Wednesday of the 2nd Week of the Year

Mk 3:1-6

A Man with a Withered Hand


What struck in the gospel reading was Jesus’ anger at the obtuseness of the people, particularly the Pharisees. How could they be so indifferent to the need of the withered man? The Pharisees were just concerned about the legality of Jesus’ act in healing a person in need on a Sabbath.

The anger of Jesus reminds me of the same reaction of people during the impeachment trial when the pro-Erap senators were so much concerned about the legality of not opening the controversial second envelop and not showing what is true and just.

Sometimes we think anger is bad and some consider it a sin. Here our Lord Jesus Christ is giving us an example when anger is bad and when it is justified. In another occasion, Jesus got angry when the temple was being desecrated by the exploitative practices of money-changers and businessmen against the poor. But when Jesus was condemned unjustly, mocked and crucified on the cross he was calmed and silent. In other words when people are hurt, are treated indifferently or are exploited, then he got angry. But when he himself was hurt, when his ego was disdained, he was calm, for he was sure of himself and the saving plan of his Father who loved him to the end. (Fr. Titus Mananzan, SVD Bible Diary 2002)


So often prejudices and labels assigned to individuals and groups keep us away from being objective and prevent us from discovering the beauty and the wonders of others. We look at others from the point of our subjective attitudes and beliefs and refuse to be challenged by the way they think, talk and act as the Pharisees did in today’s gospel.

Was it really the healing on the Sabbath that made the Pharisees plot with the Herodians on how to destroy Jesus? Was it really the very act of Jesus that they questioned? Actually, they kept silent when Jesus challenged them to make a stand, to reason out, weigh things, judge the options and make a choice. They could not respond for they did not search for the truth. How could they see the goodness of the act when their hearts were set on something different? The gospel says that “the Pharisees kept an eye on Jesus to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, hoping to be able to bring an accusation against Him.” They did not intend to be fair, unbiased and just; they waited for a mistake, for a reason to let their inner anger, hostility and prejudice be satisfied. Their minds were closed; no change of heart could take place.

How about us? Do prejudice and labels prevent us from opening to the truth, to beauty, to goodness? Do we allow people to reveal their goodness by always taking a fresh look at them, a look that is free from prejudice and discrimination? What do we tend to see first when we encounter people, their strength or weaknesses? Are we open to be challenged by those who think and act differently from us? (Sr. Judyta, SSpS Bible Diary 2004)


For the Jews the Sabbath was the day for worshipping God in a special way and for rest. For us the special day for worship and rest is Sunday because Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday.

What is the real purpose of the Sunday rest? Its origin is the biblical account of creation in which it is stated that on the seventh day God rested from His work of creation. Hence the law of no servile work on Sunday. The human person needs time for God and self, to worship God and recreate oneself. But the tendency of us human persons is to go to extremes one way or the other. The Puritans had the blue laws; no games or pleasure but stay at home after worshipping God. Some of us modern people do business as usual.

Jesus teaches us that to do good for others is not breaking the Sunday. Cooking a meal, traveling to the beach or going to visit parents, relatives and friends is allowed on Sunday.

When I was a young high school seminarian, I had the strict interpretation of the Sunday observance. A neighbor came over to our place to finish a job that he could not finish on Saturday night because of darkness. He and my father had both gone to Mass already. The job required about ha lf hour to finish, namely, to unload some grain from a wagon. They wanted to start out afresh on Monday; so they finished that job, even though it was Sunday. It would not help because it was Sunday and one was not supposed to work on Sunday. I have often reflected on this experience and found myself like the Jews at the time of Jesus in regard to the Sunday observance. Even some amount of manual work, is necessary, is allowed.

Perhaps now I am too much tending toward the other extreme. What seems correct to me is that I may do a little creative activity on Sunday but should give more time to prayer, do some little writing and to having a little enjoyment, e.g., watching the Sunday night movie on cable TV. (Fr. Stan Plutz, SVD Bible Diary 2005)


A fellow SVD missionary from Austria shared with me the following story that happened in his country. It is about a man who lived in a place that was very far from the parish. For years, he spent his life not only staying away from the church, but more sadly, living without God. But one day, he woke up from his spiritual slumber and strongly felt the need to go back to the Lord and renew his life.  So from his house he headed towards the parish, walking several miles enduring the cold of winter. When he finally arrived at the convent, the priest told him that he had to go back home because that day was his (the priest’s) day off.

In the gospel reading today, Jesus makes an exception to the law in order to help us discern what is more important in the eyes of God. Jesus challenges not only the society but also the religion of His time. He confronts our conscience with a fundamental question: “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” Jesus does not hesitate to save life in spite of the disapproval of the religious authorities. Moved profoundly by compassionate love, He risks His very own life for the sake of those who need life.

The rules we make put order into our lives, but sometimes they can harden our hearts. That happen when we take away from the center of our lives the Incarnate Love that gives meaning and unity to all that we do. When we love and serve the way Jesus loved and served we don’t really go against the rules. We go beyond them, because we are free to doo good, to save life, to give our lives for others. (Fr. Edwin de Leon Ferhandez, SVD Bible Diary 2008)


January 20, 2016 Wednesday

On January 24-31, the 51st International Eucharistic Congress is coming to Cebu! The Philippines hosted this event back in 1937 when Ricardo Cardinal Vidal was still a young kid preparing himself for his first communion. What a joy to have it held in our shores again after 79 years! The theme song “Christ in Us, Our Hope of Glory” beautifully captures the desires of our hearts to be Eucharistic persons – “We felt your word burning within us. Your word unlocked the hardness of our hearts, and opened our eyes that we may see You hidden in the broken bread.”

This song shows us a picture of holy communion, when we “stretch out our hands” to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. In the same way, our gospel today shows us a person with a withered hand also stretching out to the Savior. Interestingly, when the Bible is referring to ‘your hand,’ it’s talking about one’s capacity to work and one’s capacity to labor, and do ministry. A withered hand is the exact opposite: it doesn’t function in the gift and calling that God has given.

A life without purpose is a withered life. Not, however, for the saints we celebrate today. They are worth remembering for the ministry they did during their lifetime. Saints Fabian and Sebastian, whose feasts we celebrate today, were martyrs in the early centuries of the Church. Pope Fabian is famous for the miraculous nature of his papal election, in which a dove is said to have descended on his head to mark him as the Holy Spirit’s unexpected choice to become the next pope.

On the other hand, Sebastian was known for his goodness and bravery. During the persecution by Diocletian, Sebastian would not renounce his Christian faith. Archers shot arrows into his body and left him for dead. When the emperor found out that he was still alive, he ordered that Sebastian be immediately clubbed to death.

God has given every person, every believer, a ministry calling. He has given each one a calling to do something, accomplish something. Often our unresolved grief, disappointments, bitterness, offences, unresolved sins, abuses or trauma can wither our mind and even harden our soul. But we should take comfort in the fact that God’s love is limitless. Every time, we stretch out our hand in the holy communion, we are being reminded of Him who laid down His life so that when we eat the bread and drink the cup, He lives in us and He becomes our hope of glory. (Fr. Felmar Castrodes Fiel, SVD | DYFR-Cebu Bible Diary 2016)



Jesus heals on the Sabbath: This miracle climaxes a series of five straight confrontations between Jesus and the religious authorities.

First, the authorities challenged Jesus for claiming to forgive the paralytic’s sins (2:7). Second, they challenged Jesus for eating with tax collectors (2:16). Third, they challenged Jesus for not having his disciples fast (2:18). Fourth, they challenged Him for permitting his disciples to pick grain on the Sabbath (2:24). Finally, they challenged Him for healing a man on the Sabbath (3:2).

The last sentence of today’s reading previews what is in store for Jesus. Mark says: “And they made plans to kill Jesus.”

How do we respond to people who challenge us for following the dictates of our conscience?

Jesus said: “If the world hates you, just remember that it has hated me first….. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you too,” (John 15:18-2) – Mark Link SJ, Illustrated Daily Homilies Weekdays, published 1987 p.22)


January 20, 2016

REFLECTION: “Jesus looked around at them with anger.” This statement of today’s gospel reading should make us pause. Because few Christians have a balanced view of anger.

Perhaps because anger (under the old-fashionable name of “wrath”) is listed among the Seven Deadly Sins, many Christians think of anger as essentially sinful. And they regularly confess it as a sin: “Father, I was angry three times.” But today’s gospel reading tells us a very different story. It spells out in black and white that Jesus was angry at times. So! How can any form of anger be a sin if Jesus himself felt angry on some occasions?

The answer to this question is very simple: a feeling is never sinful in itself, because sin essentially resides in one’s will. Feelings and passions are gifts from God to help us negotiate life’s problems. Anger is a gift from God. It is meant to energize us when fighting injustice, protecting the weak, promoting great causes, etc. Without anger, we would be as effective as a pancake! But anger is raw energy which can easily get out of control. It is what we do with our anger which makes it sinful or beautiful.


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A man with a withered hand

January 19, 2016

REFLECTION – JESUS GRIEVED AT THEIR HARDNESS OF HEART. Once again Jesus is in a controversy with the Pharisees on the observance of the Sabbath. They are watching every action of Jesus to find fault with him. The evangelist Mark narrates that Jesus looks “around at them with anger” but at the same time he is “grieved at their hardness of heart.” The emotion of anger is toned down by sentiments of grief, pain, suffering, and distress. Jesus feels pain and distress for the Pharisees’ hardness of heart, for their refusal to see that to save life is more important than to keep the Sabbath literally. The well-being of a person matters more than even the law of Sabbath. It is very comforting to know that Jesus cares for us more than for the observance of human laws.

A compassionate heart is a sign of spiritual maturity.

SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord 2016,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail:; Website:



Tuesday, January 19, 2016

WEDNESDAY OF THE 2ND WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR C) – MARCOS 3:1-6. DAOTAN BA ANG PAGBATI OG KASUKO? Ang ebanghelyo naghisgot sa pipila ka higayon nga si Hesus nasuko: una, sa dihang iyang gipangbugaw ang mga namaligya didto sa templo; ikaduha, sa dihang gipugngan sa mga tinun-an ang mga bata nga buot moduol kaniya; ug ikatulo, diha sa ebanghelyo karon, diin naglagot siya sa kagahi’g ulo sa mga Pariseo nga naghunahuna og ngil-ad sa iyang pagbuhat og kaayohan panahon sa Adlaw’ng Igpapahulay. Atong makita nga ang kasuko ni Hesus dili para sa iyang kaugalingon kondili para sa kaayohan sa uban – sa mga kabos, mga bata, ug mga masakiton. Kining ebanghelyo magtudlo kanato nga ang kasuko usa ka normal nga pagbati, ug dili kini sayop kon adunay bug-at nga hinungdan, ilabina kon para sa paglaban sa mga nilapastangan. Posted by Abet Uy

(Literal English translation) BAD YOU FEEL ANGER? The gospel mentions several times that Jesus was: the first, when he gipangbugaw selling in the temple; second, when rejecting the disciples the children want to come to him; and third, in the gospel today, where he upset kagahi’g head of the Pharisees who thinks bad to do good on the Sabbath. We see that Jesus’ anger was not for himself but for the welfare of others – the poor, children, and the sick. The gospel teaches us that anger is a normal emotion, and it was not wrong if there are serious reasons, especially for combating violated.



Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Reflection for January 20, Wednesday of the Second Week; Mark 3:1-6

Reflection: Do you strictly observe the law or  you  sometimes bend the law so that the mercy, love and compassion of Jesus could be seen through you?

The question of observing the Sabbath day crops up again in the gospel.  Jesus proves once again that it is far more important for Him to make a big difference in the lives of the people than observe the Sabbath day as what He did when He cured a man with a withered hand amidst the protestation of the Pharisees.

The gospel is silent if the sick man had faith but he was obedient, when Jesus told him: “Come up here.” He simply followed without question. Our obedience to the teachings of the good Lord can do us a lot of good if only we would learn to follow it.

On the other hand Jesus was well aware of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. He knew that they were there to watch and denounce His every move. For the simple reason that He was slowly becoming a threat to their dominance in their society.

In the same manner, Jesus is also well aware of our own hypocrisy towards Him. If we are only using His name to gain dominance and popularity in our respective field of influence. And if we are only using His name to advance our own selfish interest. – Marino J. Dasmarinas



WE TITHE BECAUSE WE NEED IT – The parish priest of a church in a posh subdivision once commented: “When I start the Mass and see my congregation, I ask myself, ‘Where are the poor?’ After the Mass and I see the collection, I ask myself, ‘Where are the rich?’”

As the long-time director of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Ministries of the Archdiocese of Manila, I have imbibed the noble practice of tithing. This practice is not something the Charismatic communities invented. Their members aspire to respond generously to the call to set aside “a tenth of everything” for God. This practice dates back to the time of Abraham, as narrated in our First Reading today.

God has richly blessed us, but sometimes we do not use the gifts to further God’s Kingdom on earth. How can we be better stewards of the resources that He has entrusted to us? Are we urged to share and give back to the Church “a tenth” of what we receive? Or do we rather let the Church find Her own ways to source what She needs?

I am reminded of a Gospel narrative about the servants who were entrusted with 10 gold coins and given the freedom to do whatever they wanted with them. Of course, we read further how different the servants’ course of actions were and how the king responded to each one of them. You and I are like those servants. The 10 gold coins can be likened to the “tenth of everything” that God has entrusted to us. When we give this back to the Church, we are reminded of God’s graciousness, never needing anything from us, yet giving us the opportunity — through tithing — to grow in our participation in the life and works of the Church.

God can never be outdone in His love for us. But the question stands: Do we give back to the Church in return for God’s generosity to us? What you and I will do with what we have been entrusted is an unfinished story. It is not too late to put all of our time, talent and treasure to work for Him. Not too late yet.Fr. Erick Santos, OFS

REFLECTION QUESTION: Do you practice tithing? Perhaps now’s a good time to try it and see what God will do in return for your generosity.

Lord, all that I have are from You. I offer them back to You — to be used for Your glory. Amen.



Wednesday of the 2nd Week in the Ordinary Time

I Sam 17: 32-51; Mk 3: 1-6

Choices in Life

Computers and related technologies have come to define the way we think, speak and live. Many of the gadgets we use today reach us as pre-programmed. Hence our chance to intervene and choose is limited. In a way they condition us rather than we condition them. As far as animals are concerned, they are more or less pre-programmed too. Animal behaviour is predictable because their instincts function quite like pre-programmed software.

Man is created ranks above animals. We need not behave like pre-programmed gadgets because we are not pre-programmed. The direction we take in life and the quality of life depends largely on the choice we make. True, there are certain things in life that remain outside our choice. They are the things that decide our context – the type of people we have in life, our economic background, our physical and mental abilities and limits, etc. then we have two choices in life – either we can let our context function like programming software and become their victims, or we can choose a life of blessing and joy, in spite of them. Ultimately joy and blessings are choices we make.

Choosing Jesus is to choose joy, choose grace and choose blessings. The Samaritan woman was condemned for her background and she lived a life in the shadows; so too Zachaeus the tax collector. They then chose Jesus. Instantly they see grace enter their past like lightning flashes brighten up the darkness. The Samaritan woman is no more eager to cover up her past; she flashes it before everyone as the great work of grace.

On the other hand, see the Pharisees in the Gospel today! They behave like preprogrammed machines: programmed by the preferences and prejudices of their group. Before Jesus, they stand shut off; they see no need to receive anything from Jesus, for that matter, from anyone. They too encounter Jesus. Yet unlike the handicapped man who exchanges his problem for a blessing, they return to their old selves unchanged “ negative, angry and condemning! Dr George Kulangara CMI



See Today’s Readings: Year I,   Year II

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