August 31, 2012

22nd Sunday - B

Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Seeing the Big Picture

The Pharisees and some scribes “observed that some of [Jesus’] disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands.” (emphasis mine)

But when they challenged Jesus, they put the accusation on all of the disciples, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?”

They get caught up in the details and the little things. Consequently, they only notice others’ mistakes and failures, according to their standards. And they fail to see the good in others. (Or at least, they did not mention that some of Jesus’ disciples observed the rituals).

In the same manner, they stressed the details of ritual and religious practices. And they could not, or would not, see the reason behind these practices, namely the relationship with God.

The practices and rituals exist for a reason. In fact, they are the expressions of the Jewish faith in “the all-important truth that God is found in all the activities of life” [1] . Moreover, since eating is essential to life, it should not be separated from God’s gift of life. Again, "the Pharisees and some scribes" missed the big picture.

Jesus by no means dismisses the importance of the rituals. At the same time, he teaches that rituals are not the end in themselves.

If we see God in all things and in all people, then these rituals have their place and value in the big picture of things.

[1] Francis J. Moloney, This is the Gospel of the Lord – Year B. Homebush, NSW, Australia: St. Paul Publications, 1993; p. 178.

22nd Sunday - B (September 2, 2012)


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August 25, 2012

21st Sunday - B

John 6: 60-69

How One Can Come to Know and Believe in Jesus

In the Gospel of John, Jesus often invites the disciples to come and see.  And at various times, people would stay with Jesus for a time. 

This is the case of Andrew and another disciple of John the Baptist who meet Jesus in Chapter 1.  After Jesus invites them, “they stay with him that day” (1:39).  This is also what [Jesus’] “mother, his brothers, and his disciples” did after the wedding at Cana.  With Jesus, they “went down to Capernaum and stayed there only a few days.” (2:12)

The time they have spent with Jesus is fundamental for them to know him and to believe in his words.  Thus, Peter is able to say, “We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

One can only come to know and believe in Jesus if one spends time with him.  This is one of the main emphases of John’s Gospel.

At this point, it is worth noting that up to now, the audience who Jesus has been speaking to in this Chapter 6 has been identified as “the crowd” and “the Jews.”  Yet, there is a switch here in verse 60, John changes the audience from “the Jews” to “many of his disciples” [1].   A disciple is one who follows a teacher/rabbi.

In this case, John seems to suggest the condition one needs to be not just a follower but a believer. 

The disciples who leave Jesus are those who do not know him.  They may have seen his miraculous signs and heard his great teachings, but that is not enough to have faith.  In fact in this one Chapter 6 of John, they have seen Jesus multiplying the five loaves and two fish to feed the crowd (verses 1-15).  They also witness him walking on the water (verses 16-21) [2].  Yet, they find his teaching “hard,” and question, “Who can accept this?”

They do not know who Jesus truly is.  They may have followed him out of curiosity.  And so, they can accept and enjoy his signs and wonders.  But when what he has to say does not fit their agenda, “many of his disciples” leave Jesus and “return to their former way of life.”

[1]  Francis J. Moloney, This is the Gospel of the Lord – Year B.  Homebush, NSW, Australia: St. Paul Publications, 1993; p. 176.  
[2]  Ibid.

21st Sunday - B (August 26, 2012)


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August 18, 2012

20th Sunday - B


Food of Eternal Life

Most scholars today agree that the Gospel According to John was written no earlier than the year 90 AD  [1]. That was at least 60 or even 70 years after the death of Jesus [2].

By this time, many of the first-hand witnesses, such as the Apostles, the disciples, and the devout women mentioned in the life of Jesus, had died.
For the Jewish people, they had also experienced the terrible destruction of their nation and the Temple.  Many Jews died in the tragic events in the year 70.

To both the writer and the community the Gospel of John, these events of the destruction of Jerusalem and the death of the first generation of Christians must have been very real.

To them, the words of Jesus must have been both an affirmation and a profession of faith.  “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever."

Do I accept these words of Jesus with the same conviction and faith?

[1] .  Raymond Brown. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990;  p. 949.

[2] . Francis J. Moloney, This is the Gospel of the Lord – Year B.  Homebush, NSW, Australia: St. Paul Publications, 1993; p. 175.  

20th Sunday - B (August 19, 2012)


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August 11, 2012

19th Sunday - B

John 6: 41-51

The Father Draws All to the Son

As Jesus continues the teaching on his gift of the Bread of Life, he teaches us that our faith and knowledge of God are first and foremost the gift from God. 

We do not come up with our faith in God.  We do not invent the God who we believe in.  Nor is our God the product of our quest.  [1]

It is God reveals Himself to us.  And this revelation takes place in the coming of the Son among the human race.   And we now know that “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him.”

Moreover, there is no discrimination with God since “They shall be all taught by God.” 

Indeed, in Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life, the Father draws us all to know and believe in Him.
[1] Francis J. Moloney, This is the Gospel of the Lord – Year B.  Homebush, NSW, Australia: St. Paul Publications, 1993: p. 172.

19th Sunday - B (August 12, 2012)


August 4, 2012

18th Sunday - B

John 6: 24-35

Does God Fit My Mold?

John points out quite clearly that the people have their own ideas and expectations for Jesus.  It is also clear that Jesus does not fit their mold.

After witnessing and benefiting from Jesus' miraculous multiplication of the bread and fish (last week's Gospel reading), yet they ask him, "When did you get here?"  How could they ask such "a meaningless question"? [1]  It seems to show their limitations.  They cannot see beyond their horizons.

For them, Jesus is no more than a miracle worker or a magician.  Out of curiosity, they want to know him on their own terms.  

Worse, they want Jesus to fit their mold, "What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do?"  Haven't they witnessed his power already?  Yes, they have, but it's not their idea.

In the same manner, they want it their way, "Sir, give us this bread always."  They want more of the bread that they had so easily, without work.

Jesus, on the contrary, asks them to receive the bread from heaven, which involves "accomplishing the works of God."

Do I try to fit God in my mold?

[1] Francis J. Moloney, This is the Gospel of the Lord - Year B.  Homebush, NSW, Australia: St. Paul Publications,1993; p. 170.

18th Sunday - B (August 5, 2012)


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