To hear the Audio Reflections of Wednesday, July 18, 2018 click HERE
Tuesday, 17 July 2018
Wednesday, July 18, 2018 - Is your pride preventing you from encountering Jesus? What will you do about it today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Isaiah 10:5-7,13-16; Mt 11:25-27
This text is addressed to all those who accept the message of Jesus unlike those in Chorazin and Bethsaida.
Jesus begins his prayer here by giving thanks to the Father. It is openness to the revelation of God that Jesus makes which is responsible for the receipt of this enormous privilege.
Acknowledging Jesus is not a matter of one’s superior knowledge or insight, but given as a gift to those who open themselves to this revelation. Jesus himself is an example of such openness, which allowed him to receive everything directly from God. It is his intimacy with the Father and not his religious genius, which is responsible for this grace.
Wednesday, July 18, 2018 - Isaiah 10:5-7,13-16; Mt 11:25-27
Monday, 16 July 2018
Tuesday, July 17, 2018 - If you were a resident of Chorazin or Bethsaida how would you respond to the woes?
To read the texts click on the texts: Isaiah 7:1-9; Mt 11:20-24
The woes pronounced against Chorazin and Bethsaida are because of the refusal of the people in them to repent. The people of these towns did believe in the miracles, but this belief did not translate into a change of mind and heart.This change was the primary purpose of the miracles of Jesus. Also, the Gentile cities of Tyre and Sidon that were regarded as biblical symbols of evil would fare better on the day of judgement that Chorazin and Bethsaida.
The miraculous and extra-ordinary cannot always sustain faith. Faith is a gift from God to anyone who wants to receive it and is willing to open their heart and mind. More often than not a kind word or a gentle touch can lead people to repentance.
Tuesday, July 17, 2018 - Isaiah 7:1-9; Mt 11:20-24
Sunday, 15 July 2018
Monday, July 16, 2018 - Our Lady of Mount Carmel - If the Lord were to stretch out his hand would you be included as a member of his family? If Yes, why? If no, why not?
To read the texts click on the texts: Zech 2:10-13; Mt 12:46-50
Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary in her role as patroness of the Carmelite Order. The first Carmelites were Christian hermits living on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land during the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. The Carmelites built a chapel in the midst of their hermitages on Mount Carmel which they dedicated to the Blessed Virgin.
The readings of today are from the Gospel of Matthew and contains a pointer as to who make up the true family of Jesus. Unlike in Mark, where the “crowd” is pointed out to as the true family of Jesus, in Matthew, it is the community of disciples who make up the true family.
The point being made in this text is not so much about the mother or brothers and sisters of Jesus, but about who will be regarded as true members of Jesus’ family. The action of stretching out his hand has been used earlier to portray Jesus as compassionate (8:3) and also an act, which will be used later to show him as the great deliverer who comes to the aid of his disciples (14:31).
In the concluding statement, the Matthean Jesus makes clear that discipleship and being a member of his family is not merely a matter of verbal profession even proclamation, but doing the will of God. This aspect makes anyone a brother or sister of Jesus.
We may imagine that because we have been baptised into the faith we can take for granted that we are members of Jesus’ family. This need not be so, since we need to keep renewing our commitment to Jesus and his cause every day. While verbal proclamation does have its place, it alone is not enough. We must show through our deeds whom we believe in.
To read the texts click on the texts: Isaiah 1:11-17; Mt 10:34- 11:1
These verses make up the conclusion of Matthew’s Mission Discourse. The choice that is mentioned here, is a difficult one to make. Sometimes it may even be between even family and one’s conscience.
Loyalty to Jesus has priority over loyalty to anyone else or anything, indeed even over life itself. If one is willing to share the cross of Jesus, one will also be given the privilege of his authority.
The discourse ends with the affirmation that the disciple is always a representative or ambassador of Jesus and any good done to the disciple will be considered as good done to Jesus himself.
We must keep in mind that the only Jesus that people can see and touch today is the Jesus that we make known through our words and actions. He has allowed us to share in his mission. This is also an enormous privilege, but entails a tremendous responsibility. If we reach out in love like he did and dare to be selfless and courageous as he was, we will make Jesus present to the world even today.
Monday, July 16, 2018 - Our Lady of Mount Carmel - Zech 2:10-13; Mt 12:46-50
Monday, July 16, 2018 - Isaiah 1:11-17; Mt 10:34- 11:1
Saturday, 14 July 2018
To read the texts click on the texts: Am 7:12-15;Eph1:3-14; Mk 6:7-13
The Church has two patrons of missions, two saints whose lives, at first glance, are diametrically opposite each other. They are St Theresa of the Child Jesus, also known as the Little Flower, and St Francis Xavier, a Jesuit saint.
St Theresa was a cloistered Carmelite nun, who never left the four walls of the convent from the time she joined it, at the age of 15, until she died at the age of 24. Francis Xavier, however, was a saint who literally rushed through the Asian continent, anxious to preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere.
By choosing these two saints, the Church wants to give us a message that mission is not a place. Also, mission is done not merely through active preaching, but also through active prayer. Mission is activity, surely, but mission is also silence. In other words, mission is where you are, mission is what you do. Every disciple of Jesus is called to mission. Every disciple of Jesus is, in fact, a missionary.
This fact is brought out powerfully in the first reading of today when Amos, who was a herdsman and a tender of sycamore trees, is called by God to be a prophet and a missionary. He has no experience of mission work. He has no special qualifications. He has no special education or training. Yet, when God calls, and sends, Amos goes. He does not let threats, intimidation, or any other kind of hindrance come in the way of the mission entrusted to him by God.
This is also the case with the disciples whom Jesus sends in the Gospel text of today. They, too, have no special gifts or talents. They, too, are inexperienced in what the mission will demand of them. They, too, are raw. Yet, they are called, and sent, and they go.
First, the disciples are sent with the authority of Jesus. They will bear in mind that it is his mission, not theirs. They must proclaim his message, not theirs. It is a mission or commission they receive from the Lord and they must be faithful to it and to him.
The content of the mission on which they are sent is dual. It is to say and to do. It is to preach and to heal. It consists of word and of action. This is an indication that mission is not merely a spiritual enterprise but extremely practical. It touches, and must touch, every aspect of the life of those to whom the missioner is sent. It also means that they must do what they say and that there must always be a synchrony between their words and actions.
Even as they go, Jesus provides them with a strategy. This strategy may be summed up in one word: Detachment. They are to be detached from material possessions, they are to be detached from family ties, and they are to be detached from a particular place. They are also to be detached from the outcome of mission. The disciples follow the instructions of Jesus to the letter and so are able to do Mission. They are able to do what Jesus has commanded them to do.
The main reason why they are able to do this is explicated by the second reading of today in which the Ephesians are reminded about the foundation of their lives. Grace upon grace has been poured out on those who have been chosen by God before the foundation of the world. It is God who accomplishes all things, in and through the actions and words of the disciples. God’s plan is that the Gospel, the good news of salvation, be preached throughout the world to everyone who is willing to listen. It is an inclusive plan; no one is excluded.
This mission that Jesus inaugurated and sent his disciples out on two thousand years ago is a mission that continues even today. It continues to be an all inclusive mission, a mission that includes both word and action. It is still a mission to proclaim the good news that God is, even now in Christ, reconciling the world to himself. Mission shows this reconciliation in action. Every follower of Christ, every disciple, is called to engage in this mission. It is not done merely by those who are called to the priesthood or religious life. It is not done merely in the villages or “mission stations”, but is done by all and in every place. Whenever and wherever an enhancing word is spoken and a loving action is performed, whenever and wherever reconciliation is wrought and wounds are healed, whenever and wherever love replaces fear, hope replaces despair, truth replaces untruth, light replaces darkness, and life replaces death, then is mission done again and again and the mission of Jesus continues.
Even as the mission continues, the missioner must always keep in mind that detachment from the outcome of mission is an absolute requirement. The mission is the mission of Jesus and he will, in his own way, and in his own time, ensure that it meets with success.
Sunday, July 15, 2018 - Am 7:12-15; Eph1:3-14; Mk 6:7-13
Friday, 13 July 2018
Saturday, July 14, 2018 - Do you give up or give in when difficulties come your way? Do you throw up your hands in despair? Will you continue to persevere and trust today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 6:1-8; Mt 10:24-33
In the verses of today, a parallel is drawn between the disciples who are sent by Jesus and Jesus himself. The disciples will share the same fate as their master.
Jesus' response to negative assessment of his mission was equanimity and this must be the response of the disciples’ as well. They must not retaliate, but continue to persevere in the firm hope that they will eventually succeed. The disciples are exhorted to be fearless in mission. The command “not to be afraid” is repeated twice in these verses. The reason for their fearlessness is that the Father is in control even if all evidence is to the contrary. If they remain faithful they will show themselves to be true disciples.
We often begin things with a bang and then end them with a whimper. This is because sometimes our enthusiasm runs away with us. What is required is perseverance and this is more likely if we start slowly and steadily (as Jesus himself did) and then let things build up gradually than if we start with much fanfare, which soon fizzles out.
Saturday, July 14, 2018 - Isaiah 6:1-8; Mt 10:24-33
Thursday, 12 July 2018
Friday, July 13, 2018 -= When the going gets tough, the tough get going. What do you make of this statement?
To read the texts click on the texts: Hosea 14:2-10; Mt 10:16-23
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.
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.
Jesus 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, July 13, 2018 - Hosea 14:2-10; Mt 10:16-23
Wednesday, 11 July 2018
Thursday, July 12, 2018 - How often have you focussed on the result rather than on the action? Will you focus only on the action today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Hosea 11:1-4,8-9; Mt 10:7-15
The text of today, which is part of the Mission Discourse of Matthew contains the instructions for Mission. Three points may be noticed. The first is that mission is not only words but also action. Jesus sends the disciples not only to preach but also to heal. The second is that Jesus provides a strategy for mission which may be summarised in one word namely, DETACHMENT.
The call is to detachment from anything, which will hold a person up or prevent him or her from engaging in mission. The third is that Jesus calls the disciples from a detachment even from the outcome of mission. They must not be concerned about the results or the fruits, but simply do what needs to be done.
Often, too much of focus on the results of our actions do not allow us to focus on the action itself. Consequently, our action is neither effective nor efficacious. If we continue to keep in mind that the Kingdom is not ours but His and we are only called to do our best in striving to make this kingdom a reality in the lives of others, then our action will be both effective and efficacious. Detachment even from the results of our action is an indication that we are aware that God is always in control.
Thursday, July 12, 2018 - Hosea 11:1-4,8-9; Mt 10:7-15
Tuesday, 10 July 2018
To read the texts click on the texts: Hosea 10:1-3,7-8,12; Mt 10:1-7
The text of today is what may be termed as the Introduction to the Mission Discourse of Matthew (10:1- 42). It is only here that the Twelve are called “apostles”. This may be because of the context of the “sending” of the Twelve.
Matthew has arranged the list into six pairs of two, by using the conjunction “and” after the first and then of each pair.
The statement of Jesus to “go nowhere among the Gentiles” (10:5b) might seem harsh, but it must be kept in mind that historically, the disciples were reluctant to go to non-Jews even after the resurrection and it took considerable time for the Church to realise that it had a universal mission.
This Universality is present at the end of the Gospel of Matthew when the risen Jesus commands the disciples to go to “all nations” (28:18-20).
The Mission of the disciples is both to preach and to heal, to say and do, word and action.
Our Mission as disciples of Jesus is not merely a spiritual enterprise and not only to a select view. It is a practical mission, which includes the material, economic and tangible areas of people’s lives, and must include all. As disciples called to Mission we are called to make the world we live in a better place for everyone.
Wednesday, July 11, 2018 - Hosea 10:1-3,7-8,12; Mt 10:1-7
Monday, 9 July 2018
Tuesday, July 10, 2018 - “There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so”. Do you agree with this statement? Why?
To read the texts click on the texts: Hosea 8:4-7,11-13; Mt 9:32-38
Our text for today includes the final miracle in Matthew’s Miracle Cycle.
The response to the same miracle is two-fold. On the one hand, the crowd seeing the miracle are amazed, and speak of their amazement, but on the other, the Pharisees’ the power that Jesus has to Beelzebul.
What follows is a summary statement of the words and deeds of Jesus, which is very similar to the summary statement in 4:23 before the Sermon on the Mount. By repeating the summary statement here after the Miracle Cycle, Matthew shows that Jesus is Messiah not only in words (as expressed in the Sermon on the Mount) but also in deeds (as explicated in the Miracle Cycle).
Often the external stimulus is the same for two persons and yet each responds differently. This is an indication that it is not the external stimulus that is causing the response, but the person him/herself. In other words, each of us can decide how we want to respond. We can look at the half-filled or half-empty part of a bottle. We can look at the black spot or at the white wall. It depends on what we want to see and how we see.
Tuesday, July 10, 2018 - Hosea 8:4-7,11-13; Mt 9:32-38
Sunday, 8 July 2018
To read the texts click on the texts: Hosea 2:16-18,21-22; Mt 9:18-26
In the text of today, which Matthew has taken from Mark, the sandwich construction is maintained. This means that the first incident is interrupted by the narration of another incident complete in itself, and after this the first incident is resumed and completed. The story that is inserted into the story of raising the ruler’s daughter is the story of the healing of a woman with a haemorrhage.
While Mark gives us the name of the leader of the synagogue, Jairus (Mark 5:22), Matthew omits his name. Matthew also omits a number of Marcan details namely Jesus’ question about who touched him and the disciples response, the fear of the woman about being found out and her falling down before Jesus. In Matthew it is very clear that the woman is healed not by a magic touch but by faith. While in Mark, the messengers come to inform Jairus about his daughter’s death, this whole scene is absent in Matthew, because in Matthew, the girl is already dead when the ruler comes to him. This has the effect of the ruler professing resurrection faith in his entreaty.
In Matthew, the story becomes a confessional statement of faith in the power of the resurrected Jesus.
In the first few days or even weeks of a terminal illness, the person who is ill continues to hope that he/she will get well. As time goes by and the healing does not occur, soon hope begins to dim. Finally the person gives up and gives in. The woman’s attitude in the story of today is calling each of us to perseverance, hope and faith and to develop an attitude of never giving up. That we must cultivate such an attitude is made clearer when we realise that Jesus could raise even those whom others gave up for dead.
Monday, July 9, 2018 - Hosea 2:16-18,21-22; Mt 9:18-26
Saturday, 7 July 2018
To read the texts click on the texts: Ezek 2:2-5;2 Cor 12:7-10; Mk 6:1-6
When I go to a place where I am not known, the first question I am often asked is “Father, where are you from?” I reply to this question not in words, but by pointing my thumb and looking upwards at the sky. The person who asks the question will look at my thumb and glance upwards and then respond, “Father, we have all come from heaven, but where are you from?” My response is to continue to point upwards without saying a word. One important reason why I do this is because of what we hear in the Gospel text of today.
The Jesus, who has come to his hometown, is a Jesus who has been mighty in word and deed. He is a Jesus who has exorcised a demon, healed numerous people including a leper, a paralytic, and a man with a withered arm. He is a Jesus who has calmed a storm, healed a woman with a hemorrhage and even raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead. He is also a Jesus who has spoken mightily through his word and revealed in simple language that even the unlettered can understand the secret of the kingdom of God. Yet, when he comes to his hometown, instead of being welcomed like the mighty prophet that he has shown himself to be, the people respond with disbelief.
This is, first of all, because they “know”. They “know” who Jesus is. They “know” where he comes from and what he is capable of. They cannot believe that this man, who is one of them, can be capable of all that he has done. They refuse to believe. This is made explicit in the statement, “… and they took offence at him”.
Their negative response to Jesus had a tremendous impact on Jesus and on them. While, on the one hand, they rendered Jesus incapable, on the other hand, they missed out on all the graces they could have received if only they had remained open to the revelation that he was making. Thus, Jesus “could do not mighty work there”. However, this did not completely immobilize or paralyze Jesus. He continued to go to places where he was needed and taught.
A similar situation is addressed in the first reading of today. Ezekiel is asked to go to his own people and address them. He is to alert them of the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple if they continue to live as they do. He is warned, however, that they are stubborn and impudent. He is warned that they are rude, disrespectful, and closed. Yet, the message has to be communicated and when it has, they will know what they have missed if they refuse to hear.
There are two dangers that the readings of today warn us about. The first is that of our familiarity with the Lord. Since we may be cradle Christians, we may tend to think we know everything about the Lord and thus, set limits on what he can and cannot do. This danger is pointed out to Paul in the second reading of today in which God instructs him to let God be God. He is a human and must trust that God’s weakness is stronger than his strength and that God’s foolishness is wiser than his wisdom. Paul realizes this and therefore can boast about his weakness because he trusts in God’s strength.
The second danger that we are warned about today is Stereotyping. Stereotyping people is common among many today. We stereotype on the basis of country, state, religion, and caste. We tend to categorize people on these bases and so, prejudge them much like the people of Jesus’ hometown did. We lump all of one kind together and look at them with prejudiced and jaundiced eyes. We do not give them a chance to reveal their uniqueness, because once we “know” where they are from, we think we “know” all there is to know about them. We close our minds and eyes and ears and refuse to see and hear. We refuse to change our opinion because of what we already “know”. “They are always like that”, “they will never change”, and “what else can you expect from them” are some of the responses which reflect this closed attitude. This kind of attitude leads to a loss on both sides. We lose out on the individuality of the person we have judged and he or she is not allowed to be the person that he or she is because “We know”. Be careful of saying “I know”. You may miss the Messiah.