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Saturday, 30 November 2013

LOOK AND SEE THE READINGS OF TODAY TO ANSWER

Across
3. Which Patriarch alone is mentioned in the first reading of today?
4. At what hour will the Son of Man come?
6. From which Prophet is the first reading of today taken?
Down
1. From which Gospel will we read today?
2. From which letter of Paul is the second reading of today taken?
3. Besides Judah, which other place is the oracle mentioned in the first reading about?
5. The father of this patriarch mentioned in the Gospel text of today was Lamech.


December 1, 2013 - FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT - “Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday”

To read the texts click on the texts: Isaiah 2:1-5;Rom.13:11-14; Mt 24:37-44

In this oracle of salvation Isaiah speaks of the elevation or exaltation of Zion, the mountain of the Temple of the Lord. This elevation will result in the establishment of peace and justice among all nations. The people will make a pilgrimage to Zion to learn the Lord’s ways and walk in his paths. They will go to God’s holy mountain to learn from him. This instruction will result in the instruments of war being turned into farming tools. Peace will reign and so there will be no need to train for war.

In this part of his letter to the Romans, Paul exhorts his readers because of the urgency of the times to wake up and live in the light rather than darkness. This is done by giving up things done under the cover of the dark and daring to appear in the light. Christians must express through their words and actions the very presence of Christ.

The text from Matthew is part of his Eschatological Discourse (24-25). To the question “When will Christ return?” Matthew’s answer is “No one knows” (24, 36). As in the time of Noah life went on as usual with no sign that judgement was going to come, so will it be at the Parousia (literally “presence” but taken to mean the second coming of Christ). However, this lack of knowledge about the exactness of the hour instead of becoming a cause for concern must be the motivating factor to be ready at all times. In the metaphor of the thief who breaks and enters the house, the point being made is that it is the one who knows that the exact hour is unknown will be the one who will remain vigilant and awake.

Many of us live in the future rather than in the present. We want to know what will happen tomorrow and in the process do not live fully today. This obsession with the future is because basically we are frightened. We are frightened of what the future holds for us, we are frightened of whether we will be able to cope with what the future brings and we are frightened of whether the future will be better than or worse than our present. The Gospel text of today is calling for exactly the opposite of this way of living. It is calling for a total living in the present and doing what we have to do in the now, with no useless worry about what the morrow will bring. This is what it means to be ready at all times. A story is told of St. John Berchmans {a young Jesuit who died when he was  22 years old} who when  asked what he would do if he was told that he was going to be called by the Lord at the moment when he was playing football is said to have replied, “I will continue playing football.” The Latin phrase “Age quod agis” “Do what you are doing” sums up his attitude and the attitude expected of each of us who profess to be followers of Christ.

However, we will only be able to have such a kind of confidence to continue doing what we are doing,  if we give up the negative things that we might be doing and the negative attitudes that we might carry and substitute them instead with everything that enhances, builds up  and is positive. Being good and doing good are not be looked upon as a burden but something that comes naturally to the Christian who has experienced the move from darkness to light and from fear to love through what Christ has done through his life, mission, death and resurrection. We must show through this kind of positive and fearless living that we are indeed children of the light and have as inspiration the person and message of Christ.

If we dare to live in this manner then the prophecy of Isaiah which was fulfilled in the coming of Jesus 2000 years ago will also become a reality once again today. We will become that mountain of the Temple of the Lord to which everyone will look and learn the Lord’s ways. They will learn that to live in the future is futile, that to be obsessed with what is not yet is to fail to appreciate fully the present moment. They will realize that it is better to be positive than negative, to enhance and build up rather than pull down and destroy, to live fully and completely rather than die without ever having lived.



Friday, 29 November 2013

ALACRITY


Saturday, November 30, 2013 - St. Andrew, Apostle - Jesus is inviting you today with the words, "Follow me". What will your response be?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 10:9-18; Mt 4:18-22

Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter (Mt 4:18; Mk 1:16; Jn 1:40; 6:8) and along with his brother was a fisherman. According to the Gospel of John, Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist and was one of the first to follow Jesus. The Gospels of Matthew and Mark state that Andrew and his brother were the disciples to be called by Jesus to become “fishers of men”; a phrase which was used to probably link it with their trade.

Though not in the group of the three disciples (Peter, James and John) who seemed to have a special place in the ministry of Jesus, it was Andrew who brought the boy who had five barley loaves to Jesus in the Gospel of John (Jn 6:8) and who along with Philip told Jesus about the gentiles (Greeks) who wished to meet Jesus (Jn 12:22).

Andrew is said to have been martyred by crucifixion at the city of Patras. His crucifixion is believed to have been on Cross that was shaped like the alphabet X. This Cross is commonly known as “Saint Andrew’s Cross” today.
The Gospel text for the Feast is the call of the first four disciples as narrated by Matthew. It is Jesus who takes the initiative in this story and come to the brothers, Simon and Andrew. Jesus’ invitation is also a promise. The invitation which is “to follow” him, will result in the brothers becoming ‘fishers of men and women’. It is an invitation to participate in the saving work of Jesus.

The response of the brothers is immediate. They leave everything to follow Jesus. While it was surely a risk to act in such a manner, it is also true that the call of Jesus was so compelling, that they simply could not refuse.


What does it mean to follow Jesus and accept his invitation to follow? It means that one is willing to accept the challenge to see God in all things and all things in God. It therefore means continuing to follow when everything is going the way we want it to  and also when our plans go awry and we cannot understand why things happen the way they do. It means trusting at every moment that we have to continue to what is required of us and leave everything else (including the worrying) to God. It means trusting that God will never let us down and that all that happens to us is for God’s glory and our good.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Friday, November 29,2013 - Will you live today as if it were your last day on earth?

To read the texts click on the texts: Dan 7:2-14; Lk 21:29-33

The parable of the fig tree found in these verses is the last parable that Jesus tells in the Gospel of Luke. This parable is found also in Mark 13:28-29 and Matthew 24:32-33, but whereas Mark and Matthew speak only of the fig tree, Luke speaks of “the fig tree and all the trees” (21:29). When people can see for themselves that these trees have come out in leaf they know for themselves that summer is near, so when they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud (21:27) they will know that the kingdom is near. 

Since Luke probably thought that the end would come soon, he has added the last two sayings about what will not pass away until “these things” have taken place. They are “this generation” and the “words” of Jesus. These pronouncements must serve as a reminder of the assurance of redemption for the believer.


Our job as Christians is not to bother about when the end will be but to live fully in the present moment. If we do so then no matter when the end comes we will always be ready.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

HOLD YOUR HEAD HIGH


Thursday, November 28, 2013 - If the end were to come today would you be able to hold your head high fearlessly? If No, what will you do about it today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Dan 6:12-28; Lk 21:20-28

The text of today, continues the Eschatological Discourse, but speaks now of the destruction of Jerusalem and other cosmological signs which announce the coming of the Son of Man. Josephus the Jewish historian recorded the horrors of the Jewish war, which lasted from April until August of the year 70 C.E. It was a terrible for all the inhabitants and many were killed during it. The Romans razed the whole city to the ground.

The texts states that once this happens and the other signs have come to pass signalling the end that is at hand, the Son of Man will appear in a cloud, with great power and glory. When he does appear, others might faint from fear, but the disciples are asked to hold their heads up high, because their salvation has indeed come.

In Luke, the focus remains on the significance of the coming of the Son of Man and the way the disciples are to receive him. For the disciples, his coming means an end to the persecutions and terrors that have been described earlier. Whereas the Son of Man will come to judge the wicked, his coming means deliverance for the faithful.
The Gospel thus teaches that beyond the end of time stands the Lord, who has come among us in the person of Jesus. Those whose lives are lived under Jesus’ Lordship can live expectantly, filling each day with activity that is meaningful because of its divine mandate and its contribution to the fulfilment of God’s purposes for human life. Similarly, the end of time or the end of life holds no terror for those who know God’s love because they know the one who determines the reality that lies beyond what we can know here and now.

Thus those who know Christ as the Son of God can approach the end with heads raised high, knowing that their redemption is near (21:28).


These verses also provide encouragement for the faithful when the very foundation of life seems to be shaken. Reading Jesus’ words on the coming of the Son of Man brings assurance that in the worst of times the Son of Man is near at hand, coming “with power and great glory” (21:27). The message of the eschatological discourse is one of hope: “Your redemption is drawing near” (21:28).

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - If someone witnessed your actions all through today, would they conclude that you are a disciple of Jesus?

To read the texts click on the texts: Dan 5:1-6,13-14,16-17,23-28; Lk 21:12-19

These verses are part of Luke’s Eschatological Discourse. The Greek word “Eschaton” is translated as “the last things”, “the things of the next life”. The main point of these verses is to prepare the disciples for the coming trial by exhorting them to regard trials as an occasion for bearing witness. 

The text begins by telling the disciples what they (the persecutors) will do namely arrest you, persecute you etc. It then goes on to advise the disciples what they must do in the face of this persecution, namely that they must bear witness but not be obsessed with the anxiety of preparing their defence. The reason for this is because of what Jesus will do, namely, give the disciples wisdom to counter any argument of the opponents. The text ends with an assurance of God’s support and protection on those who endure.

The persecution of the disciples, however, does not exceed what Jesus himself will experience. He, too, will be arrested and brought before Pilate and Herod. It is Jesus himself therefore who will give the disciples the content of what they are to say.

The gospel offers not a way of predicting the end of the world but the spiritual resources to cope with the challenges of life. In times of distress the disciples of Jesus are called not to throw their hands up in despair, but to be unafraid. It is a fact that following Jesus who is The Truth will have repercussions and consequences, some of which may be disastrous. However, it is in these circumstances that perseverance and endurance is called for. This is the test of our faith and courage in the promises of the Lord.


Thus we can opt for one of two ways of proceeding. One is to focus so much on prophesies of the future, that they frighten us into idle speculation and inaction. The other is to dare to commit ourselves and actions to make a difference here and now.

Monday, 25 November 2013

GOD IS LOVE

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 - St. John Berchmans SJ (1599-1621) - It is not the number of years, but HOW one lives those years that matters.

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Jn 4:1-8; Lk 9:57-62

John Berchmans SJ Born in Brabant (Netherlands/Belgium) on 13th  March, 1599. He joined the Society of Jesus on 24th September 1616 when he was 17 years of age. After his first vows he was sent to Antwerp and a little later to Rome to study Philosophy. He was in his third year of Philosophy, when he was seized with a violent fever and died on 13th August, 1621.

Though he was a Jesuit for only a short period of time and was not ordained a priest, he was known even as a young Jesuit for his piety, devotion and focus. He learned the secret of living in the present moment. He was known to do even the most ordinary and mundane tasks as if it was to be the last task of his life. It was said of him that he did ordinary things extraordinarily well. Because of his devotion to the Eucharist and his regular service at the Altar he is the Patron of Altar Servers.

He was declared Blessed in 1865, and was canonized in 1888. His statues represent him with hands clasped, holding his crucifix, his book of rules, and his rosary.

The Gospel text for the feast is from the Gospel of Luke and is about the would-be followers of Jesus, and Jesus’ warnings about what discipleship will entail.

To the first would-be follower who promises to follow Jesus wherever he goes, Jesus responds by stating clearly that unlike even the foxes that at least have holes, he does not have anywhere he can call his own. If the would-be follower is ready for this insecurity, he may follow.
The second person is called to follow by Jesus, but responds by asking for permission to bury his father. This was a duty that was binding on all devout Jews. Jesus’ response is harsh and demands that the disciple be primarily concerned about the kingdom.

The third would-be follower puts conditions to his following namely that he wants to say farewell to his family. However, here too the response of Jesus is clear. Looking back while ploughing leads to a crooked furrow.
In total contrast to the three examples of persons mentioned in the text, John Berchmans was one who was ready to follow his Lord in total poverty, and did not once look back once he put his hand to the plough. He was focussed on the kingdom and kept that focus till the very end.


While it is not necessary to give up the state of life one has chosen in order to follow Jesus, what is to be understood is that following will necessarily mean changing one’s style of life. It will mean a move from selfishness to selflessness, from acquiring material possessions to sharing them with others and from anything negative to everything that is positive.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 - Are you so concerned about the next life that you are not living fully this life?

To read the texts click on the texts: Dan 2:31-45; Lk 21:5-11

Luke follows Mark 13:1-8 quite closely in these verses, though he also makes some changes. 

While in Mark 13:1 Jesus comes out of the Temple and predicts its destruction when his disciples point to it magnificence, in Luke, Jesus is within the Temple when he predicts its destruction when some (not the disciples) speak of its magnificence (21:5-6). This is why unlike in Mark 13:3 he is not on the Mount of Olives opposite the Temple, but within its precincts when he is asked about when this will take place (21:7). 

Mark 13:3 has Peter, James, John and Andrew who ask this question; Luke has the people pose the question. Jesus responds by stating not the hour when this will take place, but by issuing a set of three warnings. 

The first warning is not to allow oneself to be led astray and be led into believing that the ones’ who come in his name are the Messiah. The meaning of this warning is broad and encompasses being led to sin, being taught false teachings, and being deceived regarding apocalyptic events.
 
The second warning follows the first: they must go after these false Messiahs. 

The third warning is not to be terrified when they hear of wars and insurrections, because they are part of God’s plan in bringing about the kingdom and must out of necessity happen before the final coming. 

In times of great danger, stress, and hardship it is natural for persons and communities of faith to turn to God and to the future for hope, for the promise of deliverance. However, idle preoccupation and speculation of what will happen at the end times is not called for. It is a distortion of the Gospel message of Jesus who asks that we concern ourselves not with gossip and guesswork, but in how we must do what we have to do in the present.  

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013 - Will you forego one meal this week and give what you save to someone less fortunate than you?

To read the texts click on the texts: Dan 1:1-6,8-20; Lk 21:1-4

Jesus’ comment on the widow’s offering follows immediately after his condemnation of the scribes, who “devour widow’s houses”. Luke omits most of Mark’s introduction to the widow’s offering (see Mark 12:41).

In the new scene, which Luke brings about by his comment that “He (Jesus) looked up and saw”, Luke introduces two sets of characters: the rich contributors and a poor widow. The action of both is the same. However, the size or amount of the gifts of the rich contributors is not mentioned, but it is explicitly stated that the widow put in two lepta, the smallest copper coins then in use. It would have taken 128 lepta to make one denarius, which was a day’s wage. Two lepta would therefore have been worthless. In a twist reminiscent of many of Jesus’ parables, Jesus states that the widow who put in what seems like a worthless amount has put in more than any of the rich contributors. The following statement clarifies how this could be. They contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty. They contributed gifts she contributed herself.

We are challenged by Jesus’ praise of the widow. When we give, do we give with complete devotion and selflessness that marked the widow’s gift or do we give expecting something in return? By what measures do we calculate our actions? By what standards do we judge ourselves and others?

Beyond the obvious, however, Jesus’ example teaches his disciples that part of seeking the kingdom requires vindicating the poor, the widows, and the orphans. Jesus recognized their inherent worth and called on the community to care for the weakest and neediest in their midst. He recognized that those who were often sustained by the gifts of others could themselves give gifts of great value. Without knowing it, the widow gave others a timeless example of selfless devotion to God.

Small gifts are often easily overlooked. Jesus, however, was able to SEE and RECOGNISE one of the neglected and her magnanimity.

The first observation that might be made about this scene is that Jesus noticed one of the neglected. By singling out the widow as exemplary, Jesus also rejected the subtle presumption that those who gave the great gifts were more important or better than the one whose gift was small because her means were limited.

In a society in which wealth is the measure of success and happiness, the wealthy are often esteemed and given special treatment, while the poor are judged as failures who could have done better if they had tried. A person’s value or worth as a human being is, therefore, measured by the evidence of his or her prosperity and possessions. Just as in the parables, Jesus’ pronouncement here reverses the norms and standards by which we are accustomed to living. He turns our world’s standards on their head. A widow or a homeless person’s gift to God or to others may be more important than the gifts of the wealthy.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

READ THE READINGS FOR THE FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING FOR THE ANSWERS - (NEW RSV TRANSLATION)

Across
3. Who was king before David?
5. Besides being ruler, what else would David be to the people?
7. Besides the leaders which other group mocked Jesus when he hung on the Cross?
Down
1. From which Gospel will we read for the feast of Christ the King this year?
2. To which Christian community is the Second Reading of today addressed?
3. From which Prophet is the First reading of today?
4. To which place did Jesus promise entry to one of those crucified with him?
6. At which place did all the tribes come to David?

Click here for the texts

Sunday, November 24, 2013 - CHRIST THE UNIVERSAL AND ETERNAL KING - What one action will you do today to show that you are readying to receive Christ the King?

To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Sam 5:1-3; Col 1:12-20; Lk 23:35-43

The feast of Christ the Eternal King was introduced through the encyclical Quas Primas – (“In the first”) of Pope Pius XI on December 11, 1925.  One main purpose of the encyclical was to communicate hope to a world which seemed to be giving into despair.  Another purpose was to give the world a whole new idea of kingship, dominion and authority. There could be no better model of kingship which the Church could put before the world than Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, the servant king.

This feast is celebrated every year on the last Sunday in Ordinary time. It brings to a close the Ordinary time of the liturgical year and it begins the preparation for Advent and the coming of the redeemer child at Christmas.

The readings for today all speak of Kingship. The first reading tells of the kingship of David who had been anointed king over Judah and now, over the northern tribes of Israel. Thus, David becomes king over all of Israel. However, even as he is anointed king, he is reminded of the kind of king that the Lord wants him to be, namely a Shepherd king. He began life as a shepherd of the flocks of his father.  Now, he is shepherd over the people. Like the shepherd looks after his flock and leads them, so David will look after his people and lead them. The anointing of David as king is not something done on a mere whim. It is the Lord who ordained it.  It is the Lord who said that David would be shepherd and rule over Israel. David had shown his care for his people when he led them out and brought them to the glory that they now experience.

The kingdom that God established in David promised newness. The shape of power in this kingdom will be governed by shepherding and covenant making. Israel’s future hope has, for the moment, become its present hope. This present hope was made even more visible when God chose and anointed Jesus to be king, not only over Israel but over the whole of humanity. Like David before him, Jesus would also be a shepherd of the people.  The covenant that he made with God would be a covenant on the Cross. It would be an eternal covenant, one that no amount of negatives could ever erase.
The Gospel text of today brings out this truth powerfully. Through the irony of the taunts of the leaders and soldiers, Luke highlights both Jesus’ real identity and the true meaning of his death. The leaders and soldiers think that they are ridiculing Jesus. They think that they are making fun of him.  However, even as they do this, they are unaware that this is exactly the kind of king that he has come to be.  Just as Jesus had taught that those who lose their lives for his sake would save them, so now he is willing to lose his life so that all might be saved. Jesus’ death did not contradict the Christological claims; it confirmed them. For him to have saved himself would have been a denial of his salvific role in the purposes of God. Both what is said and what is done at the cross, therefore, confirm the truth about the one who is crucified: He is the Christ, the King of the Jews, the Saviour of the World.

This salvation that Jesus effected on the Cross is made even more visible and more tangible in the response of Jesus to those crucified with him. Though rebuked by one of the thieves, Jesus does not react negatively. He is willing to accept even this taunt. The pronouncement that Jesus makes to the thief who asks for remembrance is solemn. It is the last of the six “Amen” sayings in Luke and the only one addressed to a person. It is also the last of the “Today” pronouncements. That “Amen” and “Today” have been used together is an indication that the pronouncement is emphatic and that there is to be no delay.  What Jesus promises will happen now.

The salvation pronounced to one of the thieves on the Cross is also the salvation being pronounced to each of us who are willing to receive it. This is because, through his passion and death, Jesus has rescued us, as the letter to the Colossians points out.  He has rescued us from the power of darkness and sin.  He has transferred us into the kingdom of light and all that is good. It is therefore, in the visible image of Jesus Christ that we can comprehend who God is and what God wants to do for each of us. God wants the whole of creation to be reconciled in Jesus. God wants all of creation to be saved in the shepherd and self-sacrificing king.


As we come to the close of another liturgical year, and as we prepare to welcome Christ our eternal king, we need to realize that our king can come only if we are willing to open our hearts and minds wide to receive him. We can do this by removing from our minds and hearts anything that will prevent us from receiving and accepting him. We can do this by removing selfishness and self-centeredness that makes us seek only our own good rather than the good of others. We can do this by reaching out in love and forgiveness as he did, even when on the Cross. Will we ready our minds and hearts to receive our King?

Friday, 22 November 2013

LIVING GOD


Saturday, November 23, 2013 - If you were told that your life after death would be determined by the life you live now, what changes would you make in this life?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Macc 6:1-13; Lk 20:27-40
The Sadducees were a group of Jews who did not believe in the resurrection. The question they ask Jesus assumes the practice of Levirate marriage, where according to Deut 25:5, the brother of a deceased man was to take his brother’s widow as his wife. The Sadducees extend the situation to the point of ridicule by speaking of seven brothers who marry the same woman. The question is whose wife she would be in the resurrection. While in Mark, Jesus first rebukes the Sadducees, in Luke he begins to teach them immediately. Jesus’ response is that life in the resurrection will not simply be a continuation of the life, as we know it now.

In the second part of his response, Jesus calls the attention of the Sadducees to the familiar story of the burning bush, in which the point is that God is not God of the dead but of the living.


Jesus’ words on life after death reveal a God who created human life and has also provided for life after death for those who have cultivated the capacity to respond to God’s love. The biblical teaching is that life comes from God. There is nothing in or of the human being that is naturally or inherently immortal. If there is life beyond death, it is God’s gift to those who have accepted God’s love and entered into relationship with God in this life: They “are children of God, being children of the resurrection”. Our responsibility to the privilege of life that God has given us is to live every moment as fully as we can without having regrets about what could have been or obsession with what will be.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

THE TRANSFORMATION OF GOD'S HOUSE


Friday, November 22, 2013 - If the Lord were to come to the Temple of your heart, would he find selling and buying or would he find himself there?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Macc 4:36-37,52-59; Lk 19:45-48

The cleansing of the temple is one of the few incidents that are narrated by all four Gospels. However, the distinctiveness of Luke’s account stands out more clearly when it is compared with Mark. In Marks account, Jesus enters Jerusalem and the temple, and then withdraws for the night to Bethany. 

In contrast, Luke has Jesus proceed directly to the Temple. The cleansing in Luke is greatly abbreviated, omitting Mark’s references to those who were buying, overturning the tables, selling doves and forbidding anyone to carry anything through the Temple. While in Mark Jesus’ action is part of his prophetic announcement of the destruction of the temple, in Luke, the cleansing prepares his “father’s house” to serve as the site for Jesus’ teaching in the following section (19:47 – 21:38). While in Mark Jesus leaves the Temple definitively after the cleansing, in Luke, Jesus continues to teach in the Temple even after the incident. Since the people were spellbound by the words of Jesus, the chief priests, scribes and the leaders could do nothing to him. 

The related scenes of Jesus weeping over the city (Lk 19:41-44) and driving out the merchants from the Temple speak poignantly of God’s judgement on human sinfulness. These are passages heavy with pathos and tragedy. Jesus weeps, laments, and sounds warnings that fall on deaf ears. 
Will we hear that call today?

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013 - The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Is Jesus pointing to you as his brother/sister? If yes, Why? If no, why not?

To read the texts click on the texts: Zech 2:14-17; Mt 12:46-50

The feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is associated with an event recounted not in the New Testament, but in the apocryphal Infancy Narrative of James. According to that text, Mary's parents, Joachim and Anne, who had been childless, received a heavenly message that they would bear a child. In thanksgiving for the gift of their daughter, they brought her, when still a child, to the Temple in Jerusalem to consecrate her to God. Mary remained in the Temple until puberty, at which point she was assigned to Joseph as guardian. Later versions of the story (such as the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and the Gospel of the Nativity of Mary) tell us that Mary was taken to the Temple at around the age of three in fulfilment of a vow. Tradition held that she was to remain there to be educated in preparation for her role as Mother of God.

The Gospel text chosen for the feast 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. 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

FIDELITY IN LITTLE THINGS FIRST


Wednesday, November 20, 2013 - How will I show through my life that I have opted for Jesus the king?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Macc 7:1, 21-30; Lk 19:11-28

The parable in the text of today is from the common source of Matthew and Luke known as “Q”. However, Matthew (Mt 25:14-30) presents it differently. While in Matthew there are three servants who are given five talents (a talent was equivalent to 20 years wages for a common labourer), two and one talent respectively, in Luke there are ten servants who are given one mina each (a mina was about three months wages for a common labourer). The amounts in Luke are much smaller than in Matthew. Though there are ten servants, we are told only about three. The first of the three has earned ten minas with the one he was given, the second has earned five and so these are given charge of ten and five cities respectively. The third returns the mina to the king because he was afraid of him and knew him to be a harsh man. After berating the man for not putting the mina into the bank, which would have earned interest, the king commands that his mina be given to the one who already has ten.


The point, which Luke seems to make in this parable, is that responses to Jesus the king have a decisive role in human destiny, for responses to him determine life and death. There is no “safe” position. The only road to success is to take risks as taken by the first two servants.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013- What one action will you perform to show that you have repented TODAY?

To read the texts click on the text: 1 Macc 6:18-21; Lk 19:1-10

The story of Zacchaeus’ encounter with Jesus is exclusive to the Gospel of Luke and is the last encounter of Jesus with outcasts before he enters Jerusalem. It takes place when Jesus is passing through Jericho and on his way to Jerusalem. Zacchaeus is the name of the tax collector who Luke informs us is “rich” (19:2). He desires to see Jesus, but there are obstacles to his desire. The first is the crowd and the second is his own short stature. These are interconnected. If there were no crowd, his short stature would not have mattered and if he were tall the crowd would not have mattered. Zacchaeus does not allow thses to hinder him and does what no grown man at his time would do: he runs. Worse: he climbs a tree. Through this Luke indicates that Zacchaeus was willing to face ridicule and being mocked by the crowd in order to do what he had set about to do. He gives up his self-importance and dignity, because all that matters to him is to see and encounter Jesus. When Jesus comes to the place where Zacchaeus he asks him to hurry and come down. Zacchaeus obeys instantly. 

The reaction of the crowd is to grumble that Jesus would go to the house of a sinner. Zacchaeus on the other hand responds with generosity and uses the visit of Jesus to redeem himself. Jesus responds by confirming Zacchaeus’ status as a “son of Abraham”, not because he was born one, but because of his repentance. In the last verse of the story, Jesus pronounces salvation on the house of Zacchaeus and reaffirms his own mission as Son of man: to seek and save the lost.


The desire of Zacchaeus to see Jesus is a genuine one. He shows it is genuine by his willingness to overcome any obstacles that come in the way of his seeing. He is willing to persevere and do all that is required of him. His perseverance is rewarded by his meeting Jesus and being transformed by him.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

THE LORD ASKS. WHAT WILL YOU ANSWER?


Monday, November 18, 2013 - What is it that prevents me from seeing good in others? Do I want to receive back my sight?

To read the texts click on the texts:1 Maccabees 1:10-15,41-43,54-57,62-64; Lk 18:35-43

The text of today is also found in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, but whereas in Matthew there are two blind men and in Mark the name of the blind man is Bartimaeus, in Luke there is one blind man who is not named. However, what is common to all three Gospels is that the blind man/men cries out to Jesus with a messianic title, “Son of David”, and perseveres in his plea despite being told by the people to quiet down. Though the question that Jesus asks the blind man seems redundant, it is necessary for Jesus to ask the question to indicate his respect for the freedom of the man. While on the physical level the man is blind, on the spiritual level he has insight because despite his physical blindness, he is able to recognise that Jesus of Nazareth is also the Messiah, which those who have physical sight are not able to do. Jesus attributes the recovery of his sight to his faith.


We might tend sometimes to close our eyes to the good that there is in others, and we might also prefer to close our eyes to the injustice that we see around us. We might close our eyes to the suffering of people around us and we might prefer to close our eyes to the needs of others. Having eyes we might prefer not to see.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

THE READINGS OF SUNDAY ARE TO BE READ CAREFULLY TO FILL IN THE BLANKS - READ THE NEW RSV VERSION

Across
2. To which community of Christians is the Second reading of today addressed?
3. Which quality will gain the ‘souls’ of the disciples according to the Gospel?
7. Besides prisons where else will the disciples of Jesus be handed over?
Down
1. Besides kings before whom will the disciples be brought for judgement?
4. With which quality will the Lord bless the disciples that their opponents will not be able to withstand or contradict?
5. Like which animal will the righteous go out leaping from their stalls according to the first reading?
6. From which Prophet is the First reading of today taken?

Sunday, November 17, 2013 - THIRTY SUNDAY OF THE YEAR - ARE YOU PREPARING TO RECEIVE THE KING? HOW?

To read the texts click on the texts: Mal 3:19-20; 2 Thess 3:7-12; Lk 21:5-19

One Sunday before the end of the liturgical year, when we ready ourselves to receive Christ the Eternal King, the Church invites us, through the readings of today, to reflect on our preparedness for the coming of the king. Even as she does so, the Church does not expect that we will only gaze into the future.  Rather, she expects that we will realize that it is our present that determines our future. On the one hand, this Sunday’s readings focus on the future coming of the Lord and the end times.  On the other hand, the readings point out that our future is in the present and we must live that present fully so that we will do the same with our future.

The expectation of something that is unknown can bring up two kinds of feelings in the hearts of the ones expecting. For those who expect that the coming event will result in some reward, the feelings will be of joy, hope, and expectation. For those who expect that the coming event will bring judgement and maybe punishment, the feelings will be of fear, trepidation, and apprehension.

These are the feelings that Malachi speaks about in the first reading of today. He states that the day that is coming will bring, for the arrogant and the evildoers, judgement and punishment. It will be a day that will burn them. However, for the righteous, he states that it will be a day of joy and hope. It will be a day of healing and elation.

These are also the feelings that Jesus addresses in the Gospel text of today which is part of Luke’s Eschatological Discourse. The disciples might tend to get frightened, even terrified, when they hear about the last things. They might tend to fear when calamities befall them, but they are not to do so. They must remain unfazed by the events that signal what might seem like the end time. What is required from them is endurance and perseverance. What is required of them is fearlessness and courage. The reason for this is that the end time will be for them, a day of vindication and victory. It will be a day of triumph and accomplishment. Even in the face of all odds and evidence to the contrary, they are called to believe.

Through these instructions, Jesus offers his disciples, not a way of predicting the end of the world, but a strategy to use so that whenever that day comes, they will be ready. Consequently, the disciples have to focus, not so much on what is to come and when it will come but, on what they have to accomplish at the present moment, in the here and now.

Paul’s exhortation to the Thessalonians in the second reading of today says just this. Paul sets himself up an example of what it means to do what one has to do in the here and now. Paul worked night and day, doing what he was called to do. He was not a burden to anyone. He did not engage in idle speculation about the future and what it might bring.  He lived and worked in the present moment.

The challenge to live fully the teachings of Jesus and to bear the consequences of such a life continues to confront us today. It is easy to speculate about the future or to project a “pie-in-the sky-when-you-die” to those who are undergoing adversity. However, to face these challenges squarely is another matter.

Is there a plausible response that the readings’ of today give to those for whom life seems, at most times, a burden? Do the readings of today address the problems of how we must handle difficulties when they come our way? Do the readings of today give us an insight into how we are to prepare for the Lord’s coming? The answer to all these questions is a resounding “yes”.

First, life is only as burdensome as we want it to be. One important reason why life becomes burdensome is because we often live in the future rather than in the present. We keep thinking about what we could have rather than what we do have. We fret about wanting more rather than using what we have joyfully. This is why Jesus tells his disciples not to be led astray and look for salvation in this or that fad or this or that thing. Salvation comes only from the Lord.

Difficulties in life are only difficulties if they are seen as such. We can instead look on them as opportunities to show that we can persevere. We can look on them to show that, no matter what the difficulty might be, our response will be one of courage and fearlessness. We can look on them and know that, even in the face of the most severe persecution which may even result in death, not a hair of our head will perish.


Thus, as we get ready to welcome Christ our eternal King, the readings of today invite us to see that it is Christ, present in the here and now, not Christ who is expected in the future who continues to shape and inspire our lives. He is not a king of the morrow or of later, but a king of today, a king of now.

Friday, 15 November 2013

GOD IS ALWAYS ON TIME


Saturday, November 16, 2013 - Do you give in too easily when your prayers are unanswered? What keeps you from persevering in prayer?

To read the texts click on the texts: Wis 18:14-16;19:6-9; Lk 18:1-8

This is a parable found only in the Gospel of Luke. While some focus on the judge and term it as the Parable of the Unjust Judge, others focus on the widow and so call it the Parable of the Persistent Widow. Luke introduces this parable as a parable on prayer. The judge is described as a man “who neither feared God nor had any respect for people” (18:2). It is difficult to imagine how such a man can be worthy of being a judge. The widow is introduced as someone who is going repeatedly to the judge for justice. The text does not state the nature of her complaint, nor does it tell us why the judge refused to listen to her for a while (18:3-4). The judge finally relents and decides to grant her justice, because the woman is constantly bothering her and because he does not want to be worn out by her constant petitions.

If one focuses on the judge, then the point of the parable is that if the judge who was unjust could grant the woman justice, then God who is just and judge over all will surely heed the cries of those who call on him.

If on the other hand the focus is on the widow, then the parable calls for persistence in asking and not giving up or giving in.
The final verse of this section ends with a question from the Lucan Jesus about whether he will find faith on earth when he comes. Since Luke introduces the parable as one, which speaks about persistence and constant asking, he may have felt the need to end with the question of faith.


Prayer can and does “change” the mind and heart of God.