February 26, 2011

8th Sunday - A

Matthew 6: 24-34

What drives us?

Jesus says to his disciples, "You cannot serve God and mammon."

So who/what is mammon? It is commonly understood as wealth or possessions. However, its root in Hebrew and Aramaic (the language Jesus most likely used) refers to whatever "in which [a person] places trust." [1]

In the context of Jesus' words here, mammon seemingly refers to what negatively occupies, drives, and energizes our mind, heart and action, not just material possessions and wealth.

So, is there anything or anybody in my life that drives my feeling, thoughts and action other than God?

[1] Daniel Harrington, SJ. The Gospel of Matthew, Sacra Pagina Series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991; p. 101.

8th Sunday - A (February 27, 2011)


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February 19, 2011

7th Sunday - A

Matthew 5: 38-48

Me: Not Enough; Us: Still Not Enough; It's Everybody

The two laws that Jesus mentions in this passage (an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, and love your neighbor and hate your enemy) were meant to preserve the community. The first law set a limit on disputes and vengence within the community. The second law "made sure that the community protected itself against its enemies," especially for a nomad population [1].

The old laws, which the disciples "have heard," were for the benefit and survival of the community.

The new law that Jesus now teaches challenges the disciples to go beyond the interests of their community. It is a call to "universal love."

Jesus teaches and lives this new law of universal love. He came, preached, healed, and ultimately suffered the cross and died to save all people out of love.

That was how Jesus revealed to us what he taught: that "God is love."

As disciples of Jesus and "children of [our] heavenly Father" through our baptism, we are called and empowered to share in this mission. Jesus invites his followers to love as much as God loves. "Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." When we love others, we both reflect and bring God to the world.

This noble vocation is greater a challenge when, so often, we are tempted to care only for self-preservation and personal gains. Many a times, we do not even think of the interests of the community.

Yet, as "children of the heavenly Father," our love cannot stop there.

God's love has no limits.

[1] Francis J. Moloney. The Gospel of the Lord: Reflections on the Gospel Readings - Year A. Homebush, Australia: St. Paul Publications, 1992; p. 142.

7th Sunday - A (February 20, 2011)

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February 11, 2011


6th Sunday - A
Matthew 5: 17-37

Who, not What

Jesus says, "I have come not to abolish but to fulfill" the law or the prophets. In fact, Jesus is the fulfillment of God's plan.

The law and the prophets prepared for Jesus' coming. They are not an entity in themselves.

The disciples of Jesus are invited not to settle for the observation of some rules and regulations, no matter how good they are. We are called to follow Him.

"Jesus does not tell his disciples that they must live the perfection of the Law, but he shows them such a life-style. Jesus is the embodiment of the perfection of the Law." [1]

Jesus is the fullness of God's revelation. He is God's love. He is our model. We are called to become like him as sons and daughters of God.

[1] Francis J. Moloney. The Gospel of the Lord: Reflections on the Gospel Readings - Year A. Homebush, Australia: St. Paul Publications, 1992; p. 140.

6th Sunday - A (February 13, 2011)


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February 5, 2011


5th Sunday - A
Matthew 5: 13-16

You are the Light of the World

To better appreciate the message of Jesus in this passage, it is worth noting that this passage (Matthew 5: 13-16) is part of the Sermon on the Mount. (We began reading this Sermon last Sunday).

Matthew begins the Sermon with the audience and the setting of Jesus' teaching: "When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain. And after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them." (5: 1-2)

The audience is the crowds that have followed Jesus from all over "Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan." (4: 25). This audience is the new chosen people of the Kingdom that Jesus came to proclaim [1].

Jesus gives his Sermon from the mountain. This setting recalls the first teaching of God's way to Israel when Moses received the commandments on Mount Sinai. Now, from another mountain, Jesus teaches the way of God to the second chosen people.

The first chosen people of Israel was instructed by Isaiah of their vocation of being "a light to the nations" (Isaiah 42: 6 and 49:6) [2]. They would fulfill this destiny when they "share [their] bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked, and do not turn [their] back on [their] own" (Isaiah 58:7) [3].

And now, Jesus tells the second chosen people of their same vocation, "You are the light of the world."

Thus, the instruction of the Beatitudes, and in fact, of the whole Sermon on the Mount, is the manual for God's second chosen people to fulfill their destiny.

[1] For a more detailed discussion of this point, see the commentary for Sunday, Jan. 31, 2011
[2] Daniel Harrington, SJ. The Gospel of Matthew, Sacra Pagina Series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991; p. 80.
[3] First Reading for this 5th Sunday - A.

5th Sunday - A (February 6, 2011)

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