January 25, 2013

3rd Sunday - C


Today, Here

“Jesus returned to Galilee…. He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up.”

And, “he went to the synagogue according to his custom.”

The verbs and phrases used by Luke, such as “Galilee,” “Nazareth,” “returned,” “where he had grown up,” and “according to his custom” all express a sense of familiarity and even ordinary.

And there, in that familiar environment, Jesus announces, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

The Kingdom of God, as promised by prophets, is here and now.  Jesus began the fulfillment of the prophecy with his presence and preaching that day, in the place where he had grown up.

That Kingdom is here with us today.

We, like Jesus, are called to live and proclaim to those around us, “Today, in this place, this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

And it’s here, today, that the Kingdom of God is revealed when we strive to live out the Good News that Jesus announced, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

3rd Sunday - C (January 27, 2013)


Image source:  http://www.holycomforterparish.org

January 19, 2013

2nd Sunday - C


True Faith: Faith in Jesus’ Word

Looking at the different responses to the miracle of water turning into wine at the wedding at Cana might be one way of reflecting on this familiar passage from John’s Gospel.

First, the reaction of the head waiter.  His reaction is limited to just the appreciation for the quality of the wine and his surprise at the unusual timing of its availability.  Though he is genuinely shocked at how unusual the whole thing is, he does not even investigate to find out where the wine has come from.

Next comes the response of the servers.  They readily and faithfully obey the words of Jesus and His mother.  However, John makes no indication of any response on their part that goes beyond that.  One wonders whether their privileged first-hand experience of the miracle moves them to faith or not.  Here, they limit themselves to just doing what they are told.  Witnessing and being a part of the miracle does not seem to have any impact on them.

Then, we have the disciples' response.  When “Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana, and so reveal his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.”  They come to faith after witnessing the power of Jesus in this sign.  But as John will point out again and again in his gospel, this kind of faith that comes from seeing the signs done by Jesus is not deep enough.  The disciples’ faith will falter.  When Jesus’ hour comes, the hour of his passion and cross, the faith of most of the disciples “were shaken.”  Besides, as Jesus would tell them later in his farewell words to them, one who has faith can do the work, not necessarily the opposite. (“The one who believes in me will also do the works that I do, and will do greater works than these.” 14:12)

Finally, we have the example of faith from "the mother of Jesus."  This sign is the first that Jesus ever performs in John’s account of his life.  In other words, one can presume that Mary has not seen such power from him before.  Yet, her faith in his words is so strong that she could tell the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.”  This faith is real.  This is the faith that enables her to “stand by the cross” of her Son when His hour finally comes. [1]

True faith, like that of Mary, leads us to “an unconditioned acceptance of [Jesus’] word.” [2]

[1] and [2] Francis J. Moloney, S.D.B.  The Gospel of John.  Sacra Pagina Series.  Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1998; p. 69.

2nd Sunday - C (January 20, 2013)


Image source: http://freechristimages.org/biblestories/Jesus_at_the_wedding.htm

January 12, 2013

Baptism of the Lord (January 13, 2013)

Luke 3: 15-16, 21-22

Expectation for and from the Beloved

"The people were filled with expectation."  Their expectation suggests that they have been waiting and longing for the fulfillment of God's promise.  They must also have trusted that God will keep God's words.

Think of a time we waited for a loved one coming for a visit, especially if it is long-overdue.  Or have you ever seen families united at the airport exits?

That is the kind of expectation.

And think that God is speaking to each of us using the very words God affirms who Jesus is.  "You are my beloved son.  You are my beloved daughter, with you I am well pleased."

Now think of us coming off the airport exit.  And it's God who is there waiting for us, God's beloved sons and daughters.

Are we filled with the same kind of expectation for God?

January 6, 2013

Epiphany (January 6, 2013)

Our Guides to the King

In Matthew's account of their journey to "the newborn king of the Jews," the magi received guidance from at least three sources.

(1) People.  The magi, while uncertain to us how many they were, did the search together.  They were there with and for one another searching.  Then, there were Herod, "the chief priests and the scribes of the people."  In the case of Herod, he meant harm to the child Jesus, who he considered a threat to his thone.  Yet, even Herod and his evil plot, in God's providence, become helpful for the magi on their search.

(2) Events of life:  The magi must not have been the only people who saw the star.  It is most likely that the magi were well-learned men.  But, there must be other scholars at that time also.  Yet, they were the only people who recognized its significance.  They were seeking for the Truth.  They seemed to know that there was something more than what human knowledge could provide.  Therefore, "they were overjoyed at seeing the star."

(3) Scripture: The words of the prophets pinpoint the location of the Messiah's birth.  It is puzzling, however, that Matthew gives no indication of whether the chief priest and the scribes went to Bethlehm and paid homage to the Child or not.  They were familiar with the Scripture.  But why didn't they recognize its fulfilment?  In contrast, the magi, as Gentiles, received and understood God's words.  Was it because they were more open and eager? Was it because they recognize that their lives would be unfulfilled until they have encountered the One promised by Scripture?  Scripture speaks to us only when we acknowledges who it is that speaks to us through the words of Scriptures.

May we be open to God who draws us to Him with the guides He has already provided for us.