Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - Will you keep on keeping on even when your expectations are not fulfilled?

To read the texts click on the texts:  Jer 1:1,4-10; Mt 13:1-9

We begin reading today from Chapter 13 of the Gospel of Matthew. This Chapter is known as “The Parable Discourse” of Matthew, because in it we find seven parables. Two of these parables have been allegorised {The Parable of the Sower (13:18-23) and the parable of the Weeds and the Wheat (13:36-43)}. Some are of the opinion that 13:49-50 is an allegorization of the parable of the Net (13:47-48). The first parable in the Parable Discourse is the one that is known as the parable of the Sower. Though often it is the allegory that has been interpreted instead of the parable where the different types of soil are compared to different types of persons and their reception of the word, this does not seem to be the point of the parable. In the parable, in three types of soil (the path, the rocky ground and among the thorns), the seed is lost, and it is only in one type of soil (good soil) that there is gain. Yet, the gain is enormous. 
The point seems to be that one must not give in to despair even if it seems that most of the good that we do seems to bear no fruit. In God’s time and in God’s own way it will bear even more fruit than we can ever imagine. We need to keep on keeping on.

In the words of St. Ignatius of Loyola, when we work, we must work as if everything depends only on us and when we pray, we must pray as if everything depends only on God.


While Ignatius recommends setting aside time for prayer and communion with the Lord, in his personal life, prayer was never separated from action. There was a constant interplay between experience, reflection, decision and action, in line with the ideal of being a contemplative in action like Jesus himself was.

All too often, we tend to separate the sacred from the secular, the soul from the body, word from action, and even the Eucharist from life. Through the intercession of St. Ignatius we pray for the grace to be inspired by our Master Jesus to be able to find God in all things and all things in him.

Monday, July 21, 2014


One quality that characterised the life of St. Ignatius above all others was his deep personal life for the person of Jesus Christ. Ignatius was so taken up with Christ that he was willing to do anything, go anywhere, and be anyone as long as he could imitate Christ.

In our world that prizes prestige, power and self-sufficiency, to preach Christ poor and humble, with fidelity and courage is not easy. Yet we have to move forward resolutely out of our desire to resemble and imitate in some manner our Creator and Lord Jesus Christ. This personal love for Jesus must characterise every Christian’s life.

Through the intercession of St. Ignatius we pray for the grace that we too might have this deep personal love for Jesus Christ, so that through our words and actions we might always reveal him to everyone we come in contact with.

St. Mary Magdalene - July 22, 2014 - Have your “tears” come in the way of your encountering the Lord? Will you stop crying today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Song of Solomon 3:1-4; Jn 20:1-2,11-18 

Except for Mary the mother of Jesus, few women are honoured in the Bible as Mary Magdalene. She is mentioned by all four evangelists as being present at the empty tomb. In the Gospel of John she is the first person to whom Jesus appeared after his resurrection.

After Peter and the beloved disciple see the empty tomb with the linen cloths, they return home. Though John does not give any reason why Mary returns to the tomb, he, also, of all the evangelists, tells us that she stood outside the tomb weeping. This detail sets the stage for the fulfilment of the promise of Jesus that the sorrow of the disciples will turn to joy (16:20, 22). Mary sees the angels who make no pronouncement of the resurrection. In John, the pronouncement of the resurrection and ascension comes only through Jesus. The angels only draw attention to Mary’s present state. Mary’s response to the question of the angels is a plaintive cry for her “lost” Lord.

Immediately after she makes this statement, Jesus himself appears to her but, because of her tears, she cannot recognize him. While Jesus repeats the question of the angels and thus, draws renewed attention to Mary’s present state, he asks a second and more important question: “Whom are you looking for?” This, or a similar question, is asked three times in the Gospel of John. The first time Jesus asks such a question is to the two disciples who follow him (1:38). These are the first words spoken by Jesus in the Gospel of John and so, carry added significance. The question here is “What do you seek?” The second time, the question is asked of those who come to arrest Jesus in the garden (18:4). The question in all three instances, while courteous, is a deep and penetrating question. It requires the one of whom it is asked to go deep into him/herself to search for the response. The disciples are seeking for the residence of Jesus but encounter the Messiah. Those who come to arrest Jesus are seeking for “Jesus of Nazareth” and so are thrown to the ground. Mary Magdalene is seeking for the dead Jesus, but finds the risen Lord.

Yet, this recognition of the risen Lord is not easy for Mary to make. While in many instances in Jesus’ life, the metaphors he used were misunderstood, here it is Jesus himself. Mary is so caught up in her own desire for the dead Jesus and for what she wants that she cannot recognize his voice when he asks her two pertinent questions. It is only when Jesus calls her name that she is awakened. Though some spiritualize this scene by stating that Mary recognized Jesus since only he called her in this manner, it is not plausible, since John does not speak of the intonation or inflection in the voice of Jesus. Others interpret this scene as a revelation of Jesus as the good shepherd who knows his sheep by name. The sheep respond to his voice, when he calls to them, as Mary does here. Though this is more plausible, it must also be noted that Mary does not recognize Jesus’ voice before he calls her name, although he has asked two questions of her. It thus seems that the main reason Mary was able to recognize Jesus when her name was called was because, being so caught up in herself, only calling her by name would have awakened her from her stupor. That this seems to be the best explanation is also evident in the response of Mary on hearing her name. After addressing Jesus as “Rabbouni”, which is an endearing term, she wants to cling to Jesus. Though the text does not explicitly state that Mary held on to Jesus, his words indicate that either she was about to do so or had already done so. Jesus will not allow this. Mary has to go beyond her selfish interests and get used to the presence of the Lord in a new way. She need not hold onto a memory since Jesus is and continues to be.

Despite this self absorption, Jesus commands Mary to be an apostle, not merely of the resurrection but of the ascension. For the first time in the Gospel of John, the Father becomes the Father of the disciples also. A new family is created. This means that the disciples and Jesus are related. Jesus is the brother of all disciples and the disciples share the same relationship with God that Jesus shares.
Mary does what Jesus commanded. She has indeed seen the risen Lord. This return makes new life possible for the believing community, because Jesus’ ascent to God renders permanent that which was revealed about God during the incarnation. The love of God, embodied in Jesus, was not of temporary duration, lasting only as long as the incarnation. Rather, the truth of Jesus’ revelation of God receives its final seal in his return to God.

Self pity, uncontrollable grief, and self absorption can all prevent us from encountering Jesus in the challenging situations of life just as they did Mary Magdalene. These emotions take hold of us when we misunderstand the promises of God or, when we do not take them as seriously as we ought. They arise when we give up, even before we begin, or when we prefer to be negative rather than positive about life. It is at times like these that Jesus comes to us, like he came to Mary Magdalene, and asks us to open our eyes and see that he is still with us and alive. He asks us to get used to his presence in all things, in all persons, and in all events. He asks us to be able to see him in the bad times and in the good, in sickness and in health, and in all the days of our lives. We need only open our hearts wide enough to see.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Monday, July 21, 2014 - What sign have you been seeking from the Lord? Will you believe in his presence even in the absence of signs today? How?

To read the texts click on the texts:Mic 6:1-4,6-8; Mt 12:38-42

The text of today is continuation of the earlier text (12:25-37) in which Jesus makes a series of pronouncements regarding the coming judgement. The Pharisees respond to these statements of Jesus by demanding a sign. In Matthew only disciples address Jesus as Lord, and the address “Teacher” here by the Pharisees indicates that they are not disciples. The sign they demand is a proof of Jesus’ identity. Jesus’ response to the Pharisees’ demand is to make another pronouncement. In this pronouncement he regards them as an “evil and adulterous generation” which means a people who have closed their hearts to the revelation that God is constantly making. The sign of Jonah here refers clearly to the resurrection of Jesus. Further, it is the Gentiles (people of Nineveh) who will rise up and condemn the Jews. It is a clear reversal of roles. Jesus is greater than both Jonah and Solomon.

The manner in which some of us mourn and weep at the death of a loved one seems to indicate that we do not believe in the resurrection. This is the only sign that Jesus continues to give. If we keep looking for other signs of his presence we might find ourselves in the same position as the Pharisees of his time and miss him who makes himself available and visible at every moment of our lives.

Who is God???

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sunday, July 20, 2014 - SIXTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - Wheat and weeds

To read the texts click on the texts: Wis 12:13, 16-19, Rom 8:26-27;Mt 13:24-43

The first parable of the Gospel text of today, found only in the Gospel of Matthew, is known variously as the parable of the wheat and weeds or the parable of the wheat and darnel or tares. It is one of the only two parables which have been allegorized, the other being the parable of the sower. Though the text for today includes the parables of the mustard seed (13:31-32), and the yeast or leaven (13:33), let us focus on the parable of the wheat and weeds (13:24-30).

The story is told of a man who went from church to church, hoping to find and then join a “perfect church.” In the midst of his search someone was bold enough to say to him, “I feel sorry for that church if you ever find it, for in the moment you join it, it will not be perfect any more!” The parable seems to speak precisely of this: were there to be a perfect church, it would be less than perfect once any human joined it, simply because all are sinners. It also warns us against relying on our human capacity to know full the mind of God. It suggests that what might appear to be bad and corrupt or good and pure to us might not necessarily be any of these. The master’s instructions to the servants are therefore clearly that they are not to get involved with separating the wheat from the weeds. The master goes so far as to say that if they ever try to do it, they could end up damaging the wheat.

This is reiterated by both the first and third readings. The reading from Wisdom speaks of God’s leniency, though he has all the power. He gives sinners time for repentance because though he is just, he is also merciful. Through this patience God teaches humans how they must behave towards their fellow humans. The virtuous must be understanding towards others and slow to condemn.

The text from Romans makes clear that no one can penetrate the mystery and depth and any attempt to do so is futile. God is indeed a mystery and we will never be able to know him fully. One can only accept this fact humbly and realize its truth.

However, the fact is that in every generation, in every century in every epoch of time, there have been and are people who attempt to be more religious than God himself and some who attempt to be more Catholic than the Pope. Such people try to make others feel irreligious, guilty and not very good inside, like weeds in a field of wheat. As humans we are often quick to judge. We want to remove the obstacles in our way, get rid of, or avoid people who disagree with us. We want to make life as simple, as easy, and as straightforward as possible. And unfortunately, many people throughout history have taken it upon themselves to choose who belongs in the field and who should be weeded out.

But we are called today to recognize that it is not for us place to judge others. Our task is not to judge how others should live their lives, for that is between them and God. Our task is to think and judge for ourselves how we should live our own lives. By weighing what we see, feel, and discern, in the context of community, we are given the chance to choose whether we will let what is good grow in us or what is evil. We are called to be wheat as far as possible.

Nothing can stop God’s work in Christ. His kingdom is forever. Even when it is difficult to discern signs of the kingdom, because the field might seem to us to be full of weeds, we must continue to remember that the wheat will continue to grow.

In the meantime we have to accept the fact that we live in a world that has both wheat and weeds. But who can identify weeds? Can we pull up every plant that looks vaguely suspicious?

The truth is that none of us is completely free of evil. As someone once said, “there is more bad in the best of us, and more good in the worst of us, than any of us, in this life, will ever know.” This is all the more reason to leave the sorting of good and evil to God who is patient, merciful and wise. We need to spend our time trying to be wheat in the world rather than pull up weeds. At the harvest, that is what will matter most.

Friday, July 18, 2014

What will you write???

Saturday, July 19, 2014 - How do you usually react to stressful situations? Will you learn from Jesus’ response today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Micah 2:1-5; Mt 12:14-21
The reason why the Pharisees conspire against Jesus, how to destroy him is because he healed a man with a withered arm on the Sabbath, and though at first glance it might seem that this is an overreaction on the part of the Pharisees, when looked at in the broader context of the Kingdom of heaven which Jesus represents and the Kingdom of Satan which is represented by the Jewish leaders and which continues to oppose the Kingdom of heaven, then it is easier to understand the reaction of the Pharisees. The response of Jesus to this conspiracy is to withdraw from that place. However, it is to be noted that Jesus does not withdraw to run away or from fear, but to continue the work of healing and making whole. In this withdrawal is strength and not weakness and it explicates the response of God (Jesus) to human violence and plotting of destruction. Even in his making people whole, Jesus does not want to be known or acclaimed and so commands those whom he has healed to remain silent about their healing and not to make him known. 
This attitude of Jesus leads to the quotation from Isaiah 42:1-4 which is the longest scriptural quotation in the Gospel of Matthew. It is about the suffering servant of Yahweh whose primary mission is to accept those who have been rejected by others as is shown in his not breaking the bruised reed or quenching the smouldering wick. Also, he does this without much fanfare, and yet his ultimate goal is to bring justice to those who place their hope in him. He will ultimately triumph.

Our response to challenging situations or to situations that threaten us is sometimes to run away from fear, and sometimes to use defence mechanisms. Neither of these ways is advocated by Jesus whose way would be to face the challenges head on.