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Archive for the ‘Feast/Solemnities’ Category

Mk 14:12-16, 22-26 – The Lord’s Supper
Solemnity of Body and Blood of Christ
Sunday Gospel Reflection

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Corpus Christi. “Corpus Christi” are two Latin words for “Body of Christ.” This great feast is in honor of the Real Presence of the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of Jesus Christ in the Eucharistic species of bread and wine.

St. Bonaventure reminds us of its meritorious effect when we celebrate and explicitly confess our belief on the Eucharist: “There is no difficulty about Christ’s presence in the Eucharist as in a sign, but that He is truly present in the Eucharist as He is in heaven, this is most difficult. Therefore to believe this is especially meritorious.”[ 7. In. IV Sent. Dist. X. P. I Art. Un. Qu. I, Oper. Omn. Tom. IV Ad Claras Acquas 1889, p. 217]

As we celebrate this Solemnity of the Corpus Christi we are reminded of the following:

First, the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday and Holy Days of Obligations. This is the first of the precepts of the Church in which every Catholic ought to fulfill to the least to be considered practicing Christian. The first precept (“You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation”) requires the faithful to participate in the Eucharistic celebration when the Christian community gathers on the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord” (Cf. CIC, cann. 1246-1248; CCEO, can. 881 par.1, par. 2, and 4).

In the Philippines the holy days of obligations are: Christmas Day (December 25), Motherhood of Mary (January 1), and Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (December 8).

Essentially connected to this obligation is our active, full and conscious participation in the celebration of Eucharist. When we are absent-minded or our focus is disintegrated our participation is questionable. When we do not know what we say and what we do during the mass our participation is not conscious. When we do not participate in all the responses and community singing during Mass our participation is not active and full. When we go to the Church for reasons other than to take part in the celebration of the Mass then our motivation and participation are questionable.

Second, to receive the sacred body and blood of Jesus Christ every time we attend Mass or at least once a year especially during Easter. This is also one of the precepts of the Church. “The Mass is a sacred banquet of communion with the Lord’s body and blood. And it is because of this that even the Eucharistic sacrifice is wholly directed toward intimate union of the faithful with Christ through communion. To receive communion is to receive Christ himself who has offered himself for us” (see cf. CCC 1382).

During the consecration where the bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, he invites and urges us to receive him in the sacrament of the Eucharist. “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you ( see Jn 6:53). “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him (Jn 6:57).

In the Eucharist “is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself our Pasch and the living bread which gives life to men through his flesh – that flesh which is given life and gives life through the Holy Spirit. Thus men are invited and led to offer themselves, their works and all creation with Christ …” (Presbyterorum ordinis, n. 5). For the bread of life to sustain life, it must be sought, approached, taken, broken, and eaten. Likewise Jesus must be invited into our lives if we are to enjoy the well being he brings.

Third, to receive worthily the sacred body and blood of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. St. Paul St. Paul urge us to examine our conscience before coming to confession to avoid the sin of sacrilege: ”Whoever, therefore, eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the body and blood of the Lord. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself” (1 Cor 11:27-29).

To respond to this invitation we must prepare ourselves by receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion when conscious of grave sin (cf. CCC 1385) by observing the fast required in the Church (cf. CIC, can. 919) and by bodily demeanor (gestures, clothing) that convey the respect, solemnity and joy of this moment when Christ becomes our guest.

Before so great a sacrament, let us echo humbly and with ardent faith the words of the Centurion:” Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul will be healed” (cf. Mt 8:8). And pray, that through Christ, the Mediator, we may be drawn day by day into ever more perfect union with God and with each other so that finally God may be all in all” (see cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 48).

Lk 24:35-48 – The Appearance to the Disciples in Jerusalem
Third Sunday of Easter
Sunday Gospel Reflection

The Church in her Catechism teaches: “The resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of the Christian faith in Christ, a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the First Christian community; handed as fundamental by Tradition; established by the document of the New Testament; and preached as an essential part of the Paschal mystery along with cross” (cf. CCC 638).

Simply explained, the resurrection of Jesus is so central to our Christian faith because if Christ did not rise from the death our faith is worthless, our teachings and preaching are useless (see 1 Cor 15:17). The resurrection of Jesus is also so central to the salvation we strive, hope and pray for because we are saved not only when we confess with our lips that Jesus is Lord but also when we believe in our hearts that Jesus who suffered and died on the Cross rose on the third day (see Rm 10:9). If Christ did not rise from the dead, then, salvation is not possible. Lastly the resurrection of Jesus is also so central to the building up, spreading of and the continuation of the Church established by Christ here on earth. If Christ did not rise from the dead there would be no more disciples left now. There would be no more Church now.

The resurrection of Jesus is so relevant and meaningful to our Christian faith, salvation and the building up, spreading of and the continuation of the Church but there are theories which had been made attempting to show that the resurrection of Jesus was a fraud or a  myth concocted by the disciples many years later.

One among them is the spiritual resurrection theory. This is the view that Christ’s resurrection was not a real physical resurrection. Proponents of this theory assert that Christ’s body remained in the grave and His real resurrection was spiritual in nature. It was only told this way to illustrate the truth of spiritual resurrection, that is, that Jesus resurrected only in the hearts and minds of the believers by virtue of faith.

How do we refute this? It is clearly wrong to assert that the dead body of Jesus remained in the tomb and like any other dead human body underwent the natural process of decomposition. Considering the biblical account, the physical body of Jesus did disappear from the tomb. If you still remember the first visit of Mary Magdalene early in the morning of Sunday, she only found an empty tomb. She though that somebody has stolen the body of Jesus.

When this was reported to Peter and John they immediately came to see the tomb of Jesus. They found the empty tomb and the undisturbed linen wrappings that covered the body of Jesus and also the soudavrion, the piece of cloth that had covered Jesus’ head, not lying with the other wrappings, but rolled up in one place by itself. But they never found the body of Jesus.

Basically the issue concerns the positioning of the graveclothes as seen by Peter and the other disciple when they entered the tomb. Some have sought to prove that when the disciples saw the graveclothes they were arranged just as they were when around the body, so that when the resurrection took place the resurrected body of Jesus passed through them without rearranging or disturbing them. In this case the reference to the soudavrion being rolled up does not refer to its being folded, but collapsed in the shape it had when wrapped around the head.

All that the condition of the graveclothes indicated was that the body of Jesus had not been stolen by thieves. Anyone who had come to remove the body (whether the authorities or anyone else) would not have bothered to unwrap it before carrying it off. And even if one could imagine that they had (perhaps in search of valuables such as rings or jewelry still worn by the corpse) they would certainly not have bothered to take time to roll up the facecloth and leave the other wrappings in an orderly fashion!

After Peter went ahead and entered the tomb, the Beloved Disciple, who had arrived there first, also entered. When he saw the graveclothes in the condition described in the previous verse, he saw and believed. What was it that the Beloved Disciple believed (since v. 7 describes what he saw)? the Evangelist intends us to understand that when the Beloved Disciple entered the tomb after Peter and saw the state of the graveclothes, he believed in the resurrection, i.e., that Jesus had risen from the dead.

If it was only a spiritual resurrection, then, what happened to the body? Did anyone discover and get custody of any of the remains of Jesus? History shows there was a body there and it disappeared. No one was able to produce the body nor disprove the resurrection.

By itself, the tradition of the “empty tomb” does not prove anything. But when linked to the Risen Christ’s appearances, it is confirmatory of the resurrection (cf. CCC 640). Indeed, the personal appearances of Christ following His resurrection are another overwhelming historical proof. The women and the disciples saw, heard, and even touched the Lord. In fact, 500 brethren saw him at one time (1 Cor. 15:6). Furthermore, the risen Lord even ate with them for two times as reported by the Gospel.

Today’s gospel narrative is about the appearance of Jesus to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. The two disciples who were on their way to Emmaus came from Jerusalem where Jesus was arrested, imprisoned, punished, crucified and died on the cross. There were filled with sorrow, pain, fear, despair and disillusionment over the death of Jesus whom they considered to be the promised Messiah who set them free from the dominion and oppression of the Roman Empire. It was at this moment of crisis when Jesus suddenly appeared and joined them as they journey towards Emmaus.

As they were on their way to Emmaus, Jesus explained to them that everything that had happened (passion, death and resurrection of Jesus)  in the life of Jesus is a fulfillment of biblical prophecies and in accordance with the Scriptures. Whey they reached the place, they invited Jesus to stay with them because it is nearly evening and the day is almost over. So Jesus went in to stay with them. There and then while he was with them at the table he took bread, broke it, and it gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.

The disciples hearts were burning inside when Jesus spoke to them on the road and their  eyes were only fully opened and recognized the Lord during the breaking of the bread. It was during the breaking of the bread that the disciples’ sadness, fear, despair and slowness of understanding are transformed into joyful, fearless and enthusiastic recommitment to  the person, life, works and mission of Jesus. Indeed, the Risen Christ is present and recognized  when the Scriptures is proclaimed , when the bread is broken.

The journey of the two disciples towards Emmaus is, at first, a journey of sorrow, pain, fear and despair. But when they recognized Jesus, the Risen Lord, through the breaking of word and the breaking of the bread the journey towards Emmaus is a journey of encountering, discovering and welcoming the risen Lord into their hearts in faith. It becomes a journey from sorrow to joy, from fear to courage, from ignorance to faith, from despair to hope.

Jesus had been with his disciples all the way, and they did not recognize Him. Isn’t this our life too. We fail to recognize how close the Lord is to us all the time. Maybe we don’t even recognize him in the breaking of the Bread, the Eucharist and in the breaking of the Word. Maybe we don’t even recognize him in the person of the priest and in the people around us especially the poor, the needy and the suffering. Maybe we don’t even recognize him in the Bread that we eat during communion and the Blessed Sacrament inside the Tabernacle.

Every time we celebrate the Eucharistic sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ which he entrusted to the Church to perpetuate his saving sacrifice on the cross and in order to apply the fruit of redemption to all men and women of all ages and of all nations, let us ask God to open our eyes so that we may be able to acknowledge him in the person of the priest, in the words being proclaimed, in the Eucharistic bread and wine especially during the elevation of the body and blood of Christ, communion, holy hour and Eucharistic adoration, and lastly, in our neighbor especially in the poor, the needy and the suffering.

Then let us also exert all our efforts to make our Eucharistic celebration active, conscious and full in order to make it meaningful and fruitful to the extent that we will be nourished, strengthened and empowered by the words of God and the Eucharist which is a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity,  a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet ‘in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us” (SC 47).

Feast of the Sto. Nino
Mk: 10:13-16

Today is the Feast of the Holy Infant Jesus popularly known in the Philippines as the Feast of Sto. Nino. As we celebrate this Feast we commemorate the mystery of the Incarnation when God humbled Himself, stripped Himself of divine glory and splendor, and became human being in all things except sin. Like any other human being he was conceived and born of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As a human child who was under the guidance, protection and care of Joseph and Mary he “grew in body, age, wisdom, grace and holiness before the eyes of God and man” (Lk 2:52).

As we celebrate the Feast of the Sto. Nino we are called and challenged:

  • To be humble like a little child. As Jesus warns: “Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled and he who humbles himself shall be exalted” (Lk 14:11). “Verily I say unto you, except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3). The greater you are, the more humble you should behave, then you will find favor with the Lord” (Sir 3:18). “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6; Proverbs 3:34).
  • To recognize, respect and protect the dignity and human rights inherent in every child, children and youth of today especially those who are threatened or victimized by hunger and malnutrition, sexual abuse, war, domestic violence, forced labor and various forms of manipulations and exploitations. Jesus, fearing that everybody will abuse them because “the basest men delight to trample upon the humble” (Mt 18:6), warns: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of God” (Mt 10:10-11). “Whosoever shall receive one of such little children in my name receives me, and whosoever receives me, receives not me, but him that sent me” (Mk 26-37; Mt 18:5).
  • To progress in wisdom and to grow daily in our faith and works of love. Every disciple is called to moral and spiritual maturity and perfection. Every follower is called to the fullness of Christian life and perfection of charity. Like Jesus may we advance not only in body and age but most importantly, in wisdom, grace and holiness.

To make our celebration more meaningful and fruitful, let us strive to be humble; cleanse ourselves of pride, arrogance and vanity; welcome, love and serve Jesus in the least, last and lowest in our society; and, lastly, imitate the children in their nothingness, lowliness and dependence before God.

Useful Articles:

Feast of the Infant Jesus
Mt: 18:1-5, 10

Robert Fulghum wrote in the KANSAS CITY TIMES, “Most of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school.

“These are the things I learned:

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody . . .
  • When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. “

This writer has captured part of what Jesus meant when he said, “Unless you become like little children, you won’t enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Source: Hugh Duncan

Sunday Gospel Reflection: Mk 1:7-11
Feast of the Lord’s Baptism

One time three pastors were discussing about bat infestation in their churches. “I got so mad,” said one, “I took a shotgun and fired at them. Some got killed but the majority are still up there.” “I tried pesticide spray,” said the second pastor, “but those damn bats gave birth to new ones.” “I haven’t had any more problems,” said the third pastor.”What did you do?” asked the interested two. “I simply baptized them,” he replied. “I haven’t seen them in church since!”

Indeed, like those bats, after baptism many Christians are never seen in church again. This is what the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines called “unchurched.” “Unchurched” has three categories:

First, the “nominal catholics.” These refer to the catholics in name only or the so-called KBL (Kasal, Binyag, Libing) Christians. Or, as one Bishop described it: Katolikong nakaalala lamang sa Dios tuwing panahon ng Kulog at kidlat, Baha at bagyo, Lahar at lindol. Or, as someone put it, Christians who come to church only three times in their whole lifetime – when they are “hatched, (in Baptsm) matched (in Marriage), dispatched (in Funeral Rite)” … to the cemetery or memorial garden.

Second, the “uninformed and unformed faithful.” These refer to that many baptized Catholic Christians who grow up grossly ignorant of religious instructions and their obligations as Christians and were not formed by Christian values and virtues.

Third, the”uninterested parishioners.” These refer to the majority of Christian parishioners who are indifferent, lukewarm and uninvolved to the mission and goals of the parish. In particular, uninterested to get involved with any program, project and activity of the parish.

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Jesus is baptized not because he is a sinner but because he wants to be in solidarity with us especially in our journey towards the Kingdom of God. That he is with us and is one of us. Furthermore, the baptism of Jesus is more of  a revelation of who he is and what his mission should be. As William Barclay writes: “So in the baptism there came to Jesus two certainties–the certainty that he was indeed the chosen One of God, and the certainty that the way in front of him was the way of the Cross.”

As we celebrate this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord we are reminded of the necessity of baptism in relation to our salvation and the mission entrusted to us when we were baptized in the Lord. Is baptism really necessary? Yes, because baptism is or calls us to:

B – bath of rebirth. Original and actual sins are washed away and the baptized becomes a new creation
A – anointing with the Holy Spirit. The baptized, like Jesus, is anointed as priest, prophet and king.
P – erfection of Charity and Fullness of Christian life when it is no longer I who lives in me but Christ.
T – otal dedication and commitment to live the truth of faith in every moment and aspect of life.
I – nterior repentance and conversion toward new life in Christ.
S – eal of salvation. The baptized is sealed with indelible character that he belongs to Christ and marked to be saved.
M – ission to bear fruits of good works, holiness and evangelization.

St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians reminds us that to glorify God is to be “in the church and in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3:21). Hence, faith and baptism are joined as preconditions of salvation (Mark 16:16). It is, therefore, fitting and praiseworthy to renew our baptismal promises to love God above all and to reject Satan and all his wickedness.

Useful Articles:

Feast of Epiphany
Mt: 2:1-12

The Feast of Epiphany that we are celebrating today is popularly known also as the Feast of Three Kings. The Germans were the ones who “coined”  and popularized this “Feast of Three Kings.”  Based on the German tradition it was assumed that there were “three kings” because of the presence of the three gifts, namely, gold, frankincense and myrrh which were very expensive during that time that only a King can afford to give it as a gift.

If we go back, however, to the biblical texts of the Gospel According To Matthew we will discover that there were no mention of the word “king.” There were no mention also of the word “three.”  What were being mentioned only was the term “magi” which literally means “wise men,” “learned men,” or “enlightened astrologers.” But they were not the “fortune tellers” or the “manghuhulas” that we have today.

What is something definite in the story is that there were wise men from the East who, under the guidance of the star, had searched and found the infant Jesus with Mary his mother. They knelt down and worshiped the new-born King, opened their gifts and offered him gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These gifts have symbolical significance to the divine identify and mission of Jesus. Gold symbolizes the kingship of Jesus. Frankincense symbolizes the divinity of Jesus. Myrrh symbolizes the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross that brought about our salvation.  Having warned not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.

What is epiphany? “Epiphany” means “manifestation” or “appearance” of God in the person or humanity of Jesus.  It is also a revealing scene and event when God was pleased to  disclose His identity, mission and plan of salvation not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles. Epiphany also means an illuminating discovery or realization that Jesus, indeed,  is the “Immanuel” the “God-with-us.”

What  are the significance or implications of Epiphany in relation with our sanctification and salvation?

First, epiphany tells us that in Jesus, God became visible and audible for us. Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God.  In him the fullness of divinity dwells (see Col 1:15). St. John the Evangelist rightly describes the mystery of Incarnation in his Prologue when he wrote: “In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God; And the Word was made flesh; and He dwelt among us” (see Jn 1:1-5, 9-14).  For John, however, Jesus is not only the “Word Made Flesh’ but also the “Love Made Flesh” when he declared: Through him we have seen and believe in the Love of God for us (1 Jn 4:16).

Second, epiphany tell us that the in Jesus God once again became accessible to us. In Jesus we have once again access to the Father. In Jesus we have once again access to the Father’s Kingdom. In Jesus we have once again access to the fullness of truth and grace that God alone can give. As Jesus himself declared: “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn 14:6).

Third, epiphany tells us the God wants all men and women to be saved and to come to the fulness of truth (1 Tim 2:3-4), that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (Jn 14:6). The kingdom of God is intended for all men and women of all generations. God does not want anyone to perish eternally in hell. Salvation, therefore, is inclusive not exclusive.

What are some of the challenges for all of us? Like the wise men let us keep on searching for the fulness of truth. Once we found the truth let us adhere to the truth. Like the wise men let us also acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Savior and do him homage.  Like the wise men let us also open our gifts and offered them to Jesus which is the greatest gift of God the Father to His people. Of course, not gold, not frankincense, not myrrh but our body, our self, our whole life.  As St Paul exhorted the first early Christians in Rome: “I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is the kind of spiritual worship God wants from  you” (Rm 12:1).


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