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Sunday, 31 July 2016

Audio Reflections of Monday, August 1, 2016

To hear the Audio Reflections of Monday, August 1, 2016 click HERE

Monday, August 1, 2016 - Will you like Jesus become bread for at least one person today?

To read the texts click on the texts:Jer 28:1-17; Mt 14:13-21

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

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


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

Saturday, 30 July 2016

MORNING OFFERING


Sunday, July 31, 2017 - Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Do you own things or do things own you?

To read the texts click on the texts: Qh 1:2; 2:21-23; Col 3:1-5,9-11; Lk 12:13-21

Two contrasting images bring out the meaning of the readings of today. The first is this: An advertisement company offered as its first prize, a two week paid holiday on an island. The winner would be the one who had the most money on the day he/she died.

The second is this: A televised interview with a man who had lost his house and all his possessions to a raging fire driven by strong winds somewhere in the world provides a striking contrast to the rich fool.  Shortly before the fire, this man recalled that his brother had mused that they should be careful not to allow their possessions to possess them.  Seeing everything he owned but the shirt on his back go up in smoke, he announced to the reporter, with a note of unexpected triumph: “I am a free man now!”

The Gospel text of today and the first reading are emphatic: We can take nothing with us. We leave everything when we leave.  The story is told that, at the funeral of the fabulously wealthy Aristotle Onassis, one of the mourners turned to another and said, “How much did he leave?” The other replied, “Everything. He left everything.”

Both the Gospel and the first reading speak of a person so possessed of his possessions that he does not really possess them, but allows them to possess him. So deep is the man’s self-centredness that he can only think in terms of “my crops, my barns, my grain, my goods, and, finally, my soul”. This selfishness is what comes to haunt him at the end. His possessions have claimed him, they have controlled him, they have used him and, they have led to his death. The illusion that his properties and riches are inalienable and absolute is stripped away by the inalienable and absolute reality of death. He did not enjoy his riches when he was alive.  And, another will own and possess them after his death.

This fact is made absolutely clear when not once in his soliloquy does the rich man of the Gospel think that he could give away out of the abundance he possesses. His concern is only to build bigger barns to store, for his sole benefit, the bounty he receives. This very clearly, according to the first reading of today, is vanity. Such a person is restless in the day and unable to sleep at night. He is worried in the day and anxious at night.

An antidote to this way is suggested by Paul in the second reading of today. He invites the Colossians to be concerned, not merely or firstly about earthly things but, to seek the things that are above. This heavenly mindedness is not to be understood as a form of inattentiveness about the things of this life. On the contrary, because one is first concerned about heaven, it will drive and motivate believers to put things in perspective. Believers will strive to live a full earthly life, one moment of one day at a time. This kind of life means that one is not obsessed or fixated on the future. Seeking the things above does not mean reduction of the Christian hope to “a pie in the sky when you die”. It means putting to death in oneself everything that is selfish and self-centred, especially insatiability which reveals itself in making things ends in themselves and giving things the status of a god. To seek the things above means seeking Christ and his way of proceeding. His way of proceeding always put the other before self.  His way of proceeding is always concerned to share, not only from one’s bounty but, even from the little that one may have.

The challenge of the readings of today is an enormous one. We live in a world in which the larger majority live, not in the present or the now but mainly in the future or the tomorrow. It is also a world in which “having more’ is the criterion by which success and failure are defined and judged. The more one has, the more successful one is regarded. Thus, there is in many, an obsession to keep accumulating even at the expense and discomfort of others. These want bigger homes, bigger cars, bigger anything and everything simply because they have been taught to believe that bigger is always better. These are like the fool in the first reading and in the Gospel of today who will not share their bounty with anyone and who will never be satisfied, no matter how much they accumulate. These die without ever having lived.


Yet, there is also another way. Jesus has not only shown us this way, he is this way. He is the way of selflessness, self-sacrifice, and living contentedly in the present moment with no regrets about the past and no obsession with the future. He is the way in which “being more” and spending oneself in the service of others means more than egocentric, inconsiderate and uncaring living. He is the way in which success and failure are measured, not in terms of how much one possesses but in how much one dares to give away. He is the way which does not die but lives forever. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016 - ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA (THE FOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS) 1491-1556

To read the texts click on the texts: Dt 30:15-20;1 Tim1:12-17; Lk 9:18-26

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Friday, 29 July 2016

Audio reflections of Saturday, July 30, 2016

To hear the Audio reflections of Saturday, July 30, 2016 click HERE

Saturday, July 30, 2016 - Will you, like John the Baptist point to Jesus through your life today? How?

To read the texts click on the texts: Jer 26:11-16,24; Mt 14:1-12

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


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

MORNING OFFERING


Thursday, 28 July 2016

Audio Reflections of Friday, July 29, 2016

To hear the Audio Reflections of Friday, July 29, 2016 click HERE

Friday, July 29, 2016 - Be careful of saying, “I know”, you may miss the Messiah.

To read the texts click on the texts: Jer 26:1-9; Mt 13:54-58

The incident of the rejection of Jesus in his hometown is found also in Mark 6:1-6. Like Mark, Matthew too leaves Jesus’ hometown unnamed. Yet many think that Matthew may have been referring to Nazareth where Jesus grew up (2:23) rather than Capernaum in which Jesus did a lot of his ministry. While the people accepted that Jesus did indeed speak and act with authority, they wondered about the source of this authority. This wonder soon turns to a negative assessment on their part when they take offence at Jesus. Matthew {unlike Mark who identifies Jesus as a carpenter (Mk 6:3)} identifies Jesus as the “carpenter’s son” since he is interested in showing Jesus as Son of Joseph and so Son of David. In response to their negative attitude to him, Jesus speaks of himself as a prophet and identifies himself with the true prophets of Israel. In Matthew {unlike in Mark where the failure on the part of Jesus to work miracles is the result of the unbelief of his townspeople (Mk 6:6)} the initiative rests with Jesus and though able, he does not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.


We keep expecting people to behave in a particular manner and sometimes when they do not behave as we expect them to, we tend to get upset. This happens even with parents and children. While it is not a problem to have some reasonable expectations, we must also be open to change and realise that they may not always behave as we expect them to.

MORNING OFFERING


Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Audio Reflections of Thursday, July 28, 2016

To hear the Audio Reflections of Thursday, July 28, 2016 click HERE.

Thursday, July 28, 2016 - If the sorting were to take place now, would you be kept or thrown away? What will you do to ensure that you are kept?

To read the texts click on the texts: Jer 18:1-6; Mt 13:47-53

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

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

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


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

MORNING OFFERING


Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Audio Reflections of Wednesday, July 27, 2016

To hear the Audio Reflections of Wednesday, July 27, 2016 click HERE

Wednesday, July 27, 2016 - What would you give in exchange for your life?

To read the texts click on the texts:Jer 15:10,16-21; Mt 13:44-46

The parables of the hidden treasure (13:44) and the fine pearls (13:45-46) are found only in the Gospel of Matthew. In both the parables the one who finds, goes and sells all he has for the sake of what he has found. However, the one who finds the treasure in the field finds it by accident and is not actively looking for it, whereas the merchant is in search of fine pearls. This is probably why the one in the field is filled with joy whereas the merchant knowing that he has found what he is looking for is not filled with joy, but is willing to give up everything for the sake of the pearl that he has found. Though some may find the action of the man in the field who hides the treasure questionable, it must be noted that the parable does not legitimize the man’s action of hiding, but focuses on his action of selling all that he had. 
The point of the parables seems to be that the dawning of the kingdom calls for reflection on one’s values and leads to action that brings on a new set of values.


We might become so used to doing things in a particular way that we are unwilling to change even if someone shows us a better way of doing the same thing. These parables are calling us to Newness and to sacrifice what we are for what we can become.

MORNING OFFERING


Monday, 25 July 2016

Audio Reflections of Tuesday, July 26, 2016

To hear the Audio Reflections of Tuesday, July 26, 2016 click HERE

Tuesday, July 26, 2016 - Are you too quick to condemn others merely by what you notice externally? Will you reserve your judgement today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Jer 14:17-22; Mt 13:36-43

These verses contain the interpretation or allegory of the parable of the weeds and are found only in the Gospel of Matthew. Since Jesus speaks to the crowds only in parables, Matthew has Jesus go into the house after leaving the crowds and explain privately the meaning of the parable to his disciples. In the interpretation, the attention is on the weeds and so on the final judgement. 

The Son of Man has indeed sowed good seed in the field, which is the world and not merely the church, but the devil who is responsible for the second sowing has sown weeds. Though this is the case, it is not the believers who represent the good seed who will pass judgement on the unbelievers who represent the weeds Judgement will be passed by God through the Son of Man.


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

MORNING OFFERING


Sunday, 24 July 2016

Audio Reflections of Monday, July 25, 2016

To hear the Audio Reflections of Monday, July 25, 2016 click HERE

Monday, July 25, 2016 - St. James, Apostle. James was willing to die for his lord? Are you willing to live for the Lord?

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Audio Reflections of Sunday, July 24, 2016

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Sunday, July 24, 2016 - Prayer is Action

To read the texts click on the texts: Gn 18:20-32; Col 2:12-14; Lk11:1-13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Audio Reflections of Saturday, July 23, 2016

To hear the Audio Reflections of Saturday, July 23, 2016 click HERE

Friday, 22 July 2016

MORNING OFFERING


Audio Reflections of Thursday, July 23, 2016

To hear the Audio Reflections of Thursday, July 23, 2016 click HERE

Saturday, July 23, 2016 - Are there some whom you deliberately exclude from your circle of friends? Why?

To rad the texts click on the texts: Jer 7:1-11; Mt 13:24-30

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


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

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Audio Reflections of Friday, July 22, 2016

To hear the Audio Reflections of Friday, July 22, 2016 click HERE

Friday, July 22, 2016 - Mary Magdalene - Will you be an apostle of the Ascension of the Lord as Mary was?

To read the texts click on the texts: Canticles (Song of Solomon) 3:1-4; Jn 20:1-2,11-18

Except for Mary, few women are honoured in the Bible as Mary Magdalene. She is mentioned by all four evangelists as being present at the empty tomb. In the Gospel of John she is the first person to whom Jesus appeared after his resurrection.

After Peter and the beloved disciple see the empty tomb with the linen cloths, they return home. Though John does not give any reason why Mary returns to the tomb, he, also, of all the evangelists, tells us that she stood outside the tomb weeping. This detail sets the stage for the fulfilment of the promise of Jesus that the sorrow of the disciples will turn to joy (16:20,22). Mary sees the angels who make no pronouncement of the resurrection. In John, the pronouncement of the resurrection and ascension comes only through Jesus. The angels only draw attention to Mary’s present state. Mary’s response to the question of the angels is a plaintive cry for her “lost” Lord.

Immediately after she makes this statement, Jesus himself appears to her but, because of her tears, she cannot recognize him. While Jesus repeats the question of the angels and thus, draws renewed attention to Mary’s present state, he asks a second and more important question: “Whom are you looking for?” This, or a similar question, is asked three times in the Gospel of John. The first time Jesus asks such a question is to the two disciples who follow him (1:38). These are the first words spoken by Jesus in the Gospel of John and so, carry added significance. The question here is “What do you seek?” The second time, the question is asked of those who come to arrest Jesus in the garden (18:4). The question in all three instances, while courteous, is a deep and penetrating question. It requires the one of whom it is asked to go deep into him/herself to search for the response. The disciples are seeking for the residence of Jesus but encounter the Messiah. Those who come to arrest Jesus are seeking for “Jesus of Nazareth” and so are thrown to the ground. Mary Magdalene is seeking for the dead Jesus, but finds the risen Lord.

Yet, this recognition of the risen Lord is not easy for Mary to make. While in many instances in Jesus’ life, the metaphors he used were misunderstood, here it is Jesus himself. Mary is so caught up in her own desire for the dead Jesus and for what she wants that she cannot recognize his voice when he asks her two pertinent questions. It is only when Jesus calls her name that she is awakened. Though some spiritualize this scene by stating that Mary recognized Jesus since only he called her in this manner, it is not plausible, since John does not speak of the intonation or inflection in the voice of Jesus. Others interpret this scene as a revelation of Jesus as the good shepherd who knows his sheep by name. The sheep respond to his voice, when he calls to them, as Mary does here. Though this is more plausible, it must also be noted that Mary does not recognize Jesus’ voice before he calls her name, although he has asked two questions of her. It thus seems that the main reason Mary was able to recognize Jesus when her name was called was because, being so caught up in herself, only calling her by name would have awakened her from her stupor. That this seems to be the best explanation is also evident in the response of Mary on hearing her name. After addressing Jesus as “Rabbouni”, which is an endearing term, she wants to cling to Jesus. Though the text does not explicitly state that Mary held on to Jesus, his words indicate that either she was about to do so or had already done so. Jesus will not allow this. Mary has to go beyond her selfish interests and get used to the presence of the Lord in a new way. She need not hold onto a memory since Jesus is and continues to be.

Despite this self absorption, Jesus commands Mary to be an apostle, not merely of the resurrection but of the ascension. For the first time in the Gospel of John, the Father becomes the Father of the disciples also. A new family is created. This means that the disciples and Jesus are related. Jesus is the brother of all disciples and the disciples share the same relationship with God that Jesus shares.

Mary does what Jesus commanded. She has indeed seen the risen Lord. This return makes new life possible for the believing community, because Jesus’ ascent to God renders permanent that which was revealed about God during the incarnation. The love of God, embodied in Jesus, was not of temporary duration, lasting only as long as the incarnation. Rather, the truth of Jesus’ revelation of God receives its final seal in his return to God.


Self pity, uncontrollable grief, and self absorption can all prevent us from encountering Jesus in the challenging situations of life just as they did Mary Magdalene. These emotions take hold of us when we misunderstand the promises of God or, when we do not take them as seriously as we ought. They arise when we give up, even before we begin, or when we prefer to be negative rather than positive about life. It is at times like these that Jesus comes to us, like he came to Mary Magdalene, and asks us to open our eyes and see that he is still with us and alive. He asks us to get used to his presence in all things, in all persons, and in all events. He asks us to be able to see him in the bad times and in the good, in sickness and in health, and in all the days of our lives. We need only open our hearts wide enough to see.

MORNING OFFERING


Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Audio Reflections of Thursday, July 21, 2016

To hear the Audio Reflections of Thursday, July 21, 2016 click HERE

MORNING OFFERING


Thursday, July 21, 2016 - Do you consider yourself a disciple or are you an outsider? How does your discipleship show in your life?

To read the texts click on the texts:Jeremiah 2:1-3,7-8,12-13; Mt 13:10-17

This text concerns the reason for Jesus’ speaking in parables. While in Mark (4:10-12) a larger group asks about the parables, in Matthew, it is the disciples who ask Jesus why he speaks to “them” in parables. Understanding the parables of Jesus is not simply a matter of using one’s intellect, but a grace given by God himself. It is given to those who acknowledge their dependence on God. Only those who have committed themselves to follow Jesus are given an insight into the mysteries of the kingdom. Since they have Jesus as their teacher, they will be able to understand all there is to know. The closed attitude of those who do not wish to follow is what is responsible for their lack of understanding. Matthew quotes Isaiah 6:9-10 completely here, and regards the lack of understanding as a fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy. Since the disciples are open and receptive they are indeed blessed. They are able to see and hear and understand what mere human knowledge can never hope to understand.


Humanity has taken great strides in the areas of science and technology, and yet there are many things that we still do not understand. We can use technology to communicate with someone who is thousands of miles away, but technology cannot explain to us why we cannot communicate with a neighbour who lives by our side. This must lead to the realisation that when all is said and done we will still fall short of understanding all the mysteries there are and have to depend on God.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Audio Reflections of Wednesday, July 20, 2016

To hear the Audio Reflections of Wednesday, July 20, 2016 click HERE

MORNING OFFERING


Wednesday, July 20, 2016 - Will you keep on keeping on even when your expectations are not fulfilled?

To read the texts click on the texts:Jeremiah 1:1,4-10; Mt 13:1-9


We begin reading today from Chapter 13 of the Gospel of Matthew. This Chapter is known as “The Parable Discourse” of Matthew, because in it we find seven parables. Two of these parables have been allegorised {The Parable of the Sower (13:18-23) and the parable of the Weeds and the Wheat (13:36-43)}. Some are of the opinion that 13:49-50 is an allegorization of the parable of the Net (13:47-48). 

The first parable in the Parable Discourse is the one that is known as the parable of the Sower. Though often it is the allegory that has been interpreted instead of the parable where the different types of soil are compared to different types of persons and their reception of the word, this does not seem to be the point of the parable. In the parable, in three types of soil (the path, the rocky ground and among the thorns), the seed is lost, and it is only in one type of soil (good soil) that there is gain. Yet, the gain is enormous. The point seems to be that one must not give in to despair even if it seems that most of the good that we do seems to bear no fruit. In God’s time and in God’s own way it will bear even more fruit than we can ever imagine. We need to keep on keeping on.


In the words of St. Ignatius of Loyola, when we work, we must work as if everything depends only on us and when we pray, we must pray as if everything depends only on God.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Audio Reflections of Tuesday, July 19, 2016

To hear the Audio Reflections of Tuesday, July 19, 2016 click HERE

Audio Reflections of Monday, July 18, 2016

To hear the Audio Reflections of Monday, July 18, 2016 click HERE

MORNING OFFERING


Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - Is Jesus pointing to you as his brother/sister? If yes, Why? If no, why not?

To read the texts click on the texts: Micah 7:14-15,18-20; Mt 12:46-50

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


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

Sunday, 17 July 2016

VIOLENCE IS NEVER AN ANSWER


Monday, July 18, 2016 - What sign have you been seeking from the Lord? Will you believe in his presence even in the absence of signs today? How?

To read the texts click on the texts: Micah 6:1-4,6-8; Mt 12:38-42

The text of today is continuation of the earlier text (12:25-37) in which Jesus makes a series of pronouncements regarding the coming judgement. The Pharisees respond to these statements of Jesus by demanding a sign. In Matthew only disciples address Jesus as Lord, and the address “Teacher” here by the Pharisees indicates that they are not disciples. The sign they demand is a proof of Jesus’ identity. Jesus’ response to the Pharisees’ demand is to make another pronouncement. In this pronouncement he regards them as an “evil and adulterous generation” which means a people who have closed their hearts to the revelation that God is constantly making. 

The sign of Jonah here refers clearly to the resurrection of Jesus. Further, it is the Gentiles (people of Nineveh) who will rise up and condemn the Jews. It is a clear reversal of roles. Jesus is greater than both Jonah and Solomon.


The manner in which some of us mourn and weep at the death of a loved one seems to indicate that we do not believe in the resurrection. This is the only sign that Jesus continues to give. If we keep looking for other signs of his presence we might find ourselves in the same position as the Pharisees of his time and miss him who makes himself available and visible at every moment of our lives.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Audio Reflections of Sunday, July 17, 201

To hear the Audio Reflections of Sunday, July 17, 2016 click HERE

MORNING OFFERING


Sunday, July 17, 2016 - Contemplative Even In Action

To read the texts click on the texts: Gn 18:1-10; Col 1:24-28; Lk10:38-42

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Friday, 15 July 2016

Audio reflections of Saturday, July 16, 201

To hear the Audio reflections of Saturday, July 16, 2016 click HERE

MORNING OFFERING


Saturday, July 16, 2016 - How do you usually react to stressful situations? Will you learn from Jesus’ response today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Micah 2:1-5; Mt 12:14-21


The reason why the Pharisees conspire against Jesus, how to destroy him is because he healed a man with a withered arm on the Sabbath, and though at first glance it might seem that this is an overreaction on the part of the Pharisees, when looked at in the broader context of the Kingdom of heaven which Jesus represents and the Kingdom of Satan which is represented by the Jewish leaders and which continues to oppose the Kingdom of heaven, then it is easier to understand the reaction of the Pharisees. 

The response of Jesus to this conspiracy is to withdraw from that place. However, it is to be noted that Jesus does not withdraw to run away or from fear, but to continue the work of healing and making whole. In this withdrawal is strength and not weakness and it explicates the response of God (Jesus) to human violence and plotting of destruction. Even in his making people whole, Jesus does not want to be known or acclaimed and so commands those whom he has healed to remain silent about their healing and not to make him known. This attitude of Jesus leads to the quotation from Isaiah 42:1-4 which is the longest scriptural quotation in the Gospel of Matthew. It is about the suffering servant of Yahweh whose primary mission is to accept those who have been rejected by others as is shown in his not breaking the bruised reed or quenching the smouldering wick. Also, he does this without much fanfare, and yet his ultimate goal is to bring justice to those who place their hope in him. He will ultimately triumph.


Our response to challenging situations or to situations that threaten us is sometimes to run away from fear, and sometimes to use defence mechanisms. Neither of these ways is advocated by Jesus whose way would be to face the challenges head on.