Total Pageviews

Friday, July 29, 2011




          The feeding of the five thousand by Jesus is a miracle most familiar to us.  Actually if we have to understand it in a scholarly manner, it is a very complex event loaded with very powerful symbols and meanings which would not fit a regular homily.  It is one of the very important events in the life of Jesus recorded by the four evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  Historically speaking it happened only once but was recorded twice in the gospels, the other one being the feeding of the four thousand.  Each evangelist as we know was writing to a particular community, conveying different theologies from each other.  John’s is the most highly theologically loaded account.  For this Sunday, we have the account as written by Matthew.
          For Matthew, Jesus is the figure of the New Moses in the New Testament.  Because of this, he is depicted as a shepherd as Moses was a shepherd to the Israelites.  We can see this when Jesus gave orders that the people sit down on the grass.
          The problematic was: they were on a lonely place and the people were hungry.  The disciples’ way out was to send them away so they could go the villages to buy themselves food.  But Jesus’s solution was for them to feed the people.  Out of the scarcity of the resources they had: there were only five loaves and two fish, Jesus asked that they be given to him.  Jesus did not make a miracle out of nothing but rather he asked the help of the community in performing that miracle. Jesus took  the loaves and the fish, prayed and said the blessing.  After breaking the bread, he gave them to his disciples who in turn gave them to the crowds.  It is important to note that Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said the blessing which ushered in the miracle.  Now he needed again the assistance of his disciples to distribute the loaves and the fish to the people.  They all ate as much as they wanted and there were left over of twelve baskets.
          This miracle is the prefiguration of the Eucharist.  Although the fish would not be used during the Last Supper which is the actual Eucharist, it has been used since the primitive Church as the symbol of the Eucharist together with the bread and wine.
At this very moment, hundred of thousands Filipino families lost their homes because of a recent typhoon and they are hungry.  At the other side of the globe, more than 800,000 African children are dying of hunger because of drought.   The world has witnessed since the time immemorial the starvation of humanity.  As we listened to the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish this Sunday, what is the relevance of this to thousands of people dying every second, every minute around the world?   We face today the same problematic that was present during the time of Jesus: people are hungry!  And once again the words of Jesus reverberate to us: give them something to eat yourselves.” And just like the disciples, we could only present our scarcity.
The starvation in some parts of the world maybe political and sometimes caused by nature but we are challenged as a Christian community not be indifferent wastrels.   “It is not Christian, it is not human to deny a loaf of bread needed by a human family” (John Paul II).  As we celebrate our Eucharist, may our lives be a broken bread to others so that in their hunger, they may experience a loving God who continues to incarnate himself as food for the hungry world.

Friday, July 22, 2011




          If by chance, we become a master of a genie who can make our three wishes come true, what would our wishes be?
          In the first reading, when Solomon was asked by God what he wanted, Solomon asked for wisdom.  Because of that he became the wisest king ever.  If God asks us right here and now what we want, what would it be?  Long life, good health, happy family, solution to a particular problem… What do we have in our bucket list?
          In our gospel this Sunday the Kingdom of Heaven is likened to the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price.   In these twin parables, the realities are 1) they are hidden 2) they are found 3) there is a great joy in finding them 4) the finder sells everything 5) the finder buys them.
          The Kingdom of God is a spiritual reality hence it is hidden.  Since it is not composed of matter and form, it is not perceived by our senses.  Because the world canonizes materialism and consumerism, it appeals least among those whose lives are anchored in the existential and material.  It takes faith to see something beyond the perceptible and at the same time seeks to understand what it believes.  An atheist denies God maybe because he cannot be convinced nor prove the existence of  God.  For us believers, we do not need to be convinced and we do not need proofs, we just simply believe.
          We found this treasure when we were baptized and it is kept hidden in our hearts.  It is nurtured in our homes, by the Christian community we belong, in our parish, with our peers.  When we celebrate our faith together with our fellow Christians through the sacraments, the hidden treasure is made manifest.  In those celebrations, our faith grows and as we share our treasure with the rest of the community, we become richer as a person.   We possess something that is very rare and precious.
          Because of his faith, a Christian is a joyful person.  We do not deny that we have our pains and sufferings but in the midst of these, we always find reasons to rejoice.  We find solace and comfort knowing that the God we believe in does not and will not abandon us even if he seems silent and absent. 
          Sometimes our faith demands that we need to do something that may entail sacrifice.  For an unbeliever looking from the outside, we  can be foolish and out of our mind.  For those of us who have been in love, for others we may be irrational?  But who cares?  We did not mind because we were in love.   To possess a higher good, we need to give up something, we have to die to ourselves, we have to say goodbyes.  We need to bear the pain to pay the price of the treasure we love most.  If we do this in our secular lives, how much more if we want to possess the Kingdom?
          It may sound that the parables suit more those religious persons who have radically followed Jesus in faraway missions, convents, monasteries, etc.  True enough our Church boasts of innumerable saints and unsung heroes who have left families, homelands, careers and everything when they fell in love and followed Jesus.  These parables are also for the simple people only known to God who in their everyday lives continue to discover the Kingdom.  Whenever we possess this treasure, we are the richest person in the whole world.  

Saturday, July 16, 2011



Everything that God created is good and beautiful!  When we were born, we epitomized purity, innocence, tenderness and most especially love.  Nothing can be more beautiful than a newly born baby.   But when we grew up, we became vulnerable to the influence of the world around us: our family, our school, our church, the media, our peers and many others.  When we were born, we were like the wheat in the parable this Sunday.  Somewhere along the way, some of us were turned into weeds or maybe we find ourselves growing in the midst of weeds.
When Jesus explained to his disciples the parable of wheat and the weeds, it was turned into an allegory and there we understand that the sower of the good seed was God; the field was the world; the good seeds are the subjects of the kingdom; the weeds are the subjects of the Evil One; the enemy who sowed it was the devil; the harvest is the end of the world and the reapers are the angels.
Because of the justice system, our society protects us from possible attack of evil people who may harm us.  Because of this, criminals who are threats to peace and order are placed in correctional institutions and prisons.  Even so, we are not completely at peace because not all people who are potential threat to our society made it behind prison bars.  In fact, some powerful drug lords or heads of syndicates are living more prosperous lives than most of the ordinary good citizens of the society.
We really do not understand much the wisdom of God why he lets this seemingly unjust system prosper wherein bad people are not punished and good people continue to live in fear.   Why would God not weed out all these criminals and wipe them out so that there will only be good people and the world would be at peace.  On the first place, why would he let Hitler or Polpot exist when he knew that they would only exterminate millions of innocent lives?  Why would he let dictators live only to control the economy of a whole nation for their selfish gains?  In this unjust society, many of us cry for justice and peace.  And many of us say “Where is God here?”  We may not have the answer to this existential question, but we continue to believe that God is in charge of the world he has created.
The parable reminds us not to judge simply because we categorize people and put labels on them.  When we do this, of course, we count ourselves as belonging to the good ones.  The task of separating the good from the bad is reserved to God and God alone.  Because he is the one in charge, he knows the right time for every endeavor.  His sense of justice is far different from ours that is why he lets the wheat and the weeds grow at the same time.  That is why the Church is composed of saints and sinners who are striving to be good; if you are only looking for saints in the Church, you will be disappointed.
Maybe some of us have been weeds at some time in our lives but by the virtue of God’s grace, we were turned into wheat.  If this is so, who among us should ever dare to judge those whom we believe are living like weeds?  All of us are under the mercy of God and we rely on his benevolence; either we are wheat or weeds, we are all beggars of the rain that only come from heaven.  We can only be grateful.
At the end, the justice of God will prevail.  Let us pray that when our life on the fields is over, he may gather us together with other wheat; that he may put us into his barn, there ready to become food for the hungry world.

Saturday, July 9, 2011



To listen to the Australian Catholic Radio Online, please click:

Most of the parables of Jesus are based from the ordinariness of life and as such, they have very simple plots whose characters are most familiar to his hearers. Through the parables we are able to understand the realities of the Kingdom of God. 
The parable of the sower is one of the seven parables in Matthew 13 which illustrates the Kingdom and its members.  It tells us about the four kinds of soil receiving the seed sown by the farmer: 1) the footpath, 2) the rocky soil 3) the thorny soil and 4) the fertile soil.  As an exemption, Jesus himself explained the parable at the middle of the story through an allegory.  There is where we see the deeper understanding of the parable.  The soil is nothing but our hearts; the seed is the Word of God and the four attitudes of receptivity.
Dabar in Hebrew is both “word” and “deed” at the same time.  When God said “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3), his spoken Word created the light.  The rest of creation bears witness to the power of the Word who created everything when the Word was spoken by God.  Our first reading today from the book of the prophet Isaiah reminds us of this reality:  When God speaks, his Word is like a rain that makes the grass and flowers grow.  How much more when God speaks to the human heart?
In our celebration of the Eucharist, God nourishes us with his Word and Body and Blood.  The first part of the Eucharist is the Liturgy of the Word wherein we celebrate the Word of God in a little altar we call the ambo.  The second part is the Liturgy of the Eucharist wherein we celebrate the Body and Blood of Jesus on the main altar of the church.
The parable becomes alive in our midst during the celebration of the Word.  When the first and second readings together with the responsorial psalm are read by the lector and when the gospel is read by the priest (or deacon), we listen to the Word being proclaimed in the assembly.  The words that we hear although spoken by the ministers are the Dabar of God.  It is both the Word and Deed of God being sown into our hearts.  It is God who is speaking to us both as a community and as an individual.  That is the reason why we make a little sign of the cross on our breast before the gospel is proclaimed: to remind us to open our hearts because God is sowing His Word into our hearts at that moment. 
When we hear the parable, we are asked: what kind of heart do I have in receiving the Word of God? 1) Hardened: I listen to the readings but they never sink in. 2) Superficial: Sometimes I get emotional and I feel good but that’s it. 3) Thorny: I welcome the Word but I have other more important concerns to attend to. 4) Fertile: I take the Word, let it sink in and change my life and those of others.
God continues to speak to us  as we listen to His Word; it is meant to re-create us into the person that He envisions us to be.

Saturday, July 2, 2011



To listen to the Australian Catholic Radio Online, please click:

The Father sent His Son to the world not just to save it but to have His Son be known to humanity.   When Jesus was made known, the Redeemer became our friend and brother.  The mission of Jesus was not just to save man but to bring him to a personal relationship with his Father.  In this covenant-relationship, the Creator became our Father and we all became heirs of the Kingdom of God which Jesus proclaimed.  But this reality is not just something in the air that we glory in or romanticize in our thoughts.  Other than the signs and symbols we used in our Church, all of these are spiritual realities hence the need and  aide of faith not just to make it our own but to live it in our lives.
An atheist can read many things about God but his knowledge does not bring him to a relationship with God.  We can study theology and have a cognitive understanding of the different dogmas and mysteries but that does not make us believers in God.  Google does not have the answer to all our questions. Even if does answer many of our questions, it will not make us good Christians.  Only the Father can bring us to Jesus and only Jesus can bring us to the Father.
“Come to me, all you are burdened… my yoke is easy… I will give you rest”.  Not many of our youth today know or have ever seen what a yoke is.  It is actually a piece of wood a farmer puts on the neck of cattle or buffalo to plow the field.  Jesus as a carpenter must have made yokes in Nazareth.  Yokes are tailor-made for the animals or else it won’t fit and cause harm.  The Law of Moses became a heavy burden for the Israelites when the Pharisees multiplied the 10 Commandments into 613 negative and positive laws.  It was a yoke too much to bear by the people.  Jesus simplified the law into two commandments: love of God and love of neighbor.  The yoke Jesus was offering was not just for the Israelites but for all humanity.
After a tiring day or an exhausting week, we just look forward to a relaxing moment where we can be re-charged and rejuvenated. Maybe we watch a good movie, listen to our favorite music, play sports with friends, or just being with our family at home.   If we don’t do this we are doomed to burn out.  When people lose the sense of meaning in life, lose direction or simply the zest to life, they are pushed into the wall of emptiness.  Oftentimes they see nothing but pitch black and enter into depression.  Their yoke has made a great toll on them.  For some, suicide becomes the easy way out.  But our faith in God is the way in; it is our faith that makes the difference.
Our gospel today is a beautiful reminder that when we are the end of our rope or when our candle is at the flickering end, Jesus offers us an extension, our “second wind”, our living hope.  He knows a tailor-made yoke for us being our friend and brother.  Before we ever fall, we just have to grasp the hand he’s offering to us, humble ourselves and give him our full trust.
Jesus did not just come to let his Father known to us but to bring us home where this Father is anxiously awaiting for us….