To hear the Audio Reflections of Tuesday, June 19, 2018 click HERE
Monday, 18 June 2018
Tuesday, June 19, 2018 -How often has the expectation of some “reward” been your motivation for “doing good”? Will you “do good” without any expectation of reward today?
To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Kings 21:17-29; Mt 5:43-48
In the last of the six antitheses, Matthew focuses on the love command. While there is no command to hate the enemy in the Old Testament, there are statements that God hates all evildoers and statements that imply that others do or should do the same. Jesus, makes explicit here, the command to love enemies. The conduct of the disciples of Jesus must reveal who they are really are, namely “sons and daughters of God”.
The command to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” does not mean to be without faults, but means to be undivided in love as God is undivided in love.
The love we have for others is more often than not a conditional love. We indulge in barter exchange and term it love. We are willing to do something for someone and expect that they do the same or something else in return. It is a matter of “give”, but also a matter of “take”. When Jesus asks us to be like the heavenly Father, he is calling us to unconditional love.
Tuesday, June 19, 2018 - 1 Kings 21:17-29; Mt 5:43-48
Sunday, 17 June 2018
To read the texts click on the texts:1 Kings 21:1-16; Mt 5:38-42
The text of today contains the fifth antithesis. In it, Jesus not only affirms the thrust of the Law in opposing unlimited revenge, but also calls for a rejection of the principle of retaliatory violence as well.
In the five examples that follow (being struck in the face, being sued in court, being requisitioned into short-term compulsory service, giving to beggars and lending to borrowers) the one point being made is to place the needs of others before one’s own needs. The disciple of Jesus is called to go beyond the call of the Law and do more than it requires.
It is so easy for us to be reactors. If someone does something to hurt us, we think that it is “natural” for us to want to do something to hurt him or her in return. In the text of today, Jesus is calling us to be actors and not reactors and to do what we do because we think it is right and just and not as a reaction to someone else’s action.
Monday, June 18, 2018 - 1 Kings 21:1-16; Mt 5:38-42
Saturday, 16 June 2018
To read the texts click on the texts: Ezek 17:22-24; 2 Cor5:6-10; Mk 4:26-34
Optimism, hope, confidence and assurance are words that summarise the theme of all three readings of today.
This note of confidence and hope begins in the first reading where Ezekiel emphasizes the power of God’s word. God will plant the branch or twig from the mighty cedar so that it will grow and bear fruit. The tree will be so huge that every bird of the air will be able to nest in its branches. This means in other words that every human from every nation will recognize and acknowledge the saving power of God. This is why the text ends with the words “I the Lord have spoken. I will accomplish it”. The power of God is so strong that nothing will be impossible. God does this to assert that God is not indifferent to creation. On the contrary God is constantly involved in the whole creative process and in creation. The great reverser, who brings low the high tree and exalts the low tree, thereby demonstrates that power that transcends every human expectation.
This power of God is evident in the Gospel text of today through the two parables of the seed. Clearly both are about the kingdom and are so simple to understand that it is possible that one might miss the point precisely because of their simplicity. In the first of the two commonly known as the Parable of the seed growing secretly, the sequence of events is of prime importance. A person scatters the seed on the ground, sleeps at night, rises in the day and the seed grows. The one who sows is not involved in the process of growth. The seed grows of itself. This is clearly an indication that it is the work of God and that God is in control. It is God who makes the seed grow once it has been sown. This also means that while the disciples are called to do their bit, they can do only that and no more. No matter how much they try, they cannot hasten the growth. No matter how much they worry, they cannot make the seed grow quicker. Thus the point is that the disciples have to sow and God will make it grow. The disciples have only to do their best and God will do the rest.
The parable of the mustard that follows, points on the one hand to the contrast between small and big, and on the other hand to the fact that it is not merely great trees like oaks and cedars that demonstrate that the kingdom of God has indeed come. The mustard seed though extremely small grows into a large shrub when sown into the ground. Here too the message to disciples is that they must not be anxious or worry about the outcome. They must have the confidence that after they have sown and done all that is required; from small there will be big; from little there will be much. Despite the fact that their efforts sometimes may seem as insignificant and tiny as a mustard seed, the end product will be enormous, simply because God will do what remains to be done.
This is precisely the reason why Paul can have the confidence that he expresses in the second reading of today. He is aware that the present circumstances, which include suffering and affliction, are not the ideal arrangement or the final picture, the goal. Paul therefore adopts the attitude of “indifference” which is not be interpreted as a “don’t care attitude”, laissez faire or a lax attitude, Rather the indifference is a very positive attitude. It is an attitude where because the person concerned knows that he/she can only do so much, does it and leaves the rest to God.
There are moments in our lives when we put in a lot of effort into something and cannot see the fruit of that effort. There are times in our lives when we think that all of our effort is in vain and there are times when we give up and give in because we are more concerned about the outcome or result than about our action. The readings of today warn against such an attitude. They challenge us to do what we are called to do. They also caution us not to jump the gun, but to follow the logical sequence of events. It is sometimes the case that we do not scatter the seed and consequently remain awake at night with useless worry and sleep in the day when we ought to be awake. We first need to sow or scatter the seed for it to take root and germinate. Then we can sleep at night and be awake in the day and the seed will indeed grow.
Sunday, June 17, 2018 - Ezek 17:22-24; 2 Cor 5:6-10; Mk 4:26-34
Friday, 15 June 2018
To read the texts click on the texts:1 Kings 19:19-21; Mt 5:33-37
The fourth of the six antitheses is completely a Matthean composition. There is no precedence for the absolute prohibition of oaths in Judaism. Rather, an oath invoked God to guarantee the truth of what was being sworn or promised, or to punish the one taking the oath if he/she was not faithful to their word.
The Matthean Jesus here rules out oaths completely. He rejects not only false and unnecessary oaths, but also any attempt to bolster one’s statement claim to truth beyond the bare statement of it. It is a demand for truthfulness in everything that one says.
If we are convinced that we are telling the truth as we see it, there may not be any need for us to either raise our voices when making our point or swear or even to call others to witness what we have said.
Saturday, June 16, 2018 - 1 Kings 19:19-21; Mt 5:33-37
Thursday, 14 June 2018
Friday, June 15, 2018 - Will you bother less about your “doing” and focus more on your “being”? How?
To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Kings 19:9,11-16; Mt 5:27-32
The text of today contains the second (5:27-30) and third (5:31-32) of the six antitheses (5:21-48), which appear in the Sermon on the Mount immediately after the theme. All six while addressing various aspects of the law move the focus away from the letter to the spirit. Each of the six begins similarly i.e. with a juxtaposition of what was said (by God through Moses) and what is now being said (by Jesus to his disciples).
In this pericope, Jesus reaffirms the prohibition against adultery (Exodus 20:14), but goes beyond i.e. to the intention of the heart.
The third antithesis about divorce is related to the earlier one about adultery in subject matter. Deut 24:1-4 assumes the legitimacy of divorce, and in Jewish tradition divorce was relatively easy to obtain. Jesus, however, prohibits divorce. Matthew alone adds the exception clause, not found in Mark 10:2-9 which here is more original and reflects the position of the historical Jesus.
There is sometimes in our understanding of Christianity too much emphasis on what constitutes and does not constitute sin, and on how far we can go before we commit sin. The real question we must ask is how far we must go in love.
Friday, June 15, 2018 - 1 Kings 19:9,11-16; Mt 5:27-32
Wednesday, 13 June 2018
Thursday, June 14, 2018 - How many times did you get angry yesterday? Will you attempt to make it one less time today?
To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Kings 18:41-46; Mt 5:20-26
The righteousness of the disciples of Jesus must exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees. In the six antitheses (5:21-48) that follow, Matthew shows what this means in practice.
Each of the six begins with what was said of old and what Jesus is now saying. In these verses (5:21-26) Matthew narrates the first of the six, which is about the Torah’s prohibition of murder (Exodus 20:13; Deut 5:18). The supplementary “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement” is not found verbatim anywhere in the Old Testament, and seems to have been added by Matthew to introduce the word “judgement” which he uses in the next verse. After stating the law and adding a supplementary, the Matthean Jesus then radicalises the law and calls for an interiorization of it (5:22).
The call seems to be to submit one’s thoughts about other people, as well as the words they give rise to, to God’s penetrating judgement. It is a call to realise that God wills not only that human beings not kill each other but also that there be no hostility between human beings.
The next verses (5:23-26) are an application of what Jesus says. Reconciliation is even more important than offering worship and sacrifice. The disciples are called to work for reconciliation in the light of the eschatological judgement toward which they are journeying.
If we come to worship God and there are feelings of anger, revenge or hatred in our hearts, then our worship remains incomplete. It is only an external worship and not true worship. God does not need our adoration, but if want to adore him it must also come from within.
Thursday, June 14, 2018 - 1 Kings 18:41-46; Mt 5:20-26
Tuesday, 12 June 2018
Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - When was the last time you performed an action without any expectation of reward? Will you perform one today?
To read the texts click on the texts:1 Kings 18:20-39; Mt 5:17-19
These verses contain what are commonly known as the “theme” of the Sermon on the Mount. In these verses, the Matthean Jesus makes explicit that he is a law abiding Jew. His attitude towards the Jewish law is fundamentally positive.
However, Jesus also makes explicit here, that he has come not merely to confirm or establish the law, but to fulfill or complete it. This means that he will go beyond a purely legal interpretation to a broader perspective. He will remove the focus from the mere external and concentrate on the internal. The focus will be more on the attitude than merely on the action.
While laws, rules and regulations are necessary and help towards order, it is also possible that they can become ends in themselves and not as they are meant to be, means to an end. We might follow in some cases the letter of the law, but miss out on its spirit. We might even follow the rule or law only because we are afraid of getting caught and punished and not because we are convinced of it.
Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - 1 Kings 18:20-39; Mt 5:17-19
Monday, 11 June 2018
To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Kgs 17:7-18; Mt 5:13-16
The text of today is somewhat of a link text, which joins the beatitudes (5:3-12) to the theme of the Sermon (5:17-20). These verses point out the effect that living the Sermon will have on the liberation of the world. The text makes two assertions about the followers of Jesus. The first is that they are the salt of the earth and the second is that they are the light of the world. Both these symbols seem to point to the indispensable role that the disciples of Jesus are to play in the liberation of the world.
It is through the lives of the disciples of Jesus that the world will be moved to glorify God. This is indeed a great privilege, but also a great responsibility.
Salt is an ingredient that adds flavour or taste to that to which it is added. It makes the insipid tasty, edible and enjoyable. Disciples of Jesus are called to add taste and flavour to the lives of others. Light enables one to see correctly and results in removing darkness. This is what the disciples of Jesus must do if they are to be true disciples: remove the darkness from the lives of others.
Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - 1 Kgs 17:7-18; Mt 5:13-16
Sunday, 10 June 2018
Monday, June 11, 2018 - Do any of the beatitudes apply to you? Will you strive to make at least two applicable to yourself today?
To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Kings 17:1-6; Mt 5:1-12
Beginning today, the gospel reading will be from the Gospel of Matthew except on feasts or special occasions.
The Church begins from Chapter 5 of Matthew. The three chapters beginning from 5:1 and ending at 7:29 contain one of the most famous discourses of Matthew known as “The Sermon on the Mount”.
Since we will be reading this Sermon for almost three whole weeks on weekdays, it is important to have some background of what the Sermon is about.
The first point that we note is that this is the first of the five great discourses in the Gospel of Matthew. Each of these five ends with the phrase, “and when Jesus had finished…” (7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1). The Sermon begins by showing Jesus as a Rabbi teaching ex-cathedra (5:1) and ends by showing Jesus as the Messianic prophet addressing the crowds (7:28).
The second point that must be kept in mind is that the Sermon is a composition of Matthew. An analysis of similar texts in the Gospels of Mark and Luke indicate that many verses found here in Matthew are found in Mark and Luke in different contexts. This does not mean that Jesus did not say these words. It means that Matthew has put them together in this manner.
The third point is the theme, which will determine how one will interpret the Sermon as a whole. Most are agreed that the theme of the Sermon is found in 5:17-20, in which Jesus speaks about having come not to abolish but to fulfill the Law and Prophets, and issues a challenge to those listening to let their “righteousness” be greater than that of the scribes and Pharisees in order to enter the kingdom.
Today’s text contains what is commonly known as the “Introduction” to the Sermon and contains the Beatitudes, which are the communication of a blessing. The mountain is a “theological topos” in the Gospel of Matthew (Luke’s Sermon is from “a level place cf Lk 6:17) and therefore means much more than simply a geographical location. Matthew does not name the mountain, but by choosing it as the place from where Jesus delivers the Sermon, he probably wants to portray Jesus as the New Moses delivering the New Law from a
. While Jesus in
the Gospel of Luke “stands” and delivers the Sermon (Lk 6:17), in Matthew, Jesus
sits down. This is the posture that the Jewish Rabbis adopted when communicating
a teaching of importance or connected with the Law. In Luke the crowd is
addressed from the beginning of the Sermon and addressed directly, “Blessed are
you poor…” (Lk 6:20), but in Matthew, it is the “disciples” who come to Jesus
and whom he begins to teach. The address is indirect, “Blessed are the poor in
spirit” (5:3). While Luke has four beatitudes with four corresponding
“Woes”; Matthew has seven plus an additional beatitude, with no corresponding
woes. The reason why the “eight” is called an additional beatitude is because
the first and the seventh both end with the phrase “theirs is the kingdom of
heaven” forming what is known as an inclusion. New
A Beatitude is an expression of congratulations, which recognises an existing state of happiness. While the rewards described in the first and seventh beatitudes are in the present tense, they are in the future tense in the other five beatitudes. The sense is that it is God himself who will do all of this for them. By choosing to bless the disadvantaged, the Matthean Jesus indicates the thrust of his mission, which is primarily a mission to the disadvantaged.
Saturday, 9 June 2018
Sunday, June 10, 2018 - The sin against the Holy Spirit is to no longer believe that the Holy Spirit can transform me
To read the texts click on the texts: Gen 3:9-15; 2 Cor 4:13-5:1;Mk 3:20-35
The connection between the first reading and the Gospel seems to be sin. In the first reading we are told about what is commonly known as original sin and in the Gospel reading we hear the Marcan Jesus speak about the sin against the Holy Spirit.
The sin of those who accuse Jesus casting out demons by the power of the prince of demons has its roots in the sin of Adam and Eve. In both cases it is the result of a closed attitude. If in the case of Adam and Eve the sin of eating of the fruit of the forbidden tree was because of a refusal to obey God’s spoken word and command, in the case of the scribes the sin against the Holy Spirit was because of a refusal to listen to God’s word made manifest in his Son.
The consequences of the sin of Adam and Eve are humiliation, domination and subordination, conflict, suffering and struggle. They touch every aspect of human life. In all of the areas like marriage and sexuality; birth and death; work and food; human and nonhuman, it seems that now death is encroaching on life. Where there was once harmony and cosmos, there is now disharmony and chaos. Where there was once tranquility and peace, there is now conflict and strife.
This is also the case with the sin of the scribes. The Word of God made manifest in Jesus was a Word that was meant to bring harmony and restore the Cosmos to what it was meant to be. However, the refusal of the scribes to accept and listen to that Word resulted in confusion, bewilderment, disorientation and disorder.
The point in both the stories is that it is not God who brings the disorder or confusion, but humans who bring it on themselves. The onus lies with humans and not with God. God does what God is meant to do simply because humans have not done what they were required to do.
It is in this context that we must look at the related story which is part of the Gospel text of today namely who belongs to the family of Jesus. In these verses, the family of Jesus is introduced in a negative manner. They want to restrain Jesus because people were saying that Jesus had gone out of his mind. One possible reason why people would have thought that he “out of his mind” was because he was working miracles and this could have been seen as associated with magic and such persons could either be banned or even executed. His family thus comes to take him away by force.
Mark indicates that the family of Jesus are hostile to him. They are “outside” while Jesus is “inside” the house. Their position is the opposite of that of Jesus. This too indicates that they are not disciples. Jesus then defines family in terms of those who do the will of God.
Both Adam and Eve in the first reading of today, the scribes and the family of Jesus in the Gospel text of today are striking examples of what it means not to do the will of God. It is to close oneself to the revelation that God is constantly making. It is to close one’s eyes and heart and refuse to see. Adam and Eve were not able to see because they did not trust the word of God spoken to them. The word of the serpent ends up putting the word of God in question.
The scribes and family of Jesus on the other hand were not able to see because they had decided in advance how the Word made manifest in Jesus must and conduct himself. He had to fit their stereotype for them to believe. If he did not the would reject him, accuse him or try to restrain him.
The fact that Adam and Eve were the first human beings was no guarantee that they would obey God. The fact that the scribes were learned men and knew the law was no guarantee that they would see God in Jesus. The fact that the family of Jesus were related to him by blood was no guarantee that they would understand him.
We may imagine that because we have been baptized and bear the name Christian we are automatically counted as members of Jesus’ family. However, baptism alone will not make us members of Jesus’ family, but the living out of the baptismal promises in our lives. This living out of the baptismal promises is what the Christians at Corinth are invited by Paul to do. To believe in Jesus and to understand him does not mean a mere verbal assent but a living out of the faith that is professed. It is never to lose heart despite the fact that things might not always go the way we plan. It is not to be taken in or up by what is temporary and passing, but to focus on that which is permanent and lasting. It is to continue to obey, believe, trust and hope even in the face of all odds.
Sunday, June 10, 2018 - Gen 3:9-15; 2 Cor 4:13-5:1; Mk 3:20-35
Friday, 8 June 2018
To read the texts click on the texts: Isaiah 61:9-11; Lk 2:41-51
The Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is celebrated on the Saturday following the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to show the close connection between Mary and her beloved Son.
This means that every year the feast is celebrate on the Saturday before the third Sunday following the fest of Pentecost.
The Immaculate heart of Mary is a symbol used to represent the interior and exterior life of Mary. It is used to represent her joys and sorrows, her trials and strength, her love for her God shown through her determined yes and her love for all humanity shown in and through the love for her Son.
The Gospel text chosen for the feast is popularly known as “The Finding in the Temple” and is taken to mean the finding of Jesus. However, a close look will indicate that Jesus was never lost. He always knew where he was and where he was supposed to be. It was Mary and Joseph who were lost without their son.
This text is found only in the Gospel of Luke and gives us an insight into the childhood of Jesus. It also indicates the awareness of Jesus even at this young age of who he was and his relationship with the Father. Even as it does this it also brings out powerfully the relentless search of Mary for her son. He was the centre of her life and she would not rest until she found him. What we are searching for reveals a great deal about who we are.
The Immaculate heart of Mary reminds us of the response of Mary to the privilege that she received to be God’s mother. Her response went beyond a mere “yes” or even co-operation and collaboration with God. Her response let God do in and through her. This may be termed as a passive activity or an active passivity on the part of Mary. She became the instrument through which God was able to reveal his son to the world.
If we like Mary dare to respond like she did, we too can become instruments in the hands of God and reveal Jesus to the world.
Saturday, June 9, 2018 - The Immaculate Heart of Mary - Isaiah 61:9-11; Lk 2:41-51
Thursday, 7 June 2018
To read the texts click on the texts: Hos 11:1,3-4,6-9; Eph 3:8-12,14-19; Jn 19:31-37
Ever since the seventeenth century when St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was granted visions of the Sacred Heart and asked to spread this devotion, the Jesuits represented by her confessor St. Claude de la Colombière, played a fundamental role in spreading this devotion. Colombière, spoke with Margaret Mary a number of times and after much prayer, discernment and reflection became convinced of the validity of her visions.
In recent times, one of the most loved and admired Generals of the Society of Jesus Fr. Pedro Arrupe was instrumental in reviving this devotion and placing Jesuits once again at the forefront of spreading this devotion. This devotion according to Arrupe was “the centre of the Ignatian experience”. It is an “extraordinarily effective means as much for gaining personal perfection as for apostolic success”. Arrupe was aware of the fact that the devotion had to be spread using newer symbols and made every attempt to do so.
According to one of the visions made to Margaret Mary, Jesus made twelve promises to those who would have devotion to the Sacred Heart. Of these one is of special significance. It reads “Sinners shall find in My Heart the source of an infinite ocean of mercy”. This promise is totally in keeping with the message of Jesus on every page of the New Testament.
Jesus, the revelation of the Father’s love, was consistent and constant in his message of the unconditional love of God. His inaugural proclamation as he began his ministry in Galilee was that the kingdom had indeed come, that God’s love and mercy and forgiveness was being given freely to anyone who was willing to open their hearts to such love.
His table fellowship with “tax collectors and sinners” (who were regarded as outcasts and so not to be associated with) was tangible proof of this promise. Jesus even went as far as to say “I have come to call not the righteous but sinners’ (Mk 2:17). The parables like those of the Lost Sheep, lost coin and ‘Prodigal Father’ (Lk 15:1-32) are further confirmation of this promise. As a matter of fact a clear connection is made between the murmurings of the ‘scribes and Pharisees’, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Lk 15:2) and Jesus’ telling the parable of the Lost Sheep (Lk 15:3-7). Thus, while “sinners shall find an infinite ocean of mercy” in the Sacred Heart, it is not a new teaching, it is an important reminder to us of how gracious God is, in the heart of Jesus.
What then does the Feast of the Sacred Heart mean for us today? First the heart is a symbol of the whole person and so the Sacred Heart of Jesus represents the whole Christ who is and will always be unconditional and eternal love. This love of Christ is given freely, without reservation and measure to all who open themselves to receive it.
Second, the feast reminds us of the constant care and concern that God has even now for each one of us and the whole Universe. By celebrating the feast we make present the self sacrifice of Jesus for all humankind. Our God is a God ‘with us and for us’. God is Emmanuel.
Third, the feast of the Sacred Heart reminds us of the intimate connection between the Sacrament of the Eucharist and devotion to the Sacred Heart. The Eucharist was that pivotal event in the life of Jesus when he showed how much he loved the whole world. Just as the bread was broken so would his body be and just as the wine was shared so would his blood be spilled. In the Sacrament of the Eucharist we receive the real, whole and risen Christ, so in the devotion that we profess to the Sacred Heart we relive this encounter.
The feast is thus not only a privilege and grace, but also carries with it a responsibility.
First, the love that we receive from the Sacred Heart of Jesus is not a private possession, but one that must be shared with all. Just as the Father makes no distinction and makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good (Mt 5:45), so must we in our sharing of the love of Christ.
Second, the concern that God has for us and our Universe must be a concern which we must show to our world. The wanton destruction of nature, excessive and abusive use of scarce resources like water, indiscriminate cutting of trees for selfish gain, unlawful and criminal killing of wild animals are signs that we are working against God’s concern. If God cares for us so much, must we not care for our world?
Third, the intimate connection of the Sacred Heart and Eucharist reminds us that just as Christ is so easily available to us, we must also be to each other. The Eucharist and the feast of the Sacred Heart ought not to be private and passive devotions, but celebrations that make us ready to reach out in service and availability to anyone who needs us.