Sunday, 18 April 2021

Monday, April 19, 2021 - Will you express your faith in Jesus through one loving action today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 6:8-15; Jn6:22-29

The first three verses of today’s text, which appear immediately after the miracle of walking on the water, serve as transition verses for the dialogue with the people and the discourse on the bread of life that follow. They also serve to bring the crowd, which had eaten at the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, back into the story and so, link Jesus’ words that follow with the feeding miracle and the miracle of walking on the water.

Since the crowd has not been privy to the miracle of Jesus walking on the water, they wonder how he got to the other side. Jesus does not answer their question but draws attention to their reason for seeking him. Though they have seen the sign that Jesus gave at the miraculous feeding, they were not able to perceive it because their attention was directed to the earthly and temporary, not to the heavenly and permanent. Even as they seek him for temporary food, Jesus invites them to a higher seeking. He asks them to seek for the food that only he can give, the food that endures forever. Jesus is competent to give this food because the Father himself has approved and set his seal on Jesus. In response to Jesus’ statement to not work for food that perishes, the crowd interprets the word “work” to mean certain actions that they must perform to acquire this food. Jesus corrects this misunderstanding by explaining what is meant by “work”. They must believe in Jesus who has been sent by God.

Believing in Jesus does not only mean a verbal profession of faith. In the Gospel of John, the term believing is, most often, used to describe faith that shows itself in action. This is why believing is akin to work. Jesus does not provide merely physical nourishment, but also nourishment of the mind, heart, and spirit. To know and believe in Jesus is to be sated in every aspect of life. It is to never lack or want anything, because all things are provided in him.

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Sunday, April 18, 2021 - Homily


The hands and side that Jesus showed his disciples are visible today in each of us who claim to be his disciples. These are shown to the world as “proof” not only of the fact that Jesus is alive, but that in his name, forgiveness is even now being preached.


Sunday, April 18, 2021 - Third Sunday of Easter - Preach and practice forgiveness!

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 3:13-15, 17-19;1 Jn 2:1-5; Lk 24:35-48

The last verse of today’s Gospel “You are witnesses of these things”, sets not only the theme for the readings of today, but also summarizes both the privilege and responsibility of being witnesses.

The question, however, is to what are the disciples to witness? To whom must they witness? They are called to witness clearly to the person of Christ – specifically to his death and resurrection and also to the fact that in his name forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed to all.

Jesus shows this to them in two ways. The first is in the manifestation of himself. Even as he stands in their midst, he greets them with the greeting of peace. This greeting coming from the risen Lord is more than merely a greeting. It is a gift, a surety, a tangible thing. It refers to wholeness and embraces every aspect of life. It is a gift that will sustain them in all their endeavors and encourage them in mission. After the gift of peace, Jesus responds to their shock and amazement by convincing them that he is not a spirit, but flesh and blood. He is the same Jesus who died and was buried who is now raised. The second way in which Jesus reveals the content of their witness is in the instructions he gives them concerning mission.

Their Mission is not different from his. It is at one with and continues the Mission that Jesus himself inaugurated. The disciples are called to proclaim not merely Jesus’ death and resurrection but also that precisely because of this Christ-event all people everywhere have been forgiven, accepted and loved. The disciples are called to proclaim that the name Jesus means that God saves from sin.

Peter understood this message clearly as is evident in his address to the people gathered in the Temple. Though Jesus was rejected, despised and killed for no fault of his, yet, the God who raised him forgives all those involved in their heinous act. Because they have received this unconditional forgiveness in Jesus’ name, they are called to a metanoia, a change of mind, heart and vision. The acceptance of God’s forgiveness must result in a transformation.

This idea is reiterated by John in the second reading of today in which he exhorts the community to realize that because Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, the response to such a death must be a life well lived. This is shown by obedience to the command that Jesus taught, that all love one another as brothers and sisters. This is how love for God and Jesus is shown.

“You are witnesses of these things”, is a declaration that Jesus continues to make even today. We who have experienced God’s unconditional love in Jesus are called to proclaim – like the first disciples – both the Christ event and that in Jesus’ name, God continues to forgive, accept and love. However, this forgiveness cannot be proclaimed if we have not first experienced it ourselves. It is strange but true that the only way we can experience forgiveness is, if we first forgive. The Lord’s Prayer which is one of the most common and well-known prayers makes the same point. We ask the Lord to forgive us only as we forgive. In other words, we will not be in a position to receive God’s forgiveness if our hearts are filled with unforgiveness. In the creed of the Catholic Church, belief in the forgiveness of sins stands besides belief in the Holy Catholic Church and the communion of saints which indicates how central this aspect is to being Christian.

Psychologists and doctors today tell us that the larger majority of our illnesses today are psychosomatic. This means that when the “inside” (psuchç) of a person is affected then the “outside” (sōma) will also be affected. One of the main reasons why the “inside” gets affected is because of lack of forgiveness and holding on to hurts and resentments.

The hands and side that Jesus showed his disciples are visible today in each of us who claim to be his disciples. These are shown to the world as “proof” not only of the fact that Jesus is alive, but that in his name, forgiveness is even now being preached. It is significant that the content of the preaching, even after the resurrection of Jesus, is to be forgiveness, because that is why Jesus came into the world; to save people from their sins. This forgiveness can be preached and made real only if we bear witness to it through our lives.

“Forgive”, I am fond of saying, “it is good for your health”.

Friday, 16 April 2021

Saturday, April 17, 2021 - Homily


 

Our God is Jesus is not a God was was (a God of the past) or even a God who will be (a God of the future) but a God who is (I am) in the present. When we give up our fear, we can experience this God.

Saturday, April 17, 2021 - When the road is steep and the going is difficult, will you continue to believe that God walks with you or will you give in to despair? When things do not go the way you want them to, do you believe that God comes to your aid?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 6:1-7; Jn 6:16-21

Luke is the only one of the four evangelists who does not narrate the story of Jesus walking on the water. In Matthew (14:22-32), and Mark (6:45-51), like in John, the miracle is narrated immediately after the feeding of the five thousand. John’s account of the miracle is the shortest of the three.

The story begins by portraying the disciples in a boat moving towards Capernaum. The statement that “it was now dark” indicates, on the surface level, the time of the day, but on the deeper level, the absence of Jesus. It is always “dark” for John when Jesus is absent. The rough sea and the strong wind make rowing difficult. Suddenly, the disciples see Jesus walking on the water, coming towards them. In the Old Testament, only God has the power to walk on the waters (Job 9:8; Isa 43:2), and so, this act on the part of Jesus, already reveals him as divine. John does not give us the reason why the disciples were terrified. Matthew (14:26) and Mark (6:49) explain the fear of the disciples by saying that they thought they saw a ghost.

As Jesus comes close to the boat, he identifies himself to the disciples with the divine name, “I Am”. This is the name that God gave to Moses when Moses asked God for the name that he must give to the Israelites when asked (Exod 3:14). In addition to identifying himself with the divine name, Jesus says to the disciples, “Do not be afraid”. These are words of comfort and consolation and, here also, function to allay the fears of the disciples who are in awe after witnessing a theophany. Even as the disciples want to take Jesus into the boat, they realize that they have reached their destination. The presence of Jesus assures them a safe passage through all the storms.

Thus, the point of the miracle is not so much to stress the miraculous powers of Jesus, but to reveal Jesus as God. The glory of God is revealed in Jesus and here, God is portrayed as a God who is for the disciples and with them in all their struggles and tribulations. He is a God who comes to the disciples’ aid when they need him and allays all their fears.  He is a God who will provide a safe passage for them even in the midst of all the storms they encounter in life.

Life is composed of ups and downs. It is easy to see God’s hand and his working in our lives when everything goes as we plan. However, when the going gets tough and the road is difficult, God seems, to us, to hide himself. It is at times like these when suddenly, without our knowing how, Jesus comes walking on the water towards us, allaying our fears and telling us that HE IS.  He is God with us and for us, God who walks with us and ahead of us. He is God who will never let the storms of our lives overwhelm us. We have only to open our eyes and see, and get rid of the fear that grips us, because we have a God who himself has gone through the storms of life. We have a God who, even in the most difficult moments of his life, continued to believe that the Father was with him. We have a God who has shown us the meaning of trust, confidence, and courage.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Friday, April 16, 2021 - Homily


 

Many of us are still searching for meaning in life. The hunger that some of us experience is not only a physical hunger, but a hunger of mind and heart. We keep looking to satisfy this hunger and at times, try to do so by using means that can only satisfy temporarily.  No matter what questions we may have, Jesus continues to be the answer.

Friday, April 16, 2021 - Will you like Jesus dare to become bread for at least one person today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 5:34-42; Jn6:1-15

The miracle of the feeding of the five thousand ,with five loaves and two fish, after which 12 baskets are gathered, is the only miracle of Jesus that is narrated by all the four Gospels (Mt 14:13-21; Mk 6:30-44; Lk 9:10-17). Yet, there are significant differences in the narrative in the Gospel of John when compared with the Synoptic Gospels. Only in John are we told that the Passover was near at hand and that it was a boy from whom the barley loaves were acquired for the feeding. In John Jesus “gives thanks” over the bread and distributes it to the people himself. This lends a distinctive Eucharistic touch to the miracle. In the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus says the “blessing” and gives the bread to the disciples who distribute it among the people.

When Jesus sees the large crowd, it is he who initiates the miracle by asking Philip the question about the possibility of feeding such a large crowd. This question, however, is asked as a test, which Philip fails. His answer sets limits on what God can do, much like Nicodemus had done. He asserts the impossibility of the situation. Andrew seems not as unbelieving as Philip, yet he, too, thinks that it is impossible to feed so many with the meager ration that is at their disposal.

John does not explain how the miracle occurred, but states succinctly that the crowd was ordered to sit down and, after Jesus had given thanks over the bread, there was enough and more for the five thousand. By stating that Jesus gave the bread to the people himself, John asserts that the gift of food comes from Jesus, who alone is the bread of life.

Jesus’ words in 6:12, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost”, are unique to the Johannine version of the miracle and make an important connection between this story and the manna story of Exodus 16. In Exod 16:19, Moses asked that the people not leave any extra manna around, but the people disobeyed Moses and the leftover manna “bred worms and became foul” (Exod 16:20). Jesus’ words, in 6:12, seem to caution against a repetition of Exodus 16.

The people who are fed respond to the miracle only at a surface level. They are taken up with the sign and base their faith on it. This sign results in their wanting to make Jesus king. However, Jesus will not trust himself to those who base their faith in him only in the signs that he works.

To ask the question - “How did five loaves and two fish suffice to feed five thousand people? - would be to miss the point. The “how” question cannot be answered, because none of the evangelists narrate “how” it happened. The concentration seems to be on Jesus as the bread of life, able to sate the hunger of all who come to him. The question to Philip, Andrew’s intervention, Jesus ordering that the people sit down, his “giving thanks” and distributing the bread to the people himself, are all indications that John focuses on the preparation for the miracle more than on the miracle itself. The fact that all five thousand people are satisfied and twelve baskets can be gathered after they have eaten their fill, points to the abundance of the miracle and Jesus’ free gift of bread and himself. God, in Jesus, will satisfy every kind of hunger of the people. The hungry and thirsty need not look elsewhere for bread. They have it in abundance in Jesus.

Many of us are still searching for meaning in life. The hunger that some of us experience is not only a physical hunger, but a hunger of mind and heart. We keep looking to satisfy this hunger and at times, try to do so by using means that can only satisfy temporarily.  No matter what questions we may have, Jesus continues to be the answer.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Thursday, April 15, 2021 - Homily


 

The lives of both John and Jesus resulted in many being drawn to God. Have others been drawn to God by the witness of your life?

Thursday, April 15, 2021 - Have other been drawn to Jesus by the witness of your life?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 5:27-33; Jn 3:31-36

These verses contain what some think is John’s final witness to Jesus. Others see them as the words of Jesus or the Evangelist. If the words are regarded as that of John, then the “one from above” refers to Jesus and “the one from the earth”, to John. If they are interpreted as the words of Jesus, then the same refer to Jesus and the Jewish leaders. In either case, it is clear that Jesus is the one from above. The testimony of both John and Jesus was rejected by some to whom it was made. To accept the testimony of John and Jesus is to trust God, since it is God himself who sent both. While John was sent to bear witness to the light, Jesus was the light to whom John bore witness. Jesus, having been sent by the Father, speaks what he has been commanded to by the Father. He has received the gift of the Spirit and so is able to gift the Spirit to others. The relationship between the Father and the Son is one of unconditional love. This love results in the Father handing over all things to the Son. Thus, to believe in the Son means to have life, to reject the Son means to call death on oneself.

 

Whether we regard the words as those of Jesus or of John, what is striking is that each witness to the one he has been called to witness to.  John was called to witness to Jesus, and he does this perfectly. Jesus was called to witness to the Father, and he does this like no one before him could ever do. The lives of both John and Jesus resulted in many being drawn to Jesus and to his Father.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Wednesday, April 14, 2021 - Homily


 

Though the light has come, and people should normally have opted for it, some preferred the dark. How will you show that you have opted for light over darkness?