Friday, 19 August 2022

Saturday, August 20, 2022 - Will you let people hear what you do rather than what you say? How?

 To read the texts click on the texts:  Ezekiel43:1-7; Mt 23:1-12

Moses’ seat is a metaphorical expression representing the teaching and administrative authority of the synagogue leadership, scribes and Pharisees. Jesus condemns only the practice of the scribes and Pharisees and not their teaching. Matthew makes three points. The first is that they say but do not do, the second is that they burden while failing to act themselves and the third is that they act for the wrong reasons: to make an impression on others. “Phylacteries” is the term Matthew uses for the tephillin, which were small leather boxes containing portions of the Torah (Exod 13,1-16; Deut 6,4-9; 11,13-32) strapped to the forehead and arm during the recitation of prayers in literal obedience to Deut 6,8. The “tassels” were attached to the prayer shawls, and the most important seats in the synagogue refer to the place of honour at the front facing the congregation, occupied by teachers and respected leaders. The term “Rabbi” was a title of honour.

The point that the Gospel reading of today makes is that there must be a correlation between our words and our actions. It is easy to say, but difficult to do, it is easy to preach but difficult to practice. The way to ensure that there is a correlation between the two is to first do and then say, or better to let people hear not what you say but what you do.

Thursday, 18 August 2022

Friday, August 19, 2022 - Homily


 Will you show your love for God by loving those around you?

Friday, August 18, 2022 - Will you show your love for God by first loving those around you? How?

 To read the texts click on the texts: Ezek 37:1-4; Mt 22:34-40

Matthew has written Mark’s story (Mk 12, 28-34) and made what was a scholastic dialogue in to a controversy. Unlike in Mark where the scribe is friendly, here the “lawyer” (the only occurrence of “nomikos” = lawyer in Matthew) is hostile, and the question is asked to “test” Jesus (only the devil and the Pharisees are the subject of the verb, “test”). The lawyer addresses Jesus as “Teacher”, which is an indication of insincerity, because in Matthew, believers address Jesus as “Lord”. The rabbis counted 613 commands (248 positive and 365 negative), and some regarded all commandments as equal. The question of the lawyer may have been intended to draw Jesus into a debate and get him to make a statement that could be interpreted as disparaging toward the Law.

In his answer, however, Jesus brings together two Old Testament texts that existed separately and in different books of the Bible. The commandment to love God alone was found in Deut 6, 4-5 and the commandment to love neighbour was found in Lev 19,18. These two, Jesus brings together into one, making them dependent on each other. This combination is distinctive of the Synoptic Jesus.

In his first letter John makes a telling point when he says that the one who says that he/she loves God whom they cannot see but cannot love their brother/sister whom they can see are liars (1 John 4,20).

Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Thursday, August 18, 2022 - Homily


Am I wearing the wedding garment?

Thursday, August 18, 2022 - Does my faith show itself in action? How?

 To read the texts click on the texts:Ezekiel 36:23-28; Mt 22:1-14

The second part of the parable of the Wedding Feast has often troubled many, because they are not able to understand why the one without the wedding clothes was cast out, when a few verses below the servants are told to go out and invite both good and bad. The question that arises is - How could those unexpectedly herded into the wedding feast from the streets wear the expected clothing, which all but one seem to do? The point is that realism is sacrificed to theological meaning. In early Christianity, the new identity of conversion was often pictured as donning a new set of clothes, the language of changing clothes was used to express the giving up of old ways and adopting the new Christian identity (see Rom 13, 12-14; Gal 3,27; Eph 6,11). The man was thus expected to have the deeds of an authentic Christian, which he does not have.

We sometimes attend the Eucharistic banquet without the appropriate garb, which is a faith that shows itself in action. This “dead faith” renders us unworthy, and in danger of being “cast out”. Unless we can show through our deeds that we are Christians, our celebration of the Eucharist will remain at the theoretical and ritualistic level, having no relevance to our lives. 

Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Wednesday, August 17, 2022 - Homily


 Are you good because of fear of punishment or hope of reward or are you good because it is good to be good?

Wednesday, August 17, 2022 - Are you good because of fear of punishment or hope of reward? Or are you good because it is good to be good?

To read the texts click on the texts: Ezek 34:1-11; Mt 20:1-16

The parable of the labourers in the vineyard, who are paid the same wages for unequal work, is exclusive to the Gospel of Matthew. Many are of the opinion that the original parable ended at 20:13 or 20:14a, and what follows from 20:14b –16 or 20:14-16 are Matthean additions. The parable narrates how the landowner himself goes to the market to hire labourers at different hours and even at the eleventh hour. While the first group of workers is told explicitly that they will be paid the day’s wage which was one denarius, while the others are told that they would be paid whatever is right. When the time for payment arrives the focus is on the groups hired first and last, with the last being paid before all the other. They are paid one denarius, which is the day’s wage. The last are also paid what the landowner agreed with them. Since the parable does not speak about the amount work done by each group or say that those who were hired at the eleventh hour did as much work as those who were hired in the morning, it leaves the reader stunned. This ending upsets and challenges conventional values. The point that Jesus seems to make in the parable is that the tax collectors and sinners will be given the same status as those who have obeyed the law.

The additions by Matthew stress the jealousy and envy of those who were hired in the morning. The objection is not to what they have received but about the fact that the others have received as much as they which they regard as unfair. The difference is that they have received what is theirs through their hard work and effort; the others have received what they have because of the landowner’s generosity. 

If one can identify with the group who complains, then it is time that one checks one’s motivation whenever one does good, because if one does not, one will continue to get frustrated at what one sees happening around one. Is the work that you do reward in itself? Or do you expect another reward?

Monday, 15 August 2022

Tuesday, August 16, 2022 - Homily


How would you define “kingdom of God”? What/How much are you willing to give to acquire the kingdom?

Tuesday, August 16, 2022 - How would you define “kingdom of God”? What/How much are you willing to give to acquire the kingdom?

 To read the texts click on the texts: Ezekiel28:1-10; Mt 19:23-30

Immediately after the rich young man departs, the next words of Jesus are to his disciples. Matthew reformulates it as an “AMEN” saying. The word “Amen” occurs thirty-two times in Matthew. Beginning some of his pronouncements with “Amen” was a unique aspect of Jesus’ own authoritative speech. Amen is not a Greek word, but a transliteration of the Hebrew word “Amen” which is a responsive affirmation to something said previously. In this context, it is used to make the pronouncement of Jesus solemn. The pronouncement is about the impossibility of a rich person entering the kingdom of God. Jesus clearly reached for the most extreme illustration of impossibility, and the disciples got the point.

In response to Peter’s question, which must be seen as a continuation of the preceding dialogue (for taken by itself, Peter’s question seems purely selfish) Jesus affirms the eschatological reward for those who have not depended on their own goodness/talents/abilities/righteousness, but acknowledge their dependence on God’s free grace.

The point is not so much that God will prevent the rich from entering the kingdom, but that their riches will be an obstacle in their path.