January 27, 2012

4th Sunday - B (January 29, 2012)


Do We Know Who Jesus Is?

The man of the unclean spirit declares, "Jesus of Nazareth, ... I know who you are - the Holy One of God!"

In the understanding of the people of the time, this action of calling out Jesus by name would have given the man "a certain authority over" Jesus. [1] (We see this in the various renaming of people in the Bible, for examples, Abram became Abraham, or Jacob became Israel).

This act of trying to control "the Holy One of God" gives us some food for thought.

First, do I know who Jesus is? Maybe a good new year resolution would be getting to know him better by reading and meditating on the Gospels and talking with Jesus in prayer regularly.

Second, do I sometimes want or try to control God and have God follow my lead?

[1] Francis J. Moloney, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002; p. 54.

4th Sunday - B (January 29, 2012)


January 20, 2012

3rd Sunday - B (February 22, 2012)

Mark 1: 14-20

The Kingdom of God is At Hand

In Mark, this passage is the very beginning of Jesus' public ministry. And right away, there is a sense of urgency in Jesus' words and actions. A careful reading of this passage and the following few chapters in Mark shows Jesus constantly on the move, preaching and healing.

The reason of this urgency is found in Jesus' very first words, "The kingdom of God is at hand."

Jesus' entire life and ministry are oriented according to that reality and his mission of preaching the kingdom of God.

So should our lives be!

The repentance in Jesus' preaching calls for more than avoiding evil and repentance of sins. It demands a change of life and heart, with the orientation for the kingdom of God. [1]

And it must happen now, because the kingdom of God is at hand.

The first disciples give us an example of such immediate response. When they are called, they responded immediately, or as translated"then," in this English version. And in orderN to follow Jesus, "they abandoned" their nets and hired men, symbols of possession, success and power. The also left their father, a symbol of their family connections and whatever familiar and comfortable.

The urgency of the kingdom of God directs the life and ministry of Jesus. Those who are called to follow him can only do so to a radical degree if they feel that same urgency.

[1]. Francis J. Moloney, The Gospel According to Mark.

3rd Sunday - B (February 22, 2012)


Image: Pietro da Cortona, Calling of St. Peter and St. Andrew

January 14, 2012

2nd Sunday - B (January 15, 2012)

Who Show Me Jesus?

Andrew tells his brother Simon, "We have found the Messiah," but that is not true.

They do not find Messiah because first, it is John the Baptist who points out to Andrew and the other disciple that Jesus is the Lamb of God. At that time, Andrew and his fellow disciple "heard what John said" and yet still calls Jesus, "Rabbi." The author of the Gospel made it a point to translate the title, "Teacher." This way of addressing Jesus indicates that the two still do not know who Jesus truly is. [1]

Then, it is Jesus who invites them, "Come, and you will see." Again, Andrew and his friend do not find Jesus. The invitation always come from Jesus. It is never the initiative of a disciple.

In the case of Andrew and his friend, this invitation leads to such an experience of "staying with Jesus" that will help them recognize that Jesus is more than a rabbi. Later, in speaking to Simon, Andrew will refer to him as the Messiah. Though at this point, Andrew clearly does not know fully what kind of a Messiah Jesus is, this is progress. [2]

This passage invites us, disciples of Jesus, to look back at our journey of following him and maybe reflect on first, who have pointed out Jesus to us. Second, it reminds us that it is always God who reaches out to us and offers the invitation. Third, does my time with Jesus help me to know him better? Finally, how aware am I of the opportunities and the vocation of pointing out Jesus to others?

[1] Francis J. Moloney, S.D.B. The Gospel of John, Sacra Pagina Series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1998; p. 54 - 55.
[2] Ibid.

2nd Sunday - B (January 15, 2012)

Image from: www.qumran2.net

January 7, 2012

Epiphany (January 8, 2012)

Matthew 2: 1-12

Why Only Some People Find the Newborn King

Matthew makes it clear that the magi do not have all the tools they need in their search for the newborn king. They do not have the guidance of the prophets nor the religious heritage to guide them. Understandably, they think that the king of the Jews should be born in Jerusalem.

Yet, it is not the people that have the tools who find the newborn king. They include the chief priests, the scribes, King Herod, and probably "all Jerusalem with him." Even when they have reread the words of the prophet and have heard of the magi's search, they do not even set out looking for the king.

Why the difference?

The magi have the longing for the Messiah. Therefore, once they notice his star, they set out on their journey. They come with gifts, ready to pay their homage to the newborn king.

The other people, on the contrary, do not feel the need for him. All they have is just some idea or concept about him. Therefore, it makes no difference that they have all the tools. It makes no difference that the Messiah was even born in their own land.

Who is God for me? Some idea, concept? Or is He the one who alone can fulfills all the longings and desires of my life?

January 6, 2012

Epiphany (January 8, 2012)

Image: Star of Bethlehem on the LVR Tower in Cologne, Germany during World Youth Day 2005,