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Thursday, April 23, 2015



John 10:11-18

       The fourth Sunday of Easter is the Good Shepherd Sunday.  The key to the understanding of Jesus as the Good Shepherd is found in the Old Testament.  From the very beginning, Israel lived in a pastoral civilization through their patriarchs.  This relationship between God and Israel was reflected in the metaphor of the relationship between the shepherd and his sheep: “He is our God and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides” (Ps. 95:7).  The shepherd is both a leader and companion, defending the flock from wild beasts and from robbers: Like a shepherd he feeds his flock, he gathers the lambs in his arms, carrying them carefully in his heart, leading them home” (Ps. 40:11).  God elected leaders and entrusted his flock to them as shepherds like Moses, Aaron.  David was the best example because he was a real shepherd before he was made the ruler and king of Israel.
       But because of their weaknesses and iniquities, these shepherds have been unfaithful so God promised that he himself will take the flock in his hands and will provide a shepherd according to his heart (Jer. 3:15).  There will only be one shepherd who was the new David: “I will appoint one shepherd to pasture them, my servant David; he will pasture them and be their shepherd” (Ez. 34:23). 

Jesus is the promised good shepherd; as the good shepherd, he lays down his life for the sheep.  Oftentimes it was group shepherding wherein shepherds would group themselves together most especially if the fold was huge enough for one shepherd.  At night time, during rest, they would form a square marked off by stone walls but there was only one gate for all the sheep to enter and to go out.  There was a gate keeper and the shepherds would take turns during the nightwatch.  Because of this, the fold was protected from thieves and wild animals.

Jesus also proclaims “I am the sheepgate.”  Only true shepherds will be allowed to enter and nobody can enter except through the gate.  The fold is the Church and the People of God are all the sheep inside the fold.  Jesus continues to guide and protect his people by appointing shepherds to take care of his flock.  Jesus is the gate for the sheep who calls and authorizes shepherds to ensure that the sheep are safe from wild animals because outside the fold the sheep are helpless.  These shepherds lead the sheep to green pastures and enough water.  We see this reality in the hierarchy of the Church wherein we call our shepherds as pastors led by the Pope, the bishops and the priests.  Since the bishops are the heads of the local church which we call the diocese, they have the fullness of the priesthood of Jesus.  They are shepherds of the diocese that is why they use a staff to symbolize the fullness of their office as pastors.  The parish priests share the shepherding of God’s people in the parishes.

When we come together most especially in the Eucharistic assembly, we manifest the reality of our relationship with God as our shepherd represented by the bishop or the priest.  Jesus continues to feed us his flock in the green pasture of the Eucharist where we eat his body and drink his blood.

Friday, April 10, 2015




       As we celebrate today the Divine Mercy Sunday, the Lord invites us to enter into the boundless mercy and compassion of God.  When Jesus died and was pierced through with a sword, blood (representing the Eucharist) and water (representing Baptism) flowed out from his breast.  The heart of God was opened to the world!  It was the moment when humanity was invited to enter into the Paschal Mystery of Christ. 

       To the world, the crucifixion of Jesus, who died as a criminal, was a total failure.  To Jesus’ disciples it was not just the death of their master but also the death of their hope for the messiah.  The Father’s abandonment to Jesus on the cross was also the abandonment of God to the cause that Jesus worked for.  To the disciples it was as if Jesus abandoned them like orphans.  But this feeling of abandonment was short-lived! It was in this most depressing situation that the Risen Christ appeared.  The first thing he said to them was “Peace be with you.”   The Lord took away their fears and gave them peace.  He had to show them the signs of His Passion: His wounded side and hands to ascertain that the Crucified Jesus was now the Glorified Christ!

        The Risen Christ did not just greet them and give them peace but empowered them as well with the gift of the Mission:  “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”  Suddenly the “losers” were now transformed into victors. With this empowerment, the apostles received the mission that the Church will have to carry through until the end of time.

      While the other apostles were shrouded with fear, Thomas on the other hand was full of doubt.   He refused to believe in the Risen Christ and he needed some empirical proofs that can be verified by the external senses: to see is to believe.  When he stretched out his hands to feel the fresh wounds of  the side of Christ, he uttered his irrevocable profession of faith; “My Lord and my God.”  Jesus proclaimed “You believe because you see me.  Blessed are those who believe although they have not seen.”

       Fear and doubt! These are the poisons that cripple those who live outside the resurrection.   Just like the apostles prior to the resurrection, our lives without our experience of the Risen Christ are surrounded by many forms of fear.   Human as we are, in our weakness we have all the reasons to be afraid of as we confront the uncertainties of life: poverty, tragedies, sickness, depression, failures, etc.   Like the apostles, we also cringe in the deepest recesses of our fears.  In moments of doubt when we are not certain to believe because of the seemingly absence of God:  when life seems but a series of suffering and pain; when we have nothing to hold on to; when there is no light at the end of the tunnel and when there is almost nothing left to hope for.... Christ appears to us and opens his heart so that we enter into the boundless love and mercy of God!

       The Church is at her best when she is totally poor, naked and abandoned because she, as the bride of Christ, best resembles her groom.  Like the Church, as disciples of Jesus, we become closest to God in our absolute nothingness because it is when we best resemble our Master.   In this experience of emptiness, Jesus gives us fullness of life.   This is what peace is all about: when our life is in harmony with God, with ourselves, with others and with the world. 

 Even today, the resurrection stories continues. The Risen Christ continues to show himself to the many doubting Tomases around us. The Risen Christ reveals Himself to us through a friend, a neighbor, a stranger.   In this way, the Easter journey continues through us….

Saturday, April 4, 2015



In the eyes of the world, the death of Jesus was the death of God; for the apostles, it was the death of their hope and salvation.  The Trinitarian drama of self-giving love did not end in the emptiness of death on Good Friday but rather rose to the fullness of life in Easter Sunday. 

The death of Jesus on the cross as the ultimate sacrifice offered to the Father was not in vain.  The Father accepted, sanctified and transformed that sacrifice into New Life by raising His Son from the dead through the Holy Spirit.  The Paschal Mystery was continuously unfolding: from the scandal of the cross to the emptiness of the tomb; from the total abandonment in hell to the explosion of the light and life!
The resurrection was both earthly and heavenly; in fact it was the event that connected heaven and earth as one.  As both earthly and eschatological  event that happened within and beyond human history, it grafted man’s story into the “history of God”.
There are only two aspects of our belief that distinguish Christianity from all other religions:  our belief in the Trinity and the cross.  We believe that the Paschal Mystery endured by Jesus in his passion, suffering and death was also the action of the Father in and through the Holy Spirit.  It was the manifestation in creation of the boundless love of God expressed in the pain and death of the Son.  For us the greatest unfolding of the Trinity is the cross:  the self-emptying of the Father in the abandonment of his Son; the unwavering obedience of the Son in giving back to the Father everything he received in gratitude; and presence of the Holy Spirit that connected the Father and the Son in their total forsakenness. Jesus on the cross represented the crucified Trinity!  Jesus hanging on the cross without earthly beauty and despised by the world as a useless criminal was the most beautiful image of God we can ever have!

Incarnation is the Father’s gifting of his Son to be part of and to save humanity; Easter is the Father’s ultimate gift of his crucified Son back to humanity in his transcended glory!  It is the total transformation of the all that is ugly and un-godly into something greater and beyond than we could ever thought of.  It transformed creation back to its “christic form” that includes every man and woman until the end of time. 

The beauty of the resurrection is not only seen in the glorious body of Christ but also in the wounds that never healed even after its transformation.  Those wounds in his hands, feet and breast which refused to heal are the silent witnesses of the passion of the crucified God.  They also remind us that the Paschal Mystery did not end even after the resurrection.  The Paschal Mystery as an eschatological event happens in the “Eternal Now”.  It never ends!  That is why we just don’t celebrate the death of Jesus nor his resurrection as historical events that happened within human history but rather in and through our paschal character, we enter into it as active participants by making it present in the “now of our lives” as witnesses.
The resurrection takes the centre stage in the mystery of our faith.  It gives us a reason to hope.  When we proclaim these resurrection stories, we just dont listen to them as simply stories but they invite us to enter into the mystery that shaped and transformed the early Church and the world and still transforming us today. 

We believe that we form a “continuum of the resurrection story”  of  an "Alleluia People making present the resurrection in our world which is continuously transforming our existence into the life of the Crucified and Risen Christ.