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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 - Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul - Quo Vadis? Where are you going?????

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 12:1-11; 2 Tm 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 were victims of persecution, their commitment to Christ and to the church made them heroes. Their victory is evidence that the gates of hell shall not prevail. Their victory is evidence that we shall indeed overcome.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Audio Reflections of Tuesday, June 28, 2016

To hear the Audio Reflections of Tuesday, June 28, 2016 click HERE

Tuesday, June 28, 2016 - 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:Amos 3:1-8;4:11-12; Mt 8:23-27

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 26, 2016

Audio reflections of Monday, June 27, 2016

To hear the Audio reflections of Monday, June 27, 2016 click HERE

Monday, June 27, 2016 - What excuses have you been giving to the call to follow Jesus? What will you do about them today?

To read the texts click on the texts:Amos 2:6-10,13-16; Mt 8:18-22

Today’s text follows immediately after the first three miracles of Matthew’s Miracle Cycle. In the first three miracles, the disciples are not mentioned at all and the focus is solely on the authority of Jesus. The text of today and the miracles that follow emphasize discipleship. 

The scribe who addresses Jesus in the text of today is clearly not a disciple because of the term he uses to address Jesus, namely “Teacher”. In Matthew, only disciples address Jesus as Lord. The scribe is informed through Jesus’ response that firstly Jesus is the one who will take the initiative to call and secondly that his priorities need to be changed. The life to which Jesus calls will need a reversal of priorities. To the second disciple, Jesus’ response seems hard and brusque. Some interpret this to mean that the spiritually dead must be left to bury the physically dead. However, the point is that absolutely nothing can come in the way of Jesus’ call.


Following Jesus on Mission means become an “other-centred” person from being self-centred. It will mean giving up the Ego and placing the other’s need before my own. It may mean giving up what one holds dear and near. It is an unconditional following. 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Audio Reflections of Sunday, June 26, 2016

To hear the Audio Reflections of Sunday, June 26, 2016 click HERE

Sunday, June 26, 2016 - Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - The Work of the kingdom will go on…

 To read the texts click on the texts:1 Kgs. 19:16,19-21; Gal 5:1,13-18; Lk 9:51-62

"Rejection” seems to be one word that summarises, at least partly, the readings of today. Other words are “perseverance, determination, and commitment.” As soon as Jesus sets out for Jerusalem where he will be finally rejected, he faces rejection in a Samaritan town. However, he will not be deterred. His face will be set like flint for Jerusalem because that is where the will of God will be finally accomplished. This is all that matters for Jesus: to do God’s will no matter the consequences. He is determined to see the completion of the task assigned to him. He is committed till the end. He will persevere.

The response of Jesus to James and John, who want to call down fire from heaven on the Samaritans, is a double response. On the one hand, Jesus is not Elijah and so will not call down fire from heaven like Elijah did. On the other hand, Jesus’ response makes clear that his mission is not to pull down and destroy but to build up and enhance. He has come not to condemn but to save.

Though the mission of Jesus is not to win through domination and subjugation, but rather through unconditional and continual love, he will demand from his disciples an unconditional following. As a matter of fact, it is precisely because his way is more challenging than the way of conquest and invasion that there can be no half hearted or lukewarm response to his call. Unlike Elisha, who is allowed to go back and say farewell to his father and mother, Jesus demands radical and total commitment. This kind of commitment can result in being able to fulfil the task of discipleship. It is a decision that is not made lightly, but after much thought, consideration, and contemplation.

Jesus does not use coercion or force to gain disciples. He only invites. However, even as he invites, he makes it abundantly clear to those who dare to follow what the consequences will be of their following. They will have to be as ones who have no security of home or hearth. They will have to be as ones who have no family to call their own. They will have to be as ones who are ready to face opposition, hostility, and conflict. They will be as ones who profess total and complete detachment. This is the kind of detachment that Elisha shows when he slaughters his oxen and uses the equipment that comes with them for fuel. Through this act, Elisha, though allowed to say farewell to his father and mother, demonstrates that he is prepared for an unconditional following of God through his mentor, Elijah.

The work of the kingdom which Jesus inaugurated is heavy and demanding work. It requires a persevering commitment. It is easy to get discouraged and want to give up in the face of trials and difficulties and what sometimes seem to be insurmountable odds. It is easy give up in the fact of rejection. It is because of this that Jesus states, in unambiguous terms, what it entails to follow him. The disciple who follows will have no place to lay his/her head.

Following Jesus will mean, as Paul explicates in the second reading of today, the desire to communicate love and to do it constantly, even in the face of fear and rejection. Love indeed sums up the whole law.  Those who decide to follow will have to show through both word and deed this love which Jesus manifested when he was on earth. This means first, living by the spirit and not by the flesh. This means that any kind of behavior which makes the self more important than others is unacceptable and not part of the kingdom. This means that, even in the face of haughtiness, arrogance, pride, and conceit, the disciple will always respond with modesty, humility, and love.


Like Elijah before him, Jesus knew that if the work of the kingdom had to be carried on, he had to choose disciples who would do this. To be sure, the disciples would not be perfect. They would stumble and fall numerous times and would pick themselves up again and again. Yet, the work of the kingdom would go on. Even Elijah, who had experienced God’s providence and power, had his moments of darkness. He had been blessed with much success, but at the slightest sign of a reversal of fortune, he was ready to quit. He was quick to blame others for the situation in which he found himself. On numerous occasions, he felt all alone. Yet, just as in all these situations he was consoled by God and invited to carry one, so too will the disciples of Jesus who feel alone be consoled by him. They will feel the presence of God in Jesus even when they and their message are rejected and go unheeded. On their part, they must make it their constant endeavour never to give up, but to carry on with perseverance, determination, and courage. Rejection of the message of love must not be a hindrance to the disciples task of spreading this love to everyone they meet. They had been set free by Christ. Now it is their responsibility to set others free from the bondage of fear and self centeredness. Now it is their responsibility to free others for the true freedom of love.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Audio Reflections of the Reflections for Saturday, June 25, 2016

To hear the Audio Reflections of the Reflections for Saturday, June 25, 2016 click HERE

Saturday,June 25, 2016 - Does Jesus Christ have faith in you?

To read the texts click on the texts:Lam 2:2,10-14,18-19; 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.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Audio Reflections of Friday, June 24, 2016 - the Birth of John the Baptist

To hear the Audio Reflections of Friday, June 24, 2016 - the Birth of John the Baptist click HERE