Friday of the 13th Week of the Year


Jesus took notice of the plight of public sinners of His time. He reached out to them and joined their company, even if this would mean going against the current of public opinion. For Him nothing else really mattered but love. He reached out unconditionally to sinners and those relegated by the community to the margins of society.

Many a times we realize that the only way to show sympathy and share in the misery of the afflicted is by simply being with them – presence. Indeed, this never occurs in a long distance kind of affair. There’s really no substitute for physical presence. And Jesus simply did what He believed he should have done. And this had affected change in the lives of many, including Matthew the tax collector.

In like manner, reconciliation is born out of love that knows how to listen and be present. Let love show the way. Let love lead us at the doorstep of those who are in need of our love and forgiveness. (Fr. Nielo Cantilado, SVD Bible Diary 2002)


A mother once approached Napoleon to seek pardon for her son. The emperor replied that the young man had committed a certain offence twice and justice demanded death. “But I don’t ask for justice,” the mother explained, “I plead for mercy.” “But your son does not deserve mercy,” Napoleon replied. “Sir,” the woman cried, “it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask for.” “Well then,” the emperor said, “I will have mercy.” And he spared the woman’s son.

Mercy is clearly defined when Jesus called Matthew to be one of His disciples. Jesus picked a tax collector who by profession, was despised by the Jewish people. The Pharisees themselves challenged his unorthodox behavior of eating with public sinners. He was not perturbed by these reactions. It was clear to Him that a doctor doesn’t need to visit healthy people; instead He goes to those who are sick. Jesus likewise sought out those in greatest need. As a true physician, he sought the entire healing of a person – body, mind and spirit.

Most of the time we are so preoccupied with our own practice of religion that we neglect to help the very people who need care. We tend to be selfish because we do not want to have anything to do with people not like ourselves. We fail to understand that we are as needy as those people we despise in our communities. We all need God’s mercy because of human limitations and imperfections.

We make St. Augustine’s prayer our own: “Lord Jesus, our Savior, let us now come to you. Our hearts are cold; Lord, warm them with your selfless love. Our hearts are sinful; cleanse them with your precious blood. Our hearts are weak; strengthen them with your joyous Spirit. Our hearts are empty; fill them with your divine presence. Lord Jesus, our hearts are your; possess them always and only for yourself.” (Fr. Marlone Ramirez, SVD Bible Diary 2005


An elderly invalid woman whose life consisted of sitting on her electric wheelchair and playing solitaire the whole day in her vast villa, was asked by her daughter if she wanted to make a confession on a visiting priest-friend. The woman beamed with delight, welcomed the priest and proclaimed: “Father, since I sat in this wheelchair seventeen years ago, I never committed any sin!”

It is sad when we start losing the sense of sin. And it would be alarming when we start considering sinful actions as not sinful. Today’s reality bears witness to this grand deception of ourselves. Otherwise, how could we explain the big number of Catholics who receive communion regularly but do not go to confession for years? How many couples who are not married in the Church, Catholics with “Number twos or threes,” corrupt officials and practicing homosexuals continue to join the communion line?

People who have dulled their conscience to the reality of sin have become self-righteous and have begun living a lie. St. John is clear when he wrote: “If we say, ‘we have no sin,’ we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us,” (1John 1:8). People who have lost the awareness of sin do not need to go to communion at all. They have no need of salvation; no need for Christ. and it would seem that Christ has no need for them.

Paul Tournier in one of his books wrote that to be a sinner who needs redemption, one does not have to actually commit murder nor engage in blatant disobedience to God’s commandments. One has only to realize his/her weaknesses and tendency to succumb to Satan’s attractions. Meaning to say that given the same circumstances and conditions of criminals in jail, I could easily be one of them. This tendency and capacity to live in darkness, because of the thrill and the fascination for it, is to realize one’s sinfulness. The good news is Someone came and announced: “I did not come for the righteous but sinners.” (Fr. Atilano Corcuera, SVD Bible Diary 2007)


“Give me a second chance!” I often hear these words when a person makes a mistake and asks for a second chance to do better. Some of our student-seminarians ask for a “second chance” once they are told that they have to take a leave from the seminary at the end of the school year.

Scripture is inhabited with personalities afforded graciously with second chances and they became great people/saints in the process. We have Paul, an executioner turned great missionary; Thomas, a doubter turned believer; Peter, a person who denied Jesus became the first head of the Church.

Today’s gospel is another story of “second chance” given to a person named Matthew. We all know the character of Matthew, a Jew, who sold his services to the Romans to collect taxes for them from his own countrymen. In the eyes of many, Matthew was not a good man. Nobody wanted to be seen in his company except his own fellow tax collectors and sinners.

However, there was one man, Jesus by name, who dared not only to be seen with him, but even ate in his house with the rest of Matthew’s company of tax collectors and sinners. He gave Matthew a “second chance” by inviting him to be one of His disciples.

We can only imagine how Matthew might have felt when the Lord called him. It was a chance of a lifetime to redeem the past and to create a new future. Here was a chance for him to do something for himself. Surely, he never regretted it. Today, we know him as one of the great apostles of our Lord.

Our story today is indeed good news that God never easily gives up on us; he gives us a “second chance” to reform ourselves, no matter how we have made ourselves before Him. Like Matthew, then, let us stand up and leave our sinful past behind and start to follow Him. For all the mistakes and sins we made in life, we humbly pray: “Lord, give me a second chance.” (Fr. Gerry Donato, SVD Bible Diary 2008)


July 1, 2016 Friday

The SVD Japan province, for the past years, has continued to be blest with vocations to the priesthood. This year 6 young boys are in our minor seminary in Nagasaki. A Japanese, a Filipino and a Brazilian with Japanese roots have just finished novitiate. Last year two were ordained priests one of whom is a Filipino. Most of our ordinandi, after finishing the SVD Japan Overseas Training Program, decide to continue their theological studies and formation here. We need priests and religious brothers and sisters. “Follow me”, Jesus says. To young men and women out there, come be priests, come and be religious brothers and sisters.

A young French woman has offered herself to God in the service of others, together with 5 in a community called “Ai no Minato”, roughly translated as Love’s Port, in Sendai, Japan. In this ordinary neighborhood, they join the people’s day to day activities. This young woman set up a cooking class.

She may be a single “dot” (tuldok), she says, but combine all dots of love in this world, and it will fill the world. “Follow me”, says Jesus. To you out there, eat and dine with Jesus, talk to Him, and invite others to dine with Him. Share His love, mercy, and compassion.

“Follow me”, the Lord Jesus says in today’s Gospel message. We may be full of imperfections, but all the same God comes to us and calls us. His invitation is an invitation that echoes more so today. It is an invitation to all; an invitation to experience God’s loving and healing, mercy and compassion. And as we experience it, may we share God’s love to others too. (Fr. Angel Peralta, SVD | Japan Bible Diary 2016)


First, on Mercy: More than his sense of justice, God, through Jesus, shows us that his first perfection is that of love and mercy. Being the image and likeness of God, we must also be merciful. In fact, Jesus speaks about this challenge in the Beatitudes, when he pronounced: “Blessed are the merciful….” Being merciful like God is even greater than any other sacrifice. We often sacrifice or offer according to our terms. We sacrifice or offer what is to our convenience, what is within our means, what we can afford within our comfort. To be merciful is to go beyond our comfort zone, and this time offer, not so much what we want, but what the other needs. Very often, what the other needs…. is what is precious to us: our best time, our best attention, our well-kept treasure, our love and forgiveness.

Second, on teachability: Although the gospel highlights Jesus’ great mercy for public sinners like tax collectors and prostitutes, it is noteworthy that Jesus did not seem to have such a great mercy toward the Pharisees and the scribes. With these Jewish leaders, Jesus was stern and many times, confrontational. Such a difference in Jesus’ way is no ordinary bias. It is rather based on the difference between the publicans and the Pharisees.

While the publicans, amidst their sinful ways, easily responded to Jesus’ teaching and call for conversion, the Pharisees did not. They often engaged Jesus in argumentation. Many times they even rebuffed Jesus.

Mercy as a divine gift works best when the recipient is open, teachable, and vulnerable. St. Paul himself wrote: “It is when I am weak that I am strong.”

Third, on hope: Jesus declared that he came for sinners, not the righteous. This should be a great ego-booster for us when we come to God in prayer, when we dedicate ourselves to apostolate and ministry though we ourselves have our personal struggles. In a sense, we all are limited, failing, sinning. Jesus says: it is alright! We should not make this an alibi for not doing good.

Fourth, on work: Jesus encountered Matthew while he was at his very secular-looking post as a tax collector who serves a pagan employer (the Roman Empire). Jesus called Matthew while in his work. Let us not regard work as a separate compartment of life, one that is apart from our worship and spirituality. Work can be a place where we encounter Jesus as we deal with persons and with situations. Here we are challenged to show forth on Christian values and principles, such as patience, honesty, etc. Even more, work can be our calling, our vocation. This is especially true with people who render services; teachers and doctors among them. Aside from being their bread-and-butter, their work and service to others can also be ministry and apostolate. (Fr. Domie Guzman SSP, New Every Morning New Everyday, Makati: St. Pauls, 2006: 209-210)


Thursday, June 30, 2016

FRIDAY OF THE 13TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR C) Mateo 9:9-13 – BUKAS BA ANG ATONG KASINGKASING SA TAWAG SA DIOS? Si Mateo usa ka kobrador sa buhis. Giisip siya nga dakong makasasala tungod sa iyang pagpakigkumbuya sa mga banyagang Romano ug sa daot nga sistema sa pagpaningil og buhis. Apan, bisan sa iyang pagkatawhanon, si Mateo nagpakita og abli nga kasingkasing. Sa dihang gitawag siya ni Hesus, dali siya nga nibiya sa iyang lingkoranan aron sa pagsunod sa Ginoo. Ang iyang pagdapit kang Hesus sa kumbira didto sa iyang panimalay nagpakita sa iyang pagdawat sa Dios sulod sa iyang kinabuhi. Kining ebanghelyo magdasig kanato sa pagsusi kon unsang matang sa kinabuhi ang atong gipuy-an karon – moral ba o dili, diosnon ba o yawan-on? Hinaot nga sama kang Mateo, kita andam nga mobiya sa atong daotang kinabuhi aron sa pagsunod kang Kristo. Posted by Abet Uy


WELCOME TO THE FEAST! – “I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” – Matthew 9:13

Every Sunday, our churches are full. But this standing-room-only crowd gives us a false complacency that the Catholic Church is doing well.

The truth is, it’s not. A bishop told me that very few Catholics attend church today. (We just have a huge population that’s why our churches are full.) He said that out of 10 Catholics, only 1.5 attend Sunday Mass regularly.

Here’s our problem: We focus on serving those 1.5 people. We forget that God calls us to reach those 8.5 people around us who don’t go to church. All our church activities are for insiders. We sing songs that insiders like. We preach messages for insiders. As a church, we need to change.

That’s why we created The Feast, our weekly gathering (visit for details). This is our small and humble way of reaching out to those who feel they are unwelcome in church.

The Feast isn’t designed for insiders but for outsiders. Everything about The Feast — the music, the message, the atmosphere — is designed for the unchurched, the irreligious, people who feel far from God or who feel spiritual but not religious.

Come to The Feast and be blessed! Bo Sanchez (

Reflection: How do you relate with people who are far from the Church?

Dearest Lord, give me the heart of a compassionate disciple.


THE VIRUS OF HYPOCRISY – On Holy Thursday 2014, Pope Francis washed the feet of four women and eight men, one among them a Muslim in a rehabilitation facility in the outskirts of Rome. He knelt on both knees and poured water over each person’s foot; some feet were greatly swollen due to medical conditions. Then he bowed down and kissed the feet. I cannot forget the remark of a pious daily church-goer, “That’s too much — kissing the feet of a Muslim and of criminals.”

This remark came back to my mind when I read today’s Gospel passage where Jesus called a despised tax collector to become His disciple, and then had a good dinner with other tax collectors and sinners. The reaction of  the Pharisees was similar to that of the pious lady who could not swallow that a Pope would kiss the feet of women, Muslims and criminals. Many Pharisees pretended to be devoted observers of God’s Law but looked down on others and even were hiding their weaknesses behind pious masks.

The group of Jewish Pharisees doesn’t exist anymore, but haven’t Christian “Pharisees” replaced them? Am I not also, at times, a Pharisee who pretends to be good and holy while covering up one or the other bad habit or even sinful practice?

Too often, we are overly concerned with appearances and not with reality. Too often, the virus of hypocrisy infects us and we try to protect our name and position, like the Pharisees of old.

On October 15, 2013, Pope Francis said during his daily homily: “Jesus gives us advice: Don’t look at appearances, go directly towards the truth. A plate is a plate, but what is important is what’s on the plate. The meal. But if you are vain, if you are a careerist, if you are ambitious, if you are a person that always puts yourself before others or likes to advance yourself, because you think you are perfect, give a little bit of alms and that will heal your hypocrisy.”Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD

REFLECTION QUESTION: Do you also pretend to be holier and look down on others?

Lord, Your words penetrate me and make me aware that I am in need of Your healing. Help me to live without masks and practice mercy instead of criticism. Amen.


Friday of the13th Week in Ordinary Time

Am 8: 4-6, 9-12; Mt 9: 9-13

The call of Mathew

The word Matthew is derived from the Hebrew word ‘mattityah’, which means “gift of God.” He was identified with Levi a tax collector whom Jesus called to follow him. He was a Jew born at Galilee. The tax collectors were despised and considered traitors by their fellow Jews. They associated with gentiles and collected funds for the Roman oppressors. If Levi was a tax collector in Capernaum, then fish were indeed one of the commodities regularly taxed in the region. In that case, he probably was already well known and despised by Simon and Andrew, Jacob and john.

There is story associated with the name of Matthew. Two Jews named Levi and Lamech went together to the baptismal font to be baptized. And the first to be called for baptism was Levi. When he came out of the font after baptism, Lamech greeted him eagerly: “Well, Levi, how did it go?” Levi paid no attention to his friend and started to move away. Lamech went after him and asked: “what is the matter with you?” Levi answered: “nothing is the matter with me, in the first place my name is not Levi, it is Matthew, in the second place, I do not have anything to say to you Jews. You crucified our Lord”

Mark tells us that Matthew is “son of Alphaeus.” Levi is not mentioned in Luke’s list of the Twelve (Luke 6:12-16), but James son of Alphaeus is mentioned. Matthew does not mention Levi in his list of the Twelve, but he does list Matthew the tax collector right before the son of Alphaeus (Matt. 10:2-4). It is certainly possible that Levi and Matthew are two names for the same person. Various ancients, including early Jews had more than one name, sometime the second name was used (e. g., Simon and Cephas: Paul and Saul). Let us pray for his intercession so that we may become genuine followers of Jesus Christ. Fr. Davis Panadan CMI


July 01, 2016

REFLECTION: When a country invades another country and occupies it for a time, the invaders always find among the local population a certain number of shameless citizens who will accept to collaborate with the invaders if it profits them. Naturally these traitors are heartily detested by the rest of the local population.

At the time of Jesus the Romans were occupying Palestine and bleeding it with all kinds of heavy taxes. But they paid local citizens to collect these taxes for them, thus making these tax collectors their collaborators. For this reason the Jewish population at large rightly looked on these collaborators as shameless traitors—“sinners” in the vocabulary of the Pharisees.

In today’s gospel reading we see Jesus choosing one of the tax collectors, Matthew by name (or Levi, according to another tradition), to be an apostle. And, quite understandably, the Pharisees take offense at this. Who wouldn’t? But Jesus is above our petty categories. However dark a person’s past may be, everything becomes possible when Jesus enters the picture.

And this applies to each one of us. We may think that we are too dumb or too old or too evil to be chosen by Jesus, but he will never give up on us.


See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

Back to: Friday of the 13th Week of the Year

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