March 30, 2013

Easter Sunday - C

John 20: 1-9

Signs of God’s Action

Mary “came to the tomb … while it was still dark.”  

This darkness of nature points to the darkness of Mary’s faith. [1]   The passive use of the verb in the phrase “the stone removed from the tomb” indicates the action of God. [2] But Mary fails to recognize that something extraordinary has taken place.  All she can see is that “they have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”  

She even includes others in her darkness, thus “we don’t know” while she has been the only person who has seen the stone removed and the empty tomb.

When Peter arrives, he sees stone removed.  Moreover, inside, he sees the different the burial cloths and the cloth used for Jesus’ face “rolled up in a separate place.”  Again, the verb is intentionally put in the passive voice.  Yet, there is no indication whether Peter believes or not. [3]

On the contrary, “the other disciple” comes to believe when he sees the action of God in the stone being removed and the burial cloths folded.  

Faith helps us to see the hand of God in the Resurrection of Christ, and the events of our lives.  

In addition, we have the guidance of “the Scripture,” which Mary, Peter, and the other disciple did not have. [4]  

Scripture, inspired and given by the Holy Spirit, read with faith, shows us the hand of God in events of our lives and human history.  That is the privilege we now enjoy, which Mary, Peter, and the other disciple did not.     

[1], [2] and [4]  Francis J. Moloney, SDB., The Gospel of John.  Sacra Pagina Series, Collegeville, MN. Liturgical Press, 1998; p. 518.

[3] Francis J. Moloney, The Gospel of the Lord, Reflections on the Gospel Readings Year C. Collegeville, MN. Liturgical Press, 1991; p. 96.

Easter Sunday (March 31, 2013)


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March 23, 2013

Palm Sunday - C


The Price of God’s Love

This Gospel passage continues and brings to climax the great themes of God’s boundless love and forgiveness.  This has been one of the themes of the Sunday Gospels during Lent for this Cycle C taken from Luke.

We have heard God’s love and forgiveness from Jesus’ teaching on God’s patience in the parable of the fig tree (2rd Sunday of Lent).  The theme of God’s love continues with the image of the father’s boundless love for the two sons who do not appreciate it (3rd Sunday of Lent).  Then, God’s love and forgiveness becomes tangible in the flesh in Jesus when he forgives and opens the path to relationship with God to the woman caught in the act of adultery (5th Sunday of Lent).  

In forgiving sinners and in sharing with humanity God’s love, Jesus Christ reveals himself as the true Son of God (this identity of Jesus was introduced in the Gospel passage of the temptation in the desert (1st Sunday of Lent) and the transfiguration (2nd Sunday of Lent)).

Jesus now shares a meal with Peter and the other disciples, who are sinners.  [1]   They are people with human brokenness, lack of understanding, fear….  One of them will betray Jesus.  Another will deny knowing him.  The rest will abandon him. 

Moreover, for them, for the two criminals crucified with him, for the high priest, the rulers, the soldiers, and, indeed, for all sinners, Jesus gives his life.  

To the Father, the Son offers his life for the forgiveness of all sinners.  On the cross, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”  

[1] Francis J. Moloney, The Gospel of the Lord, Reflections on the Gospel Readings Year C. Collegeville, MN. Liturgical Press, 1991; p. 83.

Palm Sunday - C (March 24, 2013)


March 16, 2013

5th Sunday of Lent - C


A Life-giving Relationship

The gift of being children of God is one of the themes that connects the Gospel readings we hear on Sundays in Lent during the Cycle C year.

We have the figure of Jesus as the ideal Son of God, who overcomes temptations (First Sunday) and is approved by the Father during the Transfiguration, “This is my chosen Son” (Second Sunday).

For the Third Sunday, the Gospel reading teaches us about God’s patience (the parable of the fig tree).

On the Fourth Sunday, we learn that God always loves us as children, though so often we may not live or see ourselves as such.  Remember the younger son wants to be a slave, while the older son sees himself as a slave?  The father, on the contrary, always sees and treats each of them as “my son.”

And for this Fifth Sunday, we witness Jesus reaches out to a sinner with dignity.  

There is a great contrast in the ways the woman is treated.  

The scribes and the Pharisees use her as a trap “to test [Jesus] so that they can have some charge to bring against him.”    

She “was caught in the very act of committing adultery.”  From there, she probably was dragged out, and “made [to] stand in the middle.”

They never speak to her.

With Jesus, she is a person.  “He speaks to her as a woman.  He addresses her as ‘you.’” [1] In fact, this is the first time in the story that anybody speaks to her. [2]

With that, she recognizes Jesus as “Lord” (kyrie) [3] (though it is translated here simply as “sir”).

Once the relationship is established, a path to new life is opened for her.  “Neither do I condemn you.  Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”

Not only is her physical life not taken away, she is now offered “[a new] life in a right relationship with God.” [4]   Moreover, she has the freedom to choose it.  

She, a sinner, has been given the life and dignity of the children of God.

[1] Francis J. Moloney, The Gospel of the Lord, Reflections on the Gospel Readings Year C. Collegeville, MN. Liturgical Press, 1991; p. 81.

[2], [3] and [4]  Francis J. Moloney, SDB., The Gospel of John.  Sacra Pagina Series, Collegeville, MN. Liturgical Press, 1998; p. 261 – 262.

5th Sunday of Lent - C (March 17, 2013)


Image source: Woman Caught in Adultery, Sebastiano Conca, 1741

March 8, 2013

4th Sunday of Lent

Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32

Treat me as …

Upon his return, the younger son prepares a three-part speech. 
1. “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 
2. I no longer deserve to be called your son; 
3. treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”

But the Father does not even give him the time to finish all three parts

The son acknowledges that he has sinned, and “no longer deserve to be called your son.” He still addresses the “father,” but he knows enough to ask that he be treated as “one of the hired workers.” 

But the father does not even let him get there. The son’s actual words end in the place that the father always keeps him, a “son.”

Similarly, the older son considers himself a slave when he angrily describes his life with the father in these words, “All these years I served you.” In fact, a closer translation would read, “All these years I have slaved for you.” [1] Moreover, he does not even address the man “Father” as his brother did. [2]

Yet, in his very first words to the angry older son, the father calls him, “My son.” 

Do I see myself as God always sees and treats me, “my child”?

[1] New Jerusalem Bible translation
[2] Brown, Raymond E.; Fitzmyer, Joseph A.; Murphy, Roland E., ed. The Jerome Biblical Commentary. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1968; p. 148.

4th Sunday of Lent - C (March 10, 2013)


Image source: Murillo, Bartolome Esteban,  Return of the Prodigal Son, 1667

March 2, 2013

3rd Sunday of Lent - C


Why Not Me?

Why me?  Why did this happen to me?  What did I do?

Those are the questions we often ask when things go wrong.

However, the question we should ask is rather, "why not me?"

In responding to the people's question for an explanation of tragedies, Jesus challenges them to realize that they are by no means less sinful than those who have suffered the tragedies.

And in doing that, as well as with the parable of the fig tree, Jesus draws our attention to God's patience and mercy.  And he challenges us to make good use of the opportunities we have to change.

Let's ask ourselves that question today, "Why not me?" and make an effort to respond to God's mercy and patience.