Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Proper Feast in the Philippines
Mt. 18:1-5, 10
January 19, 2014

GOSPEL READING: The Greatest in the Kingdom
At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me. “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.


We live in a world that usually aims not for silver or for bronze but for gold. To win as second place or as runner up, is simply not enough. In the Hunger Games, there must only be one victor; all the other tributes do not win – they die. We hear of the number one FM station, number one TV station and so on. Self-coronation. All claim the same spot. Such competition. 

Even in the ancient Mediterranean world, this kind of mentality is prevalent. The disciples, in the gospel, are pre-occupied with this: who will be greatest in the Kingdom. As if they already are assured of entering, their concern is of the next level. Surprisingly, Jesus points to the child, not to a famous figure in history, as model for greatness. He says: “…Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18: 3-4).

To properly understand what Jesus is trying to impart, we take a short time travel to the ancient world. When Jesus walked on earth, children, as well as women, sadly do not count. Remember the events when Jesus multiplies the loaves and the fishes, children, together with women, are not counted. Though seen as helpless, children are loved by parents. We, Filipinos, are naturally fond of children; we can relate much to this. Is it their unique cuteness that makes them lovable? Perhaps so. But more than that, it is their innocence, their vulnerability, their simplicity, their dependence or their trust that does the magic. In the final analysis, the child is seen as the perfect picture of true humility, which is highlighted as a must in the Kingdom. 

To be saved, there is the call for conversion that we ought to answer positively – to have a change of mind and heart. In a world where independence and self-sufficiency is altogether valued highly, acknowledging once dependence could be embarrassing. But isn’t this true: everything we own is but given by God? Everything comes from God; in every way, we all depend on His providence. Once we humbly accept the truth that we are in need of His mercy, salvation is not far from us. And this should be our primary concern: to enter the Kingdom, not to aspire to be the greatest in the Kingdom. To push the issue, if need be, it is this same humility that is ultimately the criterion for authentic greatness. Furthermore, Jesus himself, in the Last Supper, showed us that the mark of true greatness is humble service. It is also written: “The first will be the last and the last will be first.” (Matthew 20:16)

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me” (Matthew 18: 5). Recently, many are affected by natural calamities; thousands of lives are lost and millions of properties destroyed. These are examples of little ones to whom we are called to serve. Still others, independent from these calamities, are waiting for some helping hands, not only eyes that pity them. Jesus identifies himself to people such as these; whatever we do to them, we do to Christ. And if such acts are charitable, those are surely to be rewarded in heaven.

Just like a child, may we learn to live humbly, possessing the attitude of trustful dependence on our Father’s provident mercy. Acknowledging that we are gifted with so much, despite our unworthiness, may we not delay in showing kindness of heart to those who, like us, are in need. Amen.

BRO. JOHN PAUL SONTILLANO, OP is a Dominican Student-Brother.


Feast, Cycle A, OP Friars, Sto. Niño, Simplicity, Vulnerability, Innocence, Greatness

Friday, January 10, 2014

Baptism of the Lord (A) - Living Water

Mt. 3:13-17
January 12, 2014

GOSPEL READING: The Baptism of the Lord
Jesus appeared: he came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. John tried to dissuade him. ‘It is I who need baptism from you’ he said ‘and yet you come to me!’ But Jesus replied, ‘Leave it like this for the time being; it is fitting that we should, in this way, do all that righteousness demands.’ At this, John gave in to him.

  As soon as Jesus was baptized he came up from the water, and suddenly the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. And a voice spoke from heaven, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; my favor rests on him.’

REFLECTION: Living Water

Water cleanses. Water is life. Water is a great symbol in Baptism, the sacrament that cleanses our sins and welcomes us into a new life in Christ, Who was “born of the Virgin Mary [and] has truly been made one of us, like to us in all things except sin” (Gaudium et Spes 22, 2). But wait! Why was Jesus baptized if He is without sin? He went to the River Jordan, fell in line, waited His turn, sloped into the waters, and was baptized by John like the others.

Our Lord voluntarily submitted Himself to baptism intended for sinners in order to “fulfill all righteousness” (Mt 3:15). Jesus’ gesture is a manifestation of His self-emptying (cf. Phil 2:7.) The Spirit Who had hovered over the waters of the first creation descended on the Christ as a prelude of the new creation, and the Father revealed Jesus as His “beloved Son” (Mt 3:16-17). Therefore, He was not baptized for His sins to be cleansed because He is sinless in the first place; He was baptized for us to be cleansed from sin through His love. Baptism marked the start of His public ministry. The water of Baptism inaugurated His proclamation of the Good News and this must be true to all baptized Christians as well. We are Christians because we are followers of Christ.

We were baptized with living water, and we must let this water flow in our life. If we are baptized Christians yet we are only nominal Christians, this water will become stagnant. Yes, we are Christians but we don’t attend the Eucharistic celebrations on Sundays and holy days of obligation. We are Christians, yet we don’t care for the poor, the sick and the less fortunate. We are Christians, yet we lead others to temptation and sin. We are Christians, yet we don’t forgive. We are Christian, yet we don’t love. With these, the living water becomes stagnant, swarmed by wrigglers, dengue-inflicted, dead and deadly.

There can at least be two imageries for living water: one is a glass catching water from a faucet; and the other one is water pipe where water flows from inside out. The glass in the former can only share if it is filled; while the water pipe in the latter must not be filled in order to share. Christians can relate to the former for God fills us in order to share His love while God is the latter Who emptied Himself for us to be filled: “Though He was in the form of God, He did not regard equality with God, something to be grasped. Rather, He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8). 

All of these because of God’s love for us. Let us be living waters drawing from Christ Who is the Water of Life. Ang tubig na buhay ay mula sa Tubig ng Buhay. (Living water is drawn from the Water of Life.)

FR. LOUIE CORONEL, OP is a Dominican Priest assigned in the Priory of St. Thomas Aquinas.


Feast, Cycle A, OP Friars, Baptism, Submission, Mission, Life

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Epiphany (A) - Being Divine

Mt. 2:1-12
January 5, 2014

GOSPEL READING: The Epiphany of the Lord
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage." When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, 
for thus it has been written through the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel." Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star's appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, 
"Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word,  that I too may go and do him homage." After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star,  and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures 
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.

REFLECTION: Being Divine

The appearance of Jesus as God makes us realize that Divinity is deeply connected with humility, service, and empowerment.

Unlike the gods of the Greeks who are often portrayed as arrogant, Jesus is the God who humbles Himself in becoming man. It is worth noting that when he submits to the baptism of John, he patiently comes only after all the people have been baptized (Luke 3:21). Indeed Jesus Himself says that whoever humbles himself will be exulted. That is why, after being baptized by John, He is praised by the Father saying: “This is my Son the Beloved, my favour rests on Him (Matthew 3:17).” Hence, there is no reason for us to be proud. After all, we cannot boast of being better than another as regards the important things in life. We learn this from St. Paul who tells us in the 2nd reading the mystery of the Incarnation that has only been known by the prophets and apostles are now known by the pagans; thereby, sharing in the divine inheritance (Ephesians 3:5-6).
Jesus also shows us that service is an aspect of divinity. In the Wedding at Cana, Jesus serves the couple and their visitors by turning water into excellent wine. Today’s psalmist says that our Lord is a servant that “frees the poor man who calls to Him, and those who need help ... and saves those in need (Psalm 72:12-13).” Right from the start, God has served us by His act of creation. No wonder, Jesus tells us that the greatest among us should be a person who serves (Matthew 23:11).

But God’s service is not meant to make us lazy. On the contrary, His service tends toward empowering us. He gives us wisdom so that we may understand things and endows us with gifts to glorify Him. This is demonstrated in today’s gospel. The wise men are empowered by God to understand the meaning of the star in the east (Matthew 2:2). He also blesses them with wealth and perfume so that they can return these back to God in gratitude. Isaiah in the 1st reading has foreseen this event and sees that our riches are meant to glorify God (Isaiah 60:6).

The Epiphany of Jesus is an invitation to us all to become happy by imitating Him. So let us become divine through humility, service, empowerment of others

FR. RUDOLF STEVEN SEÑO, OP is a Dominican Priest assigned in the Priory of St. Thomas Aquinas.


Solemnity, Cycle A, OP Friars, Epiphany, Humility, Service, Empowerment, Divine