November 26, 2011

1st Sunday of Advent - B

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.

[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)


November 19, 2011

Christ the King - A (November 20, 2011)


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)


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November 11, 2011

33rd Sunday - A (November 13, 2011)

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)

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November 5, 2011

32nd Sunday - A (November 6, 2011)

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)

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