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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Monday, August 2, 2015 - Will you like Jesus become bread for at least one person today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Num 11:4-15; Mt 14:13-21

The miracle of the feeding of the five thousand with five loaves and two fish in which five baskets are gathered is the only miracle that Jesus worked that is found in all the four Gospels (Mk 6:32-44; Lk 9:10-17; Jn 6:1-15).

In Matthew, Jesus withdraws after hearing about the death of John the Baptist. However, as he did earlier (12:15), the withdrawal is not out of fear, as is clear here from the fact that even in his withdrawal he is able to reach out to the multitudes and satisfy their hunger. The crowds follow Jesus and when Jesus sees them, he reaches out to make them whole. Unlike in Mark where the disciples are shown in a bad light in their sarcastic response to Jesus’ charge to them, “you give them something to eat” (Mk 6:37), in Matthew they are not. In Matthew, it is the disciples’ lack of faith, which is brought to the fore. In Matthew, the words and actions of Jesus here, resemble more closely than in Mark, the words and actions at the scene of the Last supper (26:20-27). The people eat, are satisfied and there is food left over which highlights the abundance and extravagance of the miracle. Matthew adds “besides women and children” (14:21) to Mark’s “five thousand men” (Mk 6:44) in order to expand the numbers and emphasise again the abundance of the miracle.


Many like to see this miracle as one in which selflessness is at the core. Seeing Jesus share his own meal so freely, others were motivated into sharing what they had so that there was more than required. It is in giving that we receive and more than we ever expected. 

MORNING OFFERING


Saturday, August 1, 2015

August 2, 2015 - Eighteenth Sunday of the Year - Bread for the mind and spirit

To read the texts click on the texts:Ex 16:2-4, 12-15; Eph4:17, 20-24; John 6:24-35

The first reading and the Gospel of today make clear that bread is only the starting point of all that is to follow. However, the Israelites, in the first reading of today, and those who follow Jesus, in the Gospel text of today, are not able to recognize this and continue to remain at the level of material bread. The question that the Israelites ask of the manna, namely, “What is it?” is an indication that they do not know.

This is similar to the question asked by those who follow Jesus, namely, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing?” The response of Moses and Jesus to the people is similar. It is God alone who gives true bread. However, while these words in the mouth of Moses refer to Yahweh, God, who gives the manna, in the mouth of Jesus, they refer to Jesus. This is because it is on Jesus that God has conferred all authority and it is to Jesus that God has given all power. The misunderstanding of the people continues and they remain at the material level. They still want signs.

This request for a sign is strange, coming as it does immediately after Jesus has fed them – the crowd of five thousand, with only five loaves and two fish. However, though strange, it is not unexpected, since their ancestors in the desert had made a similar request of Moses. In his reference to the story of manna in the desert, Jesus explains that it was not Moses, but God, who gave their ancestors bread. Jesus goes even further and informs them that the bread that their ancestors ate is not something only in the past, but it is available even in the present. This present bread is indeed true bread that has come from heaven. They can receive it if they truly desire it. While Moses could give them only the bread that God gave him to give, Jesus gives them something more, the bread that is his very self. This is bread which, because it is given once for all in the person of Jesus, is also given always.

Jesus intends to move the crowd from the merely material to the spiritual, from the merely physical to the metaphysical, and from the merely external to the internal, that is, from the body to the heart. While there is no doubt that the satisfaction of physical hunger is the basic and even primary need of the human being, precisely because we are human beings, there is more. We do not stop after our physical hunger has been satisfied. The fact is that physical food satisfies only a small part of our needs.

The major component of the satisfaction of the human person is the satisfaction of the heart and mind. This is why most doctors all over the world are agreed that the great majority of our illnesses today are not physical but psychosomatic. That is, they have to do primarily with the mind and heart and only then, with the body. This means that, if our minds and hearts are not at ease, the body is affected. This means that, no matter how much physical food may be available to us, we will still be left unsatisfied. When we fail to nourish our mind, our heart, and our spirit, life lacks meaning. Grief, disappointment, illness, anxiety, overwork, a sense of betrayal, failure, or purposelessness, sets in and it can make it seem that just going on living is an effort scarcely worth making. We may be physically filled, but we still feel depressed, apathetic, and bitter, with no sense of anything better.


That is why, following his plea for unity based on the reality of the Christian community’s identity with Christ, the author of Ephesians here emphasizes that this new identity transforms our very being into a new person. This new person is one who realizes that there is much more to life than merely satisfying carnal desires. This new person, because he/she has experienced Christ, will focus on renewal of mind, spirit, and heart as necessary steps toward that fullness of life which Jesus came to bring by becoming, for all, the bread of life.

Friday, July 31, 2015

ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA (1491-1556) - THE FOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS


Saturday, August 1, 2015 - Will you, like John the Baptist point to Jesus through your life today? How?

To read the texts click on the texts: Ex 25:1-8,17; Mt 14:1-12

Herod mentioned at the beginning of this story of the death of John the Baptist found also in Mark 6:14-29 is Herod Antipas and the son of Herod the Great mentioned in the Infancy narrative of Matthew (2:3). Though Matthew has taken this story from Mark, he shortens it considerably. Matthew’s reason for Herod wanting to kill John is the same as Mark, John had objected to Herod having married Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. In Matthew, unlike in Mark, it is not Herodias who wants to kill John, but Herod himself. When the daughter of Herodias (who is not named) pleases Herod with her dance on his birthday, she asks for the head of John the Baptist. After burying John, his disciples go and tell Jesus about what had happened.


It is not always easy for us to take a stand against injustice. Yet this is what this text is calling us to do. In the process on taking a stand we might become unpopular or sometimes the object of ridicule. The challenge is how much we are willing to risk.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

MORNING OFFERING


Friday, July 31, 2015 - St. Ignatius of Loyola - The Founder of the Society of Jesus - 1491-1556 - A transformed and transforming life

To read the texts click on the texts: Dt 30:15-20; 1 Tim 1:12-17; Lk 9:18-26

The readings of today set the tone for the celebration of the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits. In the first reading of today, Moses makes a strong plea to the Israelites to choose life. Ignatius did precisely that when he was convalescing after the injury he suffered at the battle of Pamplona in 1520. His reflections during this time became the turning point of his life. It was when lying in his sick bed and contemplating the life of Christ that he decided that everything was refuse when compared with the knowledge of Christ.

This deep and intimate knowledge of Christ which was not merely intellectual but knowledge of the heart, led him to love Christ with all his heart and mind and to follow him unconditionally.

It was this intimate knowledge of Christ which sustained him all through his life and especially during the tremendous challenges that he faced. Like Paul, he too believed that he received mercy from the Lord. One important reason for receiving this mercy in such large measure was because he recognised that he was a sinner and in need of God’s grace made available freely in Christ. Like Paul, Ignatius became an example to many. One of these whom he converted through Christ’s grace was the now famous Francis Xavier.

The Gospel text from Luke serves as an apt description of how Ignatius perceived his master and Lord Jesus. Though Luke depends on Mark for this scene of Peter’s confession, he has made some significant changes in order to bring out his meaning of the text. The first is that unlike Mark, Luke does not give the geographical location (Caesarea Philippi), but gives instead the context of the prayer of Jesus. Through this change, Luke makes the confession a spiritual experience. Luke also changes Marks, “one of the prophets” to “one of the old prophets has risen.” Though the difference does not appear to be great, it is for Luke. In the Gospel of Luke, before Jesus everything is old. Jesus makes all things new. Luke has also eliminated Peter’s refusal to accept Jesus as the suffering Messiah and the rebuke of Peter by Jesus. Luke avoids narrating Marcan texts that show Peter and even the disciples in a bad light.

The second question to the disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” shows on the one hand that the answers given of the crowd’s understanding of Jesus are inadequate, and on the other that Jesus wants to know their understanding of him. In all the Synoptic Gospels it is Peter who answers, but here too Luke adds to Mark’s, “You are the Christ”, the words “of God”. The Greek word “Christos” means in English “the anointed” and this conveys the meaning of royalty. However, by his addition, Luke also brings in the prophetical dimension of Jesus’ person and mission. This prophetical dimension is explicated in the verses, which follow the confession of Peter, in which Jesus explains the kind of Christ/Messiah/Anointed One that he will be. The reason for the rebuke or “stern order” not to tell anyone is because Jesus wanted to avoid any misunderstanding of the term which could be understood only in the glorious sense. Jesus as “the Christ of God” will come in glory, but only after he has gone to the cross, died, been buried and then raised.

Taken together the five sayings on discipleship show clearly that  discipleship to Jesus requires a total commitment of life, taking the cross, giving one’s life in obedience to Jesus’ direction, forsaking the pursuit of wealth, and living out one’s discipleship publicly before others.


This is what Ignatius did and taught others to do. Today more than 450 years after his death, his legacy still remains. The Society of Jesus that he founded remains a Society that has at its core the following of the Crucified Christ.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

MORNING OFFERING


NOVENA TO ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA - JULY 30, 2015 - NINTH DAY

OPENING PRAYER:         Lord, teach us to be generous. Teach us to love you and serve you as you deserve. To give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek for rest; to labour and not to look for reward, save that of knowing that we do your most holy will.
Tomorrow, we will celebrate the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits. For the last eight days, we have been praying that through his intercession we might obtain various graces to live more fully our own lives as individuals and as a community. Today, on the last day of the Novena, we make our own, the prayer of Fr. Pedro Arrupe, himself a former General of the Society of Jesus: 
“Lord, meditating on ‘our way of proceeding’, I have discovered that the ideal way of acting is your way of acting. Give me that sensus Christi that I may feel with your feelings, with the sentiments of your heart, which basically are love for your Father and love for all men and women. Teach me how to be compassionate to the suffering, the poor, the blind, the lame and lepers.  Teach us your way so that it becomes our way today, so that we may come closer to the great ideal of St. Ignatius; to be companions of Jesus, collaborators in the work of redemption.”
Through the intercession of St. Ignatius, we pray for the grace to make Jesus’ way of proceeding our way of proceeding, his way of acting our way of acting. Amen.

CLOSING PRAYER: Take Lord, receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, my entire will. You have given them to me, to you I return them. Give me only your love and your grace that is enough for me. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015 - If the sorting were to take place now, would you be kept or thrown away? What will you do to ensure that you are kept?

To read the texts click on the texts: Ex 40:16-21,34-38; Mt 13:47-53

The parable of the Net (13:47-48) its interpretation (13:49-50) and the parable of the householder (13:51-52) are found only in the Gospel of Matthew.

In the parable of the Net, a large net is used to catch fish of every kind. There is no sorting out of the fish at the time of their being caught. It is only after the net is full and drawn ashore that the sorting takes place. The good fish are kept and the bad are thrown away.

The interpretation focuses on the fate of the evil (bad fish), which will be thrown into the furnace of fire. It does not speak about the fate of the righteous except to say that the evil will be separated from them.


In the parable of the householder, both the new and old are affirmed. However, the old, which is valuable, is presented in a new light and therefore seen in a new way. The fact that the order of the words is “new” and “old” is an indication that the new is to be used to interpret the old and not the other way around.