Monday, February 20, 2017

Audio Reflections of Tuesday, February 21, 2017

To hear the Audio Reflections of Tuesday, February 21, 2017 click HERE

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - The world seems to be saying, “If you are not No. 1, you are NO ONE. Jesus. However, is clear in what he says: If you want to be No. 1, be NO ONE.

To read the texts click on the texts: Sirach 2:1-11; Mk 9:30-37

The text of today contains the second Passion, death and resurrection prediction that Jesus makes on the way to Jerusalem and Jesus’ explanation of his way of life to his disciples after they misunderstand what his kingdom is all about. In this second passion and resurrection prediction, there is a change in the verb from the first where the verb was the passive “be killed” (8:31) to the active “they will kill him” (9:31)

If after the first passion and resurrection prediction it is Peter who misunderstands, here, it is the disciples as a whole that misunderstand because "on the way" they are discussing who the greatest among them is, when Jesus is speaking about service and being the least. Before his teaching on what discipleship means, Jesus sits down thereby assuming the formal position of a teacher. He speaks first of a reversal of positions and status in the kingdom, and then places before them the example of a child. In the oriental world of Jesus' time, the child was a non-person, and so by this example, Jesus derives home the point that they will have to lose their identity, become non-persons if they want to gain entry into the kingdom.

Authority as understood in Christianity can never be for domination but is always for service. Management experts today are advocating more and more the advantages of using authority for service and leading by example. In this manner the leader can get more out of the ones he lead than if he/she tries to dominate.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Audio Reflections of Monday, February 20, 2017

To hear the Audio Reflections  of Monday, February 20, 2017 click HERE

Monday, February 20, 2017 - Is there something that you have been struggling to achieve but have not? Will you pray about it today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Sirach 1:1-10; Mk 9:14-29

The text of today deals with an exorcism after Jesus has come down from the mountain of transfiguration. It is the only exorcism story in the second half of Mark’s Gospel. The disciples are engaged in attempting to cast out a demon, but are unable to cure the boy and the father of the boy pleads with Jesus for the cure. However, the father's request expresses doubt and lack of faith. Jesus responds to the father's request by first chiding him for his lack of faith. The father responds in what may be words that each of us can connect with, "I believe, help my unbelief." The father of the boy includes himself in the unbelieving generation whom Jesus has chided, but insists that even in his unbelief, he believes. Even this inadequate faith is enough for Jesus to work the miracle. The cure takes place in two stages. After the command to leave the boy and never enter him again, the demon does come out but leaves the boy “like a corpse” (9,26). Jesus then takes the boy by the hand and lifts him up, which seems to be an indirect allusion to the resurrection.

When asked by his disciples why they were not able to cure the boy, Jesus points out to prayer as the instrument that must be used when we need something from God. Prayer is to acknowledge one’s dependence on God.

We sometimes think that we are acting independently and all that we have accomplished is the result of our own efforts, forgetting that God is always in the background guiding our way and lighting our path. If we ask for God’s assistance before we start a task or even become aware of his presence in the midst of our “doing”, what we do will become more efficacious and even effective.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Audio Reflections of Sunday, February 19, 2017

To hear the Audio Reflections of Sunday, February 19, 2017 click HERE

Sunday, February 19, 2017 - Will you be an 'Actor' and not a 'Reactor'?

To read the texts click on the texts: Lev 19:1-2,17-18; 1 Cor 3:16-23; Mt 5:38-48

Leviticus 19 is considered one of the grand chapters of the Book of Leviticus. A summary of the whole chapter is contained in the injunction in 19:2 which states, “Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.” In order to explicate this standard, an example is given from almost every aspect. The examples are so wide ranging that they may be considered as a summary of the law.

The last of the five injunctions is on holiness in neighbourliness. It goes right to the core of the matter and states that relationship with neighbour determines one’s relationship with God. Even in case of disagreement there must be ‘carefrontation’ rather than hate. This ‘carefrontation’ can even be open and frank. This is because the unity of the whole community is of prime importance.

The Matthean Jesus takes up this theme in the Sermon on the Mount. In the fifth of the sixth antitheses, Jesus not only affirms the thrust of the Law in opposing unlimited revenge, but also calls for a rejection of the principle of retaliatory violence as well. In the five examples that follow (being struck in the face, being sued in court, being requisitioned into short-term compulsory service, giving to beggars and lending to borrowers) the one point being made is to place the needs of others before one’s own needs. The disciple of Jesus is called to go beyond the call of the Law and do more than it requires.

It is so easy for us to be reactors. If someone does something to hurt us, we think that it is “natural” for us to want to do something to hurt him or her in return. In the text of today, Jesus is calling us to be actors and not reactors and to do what we do because we think it is right and just and not as a reaction to someone else’s action. In the last of the six antitheses Jesus speaks of non-retaliation and love of enemies. While there is no command to hate the enemy in the Old Testament, yet, there are statements that God hates all evildoers and statements that imply that others do or should do the same. Jesus, makes explicit here the command to love enemies. This is the behaviour expected of a true disciple of Jesus. They cannot merely love those who love them, since one does not require to be a disciple to do this. Everyone, even the vilest of people can do this. The conduct of the disciples of Jesus must reveal who they are really are, namely “sons and daughters of God”.

The command to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” is similar to the injunction in Leviticus “to be holy” because the Lord id holy. It does not mean to be without faults, but to be undivided in love as God is undivided in love.

The love we have for others is more often than not a conditional love. We indulge in barter exchange and term it love. We are willing to do something for someone and expect that they do the same or something else in return. It is a matter of “give”, but also a matter of “take”. When Jesus asks us to be like the heavenly Father, he is calling us to unconditional love. However, he too summarises the Sermon in the final words of today’s Gospel when he asks his hearers to ‘be perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect”.

This is why Paul exhorts the Corinthian community to treat their bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. If the Spirit dwells in each of us, then it is not possible that we will ignore, be indifferent or hate anyone. Our discipleship and following of Christ has to show itself in the manner in which we treat ourselves and others. When there is unconditional love and acceptance, then it is a sure sign that God dwells in us and is present in our communities.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Audio Reflections of Saturday, February 18, 2017

To hear the Audio Reflections of Saturday, February 18, 2017 click HERE

Saturday, February 18, 2017 - If you were on the mountain with Jesus what would your response to the Transfiguration be? Why?

To read the texts click on texts: Heb 11:1-7; Mk 9:2-13

The transfiguration is an event, which appears in all the Synoptic Gospels, but each narrates it differently. In Mark, it follows after the instructions that Jesus gives to the disciples at Caesarea Philippi and after six days. The event is a confirmation by God of the fact that Jesus is indeed Messiah, beloved Son. Most think that the reason for the choice of Elijah and Moses is that the Jews considered them as being alive in the presence of God. Jesus is superior even to these figures.

In Mk the order is Elijah and Moses. In Matthew, the order is Moses and Elijah (so Luke) to emphasize the two personalities of the OT who received revelation on Mount Sinai (Ex 19:33-34; 1 Kgs 19:9-13) and personify the Law and the prophets. While in Mt Jesus is the New Moses and Luke emphasizes the approaching passion, Mark sees in the transfiguration the glorious manifestation of the hidden Messiah. Briefly the disciples experience the heavenly quality of Jesus. Jesus is no less Messiah when his Messianic glory is hidden in the passion, than he is at the Transfiguration.

Elijah was regarded as the prophet who would come before the Lord (Malachi 3:24-25; 4:5) as his messenger. Jesus’ reply in John suggests that Elijah has indeed come in John the Baptist is an indication that he is the Lord.

There are times in our lives when everything goes according to plan and at those times it is easy to see that God is on our side. However, when we are faced with trials and when things do not work out, as we want them to, then the transfiguration is a reminder to us that even when carrying our cross we are still beloved by God. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Audio Reflections of February 18, 2017

To hear the Audio Reflections of February 18, 2017 click HERE

Friday, February 17, 2017 - Is there a person, a thing, or an event that is preventing you from following Jesus unconditionally? What will you do about them today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Gen 11:1-9; Mk 8:34-9:1

The sayings that make up the text of today are addressed not merely to the twelve but to the crowds. The denial of self that Jesus calls the crowd to is an absolute requirement if one desires to follow him. The reason for this is that as long as the self remains, following will be half-hearted and incomplete. It will always come in the way of following. This denial thus, is not limited to situations of persecution alone but also to those situations in which personal likes and dislikes will get in the way of the proclamation of the Gospel. The sayings are difficult to put into practice but Jesus never said that following him in Mission would be easy. 

The final saying in this section in 9:1 speaks about some who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God has come with power. While this reiterates that the kingdom, which Jesus inaugurated (Mark 1:14-15) is indeed a fact and is indeed near, the referent for the saying has been interpreted in a variety of ways. Some see the referent as the event of the Transfiguration Mark 9,2-8), that is the recognition by Peter, James and John that Jesus has received the Father’s approval and all power. Others see it as the Passion especially the event of the tearing of the veil of the temple and Jesus acknowledged as Son of God by the centurion (15:38-39). Still others see it as the Resurrection of Jesus.

Our ego often comes in the way of our discipleship. Too much importance to the self leaves one unable to follow, as one ought to.