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Monday, 30 June 2014

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 - Have the “storms” of your life sometimes overwhelmed you? Will you believe that with Jesus in the boat of your life these can be controlled?

To read the texts click on the texts:Amos 3:1-8;4:11-12; Mt 8:23-27

The miracle in our text for today known sometimes as the Calming of The Storm is found also in Mark (4:35-41) and Luke (8:22-25). It is only Matthew, however, who emphasises that the disciples “followed Jesus into the boat”. The miracle is not only a nature miracle but also a story told to indicate that Jesus has control over the storms of life itself. In Matthew the “storm” indicates the stormy experience of the community (represented by the disciples in the boat) who follow Jesus. While in Mark the cry is one of distress (“Teacher do you not care if we perish?”), in Matthew, it is a liturgical-sounding cry for help (Save, Lord; we are perishing). In both Mark and Luke the reprimand about “little faith” is after Jesus has calmed the storm, whereas in Matthew, the reprimand precedes the calming. This is an indication that “faith” is primary, and if the disciples had the faith needed, they would not be agitated.


We may sometimes get disturbed and agitated when things do not happen the way we expect them to or when we are faced with a difficult situation. At times like the disciples in the Gospel of Mark we may accuse Jesus of not being concerned about our plight and at other times like the disciples in the Gospel of Matthew we may plead with him to come to our aid. No matter which approach we may use, we need to remember that he will let nothing happen to us that is not part of his plan and will. We have to continue to do what is required of as and confidently leave the rest to him.

Know where your authority ends

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Monday, June 30, 2014 - What excuses have you been giving to the call to follow Jesus? What will you do about them today?

To read the texts click on the texts:Amos 2:6-10,13-16; Mt 8:18-22

Today’s text follows immediately after the first three miracles of Matthew’s Miracle Cycle. In the first three miracles, the disciples are not mentioned at all and the focus is solely on the authority of Jesus. The text of today and the miracles that follow emphasise discipleship. 
The scribe who addresses Jesus in the text of today is clearly not a disciple because of the term he uses to address Jesus, namely “Teacher”. In Matthew, only disciples address Jesus as Lord. The scribe is informed through Jesus’ response that firstly Jesus is the one who will take the initiative to call and secondly that his priorities need to be changed. The life to which Jesus calls will need a reversal of priorities. To the second disciple, Jesus’ response seems hard and brusque. Some interpret this to mean that the spiritually dead must be left to bury the physically dead. However, the point is that absolutely nothing can come in the way of Jesus’ call.


Following Jesus on Mission means become an “other-centred” person from being self-centred. It will mean giving up the Ego and placing the other’s need before my own. It may mean giving up what one holds dear and near. It is an unconditional following. 

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Sunday, June 29, 2014 - Saints Peter and Paul



To read the texts click on the texts:



There is an old story about the death of St. Peter in Rome during the persecution of Nero. Peter heard about Nero's plan to burn the city and blame the Christians. He figured as the one who presided over the church in the city he would be arrested and put to death. So he did the sensible thing - Peter was always a sensible man - he got out of town, and at night. The Appian Way was dark for awhile as Peter snuck down it. However, as the night wore on the sky was illuminated by the flames rising from the city. Peter hurried on and eventually was far enough away from the city that it was dark again. Then he saw someone coming in the opposite direction, someone who even at night seemed familiar. It was the Lord himself. What was he doing out at night and walking towards Rome? “Where are you going, Lord?” Peter asked him. “To Rome”, Jesus replied, “to be crucified again in your place”. Peter turned around and returned to Rome and according to tradition was crucified there. 

Though this story does not agree with what is narrated in the first reading of today from the Acts of the Apostles, in which we are told that Peter was imprisoned, it does agree with what the Gospels narrate about Peter’s denials, and brings out an important facet of the meaning of the feast: Jesus did not choose strong, brave and courageous individuals to continue the work that he had begun. He chose weak, frail and cowardly humans. He chose individuals who would falter and fail. This is the Peter who confessed Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the Living God” and to whom the Jesus handed over the “keys” of the Church, knowing full well that there would be times when the lofty confession would turn into a base denial. 

Paul’s conversion story is narrated twice in the Acts of the Apostles and Paul himself speaks of it in some of his letters. His commission as an apostle of Christ began with a divine revelation of the identity of the Lord Jesus. He reports the events surrounding his recognition of Jesus as the Lord of glory and his appointment as apostle to the gentiles. Felled to the ground by a brilliant light from heaven and hearing a reproachful voice addressing him by name his first need was to know who it was who broke into his life with such awe-inspiring power. Just as Jesus told Peter that he would assign to him the charge of leading his Church once the Peter recognized his master's true identity, so also Paul's task was given to him only after Jesus revealed himself as the glorified Lord. 

The apostles' mission thus grew out of their loving knowledge of the person of Jesus, the Son of the living God. Their work, indeed their whole life, was to follow from this surpassing knowledge of Christ which became the basis of all their dealing with others. They were given to the whole Church to teach us not only what Christ revealed and taught but also how to live as he himself had put into practice the things willed by the Father.

Today we marvel at the transformation of these previously weak human leaders. Peter’s newfound passionate commitment to his Lord and to the fledgling church resulted in his imprisonment. Paul too was jailed. He did not see this as failure, but as the destiny that was his in consequence of his commitment to the Gospel. He had fought the good fight, he had run the race, and he had kept the faith. He faced death, and he knew it. That was the price they had to pay for their commitment and fidelity to the Lord.

Their personalities were very different, their approaches to spreading the Faith were very different, and their relationships with Christ were very different. Although the two were both Apostles, there were moments of disagreement and conflict between them. And yet, they are bound together on this single feast, as they were bound together by the one Faith, confessing the one Lord, shedding their blood for him and his mission of peace, justice and love.

Within the recent past, the church has been tossed to and fro in storms of controversy. Not one storm, but many storms, and not in one country, but in many countries. It has been the target of fierce persecution from without, and it has also allowed evil to corrupt it from within. Whether in circumstances of harassment or scandal, the lives of many have been diminished, their confidence undermined and their faith tested.

Without minimizing the suffering in our current situations, we should remember that dire trials are really not new to the church. From its very beginning it has faced opposition. The first reading for today’s feast describes one such situation. 

Despite its trials, however, the church has survived and even flourished. This is not due to the strength and holiness of its members. Though Jesus told Peter that the church would be built upon him, the church’s real foundation was and continues to be Jesus Christ its Lord. He is the one who commissioned Peter; he is the one who assures the church of protection. He is the one who stood by Paul and gave him strength to bring the Gospel to the broader world. The church may have been built on Peter the former denier and spread by Paul the former persecutor, but it is the church of Jesus Christ, and it will endure because of his promise.

Today we celebrate the fidelity of Peter and Paul, sinners like us all. Initially, they were both found wanting. When they eventually repented, they were forgiven by God in Christ. Though they faced persecution, their commitment to Christ gave them the courage they needed. Their victory is evidence that the truth will overcome untruth, light will overcome darkness and life will overcome death. Their victory is evidence that we shall indeed overcome.

Saturday, June 28, 2014 - The Immaculate Heart of Mary

To read the texts click on the texts: Isaiah61:9-11; Lk 2:41-51

The Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is celebrated on the Saturday following the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to show the close connection between Mary and her beloved Son. This means that every year the feast is celebrate on the Saturday before the third Sunday following the fest of Pentecost.
The Immaculate heart of Mary is a symbol used to represent the interior and exterior life of Mary. It is used to represent her joys and sorrows, her trials and strength, her love for her God shown through her determined yes and her love for all humanity shown in and through the love for her Son.

The Gospel text chosen for the feast is popularly known as “The Finding in the Temple” and is taken to mean the finding of Jesus. However, a close look will indicate that Jesus was never lost. He always knew where he was and where he was supposed to be. It was Mary and Joseph who were lost without their son.


This text is found only in the Gospel of Luke and gives us an insight into the childhood of Jesus. It also indicates the awareness of Jesus even at this young age of who he was and his relationship with the Father. Even as it does this it also brings out powerfully the relentless search of Mary for her son. He was the centre of her life and she would not rest until she found him. What we are searching for reveals a great deal about who we are.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Saturday, June 28, 2014 - Does Jesus Christ have faith in you?

To read the texts click on the texts: Lam 2:2.10-14,18-19; Mt 8:5-17

The text of today contains the healing of the Centurion’s servant and the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law. The healing of the Centurion’s servant is also found in Luke (7,1-10) and John but with variations. While in Luke the centurion never makes an appearance personally, in Matthew he addresses Jesus as “Lord”, which is an address only believers use in Matthew. The response of Jesus to the Centurion’s need is seen by some as a question rather than a statement, “I should come and heal him?” This is in keeping with Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus who is sent as Messiah only for the lost sheep of Israel (10,5-6) and not for Gentiles. The Centurion is not deterred by Jesus’ question, and responds with faith. The healing takes place from a distance. The focus, however, is not on the miracle but on the faith of the centurion and through his faith the faith of “unbelievers”. The centurion does not claim to have faith. It is Jesus who testifies to his faith.


We can get deterred and lose our focus when things do not go the way we want them to. At these times we may blame our family, our neighbours and even God. The Centurion’s attitude is a lesson to us never to get deterred from what we have to do and continue to keep our sights fixed on what we want to achieve confident that our perseverance will pay rich dividends.

Friday, June 27, 2014 - MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS

To read the texts click on the texts:

The Feast of the Sacred Heart (properly the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus) is a solemnity in the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church. It falls 19 days after Pentecost, on a Friday. The earliest possible date is 29 May, as in 1818 and 2285. The latest possible date is 2 July, as in 1943 and 2038.

Though devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus can be clearly traced back at least to the 11th Century where it marked the spirituality of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, it spread throughout the world after the visions of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-90). In one of the visions, Christ asked St. Margaret to request that the feast be celebrated on the Friday after the Octave of the feast of Corpus Christi.

What does the Feast of the Sacred Heart mean today? First the heart is a symbol of the person and so the Sacred Heart of Jesus represents the whole Christ who is and will always be unconditional and eternal love. This love of Christ is given freely, without reservation and measure to all who open themselves to receive it. Second, the feast reminds us of the constant care and concern that God has even now for each one of us and the whole Universe. By celebrating the feast we make present the self sacrifice of Jesus for all humankind. Our God is a God ‘with us and for us’. God is Emmanuel. Third, the feast of the Sacred Heart reminds us of the intimate connection between the Sacrament of the Eucharist and devotion to the Sacred Heart. Just as in the Eucharist we receive the real, whole and risen Christ, so in the devotion that we profess to the Sacred Heart we relive this encounter.


The feast is thus not only a privilege and grace, but also carries with it a responsibility. First, the love that we receive from the Sacred Heart of Jesus is not a private possession, but one that must be shared with all. Just as the Father makes no distinction and makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good (Mt 5:45), so must we in our sharing of the love of Christ. Second, the concern that God has for us and our Universe must be a concern which we must show to our world. The wanton destruction of nature, excessive and abusive use of scarce resources like water, indiscriminate cutting of trees for selfish gain, unlawful and criminal killing of wild animals are signs that we are working against God’s concern. If God cares for us so much, must we not care for our world? Third, the intimate connection of the Sacred Heart and Eucharist reminds us that just as Christ is so easily available to us, we must also be to each other. The Eucharist and the feast of the Sacred Heart ought not to be private and passive devotions, but celebrations that make us ready to reach out in service and availability to anyone who needs us.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Faith

Friday, June 27, 2014 - In your prayer do you express the confidence that the leper in the story expresses? If No, why not?

To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Kings 25:1-12; Mt 8:1-4

We begin reading today in the liturgy and will continue for the whole of next week from Chapters 8 and 9 of the Gospel of Matthew. These Chapters contain what is known as the “Miracle Cycle” of Matthew, because in them we find ten miracles in series of three miracles each. The fact that the Miracle Cycle follows immediately after the Sermon on the Mount and both are framed by a summary statement in 4:23 and 9:35 is an indication that Matthew’s intention is to show through such a placement that Jesus is the Messiah in words (through the Sermon on the Mount) and deeds (through the Miracle Cycle).

The healing of a leper, which is our text for today, is also found in the Gospels of Mark and Luke, but where Mark narrates the emotional reactions of Jesus, Matthew and Luke omit them. The term leprosy was used for any kind of skin disease, and those with such kind of diseases were considered as unclean and not allowed to be part of society. They had to live on the outskirts of the city, and had to make their presence known whenever they entered the city, so that others could avoid any kind of contact with them and so not get contaminated.

The leper addresses Jesus as Lord, which is a title used only by believers in the Gospel of Matthew. In this miracle, Jesus not only heals the leper, but also reaches out and touches him. This probably means that Jesus cannot be contaminated or made unclean by anything from outside. It could also indicate Jesus’ wanting to reach out to the leper in a personal manner and treat him as a full human being.


The prayer of the leper is a lesson for each one of us on the meaning of prayer. In his prayer the leper both acknowledges his dependence on Jesus through the words, “If you will” and also has faith in the ability of Jesus to heal through the words, “you can make me clean”. Prayer means to acknowledge our dependence on God and also to have faith that God can do what to us may seem impossible.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Actions and Words

Thursday, June 26, 2014 - Do your actions speak louder than your words?

To read the texts click on the texts:2 Kings 24:8-17; Mt 7:21-29

While the Sermon on the Mount began with Jesus calling his disciples to him and sitting down like a Rabbi to begin to teach them (5:1-2), it ends with Jesus addressing the crowds as a prophet (7:29). The last part of the Sermon, which forms our text for today, is about action rather than words. Prophesying in the Lord’s name will be of no help if one is not willing TO DO the will of God. The examples of the one who built his/her house on rock and the one who built his/her house on sand reiterate this point. The Sermon calls everyone to action.


If the foundation of our lives is strong, then what we build on it will also be strong. If we have a strong sense of values and know what our priorities are in life, we can continue to be focussed on what we have to do.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Pointing Fingers

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 - Is your being good? What will you do to make it better?

To read the texts click on the texts:2 Kings 22:8-13; 23:1-3; Mt 7:15-20 

The text of today is from the latter part of the Sermon on the Mount. In it Jesus asks his listeners to focus on the internal i.e. the heart from which everything else flows. If the heart is pure than everything that a person does or says will also be pure. The external is only an expression of the internal. A person's actions or words flow from what is in his/her heart.


Our actions do not often coincide with our words, because we do not always mean what we say. Sometimes we say one thing and do another. There is a dichotomy between our words and actions. We are called to synchronise the two.

Monday, 23 June 2014

What thing moves you?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 - Will you speak God’s word to at least one person today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 49:1-6; Acts 13:22-26; Lk 1:57-66,80

The Birth of Saint John the Baptist is celebrated on June 24 each year. The reason for this is the mention in the Gospel of Luke that Elizabeth was in her sixth month when the Announcement was made to Mary (Lk 1:36) about the birth of Jesus. Thus if Christmas is celebrated on December 25 each year, John the Baptist who was the son of Elizabeth and Zechariah had to have been born six months before Jesus.

According to some, John is born when the days are longest (June 24), and from his birth on they grow steadily shorter. Jesus is born when the days are shortest (December 25), and from his birth on they grow steadily longer. John speaks truly when he says of Jesus, "He must increase, but I must decrease." (Jn 3:30).

The Gospel text of today is from the Gospel of Luke. Luke does not give us too many details about the birth of John, and he narrates it with a short sentence. He focuses more on the events that follow the birth and, through them, show that God’s word spoken through the angel, Gabriel, is being fulfilled. Elizabeth does bear a son and the people rejoice at the birth because of the great mercy shown by God.

Circumcision of the child on the eight day was in accord with Gen 17:9-14 where God makes circumcision on the eight day a sign of the covenant with Abraham. It was the father who normally named the child and, in doing so, recognized the child as his own. Sometimes, the child was named after the father, especially if the father was a person who was highly esteemed. Objections were raised to the name “John” (“God had been gracious”), chosen by Elizabeth. That the people made signs to Zechariah to ask him what he wanted to name the child indicates that, besides being dumb, he was also deaf. The moment Zechariah writes the name “John” on a writing tablet, Zechariah regains his speech. Once again, God’s word comes to pass. The fear and amazement with which the people respond to these happenings is an indication that they experienced God’s awesome power. The question that the people ask, about what the child would turn out to be, is answered in summary form by Luke when he ends this narrative by stating that “the hand of the Lord was with him.”


God’s word is a word of power and will come to pass, no matter how many obstacles we may put in its way. It is a word that enhances and builds up, a word that gives life. To be sure, we may not always be able to understand and accept it for what it is, but in the final analysis, it is always a word that is for our good and for his glory.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 - How will you show that you have chosen the narrow gate?

To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Kings 19:9-11,14-21,31-36; Mt 7:6,12-14

The first verse of today (7:5) introduces a new subject: holiness. The point that seems to be made here is that holy things have their place and should not be profaned. 7:12 has often been termed, as the Golden rule, which the Matthean Jesus states, is a summary of the law and prophets. Here it is stated positively. One must treat others in the same way that one expects to be treated. This also means that one must take the initiative in doing the loving thing that does not wait to respond to the action of another. In the final two verses of this pericope (7:13-14) the point being made is that it is the narrow gate that leads to life and salvation and the broad or wide gate to damnation. One must make a choice for one or another.

We wish that people would be kind and understanding with us but we are seldom kind and understanding towards them. Often the behaviour that we find revolting in others is the behaviour we ourselves are guilt of. When we criticise others for being too harsh, we need to ask whether we have not been so.


The words that you use to complete this sentence will give you a fairly good idea of how you treat others: People are usually ……………………

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Who is that person???

Monday, June 23, 2014 - Do you know that when you point a finger at someone there are three fingers pointing back at you?

To read the texts click on the texts:2 Kings 17:5-8,13-15,18; Mt 7:1-5

The absolute prohibition of judgement found in 7,1 is unparalleled in Jewish tradition. When the individual comes to stand before God for judgement, he/she will be judged according to the measure that he/she has used for others. Those who have been merciful will receive mercy. One must be aware that one is not in any superior position, which gives one the right to judge others. If one is aware of one’s own weakness and frailty then one will be careful of pointing out the faults of others.


Judging others comes too easily to some and often we judge only by externals. It is important to realise that it is possible that we might not be aware of all the reasons why a person behaves in a particular manner and so mistaken in our judgement. If we can give the benefit of the doubt to the person concerned and find reasons for his/her behaviour we will have done well.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Sunday, June 22, 2014 - CORPUS CHRISTI - THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST

To read the texts click on the texts: Deut8:2-3, 14b-16a; 1 Cor 10:16-17; Jn 6:51-58

A team of Russians and Americans were on a common expedition. Among their cabin foodstuff was Russian black bread. It was tasty but hard on the teeth. During a meal an American bit into a piece and snapped a tooth. He threw the bread overboard and growled: “Lousy Communist bread.” The Russian countered: “It is not lousy communist bread, but a shaky capitalist tooth.” Some of us may complain in a similar manner about the Eucharist being useless. However, if we do not experience the transforming power of the Eucharist it is not on account of the Eucharist but on account of our shaky faith and lack of understanding of what the Eucharist really means.

The feast of Corpus Christi is usually thought to be the feast of the Eucharist and while this is certainly true, it would be a mistake to restrict the understanding of the feast to the ritual of the Eucharist. The feast goes beyond the ritual to life itself, just as the Eucharist does.

The Eucharist is both a sacrament and a sacrifice. The Eucharist is a sacrament, an outward sign in and through which we meet Christ who shares his life of grace with us. Through signs of bread and wine he nourishes and strengthens us for our journey through life. We see with human eyes what looks like bread and wine. We see with eyes of faith, not bread and wine, but the risen, living Lord Jesus.

The Eucharist is a sacrifice, the representation or reliving of Christ’s sacrificial death on Good Friday and of his Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

The scripture readings today stress how God made a covenant with His people, first through Moses and then, finally and forever, through Christ, a covenant sealed and ratified by his blood. This covenant or bond of love between God and us is renewed and deepened through and in every Eucharist or Mass.

The second reading today, from Paul, is the earliest recorded story of anything Jesus did. And that earliest story is about a meal, the Last Supper, which Jesus shared with his disciples. In a very particular way, he made that meal a way to remember him. It brings forward his sacrifice and death and resurrection, his fellowship and unity with us, and everything he taught us. And he did not want his followers to eat it just once that night but to do it again and again, so that we continue to remember.

St Augustine often stressed to his parishioners a unique quality of the Eucharistic food. The ordinary food we eat, he says, becomes part of us. We are what we eat. But partaking of the Eucharist, we become part of Jesus, We become more Christ like, more patient and kind, more forgiving and understanding. We still live our ordinary daily lives, but it is Our Lord who inspires our attitudes and actions.  We begin to see people and events through his eyes, to think as he did. When Jesus was on this earth, he used his own hands to reach out to people, but when he wants to feed the poor today, he uses my hands, your hands to do this.

Surely, we hunger and thirst for something new, when we share in the grief, anger, misery and neglect of the impoverished, the unjustly accused, and victims of violence caused by religious intolerance, ethnic hatred, terrorism and racism. We are hungry indeed for peace and thirsty for reconciliation in this our troubled world. We are hungry and thirsty for a new world, a world where we will look one another in the eye and recognize the kinship of sisters and brothers who are all children of God. The promise of this new world is set forth in the strongest possible terms when Jesus declares, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me and I in them…”


This feast, then, of the Body of Christ, sums up three important confessions of our faith. First, and most important, God became physically present in the person of Christ – true God and true Man. Secondly; God continues to be present in His people as they form the Mystical Body of Christ in his Church. And, thirdly, God becomes present in the form of bread and wine on the altar at Mass. Eucharist, then, should not remain simply a “going to” or “taking of” that begins and ends in the sanctuary. It should become the deepest expression of our communion with Christ.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Saturday, June 21, 2014 - How often do I try to be in two places at the same time or at two times in the same place?

To read the texts click on the texts:2 Chron 24:17-25; Mt 6:24-34

The text of today begins by stating a general rule that undivided attention can be given to one person alone at a time. If there is more than one, then the disciple’s loyalty is certainly split. One must decide whether one will allow oneself to be controlled by wealth and the things of this world, or whether one will realise that they cannot bring true happiness. The prohibition, “Do not worry” dominates the rest of this pericope and is used six times in it. The call to look at nature (the birds of the air and the lilies of the field) is a call to learn how God in his providence provides for them. This does not mean that human beings do not have to work for their living, rather it means that even after working as hard as they can, humans must realise the life is much more than simply work and earning a living. It has also to do with being.


There are indeed many distractions in life, which sometimes can take us away from where we ought to look and focus. While planning is good and desirable, what is undesirable is useless worry or anxiety. When we stir the sugar in our coffee or tea every morning we are already thinking of drinking it. When we are drinking our coffee or tea, we are already thinking of washing the cup. When we are washing our cup, we are already thinking or drying it When we are drying it, we are already thinking of placing it on the rack and when we are placing it on the rack we are already thinking of what we have to do next. We have not stirred the sugar, nor have we have drunk the coffee, nor have we washed it nor placed it on the rack. If one takes one moment of one day at a time and gives of one’s best to that moment, life will be well lived.