Tuesday 31 May 2016

Audio Reflections of June 1, 2016

To hear the Audio Reflections of June 1, 2016 click HERE

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - To believe in the resurrection means to live each day as if were your last. Do you live in this way?

To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Tim 1:1-3,6-12; Mk 12:18-27

Though belief in the resurrection had developed around two centuries prior to the birth of Jesus, there were many Jews who did not accept it. 
The Sadducees, especially, were known to regard belief in the resurrection as not justified by the scriptures or mentioned in them (Acts 23:8). In their question to Jesus to point out the absurdity of the resurrection, they use the custom of Levirate marriage mentioned in Deuteronomy 25:5 which states that the wife of a dead brother shall not be married outside the family to a stranger, but by her husband’s brother (Genesis 38:8). Their question is that if there were seven brothers and all seven had the same woman as wife, whose wife would she be in the resurrection. 
In his response Jesus first corrects their misunderstanding about what the resurrection means and implies. In the resurrection there will no longer be human institutions like marriage and so the question of being given in and taken in marriage does not arise. Humans in the resurrected life will no longer be constrained by the limits or relationships of their earthly bodies. 
He then uses scripture to establish that resurrection is indeed mentioned in the scripture and is about God’s revelation to Moses in Exodus 3,6-16 as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and if these are mentioned though they are dead, then he must be the God of the living, since they live in him. God is not God of the dead but the living.

Too much of concern with the after life or heaven and hell may lead to our not living fully this life on earth. Our heaven at this moment is here on earth and we must strive towards making it as enjoyable as possible not only for ourselves but also for those around us. 

Monday 30 May 2016

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Will you like Mary have the confidence to believe that God will work ONLY for good in your life?

To read the texts click on the texts: Zeph 3:14-18; Lk 1:39-56

The Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her kinswoman Elizabeth was begun by St. Bonaventure among the Franciscans in 1263 C.E, and became a universal Feast in 1389 C.E., during the papacy of Urban VI. It celebrates the visit of Mary to Elizabeth after the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus.

The call of the first reading chosen for the feast of today is a call to rejoice. This rejoicing is for many reasons. The first of these is that judgement has been taken away. The Lord is now in the midst of his people. This being in the midst of his people is confirmed by the Gospel text of today where Jesus is already in the womb of Mary and so among his people. There will be no more reproach or condemnation. Now, there will only be unconditional love.

This unconditional love is confirmed both by the physical act of Mary’s visit to her kinswoman Elizabeth and also the Magnificat which is attributed to Mary. In this hymn, Mary extols God’s greatness because God has indeed redeemed his people. The verbs that are used in the hymn are all in the past tense though signify future actions. This is an indication of the faith and confidence that Mary has in God who she is confident will accomplish all that he has promised.

Though on the surface level the Visitation may appear to be Mary’s concern and love for her cousin, on the deeper level it means that Mary wants to share with Elizabeth what God has done in each of their lives and through the sons to be born of them, what God will do in the world.

Sunday 29 May 2016

Monday, May 30, 2016 - If God were to ask for the produce of your life, what would be your response to him be?

To read the texts click on the texts:2 Pet 1:2-7; Mk 12:1-12

This Parable is known variously as the parable of the wicked tenants or the Parable of the Vineyard. While the parable in Mark has been allegorised, it is not clear whether there was a non-allegorical parable going back to Jesus. Those who are of the opinion that there was a non-allegorical parable interpret it to mean that just as the tenants took radical action, so radical action is required in order to gain the kingdom. Others see the parable to mean that the kingdom will be taken away from Israel’s false leadership and given to gentiles and sinners. Still others see the parable to mean that God does not abandon and relentlessly seeks and searches for them and longs for a response from them. 

As the parable stands now in Mark, it has been allegorised. The vineyard stands for Israel and the murderous tenants for the bad leaders of Israel. The owner of the vineyard is God who sent his servants to collect the produce due to him. The tenants treat the servants shamefully and as the parable unfolds, so does the escalating nature of violence, which culminates in the murder of the son. God, finally takes matters into his own hands but does not destroy the vineyard, rather he gives it to others whom he knows will give him what is due to him.
The authorities realise that the parable is about them and this only hardens their stance against Jesus and strengthens their resolve to destroy him.

All that we possess is given to us in trust. This means that while we may use what we have, we have also to be concerned about those who do not have and be generous with them. Selfishness on our part leads to our thinking that we must use the things we have exclusively without even the thought of sharing them with others.

Saturday 28 May 2016

Sunday, May 29, 2016 - Corpus Christi - The Body and Blood of Christ - Will you like Jesus become bread for thers today? Will your participation in the Eucharist make you more giving?

To read the texts click on the texts: Gen 14:18-20; 1 Cor 11:2-26; Lk 9:11-17

In Luke, the placement of the periscope on the feeding of the five thousand is in an extremely significant position. This must be understood if the significance of the miracle is to be understood if the significance of the miracle is to be understood in its entirety. Immediately after Jesus sends his disciples out on mission, Luke inserts the question that Herod asks about Jesus’ identity. This is followed by the return of the twelve, the feeding of the five thousand, and a repetition of the question about Jesus’ identity. The placement of these incidents in this order is to indicate that Christology and mission, proclaiming Christ and doing what he would have done, are wedded as two sides of the same reality. Jesus’ identity is revealed in what he is and does and what he calls others to be and do. By the same token, those who desire to see and know who Jesus is, will see and know him only if they respond to his call to preach the gospel, heal the sick, and feed the hungry. This forms the background for the meaning of the feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ, the Eucharist.

The Eucharist, which is often relegated to the level of a ritual, was never meant to be merely that. The blessing at the end of the ritual states that those who have partaken of the Eucharist are sent forth to love and serve just as Jesus loved and served. The disciples are thus, expected to go beyond the ritual and take the Eucharist to the world. This is why, when Jesus saw the crowds following him, he not only welcomed them and spoke about the kingdom of God but he also healed and cured those who needed to be made whole. Not content with that, Jesus ordered that the crowds be fed with bread that the disciples were expected to provide. He then shows them how. Because Jesus fed the multitude, his disciples saw that he was God’s anointed one. In Luke, this combination of the feeding of the five thousand and Peter’s confession suggests that the recognition of Jesus as the Christ of God is linked to his action of reaching out and feeding the hungry. It is also a signal of what the Eucharist is really meant to be.

Thus, the Body of Christ today cannot be restricted to the bread and wine that is broken and shared on the altar. It is also made of the community who participate in the act. The second reading of today makes precisely this point. The “remembrance” to which the Corinthian community and those who partake in the Eucharist are called, is not merely to remember a past event to but making the past, present. The narrated history in the Eucharist becomes also the history of the partakers. The past of the event becomes their present. When they do this, they begin to”proclaim” even in the present, the Lord’s death until he comes. This means that they live out fully the implications of partaking in the body of Christ. Their faith makes itself known through who they become and what they do. This faith, which is alive and active, manifests itself to others and makes an impact on them. Others want to know what it is about the Christian community that makes them what they are and what gives them the motivation for what they do. Every time believers take part in the supper of the Lord, they relive God’s story as revealed in the Christ event. If they live it as they should, their very lives will become a fitting proclamation of the gospel to the world. 

Therefore, the Eucharist is communion in a double sense. It is the most intimate sharing and participation with Christ. And, that very communion with Christ is also the sharing in and with other believers who, by definition, are also those “in Christ.” The Eucharist is thus inextricably both personal and communal. On the one hand, each individual receives the whole body of Christ. On the other hand, the whole community, gathered together in faith, also receives the whole body of Christ and becomes that body.

In a sense therefore, the Eucharist never ends. It goes on and on. As the identity of Jesus was revealed after the feeding of the five thousand, and act which shows concern, compassion, and empathy, so will the identity of believers be revealed, not merely when they, who have received the body of Christ, become that Body. They do this by going like Christ into the world and daring to become bread for everyone they meet.

Friday 27 May 2016

Saturday, May 28, 2016 - For those who believe no proof is necessary, for those who do not no proof is sufficient. Which kind of person are you?

To read the texts click on the texts:Jude 1:17,20-25; Mk 11:27-33

Mark links the incident of the Challenge to the authority of Jesus (11:27-33) with the incident of the Cleansing of the Temple (11:15-19). When asked by the Pharisees where his authority comes from, Jesus points back to the baptism of John and so to his own baptism (1:9-11) where he received the invitation to be both slave and son. Since they are not able to answer because whatever answer they give will result in their condemnation, Jesus too refuses to answer their question. The point that Mark seems to be making is that the authorities had closed themselves to the revelation of God in Jesus and so would not be willing to accept Jesus as God’s chosen one. There would not be much use in trying to explain to those who were not open to listen.

We sometimes make up our minds about something and take so rigid a stand about it that we are then unwilling to change our stance or see someone else’s point of view. The danger of this attitude is that we might miss out on learning something new and the revelation that the situation or person makes to us.

Thursday 26 May 2016

Friday, May 27, 2016 - If the Lord were to come to the tree of your life, would he find fruit or only leaves?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Peter 4:7-13; Mk 11:11-26

In the first part of today’s text Mark uses what is know as a “sandwich construction”. This means that he begins narrating an incident, interrupts it by another incident, which is completed, and then the first incident, which was begun and left incomplete, is completed. There are various reasons for the use of this technique. 

Here, Mark begins by narrating what is known as the cursing of the fig tree (11:12-14). Only Mark tells us that ht was not the season for figs and yet, when Jesus did not find any fruit on the tree he cursed the tree. It is the only miracle that occurs within the Jerusalem section of the Gospel and the fact that it destroys nature does not fit the pattern of the other miracles of Jesus, which make people whole. Mark wants his readers; therefore to see the symbolic character of the miracle of the cursing of the fig tree and associate its fate with the fate of the Temple, which is also not producing the fruit, at is meant to produce. 

Mark keeps in suspense what happens to the fig tree till much later (11:20-21), after he has narrated the incident that he places in the middle of the sandwich. This is what is known as the Cleansing of the Temple (11:15-19). It is an incident that is narrated by all the four Gospels though John narrates it quite differently from the manner in which the Synoptics do and even within the Synoptics there are slight differences. Mark is the only one of the evangelists who tells us that Jesus would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple which indicates that for Mark Jesus has the power to determine what activity is proper to the Temple. The teaching of Jesus is a combination of two Old Testament texts Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11. The chief priests and scribes take affront when they hear about this incident and look for a way to kill Jesus.

Mark then continues the first incident (the cursing of the fig tree) and completes it (11:20-21). The fig tree has indeed withered. This is what will happen to the Temple if it continues in the way of the fig tree, namely if it does not produce the fruit required of it. 

Peter is amazed that the fig tree has withered and comments on it (11:22). This gives an opportunity for the Marcan Jesus to teach has disciples about prayer (11:23-25). The first saying about the mountain being thrown into the sea (11:23) brings out forcefully through a dramatic metaphor what is possible for one whose faith does not waver. The second saying (11:24) applies to the community the general principle of the previous verse, namely that there must be absolute confidence in prayer.

The final saying (11:25) speaks about forgiveness as a condition to receive the forgiveness of God. This is because if there is unforgiveness in one’s heart it is not possible to receive the forgiveness of God. The unforgiveness acts a block to receiving God’s forgiveness.
Most doctors today are convinced that the larger majority of the illnesses we suffer are psychosomatic. This means that because our mind/heart/internal (psyche) is affected, our body/external (soma) will also be affected. Keeping grudges, harbouring feelings of revenge, nurturing anger and not forgiving are sure ways to spoil one’s health. Illnesses like acidity, hyper tension, fistula, piles, stress diabetes, high blood pressure and many others can be controlled and even avoided if one removes all the negative from one’s heart and mind.