Saturday, January 30, 2021
Friday, January 29, 2021
He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. —Mark 4:26-27 (NIV)
Today's Gospel tells us about the parable of the growing seed. According to verse 28, "All by itself the soil produces grain." This means that while the growth of God's Kingdom can be interrupted here and there, it cannot be stopped. Once sown, the seed's growth is certain and will continue until it is time to harvest. Because God's sovereign plan and purpose are always certain.
Moreover, like little seeds sown, God's Kingdom will not only grow, it will become large with big branches that provides shade for the birds. With certainty, the greatness of God's Kingdom and its purpose will be fulfilled.
The parable reminds us that the superior seeds of God's goodness had been sown by God into our hearts. His loving kindness is already planted and growing within us.
I never thought that I would be infected by the coronavirus. What I had read in the newspapers and seen on television, I have experienced myself. What I did without my knowledge had made a big impact on myself and those around me.
During the pandemic, this gospel reminds us that we should not underestimate the little seeds of kindness we have and those around us. For instance, observing health protocols can have a big effect on ourselves and for others.
Reflection on Mark 4:26-34 by Fr. Fransiskus M. Diaz, SVD
Thursday, January 28, 2021
For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. —1 Peter 3:17 (ESV)
This reading reminds me of one of my experiences six years ago after my first profession, when I was assigned to the boy’s orphanage in one of our ministries. For three years, I learned and experienced many things with the children.
We encountered each other by sharing our joys and happiness and even our sorrows. One thing that I always remember is that they were always grateful for everything that they had received, even small things, and that always made me happy.
One day, one of the high school boys came to me and shared his experiences in school. He was a nice boy and he was loved by many people. But this is also why he was always neglected by some of his friends in school. At the end of his sharing, he said, “it is really difficult being a good person.” When I reflected on this, I thought that everyone would agree.
Often, people in minorities experience injustice and intolerance in society, community groups, and in workplaces. They are often neglected, isolated, criticized, and whatever they do always rejected. Perhaps they will humanely rebel when treated unfairly, but they will choose to be silent because of their heavenly thoughts.
To be still and to yield does not mean to lose, but to gain power. Perhaps we have seen on television, we are often despised by certain groups because of our religion. They were greatly disturbed by the attitudes, actions, and behavior of God's good people. Self-righteousness will always be an individual burden, because rivalry and honor are often considered.
But we need not share the fear of those who insult us, but rather we should rejoice in suffering because of our hope in Christ. Through His suffering and death, Christ, the righteous one, saved the unrighteous from eternal death.
Just as Noah’s family was saved through the flood, baptismal bath is a public representation of a believer’s appeal to God for a clean conscience through personal faith in the resurrection of Jesus, which actually saves the believer. Through faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our sins has been forgiven by the grace of God and we have a new life in Christ.
Wednesday, January 27, 2021
Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. —1 Peter 3:11 (NLT)
My dear brothers and sisters,
We often face various difficulties, such as being humiliated, cursed, or even being target of crime. Our honor and reputation are often protected by the speed and sharpness of our tongues to answer those insults.
Apostle Peter however rejected the practice of insulting each other. He carried the slogan "When reviled, do not retaliate, but bless!"
Peter's advice given to people is not only when life is comfortable and safe, but especially when they are under pressure.
As a minority group without protection from the authorities, Peter’s congregation had no chance of winning in cursing contests or black campaigns. So, ignoring insults and replying with kindness is a wiser way.
Brothers and sisters, doing good, working for peace, and blessing even those who do evil are Christ's attitudes. These attitudes, which also inspired Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., became a powerful force towards transforming the lives of their people.
The teaching of not repaying evil is not just a beautiful ethic, but is based on God's strength and goodness. When we repay evil with goodness, we surrender to the goodness of God who listens to our pleas for help.
Even though life is full of injustice, we can hope in the strength and justice of God who will repay those who do evil. Trusting solely in God's justice and goodness is not easy, especially when facing pressures from the environment and local communities.
Nonetheless, God always provide us help and strength. Having fellow believers near us is part of the goodness that God provides in dealing with the difficult times we experience in our lives. Amen.
Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. —1 Peter 3:8 (NLT)
What do you feel if your family do not admit you as part of them?
You might be angry, upset, disappointed. This feeling is a humanemotion. It means that we expect to be part or admitted to one family. Furthermore, we, as a human being, need to be loved.
Love makes us full as humankind. When God created the world, He created everything out of His greatness and His love. God blew the spirit of love into man. We are shaped by God's love.
Fortunately, God created us different from each other. No one is exactly as same as the others. But despite our differences, we live in one world. This is a miracle.
God's love unites us as one family. However, there is no family without conflict because of unfaithful and distrust to God and others. Nevertheless, God's love, through the precious blood of Jesus, wraps sinners like a mother's womb who bears her child.
Let us thank God for allowing us to experience this beautiful life and to love each other beyond our differences in our strengths and weaknesses. God bless us.
Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty...You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. —1 Peter 3:3-4 (NLT)
The worldly lifestyle tends to measure and appreciate people on the surface. We are surrounded by advertisements promoting physical beauty so much, especially for women. That we are oftentimes prone to feel insecure for lacking those qualities. We either respect people who have more physical advantages or worse, we become jealous of them.
In terms of relationships, we do our best to adorn ourselves, hoping to have a special place in someone's heart. Even in a marriage—where a woman has secured her position as a chosen one over so many candidates to be a man's wife—the pressure to maintain physical beauty and outer appearance is still high.
The Scripture today says that our beauty should not come from outward adornment. I don't think that it means we should neglect taking care of our physical appearance. Beauty is a gift from God. We read about some godly women in the Bible such as Sara, Abigail and Rebekah who were renowned for their beauty.
So, what exactly is to concern here? Is it the 'elaborate hairstyle' that requires too much time and attention? Is it the 'gold jewelry or fine clothes' that show the amount of money we might spend unwisely for this purpose? I see it as where our hearts mostly incline to.
According to Apostle Peter, inward beauty is having a gentle and quiet spirit which will not fade and has a great worth in God's sight. It leads me to question myself. Does my presence bring peace to others or evoke anxieties? Do my words build people or hurt them? Do I control others for my own will? Do I pay attention or talk too much?
On the other hand, what is my priority in life? Do I seek for godly things or worldly ones? Do I have a real deep relationship with God and value it? Am I grateful for how unique and valuable I am in His sight? Do I trust Him more than anyone, even more than myself for my security—including physical appearance?
May we have a quiet spirit, an undisturbed one, rooted deeply in Christ, which enables us to serve others gently. Let's set it as our beauty goal. Amen.
Monday, January 25, 2021
You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. —John 15:16 (NLT)
From the first reading it is seen how the light of Jesus Christ penetrates the life of another disciple, creating one of the greatest Missionaries of all times. In John, Jesus bides his disciples to go out to the whole world to share the Good News.
He fills them with powers that proclaim that something great is happening! This is not just ordinary daily stuff. Do you realize what power is yours as you live and proclaim the Good News authentically? Maybe it isn't readily seen at the time you evangelize, but it is a seed sown that the Lord of the Harvest continues to nurture.
Good done, no matter how small, will be fruitful in the lives of those who are sincere and open to receive.
Whether the message is proclaimed within a family or a small circle of friends, or in a foreign country, it has its impact with our proclamation, our life and then our words!
Friday, January 22, 2021
Thursday, January 21, 2021
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” —Mark 2:27 (NLT)
But as time went by, I got used to the rules. I realized that sometimes because of regulatory pressure, I would be hypocritical to my formators and friends to keep the impression that I was orderly. At the same time, I sometimes look down on other friends. For instance, when I wake up in the morning to go to the chapel I choose to wake up a sleeping friend or (for fear of being late) I choose to be cool and indifferent to them.
So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath! —Mark 2:28 (NLT)
My brothers and sisters,
What would happen if the world were without rules? It will be chaotic. Therefore, humans need law in all aspects so that life becomes more orderly. But the problem that often occurs is that the rules are applied without mercy. The law of love is the supreme law of any order and was created for the common good.
On one event, on the Sabbath day, Jesus and His disciples were going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. But they got reproof from the Pharisees because it was not lawful to do so on the Sabbath.
However, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees who ignored love for people who suffered for the sake of the law. Jesus said the laws are made for humankind and not vice versa.
May God helps us to always realize the meaning of the law of love in everyday life and love each other. God bless us.
Monday, January 18, 2021
"Whom I love in the truth" (3 John 1:1).
The foundation of a good relationship is love and the truth. It happens that there is romantic love which finishes quickly because lovers do not know each other very well. Even the family can be broken if people do not want to accept the truth about themselves. There are so many cases which we know from our own life.
The third letter of John teaches us how to build a strong bond between people. He acknowledges that mutual love is the foundation of such a relation. But at the same time, he adds that prayer is necessary to support and understand each other. The beloved disciple of Jesus is aware that as human beings we consist of body and soul. For that reason, we are to pay attention and take care of the whole person. We also long for the truth. The truth is like water for the fish. We neither can exist nor live peacefully if we are surrounded by lies.
On the other side, if we live in the truth and love, we are happy and fulfilled with the Holy Spirit. The truth of Christ enables us to do good and help others, even though they are strangers to us. Furthermore, the community of believers becomes stronger when the members work together for the truth. It is not about being the wisest or holiest in the group or in the church. We are to imitate Jesus Christ, the Word of God, the Truth who comes from God. Because we are children of God who travel through the world towards the heavenly kingdom. Let us keep the truth and love of Christ in our hearts.
By Fr. Józef Trzebuniak, SVD.
Sunday, January 17, 2021
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!. —John 1:29 (NLT)
Saturday, January 16, 2021
Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. —1 John 2:15 (NLT)
Reflection on 1 John 2:12-17 by Ruth Francisco.
Thursday, January 14, 2021
Dear Friends, let us love one another. —1 John 4:7
Loving is simple and difficult at the same time. Simple because it is very natural and pleasant. Difficult because it takes time, effort, and patience.
Each of us learns to love throughout the whole life. We have so many stories of love in our memory. Love when we were teenagers. Human and divine love. Ups and downs. Smiles and tears of love. Pleasure and suffering. All these experiences are parts of our life.
We cannot give up but keep loving others because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God (1 Jn 4:7).
God's love is concrete. Therefore, our love should be the same. We also should show our brothers and sisters that we really love them. Obviously, it is not so easy. Because we need to forget about ourselves, about our own needs, and focus on the needs of others. We are to share our time and attention with others. We ought to love one another (1 Jn 4:11).
If we start to love even our enemies, we become winners. For the Lord Jesus lives in us and his love is complete in us (1 Jn 4:12). He showed us how to love everybody and especially those who are sinners.
As Christians, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit which enables us to behave like Jesus. We are witnesses of Christ living in the world. Through acts of love, we can also help other people experience God's love.
So let's be courageous and love one another with perfect and divine love. Let's love because Jesus Christ first loved us (1 Jn 4:19). Amen.
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. —1 John 4:1 (NLT)
Not every spirit comes from God even though the person who has it is together with us at church. A preacher once said that not everyone who sits inside the church is a follower of Christ, based on 1 John 2: 19.
The scripture today tells us to test every spirit, because many false prophets have gone into the world. It is very important to notice that it says about prophets.
According to Dictionary.com, a prophet is a person who speaks for God or to lead people of God by a divine inspiration. They are also known as teachers—religious leaders. This warning is very important, as these leaders will lead people, including us, to the right way or to the opposite destructive way.
But how do we determine if a teaching we receive is true or false? We read today that every spirit (or teaching) who denies the humanity of Christ (verse 2) or the truth about Christ (verse 3) is not from God. The true spirit will acknowledge that He was fully human—who was able to die, replacing the wrath of God on us—and fully God, as the Son of God, who has the same nature as the Father.
Denying any part of this truth means we are following the antichrist spirit. A person with an antichrist spirit refuses to worship our beloved Savior, hates Him, His unbelievable love and also His sacrifice to save the humankind. Indeed, because this deceitful spirit and demeanor come from the devil (John 8:42-44).
We thank God that He provides us with the guidance, like what we have in the book of 1 John and also a lot of other books in the Bible concerning the warning for false teachers and false teachings. It is real and we should not to ignore it.
Apostle Paul warned about this over and over. In Galatians 1:8-9, he said to anyone who preaches other gospel (the false one) let them be under God's curse! It is a very serious reproof. But we are from God, we have conquered this spirit because inside us is the Holy Spirit who is greater than any other spirits (verse 4). Praise God!
A Yiddish proverb says, "A half truth is a whole lie." Dear brothers and sisters, do we really love our Lord Jesus? Do we care enough when someone twists the true nature of our Savior?
It is different from what people from other religions do. This antichrist spirit is from inside the church. Do we pay attention carefully when someone teaches us about the Truth? Sometimes it is very subtle, not an obvious attack on the person of Jesus Christ, but it surely instills doubts inside us.
Let's be very careful on receiving any teachings. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen. —Ephesians 6:24 (NKJV).
Tuesday, January 12, 2021
Amazement gripped the audience, and they began to discuss what had happened. “What sort of new teaching is this?” they asked excitedly. “It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey his orders!” —Mark 1:27 (NLT)
My brothers and sisters,
The world is not only consisting of good spirits, but also unclean spirits. They respectively cause goodness and evil, which the Bible symbolizes as light and darkness.
Both kinds of spirits attract us. When we are weak, the unclean spirit can overpower us. But if we let the Holy Spirit reign upon us, the darkness cannot reign in us.
How could we avoid the unclean spirit? We cling on to Jesus Christ by praying because He is the Holy One of God. The more we pray, the more we feel God's peace. Otherwise, the more we separate from Jesus, the more we lose peacefulness. Unclean spirit brings us to bad things, such as violence, conflict, injustice, intolerance, and sickness.
Today's gospel shows us the man who was with unclean spirit. There was no peace inside himself. He was full of violence. But when he encountered Jesus and admitted that Jesus was The Holy One of God, he surrendered himself to the power of God that can release him from the devil. Our encounter with Jesus and openness to the power of God let God reign upon us.
Therefore, let us pray to God. May only God overpower us and keep away all that is evil. May by our unity with God, we get peacefulness in ourselves and our family. God bless us.
Reflection on Mark 1:21-28 by Fr. Aris Mada, SVD
Monday, January 11, 2021
Sunday, January 10, 2021
So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God. —1 John 3:10
Reflection on 1 John 3:1-10 by Fr. Risco Batbual, SVD
(Listen to the Podcast here)
Saturday, January 9, 2021
He must increase, but I must decrease. —John 3:30
In this world no human wants to be number two. Everyone wants to be number one, the best, the foremost, and the biggest. Starting from school, college and work, we are competing to be number one. Likewise in sports, business, politics, even in the church, people are racing to be in the forefront.
How can it be accepted, we who work hard but there are also those who benefit without working! We sow with tears while others reap. How can we who try so desperately, but others become big while we become small. As humans, we reject that!
But there is one incident in the Bible that may be strange for us and impossible for people today in the midst of competing to be first. This event is in John 3:22-30. John the Baptist was aware of his position before God. He realized that he was only a tool to prepare the way of Jesus and to lead people to come to Jesus.
What did John the Baptist sacrifice to raise Jesus? The answer is that he sacrificed everything. John the Baptist's ministry was a complete self-giving to God. Serving God is not a side job or part time for John the Baptist. Nor is it for leisure time. However, his entire career is in his ministry. He had given up and devoted his whole life to serving. Nowadays, the preachers often preach more about ourselves than about the Lord Jesus.
Dear brothers and sisters, isn't it right that one day God's name will become more famous and our names will be forgotten more and more by those we preach about the gospel?
Being smaller and smaller in order to make others bigger is a very big sacrifice. Shouldn't we everyday find ourselves thinking more about God than about ourselves. He must become greater and we must become smaller. He must increase and we must decrease!
Reflection on John 3:22-30 by Sandre Loreng, SVD
(Listen to the Podcast here)
Friday, January 8, 2021
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. —Luke 5:16 (NIV)
I often forget a few things. When I was about to leave I forgot to bring my motorbike key so I had to go up to my room on the second floor. When everything was ready I forgot that I hadn't put on a mask. Finally I had to go back to the room to get my mask. Besides these, there were incidents when I misplace things or forget where I put things even though I just put them down a while ago. I need time to remember.
Some experiences like these often make me feel annoyed and even think ... am I getting old? Often the urge to do this or do that is much stronger than the urge to pause and ponder. Such experiences make me realize that many things are lost or forgotten in my life because everything seems to be done instantly. How terrible life would be if everything just passed and meaningless.
The Lord Jesus in the Bible always takes His time for prayer and silence. He retired to solitary places and prayed. This is different from a leper who was healed who immediately proclaimed his joy to everyone. How about us? Can we take a moment to be quiet with God?
Reflection on Luke 5:12-16 by Fr. Fransiskus Diaz, SVD
Wednesday, January 6, 2021
But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. —1 John 2:5 (NLT)
The first part of today’s reading has readily assured me. We are asked not to sin, but if we do sin, we have Jesus who speaks to the Father in our defense. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
How assuring is that? That Jesus Himself will speak for me. What made me worthy of saving from my own sins, from my own faults? And in silent prayer, the answer came to me - Love. God’s love for me has assured me that there is no brokenness that He cannot fix, and that I will never be that lost that God cannot find me.
In my reflection, I even thought - maybe I can just sin, Jesus will save me anyway. But I immediately felt the combined nudge of Mama Mary and my guardian angel at this thought.
Life is beautiful when we strive to walk in the light, with how God designed us to be. We have the commandments to guide us. He has left us His Word in the holy scriptures to lead our way.
And today’s reading also impressed to me another point - that if we follow Jesus and declare Him to be our Lord, it has to be seen in the way we live our lives, and in the way we treat others. If we truly follow Jesus, it will show. Jesus shines in our lives if we truly have Him in our hearts.
This reminded me of one of the messages in the previous Feast of the Epiphany—that how the Magi changed course on their way home after they paid homage to Him in the manger. Nobody encounters Christ and lives to stay the same. A true encounter with Jesus changes us, and brings us to the light.
This is how I see the last few lines of today’s passages—anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Letting Jesus into our lives is letting the light in, and it will show. Jesus shines through the people whose lives He has touched.
May we truly love Jesus, and may this lead us to truly love others because Jesus has changed us. Let us live in the light that Jesus brings into our lives.
Reflection on 1 John 2:1-11 by Blessie Marie Sto Tomas
(Listen to the Podcast here)
Monday, January 4, 2021
God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. — 1 John 1:5 (NLT)
Fellowship with one another, as with God, is living according to the truth, as found in God and Christ.
Denial of the condition of sin is self-deception and contradicts divine revelation. Unlike God who is holy, we continually commit sin. We must acknowledge and repent for our sins. But the assurance of our salvation—forgiveness and deliverance from sin—is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
Reflection on 1 John 1:5-10 by Sr. Maria Venidora, SND
(Listen to the Podcast here)
Sunday, January 3, 2021
Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him. —Matthew 2:2 (NLT)
Feast of the LIGHT to the Gentiles
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As we join together from around the world around the Word of God, we can truly rejoice in God’s great manifestation of all peoples. He alone is truly the Light that enlightens this world!
People in the time of Christ, and before, knew there was something more! Isaiah prophesied, “See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the Lord shines.”
God’s revelation, God taking on our flesh and becoming one of us was that Light! The “wise,” the poor in spirit, were the ones who saw the Light! Scripture uses the term the “Magi from the east,” not the term “kings.” To be open to God’s manifestation, they were looking deeply, the searchers!
Today the darkness, the pandemic, surrounds the globe. We can ask ourselves, how am I searching and finding God in all the suffering? How can I be the “Light of Christ” today in the midst of this unexpected darkness? This is the challenge of 2021!
My prayer is with Isaiah, “upon you the Lord shines, and over you appear his glory.”
Many blessings on 2021!
Reflection on Matthew 2:1-2 by Sr. Mary Vivette, SND