Friday, 22 March 2019

Audio reflections of Saturday, March 23, 2019

To hear the Audio reflections of Saturday, March 23, 2019 click HERE

Saturday, March 23, 2019 -  Am I “good” because of fear of punishment or hope of reward, or am I “good” because it is good to be good?

To read the texts click on the texts: Mic 7:14-15, 18-20; Lk15; 1-3, 11-32
The setting for the Parable of the Prodigal son (more correctly called “The Prodigal father”) is the same as at the beginning of Chapter 15 and concerns the murmuring of the Pharisees and scribes because Jesus eats with “tax collectors and sinners.”

Direct taxes (poll tax, land tax) were collected by tax collectors employed by the Romans, while tolls, tariffs, and customs fees were collected at toll houses by toll collectors, the group that appears frequently in the Gospels and is not entirely accurately identified as “tax collectors.” Toll collectors paid in advance for the right to collect tolls, so the system was open to abuse and corruption. The toll collectors were often not natives of the area where they worked, and their wealth and collusion with the Roman oppressors made them targets of scorn.

Those designated as “sinners” by the Pharisees would have included not only persons who broke the moral laws but also those who did not maintain the ritual purity practiced by the Pharisees. The scandal was that Jesus received such outcasts, shared table fellowship with them, and even played host to them.

The beginning of the Parable which speaks of “two sons” indicates that the focus is on their relationship to the Father and not to each other as “brothers”. The demand of the younger son is disrespectful and irregular. There is no rationale here. He was breaking family ties and treating his father as if he were already dead. The father divides his life among them. As soon as the younger son receives his share, there is a progressive estrangement. He goes into a far away country which indicates gentile land and mismanages the money given to him. He spends it all on loose living. His descent into poverty and deprivation is swift. He descends as low as to agree to work for a gentile and in a gentile land. Swine were an abomination to Jews, and they were prohibited from raising swine anywhere. The man who would dare to breed swine was considered cursed.  Human beings even ate carob pods, which were used as animal fodder, in times of famine. This is an indication of the complete destitution of the younger son. He comes to his senses when he is at the depth of his degradation and in the midst of mire and filth.

There are four parts to the speech that the younger son prepares
1.   An address – “Father”
2.   A confession – “I have sinned”
3.   Contrition – “I am no longer worthy”
4.   A Petition – “treat me as one of your hired servants.

The journey begins with coming to himself and ends with his going to his Father. It means learning to say ABBA again, putting one’s whole trust in the heavenly Father, returning to the Father’s house and the Father’s arms. That the younger son is serious about his return is shown in his action. He gets up from the mire and begins the return to his father.

The father’s response is mind boggling. While the son is still a long way off, he runs to meet him. In the first century it was considered undignified for grown men to run. The father sets aside respect and dignity. His only focus is his son. The son begins his speech but is not allowed to complete it. The father interrupts his son even before he can finish. He gives instructions to his servants for a robe, ring and sandals all of which indicate that the son is given back his original place as son. The call to kill the fatted calf is a sign that the return of the son is to be regarded as a time of celebration. The dead son has come alive, the lost son has been found.

Even as the celebration is on, the elder son is introduced. When he is informed about the reason for the celebration, he sulks and refuses to enter the house. Like in the case of his younger son, the father goes to meet his elder son. However, while he does not have to plead with the younger son, he does so with the elder son. The elder son does not address his father as “Father”, nor does he refer to his brother as “brother”. He argues his case on the grounds of merit and what he thinks he rightfully deserves. Even as he does this, he points to the failings of the younger son. What then is the point of being good?

In his response to the elder son, the father first addresses his son as “Son” though he was not addressed as “Father” and also reminds him that the younger son is also his brother. Reconciliation for the younger son meant reconciliation with his father, but for the elder son it means reconciliation with his brother. There is thus both the vertical dimension and the horizontal dimension of reconciliation.

Much of the fascination of this parable lies in its ability to resonate with our life experiences: adolescent rebellion; alienation from family; the appeal of the new and foreign; the consequences of foolish living; the warmth of home remembered; the experience of self-encounter, awakening, and repentance; the joy of reunion; the power of forgiveness; the dynamics of “brotherly love” that leads to one brother’s departure and the other’s indignation; and the contrast between relationships based on merit and relationships based on faithful love.

Unfortunately, we usually learn to demand our rights before we learn to value our relationships. The younger son was acting within his rights, but he was destroying his closest relationships in the process. How many times a week will a parent hear one child say to another, “This is mine. Give it to me”? Children quickly learn to demand their rights, but it often takes much longer for them to learn how to maintain relationships. Governments and law courts defend our civil rights, but how do we learn to defend our civil and familial relationships?

From a distance, the “far country” can be very appealing. Young people leave home for fast living. Spouses move out to form liaisons with exciting new partners. The glow that surrounds the far country is a mirage, however. Home never looks as good as when it is remembered from the far country.

The journey home begins with coming to oneself. That means that the most difficult step is the first one. The younger son had to face himself in the swine pen of his own making before he faced his father on the road. Pride can keep us from admitting our mistakes; self-esteem may require us to take decisive action to set right the things we have done wrong.

Although the opportunity to restore relationships and remedy wrongs begins with coming to oneself, it requires more. We must go to the person we have wronged. Was the younger son just seeking to improve his situation, or was he seeking reconciliation with his father? The direct confession in his interior monologue confirms the sincerity of his intent. Neither the younger son’s pride nor his shame mattered as much as his need to restore his relationship to his father. He did not ask for his filial privileges to be restored. He did not even ask for forgiveness. He merely stated his confession. When the prodigal son came to himself, he came to his father. . . .

The temptation a parent faces is to allow the child’s separation to become reciprocal. If the child separates from the parent, the 
parent may be tempted to respond in kind. The parable’s model of parental love insists, however, that no matter what the son/daughter has done he/she is still son/daughter. When no one else would even give the prodigal something to eat, the father runs to him and accepts him back. Love requires no confession and no restitution. The joyful celebration begins as soon as the father recognized the son’s profile on the horizon.

Insofar as we may see God’s love reflected in the response of the waiting father, the parable reassures all who would confess, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.” The father runs to meet his son even before the son can voice his confession, and the father’s response is far more receptive than the son had dared even to imagine. The father’s celebration conveys the joy in heaven. The picture is one of sheer grace. No penance is required; it is enough that the son has come home.

If this is the picture of God’s joy in receiving a sinner coming home, then it can also give assurance of God’s love to those who face death wondering how God will receive them. In the end we all return home as sinners, so Jesus’ parable invites us to trust that God’s goodness and mercy will be at least as great as that of a loving human father.

The elder brother represents all of us who think we can make it on our own, all of us who might be proud of the kind of lives we live. Here is the contrast between those who want to live by justice and merit and those who must ask for grace. The parable shows that those who would live by merit can never know the joy of grace. We cannot share in the Father’s grace if we demand that he deal with us according to what we deserve. Sharing in God’s grace requires that we join in the celebration when others are recipients of that grace also. Part of the fellowship with Christ is receiving and rejoicing with others who do not deserve our forgiveness or God’s grace. Each person is of such value to God, however, that none is excluded from God’s grace. Neither should we withhold our forgiveness.

The parable leaves us with the question of whether the elder brother joined the celebration. Did he go in and welcome his brother home, or did he stay outside pouting and feeling wronged? The parable ends there because that is the decision each of us must make. If we go in, we accept grace as the Father’s rule for life in the family.

Ø How would you define your relationship with God?
Ø What names do you use to address God?
Ø What does this tell you about your relationship?
Ø Is my prayer like that of the younger son, “Give me, give me, and give me”?
Ø How often have I said, “This is mine”?
Ø How often have my own desires and the desire for personal gratification got the better of me?
Ø Write a prayer which indicates your acknowledgement of the need for grace, and which will end with confidence that the Father will take you back.
Ø Do you feel guilt whenever you sin?
Ø Do you begin to hate yourself when you feel you do not come up to the mark?
Ø Do I sometimes have “a better than thou” attitude?
Ø Do others have to lose in order for me to win?
Ø Am I “good” because of fear of punishment or hope of reward, or am I “good” because it is good to be good?
Ø God has FORGIVEN YOU, have you FORGIVEN YOURSELF/OTHERS?
Ø 1 Jn 4,20 – If any one says, “I love God,” and hates his brother/sister, he/she is a liar, for he/she who does not love his/her brother/sister whom he/she has seen, cannot love God whom he/she has not seen.” Do you agree with this way of thinking? If yes, why? If No, why not?

Saturday, March 23, 2019


Saturday, March 23, 2019 - Mic 7:14-15, 18-20; Lk 15; 1-3, 11-32

Saturday, March 23, 2019 - Mic 7:14-15, 18-20; Lk 15:1-3, 11-32


  1. To whom does Micah say God will show faithfulness?

  2. Jacob
    Abraham
    Joshua

  3. How many sons did the father in today's parable have?

  4. One
    Three
    Two

  5. What does Micah say the Lord passes over?

  6. Transgression
    Iniquity
    The red sea

  7. To whom does Micah say God will show steadfast love?

  8. Abraham
    Jacob
    Joseph

  9. Which son asked for his share of the property?

  10. The elder son
    The younger son
    Both sons

  11. How many sheep does the shepherd leave in the wilderness?

  12. One
    Ninety-nine
    Hundred

  13. What kind of robe did the father ask for?

  14. A used robe
    The best robe
    His own robe

  15. Where dies God want the flock to feed?

  16. In Galilee and Jerusalem
    In Bashan and Gilead
    In Sodom and Gamorrah

  17. Who complained that Jesus was eating with tax collectors and sinners?

  18. His disciples
    The Pharisees and scribes
    The Pharisees and chief priests

  19. What is the message of the readings of today?

  20. Everyone of us is precious to God
    God loves us unconditionally
    God is Prodigal with love

Thanks for taking the Quiz. I hope it makes the word of God more relevant. Let me know on errolsj@gmail.com. Suggestions are always welcome

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Audio Reflections of Friday, March 22, 2019

To hear the Audio Reflections of Friday, March 22, 2019 click HERE

Friday, March 22, 2019 - Will you give God his due by sharing with at least one person who does not have today? If God were to visit the vineyard of your life and ask for fruit what would your response be?


To read the texts click on the texts:Gen37:3-4, 12-13, 17-28; Mt 21:33-43, 45-46
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.

In Matthew, this parable is the center of Jesus’ threefold parabolic response to the chief priests and elders. The first of these is about the two sons (21:28-32) and the third is about the great supper (22:1-14). He also links it to the previous parable of the two sons by means of common words like vineyard, son and the common theme of both which is doing God’s will rather than paying lip service.

In Matthew, the one who gives the vineyard to tenants is a “landowner” and not simply a “man “as he is in Mark. This helps Matthew to use the term “Lord” towards the end of the parable. The vineyard is described much like the one in Isa 5:1-7 which indicates that Matthew intends the vineyard to be read as “Israel” which it is in Isaiah. If in Mark the man who hired out the vineyard wants only his share, here he wants all the fruit. This indicates that God’s claim on the human person and all possessions it total and not partial. There are no half measures with God. It is all or nothing. The two groups of servants which are sent before the Son probably represent in Matthew the former and latter prophets whom God sent to Israel to bring the nation back to him. It is only after the two groups of servants are abused and murdered that the landowner decides to send his Son. In Matthew the son is first taken out of the vineyard and then killed (unlike in Mark where he is first killed and then thrown out of the vineyard) to correspond with what actually happens at the passion and death of Jesus (27:32). In Mark the question about the response of the owner of the vineyard is asked and answered by Jesus, while in Matthew, Jesus asks the questions and the Jewish leaders answer and through the answer pronounce their own condemnation. The tenants had been unfaithful and will have to pay for this unfaithfulness. The quotation of Ps 118:22-23 here results in increasing and intensifying the condemnation of the tenants to whom what was given was given in trust. Since they have been proved untrustworthy and unfaithful, they will be denied further tenancy and others will be given the vineyard to tend.

The Jewish leaders realize 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.

Friday, March 22, 2019


Friday, March 22, 2019 - Gen 37:3-4, 12-13, 17-28; Mt 21:33-43, 45-46

Friday, March 22, 2019 - Gen 37:3-4, 12-13, 17-28; Mt 21:33-43, 45-46


  1. Which Psalm does Jesus quote in the Gospel of today?

  2. Ps 118
    Ps 119
    Ps 120

  3. At which place did Joseph find his brothers?

  4. At Dothan
    At Gliead
    At Midian

  5. What did the tenants do to the son of the owner of the vineyard?

  6. They gave him the share due to him
    They killed him
    They bowed before him

  7. What did Israel make for the son he loved more than others?

  8. A scarf to wear around his neck
    A long robe with sleeves
    Stockings for his feet

  9. Where did Israel's sons go to pasture his flocks?

  10. Jerusalem
    Shechem
    Samaria

  11. Who suggested that they sell their brother to the Ish′maelites?

  12. Joseph
    Judah
    Reuben

  13. Whom did Israel love more than his other children?

  14. Reuben
    Joseph
    Judah

  15. Where did the Ishmaelites take Joseph?

  16. Back to his father
    To Egypt
    To Jerusalem

  17. For how many shekels of silver was Joseph sold?

  18. Ten
    Twenty
    Thirty

  19. What is the message of the readings of today?

  20. All we have is given to us in trust
    We must be ready to give back to God what belongs to God
    Generosity is required in all things

Thanks for taking the Quiz. I hope it makes the word of God more relevant. Let me know on errolsj@gmail.com. Suggestions are always welcome

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Audio Reflections of Thursday, March 21, 2019

To hear the Audio Reflections of Thursday, March 21, 2019 click HERE

Thursday, March 21, 2019 - How would you like to conclude the story? Place yourself in the position of the rich man’s brothers’ and write down what you would do to ensure that you do not suffer the same fate as the rich man.

To read the texts click on the texts: Jer 17:5-10; Lk 16:19-31
The parable of today has often been titled as the parable of “Dives and Lazarus”. It can be seen to be divided into three parts. If in the first part the focus is on rich man’s (who is not named. The term “dives” in Latin means “rich”) opulence and wealth, in the second part it is on his death and burial. In the third part which is the longest there is for the first time in the story, a dialogue. It is between the rich man and Abraham and is the climax of the story. 

The story begins by describing the rich man and his dress and food. The “purple and fine linen” may signify that he was a high ranking official, since the Romans had set standards regarding who could wear purple and how much purple they could wear. In contrast to the rich man there is a poor man who is named Lazarus. He is the only character in Jesus’ parables to be given a name. The name Lazarus means “God helps”. The fact that he is at the gate of the rich man’s house signifies that though the rich man could see Lazarus, he was not aware of his existence. He is so caught up in his world of material things that this results in his inability to see reality right before him. Lazarus would have been content with the bread which was used to wipe the grease from the hand of the one eating and then thrown under the table. However, even this he did not receive. Instead, dogs fed off his sores.

The death of Lazarus is no surprise. However, the detail that is added is that Lazarus is carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. This detail brings to mind that God indeed comes to Lazarus’ help.  The death of the rich man is described in a short sentence which brings out strikingly the transient nature of all his opulence and wealth.

In the third part, there is a dialogue between the rich man and Abraham. Lazarus does not speak at all. He is in the bosom of Abraham. Being “in the bosom” of Abraham may imply that Lazarus was the honoured guest at the eschatological banquet, feasting while the rich man was in torment.   

In the request that the rich man makes of Abraham to let Lazarus dip the tip of his finger in water to cool his tongue, he calls Lazarus by name which indicates that he knew who Lazarus was and yet refused to look at him on earth as a person. In his response, Abraham reminds the rich man of his and Lazarus’ past and of the chasm that separated them then, but which had been erected by the rich man, and which still separates them now. It is admirable that even in his torment the rich man can think of others (even if they be members of his own immediate family). He makes a second request of Abraham to send Lazarus as a messenger to warn his brothers. Abraham responds that the brothers have already received enough and more instruction and if they have not heeded that they will not heed another. The rich man tries one final time to convince Abraham to send Lazarus as one who has gone back from the dead. Abraham responds by telling the rich man that for those who believe no proof is necessary and for those who do not no proof is sufficient.

The rich man in the story is so caught with the things of the world and with his own self interests that these prevent him from even becoming aware of the needs of another. A number of questions to which there are no easy answers are raised by this parable and we must keep reflecting on them constantly if we are not to lose touch with reality.