Thursday, 30 June 2022
Friday, July 1, 2022 - Is your “usual” way of looking a “negative or pessimistic” way? Will you look at persons, things and events positively today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Amos 8:4-6,9-12; Mt9:9-13
The text of today contains the call of Matthew, and Jesus’ fellowship with tax collectors and sinners. It is only in the Gospel of Matthew that the tax collector is called Matthew. In Mark and Luke he is called Levi. However, in the lists of the Twelve in both Mark and Luke, the disciple is named Matthew and Levi does not appear. It is unlikely that Matthew and Levi refer to the same person. It was rare for Jews to have two different Jewish names. The reason for the author choosing the name Matthew remains unknown. However, in the text what strikes one is that whereas most people who passed by the tax office would see a corrupt official, Jesus was able to see a potential disciple. It was Jesus’ way of looking that led to the transformation and the response of Matthew to the call. In his response to the objection of the Pharisees, Jesus responds with a common proverb about the sick needing a doctor, and also quotes from Hosea 6:6, which here is interpreted to mean that the mercy of God in Jesus is extended to all humanity and takes precedence over everything else. All else must be understood in this light.
Wednesday, 29 June 2022
Thursday, June 30, 2022 - Do you believe that God has forgiven you all your sins? Will you now extend the same forgiveness to at least one person whom you find it difficult to forgive?
To read the texts click on the texts: Amos7:1-10; Mt 9:1-8
The miracle of the healing of the paralytic who was let down from the roof which forms our text for today is found also in Mark (2:1-12) and Luke (5:17-26). Matthew has omitted some details from Mark and thus shortened his narrative. Through these omissions, Matthew allows the reader to focus exclusively on Jesus and his words. It is unusual that Jesus does not respond to the paralytic’s immediate need but first forgives him his sins. The healing of the man is done later and only as demonstration of the fact that Jesus has power and authority to forgive sin, because the scribes consider Jesus’ pronouncement of forgiveness of sins as blasphemy. Since Jesus heals by the power of God, he can forgive sins by the same power. In Matthew, the crowd does not praise God for the miracle like they do in Mark and Luke, but for the authority to forgive sins attributed not only to Jesus but to human beings (“such authority to human beings” – Mt 9:8).
Tuesday, 28 June 2022
Wednesday, June 29, 202- Saints Peter and Paul - Today the Lord builds his CHURCH on you and UR in CH CH
To read the texts click on the texts:Acts12:1-12; 2 Tim 4:6-8,17-18; Mt 16:13-19
There is an old story about the death of St. Peter in Rome during the persecution of Nero. Peter heard about Nero's plan to burn the city and blame the Christians. He figured as the one who presided over the church in the city he would be arrested and put to death. So he did the sensible thing - Peter was always a sensible man - he got out of town, and at night. The Appian Way was dark for a while as Peter snuck down it. However, as the night wore on the sky was illuminated by the flames rising from the city. Peter hurried on and eventually was far enough away from the city that it was dark again. Then he saw someone coming in the opposite direction, someone who even at night seemed familiar. It was the Lord himself. What was he doing out at night and walking towards Rome? “Where are you going, Lord?” Peter asked him. “To Rome”, Jesus replied, “to be crucified again in your place”. Peter turned around and returned to Rome and according to tradition was crucified there.
Though this story does not agree with what is narrated in the first reading of today from the Acts of the Apostles, in which we are told that Peter was imprisoned, it does agree with what the Gospels narrate about Peter’s denials, and brings out an important facet of the meaning of the feast: Jesus did not choose strong, brave and courageous individuals to continue the work that he had begun. He chose weak, frail and cowardly humans. He chose individuals who would falter and fail. This is the Peter who confessed Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the Living God” and to whom the Jesus handed over the “keys” of the Church, knowing full well that there would be times when the lofty confession would turn into a base denial.
Paul’s conversion story is narrated twice in the Acts of the Apostles and Paul himself speaks of it in some of his letters. His commission as an apostle of Christ began with a divine revelation of the identity of the Lord Jesus. He reports the events surrounding his recognition of Jesus as the Lord of glory and his appointment as apostle to the gentiles. Felled to the ground by a brilliant light from heaven and hearing a reproachful voice addressing him by name his first need was to know who it was who broke into his life with such awe-inspiring power. Just as Jesus told Peter that he would assign to him the charge of leading his Church once the Peter recognized his master's true identity, so also Paul's task was given to him only after Jesus revealed himself as the glorified Lord.
The apostles' mission thus grew out of their loving knowledge of the person of Jesus, the Son of the living God. Their work, indeed their whole life, was to follow from this surpassing knowledge of Christ which became the basis of all their dealing with others. They were given to the whole Church to teach us not only what Christ revealed and taught but also how to live as he himself had put into practice the things willed by the Father.
Today we marvel at the transformation of these previously weak human leaders. Peter’s newfound passionate commitment to his Lord and to the fledgling church resulted in his imprisonment. Paul too was jailed. He did not see this as failure, but as the destiny that was his in consequence of his commitment to the Gospel. He had fought the good fight, he had run the race, and he had kept the faith. He faced death, and he knew it. That was the price they had to pay for their commitment and fidelity to the Lord.
Their personalities were very different, their approaches to spreading the Faith were very different, and their relationships with Christ were very different. Although the two were both Apostles, there were moments of disagreement and conflict between them. And yet, they are bound together on this single feast, as they were bound together by the one Faith, confessing the one Lord, shedding their blood for him and his mission of peace, justice and love.
Within the recent past, the church has been tossed to and fro in storms of controversy. Not one storm, but many storms, and not in one country, but in many countries. It has been the target of fierce persecution from without, and it has also allowed evil to corrupt it from within. Whether in circumstances of harassment or scandal, the lives of many have been diminished, their confidence undermined and their faith tested.
Without minimizing the suffering in our current situations, we should remember that dire trials are really not new to the church. From its very beginning it has faced opposition. The first reading for today’s feast describes one such situation.
Despite its trials, however, the church has survived and even flourished. This is not due to the strength and holiness of its members. Though Jesus told Peter that the church would be built upon him, the church’s real foundation was and continues to be Jesus Christ its Lord. He is the one who commissioned Peter; he is the one who assures the church of protection. He is the one who stood by Paul and gave him strength to bring the Gospel to the broader world. The church may have been built on Peter the former denier and spread by Paul the former persecutor, but it is the church of Jesus Christ, and it will endure because of his promise.
Today we celebrate the fidelity of Peter and Paul, sinners like us all. Initially, they were both found wanting. When they eventually repented, they were forgiven by God in Christ. Though they faced persecution, their commitment to Christ gave them the courage they needed. Their victory is evidence that the truth will overcome untruth, light will overcome darkness and life will overcome death. Their victory is evidence that we shall indeed overcome.
Monday, 27 June 2022
Tuesday, June 28, 2022 - Have the “storms” of your life sometimes overwhelmed you? Will you believe that with Jesus in the boat of your life these can be controlled?
To read the texts click on the texts: Amos3:1-8; 4:11-12; Mt 8:23-27
The miracle in our text for today known sometimes as the Calming of The Storm is found also in Mark (4:35-41) and Luke (8:22-25). It is only Matthew, however, who emphasises that the disciples “followed Jesus into the boat”. The miracle is not only a nature miracle but also a story told to indicate that Jesus has control over the storms of life itself. In Matthew the “storm” indicates the stormy experience of the community (represented by the disciples in the boat) who follow Jesus. While in Mark the cry is one of distress (“Teacher do you not care if we perish?”), in Matthew, it is a liturgical-sounding cry for help (Save, Lord; we are perishing). In both Mark and Luke the reprimand about “little faith” is after Jesus has calmed the storm, whereas in Matthew, the reprimand precedes the calming. This is an indication that “faith” is primary, and if the disciples had the faith needed, they would not be agitated.
We may sometimes get disturbed and agitated when things do not happen the way we expect them to or when we are faced with a difficult situation. At times like the disciples in the Gospel of Mark we may accuse Jesus of not being concerned about our plight and at other times like the disciples in the Gospel of Matthew we may plead with him to come to our aid. No matter which approach we may use, we need to remember that he will let nothing happen to us that is not part of his plan and will. We have to continue to do what is required of as and confidently leave the rest to him.
Sunday, 26 June 2022
Monday, June 27, 2022 - What excuses have you been giving to the call to follow Jesus? What will you do about them today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Amos2:6-10,13-16; Mt 8:18-22
Today’s text follows immediately after the first three miracles of Matthew’s Miracle Cycle. In the first three miracles, the disciples are not mentioned at all and the focus is solely on the authority of Jesus. The text of today and the miracles that follow emphasise discipleship. The scribe who addresses Jesus in the text of today is clearly not a disciple because of the term he uses to address Jesus, namely “Teacher”. In Matthew, only disciples address Jesus as Lord. The scribe is informed through Jesus’ response that firstly Jesus is the one who will take the initiative to call and secondly that his priorities need to be changed. The life to which Jesus calls will need a reversal of priorities. To the second disciple, Jesus’ response seems hard and brusque. Some interpret this to mean that the spiritually dead must be left to bury the physically dead. However, the point is that absolutely nothing can come in the way of Jesus’ call.