Monday 30 November 2015

Tuesday, December 1, 2015 - Edmund Campion SJ - When faced with a difficult situation, do you often take the easy way out or the right way out?

To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 53:3-11;Jn 17:11-17

Edmund Campion was born in London on January 25, 1540. He received his early education at Christ’s Hospital popularly known as The Bluecoat School and St. John’s College Oxford. He received his degree in 1564. He was chosen to give the funeral oration on the occasion of the burial of Sir Thomas White the founder of St. John’s College. When Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) visited the College, Campion was chosen to lead a public debate in front of her. He was because of his learning and oratory skills tipped to be a future Archbishop of Canterbury. 

He was referred to by William Cecil who was one of the principal architects of the reformation as the “diamond of England.” It was the hoped that Campion would become a defender of the new faith which, though favoured by the temporal power, lacked learned apologists. Yet even as he was ordained to the Anglican diaconate, he was being swayed toward Rome, influenced in great part by older friends with Catholic sympathies.

In 1569 he journeyed to Dublin, where he composed his “History of Ireland”. At this point Campion was at the summit of his powers. He could have risen to the highest levels of fame had he stayed his course. But this was not to be. By the time Campion left Ireland, he knew he could not remain a Protestant. Campion's Catholic leanings were well-publicized, and he found the atmosphere hostile upon his return to England in 1571. He went abroad to Douay in France, where he was reconciled with the Church and decided to enter the Society of Jesus.

He made a pilgrimage to Rome and journeyed to Prague, where he lived and taught for six years and in 1578 was ordained a Jesuit priest. In 1580 he was called by superiors to join fellow Jesuit Robert Parsons in leading a mission to England. He accepted the assignment joyfully, but everyone was aware of the dangers. The night before his departure from Prague, one of the Jesuit fathers wrote over Campion's door, "P. Edmundus Campianus, Martyr."

Campion crossed the English Channel as "Mr. Edmunds," a jewel dealer. His mission was nearly a short one: At Dover a search was under-way for Gabriel Allen, another English Catholic expatriate who was rumoured to be returning to England to visit family. Apparently Allen's description fit Campion also, and he was detained by the mayor of Dover, who planned to send Campion to London. Inexplicably, while waiting for horses for the journey, the mayor changed his mind, and sent "Mr. Edmunds" on his way.

Upon reaching London, Campion composed his "Challenge to the Privy Council," a statement of his mission and an invitation to engage in theological debate. Copies spread quickly, and several replies to the "Challenge" were published by Protestant writers, who attached to it a derogatory title, "Campion's Brag," by which it is best known today. Campion and his companions travelled stealthily through the English countryside in the early summer of 1581, relying on old, landed Catholic families as hosts. They celebrated Mass, heard confession, performed baptisms and marriages, and preached words of encouragement to a people who represented the last generation to confess the faith of a Catholic England.

There were close calls. Many homes had hiding places for priests—some even had secret chapels and confessionals—and the Jesuits had to rely on these more than once. Campion took extraordinary risks, never able to turn down a request to preach or administer the sacraments, and more than once he escaped detection while in a public setting.

His fortune changed while visiting the home of Francis Yate in Lyford Grange, which was west of London. Yate was a Catholic imprisoned for his faith who had repeatedly asked for one of the Jesuit fathers to tend to the spiritual needs of his household. Though it was out of the way and the queen's searchers were reportedly in hot pursuit, Campion was unable to resist the request.

He travelled to Lyford, heard confessions, preached well into the night, and departed without difficulty after celebrating Mass at dawn. Some nuns visiting the home shortly thereafter were upset to hear they had just missed Campion, and so riders were dispatched to persuade him to return, which he did. Word of his return reached George Eliot, born and regarded as Catholic but in fact a turncoat in the pay of the queen; he had a general commission to hunt down and arrest priests. Eliot arrived at Lyford with David Jenkins, another searcher, and attended a Mass. He was greatly outnumbered by the Catholics, and, fearing resistance, made no move to arrest Campion. He departed abruptly to fetch the local magistrate and a small militia and returned to the Yate property during dinner. News of the approaching party reached the house, and Campion and his two priestly companions were safely escaped to a narrow cell prepared especially for that purpose, with food and drink for three days.
Later Eliot and Jenkins both claimed to have discovered the priests, offering the same story: A strip of light breaking through a gap in the wall leading to the hiding place was the give-away—both men took credit for noticing it, and each reported being the one to break through the wall. No doubt each sought the credit for capturing the infamous Campion, for no priest was more beloved by the Catholics or more despised by the crown.
Campion was taken to the Tower and tortured. Several times he was forced to engage in debates, without benefit of notes or references and still weak and disoriented from his rackings and beatings. He acquitted himself admirably, all things considered: a testament to his unparalleled rhetorical skills.

His trial was a farce. Witnesses were bribed, false evidence produced; in truth, the outcome had been determined since his arrival. Campion was eloquent and persuasive to the last, dominating the entire procedure with the force of his logic and his knowledge of the Scripture and law, but in vain. He and his priestly and lay companions were convicted of treason on November 14 and were sentenced to death. His address to the court upon sentencing invoked the Catholic England for which he had fought, the Catholic England which was about to die: "In condemning us, you condemn all your own ancestors—all the ancient priests, bishops and kings—all that was once the glory of England."

On December 1, 1581 the prophecy hanging over his door in Prague was fulfilled: Campion was hanged, drawn, and quartered. The poet Henry Walpole was there, and during the quartering some blood from Campion's entrails splashed on his coat. Walpole was profoundly changed. He went overseas, took orders, and 13 years later met his own martyrdom on English soil. Campion was beatified by Leo XIII in 1886.

The first reading chosen for the feast is from the fourth servant song in the Book of Isaiah and is apt for the feast. Like the servant before him and his Lord Jesus Edmund Campion chose to be true to his convictions even in the face of the most frightening consequences. Like in the case of the servant and the Lord himself, it is not possible to comprehend fully the extent of Campion’s courage and determination. Yet, even this conclusion which at first glance seemed like defeat for Campion but was indeed victory fitted in with God’s plan for the world. In the eyes of those around him at that time, Campion was despised and humiliated. He was tortured and beaten. He was bruised and degraded. However, the fact that he is remembered today more than 400 years after his death is testimony to the fact that he was indeed victorious.

This victory was spoken of by Jesus in his priestly prayer which is the Gospel text for today and in which besides asking his Father to protect his disciples from the evil one, he is also aware that they will have trouble in the world and be hated by many because they will stand like him for the truth. This Campion did to perfection.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015 - What is preventing you from seeing and hearing God’s word today? What will you do about it?

To read the texts click on the texts: Isa11:1-10; Lk 10:21-24

The Gospel text of today is found also in the Gospel of Matthew, but here, in Luke, it follows the return of the seventy (seventy-two) from mission and continues the note of celebration that this successful return began. There are three clusters of sayings. Today’s text contains the second and third of the three. 

The second cluster is addressed by Jesus to God. In it, he acclaims the Father for hiding revelation from the wise and intelligent and revealing it to infants. This theme is not new, and is also found in other Jewish wisdom literature. However, the next verse, which speaks about the relationship between the Father and the Son, is unique and distinctly Christological. The knowledge that God gives is “handed over” by the Father directly to the Son. This is the source of Jesus’ authority and is also why the Son is competent to reveal the Father as father. 

The third cluster of sayings is made by Jesus to the disciples. A blessing is first pronounced on the disciples for what they have seen, followed by an explanation. Even prophets and kings were not privileged to see the Son and hear him, but the disciples are so privileged.

The revelation that Jesus made was never meant to be a secret or restricted to only a few. However, since it was a revelation and was done in freedom and generosity, it had to be accepted in like manner. Any kind of a block, whether pride, a closed attitude, or a preconceived notion, would prevent one from seeing and hearing. Thus, it is not God or Jesus who restricts, but a person’s attitude which prevents the person from seeing and hearing. Openness, receptivity, and humility are required in order to receive the revelation that Jesus continues to make, even today. The ones who receive this revelation are indeed blessed.

Sunday 29 November 2015


Monday, November 30, 2015 - St. Andrew, Apostle - How will you respond to the call of Jesus to YOU today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 10:9-18; Mt 4:18-22

Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter (Mt 4:18; Mk 1:16; Jn 1:40; 6:8) and along with his brother was a fisherman. According to the Gospel of John, Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist and was one of the first to follow Jesus. The Gospels of Matthew and Mark state that Andrew and his brother were the disciples to be called by Jesus to become “fishers of men”; a phrase which was used to probably link it with their trade.

Though not in the group of the three disciples (Peter, James and John) who seemed to have a special place in the ministry of Jesus, it was Andrew who brought the boy who had five barley loaves to Jesus in the Gospel of John (Jn 6:8) and who along with Philip told Jesus about the gentiles (Greeks) who wished to meet Jesus (Jn 12:22).

Andrew is said to have been martyred by crucifixion at the city of Patras. His crucifixion is believed to have been on Cross that was shaped like the alphabet X. This Cross is commonly known as “Saint Andrew’s Cross” today.

The Gospel text for the Feast is the call of the first four disciples as narrated by Matthew. It is Jesus who takes the initiative in this story and come to the brothers, Simon and Andrew. Jesus’ invitation is also a promise. The invitation which is “to follow” him, will result in the brothers becoming ‘fishers of men and women’. It is an invitation to participate in the saving work of Jesus.

The response of the brothers is immediate. They leave everything to follow Jesus. While it was surely a risk to act in such a manner, it is also true that the call of Jesus was so compelling, that they simply could not refuse.

What does it mean to follow Jesus and accept his invitation to follow? It means that one is willing to accept the challenge to see God in all things and all things in God. It therefore means continuing to follow when everything is going the way we want it to  and also when our plans go awry and we cannot understand why things happen the way they do. It means trusting at every moment that we have to continue to what is required of us and leave everything else (including the worrying) to God. It means trusting that God will never let us down and that all that happens to us is for God’s glory and our good.

Saturday 28 November 2015

Sunday, November 29, 2015 - The First Sunday in Advent - Hold your head high

To read the texts click on the texts: Jer 33:14-16;1 Thess 3:12-4:2; Lk 21:25-28, 34-36

There are very clearly two responses to the signs that precede the coming of the Son of Man on the cloud. One response is to be so frightened and paralysed by far that one faints because judgement is near at hand. The other response is to stand up and raise one’s head, because redemption is near at hand.

Why are there two responses? What are the factors which will determine people’s response? The answer to these questions is contained in the texts that have been chosen for this first Sunday in Advent.

No matter how invincible we may think we are, and no matter how many strides we may take in the fields of science and technology; death is a certainty. Our life here on earth is limited and temporary. There is no doubt that we will all pass from this world some day. Since this is the case, some respond by adopting the philosophy of the Epicureans or the Crvkas in which the core theme is “Eat, drink and make merry, for tomorrow you die”. This philosophy is based on the belief that pleasure is the sole good. The Epicureans and the Carvakas live lives centred on themselves and on their wants alone and will not care about the needs of others. It is logical then, that when these are faced with the prospect of death, they will be frightened.

There are, on the other hand, those who will walk the way Jesus has shown. They, too, know that life on earth is temporary and passing and hence, they will do everything in their power to make the lives of others on earth a little more meaningful. They will focus, not on themselves but, on others and in doing so, make even this passing world a heaven on earth. These will be able to hold their heads high and be unafraid when the Son of Man does come. However, since they are prepared all the time, they will neither focus too much on that day when he will come nor will they speculate about when that day will arrive. All that matters to them will be to live fully and completely in the present.

The first reading of today, from the prophet Jeremiah, makes this point clear, While earlier, Jeremiah had named the king whom God would send as “The Lord is our righteousness”, here, it is the city in which God’s people dwell that is called by this name. This is because the king, himself, will show the way by living a righteousness life and he will challenge others who dwell in his city to do the same, Those who dwell in this city must ensure that they live up to its name. This they will do by making certain that justice, honesty, and integrity prevail among them.

The prophecy of Jeremiah was fulfilled in its entirety only in the coming of Jesus, who is the incarnation of justice. It was through his words and actions that he brought justice and righteousness to everyone whom he encountered. Even as he did so, he challenged all who came in contact with him to live the kind of life that he lived and to reflect that kind of life in every action and word. He was able to convince his disciples that this way was the only way to live. He was also able to convert a Saul into a Paul.

It is the same converted Paul who explains to the Thessalonians, in the first reading of today, that their community must be one in which love is shown in action. He himself learnt this from the crucified and risen Christ and he has taught it as he learned it. They must not become complacent or give in to mediocrity.

Many of us live in the future rather than in the present. We want to know what will happen tomorrow and, in the process, do not live fully today. This obsession with the future is because we are frightened. We are frightened of what the future holds for us. We are frightened of whether the future will be better than or worse than our present. The readings of today call for a total living in the present and doing what we have to do in the here and now, without useless worry about what the morrow may bring. This is what it means to be ready at all times.

However, we will only be able to have such confidence to continue doing what we are doing. If we give up the negative things that we might be doing and the negative attitudes that we might carry. We need to substitute the negative with everything that enhances, that builds up and that is positive. Being good and doing good are not to be looked upon as burdens. They are to be seen as something that comes naturally to the Christian who, because of Christ’s life, mission, death, and resurrection has moved from darkness to light and from fear to love. We must show, through this kind of positive and fearless living, that we are, indeed, children of the light. We must show that we have, as inspiration, the person and message of Christ.

We will become that city of righteousness to which everyone will look and learn the Lord’s ways. Those who look will learned that to be obsessed with what is not yet, is to fail to appreciate fully the present moment. They will realize that it is better to be positive than negative, better to enhance and build up rather than pull down and destroy, and better to live fully and completely rather than die without ever having lived.

Friday 27 November 2015

Saturday, November 28, 2015 - How would you define prayer? Can it be said of you that your life is prayer?

To read the texts click on the texts: Dan 7:15-27; Lk 21:34-36

These verses are the conclusion of the Eschatological Discourse, and in them, Luke composes an exhortation that stresses constant watchfulness and prayer as opposed to drunkenness and dissipation. The reason for alertness is because the day can come at any time. 

The final verse introduces a positive exhortation. The opposite of sleep and dissipation is vigilance and prayer. The final verse of the discourse calls for constant alertness and prayer, so that one will be able to stand before the Son of Man with dignity and honour. Life itself must be prayer.

Some of us regard being good as a burden. This is because we wrongly associate with seriousness and a lack of joy. On the contrary, a good person and holy person is primarily a joyful person. Such a person enjoys every moment of every day and lives it fully. Such a person leaves nothing undone and therefore will be ready at all times.

Thursday 26 November 2015

Friday, November 27, 2015 - Will you live today as if it were your last day on earth?

To read the texts click on the tests: Dan 7:2-14; Lk 21:29-33

The parable of the fig tree found in these verses is the last parable that Jesus tells in the Gospel of Luke. This parable is found also in Mark 13:28-29 and Matthew 24:32-33, but whereas Mark and Matthew speak only of the fig tree, Luke speaks of “the fig tree and all the trees” (21:29). When people can see for themselves that these trees have come out in leaf they know for themselves that summer is near, so when they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud (21:27) they will know that the kingdom is near. 
Since Luke probably thought that the end would come soon, he has added the last two sayings about what will not pass away until “these things” have taken place. They are “this generation” and the “words” of Jesus. These pronouncements must serve as a reminder of the assurance of redemption for the believer.

Our job as Christians is not to bother about when the end will be but to live fully in the present moment. If we do so then no matter when the end comes we will always be ready.

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Thursday, November 26, 2015 - If the end were to come today would you be able to hold your heal high fearlessly? If No, what will you do about it today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Dan 6:12-18; Lk 21:20-28

The text of today, continues the Eschatological Discourse, but speaks now of the destruction of Jerusalem and other cosmological signs which announce the coming of the Son of Man. Josephus the Jewish historian recorded the horrors of the Jewish war, which lasted from April until August of the year 70 C.E. It was a terrible for all the inhabitants and many were killed during it. The Romans razed the whole city to the ground. Once this happens and the other signs have come to pass signalling the end that is at hand, the Son of Man will appear in a cloud, with great power and glory. 

When this happens others might faint from fear, but the disciples are asked to hold their heads up high, because their salvation has indeed come.

Thursday, November 26, 2015 - St. John Berchmans SJ (1599 - 1621)

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Jn 4:1-8; Lk 9:57-62

John Berchmans SJ Born in Brabant (Netherlands/Belgium) on 13th March, 1599. He joined the Society of Jesus on 24th September 1616 when he was 17 years of age. After his first vows he was sent to Antwerp and a little later to Rome to study Philosophy. He was in his third year of Philosophy, when he was seized with a violent fever and died on 13th August, 1621.

Though he was a Jesuit for only a short period of time and was not ordained a priest, he was known even as a young Jesuit for his piety, devotion and focus. He learned the secret of living in the present moment. He was known to do even the most ordinary and mundane tasks as if it was to be the last task of his life. It was said of him that he did ordinary things extraordinarily well. Because of his devotion to the Eucharist and his regular service at the Altar he is the Patron of Altar Servers.

He was declared Blessed in 1865, and was canonized in 1888. His statues represent him with hands clasped, holding his crucifix, his book of rules, and his rosary.

The Gospel text for the feast is from the Gospel of Luke and is about the would-be followers of Jesus, and Jesus’ warnings about what discipleship will entail.

To the first would-be follower who promises to follow Jesus wherever he goes, Jesus responds by stating clearly that unlike even the foxes that at least have holes, he does not have anywhere he can call his own. If the would-be follower is ready for this insecurity, he may follow.

The second person is called to follow by Jesus, but responds by asking for permission to bury his father. This was a duty that was binding on all devout Jews. Jesus’ response is harsh and demands that the disciple be primarily concerned about the kingdom.

The third would-be follower puts conditions to his following namely that he wants to say farewell to his family. However, here too the response of Jesus is clear. Looking back while ploughing leads to a crooked furrow.

In total contrast to the three examples of persons mentioned in the text, John Berchmans was one who was ready to follow his Lord in total poverty, and did not once look back once he put his hand to the plough. He was focussed on the kingdom and kept that focus till the very end.

While it is not necessary to give up the state of life one has chosen in order to follow Jesus, what is to be understood is that following will necessarily mean changing one’s style of life. It will mean a move from selfishness to selflessness, from acquiring material possessions to sharing them with others and from anything negative to everything that is positive.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - If someone witnessed your actions all through today, would they conclude that you are a disciple of Jesus?

To read the texts click on the texts: Dan 5:1-6,13-14,16-17,23-28; Lk 21:12-19

These verses are part of Luke’s Eschatological Discourse. The Greek word “Eschaton” is translated as “the last things”, “the things of the next life”. 
The main point of these verses is to prepare the disciples for the coming trial by exhorting them to regard trials as an occasion for bearing witness. The text begins by telling the disciples what they (the persecutors) will do namely arrest you, persecute you etc. It then goes on to advise the disciples what they must do in the face of this persecution, namely that they must bear witness but not be obsessed with the anxiety of preparing their defence. The reason for this is because of what Jesus will do, namely, give the disciples wisdom to counter any argument of the opponents. The text ends with an assurance of God’s support and protection on those who endure.

The persecution of the disciples, however, does not exceed what Jesus himself will experience. He, too, will be arrested and brought before Pilate and Herod. It is Jesus himself therefore who will give the disciples the content of what they are to say.

The gospel offers not a way of predicting the end of the world but the spiritual resources to cope with the challenges of life. In times of distress the disciples of Jesus are called not to throw their hands up in despair, but to be unafraid. It is a fact that following Jesus who is The Truth will have repercussions and consequences, some of which may be disastrous. However, it is in these circumstances that perseverance and endurance is called for. This is the test of our faith and courage in the promises of the Lord.

Thus we can opt for one of two ways of proceeding. One is to focus so much on prophesies of the future, that they frighten us into idle speculation and inaction. The other is to dare to commit ourselves and actions to make a difference here and now.

Monday 23 November 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - Are you so concerned about the next life that you are not living fully this life?

To read the texts click on the texts: Dan 2:31-45; Lk 21:5-11

Luke follows Mark 13:1-8 quite closely in these verses, though he also makes some changes. While in Mark 13:1 Jesus comes out of the Temple and predicts its destruction when his disciples point to it magnificence, in Luke, Jesus is within the Temple when he predicts its destruction when some (not the disciples) speak of its magnificence (21:5-6). This is why unlike in Mark 13:3 he is not on the Mount of Olives opposite the Temple, but within its precincts when he is asked about when this will take place (21:7). Mark 13:3 has Peter, James, John and Andrew who ask this question; Luke has the people pose the question. Jesus responds by stating not the hour when this will take place, but by issuing a set of three warnings. The first warning is not to allow oneself to be led astray and be led into believing that the ones’ who come in his name are the Messiah. The meaning of this warning is broad and encompasses being led to sin, being taught false teachings, and being deceived regarding apocalyptic events.

The second warning follows the first: the disciples of Jesus must not go after these false Messiahs.

The third warning is not to be terrified when they hear of wars and insurrections, because they are part of God’s plan in bringing about the kingdom and must out of necessity happen before the final coming.

In times of great danger, stress, and hardship it is natural for persons and communities of faith to turn to God and to the future for hope, for the promise of deliverance. 

However, idle preoccupation and speculation of what will happen at the end times is not called for. It is a distortion of the Gospel message of Jesus who asks that we concern ourselves not with gossip and guesswork, but in how we must do what we have to do in the present.

Sunday 22 November 2015

Monday, November 22, 2015 - Miguel Augustin Pro SJ (1891-1927) - Live fearlessly because the Lord is in control of every situation.

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 5:27-32,40-41; Mt 10:26-33

In 1911, twenty-year-old Miguel Augustin Pro (1891-1927) joined the Jesuits as a novice in Mexico. A year later a revolution erupted and by 1914 the Jesuits were forced to flee. Via Texas, California, Nicaragua, and Spain, Miguel received his seminary training en route to Belgium, where he was ordained in 1925.

The Jesuits sent Padre Pro to Mexico City in 1926, hoping a return home might relieve the priest’s chronic stomach ailment. Just twenty-three days after Padre Pro arrived, President Calles banned all public worship. Since he was not known as a priest, Padre Pro went about clandestinely—sometimes in disguise—celebrating Mass, distributing communion, hearing confessions, and anointing the sick. He also did as much as he could to relieve the material suffering of the poor. In a letter he gave this faith-filled account:
We carry on like slaves. Jesus help me! There isn't time to breathe, and I am up to my eyebrows in this business of feeding those who have nothing. And they are many—those with nothing. I assure you that I spin like a top from here to there with such luck as is the exclusive privilege of petty thieves. It doesn't even faze me to receive such messages as: “The X Family reports that they are twelve members and their pantry is empty. Their clothing is falling off them in pieces, three are sick in bed and there isn't even water.” As a rule my purse is as dry as Calles’s soul, but it isn't worth worrying since the Procurator of Heaven is generous.

People give me valuable objects to raffle off, something worth ten pesos that I can sell for forty. Once I was walking along with a woman’s purse that was quite cute (the purse not the woman) when I met a wealthy woman all dolled up.
“What do you have there?”
“A lady’s purse worth twenty-five pesos. You can have it for fifty pesos which I beg you to send to such-and-such a family.”

I see God’s hand so palpably in everything that almost—almost I fear they won’t kill me in these adventures. That will be a fiasco for me who sighs to go to heaven and start tossing off arpeggios on the guitar with my guardian angel.

In November 1927, a bomb was tossed at Calles’s car from an auto previously owned by one of Miguel’s two brothers. All three brothers were rounded up and condemned to death. The youngest was pardoned, but Padre Pro and his brother Humberto were executed by a firing squad. Calles had news photographers present, expecting the Pros to die cowardly. But Padre Pro refused the blindfold and welcomed the bullets with his arms extended in the form of a cross, crying out, “Viva Cristo Rey!” Although Calles outlawed any public demonstration, thousands of Mexicans defiantly lined the streets, honouring the martyr as he was carried in procession to his grave.

The first reading for the feast from the Acts of the Apostles tell us of how the first disciples led by Peter were willing to suffer everything for the sake of the Lord. In the Gospel text from Matthew's Mission Discourse the disciples are exhorted to fearlessness because the Lord is always in control.  Miguel Pro lived fearlessly because his trust was in the Lord.

Monday, November 23, 2015 - Will you forego one meal this week and give what you save to someone less fortunate than you?

To read the texts click on the texts: Dan 1:1-6,8-20; Lk 21:1-4

Jesus’ comment on the widow’s offering follows immediately after his condemnation of the scribes, who “devour widow’s houses”. Luke omits most of Mark’s introduction to the widow’s offering (see Mark 12:41). In the new scene, which Luke brings about by his comment that “He (Jesus) looked up and saw”, Luke introduces two sets of characters: the rich contributors and a poor widow. 

The action of both is the same. However, the size or amount of the gifts of the rich contributors is not mentioned, but it is explicitly stated that the widow put in two lepta, the smallest copper coins then in use. It would have taken 128 lepta to make one denarius, which was a day’s wage. Two lepta would therefore have been worthless. In a twist reminiscent of many of Jesus’ parables, Jesus states that the widow who put in what seems like a worthless amount has put in more than any of the rich contributors. The following statement clarifies how this could be. They contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty. They contributed gifts she contributed herself.

Saturday 21 November 2015

Sunday, November 22, 2015 - Christ the Eternal King - To reach out in love like our King

To read the texts click on the texts: Dn 7:13-14; Rev 1:5-8; Jn 18:33-37

Quas Primas – which is Latin for “In the first”, was an encyclical of Pope Pius XI. It was titled such because these are the words that begin it. It was promulgated on 11 Dec, 1925, and introduced the Feast of Christ the King. World War I (1914-1918) had ended, and had not brought real peace, but more hatred, more anger, and more violence. Coming as it did after the War, the encyclical sought to give the whole world a new idea of kingship. The encyclical asked the world to look at Christ, the Universal King, and see how he lived out his kingship. Christ is a King who totally identifies with his subjects and, of these, with the marginalized, the downtrodden, the scum of society, and the poorest of the poor.

The feast of Christ the Eternal King is celebrated every year on the last Sunday in Ordinary time, just before the season of Advent begins. It may be seen as a feast that is both a conclusion and a new beginning. It concludes the ordinary time of the year and is a new beginning or preparation for the coming Messiah.

The readings chosen for the feast of today make two interrelated points. The first is that everlasting dominion is given to Christ who is eternal king, The second is that this King is the one who had been crucified, died, and raised.
The first reading, from the book of Daniel, focuses on the first point. In the vision that Daniel sees, the empires of this world are rendered powerless. The reason for this is because now, all authority is given to one person who is “one like a Son of Man”. He only looks like a human being, but be is not. Also, he is not an earthly figure because he comes from heaven and not from earth. It is to him that all sovereignty, honour, glory, and kingship over all peoples, nations, and languages is given. While many link this figure to the Archangel Michael, there is no doubt that, when interpreted in the light of the Gospels, the words fit much better the resurrected Christ. He is the one whose dominion is indeed everlasting and to whom has been given all power and glory.

However, as the Gospel reading of today makes explicit that the kingship of Jesus was not won by force, coercion, intimidation, or violence. It was won on the Cross. In the second of the seven scenes in which Jesus is inside, the people outside and Pilate vacillating, the kingship of Jesus is explained. The question which Pilate asks Jesus “Are you the king of the Jews” is a question that is found in all four Gospels. It is extremely significant and relevant because it is one which determines who Jesus really is what kind of king he has come to be. In his response, Jesus turns the tables on Pilate and instead of being the one who is questioned, becomes the questioner. However, Jesus’ question is also asked to find out if Pilate has understood the true meaning of kingship. Pilate, however, like the others who have condemned Jesus shows that he has not understood. He refuses to see. He dare not understand. Still, Jesus tries to explain to Pilate the true meaning of kingship and authority. Very clearly his kingship is not one that is won by force or violence. It is a kingship that has as its basis truth, justice, peace and unconditional sacrificing love. It is a kingship in which the king does not expect people to die for him; rather he goes to his death for them. It is a kingship in which no matter how badly he is abused and reviled, he will continue to be a king who will give and keep giving without expecting anything in return.

That this is indeed Jesus’ kingship is confirmed by the second reading from the Book of Revelation, in which John tells us that we were loosened from the bonds of sin and selfishness by the blood of Jesus on the Cross. It is through this one act of altruism and unselfishness that Jesus has become king and that we have been made his brothers and sisters. Since he is not merely a God who was but also, a God who is, he invites, beckons, and challenges us to the same selfless service and unconditional love. He beckons us and invites us to his way of life.

His way of life is not only a life of words, but a life of action as well. It is a life in which we, as followers of this eternal king, will forget ourselves and concentrate on how we can make the lives of those around us better. It is a life in which we wake up from our stupor and move out of the islands that we have built and become aware of the cries and needs of people, especially the poor. It is a life through which we will keep proclaiming that violence, domination, hostility, bloodshed, and aggression can never be the answer. It is a life where authority means service and greatness means to be last of all.

Thus, the good news we celebrate today is that we have a King who, unlike the kings of this world, pays attention to us and helps us, not only when we are needy and disadvantaged, but especially when we are needy and disadvantaged. The challenge for us today is to forget our own need for love and happiness. The challenge is reach out in love, as Christ the Eternal king has shown, to make someone else happy, someone who may be in greater need.  
Are we willing to celebrate and extol such a king?

Friday 20 November 2015


Saturday, November 21, 2015 - The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Is Jesus pointing to you as his brother/sister? If yes, Why? If no, why not?

To read the texts click on the texts: Zech 2:(10)14- (13)17; Mt 12:46-50

The feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is associated with an event recounted not in the New Testament, but in the apocryphal Infancy Narrative of James. According to that text, Mary's parents, Joachim and Anne, who had been childless, received a heavenly message that they would bear a child. In thanksgiving for the gift of their daughter, they brought her, when still a child, to the Temple in Jerusalem to consecrate her to God. Mary remained in the Temple until puberty, at which point she was assigned to Joseph as guardian. Later versions of the story (such as the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and the Gospel of the Nativity of Mary) tell us that Mary was taken to the Temple at around the age of three in fulfilment of a vow. Tradition held that she was to remain there to be educated in preparation for her role as Mother of God.

The Gospel text chosen for the feast of today contains a pointer as to who make up the true family of Jesus. Unlike in Mark, where the “crowd” is pointed out to as the true family of Jesus, in Matthew, it is the community of disciples who make up the true family. The point being made in this text is not so much about the mother or brothers and sisters of Jesus, but about who will be regarded as true members of Jesus’ family. The action of stretching out his hand has been used earlier to portray Jesus as compassionate (8:3) and also an act, which will be used later to show him as the great deliverer who comes to the aid of his disciples (14:31). In the concluding statement, the Matthean Jesus makes clear that discipleship and being a member of his family is not merely a matter of verbal profession even proclamation, but doing the will of God. This aspect makes anyone a brother or sister of Jesus.

We may imagine that because we have been baptised into the faith we can take for granted that we are members of Jesus’ family. This need not be so, since we need to keep renewing our commitment to Jesus and his cause every day. While verbal proclamation does have its place, it alone is not enough. We must show through our deeds whom we believe in. 

Thursday 19 November 2015

Friday, November 20, 2015 - If the Lord were to come to the Temple of your heart, would he find selling and buying or would he find himself there?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Macc 4:36-37,52-59; Lk 19:45-48

The cleansing of the temple is one of the few incidents that are narrated by all four Gospels. However, the distinctiveness of Luke’s account stands out more clearly when it is compared with Mark. 

In Mark's account, Jesus enters Jerusalem and the temple, and then withdraws for the night to Bethany. In contrast, Luke has Jesus proceed directly to the Temple. The cleansing in Luke is greatly abbreviated, omitting Mark’s references to those who were buying, overturning the tables, selling doves and forbidding anyone to carry anything through the Temple. 
While in Mark Jesus’ action is part of his prophetic announcement of the destruction of the temple, in Luke, the cleansing prepares his “father’s house” to serve as the site for Jesus’ teaching in the following section (19:47–21:38).
While in Mark Jesus leaves the Temple definitively after the cleansing, in Luke, Jesus continues to teach in the Temple even after the incident. Since the people were spellbound by the words of Jesus, the chief priests, scribes and the leaders could do nothing to him.

The related scenes of Jesus weeping over the city and driving out the merchants from the Temple speak poignantly of God’s judgement on human sinfulness. These are passages heavy with pathos and tragedy. Jesus weeps, laments, and sounds warnings that fall on deaf ears.

The temple may represent our individual lives. We can ask if our lives may be termed as vessels of God's glory and thus, true worship or whether they represent sham and hypocrisy and therefore worship of idols. 

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Thursday, November 19, 2015 - What keeps you from recognising the Messiah?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Macc 2:15-29; Lk 19:41-44

The text of today dwells on the theme of Jesus’ rejection by the religious elders. The city Jerusalem, whose name contains the word peace, does not recognise the King of Peace, Jesus Christ. 

Jesus’ tears for Jerusalem are because she did not recognise that if she accepted him as Messiah, true peace would indeed reign. The numerous attempts of Jesus to win over the people were met with stiff resistance. They had closed their minds and hearts to anything that he had to say because it did not fit in with what they had already set their minds to believe.

Do we sometimes behave like the inhabitants of Jerusalem even today?

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Wednesday, November 18, 2015 - How will I show through my life that I have opted for Jesus the king?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Macc 7:1,20-31; Lk 19:11-18

The parable in the text of today is from the common source of Matthew and Luke known as “Q”. However, Matthew (Mt 25:14-30) presents it differently. While in Matthew there are three servants who are given five talents (a talent was equivalent to 20 years wages for a common labourer), two and one talent respectively, in Luke there are ten servants who are given one mina each (a mina was about three months wages for a common labourer). 
The amounts in Luke are much smaller than in Matthew. 
Though there are ten servants, we are told only about three. The first of the three has earned ten minas with the one he was given, the second has earned five and so these are given charge of ten and five cities respectively. The third returns the mina to the king because he was afraid of him and knew him to be a harsh man. After berating the man for not putting the mina into the bank, which would have earned interest, the king commands that his mina be given to the one who already has ten.

The point, which Luke seems to make in this parable, is that responses to Jesus the king have a decisive role in human destiny, for responses to him determine life and death. There is no “safe” position. The only road to success is to take risks as taken by the first two servants.

Monday 16 November 2015


Tuesday, November 17, 2015 - What one action will you perform to show that you have repented TODAY?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Macc 6:18-31; Lk 19:1-10

The story of Zacchaeus’ encounter with Jesus is exclusive to the Gospel of Luke and is the last encounter of Jesus with outcasts before he enters Jerusalem. It takes place when Jesus is passing through Jericho and on his way to Jerusalem. Zacchaeus is the name of the tax collector who Luke informs us is “rich” (19:2). He desires to see Jesus, but there are obstacles to his desire. The first is the crowd and the second is his own short stature. These are interconnected. If there were no crowd, his short stature would not have mattered and if he were tall the crowd would not have mattered. 
Zacchaeus does not allow these to hinder him and does what no grown man at his time would do: he runs. Worse: he climbs a tree. Through this, Luke indicates that Zacchaeus was willing to face ridicule and being mocked by the crowd in order to do what he had set about to do. He gives up his self-importance and dignity, because all that matters to him is to see and encounter Jesus. 
When Jesus comes to the place where Zacchaeus he asks him to hurry and come down. Zacchaeus obeys instantly. The reaction of the crowd is to grumble that Jesus would go to the house of a sinner. Zacchaeus on the other hand responds with generosity and uses the visit of Jesus to redeem himself. Jesus responds by confirming Zacchaeus’ status as a “son of Abraham”, not because he was born one, but because of his repentance. In the last verse of the story, Jesus pronounces salvation on the house of Zacchaeus and reaffirms his own mission as Son of man: to seek and save the lost.

The desire of Zacchaeus to see Jesus is a genuine one. He shows it is genuine by his willingness to overcome any obstacles that come in the way of his seeing. He is willing to persevere and do all that is required of him. His perseverance is rewarded by his meeting Jesus and being transformed by him.

Sunday 15 November 2015

Monday, November 16, 2015 - What is it that prevents me from seeing good in others? Do I want to receive back my sight?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Macc 1:10-15,41-43,54-57,62-64; Lk 18:35-43

The text of today is also found in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, but whereas in Matthew there are two blind men and in Mark the name of the blind man is Bartimaeus, in Luke there is one blind man who is not named. However, what is common to all three Gospels is that the blind man/men cries out to Jesus with a messianic title, “Son of David”, and perseveres in his plea despite being told by the people to quiet down. 
Though the question that Jesus asks the blind man seems redundant, it is necessary for Jesus to ask the question to indicate his respect for the freedom of the man. While on the physical level the man is blind, on the spiritual level he has insight because despite his physical blindness, he is able to recognise that Jesus of Nazareth is also the Messiah, which those who have physical sight are not able to do. Jesus attributes the recovery of his sight to his faith.

We might tend sometimes to close our eyes to the good that there is in others, and we might also prefer to close our eyes to the injustice that we see around us. We might close our eyes to the suffering of people around us and we might prefer to close our eyes to the needs of others. Having eyes we might prefer not to see.