Wednesday of the 3rd Week of Lent


Can one truly say “forever?” People raise this question during religious professions, wedding or priestly ordinations. Considering today’s rising number of broken marriages and defections from the priesthood or religious life, does it still make sense to make a life-long commitment? To be faithful for always?

For some people it seems next to impossible that a temporal being makes a vow with eternal (atemporal) implications. Others believe that the cases of infidelity – shockingly many – widespread and highly publicized – argue strongly for living and being in the here and now only. In other words, a future with a window to eternity does not strike us as significant, imperfect and time-bound as we are.

However, a most inspiring thought comes from Psalm 117. It exhorts all peoples to ‘praise the Lord and glorify Him.’ And the reason for this optimism is the realization that God’s “kindness toward us is constant and his faithfulness is without end.”

True, we are creatures in space and time and we are quite determined by nature. However, the reason why we can be faithful for always lies in God’s fidelity to us. The history of God’s chosen people and our own life-stories bear this out. (Fr. Flor Lagura, SVD Bible Diary 2002)


“Not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place,” Jesus tells us in today’s gospel. The Law stays and Jesus comes not to destroy but to fulfil it. What law is this which Jesus means to fulfil? In the end, the fulfilment of all laws is found in the one law which Jesus leaves us, which is the Law of Love. “Love one another as I have loved,” He will say later. Everything comes and goes but not love. Love is the constant Law. The smallest detail of our actions will mean nothing without it. This is what being a Christian is all about: Love is our mission! (Fr. Romy Abulad, SVD Bible Diary 2004)


We sometimes wonder how many laws we have in our country. There are so many, it seems, that one lawyer can be trapped by another lawyer who accidentally discovers an obscure law. But in spite of so many laws and lawyers, there is so much lawlessness that we often wonder what will happen to the country. Too many laws are not implemented, not known, not followed or just ignored since nobody will punish anyway.

Like Moses in the Old Testament, Jesus emphasizes the importance of the law. What puzzles us is that Jesus stresses the strict fulfilment of even the smallest letter of the law while He Himself often violated the law by healing on the Sabbath or by not performing all rules of ritual cleanliness. And had not St. Their Paul written, “Christ is the end of the law,” (Rom 10:4).

When Jesus speaks about not abolishing the old but fulfilling the Law he does not think of the manmade oral law of the scribes, their petty rules and regulations which lead to legalism. He thinks of the old law of God, especially the Ten Commandments. He teaches that what he brings is something between the past and present, between old and new, between traditional and progressive. It is because real progress builds on the past. The present grows out of the past. When Paul wrote, “Christ is the end of the law,” he did not tell his readers that they could do now what they like, something our permissive society encourages.

May these days of Lent help us to reflect on our attitude towards God’s commandments: do we keep them only when it is convenient and ignore them when they go against our desires? Do we realize that the commandments are given to help us find the right way and preserve us from spiritual anarchy? (Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD Bible Diary 2005)


While driving me back to the seminary in Davao City, the driver expressed joy in his job, saying: “…I’m happy when I see my passengers happy too. I cannot imagine life without serving others. If in the future I retire from driving, I want to become active in our chapel or in our Christian community, otherwise life is dull.”

One day, as we stopped at the repair shop where we used to go, we were informed that it has been closed for days. When the owner arrived he told us: “My wife and I went to a nearby province to attend to a couple whose marriage is in trouble. In our little way, we want to help them with our support.” This couple is active in the Couples for Christ movement.

If in the gospel Jesus gives importance to the law or God’s law, no matter how limited and human is its interpretation, then it must be lived seriously. For Jesus did not come to abolish the law or the prophets. For God’s law, as a bible scholar puts it, is a synthesis of human and divine wisdom. Beneath God’s word or law is God’s spirit. So, His word will not return to Him empty, for it is alive and dynamic. The taxi driver and the couple experienced the dynamism of God’s law. This is attested to by their selflessness or sacrifice and the transformation of their lives.

To achieve religious experience and to be sustained or be persevering in our service, embrace God’s law! Let us go and taste how sweet the Lord is, then share the sweetness, the wisdom and guidance of God. (Fr. Martin Mandin, SVD Bible Diary 2006)


Some theology students enrolled in the SVD Seminary, Tagaytay City, are from Pakistan. From them we learned that even if they live in a Muslim society, government officials prefer to hire Christians to work in their offices. For according to them, Christians are honest, not corrupt, can be trusted and they work conscientiously.

This illustration clarifies that God’s word, His laws cannot just be ignored; they are very significant in our efforts towards self-transformation and societal harmony.

In the Bible, a law cannot just be equated with punitive law. We are provided with God’s law, because as His children we need guidance. His law is a sign of love and care. His law facilitates the ambiguously paradoxical condition of humanity. When God loves us, it is not really for His own fulfilment. St. Thomas states that human whose origin is God’s law is an ordinance of reason for the common good. In the Catholic Social Teachings common good denotes conditions where men are enabled to achieve integral total human development (GS no. 74). God’s law achieves relevance and usefulness when just lawmakers translate them to human law.

Beneath God’s word and His law is the spirit of God. In a world of ambiguity, may we live a creative life by following God’s law expressed in human law. Strive to perceive the wisdom and ingenuity reflected in human law no matter how imperfect, for it emanates from God’s law. (Fr. Martin Mandin, SVD Bible Diary 2007)


The Law or the prophets that our Lord refers to is the Law that Moses received from Mt. Sinai. It applies to the first books of the Old Testament that include the Ten Commandments which govern and guide the moral, religious and secular life of Israelites. It consists of 365 negatives commands and 248 positive for a total of 613 commands.

The Lord acknowledges the supremacy of the Law or the Prophets. However, He came to fulfil them in both letter and spirit. The religious leaders then were focused on the strict implementation of the letter of the law; they even created supplementary instructions that became laws in order to protect the core laws. To be a good Jew, one must obey the Law or else face excommunication and even death. The Lord reinforced the validity of the law or the prophets’ writings and revelations and even put a high premium for those who obey them compared to those who disobeyed.

It a small trial, the prosecuting attorney called an elderly woman to stand and asked her: “Ma’am do you know me?” she replied: “Yes I do. You lie. You cheat on your wife and you think, you’re a big shot when you haven’t the brains to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you!” The lawyer was stunned but asked his next question, “Do you know the defense attorney?” She replied: “Why yes, I do. He’s has a drinking problem, his law practice is one of the worst in t he entire place and he cheated on his wife!” The judge ordered both lawyers to approach the bench and quietly said: “If either of you asks her if she knows me, I’ll throw you in jail for contempt.”

Fulfilling the Law in both letter and spirit is surpassing the righteousness of the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. It is the living of the law of love in our daily lives that we become great in the Kingdom of Heaven. (Fr. Joseph Suson, SVD Bible Diary 2008)


March 2, 2016 Wednesday

Even little children understand that there are some things you better get right and understand to be true, or you get yourself into big trouble. I came across a little document entitled: “Great truths about life that little children have learned.” Here are some of them:

“No matter how hard you try, you can’t baptize cats.

When your mom is mad at your dad, don’t let her brush your hair.

If your sister hits you don’t hit her back; they always catch the second person.

Never ask your three-year-old brother to hold a tomato.

You can’t trust dogs to watch your food.

Puppies still have bad breath even after eating a tic tac.

Never hold a dust buster and a cat at the same time.

You cannot hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.

Don’t wear polka dot underwear under white shorts.” (James Merrit, You Had Better Get It Right)

Working here in Switzerland, I have noticed that there are rules to be observed too in order to put things right. And certainly there are things that we have to do rightly if we want to be near and close to God or if we want our names to be written on the list of Christians.
Today’s gospel, Matthew 5:17-19, is exactly the absolute basis for truth, for law, for morals, for what is right, and for what is wrong and putting things in order. The Gospels reminds us three things: firrst, not to deny God’s truth; second, not to disobey God’s truth and; lastly not to distort God’s truth. If you intend to be pleasing to God and your brothers and sisters then you had better get that right. (Fr. Antonio “Onyot” Enerio, SVD (Switzerland) Bible Diary 2016


BLESSINGS FOR OBEDIENCE: Hear the statutes and ordinances I am teaching you to observe, that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. – Deuteronomy 4:1

My four-year-old daughter can be stubborn and disobedient at times. Consequently, what could have been accomplished in a few minutes — like finishing her food — can go beyond an hour.

In the Bible, we know the story of the Israelites who wandered in the desert for 40 years before they entered the Promised Land. This is what’s astonishing: it takes only two weeks to travel from Canaan to the Promised Land.

So why did it take them 40 years? Because of their hardheadedness, God sentenced that entire generation to die before Israel could set foot in their destination.

God allowed them to experience famine in the desert and many trials so they would learn that it wasn’t food but God’s Word that would keep them alive. Read the Bible and you’ll discover the importance that God puts in obeying Him.

God has a beautiful and powerful promise to those who listen and obey His Word: an abundance of blessings await them!

Are you ready to obey Him? Then get ready to be blessed! Rissa Singson-Kawpeng (

Reflection: “All revelations are sealed until they are opened to us by obedience. You will never get them open by philosophy or thinking. Immediately you obey, a flash of light comes.” (Oswald Chambers)

Lord, make me an obedient child of Yours.


1ST READING: Memory is a very important faculty for human beings, both in our day-to-day lives as well as in religion. Moses reminds the people that they must remember all the mighty deeds the Lord has done for them. Why? The answer is very simple. If we remember all that God has done for us and keep it close to our consciousness, we will always be aware that our faith demands a response to the goodness of God. (Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9)

GOSPEL: Jesus is not an anarchist nor is He bent on destroying anything except sin. He challenges the current Jewish interpretation of the Law and provides an alternative understanding of it — one based much more on compassion and love — but He does not abolish it. Jesus wants the people to understand the priority of God’s love and mercy and do away with an understanding of the law that places it above the person. The Law is there to serve us, not rule us. (Matthew 5:17-19)

think: If we remember all that God has done for us and keep it close to our consciousness, we will always be aware that our faith demands a response to the goodness of God.


ARE YOU A “WATCHENER”?: I was on a long trip one time and I turned on the radio. I tuned in to a station where there was a live DJ talking, who at least kept me company as I was getting bored. The lady began reading out text messages sent to the station. Her words of thanks caught my attention. She said, “Thanks once again to all our ‘watcheners’ for keeping us company!”

I don’t know if I spelled it right but that is the word I heard: watcheners. It was the first time I heard that word and then after some  thought I realized that radio programs now are no longer just auditory; they also can be viewed now through the Internet via live streaming. One does not only listen to DJs. One can also observe everything that is going on in the radio booth. Watchener. You do not only listen. You also watch. You observe. This is actually what God, through Moses, is telling the Israelites of that time. Only, Moses did not have the single vocabulary to say so. “Now Israel, hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you… Observe them carefully…”

Notice how God paired listening and observing together. Observing in biblical language is not only watching with the eyes. Observing is actually the engagement of the whole person, i.e., acting on God’s Word: “Observe them carefully, for thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations, who will hear of all these statutes…”

Listening and observing are inseparable in Christian spirituality. Our worship is built around these. At the beginning of the Holy Mass, we listen to God’s Word. In the homily, the presiding priest “breaks” the Word, that its wisdom may be unleashed and its power inspire us to Christian action. In the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we are counseled, “Do this in memory of Me.” And having been nourished by the Body of the Lord, we are sent to “Christify” the world with our Christian witness, “The Mass is ended. Go and proclaim the Good News.” Thus we become true watcheners of the Word. Fr. Joel Jason

REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Do you consider the priest’s homily only as Sunday entertainment? Do you take concrete actions to the challenges of God’s Word?

Help me to listen to Your Word, Lord, and act upon Your teachings.


WEDNESDAY OF THE 3RD WEEK OF LENT (YEAR B) – MATEO 5:17-19. UNSA MAN ANG KATUYOAN SA MGA BALAOD SA DIOS? Atong masabtan diha sa Libro sa Deuteronomio pinaagi kang Moises nga ang mga Balaod gihatag sa Dios aron mogiya sa katawhan sa ilang paglawig ngadto sa Yutang Gisaad. Ang mga Balaod maghimo kanilang maalamon ug masinabuton, timaan nga sila katawhan sa Dios. Diha sa ebanghelyo, si Hesus miingon nga ang magtuman sa kasugoan ug magtudlo sa uban sa pagbuhat sa ingon pagailhon nga labing dako sa Gingharian sa Langit. Kini magdasig kanato sa paghunahuna sa Balaod isip giya, dili babag, sa atong pagpaduol sa Dios. Sakto ang gisulti ni Daniel Palmer: “He who obeys God’s laws finds Him a father. He who disobeys them, finds Him a judge.” Ang tawo nga motuman sa mga kasugoan sa Dios makasabot sa Iyang pagka-Amahan natong tanan. Posted by Abet Uy

(English) WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE LAW OF GOD? We see in the Book of Deuteronomy through Moses the Law was given by God to guide the people on their journey to the Promised Land. The Law makes them wise and understanding, a sign that they are God’s people. In the gospel, Jesus said that keeping the commandments and teaches others to do the same will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven. It encourages us to think of law as a guide, not a barrier, we draw closer to God. Daniel Palmer was right in saying: “He who obeys God’s laws finds Him a father. He who disobeys them, finds Him a judge. ” The people who keep the commandments of God to understand the essence of the Father of us all.


Reflection for March 11, Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent; Matthew 5:17-19 Reflection: What will happen to us if we would always observe the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-1) and the two greatest commandments that Jesus gave us (Matthew 22:36-40)? We will move closer to Jesus, we will grow in faith and there would be peace in our life.

This is the price that awaits those who would observe the laws of God. Without close observance of God’s commandments there would also be no close relationship with God. Observe those who don’t follow the commandments of God and observe your very own self when you don’t follow God’s commandments. What kind of life do you have? Isn’t a life of chaos and endless problems?

Therefore the key to intimacy with God is our faithful observance of His commandments. But human as we are we are also subject to our own frailties. We fall and sin every once in a while and thus we are temporarily separated from the love of God.

However Jesus also instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that whenever we sin we have a recourse out of sin. But do we take advantage of this healing and merciful sacrament? Are we conscious that this sacrament can completely erase every sin that we have committed?

Lent is a time for us to admit our own sinfulness, to admit that we have violated the laws of God. And this admittance of our own sinfulness must lead us to the merciful and healing Sacrament of Reconciliation. – Marino J. Dasmarinas


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Reflection for March 2, Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent; Matthew 5:17-19


On February 15, MannyPacquiao a Filipino boxer was quotedon T.V mentioning this Old Testament quote from the Bible: “If a man hassexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have donewhat is detestable. They are to be put to death, their blood will be on theirown heads (Leviticus 20:13).” He also posted the same quote on hisinstagram account which he deleted after a few hours and he apologized.

Jesus in our gospel for today speaks about Himself as the fulfillment of the law. In effect Jesus was telling the disciples I am now the fulfilment of those commandments.

For example the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) which God gave to Moses in the mountain of Sinai. Jesus summarized these ten to become the two greatest commandments which states: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matthew 22:37-40).”

Indeed if we really have Jesus in our lives there would be no room for hatred, condemnation, self-righteousness, bigotry and narrow-mindedness. What will remain in our hearts is love for love is the advocacy and language of Jesus. Not a selective kind of love but love for everyone of us no matter who we are. – Marino J. Dasmarinas


ACCOUNTABLE OR ANSWERABLE? – “But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:19

Many people are driven by fear of being caught, scolded or corrected. That’s why it’s possible that many would want to go to heaven for fear of hell than for love of Jesus. We don’t want to be answerable.

The cure for this? Be accountable!

It is not the mastery of God’s Word that counts, but our obedience to His Word and our need to witness to others. When the Word of God is planted in our hearts, we are accountable to teach it through our lives.

Romans 14:7-8 was right. “No one lives for himself only; no one dies for himself alone; we all have accountability to one another. All of us are gathered by God to be one with Him.”

The bottomline is, we are saved to serve, blessed to bless, healed to help, and redeemed to restore!

Yes, we are our brother’s keeper! Obet Cabrillas (

Reflection: “Before we were born, we needed people; before we die, we need people; the secret is, in between, we also need people.” (Morrie Schwartz)

Lord of the Harvest, send forth Your servants; for the harvest is plentiful. The workers are ready!


A TEST FOR OUR LIVES – In the early years of the Church, candidates for conversion to Christianity (known as catechumens) used to attend only the first part of every Eucharistic celebration (i.e., the readings and homily), and then leave the assembly after that. It forms part of their formation before baptism. The rest of the Mass was only for the faithful.

Given this little historical background, we might appreciate better our readings and the Mass as a whole. This Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent was the first scrutiny or test for the catechumens. The topic is on the Commandments of God to which both readings today refer.

The commandments have their enduring and timeless validity. It goes without saying that we ought to remember, observe and teach them always. Perhaps that is why they retain their relevance and legitimacy even in the face of today’s hostile ideologies. Given our acknowledged selfishness and tendency to disobey, we have to be told by God what to do and to obey Him always and not just do our own thing.

What if we junk and scrap out all of God’s commandments? Hedonists and libertines will rejoice and be glad. Hardliners and conservatives will seethe with anger.

But it’s more than just a question of allegiances, factions or ideologies. As we saw at the beginning, the ancient Church used to have a similar approach with the catechumens. But even they had to embrace the complete doctrine of the Church, obey all God’s commandments and precepts, and live authentic and integral lives as followers of Christ. And there were tests for that, too.

So, how do we measure up with the teachings and commands of God in our lives? Fr. Martin Macasaet, SDB

REFLECTION QUESTION: Today, take the time to go through the Ten Commandments and see where you have failed. Then have an honest-to-goodness confession.

Sorry, Lord, for the many times I have failed You. Help me to get up every time I fall by availing of Your grace in the sacrament of reconciliation.


Wednesday, March 2

Dt 4: 1, 5-9; Mathew 5: 17-19

Be Beacons of Light 

Deuteronomy, known as the book of Fidelity, reminds us that laws do not exist for their own sake, but as a way of showing our love and loyalty to God. It is a set of fervent homilies centred on some basic, inspirational lessons. It frequently returns to the idea of “today” as the moment when we receive the law from the Lord and make our response to God. Nothing is important except responding to God with love. “Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today” (note the key word “today”).

Jesus turned often to this book to express his own response to life. It was clearly among his favourite texts, with its twin focus on compassion towards our neighbour and on devotion to pleasing God each passing day. Whether in the temptation scene or in answering the questions about the first and greatest law, Jesus replies with words from this book. Jesus’ message resonates with the core attitude of Deuteronomy since it spoke to his ideals more than any other book in the Bible. In this light we can appreciate Jesus’ words: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets, but to fulfil them.”

With his frequent confrontations with the leading authorities of the land, one could very easily misunderstand Jesus’ mission as to rubbish the laws of the land and establish new ones. He confirms today that his mission is rather to fulfil these laws and to make them have a human face when he said, “I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. God prepares His people for salvation through the law and the prophets. And Christ comes in order to fulfil, complete, perfect and bring to maturity the law and the prophets and give them its proper interpretation. His emphasis is on mercy and not on legalistic minutiae; on far-reaching love and not on destructive petty details; on positive heartfelt commitment and not on external prohibitions. And about fifteen times in the gospel of St. Matthew Jesus mentions the word “fulfil.”  But this law will not remain as a law but it must move also to our hearts as demonstrated by the Beatitudes. When our own Book of Life is fully written, will it also be well steeped in fidelity and love rather than in law and rubrics?

Jesus says: “Whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Our true freedom lies not in the rejection but in the acceptance of God’s moral law. God is not a heartless dictator but a Father who loves us and wills our very best. He says: “Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake?” Jesus posits the question because he knows the Father and His law is a sign that He loves and cares for us. God is incapable of not desiring what is truly best for us.

One person can influence so many others either for the good or for the bad. Virtue breeds virtue and vice begets vice. Jesus teaches us that we have a responsibility for the moral conduct of others. We are called to be beacons of light in this troubled and confused world. By choosing what is good and distaining what is evil we exercise an important witness in our world. One person cannot change the world, but can be a positive influence in the life of another and a model of virtue for a family, a neighbourhood, or a parish or religious community.

Our mission as well in the areas of politics, business or civil and public service is not to destroy what has already been established but to bring God into it. Jesus sanitized the social order, and became a new reference point. In the same light, he calls us today to give our environment a new vision and meaning. Dr. John Ollukaran CMI


March 02, 2016

REFLECTION: No one likes to be ordered around. We all have in our makeup a streak of independence, of sheer pig-headedness which is apparently part and parcel of our fallen nature. We spontaneously do not like to bow to another person’s will
In some people this can go to ridiculous extremes. For example, they pay good money to consult a doctor and they then fail to follow his recommendations. They buy an expensive gadget and then ignore the accompanying “Directions for use.”

Well, when it comes to God’s commandments—and especially the “Big Ten” or Ten Commandments or Decalogue—some Christians see them as a kind of kill-joy. “Another thou shalt not!” they grumble. Yet, if they stopped to think about it, would they be happier in a society where anybody could murder anybody else with impunity, where theft would be allowed, perjury condoned, adultery encou­raged, needy old parents ignored?

There exists a charming little book about the Ten Commandments entitled “10 Ways to a Happy Life” (by S. Muto and A. van Kaam). A good title because the sole purpose of the Ten Commandments is to ensure our happiness, as the Bible itself tells us repeatedly (Dt 4:40; 5:16, 29; 6:2, 18, 24; 7:12-15). Is that so surprising on the part of a Father who loves his children?


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See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

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