To hear the Audio Reflections of Tuesday, May 21, 2019 click HERE
Monday, 20 May 2019
Tuesday, May 21, 2019 - When adversity knocks at your door do you open with dread and fear or hope and courage?
To read the texts click on the texts: Acts14:19-28; Jn 14:27-31
A new promise is given to the disciples. This is first occurrence of “peace” in the Gospel of John. Peace here does not mean simply a wish, but must be seen as a legacy or bequest that Jesus leaves behind for the disciples. This peace that Jesus gives is not merely a sense of security, not merely the end of conflict and strife, but it embraces every aspect of a person’s life. This peace makes the weak strong and the fainthearted brave. It is a wholeness which makes one courageous to face all the trials and tribulations of life without getting overwhelmed. It is a peace which gives them the strength to face every kind of adversity with equanimity and faith.
Even as he offers this gift to them, Jesus reminds them of his departure because this is what God wills and it must come to pass. It is a reality that cannot be avoided and the peace given to them must make them able to accept it. The disciples must accept this reality, not out of resignation but, with an active joy. The reason for this joy is that Jesus goes to the Father after having completed the work given to him. It is the Father who has sent Jesus and given him the work to do - the work of making the Father known to the world - and now, after completing it thoroughly, Jesus goes back to where he has come from.
The foretelling of the events is Jesus’ way of preparing the disciples for what is to come and also to reveal to them that Jesus continues to go to his departure willingly and knowingly. It is not as if some unseen hand or “fate” is responsible for what is to come. Since what will happen fits in with God’s plan for Jesus and the world, Satan is never in control. He cannot have any power over Jesus. Jesus does what he does willingly and in obedience to the will of the Father..
The event of the death of a loved one sometimes shatters our world. We find it difficult to cope with the loss and wonder if the God we believe in really is a God of unconditional love. Does our God really care what happens to us? If he does, then why did he let this misfortune befall us? Where is he when we need him most? Why does he not answer? The answers to these questions are provided by Jesus in the Gospel text of today. He tells his disciples, and us, to rejoice at such happenings because they fit in with God’s plan for us and the world. We may not be able to see this plan at first glance, like the disciples were not able to see it when Jesus spoke it to them, but we also know that Jesus’ words are true because of his resurrection and ascension and because of the transformation in the lives of his disciples because of these events. We have to continue to dare to believe.
Tuesday, May 21, 2019 - Acts 14:19-28; Jn 14:27-31
Sunday, 19 May 2019
Monday, May 20, 2019 - Do Jesus and the Father dwell in you? How will you show this through your actions today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Acts14:5-18; Jn 14:21-26
To be a true disciple of Jesus, it is not enough to make a verbal proclamation of faith in him. One is also required to keep his commandments. It is important to note here that one does not earn Jesus’ love by keeping his command to love. It is because one has already experienced that love that one wants to love and obey in return.
Judas (not Iscariot) does not appear in any of the Synoptic Gospels. He is the one who misunderstands here and asks a question about the revelation that Jesus is to make, not realizing that the revelation has been made already. If the disciples want to continue to experience the love that Jesus has made manifest to the world, they must continue to love one another. It is in the love of one another that they will experience the love of God and Jesus. This will result in a mutual indwelling. Just as Jesus dwells in the Father and the Father in him, so Jesus and the Father will live in the disciples and the disciples in them. This abiding presence of God and Jesus within the disciples as a community is both the foundation and the result of love expressed in deeds. Where there is no love shown, Jesus and the Father cannot be made present.
Though Jesus has made explicit what the disciples are to do if they are to make him present, it is possible that they may not have grasped all the implications of the command. The Paraclete or Advocate, only here in John identified with the Holy Spirit, will “remind” them of Jesus’ teachings. This clearly indicates that the Holy Spirit will not give new or different teaching, but only reinforce all that Jesus has already taught. The Spirit will be sent in Jesus’ name and so, like Jesus was the exegesis of the Father, the Spirit will be the exegesis of Jesus.
To keep the words of Jesus means to live them out in action. The ones who do that have already experienced the indwelling of God and Jesus in them. This indwelling will strengthen them and enable them to live out the word more fully each day. This is not a linear but cyclic process. More living out means more indwelling and more indwelling means more living out.
Saturday, 18 May 2019
To read the texts click on the texts: Acts14:21b-27; Rev21:1-5a; Jn 13:31-33a; 34-35
The 35th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus was held at the beginning of the year 2008. In Decree 2 titled “The Fire that Kindles Other Fires,” a line reads thus: “Our lives must provoke the questions, “Who are you that you do these things…. and that you do them in this way”? Through this the members of the Society of Jesus are exhorted to “manifest especially in the ceaseless world of noise and stimulation – a strong sense of the sacred inseparably joined to involvement in the world.” These words can well be used as a summary of the challenge of the Gospel text of today.
The background to the verses of the Gospel text is the episode in which Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. It is a gesture that is not merely symbolic, or a lesson in humility, but a prophetic gesture. Jesus is showing through this prophetic act not what his disciples are expected to do but what they are expected to be. Jesus wanted their actions to stem from their being. Today’s verses begin after Judas has gone out. He has decided not to be what Jesus expects him to be. He has decided to opt out. It is in this context and even in the midst of impending betrayal and deceitfulness that Jesus gives a new command. To be sure the command per se is not new. It forms part of the Torah in the Old Testament. What is new about it is that the commandment to love has its roots in the incarnation. God’s love for the world was so great that God could only send the Son as a perfect manifestation of that love. The second reading from the book of Revelation confirms this when it affirms that because of the incarnation, the dwelling of God is on earth and among mortals. God dwells with humans and manifests his love to them in wiping away their tears, and taking away their crying, mourning and pain. The disciples are asked to enter into that same love. They will show that they have entered into this love by keeping this command of love. It is a sure and tangible sign of the disciples abiding in Jesus. This love will also be a sign to the world of who the disciples are and why they do what they do.
The first Christian community continued to give this sign because of which many who experienced it were drawn to their way of life. The first reading of today narrates how Paul and his companions were able to transform the lives of many not merely because of their preaching the Word, but because they lived out the Word they preached. They were unafraid to continue to love even in the midst of persecution and rejection. What mattered to them was that love be proclaimed. What mattered to them was that the love that God had made incarnate in Christ be made known to all. What mattered was that no matter how arduous the road ahead or how terrifying the terrain, they would continue to persevere and love. They were thus instrumental in giving a glimpse to those who encountered them of the new heaven and new earth that the second reading of today speaks of. The first heaven and earth which was a heaven and earth that had not had the privilege of witnessing and experiencing the incarnation was no more. It had passed away because of the coming of Christ and his gift on unconditional love. The new heaven and new earth that the first Christian community experienced in Christ and wanted to share with others. It was a situation in which there would be no sea and therefore no negatives because all that was negative would fade with the coming of the positive of unrestricted and unreserved love.
Today more than two thousand years after the inauguration of that new heaven and new earth, the challenge remains. The Christian community of today has to waken to this challenge and call to give a glimpse of what was through the coming of Christ and so what can be. It will do this when individual members of the new community take on the responsibility of becoming Christ to those who do not know him or have not yet encountered him. It will do this when the community as a whole is united in that love which Christ brought with his coming. It will do this when those who encounter Christians today ask, “Who are you that you do these things… and that you do them in this way?”
Sunday, May 19, 2019 - Acts 14:21-27; Rev 21:1-5; Jn 13:31-33; 34-35
Friday, 17 May 2019
Saturday, May 18, 2019 - Jesus revealed the Father as unconditional love. How will you reveal Jesus today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 13:44-52; Jn 14:7-14
These verses continue the teachings begun in 14:1. The one who knows Jesus also knows the Father for Jesus reveals the Father as Father. In Jesus, one sees the Father as never before because no one has revealed him like Jesus does. Like Thomas before him, now Philip does not understand what Jesus is saying and in his ignorance, asks a question. He does not realize that in seeing Jesus he has seen the Father because of the revelation that Jesus makes of the Father. In offering himself, Jesus has offered all the revelation that the disciples need to identify the Father.
Jesus can only do what the Father has told him and so his works are those of the Father. Philip and the other disciples must be able to see Jesus as the revelation of the Father, if not in his person, at least through the works that Jesus does. The works flow from his person and are not separate from him but an integral part of who Jesus is. The works, too, are works of revelation. They show that the primary aim of God is not to condemn but to save and so are works that enhance and build up.
Since it is Jesus who sends the disciples, the works that anyone who believes in Jesus will do will be the same as those of Jesus. In fact, these will be able to do even greater works than Jesus. These works will make known the whole story of Jesus as Word made flesh and so, will be greater than those which Jesus does. Since these will be done after the whole Christ event – death, resurrection, and ascension to the Father – they will continue the glorification of Jesus. They will continue to reveal Jesus to the world, sitting at the right hand of God. Jesus will answer every prayer of the disciples made in his name and he will grant their petitions.
As Jesus made God known to the world through unconditional, magnanimous love, so the disciples are called to do the same. The works that Jesus did have to be continued today if Jesus is to be made present and is to be revealed to a world that does not yet know him. It is the present community of disciples that has the responsibility to continue the mission that Jesus began. Whenever an enhancing word is spoken, whenever an action that heals is done, whenever love is shown in a tangible manner, then the work of Jesus continues and Jesus continues to be made present.
To be sure, the revelation of God that Jesus made can also be recognized in the depths of one’s heart, but this is not the whole story. It is a love that must be shared and revealed to the world if it is to be complete and whole. The incarnation was not a private revelation given to a select few, but an earth shattering event made visible to the whole world. So the revelation of Jesus, today, has to be done visibly and tangibly.