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Saturday, October 27, 2012


Mark 10:46-52

Bartimeus was blind and he was sitting on the side of the road!    The road was a symbol of dynamism of life and Bartimeus sitting on the side of road meant that he was not part of the movement of life.  His encounter with Jesus in Jericho would change his life forever.
         When Bartimeus heard that Jesus was passing by, he knew it was the opportune moment that he had been waiting for and began to shout and cried out “Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me.”  There were two kinds of crowd in the story: the first one scolded him and told him to keep quiet, the second one encouraged him and brought him to Jesus.  Bartimeus caught the attention of Jesus.  Jesus a) stopped 2) asked the second crowd “call him here” 3) and said “What do you want me to do for you?”  Bartimeus’ cry could not be simply ignored by Jesus amidst the pushing crowd; when Jesus heard him, He stopped and gave him his full attention.  When we cry to God in our utter humility and desperation, our voice pierces the heart of God and He stops and listens to our pleas.  Jesus asked the assistance of the crowd to bring Bartimeus to Him.  Our encounter with God, although personal, always involves the community which either hinders or assists us.  Are we a wall that obstructs people to encounter God or a bridge that brings others to God?   Jesus knew that Bartimeus was blind and He knew what he needed but He still asked him “What do you want me to do for you?”  Why?  Because Jesus did not want to impose what He wanted so he asked Bartimeus to express his freedom of the will.  Bartimeus knew what he wanted all his life and this was now the moment he had been waiting for; it would be very remiss of him not to say what he wanted: Rabbuni, let me see again.”  Jesus said “Go, your faith has saved you.”  Once he had his sight back, he followed Jesus along the road.
         In the book of Genesis, the very first thing that God created was light.   Because of light, we are able to see the world and its beauty.  Darkness symbolizes emptiness and everything that is evil.   Jesus said “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).   Our eyes are the windows of our souls.  What a sad thing if the dynamism of life is taken away from us so that we are not able to engage with life.   We might not be physically blind like Bartimeus but in our spiritual life we might experience blindness through our arrogance, self-centeredness, sensuality, addictions, etc.
Some time in our life, we may experience the darkest night of our souls. Like Bartimeus, we just have to admit in utter humility our need for God and we cry out: “Lord, I need you in my life.  Take me out of darkness.  I want to see.”
         The most important thing is not just having our sight back, but to be able to walk again in the road and celebrate the dynamism of life.  The only way we can do this is to follow Jesus who is “The Way” and will lead us to life eternal.

Friday, October 19, 2012



Mark 10:35-45

Podcast through the Australian Catholic Radio Online:

         When we were young, we were asked in the school “What do you want to become in the future? and Why?” Those questions became our innate urge towards a purpose-driven life!  They give us the power and determination to achieve something that will sustain us through life.  Achieving that goal defines our career and status in the community we live in.
         During the time of Jesus, Israel was longing and waiting for the Messiah to come.  They were expecting a political messiah who would free them from the Roman rule and establish the Kingdom of God.  The favour that James and John (in Matthew it was their mother) were asking from Jesus sounded ambitious and political.  Even the other disciples were angry with James and John because maybe they themselves were harboring the same ambition.   Jesus had to correct them by teaching them a lesson on true greatness.  The way to greatness in the eyes of God is through service to others.  Jesus Himself lived out His teaching because He came not to be served but to serve and gave His life for the ransom of many.
         In one way or another we were given the authority towards others or we were under the authority of others by being parents to our children, a manager or boss in our workplace, a political, school or a church leader, etc.  But greatness does not consist in the possession of that authority, not according to how many people we have at our disposal or the imposition of our will towards others.   We have seen some world leaders like Hitler, Idi Amin, Marcos, Polpot (to name a few) who lord it over their countries through dictatorship by having their authority felt through whimsical caprices and abuses.   Christian leadership hinges on servanthood.  Authority is given to us in the context of service.   That is why our Church authorities like the cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons, nuns and the religious should be servant-leaders.   Yes they are our leaders and have authorities over us but only because they are our servants and they should serve us as we deserve.  “It is not ourselves we preach but Christ Jesus our Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4-5).
         We may find ourselves serving others as part of our job and career hence we are being paid in remuneration of such service.  There is nothing wrong in that because of justice we need to be repaid for our efforts and time.   Some are even promoted because of exemplary works done for the company or the business.  But Christian service is more than that.  It is the giving of self to others because of one’s love to God and humanity.   We may receive our salary or remuneration because of our work but we can turn it into something more noble by putting love into our work.  We don’t even have to think of God all the time while doing it as long as we put love on it then our work is transformed into a service to humanity.   We don’t have to think big to do something explosive in changing the world for the better.  One little act of charity can change the world of one person who in turn will pay it forward through his service to others.  It becomes a domino effect that starts with one person doing a simple act of goodness.  This belief in the basic goodness of mankind explodes beyond proportion if each person celebrates his/her kindness towards others.  Then it goes beyond religion, race or color which transforms the world when love is expressed in charity through service to others. Because goodness is inherent in each one of us we have the power to change the world for the better than we first found it.  When this happens, an ordinary person becomes a saint in the eyes of God without him/her knowing it. 

Friday, October 12, 2012




         The rich young man (RYM) ran up, knelt before Jesus and asked: “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 
         During the time of Jesus, a Jewish man never run because only slaves run; a dignified Jew would never kneel down before another Jew; it was unusual for a man to ask about eternal life.   Who was RYM? Why did he run, kneel and ask Jesus?
         Let us go deeper into the personality of RYM.   He was spiritually rich:    “Master I have kept the laws since my earliest days.”  It means that RYM  was a very righteous man hence very pious.  He was materially rich: because he had so many possessions, he was believed to be blessed by God. He was intellectually rich: because he was concerned about the seriousness of life and was asking about eternal life.  He was youthfully rich: he was young man!
         Here was a man who was at the top of the world.  When Jesus saw him, Jesus loved him because RYM was a very lovable person.  Jesus did not see the richness of RYM but rather the total emptiness in him so He said to him: “You need to do one more thing; 1) go and sell your possessions 2) give the money to the poor 3) come follow me.” Upon hearing this, RYM’s face fell because he was a man of great wealth.
         Now who is RYM in our present time?  RYM is a symbol of grand success, a fulfillment of everybody’s dream, a universal idol.  Every boy in the world will say “I want to be like him.” Many mothers will say “that’s what I want my child to be.”  Every girl will say “That’s what I want for my husband.”  But wait and listen to what RYM has to say “Do not be like me, I am empty and I am not happy.”  Why?  Because RYM was only wearing a mask.  Behind his perfection was a defect; behind his huge success was a complete failure; behind his happy face was his unspeakable sadness.
         When Jesus asked him to sell all his possessions, he could not let go of his material riches because those were his idols.  Therefore he could not follow Jesus who offered him the true riches in heaven. 
         We may not have the riches of RYM and even if we are materially poor yet in one way or another we may have our own idols that we worship in the deep recesses of our hearts.  Sometimes it is hard to confront these idols most especially when we have become so at home with them that we find it hard to part from them.  Some have even become second skin to us that letting go of them will cause us excruciating pain.  Others choose to be enslaved due to human weakness in spite of the effort to transcend the situation.   But we do not condemn them because the difficulty and dilemma of RYM in the gospel is also our very own.
         Material things in themselves are not evil; they are evil when they become our idols and we worship them either consciously or unconsciously as if our lives totally depend on them.
Jesus wants us to be free so that we can follow Him.  That is why, we need the grace of God and at the same time the support and compassion of our families and friends as we constantly battle against the idols in our lives.

Friday, October 5, 2012



Mark 10:2-16

         There is an ancient Mediterranean legend that says in the beginning man and woman were actually one person who shared one body. According to this legend after they sinned, God punished them by dividing their body into two, one half for the man and the other half for the woman. They would only again be complete once they were united as one body. The only way this could happen was through marriage.
         Jesus in our gospel this Sunday teaches the meaning and purpose of marriage: it is a covenant between a man and woman which is ordered toward the goodness of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring. The teaching took place when the Pharisees asked Jesus a question about divorce.
         God being the author of marriage intended it as a vocation which is intrinsic to the very nature of humanity. Because it is a vocation, it is fundamentally centered on love. This mutual love between a man and a woman is a reflection of God’s absolute and unfailing love for humanity. The book of Genesis in the first reading attests to the indissolubility of marriage from the very beginning of time: that man leaves his mother and father and becomes attached to his wife and the two become one flesh. Jesus affirms it when he said: "What God has united, human beings must not divide." Because of the permanence of marriage, Jesus in the gospel took a strong stand against divorce. It is not just based on a legalistic approach when the children suffer and it then jeopardizes their future happiness nor on the presence of a law that forbids or allows divorce. Rather as the author of marriage, God intended marriage to be a permanent and lasting relationship between a man and a woman.
         God saw in the beginning that man was not complete so He created the woman. It is through this marital union that one complements the other thereby completing each other’s incompleteness. In marital sex, one gives himself/herself to the other completely, exclusively and forever. When this happens they really become one flesh. Because of human failure, certain situations are far from ideal like re-marriage after separation and divorce which the Church deals with compassionately.
          From this union based on love comes the secondary purpose of marriage which is the procreation and education of offspring. It is the fruit of love when given unselfishly. To safeguard this purpose, the Church is against the deliberate obstruction of life through artificial birth control and direct abortion which are contrary to the moral law. Children are not an intrusion on married life but rather the completion of its mission which is expressed in joy. For married couples who are unable to have children, their witness of love to each other can also be profoundly life-giving to the Church and to the community.
          Because marriage is a sacrament, it is geared towards the sanctification of man and woman through their married life. It is a life that is centered in God; in reality it is God who completes and blesses the union. That is why it is imperative that a man and a woman who love each other should be united by a sacred bond that can only be given through the Church. With this blessing, they will form a family, be it naturally or through adoption. This family is called the domestic church because it is the miniature version of the whole Church
          Let us safeguard the unity and sanctity of marriage as God intended it to be.