Professor of Old Testament, Divine Word Seminary
Tagaytay City, Philippines
Commentary 2: Fr. Lino Nicasio, SVD
Professor of Homiletics, Divine Word Seminary, Tagaytay City
Principal of St. Jude Catholic School, Manila, Philippines
Reading 1: Jgs 13:2-7, 24-25a
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 71:3-4a, 5-6ab, 16-17
R. (see 8) My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
Gospel: Lk 1:5-25
A Good Person is Harder and Harder to Find
Samson and John the Baptist
In any case, Samson and John the Baptist are parallel figures too. Aside from the similarities of their birth, they share a tragic end. Samson dies with the Philistines after crashing the pillars of their temple while John was beheaded on Herod’s order. As Samson is bound by the Nazirite vow where he must abstain any intoxicating drinks, refrain from cutting the hair on one's head, avoid corpses and graves (see Num 6:1-21), the ascetic lifestyle of John indicate that he too is Nazirite ( see Luke 7:3).
However, the two are better seen as figures of contrast. Samson, his name means “sun”, really burns himself up like the sun. He has the strength of Hercules except that he is dim-witted. He breaks his Nazirite vow by eating from the carcass of a lion (Judg 14:9); against his parents’ consent, he becomes erotically involved with three women from their enemies, the Philistines. In rage for feeling betrayed, he goes around burning the Philistine vineyards. In retaliation, the Philistines burn his wife and her parents. Like the in the first, the rest of those marriages end in tragedy. The love story of Samson and Delilah, as we know today, has become a classic story of love and betrayal. Who would ever forget love and violence in Tom Jones’song, Delilah?
The song opens immediately with betrayal:
I saw the light on the night that I passed by her window
I saw the flickering shadows of love on her blind
She was my woman
As she deceived me I watched and went out of my mind
My, my, my, Delilah
Why, why, why, Delilah.
And ends with rage and murder:
I could see that girl was no good for me
But I was lost like a slave that no man could free
At break of day when that man drove away, I was waiting
I cross the street to her house and she opened the door
She stood there laughing
I felt the knife in my hand and she laughed no more
My, my, my Delilah
Why, why, why Delilah.
"The Just Man"
John the Baptist is different. The writer Luke sees to it that John is not another Samson. Even the first century A.D. Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, calls him a “just man”.
In the Benedictus, Zechariah calls his son “the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways” (italics mine, Lk 1:76). “To go before the Lord” seems to indicate not only John as “forerunner” but also as the teacher of Jesus. Discipleship is “going after the Lord”. Jesus could have been a disciple of John before he himself becomes a teacher. At one point, the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray “as John taught his disciples” (Lk 11:1) and then he proceeds to pray the “Our Father”. Did Jesus learn the “Our Father from John?
From the Crib to the Cross
A Few Good Men
In 1936, Bishop Finnemann was appointed the first bishop of
Bishop Finnemann strongly stood against these abuses and a number of times interceded and denounced the soldiers to free young girls who were forced to become sex slaves. The bishop was thus imprisoned and on
Back to John the Baptist
This Christmas season, we can choose to be a renewed follower of Jesus, one among the few good men and women, by beginning to heed the preaching of John the Baptist.
And the crowds asked him, "What then should we do?" In reply he said to them, "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise." Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, "Teacher, what should we do?" He said to them, "Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you." Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what should we do?" He said to them, "Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages" (Lk 3:10-14).
First, God had a plan for human being’s salvation. It may have taken centuries to unfold, but the plan was going to be realized. And Zechariah and Elizabeth had a role to play: to be the parents of the precursor of the Savior.
That both of them were old was irrelevant in this case, for nothing is impossible with God.
What about us? Are we ready to be sued by God for his purposes? Are we eager to do God’s will in our lives even though it is difficult? St. Francis prayed: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace?” What does God want us to do for him?
Second, God chooses whom he wills. He chose Zechariah, Elizabeth and others for his purposes. And he chose each and everyone of us for a special task or calling, this is why He created us.
Are we going to miss and lose the mission God has in mind for us? It is the priesthood or religious life, or single blessedness or married life? Yes, we are unworthy, but our task is to be like Mary, a servant of God’s will.
Third, God carries out his plan. It may have taken a long time for the Savior to appear, but he did. In life, we have our own time, and we have God’s time. Usually when we want something, we want it our own way, in our time. This is wrong, for we should allow God to work out his plan in our lives and in his own time. What we need to do is to be ready at all times to do God’s will when, where and how he wills it. This is the way of God’s servant.
God has a purpose for our lives. Are we willing to fulfill it? May the Holy Spirit guide us that we may accomplish for which God created us with love.