Sunday, 29 January 2023
Monday, January 30, 2023 - How often has another person’s need been more important to you than your own?
To read the texts click on the texts: Heb 11:32-40; Mk 5:1-20
The healing miracle of today is known as the healing of the Gerasene demoniac. The man is so utterly possessed, that it seems almost impossible that he will be healed. Addressing Jesus as the Son of the Most High God, the demon attempts to possess Jesus. However, Jesus will have none of it, and silences him with a word. The name “legion” used by the demoniac may mean on the one hand that he did not want to give his name and so be cast out by Jesus, and on the other hand may also refer to the Roman occupation of Palestine. The presence of pigs suggests that it is Gentile territory, because Jews considered pigs as unclean animals, and would not have them near. Some have raised questions about the destruction of nature because of the fact that the herd of pigs is drowned after the demon is sent into them. However, it may also be interpreted as the extent of concern that Jesus had for the man. In other words, the salvation of a human being is worth any price. The healed man becomes an apostle.
Saturday, 28 January 2023
To read the texts click on the texts: Zeph2:3; 3:12-13; 1 Cor1:26-31; Mt 5:1-12
There is a tendency even today among some of us to project the solutions to all our problems into the future. This may be termed as “a pie in the sky when you die” kind of theology. While it is true that till the coming of Jesus projection into the future alone made sense, after his coming what must spur us on is not only the future but the present and all that it offers.
This is why it is understandable that Zephaniah, writing probably around 640-609 BCE, promised that God would preserve a remnant, To this humble remnant or anawim belongs the promise of a secure future: “They shall pasture and lie down, and none shall make them afraid” (3:13). This oracle announced the future realization of an ideal.
However, in the case of Matthew, who is writing after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the “secure future” of Zephaniah is first present in the person of Jesus in a unique way, and secondly is also in the future. This means that the beatitudes that Jesus pronounces at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount do not merely describe something that already is, but also bring into being the reality they declare. They are a declaration of who disciples are already and who they must continue to be.
The Sermon on the Mount begins with the nine beatitudes. Called “blessed”, are the poor in spirit who have surrendered self-will and self-reliance and every other base of security to welcome the reign of God. Also “blessed” are those who are gentle, mourners and those who hunger and thirst for righteousness or justice. These are basic dispositions of the believer who accepts his needs before God and his openness to receiving his gifts.
The second group of four which speak of the merciful, the pure in heart, peacemakers and those persecuted in the cause of justice seem to reflect the attitude of humans to each other. These identify with Jesus in his person and mission.
In what many consider as the ninth beatitude, Jesus speaks to the disciples directly. These are blessed even in the abuse and persecution that they will encounter because of their association with Jesus.
The key feature of blessedness is that it involves living a deliberately chosen and cultivated sort of life, which does not get involved in the power and violence of the world, and which, because of this fact, makes the ones living it immensely vulnerable to being turned into victims. That is the centre of the ethic as taught by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.
If we then turn to the end of the Eschatological Discourse – Jesus’ last discourse (Mt 25:31-46) before his passion, we find something similar at work. In the famous passage of the last judgement, the judgement is defined not in terms of belonging to this or that group, or believing this or that dogma. The judgement is presented in terms of the human relationships towards victims – those who hunger, thirst, the naked, sick, or imprisoned. Those who are rewarded are those – whether or not they know anything of the world which is blind to its victims, and have reached out to help them. It is here, the crucified and risen victim who is the judge of the world, and the world is judged in the light of its relationship to the crucified and risen victim.
For Matthew the arrival of Jesus and his proclamation of God’s kingdom create the conditions by which the world can be changed. The promise to the poor in spirit and those who are persecuted for justice, that the kingdom of heaven is “yours,” might better be translated as “on your side” or “for you.” The dispositions and action praised by Jesus provide an alternate vision to contemporary, destructive attitudes and trends.
The beatitudes generate trust in God in difficult circumstances, not simply enable us to endure hard times. None of us can avoid the traumatic experiences that life so frequently presents. In Africa and Asia millions of our fellow human beings suffer disease, poverty and the effects of war and natural disasters that some of us have never experienced or even imagined. The challenge of Christian faith is to accept and live a sustaining relationship with God in the most trying circumstances.
The beatitudes define the way that Jesus himself lived to the point of death as a rejected religious evolutionary and unjustly condemned criminal. The spiritual power to live the life of the blessed comes not through our most noble human efforts, but through the gift of grace that the Spirit gives us. Paul realized this when he said that God those the foolish and weak of this world to shame the wise and the strong, Are Jesus’ praises and Paul’s declarations really too much for us to believe?
Friday, 27 January 2023
Saturday, February 28, 2023 - Have you stopped rowing the boat of life because you are overwhelmed with the storms? Will you start rowing again today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Heb 11:1-2; 8-19; Mk 4:35-41
The Gospel reading of today appears immediately after Jesus has completed the Parable Discourse. It is commonly referred to as the miracle of the calming of the storm. While this miracle appears also in the Gospels in Matthew and Luke, the language of the disciples in Mark is harsh. In Matthew, the disciples address Jesus as Lord, and their cry is a plea for help, much like our “Lord have mercy” at the penitential rite. In Luke, like in Mark, Jesus is addressed as “Master” but no allegation about his uncaring attitude is made. In Mark, the disciples allege that Jesus is unconcerned about them. Mark also brings out the contrast between the agitated disciples and the serene Jesus. Jesus is able with a word to calm the forces of nature, and suddenly, there is a great calm.
Thursday, 26 January 2023
Friday, January 27, 2023 - Do you more often than not focus on the present or the future? Do you focus on the now or on the later?
To read the texts click on the texts: Heb 10:32-39; Mk 4:26-34
The text of today contains two parables. The first of these (4:26-29) is known as the Parable of the seed growing secretly, and is found only in the Gospel of Mark. The second (4:30-32), known as the Parable of the Mustard seed is also found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.
In the first parable the point that is being made is that the one who scatters the seed only does so and then goes about his routine, not worried about the outcome of his effort. The seed continues to grow, simply because he has first scattered it. He knows that by worrying the seed will not grow faster, and so he lets it be.
In the Parable of the Mustard seed, the point that is made is that from little, there will be much. Small beginnings have great endings. The parable is a call to begin what one has to do without worrying about how small or big the outcome will be. The growth is sure and definite.
When Mark says in 4,33 that Jesus did not speak to the people without a parable, he is in effect saying that there was a parabolic character about all of Jesus’ teaching. This means that all of Jesus’ teaching involved the listener and it was the listener who supplied the lesson to the teaching and not Jesus. This indicates a freedom of choice that every listener was given at the time of Jesus. They were the ones to decide for or against. Jesus would never force them to accept his point of view.
It is sometimes the case that we spend much of our time worrying about the outcome of our actions even before we can do them. This attitude does not allow us to be in the present moment and so the action that we do is not done to the best of our ability. We do not put ourselves fully into the action that we do. At other times, we do not act at all but only worry. While the first of today’s parable is calling us to act and then relax rather than worry, the second is assuring us that our actions will indeed bear fruit.
Wednesday, 25 January 2023
To read the texts click on the texts: Heb 10:19-25; Mk 4:21-25
The text of today follows immediately after the interpretation of the Parable of the Sower and the seed and contains two similes: that of the lamp and the measure. In Mark they seem to be connected with the response that a person makes to the Word spoken by Jesus. This Word is not an esoteric or secret Word. It is a Word that is to be make known, to be revealed, like a lamp is to be on a lamp stand. If one is open and receptive to this Word (the Measure of one’s openness) one will receive from God not only the ability to understand it but also to assimilate it.
Sometimes our closed attitudes and minds and our reluctance to accept change and newness may result in our missing out on all the revelations of the glory of God taking place around us. If we only open the eyes of our heart to see and the ears of our hearts to hear, we will be able to find God in all things and all things in him.