Thursday of the 3rd Week of Advent

Luke 7:24-30


There once lived a man so godly. He had no notion that he was holy. His holiness lay in this – he forgot each person’s past and he looked beyond each person’s appearance. He loved and forgave everyone he met. This was his way of looking at people.

One day an angel said to him: “I have been sent to you by God. Ask for anything you wish and it will be given to you. Would you wish to have the gift of healing?” “No,” said the holy man, “I’d rather God did the healing Himself.” “Would you want to bring sinners back to the path of righteousness?” “No,” he said, “it is not right for me to touch human hearts. That is the work of angels.”

“Would you like to be such a model of virtue that people will be drawn to imitate you?” “No,” said the saint, “for that would make me the center of attention.” “What then do you wish for?” ask the angel. “The grace of God,” was the man’s reply. “Having that, I have all desire.” “No, you must ask for some miracle,” said the angel, “one will be forced on you.”

“Well then, I shall ask for this: let good be done through me without my being aware of it.” It was decreed that the holy man’s shadow would be endowed with healing properties and so the sick healed, the land became fertile and people who were sorrowful are now happy, everytime his shadow fell upon them.

The saint knew nothing of these because people were so caught up with his shadow that they forgot him. And so his wish was really fulfilled (Taking Flight, A de Melo).

This wonderful story perfectly fits St. John the Baptist. In all humility, John said: ‘Christ must increase, while I must decrease,’ (v. 30). While he was preaching people come flocking to him but he did not keep the people to himself but told them to go the Lamb of God, Jesus, the One who takes away the sins of the world.

Isn’t that holiness all about, letting Christ – His message, His will-increase and have more say in our life? In the meanwhile, we become less and less important, that is, we decrease. As St. Paul says, “I live now, yes, but it is no longer I that lives but Christ who lives in me.” Or, in the words of Christ Himself – we must deny himself, take up our cross and follow Him. (Fr. Fred Mislang, SVD Bible Diary 2005)


December 15, 2016 Thursday

April 11, 2009. Britain’s Got Talent. Susan Boyle. I was watching her video on You Tube for the nth time just now. Most of us would remember her touching story. On the day of her audition, she spoke of her dream to be a professional singer, like Elaine Paige. Everyone started laughing. Where was this coming from? She didn’t have the “professional singer” look. But when she started singing “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables, those who initially laughed at her began applauding and cheering – not only because she was sang really well, but that she had a message to tell from the heart that pierced the hearts of all.

How often do we judge others by how they appear? Have we been cynical about some people?

Have we even paid attention to the message being revealed to us, or have we simply ignored it because the one who stands before us is not a pleasant sight? But a moment comes when we have “the biggest wake up call.” Since we are confined to our own image of what a prophet is like, we fail to grasp the deeper meaning of what is revealed by present-day prophets. However, once we have given time and eff ort to listen, we are amazed, inspired and moved. Susan Boyle ended up winning second place but her story remains and continues to inspire people. In fact, we may already have heard similar stories in our daily life. Let us not be deaf to their message. Let us open our eyes to the goodness of people around us and not be misled by our prejudice, especially brought about by our judgment of their physical appearance. Let us listen carefully to the message of the Lord! (Fr. Dindo Santiago, SVD | Japan Province Bible Diary 2016)


Third Sunday of Advent (Year A)

Is 35:1-6, 10; James 5:7-10; Matt 11:2-11

There was a story about a woman who married four times: first, to a millionaire, then to an actor, next to a pastor and finally to an undertaker. What was her reason? One was for the money (the millionaire), two was for the show (the actor), three was to get ready (the pastor) and four was to go (the undertaker)!

Today is the Third Sunday of Advent and we are at the mid-point of the Advent season when we have been anxiously ready and awaiting the coming, not of the money or the show, but of our Savior which is not only as an anniversary of His birth but also when He comes again in His glory. I hope all of us have spent the past two weeks in preparation for His coming.

We call the Third Sunday of Advent as Gaudete or Rejoice Sunday. It is because Gaudate is the Latin word for Rejoice. We should rejoice because Christ tells John’s disciples what they see. The disciples see the Messiah, His love, His self-giving and forgiveness. He tells them: “The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the Good News is proclaimed to the poor and happy are those who believe.”

As you notice, the Advent wreath is surrounded by three purple candles and one rose-colored or pink candle. We light today this pink candle because it represents Gaudete Sunday. Its color contrasts with the three purple candles. There was a time in the world when the color of something would tell you what was going on. Like for example: Violet or royal purple was the color for royalty; Red was for victory and so when armies of old were victorious in battle, they would return home triumphantly wearing red; Pink was a joyous color. We use this joyous color of pink today on our Advent wreath to show our joy and rejoicing that this season of waiting for our Lord is half over. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel when we will celebrate the great Feast of the Birth of our Savior.

Since pink is the color of joy, I am going to share with you a way to bring true joy into our lives. All we have to do is spell the word joy as J.O.Y. What each letter stands for and the order of the letters? ‘J’ stands for ‘Jesus’ and just as ‘J’ is the first letter of JOY, so Jesus should always be the first in our lives. ‘O’ stands for ‘Others’ and just as ‘O’ is the second letter of JOY, we should always think of others as the second in our lives. The ‘Y’ stands for ‘You’ and just as ‘Y’ is the last letter of JOY, we should always think of ourselves as the last. If you can still remember the motto of one of American greatest baseball player and coach, ‘I am Third.” The explanation was, God is first, others are second and I am third. Therefore, to bring true JOY into our lives, always think of Jesus first, others second and yourself last.

In today’s gospel, Jesus praises John the Baptist and has the chance to tell us how important John the Baptist is and how important we are to Him. He mentions that there is ‘none greater than John the Baptist’. Yet he also tells us that the ‘least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than him’. Jesus is telling us that it is a great privilege to be in the kingdom of heaven. And therefore we are lucky that He came to save us so that we can get our share in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus mentions that John doesn’t wear fine clothing or live in royal palaces and yet he is considered by Jesus to be more than a prophet. But why Jesus praises John? It is because:

First, St. John was undeniably holy. That’s why Jesus praises him today: “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matt. 11:11). But sad to say many of us consider the Birth of our Lord or the coming Christmas celebration is just expenses, shopping, parties, vacation and happy holidays. Last December 15, 2007 I watched One versus One Hundred of ABS-CBN, Edu Manzano, the host, asked one of the One Hundred participants on what she is going to do on Christmas. She answered: “Shopping!” We forgot the original and real meaning of Christmas and that is, recalling the greatest gift ever given to us, the birth of the Son of God and in giving thanks for this gift.  That is why it is well for us to pause as we frantically prepare for the holiday and spend some time in thanking God for the many blessings we have received.  His gifts are not tied with ribbon and they cannot be purchased with credit cards or money.  As a matter of fact the price He paid is much too high to be considered in terms of Philippine peso.

Christmas is a holiday, a non-working one. But many of us forgot also the original meaning of holiday which is holyday. Let us make it sure that Christmas holiday is holy by reaching out to God through our prayers, attending Masses and by sharing what we have with others especially the poor and the needy. Let us celebrate Christmas with Christ. Remember, if we remove CHRIST from CHRISTMAS, what remains is MAS which means Many Are Sad, Magulo Ang Sanlibutan, Malabo Ang Samahan (from Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD).

Second, Our Lord admires one of his qualities, certainly his humility. Do you remember when people kept asking him if he was the Messiah? He was not flattered by these remarks. Thoughts of power and prestige did not fill his head. Instead, this very humble man said, “After me, One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals” (Mk 1:7). Have you ever made a comment like that about someone else?

Third, the Baptist lived a disciplined life. He didn’t let himself be swayed by earthly values or material things. A king, a Pharisee, a soldier… why, they are just flesh-and-blood men as he is, subject to the same God and held to the same standards and commandments. As Jesus tells us, St. John was not luxuriously dressed and he did not give a hoot about fancy food. He chose to have a single focus: Almighty God. It is sad to know that there are some people whose focus is not on the Almighty God but mostly they literally spend their time to have money and more money. Money is their gods and everything else including relationships is just secondary and convenience or just for a show.

Let us spend the remainder of this Advent season preparing ‘our way’ before the Lord comes this Christmas. Remembering always to keep Jesus first in our lives, others second, and ourselves last. Therefore, like John the Baptist, we to can be messengers sent by God to prepare others for the coming of the Lord by becoming holy, humble and by disciplining ourselves.


Monday, December 12, 2016

Reflection for Thursday December 15, Third Week in Advent; Luke 7:24-30

It’s a mystery why Jesus said that the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than John. Perhaps He was trying to motivate the tax collectors who were labelled as sinners to continue to follow Him because there is a reward that awaits those who will leave behind his sinful past and faithfully follow Him.

Perhaps Jesus also desired that those who were listening would emulate the humility of John or even surpass it. We can only guess about the objective of Jesus in saying this very mysterious  and meaningful statement.

There are times that Jesus speaks to us in cryptic language that seems so hard for us to understand. We nevertheless must continue to hold-on to Him, we must continue to blindly follow Him without question.

Why? This is for the reason that to follow Jesus is always right. Never a person was misled by Jesus by blindly holding His hand and faithfully following Him.  Never a person no matter how poor has lived a miserable life by following Jesus. – Marino J. Dasmarinas


THE UNLIKELY PROPHET – “Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.” – Luke 7:25

Volunteers of the Gawad Kalinga outreach program were in for a surprise. The last to be called in the mandatory introduction segment before the class began had the most memorable thing to say.

“I’m Mac, 16 years old. I want to be a Catholic preacher.” He stuttered through the two simple sentences, like a baby learning how to speak for the first time. The program was a crash course on spoken English, so the deficit was understandable.


“I want to spread God’s Word.”

Mac has dark complexion, yellowed teeth, unruly hair and a demeanor a future preacher wouldn’t have, yet he was certain of the path he wants to take — the narrow road for the Lord. At 16, he was a prophet in the making. What a blessing for me to contribute to his future mission if only by teaching him to speak better English.

We are all prophets and preachers. Our lives are the Bible people around us read. And if we choose, we can be living testimonies of God’s love, regardless of how we look, where we came from or what language we use.Osy Erica (

Reflection: Do people see God when they encounter you? What hinders you from being a messenger of God’s love?

Father, let my life be a beacon of Your light to the world. Cultivate in me the longing to make You known. Amen.


Thursday of the 3rd Week of Advent

15 December 2016

Is 54: 1-10; Ps 30: 2 and 4. 5-6. 11-12a and 13b; Lk 7: 24-30

John the Baptist          

After John’s emissaries had gone, Jesus paid his own tribute to him. People had crowded out into the desert to see and hear John and they had not gone to see a reed shaken by the wind. Nothing was commoner by Jordan’s banks than a reed shaken by the wind. It was in fact a proverbial phrase for the commonest of sights. It may mean that the crowds went out to see no ordinary sight.  It may stand for fickleness. It was no vacillating, swaying character men went out to see like a swaying reed, but a man immovable as a mighty tree. John was a prophet with unshakable faith in God and was committed to proclaim the word that he received from God telling Herod, “You have absolutely no right to keep your brother’s wife. He was ready to accept the consequences. John was arrested and beheaded because he dared to speak out against the King Herod.

John the Baptist was the only person in that society who impressed Jesus and Jesus called him “the greatest prophet born among women”. Jesus pays John a great tribute. All men expected that before God’s anointed king arrived upon the earth, Elijah would return to prepare the way and act as his herald (Malachi 4:5). John was the herald of the Highest.

Here was the voice of God warning the people of an impending disaster and calling for a change of heart in each and every individual. Jesus appreciated John the Baptist. Both John and Jesus were committed to do the will of God and establish his Kingdom. Fr Shepherd Thelapilly CMI


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

THURSDAY OF THE 3RD WEEK OF ADVENT – LUKAS 7:24-30. KINSA MAN ANG TAWONG HALANGDON? Si Juan wala magsul-ob og mahalong bisti sama sa mga hari, apan gidayeg siya pag-ayo ni Hesus. Nganon man? Siya usa ka tawo nga adunay sulod, dili lamang kutob sa porma. Aduna siyay lig-ong baroganan, dili sama sa uban nga madaladala ingon og bugang nga gipilaypilay sa hangin. Daghan kanato mohatag og dakong panahon para sa panggawas, sama sa pamisti ug pamorma sa lawas. Apan, ang ehemplo ni Juan magdasig kanato sa paghatag og mas dakong pagtagad sa pangsulod, sa pag-ugmad og mga hiyas nga dalaygon, sama sa kamaalamon, kamaampoon, ug kamahigugmaon. Adunay nagtambag: “Your beauty should not come from outside adornment. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quite spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” Posted by Abet Uy


December 15, 2016

Many Christians belong to the Old Testament and imagine God as sometimes smiling at them (when they are good) and sometimes angry at them (when they commit a serious sin). For in the Old Testament practically all the authors who write it project on God their own infantile notions of a God who gets angry and then calms down, only to get angry again at his people’s next lapse.

But these depictions of God, found almost everywhere in the Old Testament (and a few times in the New Testament—bad habits die hard!) are completely wrong. God never gets angry, because by nature he cannot change. A change would imply an imperfection, and he is all-perfection. Jesus tells us of God, “the Father judges no one” (Jn 5:22), and John tells us, “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8, 16). A better picture of God is found in today’s first reading. There God speaks as a fiancé eager to show his deep love for us, his people: “Your Maker is to marry you… Who could abandon his first beloved?… With everlasting love I have had mercy on you… Never will my love depart from you.” These tender declarations should forever exorcise our false notions of God.


See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

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