Tuesday of the 5th Week of Lent

John 8:21-30

Jesus, the Father’s Ambassador


In today’s gospel we see and hear a Jesus who is confident of His identity: “I am who am”, Beloved Son of the Father sent to this world, a Jesus who is faithful to His mission: “I always do what pleases Him.” Because of this self-possession, He is very sure of His identity. And to those who failed to listen to Him and to recognize Him as the Messiah, He said, “You cannot go where I am going,” as straightforward as that.

How about us, do we know where we are going? Will we make it to where Jesus is going?

Like those who were listening to Jesus, I would like to take His word as a challenge rather than a cause for disappointment, an invitation rather than a rejection. “Many who heard Jesus believed in Him.” The way is open should we want to take up the challenge.

The person of Jesus challenges us today to be rooted too in our identity as beloved children of the Father who sacrificed His only Son for our salvation. Only in this rootedness can we resist sin, free ourselves and do what pleases the Father. Then we can be sure of our identity as Jesus was. (Sr. Maria Cecilia, SSpS Bible Diary 2004)


Every opening of the school year, the phrase ‘I AM’ is used to introduce ourselves to new classmates and teachers. In introducing ourselves to new we give a piece and parcel of ourselves, so they will have at least a little knowledge of us. ‘I AM’ signify ourselves as this or that person.

Jesus Himself used this to signify the same. But there is a big difference in Jesus’ usage of ‘I AM’ because He hints in the coming crucifixion. This phrase is the special Hebrew title of God, “He Who Is” (Yahweh). For Jesus, using the phrase entails a great responsibility, in contrast to modern man who uses it just for self recognition. Jesus’ I AM signify the cross, the symbol not of passive suffering or weakness but the transformation of suffering and weakness into active, total self-giving love. In baptism, our I AM, our identity got a Christian dimension. A certain path had been marked for us to follow not exactly via crucifixion because only Jesus is capable of doing it, but via expressions of loving service that will bring us closer to God and to our brothers and sisters. (Fr. Al Araceli, SVD Bible Diary 2006)


I was in 4th year high school when my uncle shot a 15-foot snake with his rifle. The bullet struck the head of the snake just a fraction of an inch below its eyes. But the snake recovered. In two weeks time, it was healthy again.

Folk wisdom says that a snake can heal itself. No wonder why the symbol most associated with the medical profession is that of two snakes wrapped around a rod – the “Rod of Asclepius.” Pharmacists, doctors and nurses wear this symbol.

In a similar way, in the first reading of today, the snake becomes a symbol both of punishment and healing. Snakes were sent to punish the people who grumbled and complained against God. Moses erected the symbol of the bronze serpent mounted on a pole in the desert – for healing! Those bitten by the snakes looked at the symbol on the pole and were healed.

In the gospel of today, Jesus reminds us that we will die in our sins like the people in the desert, if we refuse to believe in Him. That when He will  be lifted up (on the cross), we will come to believe that indeed He is God.

The cross is the symbol of our sinfulness, our rejection of God and our total separation from Him. Jesus made the cross the source of our salvation. The cross was meant for us, our punishment, but Jesus took it upon Himself because he loves us to the end. Whenever we look at the cross, we should see our sins and its ugliness and humbly say: “It’s my cross, Lord, the punishment I deserve but you took it upon yourself. You died for me because you love me.”

In the cross, the symbol of death has become the symbol of God’s loving mercy. (Fr. Herman Suico, SVD Bible Diary 2007)


I am reminded of a picture in a catechism book – Jesus hanging on the cross and the sacraments flowing out from his wounded side. The cross or the crucifix is everything for a Christian. It means a lot. It is a very powerful symbol. It’s about love, loyalty and sacrifice. This, however, can also symbolize the cruelty of man. In this season of Lent, we focus on the cross. Jesus proclaims: “When you lift the Son of Man, you will realize that I AM.” The cross has a single significance. It is salvation, just as the serpent during the time of Moses brought healing on the Israelites in the Old Testament. This Lent, let us renew our commitment to carry our cross and help others who find it difficult to carry theirs. In your cross there is salvation. “By your cross you have redeemed the world.” (Fr. Yoyo Rebucias, SVD Bible Diary 2008)


15 March 2016 Tuesday

Jesus implies separation in this gospel. He said: “You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above.” Separation, in its most common manifestation, is nothing but an undesirable act of division. It is part of life but we don’t like its painful process: sadness, regret, hate, pain and tears. And we long to be reunited to people or things we are separated from.

When I, as an exchange student, left the Philippines for Portugal, I had difficulty accepting separation from family and friends. Perhaps all missionaries or overseas workers undergo the same separation difficulty. Yet, why do they choose to sacrifice the luxury of being with the people they love to venture and live in far distant places? I believe separation is not an end but a necessary process for a sweet reunion ahead. After all, separation is part of the greater picture of unity.

Humanity has long been separated from God. God did not turn away from us; we turned away from Him through our sins. Nevertheless, God wants us to be reunited with Him by sending his son Jesus on earth to bring us back to him. Jesus lived among us, yet never separated from the Father. Jesus proves that being human does not mean being separated from the divine – him as the perfect example of being both human and divine. His invitation is for us to imitate him and be reunited with the Father. And for this to happen, we need to turn away from the things that separate us from Him: our sins and worldly desires. Otherwise, we cannot fully live with Him, neither here on earth nor in the life after. May we choose eternal joy with God more than meeting worldly pleasures. (Fr. Charlie Bardaje, SVD Portugal Bible 2016)



WHAT REMAINS OF YOU? “Who are you?”– John 8:25

We had this exercise in the pastoral counseling course I took. We were asked to imagine ourselves as coconut husks. As we imagined peeling off the layers of husk, we were invited to think of who we are to the world or the people around us.

As I followed our priest-professor’s instructions, I identified myself as a business owner, a loyal friend, a trustworthy daughter, a dependable sister, a child of God, and so on. It took an effort to remove the husk that represented the hats that I wore in life. Because each time I removed one layer of the husk, or one role I had in life, I felt my self-worth diminish. Until there was only one identity left — a child of God — and this was something that could not be taken away from me.

From the exercise, I learned an important life lesson: that our real identity comes from our being a child of God, not from the roles we play in life. Since then, each time I take on a role, I remind myself:

“Tess, you are not your role. You are worth more than your role. You are God’s beloved child.” Tess V. Atienza (svp_tvatienza@yahoo.com)

Reflection: When you peel off the layers of husks, what remains of you?

Lord Jesus, please remind me to always anchor my life on You.



1ST READING: I would not have been as compassionate as Moses if the people had complained to me about the “wretched” food. There are many in the world who do not have any food, or at least very little. God has brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and they were on their way to the Promised Land. Where is their gratitude to God for this? Ingratitude is a terrible thing. Let us avoid it as best as we can.Numbers 21:4-9

GOSPEL: Jesus knows that the things He is proclaiming in His ministry are difficult to accept. He understands the peoples’ lack of understanding. However, He also knows that there will come a time when everyone will understand, and then there will be no more excuses. While it may be difficult to believe some of the claims of the Scriptures, we do not have an excuse for our unbelief as there are literally millions who have gone before us and shown us what it means to be a man or woman of faith.John 8:21-30

think:  Ingratitude is a terrible thing. Let us avoid it as best as we can.



A GODLY LESSON FOR TODAY’S FATHERS: We have always accepted that the ideal social norm is for fathers to go out to look for ways to provide for the family and for mothers to be focused on nurturing the family members. With the standard of life becoming more demanding, more and more fathers are becoming absentee fathers. If not busy with work elsewhere, they may be abroad for months or years on contract work. It is not uncommon then that fathers can be detached from their children. In turn, children of absentee fathers may grow up without any intimate, unique and personal knowledge of their fathers.

The Father of Jesus, from whom every family on earth comes from, is the one who accompanies Jesus, His Son whom He sent. During the baptism at the River Jordan, when Jesus began His three-year public life, and during the Transfiguration, when Jesus started out His final journey to His Passion, the heavenly Father made His presence strongly felt. The Gospels tell us that in each of these occasions, a theophany (manifestation of God) happened. The voice of the Father was heard as He strongly affirmed Jesus as “My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” In turn, Jesus entrusted Himself greatly to His Father. Now, we hear Him declare: “He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to Him.” During the Last Supper Discourse, Jesus again says, “Behold the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered… But I am not alone, because the Father is with me” (cf John 16:31-32).

Even during His passion, Jesus would never cease to call God “Abba” or Father (cf Mark 14:36; Luke 23:34; 23:46). The Father seemed to be too quiet, not making His voice heard, but He was there.

Fathers have a very important calling in this regard. They are called to mirror the headship of the heavenly Father. A headship that is not simply a right and privilege but one that involves being a loving source of life, of providence, of guidance. A headship that means real (not virtual), tangible (not abstract), true (not delegated) presence! Fr. Domie Guzman, SSP

REFLECTION QUESTIONS: For fathers of families, how can you have more quality time with your family? For spiritual fathers of renewal groups, how do you balance your involvement and detachment on the affairs of your community and its members?

Dear Jesus, teach me and mold me to be a person after Your own heavenly Father.



BELIEVE IN JESUS – “Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!” Thus says our First Reading. The Israelites complain against God and Moses.

Perhaps we, too, complain immediately when things are not according to our liking or when they are not up to our standards. Luckily, we don’t get punished at all for our complaints. But we have to be aware of our stubborn dissatisfaction. Only God satisfies — and we have no right to complain about things here on earth.

Jesus in today’s Gospel reminds us: “You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above.” If we remain stuck with the momentary matters and affairs of this world, we will find it hard to be “lifted up” to greater heights. Just like the Jews who seemed lost and unable to figure out what Jesus was saying, we will also be incapable of grasping the Lord’s message to us.

That would be pathetic, for there is already a finality in God’s revelation to us in His Son Jesus. At the risk of being misunderstood or accused of blasphemy, Jesus refers to Himself with the Hebrew title of God, “I AM.” And as the concluding verse of the Gospel passage points out, “Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him.”

Do we also believe in Jesus? Or do we continue complaining about the petty matters of this world? Fr. Martin Macasaet, SDB

REFLECTION QUESTION: Do you tend to complain to Jesus when things do not turn out the way you expect them to be?

Lord Jesus, tame my tongue and train my heart to be content whenever I start complaining.



Tuesday of the 5th Week of Lent (A): John 8:21-30. Do we belong to God or to the world? The “world” in John’s gospel does not simply refer to the material world, but to all forces and mentalities that oppose the Kingdom of God. Thus, to his Jewish accusers, Jesus said: “You are of this world, I am not of this world.” Jesus became flesh, shared our human nature, and lived with us, but he remained conscious that he has a Father in heaven to whom he is united and for whom he is doing everything. And this is also Jesus’ invitation to all of us: to live in the world without becoming worldly. God gives this material world to us. We live here and enjoy its good things. And yet, let us not forget that we belong to God and we have to use everything to promote love, joy, peace and justice, or simply, the kingdom of God. (Abet Uy)



TUESDAY OF THE 5TH WEEK OF LENT (YEAR B) – JUAN 8:21-30. KINSA MAN ANG MGA LANGITNON UG KINSA ANG MGA KALIBOTANON? Sa mga mata sa ebanghelyo, ang mga langitnon mao sila nga nidawat kang Kristo, nakasabot sa iyang mensahe ug naningkamot sa pagsunod sa iyang panig-ingnan. Samtang ang mga kalibotanon mao sila nga wala moila kang Kristo isip anak sa Dios ug nagpuyo’g kinabuhi nga sukwahi sa iyang pagtulon-an ug panig-ingnan. Si Kristo nagtudlo nga ang mga kalibotanon mamatay diha sa ilang sala, samtang ang mga langitnon makabaton sa kinabuhing dayon (cf. Juan 6:41-51). Sa Kristohanong bunyag nga atong nadawat, nahimo kitang mga anak sa Dios ug manununod sa Gingharian sa Langit. Hinaot unta nga magpuyo kita og kinabuhi karon nga takos gayod ingon nga mga tinawag sa Dios” (Efeso 4:1). Posted by Abet Uy



Reflection: What does sin do to us? It separates us from the infinite love of God, the more we sin the more that we widen the distance between us and God.  Why do we sin? We sin for the simple reason that we succumb to the devil’s temptation. But all is not lost yet because we have someone who is always there for us to save us from the bondage of sin and it’s no other than Jesus.

The moment we submit ourselves to the sacrament of Confession we allow Jesus to heal us from the bondage of sin.  We allow Jesus to exterminate whatever evil particle that we have in our system. As we approach the holiest of weeks we are slowly but surely being brought by the church closer to Jesus. For what reason is this? This to make us realize that we must have Jesus in our lives for us to survive the many evils of this world. This is to make us realize that we are useless beings of this world without Jesus in our lives.

However, at the end of the day it’s still upon us if we want to permanently separate ourselves from the love of God. Jesus is always there waiting for us to walk away from our sinful lives. He is just around waiting for us to go to Him.

We have everything to gain and nothing to lose if we allow Jesus to come into our lives. But come to think of it, He also gave us this freedom of choice to where we would go. It’s our choice if we go to Him, it’s also our choice if we run away from Him and embrace life with the companionship of the devil. (Marino J. Dasmarinas)



Reflection for March 24, Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent; John 8:21-30 Reflection: What is the barrier that prevents us to be with Jesus? It’s our sinfulness and unfaithfulness to Him. Whenever we sin we put barrier that divides us from Jesus the more we sin the more barriers that we create that separates us from Jesus.

But we also know that this separation is not permanent because through our humble submission to the Sacrament of Reconciliation we allow Jesus to reach out to us as we reach out to Him also. This is what separates us from the many Pharisees of Jesus time.

By their arrogance and unbelief they created a permanent barrier between them and Jesus. This is one of the reason why Jesus told them (Pharisees), where I am going you cannot come. What then is the key element for us to be able to go eventually where Jesus is? It’s our humility and belief in Jesus.

We read in the first part of the gospel that Jesus is somewhat distant and aloft. Yes, in His humanity Jesus was perhaps exasperated already with the Pharisees. Who would not be? They always contradict Him, they always find fault in Him and they were full of jealousy and unbelief.

Nevertheless Jesus loved them dearly also the same love and intensity that He gave to His followers and to us also. Jesus did not sacrifice His life on the cross for those who only believe Him. He died on the cross or all of us believers, unbelievers and sinners.

If you think that because of your sinfulness and unbelief you’re already hopeless and out of the loop of the love of Jesus. You’re not, you still have hope, you’re still dearly loved by Jesus who died for you on the cross. Pray to Him and look up to Him. – Marino J. Dasmarinas



Monday, March 14, 2016

Reflection for March 15, Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent; John 8:21-30

Reflection: What does sin do to us? It separates us from the infinite love of God, the more we sin the more that we widen the distance between us and God.  Why do we sin? We sin because we succumb to the devil’s temptation. But we are not beyond redemption for the reason that we have someone who is always there for us to save us from the bondage of sin and He’s no other than Jesus.

The moment we submit ourselves to the sacrament of Confession we allow Jesus to heal us from the bondage of sin.  We allow Jesus to exterminate whatever evil particle that we have in our system.

As we get closer to the holiest of weeks we are slowly but surely being brought by the church closer to Jesus. For what reason is this? This to make us realize about the great love and sacrifice that Jesus did on the cross. Jesus died for us on the cross, He need not die on the cross but He gave His life for His love for us.

At the end of the day it’s still upon us if we want to permanently separate ourselves from the love of Jesus. Or if we go to Jesus and accept His offer of salvation Jesus is always there waiting for us ever ready to forgive and love us once again.

We have everything to gain and nothing to lose if we surrender everything to Jesus. – Marino J. Dasmarinas




WORD Today: (Num 21:4-9; John 8:21-30) – The Cross today is very much sanitized and stylized, made of gold or silver and worn as decoration. As the Cross lost its meaning, so has sin. Sin has also been sanitized and stylized. No more absolute right or wrong, only individual choices. No more Ten Commandments to obey but 1000 rationalizations of what we’re doing. No black or white, only shades of gray.

Our readings challenge us to look at the cross and see as instrument of torture and death on which we drive a nail through Christ’s Body EVERY TIME we commit our favorite sin (Heb 6:6).

It’s SIN, mine and yours, that killed Christ on the cross. “Of you don’t believe that I AM the Savior, you’ll die in your sins,” (John 8:24). If we don’t admit and confess our sins, Christ can’t save us and we’ll die forever (Fr. Iko Bajos – April 8, 2014).


March 15, 2016

REFLECTION: As we approach the Holy Week, the liturgical readings are more and more explicitly referring to Jesus’ impending death on a cross and its resulting beneficial effects on mankind. Thus in the first reading the bronze serpent elevated on a standard and which heals the Israelites bitten by the fiery serpents is a “type” (a reality of the Old Testament symbolically representing a future reality of the New Testament) of Christ elevated on the cross and healing those who believe in him, as explicitly taught by Jesus (cf. Jn 3:14). In today’s gospel reading, Jesus alludes again to his “lifting” up on the cross as being a source of revelation about his divinity. His use of the expression I AM in a transcendent meaning (cf. the theophany of God revealing his name as being I AM in Ex 3:14) is a clear allusion to his divine nature.

Throughout the Old Testament we find many similar “types” announcing the realities of the New Testament and especially pointing to Christ as the center and fulfillment of all things. For that is what he is. “I am the alpha and omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev 22:13).


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See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

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