March 25, 2011

3rd Sunday of Lent - A

John 4: 5-42

We Have Heard for Ourselves

"Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in Jesus."

Their journey of faith begins with the words of witness of the woman who has met Jesus personally.

They next come to meet Jesus themselves.

Then they invite Jesus to stay with them, and they spend two days with him.

Their faith reaches its fullness when in the end they profess, "We have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world."

Here we have a manual of a faith journey. We all were introduced to Jesus through the words and stories of some witness or witnesses. Sooner or later, we must personally spend time with Jesus and listen to His words. Only then can we grow in the faith. The goal is to make the faith that we receive our own.

3rd Sunday of Lent - A (March 27, 2011)


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March 19, 2011

2nd Sunday of Lent - A

Matthew 17: 1-9

We Can't Stop Here

In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus' transfiguration takes place after he has once told his disciples that "he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised." (16: 21)

And he will repeat that two more times (later in 17: 22-23 and then 20: 17-19) [1].

Jesus knows exactly what awaits him. And he will carry out his mission to the end.

By inviting the leaders of the Twelve to witness his transfiguration, Jesus prepares them for his suffering and death.

There is the glory of his resurrection after all of that. But he must go through it all.

The disciples, on the other hand, get caught up in the excitement of the moment, and lose sight of the bigger picture. They even want "to stop God's history" from happening [2]. Let us just stay here!

We may be enjoying the passing glamour of our world or even the more noble glories of doing God's will and of God's blessings.

We can't just stay here, even if the road ahead is the way of the cross.

Our destiny is with God, not here.

[1] Francis J. Moloney. The Gospel of the Lord: Reflections of the Gospel Readings - Year A. Homebush, Australia: St. Paul Publications, 1992; p. 88.
[2] Ibid., p. 89.

2nd Sunday of Lent - A (March 20, 2011)

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March 12, 2011

1st Lent - A


Matthew 4: 1-11

Sons and Daughters of God

The temptations of Jesus take place in the desert. This detail brings to mind the temptations of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness.

The Old Testament refers to Israel as the son of God (for example, Hosea 1:11) [1].

Israel often failed when it was tested.

In contrast, not only does Jesus not fail the test, he also shows how the true Son of God lives.

The devil's challenges twice begin with "if you are the Son of God." By the third time, though the words are not repeated, the context suggests that the test has the same nature.

And each time, the Son of God responds not with "if" but why he is the Son of God.

First, the Son of God does not use his power for self-advancement or interest. Later on in the Gospel, he will use his power to make bread and feed the hungry crowd. But he would not do that to satisfy his own needs. In addition, his true need is already satisfied by "every word that comes forth from the mouth of God."

Second, the Son of God places his total trust in the Father. He would not follow the devil's manipulation of God's words [2]. He simply trust. Moreover, his words are the words of God guiding and nourishing God's people. Again, nothing is used for his own interest.

The third test is the ultimate one. To whom does the Son of God pledge his allegiance? Jesus' answer is quite clear, "Get away, Satan!" His life will reach its fullness when out of obedience to the Father's will, he gives up his own life. That is the extent of his worship of service of the Father.

There is the progression of Jesus' sonship: knowing the Father's love and care, he places his total trust in the Father. This enables him to worship and serve God alone, no matter the cost.

[1] Daniel J. Harrington, SJ. The Gospel of Matthew, Sacra Pagina series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991; p. 66.
[2] Francis J. Moloney. The Gospel of the Lord: Reflections on the Gospel Readings - Year A. Homebush, Australia: St. Paul Publications, 1992; p. 87.

1st Lent - A (March 13, 2011)

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March 1, 2011

9th Sunday - A

Matthew 7: 21-27

Listen to and Act on These Words of Mine

For 6 Sundays now we have been reading from and listening to Jesus' Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5 - 7).

From the beginning, it is clear that the message of this sermon is intended for all disciples of Jesus, not any selected few (4th Sunday - Year A). Every Christian is called and empowered to be the light of the world and salt of the earth (5th Sunday). The model for this way of living is Jesus Christ himself. Christians are called not to observe or follow some sets of rules and regulations, but to follow a person - Jesus Christ, the Son of God (6th Sunday).

Like Jesus, all Christians are called and sent to bring God's love and salvation to all people (Week 7). That should be the only concern of our lives if we truly have God as our Master (Week 8).

And today, we have come to the conclusion of this sermon, which is the longest of Jesus' 5 "major speeches" in Matthew [1].

The conclusion is, "Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock."

"These words" refer to all that Jesus teaches us as the new way of living our life as children of God.

More accurately, Jesus is God's Word who came to live among us. He is the Word we are all called to listen to and follow. The better we follow Him, the better we are as light of the world and salt of the earth. Then, we become the signs and instruments of God's salvation to all people.
[1] Daniel Harrington, SJ. The Gospel of Matthew, Sacra Pagina Series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991; p. 76.

9th Sunday - A (March 6, 2011)

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