Monday, July 27, 2015

18TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (B)



Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”


Jn 6:24-35



Last Sunday we switched from the Gospel of Mark (the Gospel for Year B) to the Gospel of John Chapter 6. We continue today the reading from John Chapter 6.

The people look for Jesus in Capernaum. Jesus frankly tells them that they were looking for him NOT because they understood the meaning of the multiplication of the bread but because they wanted to see another miracle or they wanted to get free bread again. Jesus uses the opportunity to teach them. “Do not work for bread that perishes (naluluma at inaamag). Instead work for food that does not go stale (di naluluma, di inaamag) and that can give you eternal life. This I, the Son of Man, can give you.”

They reply, ““What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” What they mean is: “How can we get our hands on this special bread you are talking about?”

Jesus answers, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” Believing in Jesus does not only mean accepting what Jesus says as true. It means taking the side of Jesus. In the present INC crisis, to believe in Ka Tenny and Ka Angel means to take their side against the Sanggunian of the INC. And that was what the INC minister in California did.

The people respond: “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert.” If I were Jesus, I would say, “Hello! And what do you think I did on the other side of the Lake. Did I not perform a sign? Did I not feed more than 5,000 people with bread and fish?” Instead, Jesus corrects them by saying that it was not Moses who gave them manna but his Father in heaven. He makes a second correction. That manna is only a symbol of the bread that his Father is going to give to them today.

When the people said: “Give us this bread always”, they wanted Jesus to be their supplier of this special bread that does not go stale. They were still thinking of earthly, physical bread!

Finally, Jesus makes the final correction to their mistaken belief by declaring that the bread he was talking about all along was he. “I am the bread of life.” And therefore, to eat the bread of life is to have faith in Jesus, to take the side of Jesus (isugal ang buhay at kapalaran sa pagpili kay Jesus).

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

17TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (B)




Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. 


Jn 6:1-15

Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee.
It is a lake. The water is sweet. Also called: Sea of Tiberias, Lake Galilee, and Lake of Genesareth.

A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.
Many years ago many people went to Agoo where it was said that the Blessed Mother appeared to a 16 yr old boy named Judiel Nieva. Priests even accompanied pilgrims. There was a Saturday that the number of people who went there were so many that there was a traffic jam along the highway going back to Manila. Parishes were calling Don Bosco for a priest to celebrate Mass because their own priests were stuck in that traffic!

Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples.
This reminds us of Moses going up the mountain. Jesus sat down because rabbis sat down when they teach.

The Jewish feast of Passover was near.
The Passover was a memorial to the Exodus, the liberation of the Jews from the slavery of Egypt.

There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish.
Bread made from barley is the bread of the poor. Wheat is the usually used for bread.

So the men reclined, about five thousand in number.
This number does not include women and children.

Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining.
The verbs are important: took, gave thanks and distributed. They are associated with the Last Supper institution of the Eucharist. This already gives us a hint that John chapter 6 will speak about the Eucharist, about Jesus, the Bread of Life.

“Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves.
First, this miracle of the multiplication of the bread reminds us of the manna in the desert. Manna was the bread provided by God when the people of Israel was wandering the in the desert for 40 years. It stopped when Israel finally entered the Promised Land.
Second, take note that Jesus doesn’t want food to be wasted.

When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.”
The gospel of John does not use the word “miracle”. He used the word “sign” because the miracles that Jesus performed contained a message. In fact, Jesus would often talk about the message after performing the miracle or sign. In this chapter (Chapter 6), Jesus will talk about the Eucharist and about himself as the Bread of Life. The gospel for the following Sundays will be portions of John Chapter 6.
The people identify him as THE Prophet not just A prophet. In the OT Moses said that God would send a prophet like him. By calling Jesus the Prophet, they understood that Jesus was the one Moses was speaking of.

Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.

Jesus escaped because he didn’t want them to make him king. Of course, Jesus was a king. In fact, we celebrate Christ the King. But Jesus was not the kind of king the people had in mind. The people wanted him to a warrior king who would liberate the Holy Land from the Romans.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

16TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (B)


When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

Mk 6:30-34

IN PROCESS

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

15th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (B)


Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two.

Mk 6:7-13

POINTS FOR CONSIDERATION

Twelve Apostles

Twelve because they remind us of the 12 Tribes of Israel. They form the People of God in the OT. In the NT the 12 Apostles will be the instrument of Jesus to form the New People of God. If the Jews had accepted Jesus, there would have been no need to form the New People of God.

Apostles mean sent. They were sent on a mission under the authority of Jesus. Did God send Mananalo on a mission? Or did he send himself? Did God send Soriano on a mission? Or did he send himself? The same question is true of Villanueva, Quiboloy etc.

Why walking stick and sandals? Why no food, no sack, no money?

Because like Jesus they have to move from place to place to proclaim the good news. They will have to travel light. They will rely on the hospitality of the people.

The worker deserves his pay. Christian community must support their pastors.

"Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet
in testimony against them.” 

If people will not accept the Good News, don't waste your time on them. Go to other towns who did not yet have the Good News preached to them.

When Jews from the diaspora returns to the Promised Land for a pilgrimaget to Jerusalem, They would shake the dust off their sandals. It was a sign of the separation of the unclean from the holy. So if a town refuses to have faith, then they are cut off from salvation.

They anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.

This is not only for those who are about to die. This is for those who have serious illness or who will undergo a delicate surgery. How do you know that the illness is serious or that the surgery is delicate?
Ask the doctor. 

Before surgery for aneurism, a friend of ours requested and was given the anointing.

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two to preach repentance.

What does it mean to repent? The lyrics of the song "Anak" describes beautifully what repentance is.

At ang una mong nilapitan
Ang iyong inang lumuluha
At ang tanong,"anak, ba't ka nagkaganyan"
At ang iyong mga mata'y biglang lumuha ng di mo napapansin
Nagsisisi at sa isip mo'y
Nalaman mong ika'y nagkamali.

It is in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) that God celebrates the coming home and the welcoming of the repentant sinner.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

14TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (B)



So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.


Mk 6:1-6


Organization of the Text

  • Jesus goes to his hometown, Nazareth.
  • Jesus taught in their synagogue. It was the Sabbath.
  • His town mates  didn't accept him because they knew him, his family, and his background.
  • Jesus explained this rejection.
  • As a consequence of their lack of faith, he couldn't work many miracles there.
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” 

Son of Mary is a strange designation. No one is ever referred to as a son of a certain mother. Jesus would have been called the son of Joseph. This particular deviation from the custom has been explained in two ways. First, Joseph might have been dead by then. The second and the probably the correct one is that Mark wanted to highlight the fact the Jesus was not the biological son of Joseph, that he had God as his Father.

There is a problem in this particular verse. It seems to contradict the perpetual virginity of Mary found in Catholic teaching. 

The first explanation can be found in Biblical usage. Brother and sister are terms not exclusively used for blood brothers and sisters. We shall use Abraham and Lot as an example, In Genesis 12:5, it says that Lot was Abraham's nephew. But in Genesis 14:14, it says that Lot is Abraham's brother. 

The second explanation lies in the Hebrew and Aramaic languages. The terms "brother" and "sister" are also applied to nephews, nieces, cousins, half-brothers, and half-sisters.

A third explanation. If Jesus had blood brothers and sisters, then why would Jesus before dying on the cross entrust Mary to John. And John we know is a son of Zebedee.

Finally a fourth explanation at least regarding James as the brother of Jesus. In Galations 1:19 St. Paul wrties: "But other of the apostles [besides Cephas] I saw none, saving James the brother of the Lord." This James then is an apostle. We know from the list of the apostles that he is a son of Alphaeus and Mary is never called the wife of Alphaeus. James then is not the blood brother of Jesus. We may assume that this is the case with the other brothers and sisters mentioned in v. 3. 

Three Things for Consideration

  • The rejection of Jesus by the people of Nazareth is a foreshadowing of his rejection by the people of Israel.
  • Familiarity can breed contempt.
  • Faith is the key to unlock the warehouse of God's blessings and graces.

Stories of Rejection

The story of Jesus is the story of rejection that led ultimately to his death. We find other such stories of rejection and death in the history of the world.

Martin Luther King was assassinated for promoting equality of all human beings irrespective of race. Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated because in spite of the fact that he was a Hindu, he was friendly with the Muslims. Bishop Oscar Romero did because he denounced the exploitation of the poor by the rich who had the backing of the military. And finally, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was executed by the Nazis because he attacked the evils of fascist Nazism.

We should too should expect rejection and even violence when we take a stand on the side of what is right. 

Two catechists (brother and sister) suffered verbal abuse from their elder brother who got angry when they told him to stop playing a pornographic video.

If Jesus suffered rejection and violence, should we, his disciples, expect to not suffer rejection and violence when we take a stand for what Jesus taught?

Friday, June 26, 2015

13TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (B)



Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”

Mk 5:21-43



There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse.

This woman’s condition was also desperate. A curious point. The story of this woman is also found in St. Luke’s gospel. In St. Luke’s gospel, however, nothing is said about suffering at the hands of many doctors, spending all that she had and in the end only got worse. Someone asked why St. Luke omitted these details. The explanation was that St. Luke was a doctor. In fact, he became the personal physician of St. Paul. And being a doctor, he could not include something that made his profession look bad.

She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.”

Did the woman believe that the clothes of Jesus possess some kind of power? Of course not. She knew that the clothes of Jesus will not cure her. It is Jesus who will do that. Why did she touch his clothes then? She touched his clothes as a way of getting connected with Jesus who she believed had the power of healing.

Some Catholics scandalize Protestants because they behave in a way as if statues or medals or prayers possess some kind of power. Statues and medals do not have power. Prayers are not magic formulas. But we can use statues and medals to help us raise our minds and hearts to God. Prayers are words by which our hearts reach out to God. And once in contact with God, we lay bare our hearts and tell him all our needs.

He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you.”

God can not do anything for us unless we put our faith in him. We have to believe that God can and will take care of us.

I will relate two instances from Don Bosco.

Our mother house in Turin occupies a whole block. But it all started with the Pinardi shed. The owner had always said that he would never sell his house under 3,000 pounds. After much haggling, Mr. Pinardi agreed to sell it for 1,200 pounds. Cash. In one week’s time. If Don Bosco failed to come up with the money, he would owe Mr. Pinardi 4,000 pounds! Don Bosco did not have the money. Mama Margaret asked, “But where are you going to find the money? We have nothing but debts.” Don Bosco replied, “Come, mother, if you had money, would you not give me some?” “Of course.” “Well and good. Why should you think that the Lord, who is rich, will be less generous?” Believe it or not, three benefactors came and in less than a week Don Bosco was able to pay for the house.
When St. John Bosco was nine years old, Jesus revealed to him his mission in life. He was to become a priest who would devote himself for the good of young people. At that time it seemed an impossible dream. His stepbrother violently opposed his desire to study. And even if he were not opposed, they didn’t have the money. They were just too poor. But he believed that if that was what God wanted him to do, God would find a way. And God did provide. He became a priest and he founded the Salesian Society and the Salesian Sisters to continue his work for young people. At the end of his life, Don Bosco had this regret, “If only I had more faith, I could have done more.” And yet, Don Bosco’s achievement was already monumental.

Putting our faith in God does not mean that God will always grant what we ask for. It doesn’t always mean that health will be restored or that someone will be saved from death. It doesn’t always mean that our money problems will be solved. Putting our faith in God means that we believe that God loves us and that God is so powerful that in the end everything will turn out OK for us.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

12TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (B)


"Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?"

Mk 4:35-41

Click to go to << 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2009 >>