The Gospel today is full of mesianic teachings on sundry issues. We are informed at the beginning of the Gospel that John, Jesus’ most beloved disciple, came to Jesus to report that while carrying out their apostolic mandate, the apostles found someone driving out demons in Jesus’ name and they stopped him because he (the exorcist) was not one of the apostles. John might have expected to be applauded by Jesus for ensuring a purist integrity of the apostolic college, but Jesus asked him not to prevent the man. The jealousy and intolerance exhibited by the apostles mirrors the attitude of Joshua, son of Nun, the designated successor of Moses. Joshua asked Moses to prevent Eldad and Medad from prophesying in the camp after failing to show up at the tent where the Holy Spirit rested on the seventy elders when Moses met with them. Their names were on the list of appointed elders, but for whatever reason, they did not make it to the tent, yet received the Holy Spirit and so prophesied in the camp, an indication that they were also enabled by God. Moses responded by rebuking the jealousy in Joshua and by affirming the universality of God’s Holy Spirit. Jesus’ response to John was consistent with the views of Moses.READ MORE
The apostles of Jesus were very interesting characters. They were from various backgrounds and had different occupations prior to their call to become part of Jesus’ inner circle. Some were fishermen, some tax collectors, some zealots and the like; none of them had a refined scholarly background. Jesus called and chose them to be His closest companions and collaborators. For about three years, they lived with Him and learned at His feet. Jesus had a style of teaching the people in parables, but He cultivated the habit of interpreting and explaining these parables and metaphors with His apostles. He would later discard parables and speak “plainly” to them after Peter’s confession. According to St. Mark, the first thing He revealed to them was the imminent events of His Passion, death and resurrection. The reaction of the apostles to this teaching was unfortunately selfish and disappointingly insensitive. Imagine their Lord talking about leaving them through scandalous death on the cross and all the apostles could think was to argue who among them was the greatest and most likely to replace Jesus. By doing this, the apostles proved to be no different from the “wicked” whom the first reading tells us planned evil against the “just one” for daring to reproach them on account of their transgressions. The “wicked” sinned through vicious connivance, the apostles erred by neglect and insensitivity. Although they had no physical or emotional help to off er the Divine Redeemer, they could have at least shared a sober silence to transmit a solemn understanding of the Lord’s mood at the very least.READ MORE
Towards the end of His mission on earth, Jesus saw the need to begin speaking “openly” or “plainly” to His disciples and no longer with the use of parables and metaphors. To be able to do this well, the Divine Redeemer decided to assess His apostle’s’ understanding of his person and mission. He asked them two questions. The first was: “Who do people say I am?” The apostles gave various answers. Some told Him that people thought He was John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets. Having gathered public opinion about Himself, Jesus asked the apostles, “But who do you say I am?” This time, only Simon Peter replied. Mark reports in today’s gospel that Peter answered, “You are the Christ.”READ MORE
In today’s first reading, the prophet Isaiah preaches a message of hope to a despairing Israel facing a period of national misfortune. Israel, in Isaiah’s time, was being tossed from Assyrian domination to Babylonian captivity and exile. There were also various physical limitations and gross lack that made life quite difficult. The temptation to give up was palpable. It was at this time that the prophet Isaiah preached the imminent arrival of God who would redeem, rehabilitate and restore Israel to her pre-exile enviable state. The despairing exiles are urged to be strong and to fear not, for God is here to open the eyes of the blind, open the ears of the deaf, vindicate and save Israel. This prophecy speaks to the present situation of many in our world. There are too many people suffering with physical and spiritual privations. Despair for such brethren can seem a veritable option, but God is not just on the way; He is here to save and restore us if we let Him.READ MORE
In today’s world, as was in ancient times, nations are said to be great if they have a powerful military, strong economy, achieve significant scientific and business feats, and possess international diplomatic integrity. Israel had left Egypt and, after forty years of desert wandering, was about to enter Canaan, the promised Land. Moses, their leader, wanted them to have a unique national identity and so he invented a new standard of measuring national greatness. According to him, Israel was to be a nation of God’s people and they would achieve that by observing God’s statutes. They would be acknowledged as great in wisdom and understanding, not because of their military might or economic strength, but because of their diligent observance of God’s just statutes.READ MORE
Beloved people of God.
After the people of Israel possessed the promised land, Joshua, an old man approaching his earthly end, gathered Israel together for one final address. Part of this address is what we have as our first reading today. In it, Joshua reminds the nation about the good deeds of the Lord towards them, encouraging them to always remember. He concludes his emotional speech by placing before them two options: choose to serve Yahweh and live, or choose to be like the surrounding nations by worshiping their gods and face the consequences. To set an example, Joshua went ahead to make a choice for himself and his family. “.......as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24: 15). The people naturally followed their leader and chose to serve only God in gratitude for his benevolence towards them. Like Israel, we are presented with options and expected to make a choice: choose to love and serve God who has loved us first, or create and acknowledge any god we want living by the standard of the world and in slavery to the desires of the flesh. The options are clear, the choice is completely ours to make but whatever choice we make comes with great responsibility and consequence.READ MORE
Brethren, Catholic doctrine has four Marian Dogmas namely: Theotokos (Mary, the Mother of God), the Immaculate Conception, the perpetual virginity of Mary, and the Assumption. Today we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven. The doctrine was defined by Pope Pius XII in the year 1950 in his apostolic constitution munificentissimus Deus. The Pope proclaimed in this document that Mary, the Mother of God, after completing her earthly life was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven. Mary, the “New Eve,’’ lived her entire life for Christ and his Church and so attained the final bodily resurrection promised to all Christians through her assumption into heaven.READ MORE
We live in a society where many people crave longevity, but at the same time, are afraid of any sign of old age. We are bombarded each day with advertisements about how to lose weight and achieve the so-called ideal body shape; many people put so much eff ort into new forms of diet and exercise to stay healthy and strong, or spend large amounts of money on plastic surgery and anti-aging products in an attempt to remain looking youthful. Many scientists are embarking on advanced research to fi nd diet formulas and genetic modifications that will enable people to live up to 200 years or more. While all these may appear as vanity, they seem to me more like a demonstration of our inner longing as humans for eternal life. No matter the scientific advancement and human achievement, we cannot attain eternal life by human eff ort alone. Only God can give us eternal life.READ MORE
Beginning last Sunday through the last Sunday of this month, the Gospel is centered on the theme of “Bread of Life.” Last Sunday we heard Jesus feed 5,000 people from five loaves and two fish. This particular miracle drew special attention from the people more than all other miracles He performed throughout His ministry on earth. We are told that many people were looking for him and asking him to repeat the loaves and fishes miracle. The multiplication of loaves in the Gospel reminded the people about the event in today’s first Reading when God rained down bread/mana from the sky daily. The people saw Jesus as the new Moses so they wanted him to repeat the miracle daily for them like Moses. Jesus understood the deepest desires of the people even more than themselves. He told them He would give them the Bread of Life so those who eat it will never hunger again. This promise was fulfilled in the institution of the Eucharist.READ MORE
The stories in our First Reading and the Gospel today are very similar: The people were very far away from their town and hungry. One person had a loaf of bread but there were too many people to feed. Then Jesus blessed the loaves and multiplied them for everybody to eat. These Scripture readings invite us to pay attention and do something about, the reality that many people, particularly children, are malnourished or die of hunger globally. In a world where we produce enough food to feed everyone, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that over 811 million people (10% of global population) were undernourished in 2020. This is an alarming increase of world hunger from previous years, much of it related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.READ MORE
The theme of Liturgy over the past three weeks has been centered on different types of leadership and responsibilities in the Church. Two weekends ago, we reflected on the roles of prophets; last weekend we reflected on the roles of missionaries; and this weekend the theme of the Liturgy is centered on the roles of shepherd and religious leaders. It is not a coincidence that God chose most of the great leaders, the patriarchs in the Old Testament such as Abraham, Moses and David, from among the shepherds. In the New Testament, Jesus identifies himself as the Good Shepherd, “who is willing to lay down His life for His Sheep” (John 10:11). This explains why a priest in charge of a parish today is called Pastor, a Latin word for shepherd. Religious leaders as shepherds are called to model their lives after that of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd.READ MORE
In our first reading today, Amos told Amaziah that he is not a prophet but an ordinary man sent by God to preach the truth to the people. In other words, he considered himself as a lay person sent to preach the word of God. We often think of missionaries as priests and religious sisters who are sent to faraway countries. In a way, that is true. However, the 2nd Vatican Council document on the Missionary Life of the Church (Ad Gentes) states that “the Church is missionary by nature.” This means that we are all missionaries by virtue of our Baptism.
In our first reading today, Amos told Amaziah that he is not a prophet but an ordinary man sent by God to preach the truth to the people. In other words, he considered himself as a lay person sent to preach the word of God. We often think of missionaries as priests and religious sisters who are sent to faraway countries. In a way, that is true. However, the 2nd Vatican Council document on the Missionary Life of the Church (Ad Gentes) states that “the Church is missionary by nature.” This means that we are all missionaries by virtue of our Baptism.READ MORE