Saturday of the 1st Week of Advent

Matt 9:35-10:1, 6-8

The Twelve Are Sent


… But all of us have gifts generously given to us by God. Are we compassionate and generous enough to share these gifts by following God’s call to witness to his love in all the circumstances of our lives? “The gift you have received, give as a gift.” (Fr. John O’Mahony, SVD Bible Diary 2002)


Our first reading today tells us that God will listen to the cry of his people. And when he comes, he will bind up their wounds and completely heal them. This promise is fulfilled in Jesus Christ who “went around all the tons and village teaching in the synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and cured every sickness and disease.”

This particular passage summarizes the mission of Jesus in word and deed which is to liberate Israel of their afflictions and maladies. We also find Jesus’ compassion for the crowd because they lack spiritual guidance “like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew aptly describes these people as “harassed and helpless,” a phrase that signifies their being ravaged and abused and left to die.

Jesus chose his 12 companions (disciples) to gather these wounded people. He empowered them to proclaim the message of the kingdom, heal all kinds of diseases and drive away demons. And this authority has been given to the church through the sacraments. (Fr. Jerome Cayetano, SVD Bible Diary 2004)


“The harvest is great but the laborers are few.”

St. Gregory the Great was pope during one of the most critical times of church history, when there was literally so much work to do for the church. Commenting on the verse above, he wrote: “There are enough laborers; the problem is, many are lazy.”

There is never any time in church history that there is not much work to do, or that there are not enough workers. The remark of the great pope holds.

In a retreat I gave for priests (many of whom were my former students), three were planning to leave the ministry after the retreat. When I asked the reason, they answered: “After celebrating the morning Mass, we don’t know what to do afterwards.” Somehow we had failed in the seminary formation.

There is so much to do when a priest/laborer burns with genuine love/zeal for the Lord and His people.

The paradigm of the threefold ministry (prophetic, priestly, pastoral) has helped many in the service of the Church: the ministry of teaching, of the sacrament/liturgy and of community building. Another formulation of the threefold ministry is the promotion of truth, life and unity.  (I have presented this paradigm in the book, Servanthood, The Excellence of Christian Service).

Going back to the retreat I held for priests, where I gave the first formulations of the threefold ministry, I managed to convince two of the three priests to continue in the Lord’s service.

Today’s saint (St. Francis Xavier Dec. 3) is a sterling example of faithful and effective service. (Fr. Willy Villegas, SVD Bible Diary 2005)


The surgeon had reason to worry. She could lose the patient to hemorrhage before the surgery is over. Not, if there is someone willing to donate blood immediately.  Been The Nurse Supervisor felt her heart quicken. She had the same blood type as the patient. Will she give her blood to save the patient? But, she does not even know this person. Oh yes, her name is written on the chart. But she had just donated blood recently and today she had been on her toes since early morning.

“No matter,” she decided. With that she took off her OR cap and mask and prepared herself for the bloodletting.

“As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick…without cost you received; without cost you are to give,” (Matt 10:8)

Because somebody who received without cost decided to give, another person continued to live and the reign of God became real, visible and as palpable as a patient’s pulsating heart.

When was the last time I felt the reign of God so real in my experience? How did it come about? Do my choices proclaim that the reign of God is at hand? (Sr. Ancille, SSpS Bible Diary 2006)


What would happen if God were to start charging us with all the blessings we receive daily from Him – the sun we enjoy during the day, the rain, the sea and even the air we breathe? What would happen if God were to demand a share of the profit every time we ask Him to help us in our business?

Certainly, if this to happen, God would surely be the richest man in the world today. But, is this the kind of God we know? Surely, this is not the God we know. It is not even the God that Jesus wants us to relate with. God is not a shrewd businessman who makes money of every little thing that we ask from Him. God is all loving and all generous. He doesn’t need money and material resources in order to exist, in fact, out of nothing, God created us because of His love for each one of us and without cost on our part.

The Lord wants us to learn a simple text in today’s gospel: “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” Jesus is the perfect example of one who gave himself generously for others by making the sick people well, the blind see and the dead restored to life; he expelled demons, cleansed lepers and fed the hungry. Did Jesus ask them for a fee?

God loves us unconditionally. If we have received so much blessings from the Lord free of charge – we must do the same by sharing generously the little gifts we have to others without cost. It may not be a material gift but a gift that comes from the heart like the gift of forgiveness, saying sorry to somebody that comes from the heart whom we have hurt, the gift of appreciation, of joy to cheer up somebody, of bringing peace to somebody sad or grief-stricken and the gift of prayer.

Pause for a moment and think of somebody who might need one of these gifts now. Give it now without price and without conditions. Be reminded that this is exactly what Jesus did to us when he was crucified on the cross, free of charge! (Fr. Gerry Donato, SVD Bible Diary 2008)


December 3, 2016 Saturday

“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few.” How appropriate to my work as Vocations Director in the Australia Province where the clergy and religious are becoming fewer. The active ones are quite elderly but they continue to work in the Lord’s harvest with full enthusiasm.

Today’s gospel is all about Jesus empowering his disciples to do his work. Jesus knew that he wouldn’t be on this earth forever and he should be able to pass on to his disciples his work. However, before doing all that, he wanted his disciples to minister rst in Israel before going out into the world. How happy and successful were Jesus; disciples after this experience.

God calls us to be laborers in his harvest. Jesus empowers us to do what he and his disciples did: proclaim the kingdom of heaven, cure the sick through our visits, raise the dead by consoling the family of the deceased and urging them to move on, drive out demons by invoking the presence of God in our lives. And this is very important if Jesus’ mission is still to continue until his second coming.

In summary, two points to contemplate on. First, we all (not just priests and religious) are empowered by Jesus to do his work. Daunting as it may seem, we must continue his work. Second, we continue to pray for more vocations to the priesthood and the religious life. In Australia, a religious- missionary priest has lots to do. You might consider working for God’s kingdom through the Arnoldus family: the Society of the Divine Word (Divine Word Missionaries), the Holy Spirit Sisters (Blue Sisters), and the Adoration Sisters (Pink Sisters). Let us continue to heed the call of Jesus to work for the harvest. (Fr. Elmer I. Ibarra, SVD | Sydney, Australia Bible Diary 2016)


Friday, December 4, 2015

SATURDAY OF THE 1ST WEEK OF ADVENT (YEAR C) – MATEO 9:35; 10:1,6-8. NGANONG ANGAY MAN KITANG MAGMANGGIHATAGON? Ang labing dakong hinungdan niini mao nga ang tanan nga atong gihuptan nagagikan sa Dios. Ang atong kinabuhi, kahibalo, katakos, ug bahandi mga grasya sa Dios, nga atong nadawat nga wala pabayri. Dili kita angay nga maglinaog tungod kay kita usab nakadawat lamang. Kini ang pahimangno ni Hesus sa iyang mga apostoles, “Nakadawat kamo nga walay bayad, panghatag kamo nga walay bayad.” Kon masabtan lang unta nato kining maong kamatuoran, dili na gayod kita modumili sa pagtabang sa atong isigkaingon nga nanginahanglan. Ang Sulat ni San Pedro nagdasig kanato: “Each of you should use every gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Pedro 4:10). Posted by Abet Uy


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Reflection for December 5, Saturday of the First Week of Advent: Matthew 9:35–10:1, 5A, 6-8

Reflection: “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few (Matthew 9:37).” These words of Jesus rings loudly to our ears today than ever before. Indeed this is very true and very relevant for our times. We just need to look around our environment and we will see the sad reality that there’s are many more who don’t know Jesus.

Our labor for God must not be limited to our service in the church as Extra-Ordinary Ministers of the Body of Christ, as Catechist, as Lectors/commentators and as members of other church ministries. We must put more flesh in our involvement in our church by going out to those who are hungry, who are physically/emotionally sick. We need to bring Jesus out to the poor of our society for they too need Jesus they need Jesus to guide them.

Even if we are ordinary parishioners by virtue of our baptism we too are called to share Jesus. A faith that grows is a faith that is shared. Beginning his Advent season and onwards let us allow Jesus to use us as His instrument of healing by helping the poor and the deprived.

But there are those who follow Jesus based on their own terms and standards. They impose their own rule and not the rule of Jesus they follow Christ based on their own self-rule.  Thus, instead of embracing humility they choose to embrace arrogance. Instead of winning converts and followers they become the main reason why others walk away from the faith.

A good follower has rock solid  faith, is neither self seeking nor arrogant. He/She is rather humble and content to silently do his mission for the greater glory of God. – Marino J. Dasmarinas


TO SAY “HI” – I read an article about a pastor who dressed up as a homeless man and positioned himself before the front gate of their church, appearing like begging for attention and a few change. Of the 10,000 members who passed before him, only about seven noticed him and managed to say, “Hi.”

When he was introduced to the congregation, not a single pair of eyes were left dry when they came to realize what they did. Then the pastor said that he was thankful for the number of people who fill the stadiums up to the rafters where they do their service, but that what the church needs now are not numbers but disciples.

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest,” Jesus says in today’s Gospel. This was what Jesus felt almost 2,000 years ago. They needed more disciples. They needed more people to do the work that the Father is asking them to do. That need is more pressing now than ever.

We need laborers who are willing to do the work of harvesting in the Lord’s vineyard. We need teachers who will teach their students not just the rudiments of science but the underlying divine principles of all their subjects — in the classroom and in their own lives. We need politicians who will see that their work in governing the land can be a venue for their own sanctification and that of their constituents.

We need students who will stand up for what is right, even if the system is presenting itself as contrary to the ideals set by Christ. We need employees who will bring about change in their own work ethic and that of their fellow workers.

Or we simply need disciples who will notice the poor who have become fixtures in most corners of the metropolis, who have the courage and tenacity to say, “Hi.” Fr. Sandy Enhaynes

REFLECTION QUESTION: Do you do what you do with the heart of a disciple?

Through baptism, You call me to be Your disciple, Lord. Remind me, Lord, and enable me.


JESUS WAS OUTGOING – Three more Sundays, and we celebrate another Christmas — the Great and joyous feast of Jesus being born as a human being. Theologians of the Church through the centuries have alluded to this feast as a very important part of the Mystery of the Incarnation, the mystery of the Second Person of God — living in eternity as the Word — now taking the human flesh in the womb of the Blessed Mother.

The Gospel proclamation today helps us understand in more practical terms what theology enunciates. The birth of Jesus, the Incarnation of God, the Word becoming Flesh shows: God is not just The One dwelling in majesty and in eternity. God is not The One we come to; rather, God is The One who comes to us. God is not only the Eternal One; He is the Outgoing One. We take note how the Gospel narrative underlines what happened when Jesus became flesh: “Jesus went around to all towns and villages, teaching, proclaiming, curing every disease… His heart was moved… He said: ‘Ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers.’ Then He summoned His Twelve… Jesus sends out these Twelve after instructing them, thus, ‘Go to the lost sheep…’”

St. Francis Xavier, the Jesuit saint we commemorate today, exemplifies the true follower of Jesus, the Word Incarnate. He was not content in establishing the Jesuit Order and the Jesuit mission in Europe. His heart burned to go — to Asia, to India, to the largely unchartered paths of the East. So, one great way to honor Jesus this season is to go — and do something good for the people in the periphery. Fr. Domie Guzman, SSP

REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Can you consider yourself an “outgoing Christian”? In what ways are you an “outgoing Christian”?

Lord Jesus, grant me courage to go out and do something for the people in the periphery. Amen.


Is. 30: 19 -21, 23 -26; Mt. 9:35 – 10: 1, 6 – 8

Received as Gift, Give as Gift

The liturgical season of Advent celebrates the long period of some 4000 years of waiting for the coming of the Messiah in the OT. The Church asks us to do it in 4 weeks before the event of Christmas, each week representing one thousand years of waiting. We are in the first week of Saturday, 5th of December.

In the first reading the promises about the Messiah of old are shown being fulfilled in the person of Jesus, whose messianic activities are introduced in the Gospel:

Jesus is shown constantly on the move, healing all kinds of illness, teaching in the synagogues and preaching the Good News of God’s reign. Jesus reminds his disciples that there is a huge harvest, waiting to be reaped and that there are only very few workers for the job. He then imparts his authority to them to perform four different acts of mercy. Let us consider them briefly:

Healing the sick: We may not be gifted with special grace for physical healing; but by our sympathy and support, care and concern, we can do more healing ‘touch’ than any medical practitioner.

Raising the dead: When Jesus gave authority to “raise the dead”, did he mean it in the literal sense? Whatever be the case, he surely wanted us to know that there are many in the society who are dead mentally, emotionally, socially etc. They may be physically alive, but stopped living meaningful human lives. The disciples and we are challenged to help such fellow –beings to find life again.

Cleansing the lepers:  Lepers in the Jewish society of Jesus time represents for us now all those, condemned to live at the fringe -level of the society, who are neglected, ignored, despised, avoided and abandoned by it. For examples, we have the homeless, sex -workers, drop-outs, drug-addicts, HIV/AIDS and so on. We have to be with them in word and deed so that they may come know that they are accepted and loved by God in their miserable life context.

Casting the demons: Again in this case one may not have the specific power and authority for exorcism, or driving out evil spirit from a possessed person. But we have to remember, there are people possessed or bound by evil habits and ways of life. The disciples and we are called by Jesus to help such people liberate themselves from ‘demons’ like violence, hatred, anger, alcohol, sexual abuses (self-abuse as well as abuse of others), greed for money and power etc.

Imparting his authority to the apostles, Jesus reminds them, “You have received gifts freely, give them also freely.” Let us be mindful of Jesus’ words, particularly during this Advent time, and try to do some kind of acts of charity in preparation for the celebration of Christmas. Dr. Louis Malieckal CMI


To forgive is difficult indeed, but it liberates the person who forgives more than the person forgiven. Forgiveness entails letting go of negativity and inviting in God’s love in our lives. (Desmund Tutu)

“Forgiveness is the sign of strength” – Dalai Lama

Those who say forgiving is a sign of weakness haven’t tried it yet!


December 03, 2016

Today we are remembering Francis Xavier, one of the greatest missiona­ries of all time.

The Spaniard Francis was born in 1506, went to study in Paris, there met St. Ignatius of Loyola, was converted by him from his frivolous life, became one of the first Jesuits, was ordained a priest at age 31, and embarked in 1541 for India. Then for the next ten years until his death in 1552, he spent all his strength in establishing and organizing missions. This he did in three countries, working two years in each place: India (1542-44), Malaysia (1545-47) and Japan (1549-51). He died of exhaustion on the small island of Sancian, facing China, where he had hoped to preach the Gospel.

The sufferings Francis endured are unimaginable. Yet, throughout his heroic adventures, he was always full of joy. Wherever he went, he lived with the poor and ministered to the sick, particularly the lepers.

As in today’s gospel reading we see Jesus send the twelve apostles and tell them, “Go and preach,” we too are sent to “go and preach” the Gospel, not so much with words as with our very lives—preach thus to our spouse, children, workmates. This means helping, listening, giving our most precious commodity, which is our time.


See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

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