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Friday, November 27, 2015


1st Sunday of Advent – C
Luke 21: 25-28, 34-36

Theologians say that God is an event!  Because God is a trinity, he comes to us in a Trinitarian event!   He is totally transcendent and yet he reveals himself to us in a historical context hence God’s self-revelation is a historical event!  To say God is an event is not to depersonalize nor stripping him of the divine being but rather to see the dynamism of his being as he interacts with the world. 

As we open the new liturgical calendar this Sunday with the season of Advent, let us reflect on the word “coming” as found in the three readings this Sunday. First Reading: “See, the days are coming…” Second Reading: “…when our Lord Jesus Christ comes with all his saints. Gospel: “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and greater glory.”

The pervading spirit of Advent is the spirituality of waiting.  But what/who do we wait for? Why should we wait? We wait for a reality that is absent and is about to come.  Precisely Advent is a season of waiting because God is coming.  We wait for him not because he is absent but because in this season, we enter into a cosmic time where we re-live a past event and make it present.   Yes God has indeed come in the person of Jesus Christ!   This is the whole content of divine revelation!   God in the past being transcendent was distant but now in Jesus Christ has become immanent since he has come in the present. This is the mystery of the Incarnation which the season of Advent opens its door to for us to contemplate.

 We are still waiting for him because Jesus did not just come in the past and as if we are re-living his memory in remembrance.  He continuously comes because he is always in the present.  Theologically we say, he is not only begotten by the Father in eternity but continuous to be begotten in the “eternal now”.  And because this begetting finds its locus in the historical context, we also experience a continuous re-birthing in our waiting. Jesus lifted up the veil that concealed the face of God hence we enter into the truth (aletheia) of the revelation.  The apocalyptic images that we encounter in the readings signal the destruction of the old order to give way to the re-birthing of creation brought about by the coming of God.

Advent is here and it opens a sacred door that leads us to encounter God in his many surprises.   Because his coming shatters our image of the divine beyond our expectations, he invites to be always vigilant in the many ways of his self-revelation.  Sometimes he comes in pain, thick darkness and even  in death; he also comes in joy and in the ordinariness of life. 

Advent beckons us to embrace God in Jesus who continuous to come in the forgotten and dirty peripheries of life to bring the gifts of the Kingdom to the poorest of the poor.  It also invites us encounter him in the Eucharistic crib in celebrating his begetting and our re-birthing together.

Friday, November 20, 2015


John 18:33-37
       At the end of our life’s journey, Jesus will be our King. The celebration of the Christ the King signals the end of the liturgical calendar of the Church.   

      The gospel this Sunday brings us to the judgment drama between Jesus and Pontius Pilate in the Passion Narrative.   Pilate was the prefect of the Roman province of Judaea from 26-36 AD.  The Jewish religious leaders brought Jesus to Pilate because the Sanhedrin which was the equivalent of our Supreme Court did not have the power to sentence and execute political prisoners.  By bringing Jesus to Pilate, the religious leaders ensured that Jesus would be crucified through the hands of the Romans. 

     Pilate represented the Roman Empire who practically owned the whole world during that time.  Because he was a man of supreme authority, the life of Jesus depended  upon his judgment.  When Pilate asked Jesus if he was the King of Jews, Jesus did not respond in the affirmative, instead Jesus explained that his Kingdom is not of this world: “If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.  But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”  So when Pilate asked Jesus if he was a king, Jesus answered “You say I am a king.”  Now Pilate had spoken and had given the Roman confirmation that Jesus was indeed a king.  Jesus explain further “For this reason I was born and this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”  Because Pilate never understood a thing, in his utter ignorance he said “What is truth”.  True enough Pilate did not find any political fault  with Jesus and he wanted to free him.  He made Jesus sit down in a stone pavement called Gabbatha, a judgment seat because in John’s thought Jesus was the real judge of the world.  It was also Pilate who had the inscription INRI (Iesous Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum) which meant as a mockery that Jesus who was from Nazareth was the king of the Jews.  When the Jews saw it, they demanded that it be changed to “I am the King of the Jews”.  But Pilate insisted “What I have written, I have written” which means that Rome had indeed confirmed the kingship of Jesus.  John’s polyglot character of the inscription was made sure that it be understood by the languages of the Roman Empire being written in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. Jesus being raised on the cross which was his throne, was the height of paradox when he was finally exalted as the King of the Universe although in the eyes of the world he was a total failure.

         Jesus’ Kingdom is not of this world so it does not have an army, courts, palaces nor boundaries.  It does not have the riches and the power of an earthly kingdom because it is spiritual and eternal.  When we were baptized, we shared in the kingly office of Jesus. We also assumed our new identity: as heirs of his Kingdom.   Whenever we pray the Our Father, we always say “Your Kingdom come…”  Every time we witness to truth, justice, love, peace and when we celebrate our inner goodness as a human person, God’s Kingdom has indeed come and Jesus reigns in our hearts…..

Friday, November 13, 2015


Matthew 13:24-32

      We are now at the end of the liturgical calendar of the Church, hence almost at the end of Ordinary Time  in the liturgical season.  Next Sunday which is the last Sunday is the Solemnity of Christ the King.  This is the reason why the readings are taken from the apocalyptic literature which features about the destruction of the world to signal the end of time.  Jesus the universal King will reign at the end.  The symbols like cosmic catastrophes used in the apocalyptic literature should not be taken literally.  Vatican II calls them “signs of the times” that we need to read and interpret under the guidance of the Church. 
         In any form of giving birth, there is a breaking of the old to give way to something new.  Life in different forms experiences birthing all the time, a continuous flux of life-processes resulting in the advances of many life forms.  The natural calamities can be explained by the geological  movements of the earth resulting in the many changes of land formations or weather conditions. Man-made catastrophes are the result of our politics, greed, irresponsibility and improper use of our resources.  Either man-made or natural, the world around us is not just changing all the time but also will come to an end just like any other thing.  This inevitable reality should not frighten us but instead  inspire us to see our life moving forward unto our final destination.  We don’t dwell in fear about the end of the world but rather in hope!  Until we become a person of faith, our existence is just like a tourist who simply enjoys sightseeing and will never reach his destination.  As a pilgrim, being a member of the Pilgrim Church, Vatican II reminds us “…men and women are performing their activities in a way which appropriately benefits society.  They can justly consider that by their labor they are unfolding the Creator’s work….” (Gaudium et Spes #34).  Each one has a mission to fulfill, that’s why we are here.  Big or small, our contribution to the world is our own way of re-creating this world towards a better place not just for us and our loved ones but for generations yet to come.  Through the works of our hands, God continues to re-create creation until it finds its culmination in the birthing of the new heaven and a new earth.

       The person that I am today is the result of my own and collective effort of other people and so I have the responsibility to give back whatever good I have received in my lifetime to the world.   As  pilgrims we owe the world  every bit of  goodness before we reach the final destination of our pilgrimage….

Friday, November 6, 2015


Mark 12:38-44

       It is the nature of God to give!  When he gives, it is total because he gives everything of himself unconditionally.

    Two widows in the readings this Sunday showed us the true spirit of giving through their overwhelming generosity.  The widow of  Zarephath in the first reading was about to bake the last bread for her and her son when the prophet Elijah asked her to share it with him.  She obeyed the prophet and did not run out of flour and oil till the famine was over.  Another widow in the Gospel gave her last two coins in the temple and was praised by Jesus.  These two widows gave lavishly and unconditionally out of their poverty and are immortalized and celebrated in our liturgy as true witnesses of self-giving.

       Isn’t it normal to think first of ourselves and our security before others because of survival instinct?   Under normal circumstances, it is the way we preserve ourselves and has been the norm in the secular world: “Myself first before others!” The widow of Zarephath could have told Elijah “Why I should share with you our last bread when this is our last meal before we die?” The widow in the gospel could have just given one coin and kept the other one for herself.  Both of them had given out of their utter poverty everything they possessed.  In the eyes of the world this is sheer madness!  It even sounds almost a suicide!  But in the eyes of God, it is an offering more acceptable than all the riches given out of surplus.

        God the Father showed us what total giving is when he made himself destitute by sharing everything of his God-head to his Son. That is how the Son was begotten by the Father.  He does it again when he created each one of us his children.  God again shared everything of himself when he created the world.   Jesus gave the world more than what the widow had given when he offered himself in total self-giving on the cross.  This is why we say, giving belongs to the nature of God.

         Many of us give a part of ourselves in many forms of giving every minute of our lives for the sake of the people we love.  There are also those who, for their love of Jesus, give up their lives and career, leave their families and homeland and follow him.  Worth mentioning is the poustinik in the Russian Orthodox tradition who  sells everything he/she owns, gives the money to the poor, becomes a beggar and dedicates his/her entire life to God in prayer and solitude.

       It is through these people that God truly incarnates himself once again in the spirit of loving and total self-giving.  When we give, love becomes charity and where there is charity God shines!

 You give but little when you give your possessions.  It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.

There are those who give little of the much which they have  and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.

And there are those who have little and give it all.  These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.

And is there ought you would withhold? All you have shall some day be given; Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors’.

You often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.” The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.  They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.”

                              Kahlil Gibran “The Prophet”