28 May 2016

I HAVE NOTHING MORE TO GIVE YOU

THE BODY AND BLOOD OF JESUS
genesis 14:18-20; 1 corinthians 11:23-26; luke 9:11b-17

in 1967, robert sténuit—the belgian underwater archaeologist—discovered the wreck of the spanish galleass, the girona, off the coast of ireland. among the many objects and treasures he recovered was a wedding ring. the top of the ring had a hand holding a heart; the band had these words etched on it: «no tengo mas que dar te» (i have nothing more to give you).

the same image and words could be used to describe today’s solemnity of the body and blood of JESUS. the solemnity (and every eucharist) is JESUS symbolically saying to us: «i have nothing more to give you.» 


there are three aspects to today’s celebration: self-gift, sacrifice and service. 
self-gift: today’s readings talk about giving. in the first reading, abram gives melchizedek a tenth of everything he has; in the gospel, JESUS challenges the apostles to «give the people something to eat»; in the second reading, paul describes JESUS’ total self-gift of his body and blood at the last supper.
sacrifice: at the last supper and in the eucharist, JESUS symbolically and sacramentally gave himself to his apostles. on calvary, he broke his body and shed his blood for his people. 
service: at the last supper, jesus did more than break bread and share the cup. he washed the feet of his disciples. in his gospel, st john does not describe the institution of the eucharist; he narrates JESUS’ washing of his disciples’ feet and his exhortation that they imitate this example of service. for john, the towel and basin are eucharistic symbols.

self-gift, sacrifice, service! this is what we celebrate; this is our challenge. 
am i willing to give myself for others? what are the «five loaves and two fish» i am called to share with others? 
how can i be body broken and blood shed for others? 
in what way will i serve and love others?

21 May 2016

THE TRINITY: A PRACTICAL MYSTERY

TRINITY SUNDAY
proverbs 8: 22-31; romans 5:1-5; john 16: 12-15

the philosopher immanuel kant wrote: «the doctrine of the trinity provides nothing, absolutely nothing of practical value, even if one claims to understand it.»
the doctrine of the trinity definitely surpasses our understanding; it is a mystery. however, kant got it wrong! the doctrine is a practical mystery with radical consequences for our life. 


there are at least two practical aspects of this mystery.
first: the FATHER, SON and SPIRIT are unique and distinct. to help us understand that uniqueness, GOD has revealed to us three separate functions that the three persons carry out—the FATHER creates; the SON reconciles and redeems; and the SPIRIT guides.
second: these unique persons live in communion; they form a community. today’s gospel text indicates the relationship they share: «the SPIRIT will guide you to all truth… he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. all that the FATHER has is mine.» an intimate and magnificent collaboration! the greek fathers use the word perichoresis to describe this loving communion of the trinity. the word may be defined as a «dancing together». 

created in the image and likeness of a trinitarian GOD, we have qualities similar to GOD! 
first, we are unique individuals; and we want to be accepted thus. 
second, we yearn to live in community/communion. we achieve this communion not by negating/denying differences, but by respecting and nurturing our diversity, and blending our differences.
third, like the FATHER, we are called to be productive/creative, and to contribute to the building up of our family, church, society and nation; like the SON, we are called to reconcile and to mend what is broken; like the SPIRIT, it is our task to dispel ignorance and to guide. 

how will i live out the «practical mystery» of the trinity in my life? will i respect myself and others as unique persons; form communion by blending differences; and be a creative, reconciling and guiding person?

14 May 2016

PICKED UP AND CARRIED BY «SOMEONE»

PENTECOST
acts 2:1-11; 1 corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13; john 20:19-23

in a major game, a football player’s performance exceeded the expectations of his team mates and coach. in the last five minutes of the game, with the score against his team, he scored two goals! he ran faster and dribbled better than he had ever done. in the locker room, his coach said: «i didn’t know you had it in you.» he replied: «i didn’t either! i was picked up and carried by something outside myself» (cf. george a. buttrick, «the interpreter’s bible» 9).


pentecost is when the apostles «were picked up and carried by someone outside themselves»; the HOLY SPIRIT empowered and transformed them! the SPIRIT 
- filled them with enthusiasm (which means «the GOD within»). armed with this power, they moved out of the upper room—where they had locked themselves—to proclaim the good news of the resurrection. 
- gave them the gifts they needed to proclaim the good news: belief in the truth, the courage to proclaim it, and the willingness/ability to reach out to people of other languages and persuasions.
- formed them into one community. 

today the SPIRIT empowers and transforms us. the SPIRIT 
- empowers us to proclaim that GOD is our FATHER, and that beyond the visible differences of language, culture and social status, we are one family.
- gives us the gifts and resources we need (cf. 1 corinthians 12:3b-7). this means that we ought to use our gifts to build up the church. further, each person is given different gifts. we need to believe and understand that the SPIRIT works differently in different people… and give space for that to happen.
- forms us into one family. 

will i let the SPIRIT pick me up and carry me... for the mission GOD has given me?

07 May 2016

CONTINUING THE WORK OF THE MASTER

THE ASCENSION 
acts 1:1-11; ephesians 1:17-23; luke 24:46-53
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/050816-ascension.cfm

the great italian composer giacomo puccini wrote his final opera «turandot» while stricken with cancer. when the cancer worsened, puccini said to his disciples: «if i don’t finish turandot, i want you to finish it for me.» after his death, his disciples studied the score carefully and completed the opera. 
in 1926, puccini’s favourite student—auturo toscaninni—directed the world premiere of «turandot» in milan’s la scala opera house. when the opera reached the point at which puccini was forced to put down his pen, toscaninni—with tears running down his face—stopped the music, put down his baton, turned to the audience and cried out: «thus far the master wrote, but he died.» there was silence throughout the opera house.
after a couple of minutes, toscaninni picked up the baton again, smiled through his tears and said: «but the disciples finished his work» (cf. brian cavanaugh, «more sower’s seeds: second planting»).


the story of «turandot» is very similar to the story of christianity! before JESUS could complete his work of establishing the kingdom on earth, he died. but he asked his disciples to continue his work. the solemnity of the ascension reminds us of this task that JESUS entrusted to the apostles and to us.

to complete our master’s opera, we—like puccini’s disciples—must understand the score: the life and ministry of JESUS, as it has been handed down to us through the scriptures. we need to read, understand and reflect on the scriptures. 

however, unlike puccini’s disciples, we are called to perform our master’s opera not occasionally, but to live it every day—each in her/his own way—in our families, work places, communities, churches, and society. 

again, unlike puccini’s disciples, we cannot say that we have finished his work, but only that we are continuing it as best we can. the master will finish it when he comes again. until that day, «the disciples continue his work»!