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Saturday, January 25, 2014


Matthew 4:12-23

         After being  rejected by his own people in Nazareth Jesus chose Galilee as his home base for the next three years of his life.   It was here where Jesus would embark his public ministry like a shining light to the people sitting in darkness.
      Jesus chose Galileans as his apostles because they were simple people who were more open to new ideas and adventure as compared to the people of other regions who were close-minded and lacking enthusiasm.  The first apostles he called were two sets of brothers Peter and Andrew, James and John.  But why fishermen?  Because they would soon be fishers of men. 
     The gospel is silent as to the reaction and emotions of the first apostles when  Jesus invited them follow him.   Surely they must had questions like what they were about to do, where they were going, what would happen to their families and many other concerns.   We did not hear any of them other than "at once they left their nets and followed him." The calling of Jesus was so powerful and irresistible that they left their nets which represented everything they had and followed him!          
      Can we provide Jesus a new Galilee to spark a new light once more among our people who are sitting in darkness?   Are we ready to listen to the Word speaking to us, inviting us to leave the nets of our security?   Are we ready to break our hearts to give way for an adventure of a lifetime even if it means leaving loved ones and giving up possible relationships?  Are we ready embrace the company of a new family who feel the same urge to do something extraordinary for the world.  Are we ready to be surprised with joy beyond all telling in the reward of giving oneself as a gift to humanity?
       Two thousand years after the calling of the first apostles, Jesus continues to call men and women to leave nets, boats and families to become fishers of men.   They are those who choose the narrow road less traveled by.  They are the living witness that anywhere can be a Galillee, that the Word continues to speak in the hearts of humanity so that those who are living in darkness can see light again and those in the shadow of  death  can embrace life once more.  
        Come and see....

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Mark 2:13-17
“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” was the cry of John the Baptist when he saw Jesus coming toward him.   When he was called the Lamb of God, John referred to Jesus as the perfect and ultimate sacrifice for sin.
          Let us take a look at the role of the lamb in the relationship of the Jews with God.  

1. The Passover lamb.  On the night of the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt, God commanded the people to slaughter lambs for two reasons: a) It was their last meal before they left Egypt.  In Exodus 12 where the Passover rituals were prescribed, God commanded that the lamb must be a year old male and without blemish. It should be slaughtered during the evening twilight, roasted whole without breaking its bones. b) Its blood was applied in the doorposts of every house to spare their first born males from death.
The Passover was the principal feast of the Israelites since the time of Moses until the present time.  It defines them as the People of  God.  As a meal, it is centered around the lamb which symbolizes their redemption from Egypt.  Because the Passover was the salvific event when they were saved as a people, they celebrate it once a year to commemorate that event.  
2. The lamb being sacrificed in the temple.   There were two lambs being sacrificed in the temple everyday, one in the morning and the other at the evening twilight.  Jesus died at the hour when the second lamb was being sacrificed in the temple.  Isaiah (11:19) and Jeremiah (53:7) prophesied that the Messiah would be like a lamb led to be slaughtered.  The Jews at that time were aware that the sufferings and sacrifice of the Messiah would provide redemption for Israel.

3. The Scapegoat. In Leviticus 16, God commanded the Israelites to celebrate the Day of Atonement.  In the rituals of that feast, there were two goats to be used as a sacrifice and as a scapegoat.  One will be slaughtered as an offering for the atonement of sin at the altar while the other one will be set free in the wilderness which will bear all the sins of the people.

When John saw the lambs being brought to the temple to be used as sacrificial offering, he pointed out to Jesus and said “Behold the Lamb of God”.  Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, we are being reminded of this great truth when we say “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world have mercy us, Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace.”
 Jesus is our Passover Lamb which we partake whenever we celebrate the Eucharist when we eat his body and drink his blood. He is also our scapegoat because he took away our sins and made us free.

Friday, January 10, 2014


Matthew 3:13-17

           Jesus' baptism by John was not connected with forgiveness of sins; its purpose was revelatory, that is, Jesus may be made known.
         When Jesus was baptized, the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him.  We have here two very powerful statements which will give us a better understanding of our own baptism:  1) “the heavens opened”.   In the Old Testament the heavens were shut right after the Fall of man which was symbolized by Adam and Eve being driven out from the Garden of Eden.  And now the heavens had been opened once again.  When we were baptized, the heavens were opened to welcome us unto the home of our Father.  Becoming a child of God after we were baptized, we become heirs of the Kingdom as St. Paul reminds us. 2) “the Spirit of God descending like a dove”.  The dove was used here as a symbol of new life.  In the Old Testament, after the flood during the time of Noah, the dove was a powerful symbol used by the author to symbolize new life.  The dove in the story of Jesus’ baptism points to the role of the Holy Spirit in our own baptism.  When we were baptized, we entered into a new life in the Spirit as St. Paul reminds us.
            In the Baptism of Jesus and later on during the Transfiguration, we encounter the concrete audible manifestation of the Father. Then the voice of the Father was heard “This is my Son, my Beloved; my favor rests on him.” The Father’s voice was the “Confirmation” of Jesus just like our own confirmation after we receive our baptism.
          But the voice of the Father was not just addressed to Jesus but also to all his children.  When we were baptized, God the Father claimed us as his children.  
After our baptism we entered into a Trinitarian life:  we live a life of the Spirit, we become bearers of Christ and children of God the Father.  This is why at the baptism of Jesus, the Trinity made manifest himself to the people to remind us of this beautiful truth: we are the children of God and we are his beloved!

Saturday, January 4, 2014


Matthew 2:1-12

      The word epiphany comes from the Greek word epiphaneia which means “divine manifestation” or in simple terms we say “revelation”.  At the epiphnay, humanity was able to see the face of God for the first time.   Jesus made himself manifest first to two groups of people namely the shepherds and the magi.  They were the first recipients of the divine manifestation: the shepherds who knew nothing and the magi who did not know everything.  Both were the first ones who saw the face of God made man.
      In popular piety we call the magi as the three kings and later tradition gave them their names: Melchior, Balthasar and Gaspar.  More than just historical personages, the three magi represented humanity searching for the fullness of life.   Each of them carried the longing of man to see the face of God and to encounter the Divine.  That was the goal of their journey: to encounter God!  In that journey, it was not just about the effort of man in the search but also the guidance of God in the symbolism of the star.   In the darkness of our own search, God always provides us with stars in many different forms that will eventually lead us to encounter Him.  The star may be a friend,  spouse,  parents or even strangers, and sometimes an experience.  Sometimes we are that star to other people so that through us, they are able to meet and encounter God?
          In their search, they encountered  King Herod who was the epitome of evil wanting to kill goodness.  As there are stars in our journey, there will always be people who will hinder us to encounter God.  If we look closer at the story in the gospel today, Herod was even making a ploy that he also wanted to encounter the Divine but his motive was to kill God.  That is why we have to be very careful how to handle the many Herods in our life.
          It is in obedience to the guidance of the star that the wise men were able to find the child.  If we only have to obey the many ways of God, He will lead us to find Him. When they found the child, they were overjoyed.  The joy of finding the child with Mary was a symbol of the reward of man’s search for meaning.  Jesus is the joy of our hearts.
          After they prostrated themselves and paid the child homage, they opened their gifts of gold for the king, frankincense for the priest and myrrh for the prophet who was about to die.  Why do we search for God?  Simply because we want something from Him.  Why do we pray to God?  Because we need Him.  With the three kings, it was different.  They searched God not because they needed something from Him but because they had something to give.  When we encounter God, we do not need anything from Him; we just have to give ourselves to Him without reserve.  Then that’s the time when we have everything and that was the experience of the joy of the three kings.
          After the encounter, they did not go back to Herod, instead they took a different route back home.  A true divine encounter ushers in a complete turn about from the old way of life to a life of truth and goodness.  We have to make a different route away from the evil one who wants to kill the God within us.  When we do this, we have the wisdom of the three wise men!
And why did the three wise men have to go back home?  Because their journey did not end in finding Jesus, but rather their journey continues in a life of witnessing to others who were not able to meet the Child Jesus in Bethlehem.  It is through us that other people will be able to see Jesus and encounter God when we share to them our experience of meeting Jesus in our own Bethlehem....