To hear the Audio Reflections of Friday, August 17, 2018 click HERE
Thursday, 16 August 2018
To read the texts click on the texts: Ezekiel 16:1-15,60,63; Mt 19:3-12
The context of today’s reading is immediately after Jesus has finished instructing his disciples (19:1-2) in the “Community Discourse” (18:1-35). The text is found also in Mark 10:1-12, but Matthew has made some changes to suit his purpose. In Matthew, Jesus begins his response to the Pharisees question about the legality of divorce by going back to Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 (in Mark the quotations from Genesis come later). In Matthew, the Pharisees respond to Jesus’ quotation by citing Deut. 24:1, which allowed divorce, and this prompts Jesus to move to the situational application.
The union of husband and wife is the creation of God and must be regarded as such (in Mark, they respond in this manner after a question from Jesus about what Moses commanded them). Matthew omits 10:12 of Mark, which reflects the Gentile provision for a woman’s initiating a divorce, since this is not applicable from his Jewish perspective. Matthew adds an exception clause; “except for unchastity” as he did earlier in 5:32, and in doing so makes the teaching of Jesus, a situational application rather than a legalistic code.
19:10-12 is exclusive to Matthew, and in them Jesus responds to the comment of the disciples that it is better not to marry. Those “who are made eunuchs by men” seems to refer to the pagan practice of literal castration as a religious practice, and this is rejected by Jesus. Those “who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom” seems to refer to those who choose to remain celibate in order to concentrate more fully on the kingdom, rather than get weighed down by family cares.
No matter what state of life one chooses, one must remain faithful to one’s commitment in that state of life. The grass seems greener on the other side, but only till we go to the other side.
Friday, August 17, 2018 - Ezekiel 16:1-15,60,63; Mt 19:3-12
Wednesday, 15 August 2018
Thursday, August 16, 2018 - What would be your position if God kept a grudge against you for every sin you committed? Will you give up all your un-forgiveness today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Ezekiel 12:1-12; Mt 18:21 –19:1
The text of today is the conclusion to Matthew’s “Community Discourse” (18:1-35). It begins with a question from Peter about the number of times one is expected to forgive. While Peter proposes seven times, Jesus’ response far exceeds that proposal. The number seventy-seven can be understood in this way or even as four hundred ninety (seventy times seven). The point is not so much about numbers but about forgiveness from the heart. If one has to count the number of times one is forgiving, it means that one is not really forgiving at all.
The story that follows in 18:23-35 about the king who forgave his servant a debt of ten thousand talents (a talent was more than fifteen years wages of a labourer) and that same servant who would not forgive another servant who owed him a mere hundred denarii (a denarius was the usual day’s wage for a labourer). The point that the parable makes is that the one who was forgiven has not accepted the forgiveness. If he had, he would have been able to forgive in turn.
We expect to be forgiven by other when we do them harm after we have said sorry, and sometimes if they do not forgive us, we get upset with them even more. We need to apply the same yardstick to ourselves when others ask for forgiveness from us.
Thursday, August 16, 2018 - Ezekiel 12:1-12; Mt 18:21 – 19:1
Tuesday, 14 August 2018
To read the texts click on the texts: Rev 11:19; 12:1-6,10; 1 Cor 15:20-26; Lk 1:39-56
Today we celebrate two significant and related events. These are The Assumption of our Blessed Mother and Independence Day in India. Both are celebrated on the same date: August 15.
The reason why these events are related is because they are both about Freedom. Independence is celebrated as freedom from foreign rule and domination to self rule and governance and the Assumption may be seen as a freedom from this limited and incomplete life to the bliss of eternal and perpetual life.
The verses which make up the Gospel text of today are commonly known as “The Magnificat” or Mary’s hymn of praise. It seems to have been modeled on the prayer of Samuel’s mother, Hannah, in 1 Sam 2:1-10 and contains many Old Testament concepts and phrases. It communicates a picture of Mary as someone quite steeped in scripture. It reveals God primarily as a God of the poor. God is the one who will vindicate the poor by removing the rich and mighty from their positions and raising the lowly.
The hymn may be seen to be divided into four parts. The first part consists of praise to God for what he has done in and for Mary; the second part speaks of God’s power, holiness and mercy; the third part shows God acting as a Sovereign in reversing social conditions in favor of the poor and downtrodden; and the fourth and final part recalls God’s mercy and promises to Israel.
The hymn speaks of the effects of the Lord’s coming for all of God’s people. It begins on a note of salvation as Mary acknowledges her dependence on God. It was the grace of God that sustained and brought her to the position in which she finds herself. She has not achieved anything on her own, it is all a gift of God and thus, Mary acknowledges her humble state, referring to herself as God’s servant. She is to be called “blessed’ because God, in his mercy and goodness, had raised her to this level.
God has shown this mercy and goodness to the poor by showing the strength of his arm, by scattering the proud, and deposing the powerful. The poor, on the other hand, have been raised, and the hungry have been filled. God remembers not only those of old but also the present generation. He is a God not only of the past, but also a God of the present, the now.
The stress on God as a God primarily of the poor stands out in Mary’s hymn of praise. In a world where the rich seem to be getting richer and the poor, poorer, one wonders whether the Magnificat is a hymn that can make sense to the poor, to those of low degree. Yet, it is important to remember that God’s ways are not our ways and so, the poor must, in confidence, sing this song as their song. The confidence with which Mary sings this song runs through the entire hymn. She uses past tense to denote God’s future actions, thus expressing that God will indeed accomplish his will, and the poor will be vindicated. What is important for the poor to realize is that they, like Mary, need to continue to open themselves to all that God wants to do in them. They need to continue to acknowledge their dependence on God by doing all that is required of them and then, leaving the rest in his capable and strong hands.
Even as we do celebrate these events, we need to ask ourselves serious questions both as Indians and Christians. Can we be really free when in Assam a woman is raped and dehumanized in full public view? Can we be really free when officials stand by and watch and even participate in these dastardly acts? Can we be free when female foeticide is so high in our country and where in many places the girl child is seen as a liability and burden rather than a blessing? Can we be really free when we are so intent on destroying our natural resources for selfish ends and then have to wonder whether we will have enough rain to see us through the year? Can we call ourselves Christians when we will not do anything about these atrocities and continue with our lives as if it does not concern us?
Are we really free? Are we truly Christian?
Let the celebrations of Independence Day and the Assumption of our Blessed Mother be wake-up calls for us to rouse ourselves from our slumber and do something tangible to right the wrongs.
Wednesday, August 15, 2018 - The Assumption -Rev 11:19; 12:1-6,10; 1 Cor 15:20-26; Lk 1:39-56
Monday, 13 August 2018
Tuesday, August 14, 2018 - Has your behaviour resulted in anyone being scandalised? What will you do about it today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Ezekiel 2:8 – 3:4; Mt 18:1-5,10,12-14
The text of today is taken from what is termed by some as Matthew’s “Community Discourse” (18:1-35). It is the fourth of the long discourses in Matthew. Some see the discourse as divided clearly into two parts (18:1-14 and 18:15-35), with various indications, which point to such a division. Some of these indications are as follows: Both sections end with a parable (18:12-13 and 18:23-34), after the parable is a concluding statement of Jesus, which begins with the word “So” (18:14.35), there is also in the sayings, a reference to the heavenly Father and the saying is about the subject of the preceding section (“little ones” and “brother/sister”).
The discourse begins with a question about the disciples regarding greatness. Unlike in Mark 9:33, there is no dispute among the disciples about who is the greatest. In his response, Jesus makes clear that being in the kingdom or coming into it, is not a matter of one’s talents or qualities, but “becoming like a child”. In first-century Judaism, children were often regarded as inferior and were treated as property rather than as persons. The point Jesus makes here is that one must acknowledge dependence on the Father. The reception of a child is an indication that one has accepted the values of the kingdom and one is no longer concerned about being greatest. Since God does not give up on anyone, Christians must also be prepared to accept those who may have strayed. Not only must they be valued, but they must also be sought out like God himself seeks them. The focus in Matthew’s parable is on the sheep that has gone astray. This means that the straying members of the community ought to be the focus also of the community.
While to be a Christian one has to make an individual commitment, one cannot forget that Christianity is also and even primarily a communitarian religion. This means that each is responsible for the other. I am indeed my brother or sister’s keeper.