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Friday, January 25, 2013




Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21

            God speaks through the grandeur and the wonders of creation which reflects His Wisdom and Beauty that came into being when God spoke His Word.  Creation remains in existence and is sustained because God continues to speak His Word.  When the “Word was made flesh” (John 1:14), God did not just the assume the human nature but spoke the human language as well.  In this instance, the Word of God used human words to communicate Himself  with humanity.  When God spoke to us using our words, He was able to understand man not from the point of view as the Creator but as a creature.  And because we heard God speaking our words, we now understand God better and we are able to express ourselves in a fuller way.

            The Jewish Scriptures is the written account of the encounters of Israel with God reflected in the events that shaped them as a nation.  The stories contained in the Scriptures showed the intervention of God in the lives of His people.  These stories had been handed down from generation to generation first through oral tradition then later on written down as sacred texts.

            When Jesus read the passage from the prophet Isaiah, He proclaimed Himself as God speaking to the Israelites and to us today.   He did not just read the text but declared Himself as the Word of God personified bringing a message of hope to His listeners. 

Our knowledge of the historical Jesus  and the Christ of faith is based on the written account of the faith-experience of the early Christians.   We call it the New Testament.  Our faith-experience of today is anchored on the written texts of the Bible which continue to invite us to be part of a historical continuum.  In fact, we continue in our own lives the saga of the people in the Bible making us active participants in the History of Salvation.  The Bible as a book contains the texts of the Word of God but those texts become the living Word of God when we read them as if God is speaking to us face to us.  The Word becomes even more alive and dynamic when it is proclaimed in the Christian assembly most especially through the Liturgy.  That is why, the first part of the Mass is called the Liturgy of the Word.  It is the time when God speaks to His people and we respond through active listening.  When the Word is proclaimed, the ambo (or lectern) became an altar where God feeds His people with His Word through the lector, minister or the priest.  The texts being read become alive as the sound of the words reverberate through our hearing.  There is a mystery that happens when the Word enters into our consciousness and speaks to our hearts.  Through the Holy Spirit and depending on our disposition, the Word of God can change our lives forever.  The Word continues to re-create us as He  continues to re-create creation.

In this age of cyber-communications and virtual revolution of the internet, the mobile phone is considered the greatest gadget ever invented by man.  It is an all-in-one tool that changed our lives and shape our present and the future.    But we can never use it if we want to communicate with God.   We are able to speak to God “heart to heart” if we listen to Him who speaks to us in the silence of our hearts.


Friday, January 18, 2013




John 2:1-12

         While the other evangelists usually called the supernatural works performed by Jesus as miracles, St. John called them signs.  While the other evangelists reported many miracles in each of their gospels, John recorded only seven signs in his gospel.  The Wedding in Cana being the first of the seven signs in the Gospel of St. John and never reported by the other evangelists was very important because of its symbolic or representative value. As a sign, it is meant to reveal the mystery of Jesus.

         In the Old Testament, the relationship of God and Israel was likened to the groom and bride respectively and God being the groom would provide the finest wines.  In the New Testament, Jesus would refer to Himself as the bridegroom (Mk 2:19; Mt 9:15; Lk 5:34).   During the time of Jesus a wedding banquet usually lasted a week  in the case of a first marriage and three days in case of a widow remarrying.  The groom would be the host of the banquet and provided wine for the guests.   In this particular wedding in Cana, the bridegroom was unable to provide the wine for the guests so that St. John presented now Jesus as the bridegroom of humanity who would provide the wine.

Worth mentioning are the meanings of the different symbols used in the wedding for a better understanding of the story.  The presence of Mary is very important in the story; John never mentioned her name in his gospel because for him Mary was the representation of the Church.  Jesus  addressing her as “woman” here would be repeated in the scene beneath the cross (Jn 19:26) which was in reference to the “woman” in Gen. 3:15.  Mary being aware of the need of wine brought it to the attention of Jesus who acted in obedience of her so that the first miracle of Jesus happened through Mary’s intercession.  It is said that Mary spoke only seven times in the gospels; “Do whatever he tells you” would be Her last recorded words.  That would be the most enduring message of Mary to all the disciples of Jesus.  The six stones jars which were used for purification represented the incomplete (the number six) and the hardened  (stone) Jewish rituals which were useless.  The water of the Old Testament used for ritual washings prescribed by the mosaic Law, now futile, was transformed into the wine of the New Testament.  The bridegroom of Cana, unable to provide enough wine in his own wedding, was  superseded by Jesus as the new bridegroom.  The quality and quantity of the new wine alluded to the preciousness and the abundance in the heavenly banquet of Jesus.

         The Wedding of Cana as a sign revealed Jesus in His divintiy as the new bridegroom of humanity and we as members of the Church are His bride.  Every time we celebrate the Eucharist we re-live the wedding of Cana and at the same we are given a foretaste of the heavenly banquet where God will manifest His glory. 

                         “The Banquet”

The door swings open and I behold a majestic hall

Crystals with most precious stones adorn the wall

Transparent as glass are the flowers in pure gold

Ground covered with sand made of pearls untold

Around the table are twelve chairs of agate, jasper,

Emerald, onyx, carnelian, yellow quarts, sapphire,

Beryl, topaz, turquoise, amethyst and chalcedony

The light in the inner chamber shining so brightly

Where all my friends are gathered clothed in white

Greeting me a hero’s welcome beyond all my delight

To my amazement, the banquet is prepared for me

It is my wedding to my Beloved Lamb in eternity.

(one of the poetographs in my book Emptiful) 

Friday, January 11, 2013




Luke 3:15-16.21-22

         During the Epiphany last Sunday, we reflected on the manifestation of the Lord to the nations represented by the magi and the shepherds.  On this Sunday of the Lord’s baptism, we see the “Trinitarian theophany” or the manifestation of the three persons of the Trinity in one single event: Jesus who was being baptized, the Father uttering His voice and the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove.  The Lord’s baptism happened before He embarked on His public ministry. The same “Trinitarian theophany” would occur again towards the end of the public ministry of Jesus in the Transfiguration.  Between these two theophanies was Jesus’ proclamation of God’s Kingdom through His words and works.

         After we have opened all our Christmas gifts, the Church reminds us that the greatest gift next to our life is our faith which is given to us in baptism.  In the liturgical calendar, after the Lord’s Baptism the Church enters the Ordinary Time.  After all the festivities of Christmas and New Year, we embrace once again the ordinariness of life in witnessing our faith.  During His baptism before His public ministry, Jesus was reminded by His Father of His identity: “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.”  As we enter into the simplicity of this season, we are also reminded of that profound reality namely our true identity  given to us when we were baptized as if the Father was saying to us personally “You are my beloved child, with you I am well pleased.” 

It was important to Jesus to accept His identity which would be the reservoir of His strength during His public ministry.  During His intimate moments with His Father in prayer, Jesus would go back again and again to that special moment when He heard His Father’s voice.  In fact He needed to hear the same voice again during the Transfiguration before He could carry on the most painful days of His earthly life.

During this ordinary season, like Jesus we carry in our hearts the Father’s voice so that whatever happens to us this year, we believe that the Father will always be there for us the way He was with Jesus all the time.  It means that we are ready to accept the different theophanies of God in our life.  We welcome Him as He manifests Himself to us in life or in death, in pain or in joy, in the sunshine or in the rain, in light or in darkness, in good times and in bad.  These are the many facets of life which reveal to us the many faces of God.   We just have to be ready to accept  His creative surprises in our life.

Our baptism is both a gift and a responsibility.  As a gift, we became children of God, we call Him our Father and we are heirs of the Kingdom; as a responsibility, we live a Christian life, a life which is patterned after His Son. 
I am God's beloved, that's who I am.  I live it, that's what I become!


Friday, January 4, 2013




Matthew 2:1-12

To listen (Australian Catholic Radio Online):

The three Persons of the Trinity from all eternity were giving the gift of their persons to one another in perfect charity.  We could say, that was the first “exchange gifts” ever.  The outpouring of that Trinitarian charity gave birth to creation which is the manifestation of the Trinitarian life.  God truly revealed His presence by walking in and through creation; St. Augustine calls it the “vestiges (or the imprints) of the Trinity”.  It was the first Epiphany of God.

When the Second Person of the Trinity became flesh, God once again manifest Himself by showing not just His imprints but His very face.  This time it was the outpouring of God’s mercy that He showed Himself again to save creation by becoming a creature Himself.  Through this Epiphany, Jesus showed that His was the face of mercy! 

God offered Himself as a gift.  How did people respond to such a magnificent gift?  The Israelites sneered and rejected the gift; they would not even give Him a room! Like the Israelites, Herod did not just reject the gift but he did all he could to destroy it. The magi who represented the Gentiles left their homes in search of “something greater than themselves”.  When they found the baby, they entered the house and from that very moment, the Messiah welcomed the first people into His Church.   The star guided them in their journey.  Those who honestly search for the meaning of life will always be guided by the disguised presence of God be it through the persons they meet on the way or through simple objects or even through insignificant events.  Some of the stars in our lives fade away in oblivion, we may even forget their names but they continuously shine brightly in our hearts.  The magi offered the baby their gifts; meeting God through the face of a little child is so powerful that it can melt the heart of the greediest person.   To those who truly encounter God can not but express their charity even to giving up their lives in the case of martyrs and saints.   After Christmas, it is more than the new year’s resolutions that we promise God but the continuous gifting of ourselves even out of our poverty.  The magi after encountering God took a different route on their way home.  It was a sign of true conversion.  It is hard but sometimes after worshipping God, we go back to the many Herods of our lives. 

The next persons who saw first the face of God were the shepherds because they were simple and pure of heart.  Like the magi, they were the first ones to proclaim the Word made flesh.  In the simplicity of their wisdom, they became the first prophets of the Incarnation.  Those who encounter God can not but become “evangelizers of the Word” not only by preaching but in the witnessing of their ordinary lives. 

But the very first receivers of God’s gift were Mary and Joseph; they were given the singular gift of gazing for the very first time the face of God because they had given their selves to God most generously.  One day, it would break Mary’s heart to see that face again covered with blood.   Mary would have to  give that gift to others as a supreme offering for to withhold the gift is to perish.  She teaches us that the excruciating pain in giving would lead to the supreme joy of receiving.  That is the true essence of a gift.

God continuously shows His face to the world, in the “here and now epiphany” through the people around us; when we look into their eyes we can see the true image of God.