To hear the Audio Reflections of Thursday, December 13, 2018 click HERE
Wednesday, 12 December 2018
Thursday, December 13, 2018 - What one action will you perform today to make Jesus known to someone who has not encountered him?
To read the texts click on the texts: Isa41:13-20; Mt 11:11-15
John the Baptist is clearly a precursor in the Synoptic Gospels. He is the one who goes before the Lord to prepare his way. In Matthew, John has a borderline role. John is the last and greatest of all prophets until the time of Jesus. He is indeed the one who, alone among the prophets of the Old Testament, was the forerunner of the Messiah and this is what makes him the greatest human being.
Even so, John does not belong to the new era of God’s rule inaugurated by Jesus. While on the one hand, the content of his proclamation about the kingdom is the same as that of Jesus; on the other hand, even the least in the kingdom is greater than John.
The “least” in the kingdom, who is greater than John, while it may refer to Jesus (who came after John and was “younger” than him), here seems to refer to the disciples. These are greater than John because they have the privilege of seeing the inauguration of the kingdom which John was not privileged to see. They are also the ones who recognize the Messiah and point to him more clearly than John could hope to do.
From the beginning of Jesus' ministry, the kingdom has been forcefully advancing. The Prophets and the Law prophesied until then and, implicitly, prophesied this new era. And from that time on, the fulfillment of the prophecy, the kingdom itself has been forcefully advancing. This advancement cannot be seen by those who have closed themselves to this kind of revelation and thus, the text ends with the invitation to hear.
The kingdom that Jesus inaugurated continues to advance today despite many setbacks. It is not a kingdom that advances by force or by any kind of pressure. It is a kingdom that wins over opponents by that unconditional love with which Jesus began it. We in the present generation are the fortunate ones who have been privileged to witness the kingdom. Now, it is our responsibility to point to him and make him known to those who have not yet had the privilege of encountering him as we have done.
Thursday, December 13, 2018 - Isa 41:13-20; Mt 11:11-15
Tuesday, 11 December 2018
Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - Are you carrying the burden of unforgiveness, guilt, resentment, jealousy, or anger in your heart? Will you lay down that burden on Jesus’ shoulders today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 40:25-31; Mt 11:28-30
The verses that make up the text of today are exclusive to Matthew. They are an invitation from Jesus to all those who are burdened. The burden referred to here is most likely the burden of religious obligation. This often became an obstacle in one’s path to God. While “yoke” generally meant obedience or even servitude, here the yoke is Jesus’ own yoke. Thus, this is not the yoke of the law; rather, it is the yoke that will deliver one from the artificial burdens of human religion. The “easy yoke” of Jesus is not an invitation to a life of ease but to a life of freedom. This is why it is important to “learn” from Jesus as a disciple learns from his/her teacher. This learning is not imitation but is learning from the revelation of God made visible in Jesus. When one recognizes who God really is, after learning from Jesus, one realizes that God is indeed a God who desires that all men and women be free and serve him only in freedom rather than from any external compulsion.
Jesus invites anyone who wishes to come to him to do so. No one is excluded. What is required is openness and a desire to see a new revelation of God. It is a revelation that only Jesus is competent to make because he alone knows the Father, as father, and reveals him as such. This revelation is of a God who will not burden people with sets of rules and regulations. It is a revelation of a God who is unconditional love and who can be recognized only when love abounds.
Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - Isa 40:25-31; Mt 11:28-30
Monday, 10 December 2018
To read the texts click on the texts: Isa40:1-11; Mt 18:12-14
The Gospel text of today is taken from the fourth discourse in the Gospel of Matthew, known as “The Community Discourse”. It is addressed primarily to members of Matthew’s community and not to outsiders.
The parable of the lost sheep is found also in the Gospel of Luke. The context in Luke, however, is quite different from that in Matthew. While in Luke, it is told as a response to the murmurings of the Pharisees because Jesus was eating with tax collectors and sinners, in Matthew, it is part of the Community Discourse.
Thus, the concern in these verses in Matthew is clearly for members of the community who stray. The point is pastoral care and sanctification rather than evangelism and justification. The sheep that is lost is not more valuable than others, but has strayed and needs to be brought back. The finding and the return of the lost sheep cause joy. Every individual in the community is important and it is the responsibility of the community to seek out those who stray and bring them back into the fold. Mature disciples are to live their lives with the spiritual welfare of others in view. There is no such thing as an individual Christian. Every Christian is a Christian within community.
In a world in which individualism seems to be the order of the day, and when each is concerned only about him/herself, the parable of the lost sheep comes as a breath of fresh air. It challenges us to get out of our comfort zones and our selfish ways of living and live instead, lives that are other centered. It informs us that we are, each of us, our brother’s and sister’s keepers; each of us must accept responsibility for them. We are not individuals but one community that must be a community of concern for the other and a community showing this concern by reaching out in love.