clearly so afterward. In both cases, Jesus emphasizes that the man "goes and sells all that he has" to buy what he has been searching for.

And what if we take these two characters as the figure of God? Doesn't God go out and search for each one of us with a clear sense of purpose? Doesn't God give up everything, including the only Son Jesus, for even just one lost sheep? (Matthew 18:12) And God does not stop his search until all have been found, as in Matthew 22, Jesus tells the parable of the king who sends his servants out to invite all people to his son's wedding banquet).

God for sure has a purpose in searching for me.

I did not come to know God and God's love by chance.

Do I look for God and the Kingdom of God with a sense of purpose?

17th Sunday - A (July 24, 2011)


Readings






July 16, 2011

16th Sunday - A

Commentary

It's the Small Thing

Jesus continues his teaching of the Kingdom of God through parables. The Kingdom of God, enormous as it is, began on earth with these teachings. In fact, it began with one person, Jesus Christ.

And so it continues even until today.

The tiny mustard seed can grow into an eight to twelve foot tall bush, large enough for the birds of the sky to dwell in.

A small amount of yeast is enough to leaven three measures of wheat flour, an amount up to fifty pounds of flour. With that much flour, there would be enough bread for over a hundred people [1].

It all begins small.

Yet, it matters if it is the good seed or the bad seed, the good yeast or the bad yeast.

The Kingdom of God begins with the good seed that the man sows in his field. The enemy does the same in trying to destroy it. He sows weeds.

What kind of seed do I sow? What kind of yeast do I use? Hopefully, it is the good seed of God's Kingdom, the good yeast of Christ's love.

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[1] Daniel J. Harrington, SJ. The Gospel of Matthew, Sacra Pagina series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991; p. 205.

16th Sunday - A (July 17, 2011)


Readings
Image from www.qumran2.net




July 9, 2011

15th Sunday - A

Commentary

What kind of soil am I?

Last Sunday, we listened to Jesus giving praise to the Father for revealing Himself to the little ones, and not the wise and learned. That passage comes at the end of chapter 11 in Matthew.

Chapter 12 finds the Pharisees debating with Jesus over his teaching. These wise and learned people have a hard time accepting Jesus' words because they accuse him of breaking their understanding of the Sabbath law. They even try to discredit Jesus and the divine power in him by saying that he uses the power of Beelzebul to drive out demons. Consequently, they fail to recognize the presence of the Reign of God in their midst.

Matthew now continues his account of Jesus in Chapter 13 with Jesus returning to teaching "the crowd."

In this context, it is rather obvious that the emphasis of today's parable is the reception of the seed of God's word. Any hearer can be a path, some rocky ground, a thorny patch of land, or rich soil.

The farmer sows the seed of God's word generously and without discrimination. A farmer who is wise and experienced, by human standard, would never just through the seed around everywhere. But that is not how God sows the seed of His word.

It is up to the soil to hear, understand, and bear fruit.

And it is the little ones trusting in God who overcome tribulation and persecution. It is the little ones, without worldly anxiety and the lures of riches, who yield the greatest harvest.

15th Sunday - A (July 10, 2011)


Readings

Image from www.qumran2.net




July 2, 2011

14th Sunday - A

Commentary

Who Am I?

"Who am I?" That is one of the key questions that humanity for generations have been asking. Philosophers, thinkers, humanists, religious leaders ... have tried to come up with various answers.

For the people of faith, the answer is rather obvious in this Gospel passage.

We would never have an adequate answer to that foundational question on our own. In fact, it is not just a matter of answering a question or having a philosophical debate. On our own, outside of our relationship with God, we would be nobody.

If we are willing to accept it, we are the little ones. But not just any little ones. We are the little ones chosen by the "Lord of heaven and earth"

In fact, throughout the history of salvation, God has always shown his love to the little ones. The little ones are God's favorite.

However, when Jesus came to bring God's salvation to its fulfillment, the Son of God revealed to us that we are more than God's favorite. We are God's children.

The Lord of heaven and earth is our Father. The Lord of heaven and earth has chosen us to be His favorite sons and daughters.

There, God's gracious will.

And in the love of such a loving Father we belong. There, we exist. There, the answer for the question, "Who am I?"

14th Sunday - A (July 3, 2011)


Readings
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June 24, 2011

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Commentary

"Remain In Me"

One of the key recurring themes in the Gospel According to John is to be one with God.

With the very first sentence of the Gospel, John indicates that Jesus, the Word of God, is with God. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (1:1).

The Word of God came into the world to give those who believe in his name the "power to become children of God" (1:12). Thus, by his coming among us, the Son, who is with God, brings us into one with God.

The purpose of Jesus' earthly life is to carry out this mission. Near the end of his living among us, at the Last Supper, Jesus gave his friends these words of farewell, ""Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him." (14:23)

In this way, "I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you." (14:20)

Jesus' mission continues. While we may not see Jesus Christ with our physical eyes, the Eucharist gives to us even now, everyday of our life, this unity with the Divine, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him."

Thus, in the Eucharist, the Word of God continues to be in the flesh, our flesh, so that we are now one with God.


Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (June 26, 2011)


Readings





June 18, 2011

The Most Holy Trinity - A

Commentary

The Cost of God's Love

John 3: 16 is rather commonly seen and quoted. "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life."

It would be incomplete and simplistic to take John 3:16 apart from the two preceding verses, "Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." [1]

Now, we have the fullness of the revelation of God's love. God's love is not cheap. God loves us to the extent of giving up his only Son on the cross so that those who believe in him might not perish but might have eternal life.

There, the cost of God's love.

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[1] Francis J. Moloney, S.D.B., The Gospel of John, Sacra Pagina series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1998; p. 101.