Category Archives: Gospel Readings

Reflections on gospel readings used in the Holy Mass

Living Out Values of Commandments – Feb. 16, 2014

 

Image Source
Image Source

 

Mt 5:20-22.27-28.
33-34.37

Continuing his “Sermon on
the Mount,” Jesus shows how
demanding the “New Law” can
be. Through a series of forceful
statements, he shows that real
holiness can be achieved only by
satisfying the greater demands
of the values enshrined in every
individual commandment.

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you, unless your righteousness
surpasses that of
the scribes and Pharisees, you
will not enter the kingdom of
heaven.
You have heard that it was
said to your ancestors, ‘You
shall not kill; and whoever kills
will be liable to judgment.’ But
I say to you, whoever is angry
with his brother will be liable
to judgment. You have heard
that it was said, ‘You shall not
commit adultery.’ But I say to
you, everyone who looks at a
woman with lust has already
committed adultery with her
in his heart.
Again you have heard that
it was said to your ancestors,
‘Do not take a false oath, but
make good to the Lord all that
you vow.’ But I say to you, do
not swear at all. Let your ‘Yes’
mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’
mean ‘No.’ Anything more is
from the evil one.”

Jesus tells us that he is not as concerned with the the outward manifestations of obedience to the commandments as He is with us doing what is asked of us willingly and without intent to conceal the truth. Our conscience serves as His voice that will guide us in determining what is right and wrong.

Following Jesus requires us to live out the real values of commandments beyond the mere contextual meaning provided by each. When we are commanded not to kill, we are reminded to also consider the everyday “killing” we do to others when we destroy their reputation with rumors or the hate in our hearts. Every act we do in following the commandments must be rooted to our love for God and others.

Salt of Earth and Light of World – Feb. 9, 2014

Image Source
Image Source

Gospel Mt 5:13-16

Soon after having proclaimed
the Beatitudes, Jesus
challenged his disciples to be
“salt of the earth” and “light of
the world.” Such is the mission
he assigns to us today.

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with
what can it be seasoned? It is
no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled
underfoot.
You are the light of the
world. A city set on a mountain
cannot be hidden. Nor do they
light a lamp and then put it
under a bushel basket; it is set
on a lampstand, where it gives
light to all in the house. Just so,
your light must shine before
others, that they may see your
good deeds and glorify your
heavenly Father.”

As we have accepted the truth that Jesus is the one source of light that we cannot do without, we are enjoined to become the salt of the earth and the light of the world ourselves. While actual salt preserves food, we as the salt of the earth should be instruments as well of preserving our faith. As a light of the world through living a life centered on Christ, we are able to offer illumination in the threat of darkness presented by sin.

Any one can do this in his or her own capacity, where location and time does not matter. This message is especially directed to the laity who have a very special role in spreading the word of God. Religiosity and spirituality need not be confined among priests and other religious workers. Every faithful is given that extraordinary chance to participate in the mission. To be the salt of earth and light of world is a challenge we must take.

Presentation of the Lord – Feb. 2, 2014

 

Image Source
Image Source

Gospel: Lk 2:22–32 (or 2:22–40)
When the day came for the purification according to the law of Moses, they brought the baby up to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God. And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the law of the Lord: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.
There lived in Jerusalem, at this time, a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel; and he had been assured, by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord. So, he was led into the temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law.
Simeon took the child in his arms, and blessed God, saying,
“Now, O Lord, you can dismiss your servant in peace,for you have fulfilled your word
and my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you display for all the people to see.
Here is the light you will reveal to the nations,and the glory of your people Israel.”

The Presentation of the Lord can be readily seen as one ordinary couple’s way of fulfilling one of just many religious duties of the faithful during that time. However, the event represents something deeper especially with the mention of how Simeon was able to detect something special in what seemed to be an ordinary child. The event is interpreted by the Catholic Church to signify the special appointment of Jesus as the “eldest” of all human beings and His offering as the one Savior of mankind from sin. The faithful are called upon to make their own presentation through a life inspired by the works and words of Jesus.

Simeon’s presence in this special event signifies what awaits those who truly believe and live by the word of God. Those who choose to emulate the ways of Christ through their own lives are the ones truly witnessing for Him. The Presentation of the Lord serves as an invitation to the faithful to be one in spreading light and unity as they go about their daily lives.

 

Choosing Disciples of Jesus – January 26, 2014

 

Image Source: flickr.com/photos/baggis
Image Source: flickr.com/photos/baggis

Gospel Mt 4:12-23

Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecies of old. But he also looks to the future. That is
why, from the very beginning of his apostolic life, he chooses some “special disciples” who will become his assistants and the foundation of the Church.

 When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and          Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled: “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death, light has arisen.” From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers: James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him. He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.

Source: wordandlife.org

God has a great plan for all of us. Jesus serves as the messenger and the executor of this plan but He wants us to be part of it and trusts us to be active participants in spreading the word of God. Although His first invitation was heard a long time ago in the Sea of Galilee to His first disciples, His invitation echoes through time up to now through all corners of the world. The invitation to serve is a continuing one and is especially meaningful today because this is the Year of the Laity. This confirms the fact that serving God is not only limited to priests and nuns but also extends to the lay people who have families and professions to consider. All of us can be disciples of Jesus if we acknowledge His call and participate in the services of the Church.

 

Santo Nino – January 19, 2014

Image Source: flickr.com/photos/verzo
Image Source: flickr.com/photos/verzo

 

Gospel Mt 18:1-5.10

From a simple question
about who ranks first in the
Kingdom of God, Jesus takes
the opportunity to teach us how
much he values children, and
how much we too should value
and love them.

At that time the disciples
approached Jesus and said,
“Who is the greatest in the
Kingdom of heaven?”
He called a child over,
placed it in their midst, and
said, “Amen, I say to you, unless
you turn and become like
children, you will not enter the
kingdom of heaven. Whoever
humbles himself like this child
is the greatest in the kingdom
of heaven. And whoever receives
one child such as this in
my name receives me.
Whoever causes one of
these little ones who believe in
me to sin, it would be better for
him to have a great millstone
hung around his neck and to
be drowned in the depths of the
sea.
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 my heavenly Father.”

Source: wordandlife.org

In the Philippines as well as other countries, the image of the Child Jesus, more popularly known as the Santo Nino is much revered. However, the faithful is reminded to go deeper and consider what the image represents. The Santo Nino is a representation of the innocence and the inherent good qualities that every child possesses.

When asked by his disciples as to who is considered to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus answered that it is those that are like children in their humility and trust in God. Jesus also reminds us to take care not to be the source of corruption of innocent children for to do so puts us in a situation where we are better off “with a millstone hung around our necks to be drowned in the depths of the sea”. These words underscores the gravity of leading children into sin. Children occupy a special place in God’s kingdom.

Baptism of Our Lord – January 12, 2014

Image Source: flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword
Image Source: flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword

 

Gospel Mt 3:13-17

The baptism of Jesus marks
the beginning of his public life.
As he enters the waters of the
Jordan River, he receives the
formal investiture as the long-awaited
Messiah/Servant on
whom the Father’s favor rests.

Jesus came from Galilee
to John at the Jordan to be
baptized by him. John tried to
prevent him, saying, “I need to
be baptized by you, and yet you
are coming to me?” Jesus said
to him in reply, “Allow it now,
for thus it is fitting for us to
fulfill all righteousness.” Then
John allowed him.
After Jesus was baptized,
he came up from the water
and behold, the heavens were
opened for him, and he saw
the Spirit of God descending
like a dove and coming upon
him. And a voice came from
the heavens, saying, “This is
my beloved Son, with whom I
am well pleased.”

 

Source: wordandlife.org

John the Baptist has been telling the people about the coming of the Messiah and the need to repent from sins. Many heeded his call and asked to be baptized by him. When Jesus Christ himself asked John to baptize Him, John was hesitant. Sinners came to him to cleanse themselves of their sins but here was Jesus, the Son of God, who is all good and pure, asking to be baptized as well.

John believed that it was Jesus who should be baptizing him. Jesus prevailed on him to do it because it was as it should be. When Jesus underwent baptism, it was to show his oneness with man, being a God who became man. The Baptism of Our Lord at Jordan River served as the formal introduction of Jesus by God the Father when the heavens opened up for the descent of the Holy Spirit.

Baptism to the faithful is a call for love and service as we do our part in Jesus Christ’s priestly, prophetic, and kingly mission.

Epiphany of Our Lord – January 5, 2014

Image Source: flickr.com/photos/chelmsfordblue
Image Source: flickr.com/photos/chelmsfordblue

Gospel Mt 2:1-12

The Magi are champions of
faith and perseverance in a good
enterprise. They are our models
in following the star of God’s
inspiration and the guidance
contained in His Word.

When Jesus was born in
Bethlehem of Judea, in the
days of King Herod, behold,
magi from the east arrived in
Jerusalem, saying, “Where is
the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising and
have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard
this, he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief
priests and the scribes of the
people, he inquired of them
where the Christ was to be
born. They said to him, “In
Bethlehem of Judea, for thus
it has been written through
the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem,
land of Judah, are by
no means least among the rulers
of Judah, since from you
shall come a ruler, who is to
shepherd my people Israel.’ ”
Then Herod called the
Magi secretly and ascertained
from them the time of the star’s
appearance. He sent them to
Bethlehem and said, “Go and
search diligently for the child.
When you have found him,
bring me word, that I too may
go and do him homage.”
After their audience with
the king, the Magi set out.
And behold, the star that they
had seen at its rising preceded
them, until it came and stopped
over the place where the child
was. The Magi were overjoyed
at seeing the star, and on entering
the house, they saw the
child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves
and did him homage. Then
they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold,
frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned
in a dream not to return to
Herod, they departed for their
country by another way.

 Source: wordandlife.org

The Epiphany of our Lord is most often associated with the search of The Three Magi or more popularly known to some as The Three Kings or the Three Wise Men for the child who has been prophesied to be the King of the Jews. These men were learned in science, specifically astrology while being of priestly descent from the East. They were asked by King Herod to look for the child in the guise of giving homage to him while in fact intending to kill him because of the prophesy.

The Three Magi were able to find the child Jesus through the guidance of a star after traveling for months. They paid homage to the child Jesus by presenting him with gifts: gold as king, incense as God, and myrrh as man. They did not come back to King Herod and instead traveled a different path.

This event is said to refer to the denial of Jesus by the Jews and the acknowledgment of Jesus by non-Jews or what was termed then as foreigners. The acceptance is in relation to Jesus being the Savior of mankind. The Three Magi’s decision to travel another path symbolizes the need to change for the better to attain salvation.

Mary, Mother of God- January 1, 2014

Image Source: flickr.com/photos/tomsaint
Image Source: flickr.com/photos/tomsaint

Gospel Lk 2:16-21

The Gospel passage includes
two events of the “Infancy
Narrative”: The episode featuring
Mary and the shepherds, and
that of Jesus’ circumcision, the
rite through which he officially
became a member of the Chosen
People.

The shepherds went in
haste to Bethlehem and found
Mary and Joseph, and the
infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this, they made
known the message that had
been told them about this child.
All who heard it were amazed
by what had been told them by
the shepherds. And Mary kept
all these things, reflecting on
them in her heart. Then the
shepherds returned, glorifying
and praising God for all they
had heard and seen, just as it
had been told to them.
When eight days were
completed for his circumcision,
the baby was named Jesus, the
name given him by the angel
before he was conceived in the
womb .

Source: wordandlife.org

Mary, Mother of God was just like any other young woman in externals during her time. She led a fairly ordinary life, performing household chores like any other young girl. There was nothing that indicated the great role she was to play. Young as she was however, she exhibited extraordinary dedication to prayer and in leading a life of purity and holiness.

There was something about Mary that endeared her not only to people around her. She was also pleasing to God’s eyes because she remained devoid of sin,so pleased in fact that she was chosen to be the Mother of Jesus. There is no higher honor given to a human being.

These verses underscore the immense faith of Mary in accepting her role. The circumcision of Jesus after 8 days shows the Holy Family’s faithfulness to obeying the law. Undergoing the ritual is seen as a proof of Jesus’ oneness with the land of Israel.