To hear the Audio Reflections of Tuesday, August 30, 2016 click HERE
Monday, August 29, 2016
To read the texts click on the texts:1 Cor 2:10-16; Lk 4:31-37
Immediately after leaving the synagogue, Jesus works a miracle. This miracle is the healing of a man possessed by a demon, thus putting into action immediately the manifesto he had spoken about. This exorcism is the first of the four exorcisms in the Gospel of Luke. The unclean spirit refers to Jesus here as Jesus of Nazareth and as the Holy one of God, which is a title Luke has taken from Mark, since it does not appear again in the Gospel of Luke. Jesus exorcises the demon with a command.
It is interesting to note that the people who witnessed the miracle refer to it not as an action but as a teaching simply because there was never a separation between the words and deeds of Jesus, there was never a separation between what Jesus said and did.
With many of us we often do not do what we say we will do. At other times we say one thing and do another. We are called through the example of Jesus to synchronise our words and actions and to mean and do what we say.
Sunday, August 28, 2016
To hear the Audio Reflections of Monday, August 29, 2016 - The Beheading of John the Baptist, click HERE
Monday, August 29, 2016 - The Beheading of John the Baptist - John decreased because he wanted Jesus to increase? Will you do the same? How?
To read the texts click on the texts: Jer 1:17-19; Mk 6:17-29
Mark’s Account of the beheading of Saint John the Baptist by Herod Antipas is more elaborate than that of Matthew and Luke. According to Mark, Herod had imprisoned John because he reproved Herod for divorcing his wife (Phasaelis), and unlawfully taking Herodias, the wife of his brother Herod Philip I. On Herod's birthday, Herodias' daughter (traditionally named Salome but not named by Mark or the other Gospels) danced before the king and his guests. Her dancing pleased Herod so much that in his drunkenness he promised to give her anything she desired, up to half of his kingdom. When the daughter asked her mother what she should request, she was told to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Although Herod was appalled by the request, he reluctantly agreed and had John executed in the prison.
The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus also relates in his Antiquities of the Jews that Herod killed John, stating that he did so, "lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his [John's] power and inclination to raise a rebellion, (for they seemed ready to do anything he should advise), [so Herod] thought it best [to put] him to death." He further states that many of the Jews believed that the military disaster which fell upon Herod at the hands of Aretas his father-in-law (Phasaelis' father), was God's punishment for his unrighteous behaviour.
While Mark has mentioned Herodians before (3:6), this is the first time in his Gospel that he mentions Herod. Herod, here is Herod Antipas who was the son of Herod the Great who is the one referred to in the narrative of the birth of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew (Mt 2:1-23), and had been appointed by the Roman as the ruler of Galilee and Perea (Lk 3:1). He was never “king” as Mark mentions in his story, and Matthew corrects this by referring to Herod as tetrarch (Mt 14,1). The story of the death of John the Baptist in Mark is sandwiched between the sending of the Twelve on Mission (6:7-13) and their return from Mission (6:30-34).
Mark mentions three opinions about Jesus said to be circulating at that time. Some believed that Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead; others believed that Jesus was Elijah, while still others believed that Jesus was one of the prophets of old. Herod, however, is quite clear in Mark that Jesus is John the Baptist raised. This profession of Herod leads Mark to narrate the story of the death of John the Baptist as a flashback. According to Mark, the reason why John was put in prison was because he objected to Herod’s violation of the purity code, which forbade marriage of close relatives and to a brother’s wife while the brother was still alive (Lev 18:16; 20:21). Mark seems to lay the blame for the death of John on Herodias who manipulates Herod into executing John. The daughter of Herodias is not named here or anywhere in the Bible, nor does the Bible give her age. According to Mark a drunken Herod is trapped into fulfilling a rash vow and so has John beheaded.
Though in Mark’s narrative it is Herodias who is directly responsible for the death of John the Baptist, Herod cannot disown responsibility. He could have decided if he had the courage not to give in, yet he made the choice to have John beheaded. Each of us is responsible for our own actions though we may sometimes blame others or even circumstances. The sooner we accept responsibility for who we are and what we do, the sooner we will grow up. The legend of John the Baptist shows us that justice is the ultimate victim in such situations.
Saturday, August 27, 2016
To read the texts click on the texts: Sir 3:17-20; 28-29;Heb 12:18-19, 22-24a; Lk 14:1, 7-14
“Humility is a funny thing. Once you think you’ve got it, you’ve lost it.” Humility is a major theme of the readings of today. If the first reading from Sirach begins with the advice to perform one’s tasks with humility, in the Gospel text of today, Jesus advises choosing the lowest place as a practical way of performing one’s tasks.
At the cursory level, one might assume that Jesus is giving a lesson on table manners, or providing a strategy by which one can gain honour. This is true, but is only a small part of the story. A deeper reading reveals that there is much more. Since Jesus is not asking his listeners to choose a lower place but instead, the last place, the point he is making is more than just strategy. He is advocating humility.
Humility is possible only when a person realizes that his / her true worth does not come from external recognition but from within. If one is convinced in one’s heart that one is worthy, special, and unique, then one will not need to compare oneself with another or try to be better than another. One is content with one’s self. Like happiness, humility is an inside job.
Humility is without guile. It does not seek to bring others down. Rather, it seeks to raise others higher. This the humble person can do because he / she is secure in him / herself. The humble person expects no compensation, no recompense, and no reward. Such a person is able to follow Jesus’ instructions and invite those who cannot repay. Such a person can invite those who do not have capacity to do anything in return. Such a person can act in a manner that is free and liberating. Such a person acts from the heart.
We live in a world that judges mainly by externals. One reason why cosmetic companies are so successful is because most people lay too much stress on the externals. How one dresses, what clothes one wears, what perfume one uses, are questions of extreme importance for so many. Many want, not only to be recognized but also, to be commended, applauded, and praised. Some will go to any extent to seek and search for this. There is, in most of our relations, a quid pro quo or, ‘something for something.’ We are good to others if they are good to us. We do favours for others in the hope that they will return the favours when we need them. We reach out to others in the hope that we will be noticed and in the hope that they will, in turn, reach out to us. We live artificial, false, empty lives in the hope that we will be given the importance and value we seek. Those of us who live in this manner have already received our reward.
The call and the challenge of the readings of today are to a different way of life. The readings call us first to live from within, to live from our hearts. They call us to rest assured in the fact that each of us, no matter how tall or short, no matter how fair or dark, and no matter how thin or fat, is a unique, special and precious person. We each have our special place in the world and no one can take that place. Thus, we have simply to be ourselves and accept ourselves fully. We do not need to compare ourselves with others or try to usurp the place of someone else. We do not need to do good deeds in the hope of those deeds being returned to us or in the hope of receiving a reward. We must do the good we do because it is good to do good.
This is possible for those of us who profess to be disciples of Jesus since he has shown us how. The second reading from the letter to the Hebrews makes abundantly clear that, in Jesus, we are blessed. In Jesus, we have come, not to a blazing fire that cannot be touched or to darkness or gloom or tempest. Rather, we have come to one who, through his death on the Cross, has shown us the true meaning of humility. We have come, in Jesus, to one who has shown us how we can do good for others without any expectation of reward. We have come, in Jesus, to one who has shown us what it means to take the last place, and to be exalted even in our humility.
Friday, August 26, 2016
Saturday, August 27, 2016 - What are the talents that God has given you personally? How will you use them for his greater glory today?
To read the texts click on the texts:1 Cor 1:26-31; Mt 25:14-30
A talent is a large sum of money, equal to the wages of a day labourer for fifteen years. (In Luke 19:12-28, the figures are much smaller. There are ten servants and each receives a “mina” which was only one sixtieth of a talent, and worth 100 denarii and translated “pound”) In Matthew, however, there are three servants and they receive different amounts. The first receives five, the second two, and the third, one. The first and the second use the money to earn similar amounts in return. The third, buries it in the ground.
The point that the parable seems to make here is that we are called not merely to “passive waiting” or strict obedience to clear instructions, but active responsibility that take initiative and risk. Each must decide how to use what he/she has been given.
Often times, our understanding of Christianity has been one in which we are content if we have not done “any wrong”, but rarely ask whether we have done “any right”. We are content like the third servant to give only grudgingly, and not with the freedom that we are meant to have.
Thursday, August 25, 2016
Friday, August 26, 2016 - Is there enough oil in the lamp of your life? If not what will you do about it today?
To read the texts click on the texts:1 Cor 1:17-25; Mt 25:1-13
In the parable of today we will hear of the ten bridesmaids, five of whom were prepared and five unprepared, five of whom had oil and five of whom who did not. We are told that five were foolish and five were wise right at the beginning of the parable, because we cannot tell this just be looking at them. All ten have come to the wedding; all ten have their lamps burning; all ten presumably have on their gowns. The readiness is what distinguishes the wise from the foolish.. Five are ready for the delay and five are not. Five have enough oil for the wedding to start whenever the bridegroom arrives; the foolish ones have only enough oil for their own timetable.
It is easy to be good for a day if goodness is seen only as a means to an end. It is easy to be merciful for a day if mercy is seen only as a means to an end. However, if we see goodness and mercy and everything that is positive as an end in itself, then it is possible to be good and merciful and positive always. We are called then to be like the wise ones with our lamps always burning so that we will then be able to welcome the Lord whenever he comes.