Bishops Homily

The Bishops Homily – 1st Sunday of Advent 2018

CENTRAL THEME: Advent is a time of waiting, of allowing Christ to be reborn in our lives, of purifying our hearts by repentance and of renewed experience of several comings of Christ in our lives through the sacraments, through the worshipping community, at the moment of our death and finally at his second coming.

STARTING ANECDOTE: The night between 14 – 15 April 1920, Titanic, the world’s largest ship weighing 46,328 Tons and considered unsinkable, struck an iceberg and sank in two and a half (21/2) hours killing 1,513 people. Hours before it sank, warning after warning had been sent to the crew that they were speeding into an ice field but the messages were ignored.


1st Reading (Jer. 33: 14-16): The Prophet Jeremiah waited in hope for an ideal descendant of King David who will bring security, peace, and justice to God’s People.

Christians believe that Jeremiah’s hope was fulfilled in Jesus. Jeremiah thus assures us the Lord of Justice will fulfill his promises and hence we need not be afraid in spite of frightening events and moral degradation all around.

2nd Reading (I Thes. 3: 12 – 4:2): Paul gives instructions how Christians should conduct themselves as they wait for “the coming of the Lord.” We are advised “to strengthen our hearts in holiness” (3:13) and “abound in love for one another.” (3:12)

3rd Gospel (Luke 21: 25-28; 34-36): Writing his Gospel around 80 AD after the Fall of Jerusalem and the Destruction of the Temple in the year 70 AD but the world did not end anyway contrary to Mark’s assertion in his Gospel written around 69 AD, Luke advised his readers how they were to wait and prepare for Christ’s Second Coming. They had to shift their attention from future fulfillment to present service and commitment by watchfulness and prayerfulness.

That is why after reminding his community about the signs which would precede Jesus’ Second Coming, Luke gives them Jesus warning: “Be on guard lest your spirits become bloated with indulgence and drunkenness and worldly cares. Pray constantly for the strength to escape whatever is in prospect to stand secure before the Son of Man.” (36)

While Advent is set to commemorate Jesus’ coming in the flesh as well as his final coming in glory, it is also a time to open ourselves to the Lord’s coming into our lives and our world today. In order to do this, we must read the signs of the times and adjust our lives accordingly.

LIFE’S MESSAGE: We need to prepare ourselves for Christ’s Second Coming by allowing him to be reborn daily in our lives.

Adapted from a Homily of Fr. Anthony Kadavil
By Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD, JCL
Bishop of Novaliches

Bishops Homily

The Bishops Homily – 23rd Sunday Ordinary Time 2018

23rd Sunday Ordinary Time
Cycle B | 09/09/18
Is. 35:4-7
James 2: 1-5
Mk. 7:31-37

INTRODUCTION: Our Gospel today from Mark 7 is about Jesus’ healing of a deaf with a speech impediment. In the Gospels Jesus is depicted as a healer, a physical healer. That is why people crowd to him. The Gospel is telling a real event but as St. Augustine says since Jesus is the Word-made-flesh every action of his is a also a word, meaning has a spiritual, symbolic meaning. Let us do a symbolic reflection of this Gospel.

(1) The Gospel begins with Jesus heading his way to the Decapolis, the Ten Cities along the Southeast side of the Sea of Galilee, where Jews lived with a very Greek style in orientation. They bring to him a deaf and dumb man. Deafness is a spiritual issue. In all of the Bible, we hear this metaphor that God speaks in creation, to the prophets. In the Psalms, we hear God’s word. In the presence of God’s word, we need to be hearers and listeners. What is our problem? Deafness! We do not hear! We do not listen.

“Speak, Lord, for your servant listens.” Paul reminds us, “Faith comes from hearing.” In Mathew, John the Baptist hears Jesus and follows him. That is the attitude of a hearer. Whom does this deafman stands for? All of us who hear God’s word! Listening to God’s word is like listening to a pitch with a certain frequency. You have to stay attune to it.

So it is with listening to God! How come we don’t hear it? There are so many competitors to God’s word: commercials, advertisements, social media, music that completes to our attention. More to it, we have become used to a culture of staying away from what may connect us to God: non-attendance at Mass, not belonging to any church or religion.

(2) What is the result of deafness? If you are not used to hearing sound, how can you reproduce it? You become dumb! You have a speech impediment. Maybe you can make some sound but you will be unable to speak clearly. How many Catholics can really speak the word of God with clarity and confidence? How many of us Catholics become tongue-tied when we are questioned by a convinced Evangelical. Can you answer convincingly? That is what happens when we do not attend to hearing God’s word. How can we listen to him more attentively?

(3) How did Jesus do it? First, he took away the deaf man away from the crowd? What a great move that is! We see this often in Mark’s. When Jesus heals the blind man, he tells him, “Don’t go back into the City.” So also here, his first move is to get him away from the crowd. Why can’t we hear? We spend our time more with the crowd. We have to be introduced to a new milieu, a place of silence and contemplation.

Jesus is speaking here of the Church. Think for a moment of the silence of a church we know in our neighborhood. Then, he put his finger into the man’s ear and spitting on the man’s tongue, he looks up to heaven and groans and says, ” Ephatah!” One of the few Aramaic word of Jesus retained in the Gospel. What is Jesus doing? He is doing the action of a known healer of his time as if setting up an electric current in the ear of the deaf plugging himself in through the Church and telling both his ear and his tongue: “Be open!”

CONCLUSION: We can’t speak to evangelize about Jesus because we don’t hear his voice in the Church, in worship, in the sacraments. Stay with this man Jesus and then you can speak.

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches

Bishops Homily

The Bishops Homily – 22nd Sunday Ordinary Time 2018

22nd Sunday Ordinary Time
Cycle B | 02/09/18
Dtr. 4: 1-2; 6-8
Jas. 1: 17-18; 21-22; 27.
Mk. 7: 1-8; 14-15; 21-23

INTRODUCTION: All our readings this Sunday are about Laws. The topic is appropriate these days in the Philippines and in the Church. Our Country is proposing to change the Constitution, the Basic Law of the Land, to change our form of Government to Federalism. We hear so many interpretations of the law.

The Catholic Church is bedeviled by the controversy on its cover-up by Church Authority of the sexual abuses of Clerics and Religious, including bishops and cardinals. Also here we hear so many sides interpreting confidentiality of the seal of confession. How are we to be guided on these issues from God’s word we hear today?

(1) In our first reading from Deuteronomy, God through Moses tells his people: “Now, Israel, hear the Statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe. Observe them carefully for thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations.” What we hold as important we surround with laws in order to protect what we hold as good. So if life is a value to us, we protect it by laws that enhance it by regulating hours of work or conditions in the work place or by laws prohibiting its destruction at any of its stage.

So also in the spiritual and moral order, if we value chastity, we surround it with proper boundaries so that the person does not feel being violated. In countries where sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults have been committed by family members or by clerics and/or Religious, it becomes normal to ask parents and guardians, are your children safe in your homes? Are our sacristans, even our catechists and parish secretaries safe in the Church?

(2) St. James in the second reading tells us Christians, “Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls.” James tells us Christians need not look at the rule book all the time because laws are not extrinsic to us but become part of our life. Practice makes perfect! Constant exercise of virtue makes virtue a kind of second nature to us.

Never accept the logic of “anything goes in life” but sadly that is the logic in contemporary culture. Rather accept the logic of law not imposed from above, though law comes from above, but as coming from within. Write the law not in tablet of stone but in your heart.

(3) In the Gospel of Mark, we find Jesus witnessing to the shadow and negativity of the law — a kind of fussiness of the law, legalism that confuses the essential for the periphery. He calls that hypocrisy!

In our Country now there is a lot of legalism that makes war look good in spite of so many killings of victims to various addictions and dysfunctions that could have been reformed if given a chance but these killings may not be called extrajudicial or you become an enemy of the State.

Our Church too is being confronted with many sinful issues of corruption, sexual molestation of the young, abuse of authority to vulnerable people in the Church and cover-up but she does not deny or tell a lie and is ready to reform herself and come out of this crisis learning from her lesson of the past. How I wish our Country can draw its model of self preservation and renewal.

CONCLUSION: My Dear People of God, will you leave Jesus because of a few Judases in the World? Will you leave your Church, the Bride of Jesus, because of some wrinkles in her face?

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches

Bishops Homily

The Bishops Homily – 21st Sunday In Ordinary Time 2018

21st Sunday In Ordinary Time
Cycle B | 26/08/18
Josh. 24: 1-2; 15-18
Eph. 5: 21-32
John 6: 60-69

INTRODUCTION: We come now to the end of our prayerful reflection of this extra ordinary John 6. Last week we considered the climax of John 6 which is Jesus’ teaching on the Real Presence: “Unless you eat (gnaw=trogein) the flesh of the Son of Man, you will have no life in you.” How shocking this language is to a 1st c Jewish audience! Take for granted that the eating of an animal’s blood is forbidden. Today, we get the reaction to such teaching. Every aspect of it deserves our careful attention.

(1) Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening were reacting: “This saying is hard. Who can accept it?” Remember that Jesus’ audience here are his friends, not his enemies. Knowing their murmuring, Jesus asks, “Does this shock you?” If Jesus’ words were to be taken in a symbolic sense, they would not have had this explosive effect. If what he meant is simply, “My body is like food” or “This bread is a symbol of my body,” why in the world would there have been such strong reaction?

Jewish authors deal with poetic language all the time and indeed many times Jesus himself speaks in metaphors comparing himself to a vine, a shepherd, etc.. but it never got such strong reaction as this one. Why? Because they knew Jesus was not trading in poetic language but in a straight one. So given every opportunity to explain himself better and clarify. Jesus does nothing. Instead, he upgrades them, “There are some of you who do not believe.” In history, Catholic Tradition has resisted all the time to any tendency to soften Jesus’ teaching.

(2) “What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?” This does not mean: “Pls don’t take my word literally but symbolically.” That is not implied by any means. Where did the Son of Man came from? As a man, like any of us from a family. In his Divinity, he comes from heaven. It is because of his divine nature that his words has transformative power!

God’s word is not only descriptive but also creative. A basic biblical intuition! “Let there be light! Let the earth and dry land come out!” By his speech, he brings things into being as the Prophet Isaiah says, “My word does not go forth from me in vain, but rather as rain comes down and does not return till it has accomplished its purpose, so does my word does not go forth in vain till it accomplishes what it is suppose to.”

That is why when Jesus speaks, things happen. “Little girl, get up! Lazarus, come out!” “The words I am speaking to you are Spirit and Life.Jesus is not saying: “I do not mean what I say. I am speaking only in metaphor. The words I am speaking to you are Spirit and Life. Mere human invention has no power to change things at the root of their being but the Divine Being can.

(3) What follows now is the most tragic that happens in the New Testament. Everyone abandons him! Again these are not his enemies. These are his friends! Up and down the centuries, the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist has always had a divisive effect in the Church.

When they heard the teaching on the Eucharist, his contemporaries walked away and could not accept the Eucharist. Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked the poignant question: “Do you want to leave too?” What if they had left too? The Church would not have been born! John 6 is John equivalent to the Synoptic’s Incident at Caesarea Philippi. Peter answers in the name of all which is almost the same answer at Caesarea: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of Eternal Life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

CONCLUSION: The Church has always stood with and at the side of Peter with regard to the Eucharist on Jesus’ word because he is the Holy One of God.

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches

Bishops Homily

The Bishops Homily – 20th Sunday In Ordinary Time 2018

20th Sunday In Ordinary Time
Cycle B |  19/08/18
Prov. 9: 1 – 6
Eph. 5: 15 – 20
John 6: 51 – 58

INTRODUCTION: Our extended reading of John 6 comes to a climax today with vv. 51-58. Our 1st and 2nd readings from Proverb and Ephesians respectively prepare us for a deeper understanding of John 6.

(1) In Proverb God’s Wisdom is personified as a woman preparing a banquet. She lays out the finest food and drink and lavishly invites everyone. “She has sent out her maidens from the heights out over the city.” This is the graciousness of the divine invitation. How typically biblical this theme is.

In other religions and spiritualities, the stress is placed on man’s quest for God. For God is imagined as a difficult Figure, hard to please and out of reach, unwilling to share his life. Thomas Merton calls this “the Promethean problem of religion.” Biblical Religion is the exact opposite. There is none of the Promethean problem. God is described in the Bible as incomparably generous, eager to offer what he has to the world.

Spirituality is the willingness to come to the Feast. Religion is not so much about begging for food as the willingness to come and enjoy the food God is lavishly offering. “Come, eat of my food and drink of the wine I have mixed. Now to be sure you have to turn away from other sources of food, if you want to enjoy the heavenly banquet. “Forsake foolishness that you may live.”

Stop feeding on things that will never satisfy you. Eat the banquet that God has prepared and lavishly laid before you. That is Biblical Religion. We spend our whole life looking for food that will never fill up our hunger (power, wealth, pleasure). Turn away from the junk food for the soul and eat from the banquet that has been lavishly laid out for us.

(2) Paul expresses the same idea in the 2nd reading from his magnificent Letter to the Ephesians. “Do not get drunk on wine in which lies debauchery but be filled with the Spirit.” Much of our quest for happiness in the goods of this world is a disguised quest for God. Very important truth for anyone involved in pastoral ministry!

We get to all sorts of things obstinately seeking for God. “Don’t get drunk on wine. Be filled with the Spirit.” The Spirit offers freely and all we have to do is to take it freely. All these two readings are a preparation for the Gospel.

(3) Jesus is described in the Prologue of this Gospel as the Word made Flesh. Thus the Divine Wisdom, the Word, becomes incarnate; has pitched his tent among us becoming one of us. John 6 now endeavors to feed us his people with his own self body and blood. Now the deepest meaning of food in Proverb is made clear.

The free food God is preparing is finally nothing but his own flesh. Wisdom wants us to feed on his own very self. What an extraordinary claim being made here that stands right at the heart of our Catholic Christian Faith: Wisdom of God wants us to feed on himself. “I am the living bread come down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

The Fathers of the Church used to elaborate on this theme. If you want eternal life, you have to become eternalized. The Eucharist is the food that fits us for life in the heavenly realm. Like in scuba-diving or in space walk, one has to wear the right suit to breath under water or walk on the moon.

Now the crowd hears Jesus’ words and are confused. How can this man give us his flesh to eat? This objection reflects the Jewish prohibition of eating animal flesh; how much more on eating human flesh? This gives him now every opportunity for symbolic speech but Jesus does not accept the challenge. On the contrary, he robs it in, “Amen, Amen I say to you unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, has eternal life . . . For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.”

CONCLUSION: What Jesus says is. That is the Eucharist! That is the whole of Biblical Religion: Come and eat what God has laid out for you!

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches

Bishops Homily

The Bishops Homily – 19th Sunday Ordinary Time 2018

19th Sunday Ordinary Time
Cycle B | 12/08/18
1 Kgs 19: 4-8
Eph. 4:30-5:2
John 6: 41-51

INTRODUCTION: Our 1st Reading is taken from the adventures of Elijah from I Kings. It deals there with the story of Elijah and his battle with the priests of the false God Baal. Elijah heroically called them out and defeated them at Mt. Carmel and then killed all the priests of Baal.

Our reading comes at the wake of that because Queen Jezebel who was a follower of Baal was running with her whole Army and the Police Force to get Elijah. Elijah was on the run and after a day’s journey wished he were dead. “Lord, I have had enough. Take my life away! I am no better than my ancestors.” Can anyone imagine his fatigue?

(1) There are times when we and everybody listening now felt just this way! We felt so exhausted that we just wished to die! We hear an angel touched Elijah and ordered him to get up and eat. He got up and ate the baked bread and drunk the jar of water he found beside his bed and got back to sleep. An angel came back and touched him a second time around, “Get up or the journey will be too long for you.”

Strengthened by this food, he walked his way to Mt. Horeb. Watch for the touch of an angel at the toughest time of your life. Precisely at the toughest time God tends to send an angel that will give us the sustenance that we need especially at those times.

(2) Our theme for this Sunday is our need for food and nourishment. How dependent we are on food and sleep. Tell an incident or two when you just hit rock bottom and your body just gives way to exhaustion. How dependent we are on food and rest! This story provide a very exact analogy to spiritual health and spiritual eating.

We have in our being an orientation to God, a link to the eternal what Tradition calls “soul”. The soul needs to be fed or it shrinks down and atrophies as surely as the muscle of the body. If we do not feed the soul, the soul will hit rock bottom and it will die. What seems the problem? Not rock and science but they do not feed the soul.

(3) How do you feed the soul? May I suggest some ways?

a) By prayer: raising the heart and mind to God. “Lift up your heart.” A conversation with God. How do you pray? Try the Jesus Prayer: “Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me.” Saying this over and over from five to ten or half an hour. Variation of this in the East is the Rosary.

b) Some serious spiritual Theology reading stuff instead of junks. Bookstores are less now and are going extinct in favor of the social media.

c) Engaging in corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Divine Life is mercy; junk food is money, honor, pleasure. Don’t want that stuff but mercy.

d) The Eucharist that brings us to the John 6 where Jesus says: “I am the living bread come down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will leave forever.” Do you want eternity? Then you have to take it unto you.

CONCLUSION: How and what you eat? Feed your soul but especially with the Eucharist!

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches

Bishops Homily

The Bishops Homily – 18th Sunday Ordinary Time 2018

18th Sunday Ordinary Time
Cycle B | 05/08/18
Exod. 16: 2-4; 12-15
Eph. 4: 17; 20-24
John 6: 24-35


INTRODUCTION: Our readings today are just fantastic! They touch on themes so basic for the spiritual life. They deal on the trials and joy, the risks and dangers of spiritual transformation. According to Origen, Exodus 16 tells about each of us.

(1) The whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron: “Would we had died at the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread! But you had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine.” The Israelites were on their way to slavery of 400 years; yet within weeks they complain longing to go back to slavery. We do this all the time. The road to healing is

blocked; the way to liberation is always a long and painful one. Give concrete examples of addiction to smoking, alcohol, or drugs. Easy? No. . . in fact, one struggles into a desert! Oh, how I long to go back to the “fleshpots” of Israel. There is always a resistance to liberation. In the first Matrix Movies that shows how the world is liberated from phony world, one of those in the restaurant said as they were eating fillet minion: “I know all these is an illusion but oh how it tastes good!” Every sin is like an addiction.

(2) What does God do about the complaint of the Israelites? He gives them bread to eat. “I will now rain down bread from heaven for you. Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion; thus will I test them to see whether they follow my instruction or not. . .

In the evening twilight, you shall eat flesh and in the morning, you shall have your fill of bread. In the morning, a dew lay all about the camp and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert were fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground. On seeing it, the Israelites asked, “What is this?” , and Moses told them, “This is the bread (mannahu) which the Lord has given you to eat.” That is the bread that will sustain them through their desert time in their journey towards liberation.”

(3) In the Gospel from John 6, Jesus told the Jews he just had fed, “You should not be working for perishable food but food that endures unto life eternal.” In Tolkin’s Novel Lord of the Ring, Frudo and his band were making their way to the shire facing all kinds of obstacles, someone gives them “lemda” which refers to the Eucharistic bread of angels that sustains us on our way to liberation, even as we long for the fleshpots. What is the Mass but that bread of angels that sustain us on our journey towards full liberation even if we long back for our fleshpots of the past.

CONCLUSION: Don’t waste your time on worldly sustenance; rather work for the bread of life that really matters. Our readings for this Sunday is really about the spiritual life of every single one of us sinners that long for our fleshpots of the past!

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches

Bishops Homily

The Bishops Homily – 17 Sunday Ordinary Time 2018

17 Sunday Ordinary Time
Cycle B | 9/07/18
2 Kings 4: 42-44
Eph. 4: 1-6 2
John 6: 1-15

INTRODUCTION: John’s Gospel does not have the Narrative of The Institution of the Eucharist as in the Synoptics. Instead, he tells the Story of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes in John 6 which will be for the next several Sundays (17th up to 21st) a sustained meditation on the meaning of the Mass and the Eucharist. Our passage for today, when read symbolically, explains the major movements of the Mass.

(1) Jesus is crossing the Sea of Galilee and a large crowd followed him, impressed describes Jesus’ magnetic attractiveness. “From age to age you gather a people to yourself so that from East to West a perfect sacrifice is offered.” The gathering at Mass is a function of the on-going attractiveness of Jesus, undiminished till the present age. At Mass, the gathering of people from all walks of life is a symbol of the coming together of God’s Kingdom — the Church.

Jesus climbed the hillside (mountain): Many times the mountain is a symbol of man’s going up to the Divine and God’s reaching down to man. The mountain is a symbol of the Meeting of Divinity and Humanity. Every Mass is a place of encounter between God and man; a sacred meeting place with God.

And he sat down with his disciples: sitting down, not standing up on a podium, is the posture of a teacher with his disciples in the ancient world. Jesus sits with his disciples learning. After we gather for Mass, we sit at his feet and we learn from him. This is the Liturgy of the Word.

It was shortly before the Jewish Feast of Passover: This little detail could not escape what Mass is all about — liberation from slavery that the Passover Feast reminds. Every Mass is a kind of Passover.

(2) Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat? Jesus senses the people are hungry. The whole human race is coming to Jesus hungry which it tries to fill up by other ways of power, wealth, pleasure which do not satisfy. Too much of these even plenty of these will not satisfy.

The little that Jesus gives (5 barley loaves and 2 fish) suffices to satisfy so many. Jesus takes what little we give. This is Holy Communion: tiny piece of bread filling up so many. Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks and gave them out to all; he did the same with the fish. The Eucharistic rhythm is clear: take, give thanks, eat/drink, and give away. Only food which is substantial presence of Jesus satisfies; the others which are plenty do not. This is heavenly food is Holy Communion.

(3) Pick up the pieces left over so that nothing gets wasted: This is what we do in the Eucharist after Communion. We gather the left over and take them to the sick and the rest to the Tabernacle.

And they filled twelve baskets with scraps: we bear the food to the newly fed and satisfied twelve Tribes of Israel.

CONCLUSION: Friends, John is teaching here on a central theme of Catholic Dogma quite innocently but truly!

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches

Bishops Homily

The Bishops Homily – 13th Sunday In Ordinary Time 2018

13th Sunday In Ordinary Time
Cycle B | 01/07/18
Wis. 1: 13-15, 2: 23-24
2 Cor. 8: 7-15
Mk. 5: 21-43


INTRODUCTION: One of the most puzzling doctrines of the Church is grounded on our 1st reading of today from the Book of Wisdom and is given a kind of narrative amplification in the Gospel. “God did not make death…For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world.” (Wis. 1:13; 2: 23-24)

(1) How odd this statements are! For death is the most natural thing around! Every living thing dies: trees, plants, insects die! We human beings are no exception to this rule. We are part of the natural world and that world includes death. What could God have meant when he says that he did not make death when it is evidently clear that he did? Are we back to the mythological understanding of things? How can it be that death entered through sin?

It is very important that we put these things in a wide perspective. Death should not be taken here simply in a physical sense as the dissolution of the body. Death is that whole psychological, spiritual, and physical phenomena that we sinners experience. All our experience of death is always connected with sin.

What is death like for us sinners? At the prospect of physical death, we sinners recoil in horror. How come? Because we have become alienated from God through sin. Cut off from God, or at least ambiguous as regards to him, we have the tendency to see death simply as the end or as something unknown and the unknown terrifies us.

We find ourselves unable to surrender and to trust and this leads to a terrible fear of death. This is the death that God did not invent. This is the death that in the words of St. Paul is the wages of sin.

(2) Can we get any idea of what death would be like for someone who never sinned? Yes, we have the example of the Blessed Mother. Popular piety from ancient times has spoken about the dormition (falling asleep) of Mary; not about her death. There is a church in Jerusalem called Church of the Dormition. Mary didn’t die; she just fell asleep!

What does this mean? In the Catechism of the Catholic Church in no. 966: “Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory.”

The sinless Virgin Mary was not meant to live on this earth forever and ever. She was meant to die. How eloquent that her transition from this earthly life to death is not called death in the early tradition of the Church but dormition, one like falling asleep: effortless and without pain like when we sleep at night confident that we will wake up next morning. Mary’s Assumption into heaven is described in ancient devotion as a falling asleep without the accompanying fear we sinners experience in death.

(3) With this as background, let us read the Gospel about the raising of the daughter of Jairus. There are two details that is worth noting. One is while on the way to the house of Jairus, people met the group with the news that his daughter has died, why bother the teacher further? Jesus disregards the report and tells Jairus: “Do not be afraid! Just have faith.”

Death is what terrifies us the most. This is what terrifies us sinners. In the face of our fiercest fear, Jesus tells Jairus “Just have faith.” Trust is the attitude of someone without sin. That is what God planned from the beginning so that our transition from this earth would become like just a falling asleep.

The second thing of note is Jesus noticed the people wailing and crying out loudly. These are the professional mourners hired just for that on such occasions. Jesus tells the mourners: “The child is not dead but asleep.” The people laughed at him. Mark preserves the Aramaic “Talitha Koum” expression, holding the hand of the girl as if to wake her up. The mourners see death as something so terrible that they wail. Jesus, on the other hand, sees death in God’s perspective as a falling asleep in anticipation of man’s transition to the next life.

CONCLUSION: God sees death like a falling into sleep. God did not invent death as something terrible. A sinless person like the Blessed Mother experiences death as a peaceful falling asleep. The way of Christ enables us to face death in trust rather than in fear.

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches

Bishops Homily

The Bishops Homily – 10th Sunday In Ordinary Time 2018

10th Sunday In Ordinary Time
Cycle B | 10/06/18
Gen. 3: 9-15
2 Cor. 4:13-5:1
Mk. 3: 20-35


INTRODUCTION: What a relief that now we return to Ordinary Time. For this Sunday, our first reading is from Genesis 3 which depicts what follows the aftermath of sin? Of all the literature in the world, there is no richer account of who we are, what we are called to be and what goes on with us after sin than Genesis, specially the first three Chapters. What happens to us in the immediate wake of sin.

(1) God looks for Adam, where are you? God never loses sight of us. He is not giving up on us, even when we are a million miles away from him. He is seeking us out. This question is not a jinks in the omniscience of God. Rather it is an expression of what sin is. This is an expression of sin as an alienation from God, wandering away from God. We are where we are not supposed to be.

(2) The answer of Adam: “I heard the sound of you in the garden; I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” Prior to original sin, Adam was not afraid of God; he walked in long fellowship with God. That is what God wants that we walk in easy rhythm with him. What sin does is going away from him.

Prior to sin, Adam knows himself naked so unselfconscious that he felt no need to hide himself like a child or toddler who is unaware of himself as compared to teenager who is so self-conscious. Shame is the daughter of sin. “Who told you that you are naked? Have you been eating of the tree I forbade you to eat?” The tree of knowledge of good and evil is proper to God alone. It is not our business to grasp. It is the illegitimate appropriation of what is proper to God.

(3) What follows sin? Blame-game is the result of sin: blaming, shaming, accusing, scapegoating. How many times we do this even in casual conversations. The great name of the devil in the Bible is accuser and scatterer. Our common fault is the protection of the fragile ego as the persistent cover in the wake of sin.

“It was the woman you put with me; she gave me the fruit and I ate it.” Prior to sin, the Ego did not exist; after sin, the ego is preeminent. In the Gospel of Mark the function of Jesus is presented as great exorcist, driving out Satan and in the end is himself accused as Satan. Is he really?

CONCLUSION: A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. The Kingdom of Satan stands by accusing, blaming, shaming; the Kingdom of Jesus stands by its exact opposite by Love and by active non-violence the exact opposite of what Satan does in the world. Think how sin affects all of us humans but think how Jesus swallows up everything in the Divine Mercy.


Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches