To hear the Audio Reflections of Saturday, February 23, 2019 click HERE
Friday, 22 February 2019
Saturday, February 23, 2019 - If you were on the mountain with Jesus, what would your response to the Transfiguration be? Why?
To read the texts click on the texts: Heb 11:1-7; Mk 9:2-13
The transfiguration is an event, which appears in all the Synoptic Gospels, but each narrates it differently. In Mark, it follows after the instructions that Jesus gives to the disciples at Caesarea Philippi and after six days. The event is a confirmation by God of the fact that Jesus is indeed Messiah, beloved Son. Most think that the reason for the choice of Elijah and Moses is that the Jews considered them as being alive in the presence of God. Jesus is superior even to these figures.
In Mk the order is Elijah and Moses. In Matthew, the order is Moses and Elijah (so Luke) to emphasize the two personalities of the OT who received revelation on Mount Sinai (Ex 19:33-34; 1 Kgs 19:9-13) and personify the Law and the prophets. While in Mt Jesus is the New Moses and Luke emphasizes the approaching passion, Mark sees in the transfiguration the glorious manifestation of the hidden Messiah. Briefly the disciples experience the heavenly quality of Jesus. Jesus is no less Messiah when his Messianic glory is hidden in the passion, than he is at the Transfiguration.
Elijah was regarded as the prophet who would come before the Lord (Malachi 3:24-25; 4:5) as his messenger. Jesus’ reply in John suggests that Elijah has indeed come in John the Baptist is an indication that he is the Lord.
There are times in our lives when everything goes according to plan and at those times it is easy to see that God is on our side. However, when we are faced with trials and when things do not work out, as we want them to, then the transfiguration is a reminder to us that even when carrying our cross we are still beloved by God.
Saturday, February 23, 2019 - Heb 11:1-7; Mk 9:2-13
Thursday, 21 February 2019
To hear the Audio Reflections of Friday, February 22, 2019 The Chair of St. Peter click HERE
Friday, February 22, 2019 - The Chair of St. Peter - If Jesus were to ask you the question he asked the disciples, what would your response be?
To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Pet 5:1-4; Mt 16:13-19
The Chair of St. Peter is a feast which celebrates the Lord’s choice of Peter to be the servant-leader of the Church. The choice of Peter is indicative of what the Church is. On the one hand Peter was over zealous, brash, impulsive, spontaneous and ready to die for the Lord, while on the other he would deny the Lord and run away when trouble arose. The Church as a whole has been like Peter. Yet, this is whom the Lord chooses and continues to choose, broken men and women called to heal a broken world.
The Gospel text chosen for the feast is popularly known as “Peter’s Confession”. The question of Jesus concerning his identity is not because he wanted to be informed about people’s opinion of him, but to draw a contrast between people’s answers and the answer of the disciples. Matthew is the only evangelist who adds Jeremiah to the answers of the people. Some think that Matthew has done so because of Jeremiah’s association with the fall of Jerusalem. Others think that Jeremiah is mentioned because of his prophecy of the new covenant.
After hearing through the disciples what the people have to say about his identity, Jesus asks the disciples the same question. The “you” is plural and therefore addressed to all disciples. It is also emphatic. Simon Peter answers on behalf of the group. Matthew adds “the Son of the living God” to Mark’s “Christ”. Only in Matthew does Jesus respond directly to Peter. Peter is not blessed because of a personal achievement, but because of the gift he received from God. Jesus names Peter as rock, the one who holds the keys and the one who binds and looses. Rock here stands for foundation, and though Peter is the foundation, Jesus is the builder. The holder of keys was one who had authority to teach and the one who binds and looses is the one who had authority to interpret authoritatively. The reason for ordering them to tell no one is to reinforce the idea that the community founded by Jesus is distinct from Israel who rejected Jesus.
The feast of today invites us to reflect on two aspects in the Church. The first of these is that authority in the Church does not mean domination but always service. The model of this service is Jesus and it is him that we must imitate. The second is that even as we are broken ourselves and sinners, we are called to heal the world. This is because like in Peter’s case so in ours, it was not his merit that made him the leader of the Church, it was the grace of God which worked in him despite his sin.
Friday, February 22, 2019 - 1 Pet 5:1-4; Mt 16:13-19
Wednesday, 20 February 2019
Thursday, February 21, 2019 - When troubles come your way, do you ask God to remove them or do you pray for the strength to face them squarely?
To read the texts click on the texts: Gen 9:1-13; Mk 8:27-33
The story that forms part of our text for today (8:27-30) is titled by many as “Peter’s Confession”. The place where Jesus asks his disciples questions about his identity is termed by Mark as “the villages of Caesarea Philippi” which Matthew corrects to “the region of Caesarea Philippi” (Mt 16:13).
The first question of Jesus concerns the opinion of people or the common opinion. The views expressed are already in 6:14-16, namely: John the Baptist, Elijah or one of the prophets. This obviously is an inadequate description of who Jesus really is, and this is why the disciples as a group are asked about Jesus’ identity.
Peter replies on behalf of the group that Jesus is the Messiah or Christ.
In Mark, we come across yet again the command to silence after this confession, and concerns not making known that Jesus is the Messiah. The reason for this seems to be that since the confession is made before the passion, it will not have taken into account that aspect of the life of Jesus. This is why immediately after the command to silence Mark has the first of three passion and resurrection predictions (8:31). For the first time Mark informs us that Jesus “said all this quite openly” (8:32). On hearing Jesus speak about his suffering, death and resurrection, Peter who had earlier confessed that Jesus was Messiah begins to rebuke Jesus. The meaning is that Peter thinks that Jesus is insane and needs to be exorcised of the demon that has possessed him. Jesus in turn calls Peter, Satan. This is because in his confession, Peter had not included the suffering and death of the Messiah. Jesus will remain obedient to God even if it means laying down his life in total surrender and no one can come in the way of that obedience.
It is not easy for us to accept that suffering is a part of life itself and that there will be times when we are tested and tried. However, as Christians we must also note that suffering can never be the end and that since God wants only what is good for us we are loved unconditionally even in our suffering.
Thursday, February 21, 2019 - Gen 9:1-13; Mk 8:27-33
Tuesday, 19 February 2019
Wednesday, February 20, 2019 - Have you seen and met the Risen Lord? If no, what is preventing you from doing so?
To read the texts click on the texts: Gen 8:6-13, 20-22; Mk 8:22-26
The miracle story that is our text for today is the second of the two miracle stories in Mark in which Jesus uses external methods. The first was in 7:31-37 in which Jesus cures a deaf man with an impediment in his speech.
By placing this miracle immediately after Jesus poignant question to his disciples about their lack of understanding (8:21) and just before Peter’s Confession of Jesus as the Christ (8:27-30), Mark probably intends to hint to the reader that the disciples too wall understand. Their blindness will also be healed. The healing takes place in two stages to probably correspond with the two answers to the questions of Jesus (8:27-30) about his identity. The first is the response of the people who say that Jesus is John the Baptist or Elijah or one of the prophets (8:28) and this seems to correspond to the first stage in which the blind man can see people but who like trees walking (8:24). The second is the response of Peter on behalf of the disciples that Jesus is the Christ (8:30) which seems to correspond to the stage where the blind man can see everything clearly (8:25). At the end of this episode, Mark leaves his readers with the question of whether the disciples like the blind man will also be able see.
Some of us have a tendency to pigeon hole God and put him in a compartment. This leads to seeing him merely as one who fixes things for us or one to whom we go only in need. We might fail to see that he is always there and is much bigger than anything we can ever imagine.
Wednesday, February 20, 2019 - Gen 8:6-13, 20-22; Mk 8:22-26
Monday, 18 February 2019
Tuesday, February 19, 2019 - What is the leaven (influence) that is affecting your vision of who Jesus really is? Will you cleanse your heart to see rightly today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Gen 6:5-8; 7:1-5,10; Mk 8:14-21
The text of today contains a dialogue between Jesus and his disciples and ends the long sequence, which began with Jesus teaching the crowds from a boat (Mark 4:1-8). This is the third of the three incidents at sea in which the disciples seem to be at sea in their attempt to discover who Jesus really. The first was in Mark 4:35-41 when Jesus calms the storm so that the disciples have to ask, “Who then is this?” the second in Mark 6:45-51 when Jesus comes walking on the water and Mark comments that “the disciples were utterly astounded for they had not understood about the loaves for they did not understand about the loaves but their hearts were hardened” (Mark 6:51-52) and here in the third incident in this section they also fail to understand. (Mark 8:21).
The disciples think that Jesus is rebuking them because they had forgotten to carry food, when in fact he is rebuking them for their hardness of heart. When Jesus questions the disciples about the feeding miracles, the focus of his questions are not on the number of people who were fed (this would be asked to indicate the magnanimity and abundance of the miracle) neither are they on the smallness of their resources (which would indicate the stupendous power of Jesus) but on the breaking and gathering. The disciples know the answers, but are not able to perceive that Jesus is able to provide anything his disciples’ need. They are taken up with his power, but do not really understand.
Like the disciples we tend sometimes to focus on things that are not really necessary and so lose sight of the bigger picture. We can get caught up in details and so not see the whole. We might have a narrow view of the world and so lose sight of the fact that we can find God in all things and all things in him.
Tuesday, February 19, 2019 - Gen 6:5-8; 7:1-5,10; Mk 8:14-21
Sunday, 17 February 2019
Monday, February 18, 2019 - What sign are you seeking from the Lord? Will you continue to believe even without this sign?
To read the texts click on the texts: Gen 4:1-15, 25; Mk 8:11-13
The text of today appears immediately after the second feeding miracle in the Gospel of Mark, in which Jesus has fed 4000 people with seven loaves and a few fish. The Pharisees demand a sign. The sign they demand is some form of divine authentication. Jesus’ response is to sigh deeply in his spirit, which could be akin to throwing one’s hands up in despair. He refuses to perform a sign. This refusal on the part of Jesus could be interpreted as a sign of Jesus’ rejection of “this generation”. Mark portrays Jesus here as a prophet announcing God’s judgement against this generation.
There are times in our lives when everything seems to go awry. Nothing seems to be going right. At times like these we might keep asking God to give us some sign that he is on our side and cares for us and we might not receive it. It is possible that this might lead us to lose faith and to stop believing. We need to have the courage to believe even without any signs. This is what true faith means.
Monday, February 18, 2019 - Gen 4:1-15, 25; Mk 8:11-13
Saturday, 16 February 2019
To read the texts click on the texts: Jer 17:5-8; 1 Cor 15:12,16-20; Lk6:17, 20-26
Is it logically possible to regard the poor as Blessed? Will common sense allow us to do so? Is our experience not rather that it is the poor who are despised and the rich who are blessed? How can we make sense of the beatitudes that Jesus spoke 2000 years ago, today? Were they true at the time of Jesus? Are they true today? Will we try to sidestep the issue by interpreting “poor” and “poverty” spiritually? These are some of the questions that come to mind when we read the beatitudes of Jesus as narrated by the Gospel of Luke.
The first and foremost point that must be noted even as we begin to read the beatitudes is that they make no ethical demands. They do not give exhortation. They simply and emphatically pronounce a blessing. This is what the beatitudes really are: A blessing on those to whom they are pronounced. Luke speaks in the second person and not the third person like Matthew does in his beatitudes. This has the effect of making the pronouncements more direct, more personal.
The first beatitude is addressed to the poor (not “the poor in spirit” Mt 5:3). This is indeed a scandalous statement because it overturns all conventional expectations and pronounces a blessing on those who are marginalized. They are promised the kingdom of God by being released from their marginalisation and oppression. It brings to light that God is making an option for the poor. The poor are blessed not because they are holier than others, nor even because they are better than others, but simply because they are poor. The presence of so many poor in a world in which only a few are rich does not fit in with God’s plan for creation. It is against the nature of God and against all that God envisions for the world. The pronouncement of this beatitude is an unambiguous narration of how God wants things to be. The next two beatitudes concern hunger and mourning and could be addressed to the same group. The poor because they are poor are also hungry and weep. They are promised an end of their hunger in the promise that they will be filled and an end to their weeping and mourning in the promise that they will laugh. This end is not merely eschatological or to be hoped for in the next life alone. It is something that is being done here and now. The fourth and final beatitude in Luke speaks about the disciple who will be hated, excluded, reviled and defamed. This will be because that disciple will stand for the truth, justice and integrity. They will be unafraid of the consequences. They will be hated because they will tell the world how things must really be and challenge the rich to change. They will be excluded because it is better not to hear what they have to say and maintain the status quo. They will be reviled and defamed in the hope that their words will not be taken seriously. Their credibility will be maligned in the hope that when they speak the word of truth, their words will not have an effect and sound hollow to those who hear them. These are called to rejoice in their being reviled and promised a reward in heaven. They are also given as consolation the example of those who went through similar trails before them.
The heaven that is promised to them is not a pie in the sky when they die; rather it is a situation in which God will ensure that the word spoken will take effect in the here and now. The best proof of the fact that Jesus’ words were true and are still relevant today is the person of Jesus. His birth in unusual and poor circumstances, his life lived without a place to lay his head, his ministry directed for the most part to the poor and marginalised, his death at the hands of those who regarded him as threat and so maligned his name and his resurrection from the dead are proof if proof is indeed required. The challenge is to believe them and continue to speak those words.
This is indeed the proof that Paul speaks about in the second reading of today when he challenges the community at Corinth to believe these words. Christ not only preached them but lived them out in every detail in his life. He dared his contemporaries to live such a life even if it meant that it was not always possible to see the results immediately and in the manner in which one would have liked to. Thus even when he hung on the Cross and it seemed that truth, justice and selflessness were defeated they were in fact victorious.
A vibrant Christian community which proclaims the same message and uses the same challenging idiom, witness to the truth of the beatitudes. Even as it does this, it does not forget that contrasting each of the four beatitudes, there are four woes. The first woe is addressed to the rich who have received their consolation already and so can expect nothing more. Those who have had their fill now are told that they will go hungry and those who laugh now will weep. Those of whom people speak well are compared to the false prophets. These are people who because they are satisfied with the superficial and temporary will be like the tree that Jeremiah speaks about in the first reading of today. They are like a piece of dry shrub in the desert which bears no fruit. They do not have any source of nourishment or depth and soon dry up. The shallow life of materialism that they lead and their desire to accumulate binds them to such a degree that they keep looking for happiness and the kingdom and it always eludes them. One cannot be this kind of person and continue to be a disciple of Jesus. Rather, a disciple of Jesus is like the tree planted beside a stream. It sinks its roots deeply and becomes richly fertile and productive. It has depth and so is unafraid of the assaults of the elements. It is always fresh, even in the most difficult and trying times and lives without fear and anxiety.
Thus the readings of today issue a call to each of us not only to hear the words but to live them out as courageously and with the same trust and confidence that Jesus did.
Sunday, February 17, 2019 - Jer 17:5-8; 1 Cor 15:12,16-20; Lk 6:17, 20-26
Friday, 15 February 2019
Saturday, February 16, 2019 - Has my abundance motivated me to “give” at least a little to someone else? Or do I prefer to keep it all to myself?
To read the texts click on the texts: Gen 3:9-24; Mk 8:1-10
Today’s reading contains the second of the two feeding miracles that is found in Matthew and Mark.
It has largely been regarded as a Gentile feeding as opposed to the first feeding miracle (6:35-44), which is considered as a Jewish feeding.
One reason for this is that the setting of the previous miracle of the healing of the deaf man with an impediment in his speech was possibly in Gentile territory and it is presumed that the setting for this miracle too is the same. Another reason is that this feeding is the less abundant of the two. While in the first feeding miracle fewer loaves (5) and fish (2) are required to feed more people (5000) and more baskets are gathered after the feeding (12), here more loaves (7) and fish (few) are needed to feed fewer people (400) and lesser baskets are gathered (7).
Here too, however, like in the first feeding miracle, the crowds eat and are satisfied. This indicates the abundance of the messianic age and what the coming of Jesus represents.
All that we have is given to us in trust by God and is to be used not selfishly but for the good of others. We can decide to hoard and store for future generations of our nuclear families, or we can decide to share at least a little of what we have with the less fortunate.
Saturday, February 16, 2019 - Gen 3:9-24; Mk 8:1-10
Thursday, 14 February 2019
Friday, February 15, 2019 - How often have you used your tongue to demean people? Will you attempt to speak only words that enhance today?
To read the texts click on the the texts: Gen 3:1-8; Mk 7:31-37
The text of today is a miracle that is found only in the Gospel of Mark.
The friends of the man who is deaf and has an impediment in his speech bring him to Jesus. This is the first of two miracles in Mark in which Jesus uses external methods. The other is in Mark 8:22-26. The healing occurs immediately and the confirmation of the healing is shown in the man’s beginning to speak. Jesus gives the crowd a command to silence, but it is disobeyed and his reputation keeps spreading.
The comment of the crowd indicates that they are becoming aware that with Jesus the messianic age has dawned, since according to Isaiah 35:5-6, healings of the blind, deaf and persons who were disabled were signs that the messianic age had indeed dawned.
Wednesday, 13 February 2019
To read the texts click on the texts: Gen 2:18-25; Mk 7:24-30
At the beginning of today’s reading we are told that Jesus has entered Gentile territory. His reputation seems to have preceded him because though he did not want anyone to know that he was there, his presence cannot be kept secret.
When the mother of a girl who is possessed by an evil spirit makes a request for healing, Jesus responds that the Jews (children) must first have their fill (Jesus’ reaching out to make whole) and only then can the dogs (Gentiles) be fed. While in Mark the response of Jesus accepts the possibility of a Gentile mission even if after the mission to the Jews, in the parallel text in Matthew (15:24-26), it is clear that Jesus’ mission is exclusively for the Jews and not Gentiles.
The woman is not deterred and responds in a manner that bests Jesus’ response.
In Mark, the concluding saying of Jesus makes explicit that the daughter of the woman is healed because she has won the argument. She has turned the metaphor to her advantage.
No one has the power to hurt or insult you unless you decide to give the person that power. When someone says something, I need to decide whether I will sulk because I find it insulting or whether I will use what he or she has said to learn something about myself and so use it to my advantage.
Thursday, February 14, 2019 - Gen 2:18-25; Mk 7:24-30
Tuesday, 12 February 2019
Wednesday, February 13, 2019 - Have you focussed more on your “doing” than on your “being”? Is your “being” good?
To read the texts click on the texts: Gen 2:4-9; 15-17; Mk 7:14-23
The text of today continues the discussion of the earlier text, which was read yesterday (7:1-13). If the earlier part was a response to Jewish teachers, this part is addressed to the crowds. Jesus asserts that nothing from outside has the power to make one unclean. Instead of being concerned with externals, Jesus challenges those who listen to him to focus on the internal, since uncleanness comes from within. Mark presents this teaching of Jesus as a parable and so there is a need to explain it. In his explanation to the disciples, Jesus makes clear that what goes into a person from outside enters the stomach and not the heart and so cannot defile. It is what comes from within, that is from the heart that defiles and makes unclean.
Sin comes from within. While external circumstances do have an effect on us and influence us, we cannot put the blame for our actions on these. The actions that we perform are ours and we must accept responsibility for them.
Wednesday, February 13, 2019 - Gen 2:4-9; 15-17; Mk 7:14-23
Monday, 11 February 2019
To read the texts click on the texts: Gen 1:20-2:4; Mk 7:1-13
In the text of today, the Pharisees and the Scribes see that the disciples of Jesus eat with unwashed hands, and so ask Jesus a question concerning what they consider as defilement. In his response to them, Jesus takes the discussion to a higher plane, by focussing not merely on what defiles or does not defile a person, but on true worship, which stems from the heart.
The quotation from Isaiah 29:13 is an apt description of the sham worship offered, when God wanted heart worship. To illustrate his point, Jesus gives the example of Corban, in which the Pharisees’ would dedicate, something to God, and so not allow anyone else including their parents to use it, but would use it themselves. In case others wanted to use it, their answer would be that they could not allow them to do so since it was “Corban” (dedicated to God) and so belonged to God alone.
There are times when we find way and means to get out of fulfilling our obligations to others. We come up with flimsy excuses when we cannot keep a commitment, and try to absolve ourselves of our responsibility. At these times we too can be accused of lip service.