Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Wednesday, September 22, 2021 - Homily


 

We are called to continue to the Mission inaugurated by Jesus and put into motion by his first disciples. It is a mission, which includes every aspect of life and involves all persons. This means that we are called not to be part-time missionaries or disciples, but on mission always and everywhere.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021 - What does mission mean for you today? How and where will you proclaim it?

To read the texts click on the texts: Ezra 9:5-9; Lk 9:1-6

This passage may be seen as the culmination of the entire section Lk. 7,1 – 8,56. In this section, we were shown the nature of Jesus’ Kingdom mission. The Twelve now share in that same mission. These verses may be termed as the Mission Discourse according to Luke. Though Luke has taken much material from the Mission Discourse of Mark (see Mk. 6,6b-13), he has also made changes, which bring out his meaning of mission more clearly. Before Jesus instructs his disciples on how they must go about their mission, he gives them not only authority as in Mark, but power and authority. This power and authority is given not only over the unclean spirits as in Mark, but over all demons and to cure diseases. Only in Luke are they also sent to “preach the Kingdom of God”. This indicates that for Luke, mission is inclusive and includes both doing as well as saying, both action as well as word.

Besides power and authority, Jesus also gives the disciples a strategy for mission. This may be summed up as detachment from things (take nothing for your journey), persons (stay there and from there depart) and from events (and wherever they do not receive you, when you leave shake off the dust from your feet). Dependence ought to be only on the Providence of God. The rejection shown Jesus is also in store for those sent by Jesus. The last verse in today’s text, underscores the disciples’ obedience to the commands of Jesus by reiterating the principal features of mission: preaching the good news and healing the sick. That mission is universal is made clear in the last word, “everywhere”.

As missionaries today, we are called to continue to the Mission inaugurated by Jesus and put into motion by his first disciples. It is a mission, which includes every aspect of life and involves all persons. This means that we are called not to be part-time missionaries or disciples, but on mission always and everywhere. 

Monday, 20 September 2021

Tuesday, September 21, 2021 - St. Matthew, Apostle


 

There are times when we judge people too easily and many of these times our judgement of them is negative. This is also how we often look at the whole of creation and because we put labels on things, people and all else in creation, we may miss out on the uniqueness that each possesses.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021 - St. Matthew, Evangelist - Matthew wrote a Gospel to share his experience of the Lord. What will you do to share your experience of Him?

To read the texts click on the texts: Eph 4:1-7,11-13; Mt 9:9-13

Most scholars hold today that the Gospel of Matthew was written after Mark. Matthew’s Gospel was the one that was used most often in the early Church and so it has been placed before Mark in the Bible.

It is known as the Ecclesial Gospel or the Gospel of the Church. One reason for this is that Matthew’s thesis seems to be that since Israel for whom Jesus came rejected Jesus as Messiah, the Church has become now the new and true Israel. Also Matthew is the only one of the four Evangelists who uses the word “Ekklesia” translated “Church” in his Gospel (16:18;18:17). There is however, throughout the Gospel the tension between Particularism on the one hand and Universalism on the other. The Jesus of the Gospel of Matthew is sent “only to the lost sheep of Israel” (15:24; see also 10:6) and the same Jesus can tell Israel “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it” (21:43).

Matthew’s Gospel begins with the genealogy of Jesus, which goes back to Abraham. Joseph is not called the father of Jesus but the husband of Mary (1:16) since Matthew is clear that Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus. The birth of Jesus is then narrated, followed by the visit of the wise men to Bethlehem and Herod’s plan to kill Jesus. This leads the family to go to Egypt where they remain till Herod’s death and then return to Nazareth. The birth, flight into Egypt and return to Nazareth all fulfil scripture. Matthew then goes on to narrate the Baptism of Jesus by John and Jesus’ temptations and his overcoming them. Jesus then begins his public ministry in Galilee after calling the first four disciples. Unlike Mark, which is a story, Matthew intersperses his narrative with long discourses. The first of these is the Sermon on the Mount (5:1-7,29). There are four other discourses in the Gospel. These are The Mission Discourse (10:1-11:1), The parable Discourse (13:1-53), The Community Discourse (18:1-19:1) and the Eschatological Discourse (24:1-26:1). Each of these discourses ends in a similar manner with the words, “and when Jesus had finished (7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1). This is also Matthew’s way of focussing on the teaching of Jesus and giving it as much if not more importance that the deeds of Jesus. Like in Mark, Jesus enters Jerusalem triumphantly, but soon encounters opposition, which grows and leads to his arrest, passion and death. The Gospel ends with accounts of the resurrection appearances of Jesus to his disciples and what is known as the Great Commission, in which the disciples are commanded to go to all nations and make disciples of them and assured of the presence of the ever present Lord to whom all authority in heaven and earth has been given (28:16-20).

The text chosen for the feast 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 Hoses 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.

There are times when we judge people too easily and many of these times our judgement of them is negative. This is also how we often look at the whole of creation and because we put labels on things, people and all else in creation, we may miss out on the uniqueness that each possesses.

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Monday, September 20, 2021 - Homily


 

Hearing is an active process. It calls for a commitment. Those who are open to that word are like a lamp, which gives light to all.

Monday, September 20, 2021 - What is the Good News according to you? Will you share it with others today? How?

To read the texts click on the texts: Ezra 1:1-6; Lk 8:16-18

These verses in Luke are a commentary on the Parable of the Sower, which in Luke appears in 8,5-8. Just as a farmer sows the seed so that all of it may bear fruit, so also a lamp is lit so that it may give light. Like seed is sown not to be trampled on, eaten by birds, to wither or to be chocked, so a lamp is lit not to be hid under a jar or under a bed. Knowledge of the kingdom is not esoteric or secret, reserved for a particular group alone, but must be made known to all. It is knowledge, which must be shared openly with others. It is indeed the Good News, since it is a communication of love, and therefore it must not only be heard, but also experienced. By adding, “Then pay attention to how you listen”, the Lucan Jesus reminds listeners that they can choose and control how they will listen to the word of God. A total openness to the word of God results in an appropriate response to it.

Hearing is an active process. It calls for a commitment. Those who are open to that word are like a lamp, which gives light to all. An attentive hearing of the word of God can result in the transformation of one’s life and the living out of that word can lead to transformation in the lives of others.

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Sunday, September 19, 2021 - Homily


 Today's readings challenge us to be NO ONE so that we can truly be No.1

Sunday, September 19, 2021 - To serve and not to be served

To read the texts click on the texts: Wis 2:12,17-20; Jas 3:16-4:3; Mk 9:30-37

The Gospel of Mark contains three Passion and Resurrection predictions. Three times in the Gospel, albeit with some differences in each, Jesus speaks about his suffering, death, and resurrection. After each of these predictions, there is a misunderstanding of what Jesus says. In the first instance, Peter misunderstands. He insists that Jesus must not suffer and die. In the third instance, the brothers, James and John, misunderstand. They ask for places on the right hand and left hand of Jesus in the kingdom.

It is the second prediction of the Passion and Resurrection, and what follows after, which is the Gospel text of today. Immediately after Jesus has spoken, Mark states unambiguously that the disciples did not understand what Jesus was saying. This is shown also by the silence with which they respond to Jesus’ question “What were you arguing about on the way?” The reason they do not respond is because they had been discussing which one of them was the greatest. They knew, even as they remained silent, that this kind of discussion was not appropriate and did not fit in with Jesus’ world view and scheme of things.

Be that as it may, some more important questions that the Gospel of today raises are these: How could the disciples, who had been so closely associated with Jesus and knew him so intimately, even consider thinking about greatness? Did not all the time they spent with Jesus have any effect on them at all? How come the values that Jesus lived and spoke about constantly, values of self-abnegation, service, selflessness, and the like, have no impact on them?

The answer to these questions is provided in part by the first and second readings of today. The first reading spells out how the attitude of a righteous person, like Jesus, is not at all easy to accept. The righteous person is someone who is inconvenient and tiresome to many. There are two responses to such a person. The first is to ignore him and all that he stands for. However, sometimes, through his life of righteousness, he exposes us who are unrighteous. The second response, therefore, is to do away with him as quickly as one can. It is to test him with opposition, insult, and torture, in the hope that he will give up his position of righteousness and buckle under the pressure. It is to test his forbearance, and patience, and perseverance. It is to find out whether he is really serious about what he preaches and whether he will be able, in reality, to practice it. The disciples choose the first response.

They pretend not to understand because what Jesus preaches is too difficult to translate into action. They prefer, instead, to go the way which most normally go. They prefer to walk the easy road, trod by most others; the road of power, prestige, and honour. The adversaries of Jesus, however, choose the second response. They will do away with Jesus. His presence, and all he stands for, is a threat to them. They will not tolerate this new way that he preaches. It is against everything that they want to be.

The reason they will do this is because, as James explains in the second reading of today, there is envy and selfish ambition in the very core of their being. There is a lack of wisdom and thus, disorder and wickedness of every kind. Their cravings and covetousness prevent them from seeing that there is another way. Their unchecked desires prevent them from daring to walk the path of selflessness and service. They would rather be served than serve.

Jesus, however, will make no compromise. He is convinced that the only way to live life, fully and completely, is through serving rather than being served. In his scheme of things, and in his view of life, the only way to be first is to be last; the only way to be master is by being servant. The only way to be No. 1 is by being No one. He makes this explicit, not only through his words, but also by his action of placing a child in front of the disciples. He points to the child, one who was regarded as a non-person, as his representative. In doing so, Jesus is telling his disciples, and each of us, that in his kingdom, egolessness, dying to oneself, and serving as he served, are the only ways through which one can hope to enter his kingdom.

Greatness in the kingdom overturns the usual perceptions we have of greatness and honour. It is almost normal to consider the first as first and the last as last. The challenge is to learn to think as God thinks which runs counter to well-established behaviour patterns. We often pay lip service to the view that the “first shall be last,” as long as we are not challenged to put that view to the test. The readings of today then, issue a call and challenge to each of us to dare to see that there is another way: the way of being No one so that one can indeed be No.1.

Friday, 17 September 2021

Saturday, September 18, 2021 - Homily


 When my effort does not seem to bear fruit, how do I respond?

Saturday, September 18, 2021 - 1. Do I usually focus more on the reaping than on the sowing? Do I focus more on the result than on the action? Do I focus more on the future than on the present?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Tim 6:13-16; Lk 8:4-15

The text of today combines both the Parable of the Sower (8:5-8) and the allegory (8:11-15) {in an allegory, every element in the story is given a meaning. So, the seed is regarded as the word of God, those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe an be saved, and so on}. Though it is true that the Sower disappears from the scene after he is first mentioned, and the seed takes centre stage, the parable is really one of contrast between the beginning and the middle, and the end. Thus, the Sower (whom the end will affect) is still an important figure in the parable. Since many have confused the allegory with the Parable, the meaning of the parable may have been missed. In this reflection we will focus on the Parable.

The farmer would sow along “the path”, because according to research done on the agricultural practices in Palestine at the time of Jesus, the practice was to sow seeds first and then plough it into the ground. Sowing on “rocky ground” is not surprising because the underlying limestone, thinly covered with soil, barely showed above the surface until the ploughshare jarred against it. Sowing among “thorns” is also understandable, because this too will be ploughed up. Though the ploughing of the three kinds of soil above will be done, it will result in a loss, because in none of them will the seed grow. It will seem that seventy-five percent of the effort is lost. While most of the parable focuses on “sowing”, in the last verse it is already “harvest time”. The abnormal, exaggerated tripling, of the harvest’s yield (thirty, sixty, a hundredfold) symbolises the overflowing of divine fullness., surpassing all human measure and expectations (A tenfold harvest counted as a good harvest and a yield of seven and a half as an average one).To human eyes much of the labour seems futile and fruitless, resulting in repeated failure, but Jesus is full of joyful confidence; he knows that God has made a beginning, bringing with it o harvest of reward beyond all asking or conceiving. In spite of every failure and opposition, from hopeless beginnings, God brings forth the triumphant end, which he has promised.

How do I react when most of my effort seems to be in vain? Do I throw up my hands in despair? Do I give up? Do I get despondent? Or do I carry on despite all odds? Do I continue to persevere? Do I keep on keeping on?

How attached am I to the result of my action? Can I plunge into the din of battle and leave my heart at the feet of the Lord?

Write down your response to this statement of St. Ignatius – “WHEN YOU WORK, WORK AS IF EVERYTHING DEPENDS ONLY ON YOU YOY. WHEN YOU PRAY, PRAY AS IF EVERYTHING DEPENDS ONLY ON GOD.”

Do you sometimes act as the “General Manager of the Universe”? Will you resign from that position today?