Shadow

Opinion

Rejection

Rejection

Opinion
Jesus is rejected by his own people (last Sunday’s gospel). Amos is rejected by a people not his own (today’s first reading). Amos who hails from the kingdom of Judah is sent by God to prophesy in Israel, its rival kingdom. In the gospel, Jesus sends his apostles on mission, warning them beforehand that not everyone will welcome them or listen to them. Rejection seems to be the lot of every prophet. The irony is that the prophets are sent to bring God’s message of hope. In the Old Testament God’s message to his people is a one of salvation (often from their enemies). In the New Testament, it is the good news of the coming of the kingdom. What makes the people resistant to God’s message is what it requires - conversion. God’s message is a call to return to him who alone is salvation...
God in the Familiar

God in the Familiar

Opinion
Jesus left Nazareth when he was about 30 years old to start his ministry. He traveled around Galilee preaching the kingdom of God, healing the sick and driving out demons. Soon his name became known all over the region and even beyond as an extraordinary teacher and wonder-worker. People sought him from everywhere to listen to his word and be cured of their illnesses. In today’s gospel, we see Jesus returning to Nazareth. One would expect a hero’s welcome from his townsfolk who could only be proud that one of their own had become famous and put their little town on the map. Instead, Jesus received a different reception. At first, his townmates listened to him as he preached in their synagogue. They were astonished at his eloquence and the power of his word. Soon their astonishme...
God’s Time

God’s Time

Opinion
Death is the great equalizer of life; it respects no one. Rich or poor, young or old, important or insignificant… it spares no one. In today’s gospel we read the story of Jairus, a powerful member of the community, who finds himself utterly powerless in the face of the life-threatening illness of his daughter. In the same story is inserted that of a poor woman who is suffering from internal bleeding for twelve years. She suffers not only physically, but also psychologically, socially and spiritually. Because of her ailment, she is considered “ritually impure” and is forced to avoid social contact. She has become an outcast, barred from community life and religious worship. To cap it all, she is left totally penniless, having spent everything she had on medicine and the doctors. Consta...
Life Is a Voyage

Life Is a Voyage

Opinion
We often associate water with life. In today’s readings, however, the image of water is used to depict destruction, disorder, and death. In the first reading, God addresses Job out of the storm and reprimands him for questioning his wisdom. God asks Job, “Who shut within doors the sea, when it burst forth from the womb?” This rebuke alludes to the story of creation in the book of Genesis when the Spirit hovered over the turbulent water, the ancient symbol of chaos and destruction. To control such forces is a prerogative of God alone. The same divine attribute is recognized in the responsorial psalm. The sailors who are in danger of sinking in the sea address their cry of distress to God who alone can “hush the storm and still the sea.” Thus, the two readings fittingly serve a...
Small Starts

Small Starts

Opinion
It is timely that as we re-enter into the Ordinary of the Year, our gospel reading presents the two parables of Mark on the kingdom of God. The first tells of the sower who scatters seeds which grow by themselves until they mature and bear bountiful harvest. The second is about the mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds which becomes the largest of plants. Both parables illustrate how the kingdom of God works in our ordinary life. The story of the sower reminds us that the kingdom of God is God’s, not ours. He provides the seed and sustains its growth. As the sower sleeps and rises night and day, the seed grows without his knowing how. And so it is with life. The parable thus invites us to entrust ourselves to the Lord of life. “All shall be well.” (Julian of Norwich) Growth is...
Doing God’s Will

Doing God’s Will

Opinion
Any good we do may not always be met with approval and appreciation. In fact, it can cause conflict and opposition from people with malicious intent or even from others who may mean well. This is what happens to Jesus in today’s gospel. Returning from his mission, he comes home and is welcomed by a great crowd of people. While the majority are happy to receive him, there are others who are not. For one, his relatives do not understand him and want to pull him out of the crowd, thinking that he is out of his mind. Then there is the group of scribes from Jerusalem who accuse him of being possessed by Beelzebul and of driving out demons by the prince of demons. Unperturbed, Jesus deals with the accusations serenely and takes the occasion to further his teaching about the kingdom of Go...
Trinity

Trinity

Opinion
As he neared his death, Morrie realized that one thing alone is important in life – our relationships. Everything dies with us except our relationships. Long after we’re gone, we continue to live in the hearts of those we loved. Our human relationships are the closest experience we can get of God. Isn’t God, after all, pure and perfect relationship? “He who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” (1Jn 4:16) Today we celebrate the solemnity of Trinity Sunday. The Trinity is greatest mystery of our faith from which we derive all that we know about God. It is also the mystery that defines our deepest identity and destiny as God’s beloved children. (second reading) Yet for all its paramount importance and significance, the doctrine of the Trinity has little impact, if any,...
Outpouring of God’s Love

Outpouring of God’s Love

Opinion
Today we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost. Fifty days after the Lord’s resurrection, the disciples gathered in the upper room together with Mary when the Holy Spirit descended on them in the form of tongues as of fire. Filled with the Holy Spirit, they began to proclaim in different languages that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God who died and resurrected. Thus began the great missionary journey of the Church. While it may be inaccurate to say that Pentecost is the birthday of the Church, Pentecost is certainly the birthday of the missionary Church. It was on this day that the apostles, emboldened by the Spirit, came out of their hiding place, and carried out the Lord’s mandate to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mk 16:15) Pentecost affor...
Our Glory, Our Home

Our Glory, Our Home

Opinion
Today we celebrate the feast of the Ascension of the Lord. The Acts of the Apostles tell us that after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples, presenting himself alive to them by many proofs and giving them instructions for the last time. He stayed for forty days until he was taken up to heaven. The ascension of Jesus marks the completion of his mission on earth to save humankind. This mission began with the incarnation when the Son of God was sent by Father and took on our humanity, becoming man like us. “And the Word was made flesh…” (Jn 1:14) He lived among us and announced the coming of the kingdom of God. Jesus’ saving mission reached its culmination in the paschal mysteries of his suffering, death, and resurrection. Having accomplished his mission, he returned to h...
The Surreal Love of God

The Surreal Love of God

Opinion
All the readings this Sunday speak of love - God’s love. Each reading is so replete with spiritual richness, that I am overwhelmed and at a loss on how to justly unpack such precious gems. And so, I decided to share just a simple reflection from each reading. The first reading tells us that God’s love is universal. It is offered to all, not only to the Israelites but to all peoples. When Peter saw Cornelius and his family receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit, who is “God’s love poured into our hearts,” (Rm 5:5) he could only say, “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.” Thus, he proceeded without hesitation to baptize the entire Gentile household. The recent Vatican document, Infinite Dignity, confirms this basic truth - that we are all precious in God’s eyes and that o...
Pruning

Pruning

Opinion
Last Sunday’s gospel gave us a glimpse of Jesus’ intimate relationship with his disciples through the much-loved image of the Good Shepherd (who knows his sheep and lays down his life for them). This Sunday we are given another equally powerful image of the same relationship in the parable of the vine. “I am the vine, you are the branches… and my Father is the vine grower.” The metaphor of the vine and the branches speaks of Jesus’ relationship with his disciples at its most profound level. It is a relationship of a shared life, a communion of life that comes from the vine and flows to the branches and vivifies them. What an awesome reality, if we only think of it. It means that the life which flows in our veins is not ours, but Christ’s. Thus, St. Paul could only say, “It is no...
Infinite Dignity

Infinite Dignity

Opinion
The Fourth Sunday of Easter is often called Good Shepherd Sunday. The gospel reading in each of the three lectionary cycles is taken from Chapter 10 of John wherein Jesus refers to himself as the good shepherd. “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” We are familiar with these words which we hold with deep reverence and awe, coming as they are from the divine lips of the Lord. But if these words were uttered by someone else, we would think him insane. What man would exchange his life for an animal’s? Yet come to think of it, such insanity is infinitely greater in the case of God who dies for man, a mere creature of his and so sinful at that. Indeed, what greater madness is there than this? What drives God to such extreme madness? St. Paul g...
Witnessing

Witnessing

Opinion
Today’s gospel gives us Luke’s version of the risen Lord’s appearance to his apostles on Easter night. The apostles and some disciples were gathered in a locked room when Jesus stood in their midst and greeted them Peace. Thinking they were seeing a ghost, they were greatly terrified. To pacify them, Jesus showed them his hands and feet, and even asked for something to eat. Then, he reminded them about the things he had said while he was still with them and explained how everything written in the Scripture was fulfilled in him. To show that he was not a ghost, Jesus gave four proofs of the resurrection. He made them see and touch his wounds; ate in front of them; and made them understand the Scripture. The first three proofs pertain to the bodily aspects of the resurrection and ref...
The Wounds of the Risen Christ

The Wounds of the Risen Christ

Opinion
On the evening of Easter, Jesus appears to the apostles gathered inside a locked room for fear of the Jews. He greets them, “Peace be with you!” Peace is the first gift of the risen Lord. It is the first fruit of the resurrection. Peace is the one thing that Israel had always yearned for throughout their history as a people. Peace is what humanity ceaselessly seeks and which remains elusive to this day. Peace, in truth, is the deepest desire of every human heart. Today the risen Christ offers us peace - his peace. Earlier, he had told his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.” (Jn 14: 27) What is this peace? After greeting his apostles Shalom, Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” The peace t...
The Empty Tomb

The Empty Tomb

Opinion
Early in the morning, Mary went to the tomb of Jesus and found it empty. Anxious, she ran to Peter and John and told them that they had taken the Lord’s body away. The two disciples immediately ran to the tomb. John arrived first but did not enter. He did only when Peter arrived and entered first. Both disciples found the tomb empty but had different reactions. While Peter was simply perplexed, John “saw and believed.” John saw the fulfilment/fullness of Jesus’ promise in the emptiness of the tomb for “his is the love that sees through the dark.” (Denis McBride) What enabled John to recognize the risen Christ in the empty tomb was John’s love. “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." (The Little Prince) Pope Benedict XVI is mo...
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