To hear the Audio Reflections of Saturday, November 17, 2018 click HERE
Friday, 16 November 2018
Saturday, November 17, 2018 - Do you believe that God will answer your prayer? Do you give in too easily when your prayers are unanswered? What keeps you from persevering in prayer?
To read the texts click on the texts: 3 John 1:5-8; Lk 18:1-8
This is a parable found only in the Gospel of Luke. While some focus on the judge and term it as the Parable of the Unjust Judge, others focus on the widow and so call it the Parable of the Persistent Widow.
This is a parable found only in the Gospel of Luke. While some focus on the judge and term it as the Parable of the Unjust Judge, others focus on the widow and so call it the Parable of the Persistent Widow.
Luke introduces this parable as a parable on prayer. The judge is described as a man “who neither feared God nor had any respect for people” (18:2). It is difficult to imagine how such a man can be worthy of being a judge. The widow is introduced as someone who is going repeatedly to the judge for justice. The text does not state the nature of her complaint, nor does it tell us why the judge refused to listen to her for a while (18:3-4). The judge finally relents and decides to grant her justice, because the woman is constantly bothering her and because he does not want to be worn out by her constant petitions.
If one focuses on the judge, then the point of the parable is that if the judge who was unjust could grant the woman justice, then God who is just and judge over all will surely heed the cries of those who call on him.
If on the other hand the focus is on the widow, then the parable calls for persistence in asking and not giving up or giving in.
The final verse of this section ends with a question from the Lucan Jesus about whether he will find faith on earth when he comes. Since Luke introduces the parable as one, which speaks about persistence and constant asking, he may have felt the need to end with the question of faith.
Prayer can and does “change” the mind of God.
Saturday, November 17, 2018 - 3 John 1:5-8; Lk 18:1-8
Thursday, 15 November 2018
To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Jn 1:4-9; Lk 17:26-37
This section starts with the examples of the days of Noah and Lot (17:26-29). Just as in the days of Noah and Lot the life of the people at that time proceeded normally and people were going about their daily business until all of a sudden the flood and brimstone and fire respectively destroyed the people, so it will be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. This means that decisive action is absolutely necessary. There will be no turning back. Lot’s wife who turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back (Genesis 19:26) is given as an example of the dangers of looking back.
When the Son of Man does indeed come, then the choice of those who will be taken and those who will be left will be made.
In answer to the disciples’ question, “Where, Lord?” (17:37), Jesus answers with an enigmatic proverb, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather” (17:37). The point of this proverb here seems to be that just as it is sure that vultures will gather where a corpse is found, as surely will the judgement of the Son of Man fall upon on the wicked.
Decisive action does not mean desperate action. It means steady and regular action. If one is at any given moment in time doing what one is supposed to do, it may be regarded as decisive action. A person engaged in such an activity is always ready.
Friday, November 16, 2018 - 2 Jn 1:4-9; Lk 17:26-37
Wednesday, 14 November 2018
Thursday, November 15, 2018 - Instead of focussing too much on the afterlife, will you focus on life here and now?
To read the texts click on the texts: Philemon 1:7-20; Lk 17:20-25
The first two verses of this section (17:20-21) are exclusive to Luke though Matthew 24:23 and Mark 13:21 contain part of Luke 17:21.
In Luke the Pharisees pose the question about the future coming of the kingdom. In his response, Jesus speaks not of the time when the kingdom will come, but about the very nature of the kingdom. Since the pronoun “you” is plural, Jesus’ saying that the kingdom is “among you” is unlikely to mean that the kingdom is within a group of individuals. Rather it seems to mean that the kingdom is in Jesus who is among them at that time.
The next verse (17:22) begins the discourse of the coming of the Son of Man. There will be a long period when the disciples long to see even a glimpse of their deliverance (one of the days of the Son of Man). Though some will point here and others there, the disciples must not be taken in. When the Son of Man does appear he will be visible to all everywhere. However, before he comes, he will have to endure suffering. The Son of Man who comes will be the Son of Man who has suffered and been rejected.
Obsession with the afterlife does not help us to live fully the life we have here and now. Too many questions about death and what will happen after death result in life passing us by. While as Christians we do believe in the life to come, we are also instructed in many places in the Gospels that the life to come will not be a totally different kind of life, but a life which will continue in a fuller way the present one we have. Our focus therefore ought to be on living this life fully at every moment of every day.
Thursday, November 15, 2018 - Philemon 1:7-20; Lk 17:20-25
Tuesday, 13 November 2018
Wednesday, November 14, 2018 - How often have you thanked God for the wonder of your life? Will you do that today? How?
To read the texts click on the texts: Titus 3:1-7; Lk 17:11-19
The miracle of the healing of ten lepers is found only in the Gospel of Luke. The mention of
at the beginning of this miracle story prepares us for the Samaritan who gave
thanks at the end. Samaria
Lepers were not allowed to live within the city limits and had to live outside (Numbers 5:2-3). They also had to cry out that they were unclean when anyone approached them (Leviticus 13:45-46). This is why Luke has the lepers in this story stand at a distance (17:12) and call out in unison addressing Jesus as Master, which only disciples do in the Gospel of Luke.
Their cry for mercy would ordinarily have been a cry for alms, but in this case, it seems to be for much more. When Jesus sees them, he issues a command that they go and show themselves to the priests and as they obeyed this command, they were made clean. It is interesting to note that the healing here takes place after they obey Jesus’ command.
One of the ten on realising that he was healed began to praise God and his action of falling prostrate at Jesus’ feet is an indication that he recognised God as acting in and through Jesus. Though ten were made clean, only one of them and that too a Samaritan who was despised by the Jews and regarded as an outcast and foreigner has returned to thank God. The faith of the man here is shown not before but after his healing. This results in the man receiving not just healing, but salvation.
Gratitude does not come naturally to many of us. Before the favour can be done for us, we are willing to do anything for the person who can do us that favour. However, often once the favour has been done, we forget to thank. While the person concerned might not expect any thanks from us, it is our responsibility to acknowledge our gratitude by our thanks.
Wednesday, November 14, 2018 - Titus 3:1-7; Lk 17:11-19
Monday, 12 November 2018
Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - Do you constantly expect thanks and praise for all the good that you do? Will you perform one act today without any expectation whatever?
To read the texts click on the texts:Titus 2:1-8,11-14; Lk 17:7-10
These verses are exclusive to Luke and contain a parable.
In the first part of the parable the disciples are cast in the role of the master through Jesus’ question, “Will any of you who has a servant…” (17:7). No one would expect a master to ask a servant to sit at table and serve him, rather the servant would be expected even after he has come from the field, to get the master’s supper ready and serve the master. Moreover, the servant will not be thanked simply because he has done what was required of him. At the end of the parable and in the relationship with God, the disciples are cast in the roles of servants. They must realise that like the servant of the parable they will also have to do all that is required of them and not expect any thanks because they have only done what was expected of them.
Very few of us regard that we have been given the thanks due to us already in the service that we have been allowed to provide. We wait for further thanks and commendations. It is not only spiritual but also prudent and practical to do what we are doing and expect no thanks at all. If it does come we accept it in all humility, whereas if it does not come we are not disappointed.
Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - Titus 2:1-8,11-14; Lk 17:7-10
Sunday, 11 November 2018
Monday, November 12, 2018 - Do your words and actions build up rather than pull down? Will you speak an enhancing word today?
To read the texts click on the texts:Titus 1:1-9; Lk 17:1-6
There are three units in this section. The first concerns being a cause of scandal (17:1-2), the second is on forgiveness (17:3-4) and the third is on faith (17:5-6). This section is addressed to the disciples.
Since we are living in a sinful world, occasions for sin will continue to be present, but humans cause these and the one who is the cause for such an occasion must accept responsibility. In a striking metaphor in 18,2 about a millstone being hung around the neck of the one who causes scandal and he/she being cast into the sea, the Lucan Jesus makes the point that the one who is responsible for causing the scandal will not be able to escape the consequences of his/her action. Since this is a warning addressed to the disciples, the term “little ones” in this context must be interpreted as those who are just beginning to believe and so will need all the help that they can get to enhance their faith. These must not be scandalised.
The next unit concerns forgiveness, but also speaks of rebuking the one who commits sin. This has to with not turning a blind eye to the faults of others but challenging them to rise higher. It is a matter of “carefrontation” rather than confrontation, since it speaks also of forgiveness that must be granted if the offender repents. In order to drive home the point of forgiveness, the nest verse (17:6) is the command of Jesus to forgive repeatedly even seven times in a day.
The final section begins with a plea to Jesus to increase their faith. This is an indication that faith is not static but dynamic and continues to grow. It also means that the Lord can give the grace required for faith to grow. In his response Jesus challenges them to reflect on whether they have faith at all. It is not a matter of little or great faith, but faith per se. If the faith of the disciples was even as small as a grain of mustard seed they could achieve the impossible.
Monday, November 12, 2018 - Titus 1:1-9; Lk 17:1-6
Saturday, 10 November 2018
To read the texts click on the texts: 1Kgs 17:10-16; Heb 9:24-28; Mk 12:38-44
The second part of the Gospel story for today is often referred to as the story of “The Widow’s Mite” where “mite” refers to a small copper coin. An even better title might be “The Widow’s Plight” because this is what the story is really about. On the one hand, and at the surface level, the generosity of the widow’s selfless act is commended by Jesus. This is also the theme of the first reading in which the Sidonian widow, who gave generously to Elijah out of her meagre resources, is commended and also rewarded. On the other hand, however, and at a deeper level, Jesus is pointing out the plight of the widow and, by doing so, pointing out the plight of the numerous poor in the Church, and in the world, who are being exploited and divested even of their meagre possessions.
This kind of exploitation is brought out powerfully in the famous remark that Bishop Desmond Tutu likes to make often: “When the missionaries came to Africa, we had the land and they had the Bible. Then they said ‘Let us pray’ and asked us to close our eyes. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible”. He does not end here, however. He adds, “And I think we got the better deal”. The widow in the Gospel text of today also gets the better deal but there is much that goes on before she does.
What goes on before is the exploitation of the widow whom organized religion, at the time of Jesus, had indoctrinated and programmed to give up even her very life. This exploitation is made bare by Jesus in the first part of today’s Gospel text. It begins with the condemnation of the “scribes” who here, represent the authorities. The charge against them is that, not only do they wear their religion on their sleeve for outward show, but that they also, in the name of religion, “devour widows’ houses”. The “scribes,” who do not practice religion as they are meant to, are the very ones who instruct others on what they ought to do.
Widows are not exempted. A widow, at the time of Jesus, was regarded as a non-entity. She was despised, reviled, and unloved. She could be taken advantage of merely because she had no man to protect her. Thus, she could easily become the target for unscrupulous and deceitful men. This is the kind of person who, in the Gospel text of today, is willing, even in the dire straits that she is in, to give her all. She will hold nothing back. This is precisely the reason why Jesus lavishes praise on her. She has done all that is required of her. She has trusted, she has faith and she shows this, in action, by giving. In praising the widow, however, Jesus is definitely not sanctioning the practice of the poor giving to the Temple. This is made clear in the contrast that he makes between the scribes, who offer from their abundance, and the widow, who gives generously from her poverty.
It is the practice in some quarters to ask people to be generous with their money. Often, scripture is quoted to make the point and what the Lord said about generosity and giving, in quite a different context, is used by the unscrupulous to fill their coffers. Many TV evangelists preach what is known as the Prosperity Gospel. These evangelists offer to the simple “a pie in the sky when you die” kind of hope, while all the time, they themselves have their pie right here on earth. The Gospel text of today is a condemnation of such people and practices, no matter under what holy semblance they may hide. These, who ought to lead people to God, instead lead the money of the poor to their own treasuries. The condemnation of the scribes is not merely a condemnation that was relevant 2000 years ago but is a condemnation relevant today. Whenever the poor are exploited, the condemnation of Jesus is heard again. Whenever the poor are denied their rights, the condemnation is heard again. Whenever the poor are taken advantage of, the condemnation is heard again.
The letter to the Hebrews confirms and affirms that, with Jesus, it was not a “pie in the sky when you die” kind of existence. It was a real existence which did not deny the trials and tribulations of life and so, faced them squarely. It was an existence which was willing to suffer on earth, not because of the reward in heaven, but because that was the way life was to be lived. It was an existence in which Jesus was willing to give up his very life so that others might have life in abundance. Through this kind of life, Jesus gives a message to all of us who wish to live fully. The message is this: Salvation is here and now. The life you live now will be the life you will live in heaven.
The Sidonian widow, who was generous with Elijah, and the widow in the Gospel text of today, who gave her very self, lived this kind of life. The scribes did not. Others today, who continue to take advantage of the poor and oppressed, often in the name of religion, will receive the harsher condemnation.
Sunday, November 11, 2018 - 1Kgs 17:10-16; Heb 9:24-28; Mk 12:38-44
Friday, 9 November 2018
To read the texts click on the texts: Phil 4:10-19; Lk16:9-15
These verses are found only in the Gospel of Luke and continue what was begun in 16:1-8, but also make a new beginning with the phrase, “and I tell you” in 16:9.
The disciples are called to use wealth to make friends. If they use their wealth to help others, they can be assured that they would be welcomed into their homes when their wealth is all used up. The person who is faithful in little will also be faithful in much. However, one who is unfaithful in little will also be unfaithful in much. And, if a person is not able to manage honestly that which is given in trust he/she will surely not be given what actually belongs to him/her. If that person cannot be faithful with worldly wealth that has been entrusted to their care by God, how can God give them their treasure in heaven?
While wealth must be used, it must never be allowed to control a person or use him/her. Wealth must be at the service of human beings not be served by them. God alone is the one to be served.
Saturday, November 10, 2018 - Phil 4:10-19; Lk 16:9-15
Thursday, 8 November 2018
Friday, November 9, 2018 - Lateran Basilica- Ez 47:1-2,8-9,12; 1 Cor 3:9-11; Jn 2:13-22
Friday, November 9, 2018 - Dedication of the Lateran Basilica - We are each and as a whole part of CHURCH
To read the texts click on the texts: Ez 47:1-2,8-9,12; 1 Cor 3:9-11; Jn 2:13-22
The Basilica of St John Lateran is the cathedral of Rome, the cathedra, or Chair, at which the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, presides. In order to express devotion and unity of all Catholics to the successor of Peter, the Church commemorates the dedication of the Lateran Basilica. Since the Pope presides in charity over the universal Church, the Lateran Basilica is affectionately called the "mother and head of all the churches of Rome and the world".
When the Cathedral in Milan was finished, in the vast throng of people assembled for the dedication, a little girl cried out in childish glee, as she pointed to it: I helped build that. One of the guards challenged her: “What? Show me what you did.” The girl replied, “I carried the lunch box for my father, while he worked there.” The cathedral, the Church the Basilica is not primarily a building but the people of God. Each of us and all of us help build up the Church.
It is interesting but mainly revealing that the gospel reading chosen for this feast in which we celebrate the Lateran Basilica would be Jesus cleansing the Temple. Much like the Temple was a significant and symbolic building for the Jewish people the Lateran Basilica serves in this capacity for us.
The first Christians gathered to pray in private homes. To be a Christian was for the first three hundred years after the Resurrection of Christ a crime of treason against the Roman state. Therefore, believers would meet secretly to hear the Gospel and break the bread. Today's feast commemorates the end of those many long years of terrible persecutions and martyrdom and the dedication of the Christians' first public place of worship.
While this was a welcome change for the first Christian community, it also began to soon struggle with a dilemma. The source of Jesus' power is found in weakness and poverty. While being an underground church this was easy to accept. Now, being accepted by the state, Christianity's power began to be aligned with fame and fortune, buildings and property, prestige and status. The church began to take on the political structure of the Roman state. Officials began to be identified by secular titles such as “prince of the church" (Cardinal) and "lord" (Bishop).While it is advantageous to have a place to worship and also advantageous to have a structure to maintain a sense of order, both, however, can also prevent us from encountering God by presenting an image of God that is quite different from the one that Jesus presented and revealed.
Writing during the period of Exile, the prophet Ezekiel dreamed of returning to his home in Israel and especially to the Temple. The vision narrated in the first reading of today is of water flowing from the Temple giving abundant life to the valley below, even to the arid, lifeless region around the Dead Sea. However, at the time of Jesus, this life giving water had dried up and the temple was no longer what it ought to have been.
The cleansing of the Temple is an incident that is narrated by all four evangelists. However, there are significant differences in the manner in which John narrates it when compared with the Synoptic Gospels. In John, the incident appears at the beginning of the Gospel and immediately after the Cana miracle of turning water into wine, and so sets the stage for the kind of revelation of God that Jesus makes in this Gospel. The temple in Jerusalem was considered the dwelling place of God on earth and a place where people expected to encounter God in prayer and sacrifice. However, as is evident in the actions of Jesus, the Temple had become instead a market place. When one considers that some trade and exchange of Tyrian coins for Roman or Greek coins was absolutely necessary for worship to proceed smoothly, one realizes that this action of Jesus is extremely radical and goes to the root of the meaning of worship and encountering God.
All religious institutional rootedness whether in the form of worship, unjust social systems or repressive religious practices are challenged by this action of Jesus. Zeal for his Father’s house did indeed consume him when it led to his passion and death at the hands of religious authorities. While he was aware that this would be one of the main actions that would lead to his death, Jesus went even further when he pointed to himself as the new Temple, the new place of worship. In him a person encounters God as never before.
Thus, Christians, being identified with Christ in Baptism, are also temples of God, living temples of the Holy Spirit. Paul reminds the early Christians of the community at Corinth that they are themselves God’s Temple. God, in Christ, dwells in each one. Moreover, the whole community of Christians forms a temple, in which each Christian is a living stone, with Jesus himself as the cornerstone.
It is in the context of these readings that we must ask ourselves what we are really celebrating today. While it is true that the very orderly, stable and universal structure is surely to be celebrated in this feast and we need the certainty and conviction that comes from something that is consistent and bigger than ourselves, we also need to accept the fact that this is not all that the Church is. We also celebrate weakness in today’s feast. First, the weakness and numerous failures of each of us individuals who make up the Church, and also the failures and shortcomings of the Church as a whole. Both are in constant need of cleansing by the head of the Church Jesus Christ who continues to make all things whole.
Wednesday, 7 November 2018
Thursday, November 8, 2018 - Do you believe that you have been forgiven/accepted/loved? Will you forgive/accept/love in return?
To read the texts click on the texts:Phil 3:3-8; Lk 15:1-10
While the parable of the Lost Sheep, which makes up part of our text today, is also found in the Gospel of Matthew, the parable of the Lost Coin is found only in the Gospel of Luke. Also the setting for the parable of the Lost Sheep is different in Matthew and Luke. Whereas in Matthew it is part of the Community Discourse, in Luke it is told in the context of Jesus’ table fellowship. i.e. his eating with tax collectors and sinners, .and the murmurings of the Pharisees and the scribes because of this act.
In the first story of the Gospel text of today, the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine sheep to go in search of the lost one. The joy of finding the lost sheep is compared with the joy that God “feels” over the repentance of one sinner. By implication, Jesus’ action in accepting sinners and eating with them reflects God’s gracious spirit toward those who were held in contempt by the Pharisees and scribes.
The second parable, that of the Lost coin features a woman with ten coins. A drachma was a silver coin worth about a denarius, or a day’s wage. Hence ten drachmas was not a great sum of money. This makes it clear that the parable is pointing not to the great monetary value of the coin or loss but to the human reaction to prize what is lost, even if it is of lesser value than what one still possesses. Since in this parable there is no comparison with the other nine coins like there was in the Parable of the Lost Sheep with the ninety-nine who had no need of repentance, the parable focuses even more sharply on God’s joy at the recovery of what had been lost.
The parables therefore seem to focus not on the need for repentance but on the rejoicing and the call to the righteous to join in the celebration. Whether one will join in the celebration will reveal whether one’s relationships are based on merit or mercy. Those who cannot rejoice exclude themselves from God’s grace.
Thursday, November 8, 2018 - Phil 3:3-8; Lk 15:1-10
Tuesday, 6 November 2018
Wednesday, November 7, 2018 - What are the things, which are the persons, which are the events that are preventing you from following? What will do about them today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Phil 2:12-18; Lk 14:25-33
The sayings in these verses are addressed to the large crowds that are following Jesus. Those who wish to follow are asked to consider the cost of that following and to check whether they have it in them to persevere. Three conditions are laid down to following. The first (14:26) is renouncing family ties. This of course does not mean hating family, but means not letting anyone including family come in the way of following. When it comes to a matter of choice, following Jesus must take precedence over family ties.
The second condition (14:27) is carrying one’s cross. While in Luke 9:23 the challenge is to “take up” one’s cross, here it is to carry it. This means that the disciple who intends to follow Jesus must be prepared to face the same fate as Jesus, which will include rejection, ignominy and even death.
Before the third condition of giving up possessions (14:33), two parables are told to illustrate the folly of failing to consider what following would entail. These parables are found only in Luke’s Gospel. The first (14:28-30) is about a man who intends to build a tower, but would not do so until he has first counted the cost of doing so. This calculation is done not after he has begun the work, but before he begins it, in order to ensure that he can finish what he has begun. If he does not do, he will be ridiculed. The second parable (14:31-32) is about a king who before he can go to war with another king would first ensure that he has enough soldiers and strength to resist the other. If he realises that he does not have enough, prudence will demand that he not start the war, but instead sue for peace. In the same way anyone who wishes to be a disciple must first count the cost and only on finding that he/she has the strength to persevere, must dare to follow.
The third condition (14:33) is that of giving up possessions or total renunciation. This means that nothing or no one can be allowed to come in the way of following Jesus on mission. If one allows oneself to be restrained by things or persons, one cannot be a disciple in the true sense of the word.
We can come up with numerous excuses why following Jesus today is not easy. However, no matter what they might be, they will still remain excuses. If we are determined to follow and are convinced of his call, excuses cease and following begins.