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Category Archives: BIBLICAL REFLECTIONS 2022

THE CANTICLE OF MARY

THE CANTICLE OF MARY

 (A biblical reflection on the Solemnity of THE ASSUMPTION OF THE VIRGIN MARY – Sunday, 14 August 2022)

Gospel Reading: Luke 1:39-56

First Reading: Revelation 11:19;12:1-6,10; Psalms: Psalm 45:10-12,16; Second Reading: 1Corinthians 15:20-26

The Scripture Text

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has regarded the low estate of His hand maiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm, He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent empty away. He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.”

And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home. (Luke 1:39-56 RSV)

Mary’s canticle – the Magnificat – is a prayer of faith, just as Mary herself is a model of faith and prayer for all of us. Elizabeth confirmed this when she was moved by the Holy Spirit to cry out, “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:45). Mary’s trust in God was ultimately fulfilled in the event we celebrate today, when she was taken up body and soul into heaven. Her assumption is the crowning event in the life of a humble, trusting, and prayerful woman.

The Magnificat – Mary’s hymn of praise in response to Elizabeth’s greeting – shows us some principles for our own prayer. Mary’s prayer is perhaps the most humble prayer recorded in scripture. In it, Mary acknowledged the truth about who God is and who she is before Him. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “humility is the foundation of prayer” (CCC, 2559). It certainly was the foundation of Mary’s canticle, as she confessed that God “Has regarded the low estate of His hand maiden …… for He who is mighty has done great things for me” (Luke 1:48,49).

Mary’s prayer is also one of great faith. She trusted in what God would do for her, and throughout her life remained confident of His mercy and kindness (Luke 1:50). She trusted that God would exalt the lowly of this world and that He would be faithful to all His promises (Luke 1:52-53,55). Mary’s canticle is a beautiful demonstration of the fact that we do not have to do great public deeds to please God, nor do we have to expound lengthily on deep theological issues. By following Mary’s example of loving the Lord, trusting Him, and walking humbly in His presence, we can all be pleasing to Him.

As we (you and I) come before the Lord each day in personal prayer, we must try to recall Mary’s example of humility and faith. With her, in the power of the Holy Spirit, we also will be able to declare that “God who is mighty has done great things for me; holy is His name.”

Prayer: Heavenly Father, You raised Your daughter Mary through her assumption into heaven. Help me to come before You in humility and loving trust, as she did. By the power of Your Holy Spirit, fill me with the depth of faith that Mary had. Amen.

Jakarta, 13 August 2022

A Christian Pilgrim

 
 

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THE LORD’S PRAYER

THE LORD’S PRAYER
 (A biblical reflection on the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time [Year C] – 24 July 2022) 
 
Gospel Reading: Luke 11:1-13
 
First Reading: Genesis 18:20-33; Psalms: Psalm 138:1-3,6-8; Second Reading: Colossians 2:12-14
 
The Scripture Text
He was praying in a certain place, and when He ceased, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And He said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread; and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive every one who is indebted to us; and lead us not into temptation.”
And He said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”  (Luke 11:1-13 RSV)
 
During Jesus’ life, one of His favorite spots for prayer was the Mount of Olives. On that site a Church has been erected called “Pater Noster Church” or simply “The Church of the Our Father.” In the arcade of the Church are thirty-two stone tablets upon which the words of the Our Father have been inscribed in thirty-two languages. It was possibly on the Mount of Olives that Jesus had been praying when His apostles came and asked Him to teach them how to pray.
 
The apostles were perhaps looking for a precise formula to us in prayer, but it was not Jesus’ intention to give them such. Rather, He wished to indicate to them the manner, the spirit, and the feeling they should have in prayer. The early Christians understood that it was the idea of the prayer that was important, and not the precise words.
 
The apostles were both surprised and amazed at Jesus’ answer. They were surprised at the brevity of the prayer. They had observed how Jesus Himself spent very long periods in private prayer. Naturally, they expected that He would possibly recite for them what He said in those extended periods of prayer. Also, at that time daily Jewish prayers were long and involved, comprising as many as eighteen benedictions. The apostles were amazed at the familiar term “Father” with which they were told to address God. It is true that the Jews thought of God as their Father; but in the entire Old Testament, God is referred to as a Father on only 14 (fourteen) occasions, and the Jews never dared to address Him as such in prayer. In the first reading today, we saw how careful even Abraham was in pleading with God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah. Though he was bold in his approach to God, he was cautious not to appear brazen or imprudent. Abraham did not use the term “Father” but only “Lord.” So, we (you and I) can imagine how the apostles must have felt when they were told that they were to be more familiar with God than even the great Abraham was!
 
Jesus used the Aramaic word “Abba” for “father”. The English word simply does not have the same connotation. “Abba” was the word a little child used in speaking to his father. It was a homey, family-word. “Dear Father” comes close to the meaning, but perhaps our word “Dad” or even “Daddy” is closer. Jesus meant to show us the childlike trust we should have in prayer, no matter how old or sophisticated we may be. No wonder Jesus had such concern for little children. Only they can teach us the complete trust we must have in God; the absolute reliance on Him; the tender, loving affection that should be ours.
 
The word, however, has more than a psychological implication. It expresses a great truth that God as our Father is the source of all our life, spiritual as well as physical. Saint Paul, in the second reading today, speaking of baptism, wrote, “And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, …” (Colossians 2:13). God indeed gave us new lives in company with Christ. In baptism, God truly became our Father. He gave us a share in the same life that His divine son possesses in fullness from all eternity. And so when we pray, God sees in us the person of Jesus, and He can say of us, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
 
Whenever we pray, especially at Mass, we should realize that we are not praying alone – that Jesus is living and praying within us and that it is He who makes our prayer so pleasing and so effective.
 
The Church has used the “Our Father” in the Mass for a very long time. Its use is recorded in Didache, a Christian book written before the year 1000, but it was probably used in the liturgy even before the gospels themselves were written. A very ancient custom places the “Our Father” at the beginning of the Communion rite. This use was no doubt inspired by the petition, “Give us this day our daily bread.” “Bread” is meant to include all of our necessities, but it signifies even more. Scripture scholars say that the word usually translated as “daily” really means “tomorrow”. We are saying “Give us tomorrow’s bread.” But the word “tomorrow” among the Jews did not mean merely the next day, but also the “Great Tomorrow”, the final consummation of God’s plan for salvation.
 
In a Christian sense, the petition is a prayer for that divine food, the bread of life. That will bring us to eternal life. That bread of life is the Eucharist. It is the divine food which nourishes and increases the life of Jesus within us. It is the great gift from our loving Father in heaven, a gift which on the “Great Tomorrow” will bring us to the fullness of our union with Jesus in heaven as true children of God our Father.
 
How fortunate we are that we can “pray with confidence to the Father in the words our Savior gave us.”
 
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I trust that You will do in me more than I can imagine as I take the Lord’s Prayer as the pattern of my prayer and my life. Amen.
 
Jakarta, 23 July 2022
 
A Christian Pilgrim
 
 

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MARY AND MARTHA OF BETHANY


MARY AND MARTHA OF BETHANY

(A biblical reflection on the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time [Year C] – 17 July  2022)

Gospel Reading: Luke 10:38-42
 
First Reading: Genesis 18:1-10; Psalms: Psalm 15:2-5; Second Reading: Colossians 1:24-28
 
The Scripture Text
Now as they went on their way, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha received Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.”(Luke 10:38-42 RSV)
 
The small valley-town of Bethany, where Martha, Mary and Lazarus lived, is located just over the mountain from Jerusalem. Today a large church occupies the site which tradition says was the original home of these three close friends of Jesus. Located about 500 feet up the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives is the tomb from which Lazarus was called forth, after he had died.
 
Our Gospel today tells of a casual visit Jesus made to His wrangling Bethany family. Exactly how or why He had developed such a close personal relationship with these three people, we are not told; but John tells us that “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus very much” (John 11:5).
 
This was not a typical family, since it consisted of two single women and a bachelor brother. Lazarus was possibly somewhat of a recluse, besides being sickly, and needed to be cared for by his two sisters – for in the various passages we never have one word from him. Mary appears to have been shy and introspective, while Martha was aggressive, outspoken and undoubtedly the one in charge of the household. In spite of their varied temperaments and peculiar personalities, they shared a mutual love for Jesus – although their common love for each other left some room for improvement.
 
Martha shows her complete ease in the presence of Jesus by her chiding remark about His sitting and talking to Mary, while she has to do all the work. In essence she subtly said: “What I am doing is more important than what you are saying.” Jesus, however, defended Mary’s right to sit and talk – and indirectly invited the energetic Martha to join them and leave the housework until later. The Lord no doubt smiled and shook His head gently as He spoke her name twice with the suggestion that she sit down and relax. There is a time to work and a time to visit – and now was the time to visit, as Mary was doing. He would not ask her to clean the house or prepare a snack.
 
Don’t we all get caught up to some degree in the Martha syndrome? We rush about, shouting at others, constantly on edge and filled with tension, doing all our “good works” with a lousy attitude. A change of pace is vitally important for all people. We are often asked, “What do you do?” Maybe the follow-up should be, “How well do you do it?” In all our activities and in everything we do, Jesus is close to us; He wants us to know His presence.
 
Setting aside some time each day for personal meditation can help us to work more effectively and purposefully. The moments we sit at the feet of Jesus are not “down time”, for being alone with the Lord in thought and prayer can melt away tensions. The more we look into His gentle face, the more we begin to smile – for then we realize that He is in charge and everything is not on our shoulders.
 
The primary point of the story is that the Lord visits those who love Him. God wants to visit us, to have a warm fellowship with us. The question is, how do we receive Him?
 
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank You, because You have given us the Holy Spirit to move us to recognize You and to enable us to open our hearts to You. We can also choose the better portion, and be attentive to You as we listen to Your dearly beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and serve others. Amen.
 
Jakarta, 16 July 2022
 
A Christian Pilgrim
 
 

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THE GOOD SAMARITAN

THE GOOD SAMARITAN

 (A biblical reflection on the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time [Year C] – 10 July 2022)

Gospel Reading: Luke 10:25-37

First Reading: Deuteronomy 30:10-14; Psalms: Psalm 69:14,17,30-31,33-34,36ab,37 or Psalm 19:8-11; Second Reading: Colossians 1:15-20

The Scripture Text

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” And He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And He said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.”

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed mercy on him” And Jesus to him, “Go and do likewise.”(Luke 10:25-37 RSV)

If the lawyer had heard very much of our Lord’s preaching, he had certainly missed the point. Apparently, the lawyer hoped that salvation could be achieved once and for all by doing some single thing. Jesus’ preaching had been an effort to overcome a naive legalistic approach to religious life. He emphasized that one’s whole life in every aspect had to be turned to God, that one’s attitude was more important than any single act. And so in the answer Jesus gave, derived indeed from the Old Testament, we hear an epitome of the spirit of the law that should color everything that one does: love God completely and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus’ point was that a person does prepare himself for eternal life by performing any single work, great or small, but that he does so by living his whole life in accord with the law of love.

The lawyer was not satisfied with the answer, which he seemed to consider as too general. He wanted to get down to specifics. He wanted a nice, net limit within which he would fulfil his obligations. His questions, “And who is my neighbour?” was petty, small. The answer in the parable demanded bigness, generosity.

The parable meant to say that everyone is our neighbor, not just the people we live with, not just the people we like, Jews and Samaritans hated each other. The lawyer was a Jew, and so he thought of Samaritans as heretics, traitors, worthless scum, incapable of doing any good at all. The fact that the Samaritan was the hero of the story, and not the Jew, gave a special bite to it as far as the lawyer was concerned. It was a story of the least likely person showing love to someone he was supposed to despise. The point was painfully clear: there are no limits as to whom the law of love must be applied. The teaching is easy to understand, but hard to put into practice.

Some people have commented that the good Samaritan in the parable represents Christ Himself. Whether that be correct or not, it is true that Jesus found the human race in bad shape, like a man beaten and lying on the roadside near death. He came to our rescue, and gave the supreme example of love, an example we are celebrating in the Mass today. That is the example we are all called to imitate.

Prayer: Jesus, You are my Lord and my Savior. I thank You for Your mercy and grace. Like the man who fell among robbers, I too was stripped and beaten up by sin, Satan, and the world. I was robbed of my dignity as a child of God and left for dead. No one could save me, not even my determination to do everything right. I was powerless. I am and will be forever grateful for such marvellous mercy and grace. Amen.

Jakarta, 9 July 2022

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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GLORY IN THE CROSS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST


GLORY IN THE CROSS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

(A biblical reflection on the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time [Year C] – 3 July 2022)

Second Reading: Galatians 6:14-18
 
First Reading: Isaiah 66:10-14; Psalms: Psalm 66:1-3a,4-7a,16,20; Gospel Reading: Luke 10:1-12,17-20 or Luke 10:1-9 [short version].
 
The Scripture Text
But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. Peace and mercy be upon all who walk by this rule, upon the Israel of God.
Henceforth let no man trouble me, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.(Galatians 6:14-18 RSV)
 
“… the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14)
 
Throughout his Christian life, Saint Paul sought to make Jesus’ victory on the cross his highest boast. For Paul, nothing else really mattered since nothing else could really save him. Paul came to understand that the sacrifice of Jesus’ life was the “source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9).
 
Paul saw “glory” in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ because he experienced the freedom it brought from sin and the power of evil in the world. So when he spoke of being “crucified to the world” (Galatians 6:14), Paul was not referring to the material world, which God created as good. For Paul, “the world” referred to the attitudes and behavior of people who were hostile to God and opposed to His truth. So, people whose lives are centered around materialism and consumerism – or those who do not see the wrong in racial discrimination, sexual exploitation, or abortion – all reveal the influence of “the world”, both on an individual and a corporate level.
 
In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote, “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). Origen [184/185-253/254] wrote, “Our mind is renewed by the practice of wisdom and reflection on the word of God and the spiritual understanding of His law. The more we read the Scriptures daily and the greater our understanding is, the more we are renewed always and every day.”  The Holy Spirit wants to give us insight that distinguishes light from darkness in the world around us. He wants to give us the courage to put to death whatever stands in opposition to His truth and will for our lives.
 
In the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ we can discover the love that conquers every fear, the power that overcomes every sin, and the hope that convinces us of our share in God’s own glory. Saint Rose of Lima [1586-1617] once said that “apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may go to heaven.” Therefore, let us ask the Lord to renew our faith in the transforming power of the cross.
 
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, I rejoice in the victory of Your cross and the freedom You have won for me. I give You glory for showing me the way to the peace, joy, and righteousness of Your Kingdom. Amen.
 
Jakarta, 2 July 2022
 
A Christian Pilgrim
 
 
 

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TODAY’S FEAST IS A CELEBRATION OF THE TRANSFORMED LIVES EXPERIENCED BY PETER AND PAUL

TODAY’S FEAST IS A CELEBRATION OF THE TRANSFORMED LIVES EXPERIENCED BY PETER AND PAUL

(A biblical reflection on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles – Wednesday, 29 June 2022)

First Reading: Acts 12:1-11

Psalms: Psalm 34:2-9, Second Reading: 2Timothy 4:6-8,17-18; Gospel Reading: Matthew 16:13-19

The Scripture Text

About that time Herod the king laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword; and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison; and behold, an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Wrap your mantle around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him; he did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first sand the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened to them of its own accord, and they went out and passed on through one street; and immediately the angel left him. And Peter came to himself, and said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent His angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”(Acts 12:1-11 RSV)

If someone were to ask you what difference Jesus’ death made, what would you say? That we can now be transformed into a new creation? That we can be filled with the character of Jesus Christ? Today’s feast is a celebration of this transformed life. Consider the following: Peter was changed from an impulsive and boastful fisherman into a compassionate shepherd and faithful servant. Paul was transformed from a dedicated but stiff-necked religious leader into an itinerant preacher consumed with proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. Both men worked miracles, confounded kings, and stirred thousands of hearts – all because they came in contact with Jesus Christ.

Are their experiences normal? Yes! Each of us can experience the same radical transformation that Peter and Paul knew. God may not call us to confront world leaders or to raise the dead, but the same basic experience that impelled their ministries is the inheritance of every child of God. Not only can we experience this transformation, we should expect it as a vital part of our heritage in Christ. Determination, courage, or talent did not change Peter and Paul. In fact, Scripture is quick to point out the weaknesses and faults of these two mighty apostles. No, their transformations hinged on Jesus.

God wants us to know that it was the Holy Spirit who changed these men. And this same Spirit can – and wants to – change us. God did not send His Son into the world to condemn us, but to save us (Jn 3:17). Jesus came to free us from all that binds us to sin and failure and to give us the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome sin and temptation. The Holy Spirit wants to teach us who Jesus is by making Him alive in our hearts and minds. The Holy Spirit wants to explain to us the mysteries of god so that we can grow in knowledge of the Gospel.

In every prayer time, at every Mass, in every encounter with another person, pursue Jesus. He wants to meet us even more than we want to meet Him! Through the power of the Holy Spirit, He can make us into His faithful servants, just as He did Peter and Paul.

Prayer: Heavenly father, You send the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ name to teach me and remind me of everything about Jesus. Today, may I rise up and claim my inheritance in Christ. Amen.

Jakarta, 28 June 2022

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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ON THE WAY TO JERUSALEM

ON THE WAY TO JERUSALEM

(A biblical reflection on the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time [Year C] – 26 June 2022)

Gospel Reading: Luke 9:51-62
 
First Reading: 1Kings 19;6,19-21; Psalms: Psalm 16:1-2,5-11; Second Reading: Galatians 5:1,13-18
 
The Scripture Text
When the days drew near for Him to be received up, He set His face to go to Jerusalem. And He sent messengers ahead of Him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for Him; but the people would not receive Him, because His face was set toward Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do You want us to bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village.
As they were going along the road, a man said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head.” To another He said, “Follow Me.” But He said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow You, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God.  (Luke 9:51-62 RSV)
 
The life of Jesus was a journey through this world until He finally returned to heaven. The good news for us is that heaven if the goal of our pilgrimage too. It is an end well worth the cost of single-minded dedication and detachment.
 
As Jesus’ mission on earth drew to a close, “He set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). In Jerusalem, which symbolizes the entirety of God’s plan, both old and new, Jesus accomplished the Father’s will by His death, resurrection, and ascension (Luke 9:31). As a result of Jesus’ obedience, the Holy Spirit was poured out and the Kingdom of God advanced throughout the world.
 
Jesus set His face toward Jerusalem, determined to fulfil His Father’s plan for Him. He turned His back on everything that would prevent Him from accomplishing God’s will. He had faith that the Father was His inheritance, His chosen portion and cup (Psalm 16:5). Therefore, He surrendered His life to His Father. Jesus knew that there was “fullness of joy” in the Father’s presence – that in His “right hand are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11).
 
Like Jesus, we too must set our faces toward Jerusalem. To glorify the Father as Jesus did means we also will undergo suffering and persecution as He did. We can take courage, however, because Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33) and in Him we too overcome. To be victorious in Christ, we are called to accept the Father’s will and follow Jesus without reservation.
 
Following Jesus requires that we surrender ourselves to Him and place our security in Him alone. Jesus relied only on the Father for His security and thus had “nowhere to lay His head” in this world (Luke 9:58). Like Jesus, we need to put aside everything and preach the Kingdom of God: “Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God” (Luke 9:60). Finally, we cannot look back to the past but need to look forward to the future. One who plows does not look back to see if his furrows are straight (Luke 9:62). With hope and expectation, we keep our eyes fixed on God, trusting in His sovereignty and having confidence that His plan will be fulfilled in us.
 
These proverbs are reflections on what is required to be a disciple of Christ. Jesus calls us not to “save” our lives, but to sacrifice them as well as all our worldly treasures for Him, just as He did for the Father. In so doing, we will find fullness of life and know that God is our inheritance.
 
Prayer: Heavenly Father, open our eyes to the majesty of our heavenly home. May this vision compel us forward as we seek Jesus, the pearl of great price. Jesus, we want to be with You forever! Amen.
 
Jakarta, 25 June 2022
 
A Christian Pilgrim
 
 

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THE BODY AND BLOOD OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

THE BODY AND BLOOD OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

(A biblical reflection on the Solemnity of THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST –  Sunday, 19 June 2022)

Gospel Reading: Luke 9:11-17

First Reading: Genesis 14:18-20; Psalms: Psalm 110:1-4, Second Reading: 1Corintihians 11:23-26

The Scripture Text

When the crowds learned it, they followed Him; and He welcomed them and spoke to them of the Kingdom of God, and cured those who had need of healing. Now the day began to wear away; and the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the crowd away, to go into the villages and country round about, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a lonely place.” But He said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish – unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. And He said to His disciples, “make them sit down in companies, about fifty each.” And they did so, and made them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fist he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were satisfied. And they took up what was left over, twelve baskets of broken pieces. (Luke 9:11-17 RSV)

Corpus Christi Sunday is a day when we celebrate Jesus’ goodness in feeding us through the Eucharist. In recounting the feeding of the 5,000 (at least), Luke tells how Jesus had intended to withdraw with His apostles for rest, but instead welcomed the throng that crowded around Him. Like a gentle shepherd, He tended to the sick, taught them about the Kingdom, and miraculously provided them with food. He ministered to them until everyone was satisfied (Luke 9:17).

As he wrote to the troubled church in Corinth, Saint Paul explained that Jesus is still able to care for his people: “As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1Corinthians 11:26). Every time we read the Scriptures, we can be refreshed. Every time we pray, we can be filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ sacrifice – which we recall at every Mass – still has the power to wash away our sins and fill us with divine life.

The bread and wine transformed into Jesus’ body and blood can truly sustain us as we approach His altar with humble hearts. At the same time, whenever we eat and drink, we also look for the day when Jesus will come again. Then, He Himself will feed us directly, no longer through word and sacrament. “… He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

In the Holy Mass, let us eat and drink of Jesus with grateful hearts. It is HE who feeds us. It is HE who can meet all our physical and spiritual needs. Let us look for the day when Jesus will be with us. As Christians, all of our hope is centered on it.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, in Your words, we find truth. In Your wounds, we find life. In Your precious blood, we find the power to draw near to You. In Your death, we find life. In Your resurrection, we find hope for eternal life. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Jakarta, 18 June 2022

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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JOHN 13:34-35 (Today’s Gospel Reading: John 13:31-33a,34-35)

Jakarta, 15 May 2022 [5th SUNDAY OF EASTER – YEAR C]

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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A NEW COMMANDMENT

A NEW COMMANDMENT

(A biblical reflection on THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER [YEAR C] – 15 May 2022)

Gospel Reading: John 13:31-35

First Reading: Acts 14:21-27; Psalms: Psalm 145:8-13; Second Reading: Revelation 21:1-5

The Scripture Text

When he (Judas) had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of man glorified, and in Him God is glorified; if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:31-35 RSV)

When Judas walked out of the supper, night had fallen. That night marked the end of the day of the historical life of Jesus in the flesh. But it would pass into the morning light of new day in the time of the glorified Lord. The night of transition from one era to the other had now begun. The gathering momentum of the process is suggested in the words “now”, “at once”, “a little while”. The idea of glorification is not easily understood. We may envision it as the shining forth of the divine splendor hidden in His enfleshed life. The wonder is that His rightful glory was so hidden under the clothing of human flesh.

John’s gospel is the story that the Word of God was made flesh and dwelt among us until the time of His return to the Father’s glory. Jesus – the Word of God – gave certain signs, especially seven miracles, which pointed to His unique relationship with the Father.

The first statement about His glory is in the prologue: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14).

Then in a comment on the miracle at the wedding in Cana he wrote: “This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him” (John 2:11). After working seven signs Jesus would reply to Philip’s request to see the Father: “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in Me? ……” (John 14:9-10). While the miracles were signs that indicated His divine glory, its fullness was hidden until after He had shed his coat of flesh in death. And then the divine glory would not be seen physically but only by the eyes of faith. John’s gospel leads up to the conclusion: “… these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).

The drama of Jesus’ death-glorification began when Judas went out leaving the room. The evangelist – John – anticipates the end of the drama by stating that the glorification had now begun.

Our seasonal remembrance of the drama extends over six weeks until the moment of return to the Father is finally celebrated on the Ascension Day. This extension to forty days expresses the full duration of our Christian pilgrimage. The seed of divine glory has been planted in us at baptism. But the process of growth until full flowering is as long as life itself. Forty days until the Ascension is the fullness of life. Until then we are His “little children”, called to grow in reflecting His glory by imitating His love.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, You have returned to the Father’s glory. Your divine light, like the sun, is too bright for our eyes to take. But the warmth of Your presence is here for us through the mutual love of Your disciples in the Christian community who follow Your commandment to “love one another just as You have loved us”. Thank You for Your continuing presence, dear Lord Jesus. Amen.

Jakarta, 14 May 2022 [Feast of Saint Matthias, Apostle]

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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