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Saturday, June 25, 2011



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We can understand the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ through different perspectives or theologies just like looking at a diamond in its different facets and still we cannot grasp fully its grandeur and beauty.  I wish to invite you to look at the Eucharist in the perspective of SACRIFICIAL BANQUET.
          In our next meal, before we eat, let’s take a look at the food on our plates.  Maybe there will be meat, fish, rice or bread, veggies and other stuff there.  All of them were once living creatures yet they gave up their lives to be our food to nourish us.  Maybe most of us will say “that’s what they’re here for.”  Without them knowing it, their lives were sacrificed so we can eat and grow and continue living.
          Now let’s take a look at the two powerful symbols used in the Eucharist: the bread and wine. The bread comes from many thousands of grain of wheat which were ground into flour; in the same manner the wine comes from many grapes crushed into juice.  In a symbolic sense, the grains and grapes have to give up their individual lives to become part of a transformation that requires death and sacrifice.  Not only that, the wheat has to pass through fire and the juice has to pass fermentation, again symbolic of yet another stage of death and sacrifice. Once they become bread and wine, their highest level of sacrifice happens when they have to give up their being bread and wine to become the Flesh and Blood of the God who created them.  In a sense, their sacrificial act of dying to themselves is given the ultimate reward ever given to any created being.
          Jesus’ flesh and blood were ground and crushed just like the grains and the grapes and passed through the summit of sacrifice on the cross in order to become real food and drink.  The word sacrifice comes from two Latin words sacra (which means “sacred”) and facere (which means “to make”).  Literally a sacrifice is an act of offering something to a deity who transforms the thing being offered which becomes sacred.  Jesus who is our High Priest did not offer anything other than his whole being on the altar of the cross.  It was the Father who accepted the offering of his Son and made it sacred.  Jesus offered his body on the cross and the Father transformed it into a transcended and transfigured body as a sign of his acceptance.   It was not just accepted by the Father but was given back to the people who murdered His Son to be their food.
          Whenever we gather as God’s people in the Eucharistic table, we partake in the fellowship which is a foretaste of the heavenly banquet.  Here when we break bread together, just like from many grains, we are invited to be crushed and die to ourselves just like the sacrifice we celebrate.  So the Eucharist is not just a celebration where we feed our hungry souls with the bread from heaven but we celebrate our own death and resurrection with the Paschal Mystery of Jesus.  In the Eucharist, we just do not become what we eat, we are sanctified because we become the sacrifice we offer.   In the Eucharist, eternal life starts here and now.

Friday, June 17, 2011



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The dogma of the Trinity is central in our Christian belief, that is “the one God exists in three Persons and one substance, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”  The Church defines the doctrine more in terms of Greek philosophy than the vocabulary of the Bible.  But we can only understand the philosophical definition by going back to the historical experience of the people in the Bible who encountered God as the Trinity.
          True enough the Jews believed in monotheism, that there is only one God.  But the manifestation of the God they believed in was not just limited to Yahweh, in fact the Son was already present in the form Wisdom and the Holy Spirit was already present as the Ruach or the Breath of God..  We see in the New Testament the fuller revelation of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  There are two biblical events when the three persons were made manifest at the same time namely the Baptism of Jesus and Transfiguration. Mt. 28:19 mentions the Father, Son and Holy Spirit which became basis of the formula of our Christian baptism.  The doctrine the way we understand it now was not yet present during the time of the writing of the books of the New Testament.  St. Paul already has the implicit belief as reflected in our second reading today; the synopticists St. Matthew, St. Mark and St. Luke do not give us a clear understanding yet as to the doctrine.  Even St John who had the most developed Christology among the New Testament writers was still groping in defining the doctrine.
          It was Tertullian in the early third century who initiated the understanding of the doctrine using Greek philosophical terms.  He was the one who introduced the terms trinity, substance and person to explain that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are "one in essence or substance but not one in Person.”  About a century later, in 325AD, the First Council of Nicaea established the doctrine of the Trinity as orthodoxy confirming that Jesus is begotten and of one substance with the Father.  Many more theologians like St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas,  and modern thinkers like Karl Rahner helped us in our present understanding of the Trinity.
The mission of Jesus is not just to reveal to us the three persons of the Trinity but to bring us into the Trinitarian life. Our understanding of the doctrine will only be academic and philosophical unless we enter into a personal relationship with each of the person of the Trinity.  When we were baptized, we received the indelible but invisible mark of the Trinity: we became children of God the Father, Jesus became our Saviour and the Holy Spirit became our Sanctifier.  This is what our whole Christian life is.  The eternal life mentioned by Jesus in our gospel today means our full communion into the divine fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in eternity and it already starts here and now.  Our celebration today reminds us of this profound truth.

Friday, June 10, 2011



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         Pentecost is originally a Jewish feast, being one of the three festivals on which every Jewish male should go to the Temple in Jerusalem (the other two are Passover and the Feast of the Tabernacles).  It was a harvest festival where the people would offer on the fiftieth day a new cereal offering to the Lord (Lev. 23:16).  Later on the feast was used to commemorate the Old Covenant fifty days after the exodus from Egypt.  But this covenant was broken by Israel again and again thus God promised a New Covenant which happened on another mountain, Mount Zion in Jerusalem.  This Christian Pentecost also happened fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus.
There are two biblical accounts about the Pentecost, one is from St. Luke which we read from the first reading today.  The other one is from St. John which we read from the gospel.  Whilst both describe the same phenomenon, each has its own peculiarities which are reflections of different genre and theology. St. Luke’s account is based from the charismatic and prophetic tradition while John’s account is based from the wisdom tradition.  St. Luke records the Pentecost in Acts in which he shows the Holy Spirit as the dynamic principle of the testimony that ensures the spread of the Church.  That is why the Holy Spirit was depicted as tongues of fire that lodged on the heads of the apostles.  The Holy Spirit animates the salvation that has been gained in and through Christ.  In contrast, St. John depicted the Holy Spirit as breath or ruah in Hebrew.  His theology is more inclined in the creation of the new humanity. In the Old Testament, man became alive when God breathed on him His divine breath (ruah); now in the New Testament, God breathed once again the same breath to the apostles ushering the re-creation of man.  We could say then that in Pentecost man is created anew in the form of the Church.  For St. John the Pentecost happened at the same time with the Resurrection as we heard from our gospel today.
This is not to confuse us who between St. John and St. Luke are right.  Both of them give us different perspectives of the same event hence a deeper and clearer understanding of the Pentecost.

          During the Pentecost the Holy Spirit opened a new era in salvation history wherein the Church became the new humanity.  Pentecost is not just a one-time event; it continues to happen from that time on and until the end of time.   Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit at the beginning of his public ministry; the apostles had been anointed at the beginning of the ministry of the Church. Each one of us has been anointed by the same Holy Spirit when we were baptized and confirmed hence the beginning of the new life in us.
The Holy Spirit is not just the Third Person of the Most Holy Trinity, he is our friend who dwells in us.  Sometimes he is called the “forgotten God” because we do not relate much with him maybe because we do not know him much.  Today, let us invite him into our homes, into our lives.
“Come Holy Spirit, fill our hearts with the fires of your love…”

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Ascension – A

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          After all the running, after a day’s work, after a holiday or a trip, we always long for home.  Home is where our heart is; home is where our beloved is.  It is where our loved ones are.  When we are at home, we can be ourselves without any fear and bask in the joys of life.  It is where we are loved and accepted in spite of our imperfections and shortcomings; where no one keeps a record of our mistakes and sins.
          Ascension is the homecoming of Jesus.  When he became a human being, he left heaven and became like a prodigal son to his Father. He knew that his home is not of world and that’s what he said to his disciples: “There are many rooms in my father’s house; I will go and prepare a room for you; one day I will come back to take you with me so that where I am you will also be” (Jn 14:2-3).  We have a home awaiting for us; we have a Father who has been longing to welcome us.  Jesus ascended into heaven because he is our only Way to our true home and he is the only one who can lead us to the Father.
          The very first words of Jesus were: “Come and see” (Jn 1:39) and his last words were: Go and make disciples (Mt. 28:19).  To “come” was an invitation to be with Jesus, to live with him and to learn from him as disciples.  To “go” means to be sent in the mission to the world as his apostles.  In between the “coming and going” is the whole public ministry of Jesus.  After his public ministry, he had to go back to home and be with his Father. 
          Our gospel today is the only resurrection appearance of Jesus in the gospel of Matthew as compared to the other evangelists Luke, Mark and John.  Situated at the end of Matthew’s gospel, it is about the commissioning of the disciples.  The setting was on a mountain.  For Matthew, the mountain has been the locus of theophanies or the place where God would manifest himself.   Because for Matthew, Jesus is the New Moses, many of the important events in the life of Jesus happened on the mountain: the sermon on the mount, the Transfiguration, the Crucifixion and now the Ascension.
Jesus proclaimed “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”  That is a very powerful statement ever spoken by a human being in the history of the world.  Then he proceeded with the commissioning to “go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and to teach them everything that he had taught them.  The disciples are now are now sent into the world to multiply themselves by the lives of witness and make others disciples of Jesus.  Baptism becomes an imperative in the mission so that all peoples may enter into the Trinitarian life: son or daughter of the Father, saved by Jesus, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
One of the sad things we have to cope is letting go of someone we love most either a friend, a family member, a spouse or a loved one.  Goodbye is such a bitter word for many of us because it entails unbearable pains and the loss of someone who is part of us.  That is why sometimes we do not want to say hello because at the end, whether we like it or not we have to say goodbye.  Jesus did not say goodbye but rather he said “I am with you always, to the end of age.”  He may have gone physically but he did not leave his disciples.  That is so with us, when at the end, everyone whom we love will either leave us or we leave them, Jesus will never leave us.  That is the beauty of our faith, if we only believe….