To hear the Audio Reflections of Thursday, March 30, 2017 click HERE
Wednesday, 29 March 2017
To read the texts click on the texts: Exod 32:7-14; Jn 5:31-47
The text of today contains the second part of the discourse of Jesus in response to the outrage of the Jewish leaders because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath. It can be seen to be divided into two parts. The first part speaks about the witnesses John and the Father who testify to Jesus’ claims and the second part about the rejection of Jesus and the unbelief of the leaders.
The witness that Jesus offers is not his own since no one can legitimately or validly bear witness on his own behalf. The first witness Jesus mentions here is John the Baptist who in the Gospel of John is portrayed more as a witness rather than as a precursor or Baptist as he is in the Synoptic Gospels. In witnessing to the truth John witnessed to Jesus since Jesus is the truth. However, John was a mere lamp and not the light so though his testimony is true there is another witness far greater than John and that is the works that Jesus has accomplished after being sent by the Father. “Works’ here seems to refer not just to the miracles that Jesus worked but to the whole of his ministry. These works are the works of the Father and so bear witness to him and to the relationship that Jesus shares with him as Son. Since Jesus as Son does what God as father commands him to do, Jesus completes the Father’s own works. The third witness is the Father himself. God himself cannot be seen, yet, he has been made visible in Jesus and the Jewish leaders have refused to believe the God made so visible.
The scriptures also testify on behalf of Jesus and though the leaders search and study the scriptures because they seek life, they refuse to believe what they learn there, namely that Jesus is the one who gives life and life in abundance. This is because they are unable to distinguish truth from falsehood. It is not Jesus but Moses himself who will accuse them of unbelief. This is because Moses also testified to Jesus and despite his testimony, they have refused to believe. If one believes what Moses wrote, one has to believe in Jesus, there is no middle ground here.
It is not easy to believe in Jesus, because such a belief calls for a radical change in one’s life’s orientation. Belief in Jesus will mean a movement from selfishness to selfless, domination to service and fear to love and not many are inclined to make this change. Most of us are content to live our lives insulated from others and preferring to live as islands rather than as community. We pretend not to know who we are and what our calling is. It seems easier this way. However, as the Gospel text makes clear there is no middle ground and if one is not willing to live the kind of life that Jesus invites us to as his disciples, then one is a non-believer.
Tuesday, 28 March 2017
Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - Jesus revealed the Father through all that he said and did. Will you reveal Jesus by what you say and do today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Isa49:8-15; Jn 5:17-30
These verses contain the first discourse in the Gospel of John. It is made up of many closely related themes. The Jews are outraged that Jesus has healed on the Sabbath and in answer to this outrage Jesus answers them in the following verses.
To the charge that Jesus was making himself equal to God, Jesus answers that he as Son can do nothing apart from the Father. He is completely dependent on the Father and merely does the Father’s work. The Father reveals all that he does to his Son including raising the dead and giving them life. Thus the Son shares in the life giving work of the Father. The Son has also been given the power and authority to judge. This implies that everyone is under the Son’s reign and rule, and thus must confer on him the same honour that is conferred on the Father. The one who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father since it is the Father who has sent the Son.
To hear the Son’s word and believe in God opens the gift of eternal life. The alternative is judgment. This judgement will be based on the response to the Son in the present. Those who accept him and do good will be granted the resurrection of life whereas those who reject the Son and thus do evil will go to the resurrection of condemnation. The now will determine the later, the present will determine the future. This part of the pericope ends with an idea expressed earlier namely that the Son can do nothing on his own and will do nothing on his own, because he seeks only to do the will of his Father.
Monday, 27 March 2017
Tuesday, March 28, 2017 - Do I set limits on God’s magnanimity and generosity in forgiving me? Have I forgiven myself? How do I show that I have really been forgiven? What does it means that I can rise, take up my mat and walk?
To read the texts click on the texts: Ezek 47:1-9, 12; Jn 5:1-3, 5-16
The miracle of the healing of the paralytic is exclusive to the Gospel of John. The story is set in
and the miracle occurs during one
of the Jewish festivals though John does not specify which one. Later in the
narrative we are told that the day of the festival was also the Sabbath and
this adds to the significance of both the festival and the Sabbath and thus the
miracle and the controversy that follows. Festivals in John are used as a
platform for a deep revelation of the person of Jesus and this festival is no
John gives a detailed description of the place where the miracle was performed as if encouraging the reader to place him/herself in that place. Three kinds of invalids are mentioned: the blind, the lame and the paralyzed. These are at the pool waiting for the stirring of the water. Popular belief was that an angel was responsible for the stirring of the water and thus for the inexplicable bubbling at the surface. Of these one is singled out. He is a man who has been ill for thirty-eight years, which symbolizes that his illness is almost permanent. At this point the text does not tell us what his illness is. Jesus picks out this man and again we are not given a reason. Did he come across to Jesus as the one most in need? Was he the only one who did not have someone to help him? We are only told that Jesus “knew that he had been there a long time”. Jesus initiates the miracle by approaching the man. Yet, he does not force his healing on the man as is evident in the question that he asks him; “Do you want to be made well?” The man does not answer the question but begins his litany of complaints. He has already set limits to what he believes can be done for him. He does not expect the impossible. Jesus responds to the man’s complaints with three imperatives: “stand up, take your mat and walk”. That Jesus’ words are effective and transformative is evident in the fact that the man was made well. He obeys Jesus’ commands to the letter: “He took up his mat and walked”.
Immediately after the miracle, there is an objection on the part of “the Jews” (which here refers to the Jewish authorities who oppose Jesus and not the Jewish people in general) because the man was carrying his mat on the Sabbath and this constituted work which was not allowed on the Sabbath. The man responds that he is simply obeying what Jesus asked him to do. The Jewish leaders prefer to focus not on the fact that he had been made well, but on the one who told him to violate the Sabbath. The man cannot respond to the question of the Jewish leaders about who Jesus is, since he does not know Jesus.
At this point Jesus reenters the story and finds the man in the temple confirming that he has been made well and speaks to him about sin. He invites the man to move from the mere physical healing to spiritual healing. The man on encountering Jesus again, announces to the Jews that it was Jesus who made him well. While some see these words of the man as pointing Jesus out to the Jewish leaders, others interpret them as an announcement of the man about who Jesus is. Again the leaders refuse to focus on the positive action of the man being made well and focus instead on the violation of the Sabbath. This is why they decide to persecute him.
Two issues are brought out in this story. The first is that of illness. While we may be able to see with the eyes of our head, it is possible that we too like many of those who were at the pool may be psychologically or spiritually blind. We may not be able to see another person’s point of view and imagine sometimes that ours is the only correct viewpoint. We may also be blind to the sufferings of the numerous people around us and close ourselves in on our own small worlds. We may have the facility and use of both of our legs, but may have given in to lethargy or laziness. We may have lost the desire and drive to do what we have to do. We may be able to use all our limbs and move about freely, but may have given in to fear. We may also be carrying resentments, bitterness, anger, jealousy and even rage in our hearts because of which we are paralyzed and not able to move freely.
The second issue which the story brings out is that of law versus love. Like the Jewish leaders we are also guilty sometimes of focusing too much on the law and not enough on love. Like they were not able to focus on the man’s wholeness but only on the violation of the Sabbath, so we are sometimes prone to focus on the negatives rather than on the positive. We prefer often to give a negative interpretation to a person’s actions and words rather than a positive one.
The miracle thus calls each of us to give up the blindness of our heart and the lameness of our mind and the paralysis of our spirit and to focus on the positive of God’s unconditional healing and love made visible in Jesus.
Sunday, 26 March 2017
Monday, March 27, 2017 - Do you believe in God only when things go the way you plan or do you continue to believe in all circumstances? Is your God only a miracle worker or is he a God with you and for you?
To read the texts click on the texts: Isa65:17-21; Jn 4:43-54
The healing of the royal official’s son (-54) which is part of our text today begins after the dialogue with the Samaritan woman (4:1-42). The first two verses of today’s text (-45) serve as an interlude between the two stories. John uses the saying of the prophet having no honour in his own country, to show why Jesus came to
Galilee. In John, Judea
is Jesus’ own country and since he was not accepted there, he had to go to
others including the Samaritans. Like the Samaritans, the Galileans welcome
The first verse of the miracle story that follows is an introduction narrating the case. The son of a royal official is ill in
. The mention of
Capernaum Cana and a summary of the first miracle of
turning water into wine anticipate another miracle. The healing in this
miracle, however, is done at a distance. The official makes a request for Jesus
to come down and heal his son who is at the point of death. The immediate
response of Jesus is directed not to the official alone but to all. That Jesus
did heal the official’s son is an indication that his words are not meant
merely as a rebuke, but go deeper. Though the people will base their faith in
him merely on signs and wonders, Jesus invites them to realize that these are
not what will motivate him to act. He will act only in accordance with the will
of God. Human expectation cannot determine his action. Even after hearing this
seeming rebuke, the official is not deterred. He perseveres in his request.
With a word and from a distance, Jesus performs the healing. The official’s
faith is Jesus is seen in his obedience to the command to “Go”. He does go on
The attestation of the miracle is provided by the servants of the official who meet him when he is still on his way to his home. The official on further enquiry realizes that Jesus is the one who has performed the healing and is led to faith. The man now believes in Jesus, not only in Jesus’ word.
At the end of the miracle John remarks that this was then second sign that Jesus worked after coming to
In his Gospel, John always refers to the miracles of Jesus as signs.
Sickness and brokenness are very much visible in our world today and most are in need of some form of healing or another. At times doctors are not able to diagnose an illness and at other times when they are and perform a complicated operation, ask the patient and family members to pray and have faith. There is only so much that they can do, the rest is in God’s hands. The official in the story had probably gone to Jesus as a last resort (his son was not merely ill but at the point of death) after having explored and exhausted all other avenues. He is single minded in his purpose and will let nothing deter him. He believes and perseveres. His faith gains for him not only his son’s life but also the gift of faith in Jesus.
This means that faith cannot be based on external signs alone and remain at that level. If it is and does, then one will look at Jesus as a mere miracle worker. The focus here would be only on the actions of Jesus and not on his person from which his actions flow. If one is able to go beyond the action to the person of Jesus, then one will also be able to see who God is: God with us, for us and in us.