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Friday, January 27, 2012



Mark 1:21-28 

When God gave the commandments to the Israelites, He spoke with them face to face in the fire (Dt. 5:4).  But the Israelites begged to be spared in hearing the voice of God directly so Moses came in as intermediary between God and the people.  From then on the prophetic tradition in the Old Testament continued with the long row of prophets.  In the first reading today, Moses prophesied that God will send one final prophet who is Jesus Christ!
After the calling of the first apostles, now St. Mark presents Jesus’ first preaching and the first miracle in his gospel.  This all happened in the synagogue in Capernaum.  The temple in Jerusalem was the only temple where the high priest would offer worship, sacrifice and atonement while the synagogues were used to proclaim the Torah or the Old Testament scriptures by the people.  Since there was no permanent teacher in the synagogue, the reading and exposition of the scriptures can be done by any competent Jew just like what Jesus did in our gospel today.
Jesus preached with authority!  This is how Jesus differed with the other prophets before Him and the Pharisees and scribes.  While the others were quoting the scriptures from which they got their authority to teach, Jesus was the Dabar of God, the Word personified.  That Word spoken by God to create everything in Genesis is now the Word alive re-creating creation.  This was manifested by the first miracle ever recorded in the gospel of St. Mark in the exorcism of the man with an unclean spirit.  By saying the name of Jesus, the evil spirit thought that he had control over Him, but the word of Jesus proved to be more powerful.  This is more than just exorcism!  Here we can see the power of the Word: “Be quiet!  Come out of him!”  When the evil spirit was defeated, it meant that the proclamation of the Kingdom ushered in the healing of humanity who had been suffering from the grip of the Devil.  That is why those who saw the miracle were amazed about the unusual authority of Jesus.
The Devil is as real as it was in the time of Adam and Eve, the time of Jesus and in our own time as well.  It continues to pester humanity in the many disguised forms of injustice, genocides, wars, poverty, oppression, etc.  It creeps its tentacles in the very fiber of our personal existence which manifest in our anger, addictions, hatred, indifference and our refusal to follow the way of righteousness.  We have to be always alert because “the devil prowls like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).   The Evil One continues to triumph not just when bad people sow bad deeds but most especially when good people stop doing good. 
That is why, every time we do something good to others, it is not just about pricking a thorn on the devil’s head but celebrating our inherent goodness that glorifies God.  Before we close our eyes in the evening, let us ask ourselves “What good have I done today?”  If we can remember at least one good deed that we have done for the day, then we have not lived our day in vain…. and we are not far from the Kingdom!

Friday, January 20, 2012


3RD SUNDAY ORDINARY TIME – B             (Mark 1:14-20) 

To listen to the Australian Catholic Radio Online:     

 For this year’s cycle B of the liturgical calendar of the Church, we take on the gospel of St. Mark in our Sunday readings.   St. Mark does not have the genealogy of Jesus and His infancy narratives of St. Luke and St. Matthew, assuming that his readers already know them.  His gospel starts with John the Baptist, the Baptism and temptations of Jesus.  This third Sunday, St. Mark presents the beginning of the Galilean or public ministry of Jesus.

St. Mark places Galilee as the locus of the ministry of  Jesus which will stamp an indelible mark to Jesus as “The Galilean”.   As an opening salvo to His public ministry, Jesus proclaimed the good news of God.  In the olden times, good news meant an enthronement of a new king but when Jesus announced His good news, His message was not just about a king but the coming of the kingdom of God.  His very first spoken words in the gospel of St. Mark were “The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is close at hand.”   Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom marked the fulfillment not just of the longings of the Old Testament but the whole world as well.  When He did this, He also proclaimed that He Himself is the personification of that kingdom, He is the auto-basilea

After the proclamation, came the invitation to repent and believe in the good news.  To concretize this, St. Mark presents the calling of the first disciples.  The first disciples who were called were two sets of brothers Simon and Andrew, James and John.  They were fishermen who later on will be called fishers of men.  There was an urgency both in the call and the response and immediately they abandoned their boats and their fathers. Nothing was written about their verbal response, their feelings, no questions were asked but one thing was certain: they left everything and followed Jesus. Jesus’ call demands immediate and complete obedience.

The call of Jesus this time is not just about young men becoming priests, missionaries being sent to missions, young ladies entering the convents or monasteries.  He meets us in the different shores of our lives, where we live, where we work, in all our goodness and sinfulness.  There is a universal call to holiness addressed to everyone: Catholics, Muslims, Jews, even those who have and will never hear the name of Jesus. But wherever we come from, we have to “break off” (metanoeite) from the old self to welcome the Kingdom of God in our hearts. Yet this conversion is not a one-time-off experience, it continuous through life.   To some this means, leaving homes and families, parting away from loved ones, giving up dreams and life’s securities.  Although the responses of some are more radical than others, our following of Jesus takes a lifetime to fulfill.  Our big YES is lived out in the little yeses of the ordinariness of our lives.  Jesus does not expect of us to do the impossible as long as we continue to follow him.  That’s what discipleship is: To follow Jesus who lives in our hearts…

Friday, January 13, 2012



         Last week, the Epiphany, was the manifestation of the baby Jesus to the nations represented by the magi through the star as the Saviour of the world. This Sunday is the manifestation of the adult Jesus to his first disciples through John the Baptist as the “Lamb of God.”

         As we go back to the Ordinary Time in the calendar of the Church, we are reminded by our gospel today of the ontological question in life which Jesus asked “What do you want?”  The response of the first two disciples was also a question: “Teacher, where do you live?”  The classic answer of Jesus was “Come and see.”

         What do we really want in life? A happy family, security in the future, good health, a wonderful career… the list is unending. These are all essentials to live a better and fuller life which can only be achieved through our personal relationship with God.  To “come and see” is to respond to the invitation of Jesus to be with Him, to know Him better and to love Him more.  The disciples followed Jesus and stayed with him that night.  Our relationship with God entails “following” and “staying” with Jesus.  Just as in any human relationships, if we want to grow our relationship with God, we have to invest our time, effort and our very selves. 

         Andrew, after staying with Jesus, looked for his brother Simon and shared with him his experience.  Our relationship with God does not end in ourselves; as it grows it overflows and seeks out to be channeled to others.  As we respond to the invitation of God to “come and see”, we cannot afford to just contain the joy unto ourselves that is why we share our faith experience to others.  It was Andrew who brought Peter to Jesus; he also brought the boy with the loaves (Jn. 6:8) and some Greeks  to Jesus (Jn. 12:22).  Andrew’s role was an intermediary, that is to bring people to Jesus; how many have we brought to God?   After bringing his brother Simon to Jesus who named him as the Rock, being the first pope of the Church, Andrew went into the background.  There was no sibling rivalry, no feeling of animosity nor jealousy.  Like Andrew, we should be happy to let others shine and be the best of themselves even if this means for us to stay at the backstage or away from the limelight.

         Jesus’ calling of the first disciples reflect our own personal calling.  Because He knows us, He calls us by our personal name and when He looks into our eyes He knows who we are and what we can become which is far better than we can ever imagine.  We just have to “stay” with Him always and let Him surprise us beyond our imagining…