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Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Thursday, August 1, 2013 - 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.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

NEW LOOK

Your comments on the New Look are welcome. Once again A Very Happy feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

HAPPY FEAST OF ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA - THE FOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS

One quality that characterized the life 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. As a matter of fact, the first years of his conversion were spent only in imitating Christ in all his poverty and humility.  For Ignatius, Jesus Christ was the way, which leads all people to life. This personal love for Christ was not merely theoretical in the life of Ignatius, but characterized his whole being. He showed this tangibly by naming the Society he founded, the Society of Jesus.

In the Spiritual Exercises which Ignatius wrote and which has since become a classic, the focal point in many Exercises is profound knowledge of Christ which leads to an unconditional love and consequently to following Christ on his way to the Cross. This knowledge is not ‘knowledge about’ but ‘knowledge of’ the person who Christ is. It has to do with the ability to sit at the feet of the Lord and ‘learn’ from him who is gentle and humble of heart. (Mt 11:28-30). It is this ‘knowledge of’ the Lord that so captivates us that we cannot but love the Lord with every fibre of our being. Since this love that we experience for the Lord is not merely an emotion, but reality, it leads us to go where the Lord wants us to go and so what the Lord wants us to do. We become like Ignatius instruments in the hands opf the Lord who uses us according to his will.
It is through this experience that we are able to say with Ignatius, “Take Lord receive..... Give us only your love and grace and we are rich indeed and need nothing more”.

As we celebrate the Feast of Ignatius let us ask for his intercession that we too might know, love and follow the Lord.


I take this opportunity to wish you and your families a Very Happy Feast.

Monday, 29 July 2013

NOVENA TO ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA - NINTH DAY - JULY 30, 2013 - SENSUS CHRISTI

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 idea 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.

Father, Son and Spirit, on this last day of our Novena, we come to you with grateful hearts because we know you always listen to our prayers. We have prayed during these days that we as individuals and as a community will imbibe through the intercession of St. Ignatius, the same qualities with which he was graced which made him such a powerful instrument of your generous and unconditional love and peace. We know that if we continue to open our hearts to you, you can accomplish in us the same work that you were able to accomplish in St. Ignatius.

We make this prayer thorough the intercession of St. Ignatius to you our Triune God who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 - Are you too quick to condemn others merely by what you notice externally? Will you reserve your judgement today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Exodus 33:7-11; 34:5-9,28; Mt 13:36-43

These verses contain the interpretation or allegory of the parable of the weeds and are found only in the Gospel of Matthew. Since Jesus speaks to the crowds only in parables, Matthew has Jesus go into the house after leaving the crowds and explain privately the meaning of the parable to his disciples. In the interpretation, the attention is on the weeds and so on the final judgement. The Son of Man has indeed sowed good seed in the field, which is the world and not merely the church, but the devil who is responsible for the second sowing has sown weeds. Though this is the case, it is not the believers who represent the good seed who will pass judgement on the unbelievers who represent the weeds Judgement will be passed by God through the Son of Man.


We sometimes wonder why “evil” people seem to be thriving. When we do this we are already making a judgement about a person or about something, which we might not fully know. If we avoid comparing ourselves with others and stop labelling them especially when we are not fully aware of the facts, we can concentrate better on what we are called to do and be. 

Sunday, 28 July 2013

NOVENA TO ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA - DAY EIGHT - JULY 29, 2013 - EVER SEARCHING FOR THE MAGIS

The entire life of St. Ignatius was a pilgrim search for the Magis, the ever-greater glory of God, the ever-fuller service of men and women, the more universal good, the more effective apostolic means. Mediocrity had no place in the life and mission of St. Ignatius, and so he was constantly searching for the newer, the better, the more, and constantly challenging everyone who came in contact with him to do the same. The Magis was not simply one among others in a list of the qualities of St. Ignatius it permeated them all.

Often in our lives, we have been content with the “status quo”, the known, the tried, the already existing. Being men and women of the Magis means that we are constantly driven to discover, re-define and reach out for the newer, the better, the more. The Magis is always on the verge of re-definition, good becomes better, the better becomes better still, and the better still, becomes still better. Frontiers and boundaries ought not to be obstacles for us, but new challenges to be faced, new opportunities to be welcomed. Indeed ours must be a holy boldness, which has its roots in our faith in Jesus.

Through the intercession of St. Ignatius we pray for the grace to strive always for the Magis, the greater, the newer, the more.


God, Eternal father, we pray that through the intercession of St. Ignatius of Loyola, who was never content with the already existing, and ever in search of newer ways of reaching out to those in need, we too might be inspired to follow in his footsteps, and search for newer ways to constantly glorify your name. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

THE CONSTERNATION OF MARTHA


Will you like Martha, presume to tell Jesus what he ought to do, or will you like Mary listen to what he would like you to do?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1Jn 4:7-16; Lk 10:38-42

This text, which speaks of the encounter of Martha and Mary with Jesus, takes the form of a pronouncement story (a story in which a saying of Jesus stands out and is the focus of the story). While the Gospel of Luke explicitly mentions women disciples of Jesus, here Mary is even sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to his teaching, something unthinkable at the time of Jesus. By sitting at his feet, Mary is acting like a male, and in doing so neglects her duty of helping to prepare the meal. This action of Mary also results in bringing shame upon her house. Though justified Martha’s protest is put negatively by her. It is clear that her focus is not the Lord, but herself. She is concerned not with her service of the Lord, but the trouble that it is causing her because she is left alone to serve. The response of Jesus to Martha is the main point of the story and the pronouncement. The repetition of her name is a mild rebuke. Her “cares” have prevented her from unhindered devotion and attention to the Lord. Mary has chosen the one thing necessary and that is the Lord. Martha presumes to tell Jesus what he should do; Mary lets Jesus tell her what to do.

There are times when we do things not because we are convinced that they have to be done but because we want the approval of others or we want others to know how hard we are working. These are selfish acts and do not bring grace. The act that does bring grace is when we do what has to be done simply because it has to be done and expect nothing in return.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

THE SUNDAY READINGS CONTAIN ALL THE ANSWERS

Across
4. How many loaves of bread are mentioned in the Gospel text of today?
5. If not friendship, what will make the friend grant the petition?
8. Besides Sodom which other city is mentioned in the First reading of today?
9. With which number does Abraham end his petition?
10. Who remained standing before the Lord in Sodom?
Down
1. What might be given to a child who asks for an egg?
2. With which word does the prayer which Jesus taught his disciples begin?
3. With which number does Abraham begin his petition?
6. What might be given to a child who asks for fish?
7. To which Church is the second reading of today addressed?

NOVENA TO ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA - DAY SEVEN -JULY 28, 2013 - IGNATIAN INDIFFERENCE

One understanding of the word “indifference” is absence of interest or attention. However, this is surely not what Ignatian indifference means. For Ignatius, indifference was a means to reach the higher goal of the greater good, and so Ignatius would be indifferent to success or failure, riches or poverty, good health or sickness in order to achieve the greater good, which was always the greater glory of God.

Often in our lives we are disappointed when things do not go the way we would like them to go, when things do not happen the way we want them to happen. It is specially at times like these and with the grace of God at all times in our lives, that we need to develop an attitude of Ignatian indifference, which does not mean complacency, but a total acceptance of the outcome of any situation knowing full well that it fits in perfectly with God’s plan for us. This attitude must so permeate our being that we are able to say with St. Paul – “I have learned to be content in whatever situation I am… I can do all things in him who strengthens me”.

Through the intercession of St. Ignatius we pray for the grace to do our best at every moment of every day and rest in the knowledge that God will do the rest.

God our loving Father, you always know what is best for us, and so we ask that through the intercession of St. Ignatius of Loyola, we may receive the grace to be able to accept with serenity your plan for us, especially at those times when we cannot fully understand why things happen the way they do. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - JULY 28, 2013 - PRAYER IS ACTION

To read the texts click on the texts: Gn18:20-32; Col2:12-14; Lk 11:1-13

What is prayer? If all the books that could be written to answer this question were written, it would be difficult for the world itself to contain them all.

There is an old story of a monk who was bothered by mice playing around him when he prayed. To stop it, he got a cat and kept it in his prayer room so the mice would be scared away. But he never explained to his disciples why he had the cat. One day, the monk walked down the corridors of the monastery and noticed that each of his disciples had a cat in their prayer room. After seeing their master with a cat, they thought that having a cat was the secret to powerful praying.

Prayer has been defined as “talking with God”, “listening to God”, “petitioning God” “intimate communion and communication with the Lord”, and so on. However, a definition that makes the most sense to me is “Prayer is action”. This is because, all too often, prayer has been relegated to theory and verbosity. It has often been understood to be sterile. Not too many of us who pray believe that our prayers will be answered. This is proved because we are often surprised and even astounded when we get what we pray for. However, in Jesus’ definition, prayer is not the last but the first resort. When we need something, we go first to our heavenly father who is the primary cause.

The Gospels contain only one instance of Jesus’ teaching his disciples on Prayer. While the text of today’s Gospel is also found in Matthew and is known popularly as the “Our Father”, it must be noted that there is no “Our” in Luke’s version of the prayer. Luke’s version seems to fit the historical context better than Matthew’s. It is more likely that Jesus taught his disciples the meaning of prayer and how to pray when he himself was praying.

There are many aspects to the Lord’s Prayer in Luke’s gospel.  It contains five petitions. The first and second petitions concern God directly. They petition for God’s sovereignty to be established. They petition for the full coming of God’s kingdom and for the time when all creation will acknowledge and celebrate the holiness of God. The term “Father” is not static, but dynamic, and indicates an endearing relationship, a relationship of trust and confidence.  It is imperative that one approach God with confidence and conviction, much like a trusting child approaches its trustworthy parents. The third petition is for bread, for sustenance, in our everyday life. This is an indication that God is concerned with even the mundane, ordinary things in our daily lives. The fourth petition is for forgiveness of our sins in the same way in which we forgive others their sins against us. One who will not forgive cannot receive forgiveness; mercy flows through the same channel, whether being given or received. There is no quid pro quo here; however, the ability to forgive and to be forgiven is part of the same gift. We stand in need, not only of daily sustenance but also, of continual forgiveness. The fifth and final petition is a climactic one.  It underscores our relationship to God as a Father to whom we can appeal for protection from any circumstances that might threaten our lives.  We can appeal to him for protection during the trials or tests accompanying the full manifestation of God’s kingdom.

Though not part of the prayer that Jesus taught, the instructions that follow the prayer, in Luke, are as important as the prayer itself and must be seen along with it. The core of these instructions is that God answers all prayer. What is required is perseverance and persistence. This is the kind of persistence shown by Abraham in the first reading of today when he keeps petitioning God, who finally grants Abraham what he asks. Indeed, God exhibits no disapproval even though Abraham is direct and resolute. As Abraham continues to keep petitioning, God responds in a consistently positive way. Abraham’s concerns are matched by God’s. God will go to any extent to save the righteous. God’s will to save outweighs God’s will to judge. God takes Abraham’s thinking and petitions into account before deciding the final outcome. God takes prayer very seriously.

This is shown in the last part of the Gospel text for today when Jesus assures his disciples that God answers prayer. To be sure, the answer may not be as we expect or even as we want, but God does listen and God does answer.  Without a doubt, what God gives will be infinitely better than what we want for ourselves. A striking example of this is Jesus’ own prayer in Gethsemane. As persistent as Jesus was that the cup be taken from him, he was equally persistent that God’s will be done. The first part of the prayer was answered.  However, God did not take the cup away from Jesus.  The second part of the prayer, that God’s will be done, was answered. Though he did not “hear” his Father respond, Jesus rose fortified from his prayer. He was ready now for action.  He was ready to face the cross. It is evident today, two thousand years later, that this was infinitely the better answer. It is very likely that, if God had taken the cup away, Jesus would have lived for a few more years. However, if this had been the case, Jesus would not have gone to the Cross.  There would have been no resurrection.  Jesus would have been remembered as yet another good and holy man. The fact that God’s will was done is the reason why Jesus died, why he was raised and why he lives, even today.

Paul speaks of this fact in the second reading of today when he reminds the Colossian community of believers of who they have become through the death and resurrection of Jesus. They who were dead have become alive to God through the forgiveness they have received in Jesus’ resurrection.


Thus, this is what prayer means: We petition God with confidence and persistence.  We free our minds and hearts of every negative and of every bit of blame and lack of forgiveness that will prevent us from receiving his bountiful grace.  We believe that every prayer of ours will be answered. Our prayer, like that of Jesus, must fortify us and prepare us to face the realities of the world.

Friday, 26 July 2013

CONSEQUENCES OF OUR ACTIONS ACCORDING TO THE PARABLE OF THE WHEAT AND WEEDS


NOVENA TO ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA - DAY SIX - JULY 27, 2013 - THAT THEY MAY ALL BE ONE

St. Ignatius was a great believer in Unity even in diversity. This is evident from the first companions he chose. These were men from different backgrounds, different experiences and gifts, but moulded by him into one Society of Love. Like Jesus before him, Ignatius laboured long and hard for the unity that Jesus himself worked and prayed for.

Today, more than ever, we, in this great country of ours need to realize that we live in land of diverse cultures, languages and religions. We need to understand that “to be religious is to be inter religious”, and so need to shed the exclusive tag we have placed on ourselves. The prayer for unity that Jesus made to his Father in the Gospel of John continues to be our own prayer – that they may all be one, even as the Father and Son are one.

Through the intercession of St. Ignatius we pray for the grace to be aware as we do in a multicultural, multi religious country we might open our hearts to those of other faiths, and realise the working of God in their lives as well.


God of unity and communion, we pray that through the intercession of St. Ignatius who was able through your grace to unite people from different backgrounds into one Society of Love, we might be able to foster union of minds and hearts in our neighbourhoods, places of work and in this our Parish community. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Saturday, July 27, 2013 - Are there some whom you deliberately exclude from your circle of friends? Why?

To read the texts click on the texts: Ex 24:3-8; Mt 13:24-30

This is a parable found exclusively in the Gospel of Matthew. It is not clear whether this parable existed independently as a parable or whether it was conceived as an allegory from the beginning. Those who think that the parable existed independently interpret the parable to mean a statement against building of boundaries and so excluding some. The building of boundaries and forming exclusive communities is not the business of human beings, but is God’s task.


Like the field in the parable there is good seed and there are weeds even in the world in which we live. There is both good and evil. We are called to take only what is good and not focus too much on the evil or bad. This does not mean passivity in the face of evil but a call for a discerning mind and heart. 

Thursday, 25 July 2013

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS - CAN YOU FIND THE RIGHT NUMBER?

Across
4. DO NOT STEAL
5. DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS
7. SABBATH
9. DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY
Down
1. DO NOT MURDER
2. DO NOT COVET
3. DO NOT TAKE THE LORD’S NAME IN VAIN
6. NO OTHER GODS
7. HONOUR FATHER AND MOTHER
8. GRAVEN IMAGES

NOVENA TO ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA - DAY FIVE - JULY 26, 2013 - IN SOLIDARITY WITH THOSE MOST IN NEED

Though from an affluent family himself, Ignatius deliberately chose the path of poverty in order to experience firsthand what the poor went through. This enabled him to reach out to them in a practical and tangible manner. Ignatius was aware in his day that poverty was the result of the selfishness of a few, and so constantly encouraged all those who came in contact with him to live lives of selfless service and thus become witnesses to the Kingdom of God here on earth.

Today, nearly five hundred years after the death of St. Ignatius, we are living in a world that has become even more consumerist than it was at his time, and so are in even more urgent need of the awareness that Ignatius had, namely that it is basically our selfishness which is at the root of poverty, and the separation of the “haves” from the “have- nots”.  Through our own lives and reaching out to those most in need we need like Ignatius to make known to others that is more important to “be more” than to “have more”.

Through the intercession of St. Ignatius we pray for the grace to be aware of our selfishness and desire to have more and realise that what is more important is to be more.


God of the poor and the marginalized, we pray that through the intercession of St. Ignatius of Loyola who himself worked with the powerless, the sick and the needy, we too might have the grace to realize that you are primarily a God of the poor, and then have the courage to reach out to those who are in need. We ask this through the same Christ our Lord.

Friday, July 26, 2013 - What prevents you from listening to what God is calling you to do? What will you do about it today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Ex 20:1-17; Mt 13:18-23

These verses contain what is known as the allegory of the parable of 13:10-17. Unlike Mark who does not give it a name, Matthew names it the Parable of the Sower (13:18), and in doing so concentrates attention on the Sower. While in the Marcan interpretation there is confusion as to whether the seed is the word (as in Mark 4:14) or the hearers (as in Mark 4:16,18,20), Matthew rewrites Mark to avoid this confusion but does not succeed fully in this endeavour. 

Matthew also specifies that the word that is sown is the word of the kingdom. While in Mark collective nouns are used focussing on a group of people, Matthew emphasises individual responsibility by changing the nouns to the singular. Despite these changes, Matthew essentially adopts the interpretation of the Parable as in Mark 4:13-20 where it is understood as the Church’s reflection on its bearing witness to the Gospel that Christ inaugurated.


Christianity is both an individual and communitarian religion. Each sacrament has both the individual and communitarian dimensions. This means that while on the one hand we are each responsible for the other, we are also responsible for ourselves and need to make our commitment individually. We cannot disown this responsibility or thrust it on the community.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

AUTHORITY AND GREATNESS IN THE KINGDOM


NOVENA TO ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA - DAY FOUR - JULY 25, 2013 - TOTAL INVOLVEMENT IN THE CHURCH

St. Ignatius regarded the Church as a mother even though during his time there were many abuses in the Church. He never considered himself an outsider, an armchair critic, but actively went about trying to reform the Church from within. In his Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius had specially incorporated Eighteen Rules for thinking with the Church, the first of which exhorts us to be ready to obey promptly and in all things the true spouse of Christ our Lord, our Holy Mother Church.
Many of us unfortunately are able to see only the negative, the black spot on the white wall, or the half empty bottle. We find it difficult to focus on the positive, the white wall or the half filled bottle when it comes to our assessment of the Church. We need to understand that we are all part of the Church, and while there will be abuses, we need to go about correcting them through constructive and positive criticism like Ignatius did.


Triune God, Father, Son and Spirit, the union and love you share is the model for all union and love among us. We pray that through the intercession of St. Ignatius of Loyola, we who belong to this Parish may have the courage to manifest this union among ourselves so that we might be true witnesses of your love among us. We ask this in your united name. Amen.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 - St. James, Apostle. - Leadership and authority mean service

To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Cor 4:7-15; Mt. 20:20-28

St. James is described as one of the first disciples along with his brother John to join Jesus (Mk 1:19-20). He was one of the three whom Jesus took with him when he raised Jairus daughter from the dead (Mk 5:35-43), on the mountain of transfiguration (Mk 9:2-9) and at Gethsemane (Mk 14:32-42). The Acts of the Apostles 12:1 records that Herod had James executed by sword. He is the only apostle whose martyrdom is recorded in the New Testament.

The Gospel text chosen for the feast of St. James is from the Gospel of Matthew.  In order to spare the disciples, whom Matthew usually represents as understanding Jesus, Matthew replaces the disciples’ own request with one represented by their mother and does not name the “sons of Zebedee” here. The request for seats at the “right hand and left hand” reflects the rule of the Son of Man from his throne. In his reply to the request the Matthean Jesus focuses on the image of the cup which is used as a symbol for suffering, testing, rejection, judgement and even violent death. Though they express confidence that they are able to drink the cup, Jesus knows better. However, even martyrdom will not gain the disciples special places. That is God’s prerogative and grace. Jesus then takes the disciples to another level and perspective of leadership where to be a leader is not to dominate or dictate but to serve. Christian leadership may be defined as service.


James understood this after then death and resurrection of Jesus as was evident in his martyrdom. He followed his Lord and Master to the end and did indeed drink the cup courageously.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

PERSEVERANCE


NOVENA TO ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA - DAY THREE - JULY 24, 2013 - LISTENING TO AND WAITING FOR THE LORD.

Though Ignatius was in constant and close touch with the Lord, he never presumed like the Martha of the Gospel of Luke to tell the Lord what to do. Rather, like an attentive student before his Master, he was always listening and discerning what the Lord wanted him to do. His one desire in life was to constantly do God’s will, and in his famous prayer “Take and Receive” which has now become a popular hymn, he prayed only for God’s love and grace for which he was willing to forgo everything else.

Through the intercession of St. Ignatius we pray for the grace to make God’s will coincide with ours rather than try to make our will coincide with God’s.

God of revelation, you make your will known to us through the daily events of life, the people we encounter, the things we use and the situations of life. We pray for the grace of open and receptive hearts that like St. Ignatius of Loyola our one desire will be to listen to what you want us to do and have the courage to do it. We ask this through the same Christ our Lord. Amen

Sixteenth week in Ordinary Time - Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - Will you keep on keeping on even when your expectations are not fulfilled?

To read the texts click on the texts: Ex 16:1-5,9-15; 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.

Monday, 22 July 2013

RELATED TO JESUS???


NOVENA TO ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA - DAY TWO - JULY 23, 2013 - CONTEMPLATION EVEN IN ACTION

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. Since God is at work in all things, persons and events, Ignatius constantly endeavoured to find him there.

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.

God, Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, we pray that through the intercession of St. Ignatius of Loyola, we may have the grace and courage to collaborate with you in your work of salvation, of bringing all things to perfection in you. Give us like St. Ignatius had, the grace to see and find you in all things, and all things in you. We make our prayer through Christ our Lord.

Is Jesus pointing to you as his brother/sister? If yes, Why? If no, why not?

To read the texts click on the texts: Ex 14:21 – 15:1; Mt 12:46-50

The text of today contains a pointer as to who make up the true family of Jesus. Unlike in Mark, where the “crowd” is pointed out to as the true family of Jesus, in Matthew, it is the community of disciples who make up the true family. The point being made in this text is not so much about the mother or brothers and sisters of Jesus, but about who will be regarded as true members of Jesus’ family. The action of stretching out his hand has been used earlier to portray Jesus as compassionate (8:3) and also an act, which will be used later to show him as the great deliverer who comes to the aid of his disciples (14:31). In the concluding statement, the Matthean Jesus makes clear that discipleship and being a member of his family is not merely a matter of verbal profession even proclamation, but doing the will of God. This aspect makes anyone a brother or sister of Jesus.


We may imagine that because we have been baptised into the faith we can take for granted that we are members of Jesus’ family. This need not be so, since we need to keep renewing our commitment to Jesus and his cause every day. While verbal proclamation does have its place, it alone is not enough. We must show through our deeds whom we believe in. 

Sunday, 21 July 2013

NOVENA TO ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA THE FOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS - DAY ONE (JULY 22, 2013) - DEEP PERSONAL LOVE FOR JESUS CHRIST

One quality that characterised the life of St. Ignatius above all others was his deep personal love 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. As a matter of fact, the first years of his conversion were spent in only imitating Christ in all his poverty and humility.  For Ignatius, Jesus Christ was the way, which leads all people to life. This personal love for Christ was not merely theoretical in the life of Ignatius, but characterised his whole being. He showed this tangibly by naming the Society he founded, the Society of Jesus.

In our world characterised by self-centred fulfilment, extravagance, and soft living, a world that prizes prestige, power and self-sufficiency, to preach Christ poor and humble, with fidelity and courage is to expect humiliation and persecution like Ignatius did. 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.


Heavenly Father, we pray that the intercession of St. Ignatius of Loyola the founder of the Society of Jesus may obtain for each one of us the grace that he received of this deep personal love for your son Jesus, which inspired him to do great things for him. May our love, be not merely theoretical, but a love which shows itself in deeds. We ask this through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

THE FEAST OF MARY MAGDALENE - Let not your selfishness and sorrow prevent you from encountering Jesus

To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Cor 5:14-17; Jn 20:1-2, 11-18

20,11a - “But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb”

v What is it that blurs your vision? Why can you not see clearly the presence of the Lord in your life?

20,13 - The announcement of the significance of the resurrection belongs to Jesus alone, not to an intermediary messenger.

v At those times when we say, “We do not know where they have laid him”, at those times, he is standing right by our side.

20,15 - “Whom are you looking for?”

v How would you respond to this question of Jesus, “Whom are you looking for”?

20,16 – Mary’s spontaneous reaction is to address Jesus with a term of endearment in Aramaic “Rabbouni”

v How would you respond to hearing him call you by this name?
v What name would Jesus use to address you? Why?

20,17 - “Do not hold on to me”. “I have not yet ascended to the Father, but go to my brothers (Greek “adelphoi”) and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’.”

v What command is Jesus giving you?
v How will you fulfil this command?

20,18 - “I have seen the Lord.”  


v Can you say like Mary, “I have seen the Lord”? If no, why not?

Saturday, 20 July 2013

SIXTEENTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR - Contemplative Even In Action

To read the texts click on the texts: Gn18:1-10a; Col1:24-28; Lk 10:38-42

John Lennon, one of the four Beatles, said, “Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans”. This is akin to the admonition that Jesus gives Martha in the Gospel text of today when he says to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things.”

The story of Jesus’ visit to the home of Martha and Mary, which is the Gospel text for today, must be seen in connection with the Parable of the Good Samaritan which precedes it. If the parable of the Good Samaritan stressed the horizontal dimension of relationships, this story stresses the vertical dimension. To be sure, action is important and even imperative, but it has to be selfless. When it is done as a chore or seen as a burden, then one feels encumbered and weighed down by it as Martha does.

Abraham shows in the first reading of today what is meant by selfless action. Without even knowing who his visitors are, he lays out a feast for them and he waits on them. He does what Martha does but without any animosity, bitterness, or resentment. This is because he sees his action as reward in itself. Not content with that, Abraham goes even further and waits on his visitors, attentive to their every word, much like Mary does with Jesus. Abraham is content, like Mary, simply to be in the present. He does not let his actions come in the way of his attention to his visitors like Martha does. Thus, Abraham, like Mary, is given the better part, the gift of life.

The main point being made in these readings is not so much pitting contemplation against action or prayer against work. Both are necessary and both have their time and place. However, if the work that one does is done with a heavy heart, like that of Martha, then it is not efficacious. Martha serves and indeed, serves the Lord, but her service is peppered with so much of self that it leads her to complain against her sister. She develops a “martyr complex” which leads to the feeling that she is left alone. One possible reason why Martha feels this way is because she has not spent enough time listening and learning from the Lord. She does what she thinks is necessary without realizing that this is not what the Lord wants at all. It is service, but on one’s own terms and conditions and not the Lord’s.

In his gentle yet firm reproach to Martha, Jesus corrects her view. It is true that, by sitting at the feet of the Lord, Mary is acting like a male which violates a social boundary. By such an act, she would bring shame upon her house. She also neglects her duty to help her sister in the preparation of the meal. Yet, in his response to Martha, Jesus focuses not on these non-essentials, but on the focus and attention that Mary has demonstrated. Her gaze remains fixed on the Lord. She will not let anything or anyone distract her. Her mind, heart, indeed her whole being, is given to listening to his every word, being attentive to his every move. She will not be anxious and worried over many things since she has chosen that which will take care of all worry and anxiety. It is the better part and cannot be taken away. Social conventions do not matter; external food does not matter; rushing about from this to that does not matter. What does matter is simply to be.

Paul realized this as is clear from his letter to the Colossians in which he states that his service for the Church is not for any reward or gain. It is not done with complaint or protest, but done willingly and without any expectation. His sole aim is to reveal Christ to the world and especially to those who have not had the privilege of knowing him. In Christ, social boundaries are removed, externals do not matter. What does matter is that Christ be made known and be loved above all.


One phrase, which St. Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuits, used to describe who Jesuits must be is “Contemplatives in Action”. This has been taken further by some after Ignatius’ day to read “Contemplatives Even in Action”. This phrase can be seen as a summary of the message for today. Like the Jesuits, every disciple of Jesus is called to be that. This means that, while action is not relegated to second place after contemplation, it has to and must flow from contemplation if it is to be efficacious. This will ensure that the action that one is engaged in does not become self-serving. This will ensure that it will be action that the Lord wants and not the action that one feels comfortable doing. This will ensure that one will know that the reward of the action is the action itself and so, one will not complain or whine, but do what one does willingly, and with joy. 

Friday, 19 July 2013

How do you usually react to stressful situations? Will you learn from Jesus’ response today?

To read the texts click on the texts:Ex 12:37-42; 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.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

JESUS AND THE SABBATH


How often do rules rule you? Will you try to rule rules today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Ex 11:10-12:14; Mt 12:1-8

The story, which forms the text of today, may be termed as a Sabbath controversy. Matthew refers here to Sabbath for the first time in his gospel. The point of contention is not very clear in Matthew, because the law permitted a person passing through a neighbour’s grain field to pluck heads of corn and eat them (Deut 23:23-25). The point here seems to be whether such an act could be done on the Sabbath. While in Mark the Pharisees ask a question, in Matthew, they are clearly hostile and make a charge. In his response to the Pharisees, Jesus quotes refers to the story of David in 1 Samuel 21:1-6, where David went beyond the rule to the need of his men. If David could do such a thing, then Jesus who is greater than David can do so even more. The Matthean Jesus also refers to the text from Numbers 28:9-10 where the priests in the Temple sacrifice there on the Sabbath, indicating that sacrifice is greater than the Sabbath. Since mercy is greater than sacrifice, it is surely greater than the Sabbath.


Reaching out in love to anyone in need takes precedence over every rule, law and regulation. It is the human who must always come first. The rule, law and regulation follows. 

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

GOD'S NAME??? SEE EXODUS


What is it that is tiring you? Will you lay it at the feet of Jesus?

To read the texts click on the texts: Ex 3:13-20; Mt 11:28-30

Jesus invites all those who are burdened to come to him for rest. The burden in this context seems to be that of the law and its obligations. When Jesus invites the burdened to take his yoke, which is easy, he is not inviting them to a life of ease, but to a deliverance from any kind of artificiality or the blind following of rules and regulations. The disciple must learn from Jesus who is in Matthew “the great teacher”. The rest that Jesus offers is the rest of salvation.


We can get so caught up today with wanting to have more that we might lose sight of the meaning of life itself. The desire to acquire more and more and be regarded as successful based on what we possess sometimes leads to missing out on so much that life has to offer.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

JESUS AND THE FATHER ACCORDING TO MATTHEW


Is your pride preventing you from encountering Jesus? What will you do about it today?

To read the texts click on the texts:Exodus 3:1-6,9-12; Mt 11:25-27

This text is addressed to all those who accept the message of Jesus unlike those in Chorazin and Bethsaida. Jesus begins his prayer here by giving thanks to the Father. It is openness to the revelation of God that Jesus makes which is responsible for the receipt of this enormous privilege. Acknowledging Jesus is not a matter of one’s superior knowledge or insight, but given as a gift to those who open themselves to this revelation. 

Jesus himself is an example of such openness, which allowed him to receive everything directly from God. It is his intimacy with the Father and not his religious genius, which is responsible for this grace. 

Monday, 15 July 2013

WHY MOSES?? SEE THE FIRST READING FROM EXODUS


If you were a resident of Chorazin or Bethsaida how would you respond to the woes?

To read the texts click on the texts: Exodus 2:1-15; Mt 11:20-24

The woes pronounced against Chorazin and Bethsaida are because of the refusal of the people in them to repent. The people of these towns did believe in the miracles, but this belief did not translate into a change of mind, which was the primary purpose of the miracles that Jesus worked. Also, the Gentile cities of Tyre, Sidon that were regarded as biblical symbols of evil would fare better on the day of judgement that Chorazin and Bethsaida.


The miraculous and extra-ordinary cannot always sustain faith, which is a gift from God to anyone who wants to receive it and is willing to open the heart and mind. More often than not a kind word or a gentle touch can lead people to repentance.