Friday, October 21, 2016

Saturday, October 22, 2016 - If you were given only one more day to live, what are the things that you would do? What is preventing you from doing these today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Eph 4:7-16; Lk 13:1-9

The warnings and admonitions regarding the coming judgement that began in 12:1, reach their conclusion here with a call to repentance. Jesus uses two sayings to make the same point. The first is about the calamity that occurred when Pilate slaughtered a group of Galileans and when the tower of Siloam fell and killed eighteen people. Though no other historical reports narrate these incidents, there may be some historical background to the first one, Josephus the Jewish historian does narrate many incidents, which confirm that Pilate shed much blood. In the incidents that Jesus narrates, however, he makes clear that what is required on the part of the human person is not the focus on sin and its consequences but on repentance, which means the acquisition of a new mind, a new heart and a new vision.

Near Eastern wisdom literature contains stories of unfruitful trees and the story of the barren fig tree is similar to the stories found there. While in the story as told by the Lucan Jesus there is mercy, it is still a warning of the urgency of repentance.

Each new day brings with it new hope and a new opportunity to right the wrongs that we may have done, to say the kind word that we ought to have said and to do the good that we ought to have done.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Friday, October 21, 2016 - Where in the scale of “attention to detail” does your devotion to the teachings of the Lord rank?

To read the texts click on the texts: Eph 4:1-6; Lk 12:54-59

The warnings about the coming judgement continue in the Gospel reading of today. The text contains two clusters of sayings addressed to the crowds. They are charged with hypocrisy in the first of the two clusters for not being as observant of the signs of the coming judgement as they are of the weather. If they pay attention to the slightest sign of change in the weather, then they must also pay attention to the present time, which is the time of Jesus and his works and words.

In the second they are warned to make every effort to settle accounts so that they may be blameless when they are brought to court.

While we must keep in touch with what is happening around us so that our responses to different situations can be adequate, it is also important to keep in touch with what is happening in us. This means that while we need to take good care of our physical and material well being, we must not do it at the cost of our spiritual well being.

Compromise is often better than confrontation. When it is not a matter of one’s principles or when one is not called to do something against one’s conscience then it is better to compromise when some conflict arises. This approach saves energy, time and money.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Thursday, October 20, 2016 - Will you do good today even in the face of opposition? How?

To read the texts click on the texts: Eph 3:14-21; Lk 12:49-53

The verses of today contain three pronouncements regarding the nature of Jesus’ mission. The first is that he has come to cast fire on the earth. Fire is used as an image of God’s judgement, but ironically when it comes on the disciples at Pentecost (Acts, 2:3), it is the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, the crisis of judgement is never far away.

The second is about his own baptism, which may be an allusion to his death or to the conflict and distress in which he would be immersed. This governs his whole life. Until he completes his mission, he will not be satisfied.

The third is about the division that his mission will cause. Although the kingdom of God is characterised by reconciliation and peace, the announcement of that kingdom is always divisive because it requires decision and commitment. Though this announcement will indeed cause stress and division, Jesus will not shy away from it because it is the Mission given to him by his Father. Anyone who commits him/herself to Jesus must also then be prepared for the opposition that they will face.

The reason why the announcement of the kingdom brings division is because it calls for a radical change of heart and mind. It overturns our value system and calls us to a life that is challenging and if lived fully also challenges others. It calls for decision and commitment at every moment.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 - St. Jean de Brebeuf SJ - Brebeuf denied self to gain the Lord. What will you do to gain the Lord?

To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Cor 4:7-15; Mt 16:24-28

St. Jean de Brebeuf, (1593 – 1649), was a French born Jesuit missionary and martyr of New France who  arrived in America in 1625 to evangelise Native Americans.  He lived among the Huron for over 15 years under difficult and challenging circumstances. In 1648 the Iroquois launched a war of extermination against the Huron, their traditional enemies. Refusing to flee when their Huron villlage was attacked, Brebeuf and his assistant, Gabriel   Lalemant, were captured the following year and tortured to death by the Iroquois. He did not make a single outcry while he was being tortured and he astounded the Iroquois, who later cut out his heart and ate it in hopes of gaining his courage.

Brebeuf was canonised in 1930 with seven other missionaries who are collectively called the North American martyrs.

The Gospel text chosen for the feast is form the Gospel of Matthew. The sayings in these verses are addressed exclusively to the disciples unlike in Mark where they are addressed to the crowds. A disciple must be prepared to follow the Master and even to the cross if need be. This is the consequence of confessing Jesus as the Christ. The Son of Man has to suffer, but will also be vindicated by God. The pronouncement “some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (16:28) has been variously interpreted. Some think it refers to the event of the Transfiguration, others think it refers to the Resurrection and still others that it refers to Pentecost. However, it seems that Matthew’s community expected that the Parousia (the second coming of the Lord) would come soon, indeed before the death of some who belonged to the community, and so there are some who think that this pronouncement refers to the Second coming of the Lord.

‘Denial of self’ means to regard the self as nothing. While this sounds nice to hear and sing in hymns, it requires grace from God if it is to be into practice. Jesus had to constantly overcome this temptation himself and challenges each of us through his words but also through the example that he gave on the cross.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 - 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: Eph 3:2-12; Lk 12:39-48

The text of today is the one immediately after Jesus has begun to exhort his disciples’ to watchfulness (12:35-38). Based on instructions given in earlier contexts, however, readiness here means trust in God as a heavenly Father, putting away all hypocrisy, handling one’s material possessions faithfully, obeying the ethic of the kingdom, and making life a matter of constant prayer. 
Peter’s question regarding whether this “parable” was for the disciples alone or for everyone, does not receive a direct answer from Jesus. However, in his response to the question, Jesus responds with another “parable”, which is about the faithful and unfaithful servant/slave. While there will be a reward for the faithful servant, there will be punishment for the unfaithful servant. God will seek much from those to whom he has given much, because everything has been given in trust.

Each of us has a specific role to play in the world, which is confirmed by the fact that we are unique and that there is not one else exactly like us anywhere. Since this is the case, we have to be faithful to that to which we are called. If we do not do what we have to do, no one else will do it and it will remain undone. Besides this it will also mean that we have been negligent in our duty and not appreciated enough the uniqueness of our creation.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - St. Luke - Luke wrote a Gospel to share his experience of Jesus. What will you do to share your experience of Jesus?

To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Tim 4:10-17; Lk 10:1-9

St. Luke is regarded as the patron of physicians and surgeons. He wrote one of the major portions of the New Testament, a two-volume work comprising the third Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. In the two books he shows the parallel between the life of Christ and that of the Church. He is the only Gentile Christian among the Gospel writers. Tradition holds him to be a native of Antioch, and Paul calls him "our beloved physician" (Col 4:14). His Gospel was probably written between C.E. 70 and 85.

Luke appears in Acts during Paul’s second journey, remains at Philippi for several years until Paul returns from his third journey, accompanies Paul to Jerusalem and remains near him when he is imprisoned in Caesarea. During these two years, Luke had time to seek information and interview persons who had known Jesus. He accompanied Paul on the dangerous journey to Rome where he was a faithful companion. "Only Luke is with me," Paul writes (2 Tim 4:11).

The Gospel text chosen for the feast is the Mission Discourse to the seventy (seventy-two). These number seventy/seventy-two seems to have their origin the list of nations in Gen 10, where the Hebrew text lists seventy nations and the Septuagint lists seventy-two. It may also recall Moses’ appointment of seventy elders to help him (Exod 24:1; Num 11:16, 24). The more likely interpretation, however, is that the number is related to the biblical number of the nations (Gen 10), so that the commissioning of the seventy/seventy-two foreshadows the mission of the church to the nations (Lk 24:47). In these verses Jesus instructs his disciples how they are to do Mission and conduct themselves in Mission. The key to Mission is detachment. The disciples are to be detached from things, persons and place. They are also to be detached from the outcome of Mission. They must constantly keep in mind that the Mission is the Lord’s and not theirs.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Audio reflections for Monday, October 17, 2016

To hear the Audio reflections for Monday, October 17, 2016 click HERE

Monday, October 17, 2016 - Do you possess things, or do things possess you? If God were to call you to himself at this moment would you be ready to go?

To read the texts click on the texts: Eph 2:1-10; Lk 12:13-21

The text begins with someone in the crowd asking Jesus to serve as judge in the division of an inheritance. While Jesus will not accept this role, he points the man and the crowd to a different understanding of the meaning of wealth and life. This different understanding is explicated through a parable, which is found exclusively in Luke. It is about a rich man who had more than he required and soon became possessed by his riches. This possession leads him to focus on making provision to store his great wealth so that he can use it exclusively for himself in future. It is self-centeredness at its worst. The only ones in the parable are the rich man and his wealth. In the midst of all his planning and calculations, God speaks to him addressing him as “fool”. There is a sharp contrast between the rich man’s planning for “many years” and the “this very night” of God. It is clear that first of all when God calls, he will have to go and second that when he goes he can take nothing of what he has stored with him. There is the very real danger of forgetting God if one allows oneself to be possessed by one’s riches.

The manner in which some of us accumulate things seems to indicate on the one hand that we think we are going to live forever and on the other hand that even if we have to die that we can take all of which we have accumulated. The parable of today calls us to realise first that we can be called at any time and hence must live in such a manner that we will have no regrets no matter when that might be and second that whenever we are called we can take nothing of what we have gathered together but will have to leave it all behind. Thus while planning for the future may be necessary, obsession with the future is uncalled for.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Audio Reflections of Sunday, October 16, 2016

To hear the Audio Reflections of Sunday, October 16, 2016 click HERE

Sunday, October 16, 2016 - Confidence alone

To read the texts click on the texts: Ex 17:8-13; 2 Tim 3:14-4:2; Lk 18:1-8

We live today in a world which may be termed “instant.” There is instant communication, instant coffee, instant tea, instant food, and an instant weight loss programme. Thus, in every area of our lives, we expect instant results. We are hardly prepared to wait. This leads to inability on the part of many to be patient and, to an even greater degree, a lack of perseverance. There can be no doubt that perseverance is the key in all the readings of today. It must be noted, however, that here, perseverance is linked to prayer.

This link between prayer and perseverance is seen in the first reading of today. When Moses continues to keep his hands raised in prayer, victory is assured. When Moses begins to grow weary and drop his hands, in a gesture which symbolizes that he is on the verge of giving up, Joshua had to struggle. It is difficult for Moses to persevere in prayer and so, it is difficult for Joshua to persevere in battle. However, because Moses will not give up and perseveres, Joshua is finally victorious.

This is also the case with the widow in the Gospel text of today. She pleads and perseveres. She does not give up. Despite the fact that she had so many things going against her, she does not give in. She is a woman living in a patriarchal society where women were considered as second class citizens and worse, she is a widow and thus, had no male advocate. Even more unfortunate for her, the judge who can decide her case is one who fears neither humans nor God. He can hardly be seen as someone who will be concerned with justice. Yet, the Judge relents, not because he is suddenly converted but, for fear of being worn out by the woman’s persistence and perseverance. Perseverance wins the widow justice.

The exhortation that :Paul gives to Timothy, about being persistent, at the end of the Second reading of today is an exhortation that the widow, Joshua, and Moses had already taken to heart. They persevered even when the situation and time were unfavourable. They were patient and able to wait for what God had in store for them. Thus, each was victorious. Timothy is exhorted to do the same. He is asked to remain firm and persevere whether the external situation is good or not so good and whether things are going his way or not. He is to be patient and not give up. He is not to give in.

One of the grave dangers that many of us face today is that of quick fix solutions. We are hardly able to endure obstacles and difficulties without getting weary and tense. We are hardly able to be serene and calm in the face of hindrances that come our way. One reason for this is that we do not believe enough in ourselves. Another reason is that we do not believe enough in God. Confidence in one’s ability to stick with it and confidence in the fact that God will always do what is best for us are crucial to our getting what we are seeking for. Anyone ought to know that the easiest way to failure is to give up at the slightest sign of an impediment or hindrance. Yet, the one who, despite all odds, perseveres also knows that, though it is not easy, perseverance wins the day.
It is easy to begin with a bang, but often those who do, end with a whimper. The way to do is to keep on keeping on. Some interpreters of the Gospel parable of today see in the widow God, who, like the widow, will not give up on human beings. Until they relent, he will persevere with them. Even if one accepts this interpretation, the point being made is the same. God does not give up on us. Why must we give up on ourselves? Why must we give up on others?

The Gospel text of today ends with a question asked by Jesus: “And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” In order to answer affirmatively, we must be ready to profess a faith like that of the persistent widow who demands justice and the pious widow who prays night and day. We need to be like Moses, and Joshua, and not give up or give in even when we imagine that we are fighting a losing battle. We need to take to heart the exhortation of Paul to Timothy, to persevere in the face of all odds.

When the Son of Man comes, will he find such faith among God’s elect? Will he find that we have a widow’s faith? Will he find that we have persevered?