Translate

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Thursday, July 2, 2015 - Do you believe that God has forgiven you all your sins? Will you now extend the same forgiveness to at least one person whom you find it difficult to forgive?

To read the texts click on the tests: Gen 22:1-19; Mt 9:1-8

The miracle of the healing of the paralytic who was let down from the roof which forms our text for today is found also in Mark (2:1-12) and Luke (5:17-26). 
Matthew has omitted some details from Mark and thus shortened his narrative. Through these omissions, Matthew allows the reader to focus exclusively on Jesus and his words. It is unusual that Jesus does not respond to the paralytic’s immediate need but first forgives him his sins. The healing of the man is done later and only as demonstration of the fact that Jesus has power and authority to forgive sin, because the scribes consider Jesus’ pronouncement of forgiveness of sins as blasphemy. 
Since Jesus heals by the power of God, he can forgive sins by the same power. In Matthew, the crowd does not praise God for the miracle like they do in Mark and Luke, but for the authority to forgive sins attributed not only to Jesus but to human beings (“such authority to human beings” – Mt 9:8).


Most doctors today are convinced that there is an intimate connection between negative feelings and especially unforgiveness and physical ailments and advice a positive attitude and forgiving and letting go, for quicker healing. If we persist in our unforgiveness, we will continue to have a variety of ailments and sometimes no amount of external medicine will help at all. Forgive it is good for health.

MORNING OFFERING


Wednesday, July 1, 2015 - Which demons are possessing you and so not allowing you to be free? Do you believe that Jesus can exorcise them from your life today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Gen 21:5,8-20; Mt 8:28-34

The text begins by stating that Jesus arrived on the other side, which because of the presence of pigs mentioned in 8:30 is clearly Gentile territory, since Jews considered pigs as unclean. While in the story in Mark 5:1-20 there is one demoniac, in Matthew’s story there are two (8:28). The version in Matthew is considerably shorter than the one in Mark, since Matthew omits many details that Mark gives. One possible reason for this is that Matthew wants to focus attention in his story solely on Jesus. 
The demons recognise Jesus and also recognise that they belong to two different worlds. In Mark, the demons enter into conversation with Jesus, but in Matthew they do not, but only beg Jesus to send them into the herd of swine., and Jesus exorcises them with just one word, “Go”. Matthew does not tell us what happens to the demoniacs after the demons leave them. However, when the people of that town are told what happened to the demoniacs, they beg Jesus to leave their neighbourhood.


More than physical demons that may possess us, we may be possessed by psychological demons. These can be feelings of fear, anger, revenge, jealousy, envy and a pessimistic attitude. If we continue in these feelings we are not living fully the life that God wants us to live. We need to decide that with the help of Jesus we are going to get rid of them today.

Monday, June 29, 2015

MORNING OFFERING


Tuesday, June 30, 2015 - Have the “storms” of your life sometimes overwhelmed you? Will you believe that with Jesus in the boat of your life these can be controlled?

To read the texts click on the texts: Gen 21:5,8-20; Mt 8:24-34

The miracle in our text for today known sometimes as the Calming of The Storm is found also in Mark (4:35-41) and Luke (8:22-25). It is only Matthew, however, who emphasises that the disciples “followed Jesus into the boat”. The miracle is not only a nature miracle but also a story told to indicate that Jesus has control over the storms of life itself. In Matthew the “storm” indicates the stormy experience of the community (represented by the disciples in the boat) who follow Jesus. While in Mark the cry is one of distress (“Teacher do you not care if we perish?”), in Matthew, it is a liturgical-sounding cry for help (Save, Lord; we are perishing). In both Mark and Luke the reprimand about “little faith” is after Jesus has calmed the storm, whereas in Matthew, the reprimand precedes the calming. This is an indication that “faith” is primary, and if the disciples had the faith needed, they would not be agitated.


We may sometimes get disturbed and agitated when things do not happen the way we expect them to or when we are faced with a difficult situation. At times like the disciples in the Gospel of Mark we may accuse Jesus of not being concerned about our plight and at other times like the disciples in the Gospel of Matthew we may plead with him to come to our aid. No matter which approach we may use, we need to remember that he will let nothing happen to us that is not part of his plan and will. We have to continue to do what is required of as and confidently leave the rest to him.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

MORNING OFFERING


Monday, June 29, 2015 - Sts. Peter and Paul - Today the Lord builds his CHURCH on you and UR in CH CH

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 12:1-12; 2 Tim 4:6-8,17-18; Mt 16:13-19

There is an old story about the death of St. Peter in Rome during the persecution of Nero. Peter heard about Nero's plan to burn the city and blame the Christians. He figured as the one who presided over the church in the city he would be arrested and put to death. So he did the sensible thing - Peter was always a sensible man - he got out of town, and at night. The Appian Way was dark for awhile as Peter snuck down it. However, as the night wore on the sky was illuminated by the flames rising from the city. Peter hurried on and eventually was far enough away from the city that it was dark again. Then he saw someone coming in the opposite direction, someone who even at night seemed familiar. It was the Lord himself. What was he doing out at night and walking towards Rome? “Where are you going, Lord?” Peter asked him. “To Rome”, Jesus replied, “to be crucified again in your place”. Peter turned around and returned to Rome and according to tradition was crucified there.

Though this story does not agree with what is narrated in the first reading of today from the Acts of the Apostles, in which we are told that Peter was imprisoned, it does agree with what the Gospels narrate about Peter’s denials, and brings out an important facet of the meaning of the feast: Jesus did not choose strong, brave and courageous individuals to continue the work that he had begun. He chose weak, frail and cowardly humans. He chose individuals who would falter and fail. This is the Peter who confessed Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the Living God” and to whom the Jesus handed over the “keys” of the Church, knowing full well that there would be times when the lofty confession would turn into a base denial.

Paul’s conversion story is narrated twice in the Acts of the Apostles and Paul himself speaks of it in some of his letters. His commission as an apostle of Christ began with a divine revelation of the identity of the Lord Jesus. He reports the events surrounding his recognition of Jesus as the Lord of glory and his appointment as apostle to the gentiles. Felled to the ground by a brilliant light from heaven and hearing a reproachful voice addressing him by name his first need was to know who it was who broke into his life with such awe-inspiring power. Just as Jesus told Peter that he would assign to him the charge of leading his Church once the Peter recognized his master's true identity, so also Paul's task was given to him only after Jesus revealed himself as the glorified Lord.

The apostles' mission thus grew out of their loving knowledge of the person of Jesus, the Son of the living God. Their work, indeed their whole life, was to follow from this surpassing knowledge of Christ which became the basis of all their dealing with others. They were given to the whole Church to teach us not only what Christ revealed and taught but also how to live as he himself had put into practice the things willed by the Father.

Today we marvel at the transformation of these previously weak human leaders. Peter’s newfound passionate commitment to his Lord and to the fledgling church resulted in his imprisonment. Paul too was jailed. He did not see this as failure, but as the destiny that was his in consequence of his commitment to the Gospel. He had fought the good fight, he had run the race, and he had kept the faith. He faced death, and he knew it. That was the price they had to pay for their commitment and fidelity to the Lord.

Their personalities were very different, their approaches to spreading the Faith were very different, and their relationships with Christ were very different. Although the two were both Apostles, there were moments of disagreement and conflict between them. And yet, they are bound together on this single feast, as they were bound together by the one Faith, confessing the one Lord, shedding their blood for him and his mission of peace, justice and love.

Within the recent past, the church has been tossed to and fro in storms of controversy. Not one storm, but many storms, and not in one country, but in many countries. It has been the target of fierce persecution from without, and it has also allowed evil to corrupt it from within. Whether in circumstances of harassment or scandal, the lives of many have been diminished, their confidence undermined and their faith tested.

Without minimizing the suffering in our current situations, we should remember that dire trials are really not new to the church. From its very beginning it has faced opposition. The first reading for today’s feast describes one such situation.

Despite its trials, however, the church has survived and even flourished. This is not due to the strength and holiness of its members. Though Jesus told Peter that the church would be built upon him, the church’s real foundation was and continues to be Jesus Christ its Lord. He is the one who commissioned Peter; he is the one who assures the church of protection. He is the one who stood by Paul and gave him strength to bring the Gospel to the broader world. The church may have been built on Peter the former denier and spread by Paul the former persecutor, but it is the church of Jesus Christ, and it will endure because of his promise.


Today we celebrate the fidelity of Peter and Paul, sinners like us all. Initially, they were both found wanting. When they eventually repented, they were forgiven by God in Christ. Though they faced persecution, their commitment to Christ gave them the courage they needed. Their victory is evidence that the truth will overcome untruth, light will overcome darkness and life will overcome death. Their victory is evidence that we shall indeed overcome.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Sunday, June 28, 2015 - Thirteenth Sunday of the Year - Persevering faith

To read the texts click on the texts: Wis 1:13-15;2:23-24; 2 Cor 8:7,9,13-15; Mk 5:21-43

“Everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die”. This statement of a wit brings out the fear that many have of death. However, the readings of today though they speak about death, regard death as something that is not to be feared if one believes in a God who is the giver and sustainer of life.

The first reading from the Book of Wisdom makes this point emphatically when it states that death cannot be part of God’s plan because God does not act only to see his work end in corruption. The purpose of creation is not death but life and the natural orientation of all created things is life. This is true especially of humans who alone are created in the image and likeness of God. Death thus is not natural and comes about when one stifles the life that God gives.

That God gives life and sustains it is brought out even more powerfully in the Gospel text of today. Mark uses here what is known as the “sandwich construction”. He introduces the incident about Jairus’ daughter being ill and even at the point of dearth but interrupts it with the cure of the woman with the flow of blood. He then continues the incident of Jairus’ daughter who is now dead, but whom Jesus raises. The reason for the sandwich construction here seems to be to heighten the suspense for the reader. Since Jairus’ daughter is at the “point of death”, Jesus must not tarry but hurry if she is to be saved. Yet, Jesus tarries because he knows that the basic orientation of the human is not death but life and that God’s power over death will prevail. Jesus tarries, confident in the knowledge that he can indeed raise even the dead. Jesus tarries because he knows that he is the giver of life. This gift of life is given not only to Jairus’ daughter but also to the woman with the flow of blood, who though not dead, had reached a stage when she was tempted to give up on life. She had reached the end of her tether and her last hope was the Lord. She was not disappointed. She received healing, she received life.

The Psalmist sings the words that the woman, Jairus and his daughter would have wanted to sing. They have indeed been rescued by the Lord. He has liberated them from all bondage. He has saved them from death.
What is responsible for this turn of events? Is it the power of God alone? Is it God acting of his own accord and solely according to his will? The answer is an emphatic “NO”. It is evident in both the first reading and Gospel that it is faith in God’s life giving and sustaining power and the action of God that is responsible. This is made even clearer in the Gospel when Jesus attributes the healing of the woman to her faith and exhorts Jairus not to fear but to believe.

The force of faith and the power of God become manifest in the life of Christians are narrated by the second reading of today. Indeed, thanks to the power of faith they were able to overcome ethnic and cultural barriers, and express their fraternal charity to others by the concrete action of reaching out to their material needs in imitation of Jesus. It is a faith that manifested itself not only in words but also in action.

The challenge of the readings of today may be summed up in the words “persevering faith”. This means that there may be numerous times when we are faced with death like situations. These are situations when like the woman in the gospel story we have done all that is required of us and there seems to be nothing more that we can do. These are situations when like Jairus we have nowhere to turn. It is at times like these when we may tend to give up and give in. However, like the woman and like Jairus we are called never to do this to ourselves because the God we believe in is a God of everything that is positive, a God who never gives up on us and a God of life. Since he is also a God who gives and does not hold anything back, we who are created in his image and likeness cannot live selfish self centred lives, but like Paul invites the Corinthians, we too are invited to live faith filled lives, faith which is shown in action.


Saturday, June 27, 2015 - Does Jesus Christ have faith in you?

To read the texts click on the texts: Gen 18:1-15; Mt 8:5-17

The text of today contains the healing of the Centurion’s servant and the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law. The healing of the Centurion’s servant is also found in Luke (7:1-10) and John but with variations. While in Luke the centurion never makes an appearance personally, in Matthew he addresses Jesus as “Lord”, which is an address only believers use in Matthew. The response of Jesus to the Centurion’s need is seen by some as a question rather than a statement, “I should come and heal him?” This is in keeping with Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus who is sent as Messiah only for the lost sheep of Israel (10:5-6) and not for Gentiles. The Centurion is not deterred by Jesus’ question, and responds with faith. The healing takes place from a distance. The focus, however, is not on the miracle but on the faith of the centurion and through his faith the faith of “unbelievers”. The centurion does not claim to have faith. It is Jesus who testifies to his faith.


We can get deterred and lose our focus when things do not go the way we want them to. At these times we may blame our family, our neighbours and even God. The Centurion’s attitude is a lesson to us never to get deterred from what we have to do and continue to keep our sights fixed on what we want to achieve confident that our perseverance will pay rich dividends.