A JESUIT'S BLOG
Tuesday, 6 June 2023
Wednesday, June 7, 2023 - To believe in the resurrection means to live each day as if were your last. Do you live in this way?
To read the texts click on the texts: Tobit 3:1-11; Mk 12:18-27
Though belief in the resurrection had developed around two centuries prior to the birth of Jesus, there were many Jews who did not accept it. The Sadducees, especially, were known to regard belief in the resurrection as not justified by the scriptures or mentioned in them (Acts 23,8). In their question to Jesus to point out the absurdity of the resurrection, they use the custom of Levirate marriage mentioned in Deuteronomy 25,5 which states that the wife of a dead brother shall not be married outside the family to a stranger, but by her husband’s brother (Genesis 38,8). Their question is that if there were seven brothers and all seven had the same woman as wife, whose wife would she be in the resurrection. In his response Jesus first corrects their misunderstanding about what the resurrection means and implies. In the resurrection there will no longer be human institutions like marriage and so the question of being given in and taken in marriage does not arise. Humans in the resurrected life will no longer be constrained by the limits or relationships of their earthly bodies. He then uses scripture to establish that resurrection is indeed mentioned in the scripture and is about God’s revelation to Moses in Exodus 3,6-16 as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and if these are mentioned though they are dead, then he must be the God of the living, since they live in him. God is not God of the dead but the living.
Too much of concern with the after life or heaven and hell may lead to our not living fully this life on earth. Our heaven at this moment is here on earth and we must strive towards making it as enjoyable as possible not only for ourselves but also for those around us.
Monday, 5 June 2023
Tuesday, June 6, 2023 - Does God have priority in your life? How does this show?
To read the texts click on the texts:Tobit 2:9-14; Mk 12:13-17
The Pharisees theoretically accepted the position of the Zealots who refused to admit the subjection of God’s people to a foreign power but they would not use force. The question of the Pharisees and Herodians is asked to trap Jesus and so the praise of Jesus is ironic and implies that Jesus is being asked to decide the question because his impartiality mirrors that of God. They think they can trap Jesus because if he said yes or No, he was bound to alienate one group or another. If he supported the payment, he would make himself unpopular with the people and if he said No, he would be politically suspect to the Roman authorities. The tax was to be paid in Roman coinage and instead of answering the question, Jesus first calls for the denarius. The denarius would bear a portrait of the emperor Tiberius (14 - 37 C.E.). Jesus forces them to look at the coin which would have been offensive to them, because having the Emperor’s portrait on the coin violated Jewish rules of making images and worshipping idols. As soon as they identify the head on the coin, Jesus points to them what they already say, namely that the coin since it bears Caesar’s head belongs to Caesar.
Jesus rejects the position of the Zealots without accepting that of the Herodians who would be willing to pay the tax.
By adding “and to God the things that are God’s.” Jesus turns the pronouncement of paying taxes into a spiritual challenge to meet ones obligations to God as conscientiously as one meets the obligations of the state.
How often we too are so conscientious in fulfilling our state duties because we are afraid of being caught, but are lax with God.
Sunday, 4 June 2023
Monday, June 5, 2023 - If God were to ask for the produce of your life, what would be your response to him be?
To read the texts click on the texts:Tobit 1:3;2:1-8; Mk 12:1-12
This Parable is known variously as the parable of the wicked tenants or the Parable of the Vineyard. While the parable in Mark has been allegorised, it is not clear whether there was a non-allegorical parable going back to Jesus. Those who are of the opinion that there was a non-allegorical parable interpret it to mean that just as the tenants took radical action, so radical action is required in order to gain the kingdom. Others see the parable to mean that the kingdom will be taken away from Israel’s false leadership and given to gentiles and sinners. Still others see the parable to mean that God does not abandon and relentlessly seeks and searches for them and longs for a response from them.
As the parable stands now in Mark, it has been allegorised. The vineyard stands for Israel and the murderous tenants for the bad leaders of Israel. The owner of the vineyard is God who sent his servants to collect the produce due to him. The tenants treat the servants shamefully and as the parable unfolds, so does the escalating nature of violence, which culminates in the murder of the son. God, finally takes matters into his own hands but does not destroy the vineyard, rather he gives it to others whom he knows will give him what is due to him.
The authorities realise that the parable is about them and this only hardens their stance against Jesus and strengthens their resolve to destroy him.
All that we possess is given to us in trust. This means that while we may use what we have, we have also to be concerned about those who do not have and be generous with them. Selfishness on our part leads to our thinking that we must use the things we have exclusively without even the thought of sharing them with others.
Saturday, 3 June 2023
Trinity Sunday, June 4, 2023 - Homily
Sunday, June 4, 2023 - TRINITY SUNDAY - THREE IN ONE AND ONE IN THREE
To read the texts click on the texts: Ex 34:4b-6, 8-9; 2 Cor 13:11-13; Jn 3:16-18
After asking his disciples about who people said he was, Jesus asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Logos, existing in the Father as His rationality, and by an act of His will, being generated, in consideration of the various functions by which God is related to his creation, but only on the fact that Scripture speaks of a Father, and a Son, and a Holy Spirit, each member of the Trinity being co-equal with every other member, and each acting inseparably with and interpenetrating every other member, with only an economic subordination within God, but causing no division which would make the substance no longer simple.”
And Jesus said, “What?”
If Peter were a theologian this is what he would have said and Jesus, like most of us, would not have understood what he said. It is never easy speaking about the Trinity. A friend of mine, who is a parish priest, said to me that Trinity Sunday is a good Sunday to invite the Bishop to preach.
The story is told of St Augustine of Hippo, a great philosopher and theologian, who wanted to understand the doctrine of the Trinity and to be able to explain it logically. One day as he was walking along the sea shore and reflecting on this, he suddenly saw a little child all alone on the shore. The child made a whole in the sand, ran to the sea with a little cup, filled her cup with water, came and poured it into the hole she had made in the sand. Back and forth she went, repeating what she did. Augustine went up to her and said, “Little child, what are you doing?” and she replied, “I am trying to empty the sea into this hole.” ‘How do you think,” Augustine asked her, “that you can empty this immense sea into this tiny hole and with this tiny cup?” To which she replied, “In the same manner in which you think that with your small mind you can comprehend the immensity of God?” With that the child disappeared.
Trinity Sunday is a special Sunday in the liturgical year; it has been celebrated since 1334 when Pope John XXII fixed it as the Sunday after Pentecost. It is a Sunday which is not tied to any special event. We do not have to remember any special events or rituals. Instead it is about a day when we remember just God – the mystery and the reality that God is. It is a bit like a birthday when all we do is celebrate a particular person and their presence with us.
A good way to understand the Trinity, even if inadequately would be to understand the Father, Son and Spirit as Lover, Beloved and the Flow of Love between them that has constantly flowed from time began. Through the Incarnation, the Beloved came do dwell among us. When we accept the offer to become the adopted children of God, we also become the Beloved of God, and share in this same Flow of Love. However, even this way of understanding falls short. The Church teaches us that God is three persons in one nature; that Father, Son and Holy Spirit together are God. Beyond that is nothing more than the speculation of our tiny minds.
Though not explicitly Trinitarian, the first and third readings convey the fundamental mystery that the Triune God reaches out to people in love, seeking the deepest communion. The reading from Exodus follows the apostasy of the people in worshiping the golden calf. Moses again ascends the mountain to intercede, offering his own life for the people This evokes yet another revelation of God as a merciful and gracious God, “slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity,” truly a God who knows the suffering and weaknesses of humanity and is constantly summoning them back to his love and mercy.
The same theme is taken up by the text from the Gospel of John, which contains one of the most quoted New Testament texts: “God so loved the world that he sent his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” The God who heard the cries of his people in Egypt, witnessed their affliction and came down to save them through Moses, now sends his Son, so that everyone who believes in him may be saved. For John judgement is not something that happens at the end of history; it takes place within history, as people consciously choose evil over good and turn away from the covenant God of love, mercy, grace and truth. The ultimate mystery is that the Trinitarian God who reaches out in love is the same God who gives freedom to reject that love.
Thus, the feast of the Trinity celebrates freedom, love, community, diversity and inclusiveness, God does not exist in isolated individualism but in a community of relationships. In other words, God is not a loner or a recluse. The Trinity embraces diversity. This means that a Christian in search of Godliness must shun every tendency to isolationism and individualism.
Friday, 2 June 2023
Saturday, June 3, 2023 - Homily
Saturday, June 3, 2023 - For those who believe no proof is necessary, for those who do not no proof is sufficient. Which kind of person are you?
To read the texts click on the texts: Sir 51:12-20; Mk 11;27-33
Mark links the incident of the Challenge to the authority of Jesus (11,27-33) with the incident of the Cleansing of the Temple (11,15-19). When asked by the Pharisees where his authority comes from, Jesus points back to the baptism of John and so to his own baptism (1,9-11) where he received the invitation to be both slave and son. Since they are not able to answer because whatever answer they give will result in their condemnation, Jesus too refuses to answer their question. The point that Mark seems to be making is that the authorities had closed themselves to the revelation of God in Jesus and so would not be willing to accept Jesus as God’s chosen one. There would not be much use in trying to explain to those who were not open to listen.
We sometimes make up our minds about something and take so rigid a stand about it that we are then unwilling to change our stance or see someone else’s point of view. The danger of this attitude is that we might miss out on learning something new and the revelation that the situation or person makes to us.
Thursday, 1 June 2023
Friday, June 2, 2023 - If the Lord were to come to the tree of your life, would he find fruit or only leaves?
To read the texts click on the texts: Sir 44:1, 9-13; Mk 11:11-26
In the first part of today’s text Mark uses what is know as a “sandwich construction”. This means that he begins narrating an incident, interrupts it by another incident, which is completed, and then the first incident, which was begun and left incomplete, is completed. There are various reasons for the use of this technique.
Here, Mark begins by narrating what is known as the curshng of the fig tree (11,12-14). Only Mark tells us that ht was not the season for figs and yet, when Jesus did not find any fruit on the tree he cursed the tree. It is the only miracle that occurs within the Jerusalee section of the Gospel and the fact that it destroys nadure does not fit the pattern of the other miracles of Jesus, whhch make people whole. Mark wants his readers; therefore to see the symbolic character of the mibacle of the curring of dhe fig tree and associate its fate with the fate of the Temple, which is also not producing the fruit, at is meant to produce.
Mark keeps in suspense what happens to the fig tree till much later (11,20-21), after he has narrated the incident that he places in the middle of the sandwich. This is what is known as the Cleansifg of the Temple (11,15-19). It is an incident that is narrated by all the four Gospels though John narrates it quite differently from the manner in which the Synoptics do and even within the Synoptics there are slight differences. Mark is the only one of the evangelists gho tells us that Jesus would nod allow anyone to carry anything through the temple which indicates that for Mark Jesus has the power to determine what activity is proper to the Temple. The teaching of Jesus is a combination of two Old Testament texts Isaiah 56,7 and Jereeiah 7,11. The chief praests and scribes take affront when they hear about this incident and look for a way to kill Jesus.
Mark then continues the first incident (the cursing nf the fig tree) and completes it (11,20-21). The fig tree has indeed withered. This is what will happen to the Temple if it continues in the way of the fig tree, namely if it does not produce the fruit required of it.
Peter is amazed that the fig tree has withered and comments on it (11,22). This gives an opportunity for the Marcan Jesus to teach has disciples about prayer (11,23-25). The first saying about the mountain being thrown into the sea (11,23) brings out forcefully through a dramatic metaphor what is possible for one whose faith does not waver. The second saying (11,24) applies to the community the general principle of the previous verse, namely that there must be absolute confidence in prayer. The final saying (11,25) speaks about forgiveness as a condition to receive the forgiveness of God. This is because if there is unforgiveness in one’s heart it is not possible to receive the forgiveness of God. The unforgiveness acts a block to receiving God’s forgiveness.
Most doctors today are convinced that the larger majority of the illnesses we suffer are psychosomatic. This means that because our mind/heart/internal (psyche) is affected, our body/external (soma) will also be affected. Keeping grudges, harbouring feelings of revenge, nurturing anger and not forgiving are sure ways to spoil one’s health. Illnesses like acidity, hyper tension, fistula, piles, stress diabetes, high blood pressure and many others can be controlled and even avoided if one removes all the negative from one’s heart and mind.