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" To witness to God's love, as told in the Scriptures, sending us to transform all creation through self-giving and dialogue. "

!st ASPAC Lay Partners gathering

On November 18-25, 2019, the First ASPAC (Asia Pacific) Lay Partners gathering was held at the Divine Word Institute of Mission Studies in Tagaytay City. About 38 lay people came, representing the various SVD Provinces of the Asia-Pacific Zone: India, Vietnam, China, Indonesia, Timor Leste, Australia, and the Philippines. The event was organized by the different mission secretaries of the Zone. The Lay Society of St. Arnold Janssen (LSSAJ) of the Philippines helped in the preparations. The gathering promised to be a foretaste of future similar gatherings towards more collaboration among the lay.

Mission Statement

VISION

A religious missionary community of priests and brothers inspired by the Holy Triune God, proclaiming the reign of God by sharing intercultural life and mission among ourselves and our dialogue partners, following the example of Saints Arnold Janssen and Joseph Freinademetz

MISSION

To witness to God’s love, as told in the Scriptures, sending us to transform all creation through self-giving and dialogue

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Sunday Reflections

 

26 January

National Bible Sunday

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

 

The Word

Is 8,23-9,3 / 1 Cor 1,10-13.17 / Mt 4,12-23

 

There is no gloom where there had been distress. Where once he degraded the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, now he has glorified the way of the Sea, the land across the Jordan, Galilee of the Nations. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;

Upon those who lived in a land of gloom

a light has shone.

You have brought them abundant joy

and great rejoicing;

They rejoice before you as people rejoice at harvest,

as they exult when dividing the spoils.

For the yoke that burdened them,

the pole on their shoulder,

The rod of their taskmaster,

you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.

___________________

Brothers and sisters: I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers, by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you. I mean that each of you is saying, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.”  Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?  For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence,so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.

 

___________________

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Napthali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled: “Land of Zebulun and land of Napthali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has risen.” From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.

He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.

 

In other words…

 

Call it irony and is indeed. The one who mocked the Bible as “archaic”—a 3,000 writing that has nothing do with the present-- is the same guy who made January as the National Bible Month (Proclamation 124).  If Isaiah were  alive today, he would repeat what he said less than 3,000 ago: “The rod of their taskmaster, you have smashed, as in the day of Midian” (Isa 9:3).  The expression “taskmaster” or “oppressor” in some translations (NOGESH in Hebrew) is used in the Old Testament for a despotic leader who abuses his power and has no respect whatsoever for the rights of God’s people. That kind of tyrannical rule therefore was denounced by the prophets and destroyed by no less than God himself – the tyrant—be it a pharaoh, king or army commander--would have to face the most ignominious form of divine retribution, a gruesome death.  Thus God “drowned Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea” (Psa 136:15); Sisera, the Canaanite commander who oppressed Israel for 20 years, faced a shameful death under the hands of a woman who hammered a tent peg into his temple (Judges 4-5). For 18 years, the Moabite king, Eglon, oppressed God’s people. He died a morbid death from having been deceived by a handicapped and left-handed man who thrust a double-blade dagger into his belly and his  excrements exploded (Judges 3).

The prophet Isaiah did not name who the oppressor is in the First Reading,but one theory identifies him asKing Nebuchadnezzar II, the most powerful among the monarchs in the Neo-Babylonian Empire whose horrible acts against God’s people have remained unforgotten until today: burning of the House of God, destruction of God’s city, Jerusalem; decimation of the monarchy and deportation of its people. The Book of Daniel caricatures Nebuchadnezzar this way: he was “cast out from human society; he ate grass like an ox, and his body was bathed with the dew of heaven, until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle, and his nails like the claws of a bird” (Daniel 4:30).

The Bible is word of God but also words of men and women—that is to say, it is stories of  concrete human experiences. What the Bible expresses are metaphors of human truth. The incidents above may not be that exact from a historical perspective, but the sacred writers, like us, knew full well that oppression and tyranny have no place in the human community. Empires come and go but we choose to ignore this truth or as the philosopher Georg Hegel wrote: "What experience and history teach is this—that people and governments never have learned anything from history or acted on principles deduced from it" (The Philosophy of History).

- Fr. Randy Flores, SVD (Sacred Heart Parish Shrine, Quezon City)

 

 

 

 

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