To hear the Audio reflections of Saturday, September 1, 2018 click HERE
Friday, 31 August 2018
Saturday, September 1, 2018 - What are the talents that God has given you personally? How will you use them for his greater glory today?
To read the texts click on the texts:1 Cor 1:26-31; Mt 25:14-30
A talent is a large sum of money, equal to the wages of a day labourer for fifteen years. (In Lk 19:12-28, the figures are much smaller. There are ten servants and each receives a “mina” which was only one sixtieth of a talent, and worth 100 denarii and translated “pound”)
In Matthew, however, there are three servants and they receive different amounts. The first receives five, the second two, and the third, one. The first and the second use the money to earn similar amounts in return. The third, buries it in the ground.
The point that the parable seems to make here is that we are called not merely to “passive waiting” or strict obedience to clear instructions, but active responsibility that take initiative and risk. Each must decide how to use what he/she has been given.
Often times, our understanding of Christianity has been one in which we are content if we have not done “any wrong”, but rarely ask whether we have done “any right”. We are content like the third servant to give only grudgingly, and not with the freedom that we are meant to have.
Saturday, September 1, 2018 - 1 Cor 1:26-31; Mt 25:14-30
Thursday, 30 August 2018
Friday, August 31, 2018 - Is there enough oil in the lamp of your life? If not what will you do about it today?
To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Cor 1:17-25; Mt 25:1-13
In the parable of today we will hear of the ten bridesmaids, five of whom were prepared and five unprepared, five of whom had oil and five of whom who did not. We are told that five were foolish and five were wise right at the beginning of the parable, because we cannot tell this just be looking at them. All ten have come to the wedding; all ten have their lamps burning; all ten presumably have on their gowns.
The readiness is what distinguishes the wise from the foolish.Five are ready for the delay and five are not. Five have enough oil for the wedding to start whenever the bridegroom arrives; the foolish ones have only enough oil for their own timetable.
It is easy to be good for a day if goodness is seen only as a means to an end. It is easy to be merciful for a day if mercy is seen only as a means to an end. However, if we see goodness and mercy and everything that is positive as an end in itself, then it is possible to be good and merciful and positive always. We are called then to be like the wise ones with our lamps always burning so that we will then be able to welcome the Lord whenever he comes.
Wednesday, 29 August 2018
We will hear for the next few days’ readings from Chapters 24 and 25 of the Gospel of Matthew, which are known as the Eschatological Discourse. The word Eschatological comes from the Greek word “Eschaton” that means “the last things”, “the things of the afterlife”.
In these chapters, Jesus speaks to all the people about how they must behave in the present, if they are to expect to be judged with mercy in the future.
In the text of today, the disciples are asked to “stay awake”, because no one knows when the hour of departure will be. The disciples are called to be busy with the assigned mission not with apocalyptic speculation. The wise servant is the one who obeys not the one who calculates.
Some of us regard being good as a burden. This is because we may associate goodness with being serious and sombre and not enjoying every single moment of life. On the contrary, goodness means exactly the opposite. It means that one is in the present moment and so living it as fully as possible. It also means that for a person who does this there is no need to worry about the day or hour when he/she will be called simply because such a person is always ready.
Tuesday, 28 August 2018
To hear the Audio Reflections of Wednesday, August 29, 2018 the beheading of John the Baptist click HERE
Wednesday, August 29, 2018 - The Beheading of John the Baptist - To be true to the truth often results in fatality
To read the texts click on the texts: Jer 7:11-19; Mk 6:17-29
Mark’s Account of the beheading of Saint John the Baptist by Herod Antipas is more elaborate than that of Matthew and Luke. According to Mark, Herod had imprisoned John because he reproved Herod for divorcing his wife (Phasaelis), and unlawfully taking Herodias, the wife of his brother Herod Philip I. On Herod's birthday, Herodias' daughter (traditionally named Salome but not named by Mark or the other Gospels) danced before the king and his guests. Her dancing pleased Herod so much that in his drunkenness he promised to give her anything she desired, up to half of his kingdom. When the daughter asked her mother what she should request, she was told to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Although Herod was appalled by the request, he reluctantly agreed and had John executed in the prison.
The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus also relates in his Antiquities of the Jews that Herod killed John, stating that he did so, "lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his [John's] power and inclination to raise a rebellion, (for they seemed ready to do anything he should advise), [so Herod] thought it best [to put] him to death." He further states that many of the Jews believed that the military disaster which fell upon Herod at the hands of Aretas his father-in-law (Phasaelis' father), was God's punishment for his unrighteous behaviour.
While Mark has mentioned Herodians before (3:6), this is the first time in his Gospel that he mentions Herod. Herod, here is Herod Antipas who was the son of Herod the Great who is the one referred to in the narrative of the birth of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew (Mt 2:1-23), and had been appointed by the Roman as the ruler of Galilee and Perea (Lk 3:1). He was never “king” as Mark mentions in his story, and Matthew corrects this by referring to Herod as tetrarch (Mt 14:1). The story of the death of John the Baptist in Mark is sandwiched between the sending of the Twelve on Mission (6:7-13) and their return from Mission (6:30-34).
Mark mentions three opinions about Jesus said to be circulating at that time. Some believed that Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead; others believed that Jesus was Elijah, while still others believed that Jesus was one of the prophets of old. Herod, however, is quite clear in Mark that Jesus is John the Baptist raised. This profession of Herod leads Mark to narrate the story of the death of John the Baptist as a flashback. According to Mark, the reason why John was put in prison was because he objected to Herod’s violation of the purity code, which forbade marriage of close relatives and to a brother’s wife while the brother was still alive (Lev 18:16; 20:21). Mark seems to lay the blame for the death of John on Herodias who manipulates Herod into executing John. The daughter of Herodias is not named here or anywhere in the Bible, nor does the Bible give her age. According to Mark a drunken Herod is trapped into fulfilling a rash vow and so has John beheaded.
Though in Mark’s narrative it is Herodias who is directly responsible for the death of John the Baptist, Herod cannot disown responsibility. He could have decided if he had the courage not to give in, yet he made the choice to have John beheaded. Each of us is responsible for our own actions though we may sometimes blame others or even circumstances. The sooner we accept responsibility for who we are and what we do, the sooner we will grow up. The legend of John the Baptist shows us that justice is the ultimate victim in such situations.
Wednesday, August 29, 2018 - The Beading of John the Baptist - Jer 7:11-19; Mk 6:17-29
Monday, 27 August 2018
Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - If your being is good, then all you do will also be good. How will you ensure that your being is good today?
To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Thess 2:1-3,14-17; Mt 23:23-26
The fourth (23:23-24) and fifth (23:25-26) woes against the Pharisees are about focussing on the insignificant matters and externals while forgetting what is significant and internal.
The Pharisees were extremely particular about tithing and to ensure that they did not err in this regard, tithed even small garden vegetables used for seasoning which Matthew mentions here as mint, dill and cumin and probably in order to correspond with justice and mercy and faith. Gnat and Camel, which the Matthean Jesus contrasts in 23:24, were the smallest and largest living things in ordinary experience. While the Matthean Jesus does not state that what the Pharisees are doing is wrong, his critique is that while focussing so much on these insignificant items, they lose sight of the larger picture.
Too much focus on the external can also lead to forgetting the internal. What is on the outside is merely a reflection of what is within.
Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - 2 Thess 2:1-3,14-17; Mt 23:23-26
Sunday, 26 August 2018
Monday, Augiust 27, 2018 - How often has the impression of others over your own values, determined the way you behave?
The text of today contains the first three of the seven Woes that Jesus pronounces against the Pharisees of his time, because they gave more importance to human laws, rules and regulations than to the law of God, which was the Law of Love.
The polemic is against placing too much value on the way one appears to others, which can be a form of idolatry. So understood, hypocrisy is not merely a transgression, but represents a lack of trust in God, a turning away from God toward what others think as the point of orientation of one’s life. This was the reason for their single-minded focus on the law and it blinded them to all else that really mattered. Consequently, the human person was relegated to the far extreme. Jesus seeks to correct their understanding and ours, by asking them and us to focus not so much on law but on love, not so much on self but on God.
The first of the three woes (23:13) is also found in Luke 11:52, but whereas the Lucan Jesus pronounces the woe because the Pharisees “take away the key of knowledge”, The Matthean Jesus pronounces the woe because they “shut the kingdom of heaven against men”. They do not enter themselves, nor do they allow others to enter.
The second woe (23:15) is exclusive to Matthew, and continues the imagery of the first woe. Here the Pharisees are accused of converting others to their beliefs, but this results in the converted being worse than they were before.
The third woe (23:16-22) accuses the Pharisees of trying to find loopholes in the law in order to suit themselves. They interpret the law to suit their convenience.
Monday, August 27, 2018 - 2 Thess 1:1-5,11-12; Mt 23:13-22
Saturday, 25 August 2018
To read the texts click on the texts: Jos 24:1-2,15-18;Eph 5:21-32; Jn 6:60-69
"The Road not Taken", by Robert Frost ends with these words:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Today, like last Sunday, the theme of the first and third readings centres on that of making a choice. The choice here is whether to take the road not taken or the road less travelled, confident that it will indeed make a difference.
In the first reading, Joshua invites the people to choose which God they will serve. Will they choose to serve numerous gods, or will they choose to serve the one true God? Joshua clearly opts for one true God. He decides to take the road less travelled. The people, remembering the great acts that God had done for their forefathers, prudently decide that they too, like Joshua, will follow the one true God. To be sure, their decision was prompted by their experience that, in the past, God had come to their rescue and revealed himself as a gracious and redeeming God. He had revealed himself as a caring and compassionate God. Yet, it was a decision and a choice that they made for the one true God.
This, however, cannot be said of the people to whom Jesus addresses a similar question in the Gospel text of today. These people find the following of the true God too difficult and so, opt out. These people were not able to make any sense of what Jesus was offering them. They could not understand how he could give them his flesh to eat and his blood to drink. Since they could not understand with their minds, they decided not to follow Jesus any longer. They preferred to stay in their ignorance. However, Peter, who serves as the spokesperson for the twelve, makes the choice for Jesus and so, for the true God. He, too, like the people, does not understand completely what Jesus is offering, He, too, like the people, is not able to make total sense of how Jesus could offer himself as food and drink. However, he knows that, in following Jesus, he is following life. He knows that taking this road and making the choice for Jesus will make all the difference.
The problem of choice that the people and the disciples faced is a problem that we face even today. We are, at every moment, called to make a choice. Just because we are baptized does not necessarily mean that we have opted for Jesus. Just because we go to church regularly does not mean that we have made a choice for the one true God. The choice that we make for the one true God is a choice that has to be shown in action.
This action is what the Christians of Ephesus are called to in the second reading of today. It is action that has to be lived out first in family relationships. Wives and husbands and all other members of a family, and members of the larger family of the Church, have to live lives of submission and love for one another. Jesus Christ continues to be the model for such lives and relationships. Just as Jesus did not consider his own comforts as more important than those of others, so must members of the family put the interests of others over and above their own. Since all who believe in Jesus are members of his body, they must live their lives centered on Christ.
The living of a Christ-centered life is a constant challenge and calling. We can never assume that we have made the choice for Christ once for all. This is because it is a decision that has to be renewed every day. Even as we are faced with this challenge, Jesus does not offer proofs or miracles to make our choice easier. He does not promise a life of ease or comfort. He does not suggest that following him will mean that all our problems will be solved or all our questions will be answered.
On the contrary, he makes it clear that following him will mean hardships and difficulties and sometimes, we may have more questions than answers. He makes it clear that following him will mean that the road ahead may not always be even or the going smooth. He, however, constantly invites us, beckons us, and challenges us to follow. He constantly asks: Will you also go away?” Peter’s answer was; “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”.
What will my answer be?
Sunday, August 26, 2018 - Jos 24:1-2, 15-18;Eph 5:21-32; Jn 6:60-69
Friday, 24 August 2018
To read the texts click on the texts: Ezekiel 43:1-7; Mt 23:1-12
Moses’ seat is a metaphorical expression representing the teaching and administrative authority of the synagogue leadership, scribes and Pharisees. Jesus condemns only the practice of the scribes and Pharisees and not their teaching.
Matthew makes three points. The first is that they say but do not do, the second is that they burden while failing to act themselves and the third is that they act for the wrong reasons: to make an impression on others.
“Phylacteries” is the term Matthew uses for the tephillin, which were small leather boxes containing portions of the Torah (Exod 13:1-16; Deut 6:4-9; 11:13-32) strapped to the forehead and arm during the recitation of prayers in literal obedience to Deut 6:8. The “tassels” were attached to the prayer shawls, and the most important seats in the synagogue refer to the place of honour at the front facing the congregation, occupied by teachers and respected leaders. The term “Rabbi” was a title of honour.
The point that the Gospel reading of today makes is that there must be a correlation between our words and our actions. It is easy to say, but difficult to do, it is easy to preach but difficult to practice. The way to ensure that there is a correlation between the two is to first do and then say, or better to let people hear not what you say but what you do.
Saturday, August 25, 2018 - Ezekiel 43:1-7; Mt 23:1-12
Thursday, 23 August 2018
Friday, August 24, 2018 - St. Bartholomew - Is seeing, believing? or Do we have to believe in order to see?
To read the texts click on the texts: Rev 21:9-14;Jn 1:45-51
Bartholomew was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, and is usually identified as Nathanael (mentioned in the first chapter of John's Gospel). According to the Gospel of John, he was brought to Jesus by Philip. It is Nathanael whom Jesus calls “an Israelite in whom there is no guile”. Though Nathanael is not mentioned in any list of the Twelve, Bartholomew is mentioned by all the Synoptic Gospels and also the Acts of the Apostles. One reason why Bartholomew is identified as Nathanael is because in all the lists of the Twelve Bartholomew is named in the company of Philip.
Unlike the first two disciples who followed Jesus (1:35-40), here Jesus invites Philip to discipleship. Even more significant that the call of Philip, is what happens to Philip as a result of his call. He cannot remain silent about it and wants another to know and encounter Jesus. Thus, he finds Nathanael and bears witness about Jesus. This he does in two ways. He first points Jesus out as the fulfilment of all scripture and then he refers to him as “Jesus, son of Joseph from Nazareth.” This witness seems to bring out both divine and human origins of Jesus and once again reminds us of the mystery that Jesus is and continues to be. Immediately after Philip’s testimony, there is resistance on the part of Nathanael, yet Philip does not argue but responds in the words that Jesus had used to invite the first two disciples: “Come and see”.
Though having an opinion about where the Messiah would come from, Nathanael remains open to another revelation. Though sceptical, he is willing to be convinced. Jesus addresses Nathanael as an “Israelite” which signifies his faithfulness to the law and is used here in a positive sense. He is without guile because though he has questions and even doubts, he is open and receptive and willing to learn. Jesus’ intimate knowledge of Nathanael and the revelation that he makes to him leads to a transformation in Nathanael and he comes to faith. He responds to Jesus with a confession and though he begins with Rabbi, he moves on to recognizing Jesus as Son of God and King of Israel.
However, Jesus responds by pointing out to Nathanael that this is only the beginning of the revelation that Jesus makes. If he continues to remain open he will experience even greater things. By means of a double “Amen”, Jesus points out to Nathanael and to others there that he will be the bridge between heaven and earth. He will be that place and person in whom the earthly and divine encounter each other. He as Son of man will make God known.
Scepticism and cynicism are common among many people. While this is not a problem in itself, what causes the problem is when these lead to a closed attitude. In a world in which we refuse to believe unless we first see, Jesus seems to be saying to us like he said to Nathanael “First believe than you will see”.
Friday, August 24, 2018 - St. Bartholomew - Rev 21:9-14; Jn 1:45-51
Wednesday, 22 August 2018
To read the texts click on the texts: Ezekiel 36:23-28; Mt 22:1-14
The second part of the parable of the Wedding Feast has often troubled many, because they are not able to understand why the one without the wedding clothes was cast out, when a few verses below the servants are told to go out and invite both good and bad. The question that arises is - How could those unexpectedly herded into the wedding feast from the streets wear the expected clothing, which all but one seem to do?
The point is that realism is sacrificed to theological meaning. In early Christianity, the new identity of conversion was often pictured as donning a new set of clothes, the language of changing clothes was used to express the giving up of old ways and adopting the new Christian identity (see Rom 13:12-14; Gal 3:27; Eph 6:11). The man was thus expected to have the deeds of an authentic Christian, which he does not have.
We sometimes attend the Eucharistic banquet without the appropriate garb, which is a faith that shows itself in action. This “dead faith” renders us unworthy, and in danger of being “cast out”. Unless we can show through our deeds that we are Christians, our celebration of the Eucharist will remain at the theoretical and ritualistic level, having no relevance to our lives.
Thursday, August 23, 2018 - Ezekiel 36:23-28; Mt 22:1-14
Tuesday, 21 August 2018
To hear the Audio Reflections of Wednesday, August 22, 2018 - The Queenship of Mary click HERE
To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 9:1-6; Lk 1:26-38
Pope Pius XII established the feast of the Queenship of Mary in 1954. However, Mary’s Queenship also has roots in Scripture. At the Annunciation, Gabriel announced that Mary’s Son would receive the throne of David and rule forever. At the Visitation, Elizabeth calls Mary “mother of my Lord.” As in all the mysteries of Mary’s life, Mary is closely associated with Jesus: Her Queenship is a share in Jesus’ kingship.
In the fourth century St. Ephrem (June 9) called Mary “Lady” and “Queen.” Later Church fathers and doctors continued to use the title. Hymns of the 11th to 13th centuries address Mary as queen: “Hail, Holy Queen,” “Hail, Queen of Heaven,” “Queen of Heaven.”
This feast is a logical follow-up to the Assumption of Mary (celebrated on August 15) and is now celebrated on the octave day of that feast. In his 1954 encyclical To the Queen of Heaven, Pius XII pointed out that Mary deserves the title because she is Mother of God, because she is closely associated as the New Eve with Jesus’ redemptive work, because of her preeminent perfection and because of her intercessory power.
It is fitting then that the Gospel text chosen for the feast is the Annunciation of the birth of the Lord to his mother. Through his mother and her courageous YES, Jesus became a human being. The point of the Annunciation is to stress that Jesus did not come down from heaven as an “avatar” but rather that in every sense of the word; he was totally and completely human. Another related point is that God “needs” the co-operation of human beings to complete the plans God has for the world. One of the most beautiful examples of co-operating with God is that of Mary and her unconditional Amen.
Mary though betrothed or engaged to Joseph, who was of David’s family, had not yet lived with him. This she would do only after marriage, which would be one year after the betrothal. The angel greets Mary as the recipient of God’s grace. She has opened herself to the promptings of God’s Spirit. While Zechariah was gripped with fear at the very appearance of the angel, in the case of Mary, it is the angel’s greeting that perplexed her. The angel reassures Mary and makes the announcement, not only of Jesus’ birth, but of who he will be and all that he will accomplish.
In response to this announcement Mary, like Zechariah, asks a question. While both questions seem similar, it is clear that Zechariah’s question expressed doubt and asked for a sign, as is evident in the angel’s words before Zechariah is struck dumb. Mary’s question, on the other hand, is a question asked in faith. Mary did not question the truth of the revelation like Zechariah did. She asked only for enlightenment on how God would accomplish this wonderful deed. This will be accomplished in Mary through the work of God’s spirit. This is why the child will be called holy. Luke probably also intends to convey here that it is not merit on Mary’s part that obtained for her what she received, but God’s generous gift in the Spirit.
The evidence that what the angel has announced will indeed take place is the pregnancy of Elizabeth, for nothing is impossible for God. Mary responds, not merely with a Yes, but by asking that the Lord work in her to accomplish all that he wants. The annunciation would not have been complete without Mary’s trusting, obedient response.
Today, many assume that those whom God favours will enjoy the things we equate with a good life: social standing, wealth, and good health. Yet Mary, God’s favoured one, was blessed with having a child out of wedlock who would later be executed as a criminal. Acceptability, prosperity, and comfort have never been the essence of God’s blessing. The story is so familiar that we let its familiarity mask its scandal. Mary had been chosen, “favoured,” to have an important part in God’s plan to bring salvation to God’s people, but it is unthinkable that God would have forced Mary to have the child against her will. Mary is an important example, therefore, of one who is obedient to God even at great risk to self.
When we think of or reflect on Mary, the one word that comes to mind to describe her whole life is the word, AMEN, a word which may be translated, “so be it”, “your will be done”, “do whatever you want to do in my life”. This was, indeed, Mary’s constant response to every situation in her life, especially when she could not understand why things were happening the way they were. The text of today is, then, a call and challenge to each one of us, that we, too, like Mary, might be able to say YES to all that God wants to do in our lives. It is a challenge to be open and receptive to the Spirit of God, so that we, too, might be able to give birth to the Saviour in our hearts.