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Thursday, 31 December 2015

Friday, January 1, 2016 - Mary Mother of God, the giving of the name of Jesus and New Year's day

To read the texts click on the texts: Num 6:22-27, Gal 4:4-7, Lk2:16-21

The first day of the New Year brings with it many thoughts, feelings and emotions. The fact that it is January and named after the Roman god Janus with two faces already indicates that it brings with it a looking back and a looking ahead.
Thus it is a day for retrospection and introspection and also a day for planning and goal setting. The retrospection must be with a view to help the planning and goal setting and not an exercise in condemnation of oneself or feeling regret.

It is fitting then that the first reading of today should speak of a blessing. The blessing is what is commonly called a Priestly blessing and pronounced on all the people of Israel. There are three pairs of verbs used in the blessing resulting in a threefold blessing. The first emphasizes concrete gifts—blessing and protection. The second stresses the hope that God will be well disposed toward the person and thus temper judgement with mercy and grace. The third asserts that God will pay attention and heed to his people thus providing fullness of life. The central message of the blessing is Peace, which must be translated as wholeness or completeness. The peace of God embraces every aspect of an individual’s life.

The idea of blessing is taken up in the Second reading of today. Paul in writing to the Galatians speaks of the blessing that God conferred not just on Israel but on the whole world when he sent his Son. The sending of the Son was for one reason alone, namely to reconcile the world to himself and through that to make each of us sons and daughters of God. The Son that God sent in to the world was not an angel but born of a woman, Mary who dared to say that unconditional yes to God’s invitation to be the mother of his Son.

This son whom God sent is human in every single aspect of the word and is therefore circumcised and given a name. The name that the child bears signifies his function. He is named Jesus because he will save his people from their sins. This child will be king, but a new kind of king. He will inaugurate a new world order, a world not like that of earthly kings but under the direction of God’s design for the redemption of all peoples. In this world, God’s Word is heard by all who remain open to that Word. In this world, there is hope for the oppressed, and those who heard what God is doing are filled with joy. God has not forgotten us or abandoned us to the brokenness we have created. God continues to be concerned and to make new and whole. The New Year thus, is for us as Christians, an announcement of hope. It is a call to continue to believe that God continues to be in control of all the events that will take place and that we only have to do what is required of us and leave the rest to God.

Thus the triple celebration of Mary Mother of God, the giving of the name of Jesus and New Year’s Day all close in on one theme: Hope. The past is over and forgotten; it is forgiven and absolved; it is pardoned and made new. The challenge is for us to respond like Mary did to what God is doing in us and in our world. If we like Mary are open and receptive to the working of God in our lives, if we like her are willing to let God do in us, if we like her are willing to say that unconditional and categorical Yes, then the savior Jesus will continue to be made present all through the year.

The priestly blessing of peace pronounced on the people in the first reading of today becomes then a blessing pronounced on each of us as we begin the New Year. We must keep in mind throughout the year that like the Galatians we are no longer slaves but sons and daughters of God. This means living in a fearless and bold manner. It means being able to face all the vicissitudes and challenges of life with equanimity and confident in the knowledge that we are loved unconditionally by God and that God will be with us every step of the way in the New Year.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Thursday, December 31, 2015 - What one action will you do to make the incarnate word present today?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Jn 2:3-11; Jn 1:1-18
The prologue of the Gospel of John is an extremely rich text. Unlike Matthew and Luke who begin their Gospels with stories of the birth of Jesus, the Gospel of John begins with the pre-existent WORD and the relationship of the word to the world. It is Word which is God and also an incarnate word, a word made flesh. Thus the Prologue is concerned with the sphere of God, the eternal sphere and the sphere of human beings the temporal.

Thus the prologue makes two main points.

The first of these is that the abstract, the incomprehensible, the indecipherable, the unknowable, and the absolute mystery which is the Word and God, have become concrete, comprehensible, decipherable, and knowable and a mystery revealed because of the Word becoming flesh. However, this mystery is not as easy to understand as it may seem. Many take offense at this. They want something more spectacular; some divine figure, some hero or god-man, some fascinating, mysterious being, able to impress everyone with the feats of might and glory. But what they saw was only a man; a man of compassion, a man who claimed to speak the truth. And they saw no glory here. But this is how God decided to come. He wanted to be one of us in all our limitations. Thus no longer can we say that our God could not understand what it is like to struggle against the opposition, to have to flee to another country, to be betrayed by a friend, to grieve the loss of a loved one, to fear suffering and death, to experience a seeming absence of his father. No, our God has truly walked our walk; God's Word of Love has truly taken flesh. Through this act of the Incarnation, God and the Word have become Father and Son. God, the Father is revealed in the Son, Jesus. Through this act, heaven has come down to earth and earth and heaven are reconciled as never before. The incarnation means that human beings can see, hear, and know God in ways never before possible. The relationship between divine and human is transformed, because in the incarnation human beings are given intimate, palpable, corporeal access to the cosmic reality of God. The newness wrought by God in Jesus is so dramatic that a conventional narrative of origins is good, but insufficient. That is because the story of Jesus is not ultimately a story about Jesus; it is, in fact, the story of God. When one sees Jesus, one sees God; when one hears Jesus, one hears God.

The second point that the prologue makes is the response of humanity to the incarnate Word. Since the Word is not a Word that is thrust on creation, but given freely and in total generosity, human beings must respond to the Word in freedom. This response is either of acceptance or rejection. One cannot ignore the potent power of the Word.

The rejection of the Word by Jesus’ own people while being a historical fact is a rejection that continues even today. Darkness continues to try to overcome the light. This becomes evident when we look at our world which is a world in which corruption, selfishness, injustice, intolerance, and communal disharmony, racial and caste discriminations continue to raise their ugly heads. It is seen when people still concern themselves with only the desire to have more rather than be more. It is seen when the concern to accumulate for oneself even to the detriment of not giving others their just due overpowers us.

Yet, despite this rejection of the Word, there is a note of hope and promise because there continue to be people who will choose light over darkness and selflessness over selfishness. There will continue to be people who fight for justice and will never give up this cause. There will continue to be people who will generously give not only of their wealth but also of themselves in imitation of the one who became human and gave all. Those who opt for the light can continue to do so because their openness to the Incarnate Word and all that he stands for makes them receive grace upon grace from him. This abundance of grace continues to sustain through the most trying times and gives them the courage never to give up or give in, but to continue and carry on. God became what we are, so that we could understand better what God is, and we could believe with all our hearts that God understands what we are.


Those who dare to accept the light and walk in its ways begin to realize that God himself walks with them and ahead of them. They know that God does not stay distant from them, remote and isolated; rather, in Jesus, God chose to live with humanity in the midst of human weakness, confusion, and pain. This bond holds true for all times and all places. To become flesh is to know joy, pain, suffering, and loss. It is to love, to grieve, and someday to die. The incarnation binds Jesus to the “everydayness” of human experience. The Word lived among us, not simply in the world. The Word became flesh and the Word’s name is Jesus Christ. This Jesus continues to be born in our midst even today. When selflessness triumphs over selfishness; when generosity triumphs over greed; when light overcomes darkness, then Jesus is born again and again.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Wednesday, December 30, 2015 - Have you accepted the revelation that Jesus makes? How will you show this in your life today?

To read the texts click on the texts:1Jn 2:12-17; Lk 2:36-40

Luke is fond of pairing male and female figures in his narrative. The role of Simeon and Anna in the Temple at the end of the birth narrative balances the role of Zechariah and Elizabeth at the beginning of the narrative. Anna’s character and piety are emphasized, but not her words. She was a descendant of a family from the northern kingdom, and a devout widow, advanced in age. Anna evidently married young and was widowed seven years later. The reference to 84 years probably records her age, but may be read as the number of years she had lived as a widow.


Anna’s blessing, though not recorded, is characterized as praising God and speaking about the child. Since this description corresponds to the content of Simeon’s oracles, we can probably say that Anna’s prophecy matched his. Similarly, the reference to “all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem” serves as an inclusion, balancing the description of Simeon as one who was “looking forward to the consolation of Israel” at the beginning of this scene. Simeon and Anna, who represent the pious ones, declare that Jesus is the one who will bring salvation for Israel, but not all would receive this salvation. Jesus himself would be rejected, and many in Israel would reject the gospel, but it was also meant for “a light for revelation to the Gentiles”. 

Monday, 28 December 2015

Tuesday, December 29, 2015 - How will you show that the presence of Jesus has changed your life for the better? What three actions will you perform to show that the coming of Jesus has made a difference to your life?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Jn 2:3-11; Lk2:22-35

The text of today consists of the presentation of Jesus in the Temple, the purification of Mary and the Song of Simeon.

According to Jewish law a woman became ceremonially unclean on the birth of a child. During this time, she was not permitted to enter the Temple or touch any holy object. On the eighth day the child was circumcised, after which the mother was unclean an additional thirty-three days—sixty-six if the child was female. At the conclusion of this period, the mother offered a sacrifice, either a lamb or, if she was poor, two doves or two young pigeons. That Luke does not mention a lamb but refers to two turtledoves or pigeons may indicate that Jesus was born to the poor of Israel.  In addition, the first son was to be presented to the Lord as a reminder of the Exodus, and then, bought back with an offering. Luke does not mention that Jesus was redeemed either because he was not aware of this requirement or because he wanted to convey that Jesus was constantly devoted or dedicated to the Lord. In this part Luke emphasizes that the law of the Lord was fulfilled in all respects at the birth of Jesus.

Simeon is introduced immediately after the presentation of Jesus and the purification of Mary. He too like Zechariah and Elizabeth is described as “righteous”. He is also “devout”. He looked forward to the restoration of the people and the fulfillment of God’s redemptive work. The Spirit, who had revealed to him that he would not see death until he saw the anointed one of God, is the same Spirit who rests on him and gives him utterance to speak.

His hymn of praise of God is known as the “Nunc Dimittis” (“Now Dismiss”). It is only loosely related to the occasion of the birth of Jesus. It declares the praise of God for faithfulness and the redemption of the people. Though some interpret “now you are dismissing your servant in peace” to mean that Simeon was now prepared to die, it can also mean that he recognizes that he is being released from his mission to watch for the coming of the Messiah because he has now seen the coming of the one who will bring salvation.  His blessing relates the birth of Jesus to the fulfillment of the promise of salvation and looks ahead to the inclusion of all peoples in the experience of the blessings of God. Even as the parents of Jesus wonder at what is being said by Simeon, he blesses them and then addresses Mary, the mother of Jesus. He speaks about the coming rejection of Jesus. Not everyone will want to see the light, not everyone will want top receive the salvation by God for all peoples. Not everyone will recognize God coming in Jesus. Jesus will be rejected and treated as someone to be opposed. Even his mother will have to share in his sufferings.


Jesus came not to make us comfortable but to wake us up from our sleep and this is what Simeon had prophesied. He came to challenge our way of looking at the world. This challenge is not easy to accept because it means that many of our preconceived ideas and notions will have to be given up and we will have to start anew. It is easier and more comfortable to live the selfish and self-centered lives that we are used to rather than be concerned about others. It is easier to be caught up in our own small worlds, rather than get out of our wells and see that life is much more than simply having more.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Monday, December 28, 2015 - Feast of the Holy Innocents - Will you perform one unselfish act today?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Jn 1:5-2:2; Mt 2:13-18

Matthew’s Gospel is the only one of the four which has the story of the killing of innocent children by Herod. A king is born, but a king is already here; and there is room for only one king. The birth of Jesus, the messianic king, precipitates a conflict with the kingship already present in this world.
It is not merely with the historical Herod with whom Matthew is concerned, however, but with Herod as a character in the story, who serves as a foil for the kingdom of God. When this Herod hears of the birth of the new king, he is “troubled”. Matthew is not describing Herod’s psychology but the clash of two claims to kingship that occurs in the advent of Jesus. Herod represents the resistance of this world to the divine kingship represented by Jesus. When “all Jerusalem” is troubled with him, this is not mere sympathy with or fear of Herod. Matthew is again looking ahead to the passion story and implicating Judaism’s capital city as a whole, not only its king, in the rejection of Jesus’ messianic claim.  

When Herod asks the magi the chronological question “When?” to determine the time of Jesus’ birth, he acts hypocritically, claiming that he too wants to worship, but with murder in his heart.

Herod’s slaughter of the innocents is in character with the historical Herod the Great, who was ruthless in maintaining his grasp on power. There is no record of such an act among the detailed records of Herod’s numerous atrocities, nor is it reflected elsewhere in or out of the New Testament. The story seems to be part of Matthew’s Moses typology, with Herod cast in the role of Pharaoh.
Matthew does not sentimentalize the tragedy of the innocent victims or speculate on how the other mothers and fathers of Bethlehem might have interpreted the divine decision to warn one family. His attention is fixed on this event as a fulfillment of Scripture. Matthew does alter his usual formula in such citations of Scripture from his usual “in order that”, and thus avoids saying that the murders happened for the purpose of fulfilling Scripture.

Matthew’s third formula quotation in 2:18-19 is from Jer 31:15. In the New Testament only Matthew explicitly mentions Jeremiah. Jeremiah 31:15 pictures Rachel, matriarch of the tribes of Benjamin and Ephraim (but not of Judah) weeping at Ramah for her “children,” the Israelites, as they are led away captive to Babylon in Jeremiah’s time. Ramah (in the area of Benjamin, five miles north of Jerusalem) was chosen by Jeremiah because one tradition locates Rachel’s tomb there, at the site where Nebuchadnezzar’s troops assembled captives for deportation (Jer 40:1). Another tradition locates Rachel’s tomb at Bethlehem. Matthew combines these traditions to achieve the desired effect. The Jeremiah passage is in a context of hope; it is not clear whether Matthew interprets contextually or whether lamentation is the only note to be heard in this text. In any case, the child Jesus recapitulates the experience of Israel.


Like in Matthew’s day so in ours the war between the two kingdoms continues. Those who regard power as absolute will continue to massacre the innocent. They will continue to destroy others for selfish means. Our response has to be one of courage and hope. Though some will have to suffer because of the selfishness and egoism of a few, there are many more who live unselfish lives for the benefit of others. If each of us were to perform one unselfish act every day, the world becomes a better place for all.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Saturday, December 26, 2015- St. Stephen - The First Witness (Martyr)

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59; Mt 10:17-22

St Stephen is regarded as the first Christian martyr. He was one of the seven deacons appointed by the Apostles when there was dissatisfaction about the distribution of alms. In the first reading of today, the Acts of the Apostles tells the story of how Stephen was tried by the Sanhedrin for blasphemy against Moses and God and also of speaking against the Temple and the Law. He was tried, found guilty and stoned to death.

The Gospel text for the feast of today is part of the Mission Discourse of Matthew. The sayings found in Matthew’s Mission Discourse here are found in the Eschatological Discourse of Mark (Mk 13:9-13). This is an indication that for Matthew, Mission is already eschatological and this is proved through the life and death of Stephen. The punishment, which is referred to here, is not random, but official punishment from members of organised authority. Even in this difficult situation the disciples are offered encouragement. They will depend not on their own strength, but on the Holy Spirit. They are to be missionaries even in the courtroom. Their imprisonment and trial must be regarded as an opportunity to make mission known. Mission takes priority even over family ties and if family ties have to be broken because of mission then so be it. The affirmation of the coming of the Son of Man is probably meant to provide succour to the missionaries in their distress.

Stephen had not read the Mission Discourse and yet had been influenced by the life, Mission and Death of his Master Jesus Christ. He was also confident of the resurrection and of victory even in the face of defeat and death. He knew that if he continued to stand for the truth, he would indeed be victorious.
It is important to note that Stephen did not go around looking for trouble nor did he desire martyrdom for the sake of dying for Jesus. However, he was unafraid to stand for the truth even if it meant giving up his life.


The Jesus who challenged Stephen is the same Jesus who challenges us today. He is not calling us here to be sadists and look for suffering, persecution and pain. Rather he is challenging us to go about doing what we have to do, to be as prudent as possible about it and if despite that persecution, suffering and pain come, to be prepared and ready for it and not to be afraid.

Friday, 25 December 2015

Sunday, December 27, 2015 - Holy Family of Nazareth - What about your family?

To read the texts click on the texts: Sir 3:2-6, 12-14; Col3:12-21;Lk 2:41-52

The feast of the Holy Family is celebrated every year on first Sunday after Christmas. It is appropriate that such be the case, because for centuries Christmas has been regarded as a family feast. Not only do members of a family get together to celebrate the feast, but the themes of Christmas like the birth of a child, naming of the child, gathering together as a family to celebrate this event, all lend themselves to reflection on the meaning of family.

That family life, under threat today, does not need any kind of in depth analysis. ‘Single parent families,’ unwed mothers, the rampant rate of divorce, are all testimony to this fact. What can the feast of the Holy Family mean in the face of this threat? The readings of today offer a response.

The author of the letter to the Colossians begins by giving the foundations of a good marriage. In a word this may be summarized as “adjustment”. The Colossian Christians are called to adjust with one another in any and all circumstances. To adjust means first of all to have the ability to let go off one’s ego. As long as one holds on to one’s point of view there can be no adjustment and so what is required is an openness and receptivity to accept that one can be wrong, that one does not know everything about everything and that there is lot that is unknown. Secondly to adjust means to be flexible. Rigidity of any kind is a hindrance. There is not just one hand; there is also the other hand. This leads to the third meaning of what it means to adjust: forgiveness. Any community in which forgiveness is not an integral part will be a superficial one. And what is required for sustaining community is likely to be more than a single act of forgiveness; rather, the lives of the people in that community will be characterized by the continuing practices of forgiveness that draw their resources from the forgiveness already enacted by Christ and especially on the Cross. If one realizes that one is forgiven completely by God for any and all wrongs that one has committed then it is easier to forgive others. Encompassing all of these is the reality of love. Love it is which binds everything together and while there are numerous definitions of love, it seems to me that a good way of understanding love is to realize that in love there is no “I”. The other is always more important than self. The other is always placed before self. True and genuine love is not barter exchange but unconditional.

To be sure, the exhortation to wives to be submissive to their husbands in the second part of the text might be misunderstood as servility. Nothing could be further from the truth. In a marriage both the husband and wife are equal partners. There can be no higher and lower rank. There can be no greater and lesser. What there is in fact is complementarity. Males and females need each other to complete the other. If this is understood by both partners half the journey has already been completed.

It is also important to note the role of children and the relationship of children which all three readings speak about. In the first reading from Sirach, the focus is on instructions to children to show honour to their parents. However, in the second reading while children are asked to respect their parents, parents are also asked not to provoke their children. In this context, the words of the famous Christian writer and poet Khalil Gibran take on a depth of meaning. He says to parents that the children who come through them are really life’s longing for itself. Thus they do not really “belong” to their parents but to life which “goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday”. Children “dwell in the house of tomorrow” and so parents have to be like flexible bows that are willing to be bent so that their children like arrows “may go swift and far”. Parents have to learn to grow with their children and keep in touch with all the changes that are taking place around them. They need to learn to be relevant and if they cannot be then to be understanding and accommodating.


The parents of Jesus did not realize this when they looked for him. It was not that Jesus was lost but that Mary and Joseph were lost without their son. However, Jesus made them realize that he was a child not merely of his parents, but of life itself and so his parents had to let him go to do what he had to do. Parents today too need to realize this about their children for family life to be what it is meant to be. When this happens then the feast of the Holy Family will be just that: a feast of holy families which keep inspiring one another to live like the Holy Family of Nazareth.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Friday, December 25, 2015 - Christmas Day - Logos, light, life

To read the texts click on the texts: Isaiah 52:7-10; Heb 1:1-6; Jn1:1-18

The prologue of the Gospel of John is an extremely rich text. Along with the other readings of today, from Isaiah and Hebrews, which complement it wonderfully, one can gain insight into the meaning of the mystery of the Incarnation.

Unlike Matthew and Luke who begin their Gospels with stories of the birth of Jesus, the Gospel of John begins with the pre-existent WORD and the relationship of the Word to be world. It is Word, which is God, and also an incarnate word, a word made flesh. Thus, the Prologue is concerned with the sphere of God, the eternal sphere and the sphere of human beings, the temporal sphere. Thus, the prologue makes two main points.

The first is that the abstract, the incomprehensible, the unknowable, and the absolute mystery that is the Word (God), has become concrete, comprehensible, knowable, and so the mystery revealed because of the Word becoming flesh. However, this mystery is not as easy to understand as it may seem. Many take offense at this. They want some divine figure, some fascinating, mysterious being, able to impress everyone with feats of might and glory. But what they saw was only a man; a man of compassion, a man who claimed to speak the truth. And they saw n o glory there. No longer can we say that our God could not understand what it is like to struggle against the opposition, to have to flee to another country, to be betrayed by a friend, to grieve the loss of a loved one, to fear suffering and death, to experience a seeming absence of his (or a) father. No, our God has truly walked our walk; God’s Word of Love has truly taken flesh. Through the Incarnation, heaven has come down to earth, and earth and heaven are reconciled as never before. The incarnation means that human beings can see, hear, and know God in ways never before possible. The relationship between divine and human is transformed, because, in the incarnation, human beings are given intimate, palpable, corporeal access to the cosmic reality of God. The story of Jesus is not ultimately a story about Jesus; it is, in fact, the story about God. When one sees Jesus, one sees God; when one hears Jesus, one hears God.

The second point that the prologue makes is the response of humanity to the incarnate Word. Since the Word is not a Word that is thrust on creation, but given freely and in total generosity, human beings must respond to the Word in freedom. This response is either acceptance or rejection.

The rejection of the Word by Jesus’ own people, while being a historical fact, is a rejection that continues even today. Darkness continues to try to overcome the light. Corruption, selfishness, injustice, intolerance, communal disharmony and racial and caste discriminations continue to raise their ugly heads. Darkness prevails when selfishness conquers compassion or justice.

Yet, despite this rejection of the Word, there is a note of hope and promise because there continue to be people who will choose light over darkness and selflessness over selfishness, justice over injustice, who will generously give not only their wealth but also themselves in imitation of the one who became human and gave all. Those who opt for the light will receive grace upon grace from him. This abundance of grace continues to sustain them through the most trying times.

Therefore, the great message of Christmas is that God became what we are, so that we could understand better what God is, and we could believe with all our hearts that God understands what we are.

Those who dare to accept the light and walk in its ways begin to realize that God himself walks with them and ahead of them. They know that in Jesus, Gold chose to live with humanity in the midst of human weakness, confusion, and pain. To become flesh is to know joy, pain, suffering, and loss. It is to love, to grieve, and someday to die. The incarnation binds Jesus to the “everydayness” of human experience. This Jesus continues to be born in our midst even today. When selflessness triumphs over selfishness, Jesus is born again and Christmas happens.

By taking on our humanity, Jesus has shown us that we can be divine and how far we can go even in our humanity. We can love more, we can dare more, we can believe more, and we can be more. Nothing is now outside the scope of our humanity which, after the birth of Jesus, is but always an advantage.


Thus, Christmas is not merely the celebration of a historical birth; a birth that took place over two thousand years ago, It is about becoming conscious of who we really are as human beings. It is the celebration of life in all its fullness. It is the celebration of the transformation of limit to limitlessness, of selfishness to selflessness, of bondage and fear to freedom and unconditional love.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015 - Does fear still rule the larger majority of your actions? What will you do about it today?

To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Sam 7:1-5, 8-12.14.16; Lk 1:67-79

Zechariah’s song, which is traditionally called “The Benedictus” (Blessed), is the text which the Church reads on the day before Christmas. It may be seen to be divided into two parts. The first part praises God for his messianic deliverance and the second speaks of John the Baptist’s role in this deliverance.  
The progression of thought in the Benedictus shows that the true end of God’s redemption is not merely deliverance from political domination, but the creation of conditions in which God’s people can worship and serve God without fear. When people are released from external domination, they can worship in peace. The people of God are a covenant people, saved and rescued by the hand of God.  God has thereby fulfilled the promises to Abraham and to David. Holiness and righteousness are to mark God’s people “all the days of our life”. The hymn comes to a climax as it describes the place of John in God’s redemptive work. John’s birth announced God’s new deliverance. John would be a prophet who would go before the Lord.  Four infinitives outline the progress of God’s redemptive work. The first two describe the role of John the Baptist. The last two allude to the inauguration of the kingdom, “when the day shall dawn upon us from on high”.

The mark of the redeemed is that they live out of the knowledge of God that has been given to them. Darkness is dispelled by the revelation of God’s being and God’s grace toward us. Finally, through John’s call for justice and righteousness, and far more through Jesus’ unique ministry, God would “guide our feet into the way of peace”   


The Benedictus links the promise of salvation and redemption inseparably to the achievement of peace. God’s people cannot have redemption without peace, for each is necessary for the realization of the other. It affirms that God’s purposes are being fulfilled in the delivering of his people from the hands of their oppressors. Their feet are being guided in the way of peace so that they may worship without fear.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015 - Will you speak God’s word to at least one person today?

To rfead the texts click on the texts: Mal3:1-4, 23-24; Lk 1:57-66

Two days before the birth of the Messiah, the Church invites us to reflect on the birth, naming, and circumcision of his precursor or forerunner, John the Baptist.

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.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Tuesday, December 22, 2015 - What image do you have of God? Does your image lead you to have confidence in God? How does this show in your life?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1Sam 1:24-28; Lk 1:46-56

The verses which make up the Gospel text of today are commonly known as “The Magnificat” or Mary’s hymn of praise. It seems to have been modelled on the prayer of Samuel’s mother, Hannah, in 1 Sam 2:1-10 and contains many Old Testament concepts and phrases. It communicates a picture of Mary as someone quite steeped in scripture. It reveals God primarily as a God of the poor. God is the one who will vindicate the poor by removing the rich and mighty from their positions and raising the lowly.

The hymn may be seen to be divided into four parts. The first part consists of praise to God for what he has done in and for Mary; the second part speaks of God’s power, holiness and mercy; the third part shows God acting as a Sovereign in reversing social conditions in favour of the poor and downtrodden; and the fourth and final part recalls God’s mercy and promises to Israel.

The hymn speaks of the effects of the Lord’s coming for all of God’s people. It begins on a note of salvation as Mary acknowledges her dependence on God. It was the grace of God that sustained and brought her to the position in which she finds herself. She has not achieved anything on her own, it is all a gift of God and thus, Mary acknowledges her humble state, referring to herself as God’s servant. She is to be called “blessed’ because God, in his mercy and goodness, had raised her to this level.

God has shown this mercy and goodness to the poor by showing the strength of his arm, by scattering the proud, and deposing the powerful. The poor, on the other hand, have been raised, and the hungry have been filled. God remembers not only those of old but also the present generation. He is a God not only of the past, but also a God of the present, the now.


The stress on God as a God primarily of the poor stands out in Mary’s hymn of praise. In a world where the rich seem to be getting richer and the poor, poorer, one wonders whether the Magnificat is a hymn that can make sense to the poor, to those of low degree. Yet, it is important to remember that God’s ways are not our ways and so, the poor must, in confidence, sing this song as their song. The confidence with which Mary sings this song runs through the entire hymn. She uses past tense to denote God’s future actions, thus expressing that God will indeed accomplish his will, and the poor will be vindicated. What is important for the poor to realize is that they, like Mary, need to continue to open themselves to all that God wants to do in them. They need to continue to acknowledge their dependence on God by doing all that is required of them and then, leaving the rest in his capable and strong hands.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Monday, December 21, 2015 - Are you generally a happy person, or do you go about life as if the burden of the whole world is on your shoulders? Will you give up that burden today?



To read the texts click on the texts: Song 2:8-14; Lk 1:39-45

The text of today, which concerns Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, is also the scriptural basis for the second Joyful mystery of the Rosary.

Since the angel does not ask Mary to visit Elizabeth, or even suggest it, the alacrity with which Mary goes to visit Elizabeth expresses clearly that Mary trusted the angel’s word. Mary’s greeting of Elizabeth results in a sign which is that the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaps and Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit. This could also indicate that the announcement of the angel to Zechariah that their child would be filled with the Holy Spirit is being fulfilled. Being filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth is also able to utter an oracle which seems to have as its source, the Spirit of God. She recognizes Mary and the child in her womb as blessed. Not only has Elizabeth been blessed, because God answered her prayer for the gift of a child, she has also been blessed by a visit from the one who is called to be the mother of her Lord. The leap of the babe in Elizabeth’s womb was a leap of joy. John has already begun to fulfill his calling as one who would declare the Lord’s coming and prepare the way for him. Mary is blessed because she dared to believe in God’s word.

When joy or happiness is shared it is doubled; when sorrow or sadness is shared it is halved. The joy of Elizabeth and Mary on their respective vocations is shared by the other and hence, both experience a doubling of their joy. This joy is experienced by even the child in Elizabeth’s womb, because it is a genuine joy felt by its mother. 

Life is too short to cry or be sad. Life is too short not to be happy or not to share in the joy of others.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Sunday, December 20, 2015 - Fourth Sunday in Advent





To read the texts click on the texts: Mic 5:1-4; Heb10:5-10; Lk 1:39-44


The visitation of Blessed Virgin Mary is often interpreted as Mary’s concern for Elizabeth. Mary had heard from the angel that Elizabeth was in her six month and so rushes to her aid. This is true but only at the very superficial level. If this were the only point, then it would seem strange that Mary who rushed to Elizabeth’s aid would leave after three months of her arrival there i.e. soon after Elizabeth’s delivery of John – a time when she should  really get all the help that she would need. Thus Luke makes a deeper point when he narrates the incidents of the visitation. It is that Mary was so full of the ‘good news’ that she could not contain it within herself but had to share it. It was ‘good news’ not only for her but for the whole world.

This good news is what Micah speaks about in the first reading of today. The ruler of Israel is struck upon the cheek with a rod, things seem to be totally out of control and there is a feeling of being closed in all sides and defeat is staring us in the face. Yet, there shall come forth one who is to rule and take control over the most distressing situation. This movement from suffering to hope reminds us that God is at work to see that our individual life-pilgrimage will move in the same direction. Micah’s words repeat again and again the liberating intention of God not to let people remain trapped in their experience of exile. It is important to note that these hopeful words from Micah do not belittle the reality of suffering. Pain is taken seriously and is part of the human condition. However, the point is that even in the midst of pain there is hope. God is working to make all things well. The mention of both Bethlehem and Ephrathah makes a double connection with David, including both geographic location and family identification. The small size of Bethlehem, which is one of the little clans of Judah, is of no consequence to God, When God is about to do something great, human estimates of status, size, power, and influence are completely irrelevant. In fact, God often deliberately chooses someone whom we would probably dismiss as the most unlikely candidate for carrying out God’s mission.

This is evident in the choice of Mary chosen by God to bring Jesus into the world. She was from Nazareth, an obscure village, from which the Messiah was not expected. She was a simple village girl. Yet, it was she who was chosen, to be part of the earth shattering event that would change the course of history forever. The Incarnation occurred within a very real world, a limited world, a broken world, a world that was very much in need of healing.

Mary’s visit to Elizabeth was done in haste or urgency. Mary wanted to share such wonderful news. Elizabeth responds to Mary’s visit with four oracles. The first declares the blessedness of Mary. Elizabeth recognizes that Mary is blessed by God because of her openness and generosity. The second oracle discloses the identity of the child in Mary’s womb. The child is indeed the Lord. The third explains the leap that the child in Elizabeth’s womb gives. It is a leap of joy. Even in the womb of his mother, John the Baptist begins his role as the precursor or pointer to Jesus. The fourth and final oracle speaks of unconditional faith and trust. It speaks of the courage to believe even when things are in the future. It speaks of total confidence in God’s word, knowing fully well that even if all evidence seems to point to the contrary, God will fulfill what is promised. This is the confidence of Mary. It is the confidence with which she dared not merely to say Yes to God but to add that it be done to her according to God’s will. This was because she knew that what God could do in her would be infinitely greater than when she could ever do, even with God’s help. This attitude of Mary resulted in her womb becoming the location in which the greatest of all events would take place. Her womb became the place in which all expectations would be exceeded. Her womb became that place in which not merely would a ruler be born, but in which the king of all kings would take residence. Her womb became God’s first home on earth.

The letter to the Hebrews confirms Mary’s disposition and attitude when it speaks about the disposition and attitude of Jesus. His focus was to do God’s will and to let it be done to him. Like Mary, Jesus too knew that what God could accomplish in him would be infinitely greater than anything else.

As we stand at the threshold of Christmas, we are invited to adopt the attitude of Mary. It is true that even today things are not as they ought to be. It is true that injustice, prejudice, disharmony, intolerance and fanaticism still raise their ugly heads. It is true that the poor are becoming poorer today than they were some years ago and the rich have only gotten richer and often at the expense of the poor. Like Mary we are challenged to believe that if we let it be done to us, Christ will be born in our minds and hearts and the vision of Micah for a just world will be fulfilled because our God lives in our world.