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LUKE 7:14-15 (Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 7:11-17)

Jakarta, 13 September 2022

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LUKE 6:22 (Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 6:20-26)

Jakarta, 7 September 2022

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MATTHEW 13:16-17 (Today’s Gospel Reading)

Jakarta, 26 July 2022 [Memoria of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary]

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MATTHEW 6:24 (Today’s Gospel Reading: Matthew 6:24-34)

Jakarta, 18 June 2022

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(A biblical reflection on THE HOLY TRINITY SUNDAY [Year C] – 12 June 2022)

Gospel Reading: John 16:12-15

First Reading: Proverbs 8:22-31; Psalms: Psalm 8:4-9; Second Reading: Romans 5:1-5

The Scripture Text

“I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that He will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:12-15 RSV)

The TRINITY is indeed a complex mystery. Who among us will ever be able to unravel the intricacies of a God who is both One and yet three divine Persons? And Yet the Trinity is the central tenet of our faith. Our very existence is bound up with this mysterious, triune God. So here’s the greatest of all mysteries relating to the Trinity: How can anyone really experience a loving relationship with someone they can barely fathom?

It appears that even after living with Jesus for three whole years, the apostles weren’t in any better position than we are. At the Last Supper, after Jesus had told them that He was the way to the Father, Thomas said: “Lord, we do not know where You are going; how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). Then Philip chimed in: “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied” (John 14:8).

No matter how much they loved Jesus, the apostles ended up admitting: “We do not know what He means” (John 16:18). And isn’t that very encouraging? Like the apostles, we may know precious little about God and His nature and His ways, but our lack of understanding does not have to keep us from experiencing His love, grace, and power to our lives.

This is the very reason why Jesus promised us the Holy Spirit: so that He could bring us into the heart of the triune God (John 16:15). It is the Holy Spirit’s deepest desire to flood our hearts with the Father’s love and with the mercy and power of His risen Son. As we become caught up in this love, we cannot help but begin to understand God a little bit more. And that little bit of understanding moves us to want to become more like Him. May we never underestimate what God can do for those who love Him and seek Him!

Prayer: Almighty, eternal, just and merciful God, grant us in our misery that we may do for Your sake alone what we know you want us to do, and always want what pleases You; so that, cleansed and enlightened interiorly and fired with the ardour of the Holy Spirit, we may be able to follow in the footsteps of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and so make our way to You, Most High, by Your grace alone, You who live and reign in perfect Trinity and simple Unity, and are glorified, God all-powerful, for ever and ever. Amen. [St. Francis of Assisi]

Jakarta, 11 June 2022

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JOHN 16:26-27 (Today’s Gospel Reading: John16:23b-28)

Jakarta, 28 May 2022

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JOHN 10:27 (Today’s Gospel Reading: John 10:22-30)

Jakarta, 10 May 2022

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JOHN 21:14 (Today’s Gospel Reading: John 21:1-19)

Jakarta, 1 May 2022 [Third Sunday of Easter – Year C]

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(A biblical reflection on the 3rd Sunday of Lent [Year C] – March 20, 2022)

Gospel Reading: Luke 13:1-9 

First Reading: Exekiel 3:1-8,13-15; Psalms: Psalm 103:1-4,6-8,11; Second Reading: 1Corinthians 10:1-6,10-12

The Scripture Text

There were some present at that very time who told Him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And He answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? I tell you, No: but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

And He told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig it about it and put on manure. And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’” (Luke 13:1-9)

Today’s Gospel gives us two other examples of disasters that occurred in Christ’s lifetime. One of the incidents was the ruthless murder of some Galileans while they were in the middle of their Temple sacrifices. The victims were probably political agitators and this was Pilate’s way of silencing them.

The other incident was a construction accident which happened near the Temple during the building of a water aquaduct. Apparently it was a project hated by the Jews because Temple funds were stolen by Pilate to finance it.

These two incidents are brought up because the Jews presumed that those who were killed were being punished by God for their sins. But Jesus denies this. Instead, He asserts that what really destroys life is our unwillingness to repent and change our lives.

Jesus says, not once, but twice by way of emphasis: “Unless you repent, you will all perish as they did.” The repetition of this teaching is followed by a parable about a fig tree.

Usually it takes a fig tree three years to mature and bear fruit. If it is not producing fruit by that time, it likely never will and so it can be cut down. But this fig tree had already been given twice the allotted number of years it takes to produce fruit, for the owner of the vineyard had allowed three more years to pass in fruitless expectation.

And yet, the owner will give the fig tree still one more chance. His vinedressers will do even more than is necessary to help by hoeing and maturing it. All this on the grounds of a perhaps or a maybe.

This parable is a perennial one for us. Every Lent God gives us one more chance to produce more fruit in our lives. God is more than generous with the opportunities He gives us to reform our lives.

All of us have some areas that need changing: maybe we watch too much television, smoke too often or eat the wrong kind of food; perhaps we criticize too much, are too impatient or too demanding; maybe we waste too much time, neglect our work or avoid unpleasant tasks.

But if year after year our lives are fruitless in personal growth, sterile in prayer and empty of good works, then we are a barren fig tree. We can’t blame accidents or sickness or other people for our condition. We have to take responsibility for our own lives.

Even terminal cancer patients can cultivate the will to live productively with the time they have left. For example, before she/he died, a well known person can write a newspaper column to encourage other victims of cancer. Even amputees can take on new challenges. For example, the American Senator Ted Kennedy, Jr. relearned how to ski.

What destroys life in us then are not accidents or tragedies, but our unwillingness to accept difficulties and overcome them; to accept suffering and transform it. What makes our lives fruitless are not their circumstances or limitations, but our refusal to give it one more try and hoe our ground for one more year.

This Lent is a season of grace. It may be our last one as it was for the people who died since last Easter. Now is the time for us to reform our lives so that they will be more productive. Now is the time to make whatever changes are necessary so that our fig tree in the Lord’s vineyard will bear more fruit in personal growth, prayer and community service.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, without Your life in me I will dry up and die. Come and reign in me, I welcome You in my heart today, Come, Lord, and bear Your fruit through me. Amen.

Jakarta, 19 March 2022

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MARK 4:22 (Today’s Gospel Reading: Mark 4:21-25)

Jakarta, 27 January 2022

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