Thursday 30 June 2016

Audio Reflections of the Gospel for Friday, July 1, 2016

To hear the Audio Reflections of the Gospel for Friday, July 1, 2016 click HERE

Friday, July 1, 2016 - Is your “usual” way of looking a “negative or pessimistic” way? Will you look at persons, things and events positively today?

To read the texts click on the texts:Amos 8:4-6,9-12; Mt 9:9-13

The text of today 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.

Wednesday 29 June 2016

Audio Reflections of Thursday, June 30, 2016

To hear the Audio Reflections of Thursday, June 30, 2016 click HERE

Thursday, June 30, 2016 - Do you believe that God has forgiven you all your sins? Will you now extend the same forgiveness to at least one person whom you find it difficult to forgive?

To read the texts click on the texts: Amos 7:1-10; Mt 9:1-8

The miracle of the healing of the paralytic who was let down from the roof which forms our text for today is found also in Mark (2:1-12) and Luke (5:17-26). Matthew has omitted some details from Mark and thus shortened his narrative. Through these omissions, Matthew allows the reader to focus exclusively on Jesus and his words. It is unusual that Jesus does not respond to the paralytic’s immediate need but first forgives him his sins. The healing of the man is done later and only as demonstration of the fact that Jesus has power and authority to forgive sin, because the scribes consider Jesus’ pronouncement of forgiveness of sins as blasphemy. Since Jesus heals by the power of God, he can forgive sins by the same power. In Matthew, the crowd does not praise God for the miracle like they do in Mark and Luke, but for the authority to forgive sins attributed not only to Jesus but to human beings (“such authority to human beings” – Mt 9:8).

Most doctors today are convinced that there is an intimate connection between negative feelings and especially unforgiveness and physical ailments and advice a positive attitude and forgiving and letting go, for quicker healing. If we persist in our unforgiveness, we will continue to have a variety of ailments and sometimes no amount of external medicine will help at all. Forgive it is good for health.

Tuesday 28 June 2016

Audio Reflections of the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul

To hear the Audio Reflections of the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul click HERE 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 - Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul - Quo Vadis? Where are you going?????

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 12:1-11; 2 Tm 4:6-8, 17-18; Mt 16:13-19

There is an old story about the death of St. Peter in Rome during the persecution of Nero. Peter heard about Nero's plan to burn the city and blame the Christians. He figured as the one who presided over the church in the city he would be arrested and put to death. So he did the sensible thing - Peter was always a sensible man - he got out of town, and at night. The Appian Way was dark for awhile as Peter snuck down it. However, as the night wore on the sky was illuminated by the flames rising from the city. Peter hurried on and eventually was far enough away from the city that it was dark again. Then he saw someone coming in the opposite direction, someone who even at night seemed familiar. It was the Lord himself. What was he doing out at night and walking towards Rome? “Where are you going, Lord?” Peter asked him. “To Rome”, Jesus replied, “to be crucified again in your place”. Peter turned around and returned to Rome and according to tradition was crucified there.

Though this story does not agree with what is narrated in the first reading of today from the Acts of the Apostles, in which we are told that Peter was imprisoned, it does agree with what the Gospels narrate about Peter’s denials, and brings out an important facet of the meaning of the feast: Jesus did not choose strong, brave and courageous individuals to continue the work that he had begun. He chose weak, frail and cowardly humans. He chose individuals who would falter and fail. This is the Peter who confessed Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the Living God” and to whom the Jesus handed over the “keys” of the Church, knowing full well that there would be times when the lofty confession would turn into a base denial.

Paul’s conversion story is narrated twice in the Acts of the Apostles and Paul himself speaks of it in some of his letters. His commission as an apostle of Christ began with a divine revelation of the identity of the Lord Jesus. He reports the events surrounding his recognition of Jesus as the Lord of glory and his appointment as apostle to the gentiles. Felled to the ground by a brilliant light from heaven and hearing a reproachful voice addressing him by name his first need was to know who it was who broke into his life with such awe-inspiring power. Just as Jesus told Peter that he would assign to him the charge of leading his Church once the Peter recognized his master's true identity, so also Paul's task was given to him only after Jesus revealed himself as the glorified Lord.

The apostles' mission thus grew out of their loving knowledge of the person of Jesus, the Son of the living God. Their work, indeed their whole life, was to follow from this surpassing knowledge of Christ which became the basis of all their dealing with others. They were given to the whole Church to teach us not only what Christ revealed and taught but also how to live as he himself had put into practice the things willed by the Father.

Today we marvel at the transformation of these previously weak human leaders. Peter’s newfound passionate commitment to his Lord and to the fledgling church resulted in his imprisonment. Paul too was jailed. He did not see this as failure, but as the destiny that was his in consequence of his commitment to the Gospel. He had fought the good fight, he had run the race, and he had kept the faith. He faced death, and he knew it. That was the price they had to pay for their commitment and fidelity to the Lord.

Their personalities were very different, their approaches to spreading the Faith were very different, and their relationships with Christ were very different. Although the two were both Apostles, there were moments of disagreement and conflict between them. And yet, they are bound together on this single feast, as they were bound together by the one Faith, confessing the one Lord, shedding their blood for him and his mission of peace, justice and love.
Within the recent past, the church has been tossed to and fro in storms of controversy. Not one storm, but many storms, and not in one country, but in many countries. It has been the target of fierce persecution from without, and it has also allowed evil to corrupt it from within. Whether in circumstances of harassment or scandal, the lives of many have been diminished, their confidence undermined and their faith tested.

Without minimizing the suffering in our current situations, we should remember that dire trials are really not new to the church. From its very beginning it has faced opposition. The first reading for today’s feast describes one such situation.
Despite its trials, however, the church has survived and even flourished. This is not due to the strength and holiness of its members. Though Jesus told Peter that the church would be built upon him, the church’s real foundation was and continues to be Jesus Christ its Lord. He is the one who commissioned Peter; he is the one who assures the church of protection. He is the one who stood by Paul and gave him strength to bring the Gospel to the broader world. The church may have been built on Peter the former denier and spread by Paul the former persecutor, but it is the church of Jesus Christ, and it will endure because of his promise.

Today we celebrate the fidelity of Peter and Paul, sinners like us all. Initially, they were both found wanting. When they eventually repented, they were forgiven by God in Christ. Though they were victims of persecution, their commitment to Christ and to the church made them heroes. Their victory is evidence that the gates of hell shall not prevail. Their victory is evidence that we shall indeed overcome.

Monday 27 June 2016

Audio Reflections of Tuesday, June 28, 2016

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016 - Have the “storms” of your life sometimes overwhelmed you? Will you believe that with Jesus in the boat of your life these can be controlled?

To read the texts click on the texts:Amos 3:1-8;4:11-12; Mt 8:23-27

The miracle in our text for today known sometimes as the Calming of The Storm is found also in Mark (4:35-41) and Luke (8:22-25). It is only Matthew, however, who emphasises that the disciples “followed Jesus into the boat”. The miracle is not only a nature miracle but also a story told to indicate that Jesus has control over the storms of life itself. In Matthew the “storm” indicates the stormy experience of the community (represented by the disciples in the boat) who follow Jesus. While in Mark the cry is one of distress (“Teacher do you not care if we perish?”), in Matthew, it is a liturgical-sounding cry for help (Save, Lord; we are perishing). In both Mark and Luke the reprimand about “little faith” is after Jesus has calmed the storm, whereas in Matthew, the reprimand precedes the calming. This is an indication that “faith” is primary, and if the disciples had the faith needed, they would not be agitated.

We may sometimes get disturbed and agitated when things do not happen the way we expect them to or when we are faced with a difficult situation. At times like the disciples in the Gospel of Mark we may accuse Jesus of not being concerned about our plight and at other times like the disciples in the Gospel of Matthew we may plead with him to come to our aid. 

No matter which approach we may use, we need to remember that he will let nothing happen to us that is not part of his plan and will. We have to continue to do what is required of as and confidently leave the rest to him.

Sunday 26 June 2016

Audio reflections of Monday, June 27, 2016

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Monday, June 27, 2016 - What excuses have you been giving to the call to follow Jesus? What will you do about them today?

To read the texts click on the texts:Amos 2:6-10,13-16; Mt 8:18-22

Today’s text follows immediately after the first three miracles of Matthew’s Miracle Cycle. In the first three miracles, the disciples are not mentioned at all and the focus is solely on the authority of Jesus. The text of today and the miracles that follow emphasize discipleship. 

The scribe who addresses Jesus in the text of today is clearly not a disciple because of the term he uses to address Jesus, namely “Teacher”. In Matthew, only disciples address Jesus as Lord. The scribe is informed through Jesus’ response that firstly Jesus is the one who will take the initiative to call and secondly that his priorities need to be changed. The life to which Jesus calls will need a reversal of priorities. To the second disciple, Jesus’ response seems hard and brusque. Some interpret this to mean that the spiritually dead must be left to bury the physically dead. However, the point is that absolutely nothing can come in the way of Jesus’ call.

Following Jesus on Mission means become an “other-centred” person from being self-centred. It will mean giving up the Ego and placing the other’s need before my own. It may mean giving up what one holds dear and near. It is an unconditional following. 

Saturday 25 June 2016

Audio Reflections of Sunday, June 26, 2016

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Sunday, June 26, 2016 - Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - The Work of the kingdom will go on…

 To read the texts click on the texts:1 Kgs. 19:16,19-21; Gal 5:1,13-18; Lk 9:51-62

"Rejection” seems to be one word that summarises, at least partly, the readings of today. Other words are “perseverance, determination, and commitment.” As soon as Jesus sets out for Jerusalem where he will be finally rejected, he faces rejection in a Samaritan town. However, he will not be deterred. His face will be set like flint for Jerusalem because that is where the will of God will be finally accomplished. This is all that matters for Jesus: to do God’s will no matter the consequences. He is determined to see the completion of the task assigned to him. He is committed till the end. He will persevere.

The response of Jesus to James and John, who want to call down fire from heaven on the Samaritans, is a double response. On the one hand, Jesus is not Elijah and so will not call down fire from heaven like Elijah did. On the other hand, Jesus’ response makes clear that his mission is not to pull down and destroy but to build up and enhance. He has come not to condemn but to save.

Though the mission of Jesus is not to win through domination and subjugation, but rather through unconditional and continual love, he will demand from his disciples an unconditional following. As a matter of fact, it is precisely because his way is more challenging than the way of conquest and invasion that there can be no half hearted or lukewarm response to his call. Unlike Elisha, who is allowed to go back and say farewell to his father and mother, Jesus demands radical and total commitment. This kind of commitment can result in being able to fulfil the task of discipleship. It is a decision that is not made lightly, but after much thought, consideration, and contemplation.

Jesus does not use coercion or force to gain disciples. He only invites. However, even as he invites, he makes it abundantly clear to those who dare to follow what the consequences will be of their following. They will have to be as ones who have no security of home or hearth. They will have to be as ones who have no family to call their own. They will have to be as ones who are ready to face opposition, hostility, and conflict. They will be as ones who profess total and complete detachment. This is the kind of detachment that Elisha shows when he slaughters his oxen and uses the equipment that comes with them for fuel. Through this act, Elisha, though allowed to say farewell to his father and mother, demonstrates that he is prepared for an unconditional following of God through his mentor, Elijah.

The work of the kingdom which Jesus inaugurated is heavy and demanding work. It requires a persevering commitment. It is easy to get discouraged and want to give up in the face of trials and difficulties and what sometimes seem to be insurmountable odds. It is easy give up in the fact of rejection. It is because of this that Jesus states, in unambiguous terms, what it entails to follow him. The disciple who follows will have no place to lay his/her head.

Following Jesus will mean, as Paul explicates in the second reading of today, the desire to communicate love and to do it constantly, even in the face of fear and rejection. Love indeed sums up the whole law.  Those who decide to follow will have to show through both word and deed this love which Jesus manifested when he was on earth. This means first, living by the spirit and not by the flesh. This means that any kind of behavior which makes the self more important than others is unacceptable and not part of the kingdom. This means that, even in the face of haughtiness, arrogance, pride, and conceit, the disciple will always respond with modesty, humility, and love.

Like Elijah before him, Jesus knew that if the work of the kingdom had to be carried on, he had to choose disciples who would do this. To be sure, the disciples would not be perfect. They would stumble and fall numerous times and would pick themselves up again and again. Yet, the work of the kingdom would go on. Even Elijah, who had experienced God’s providence and power, had his moments of darkness. He had been blessed with much success, but at the slightest sign of a reversal of fortune, he was ready to quit. He was quick to blame others for the situation in which he found himself. On numerous occasions, he felt all alone. Yet, just as in all these situations he was consoled by God and invited to carry one, so too will the disciples of Jesus who feel alone be consoled by him. They will feel the presence of God in Jesus even when they and their message are rejected and go unheeded. On their part, they must make it their constant endeavour never to give up, but to carry on with perseverance, determination, and courage. Rejection of the message of love must not be a hindrance to the disciples task of spreading this love to everyone they meet. They had been set free by Christ. Now it is their responsibility to set others free from the bondage of fear and self centeredness. Now it is their responsibility to free others for the true freedom of love.

Friday 24 June 2016

Audio Reflections of the Reflections for Saturday, June 25, 2016

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Saturday,June 25, 2016 - Does Jesus Christ have faith in you?

To read the texts click on the texts:Lam 2:2,10-14,18-19; Mt 8:5-17

The text of today contains the healing of the Centurion’s servant and the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law. The healing of the Centurion’s servant is also found in Luke (7:1-10) and John but with variations. While in Luke the centurion never makes an appearance personally, in Matthew he addresses Jesus as “Lord”, which is an address only believers use in Matthew. The response of Jesus to the Centurion’s need is seen by some as a question rather than a statement, “I should come and heal him?” This is in keeping with Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus who is sent as Messiah only for the lost sheep of Israel (10,5-6) and not for Gentiles. The Centurion is not deterred by Jesus’ question, and responds with faith. The healing takes place from a distance. The focus, however, is not on the miracle but on the faith of the centurion and through his faith the faith of “unbelievers”. The centurion does not claim to have faith. It is Jesus who testifies to his faith.

We can get deterred and lose our focus when things do not go the way we want them to. At these times we may blame our family, our neighbours and even God. The Centurion’s attitude is a lesson to us never to get deterred from what we have to do and continue to keep our sights fixed on what we want to achieve confident that our perseverance will pay rich dividends.

Thursday 23 June 2016

Audio Reflections of Friday, June 24, 2016 - the Birth of John the Baptist

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Friday, June 24, 2016 - The Birth of John the Baptist - Will you speak God’s word to at least one person today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 49:1-6; Acts 13:22-26; Lk 1:57-66,80

The Birth of Saint John the Baptist is celebrated on June 24 each year. The reason for this is the mention in the Gospel of Luke that Elizabeth was in her sixth month when the Announcement was made to Mary (Lk 1:36) about the birth of Jesus. Thus if Christmas is celebrated on December 25 each year, John the Baptist who was the son of Elizabeth and Zechariah had to have been born six months before Jesus.

According to some, John is born when the days are longest (June 24), and from his birth on they grow steadily shorter. Jesus is born when the days are shortest (December 25), and from his birth on they grow steadily longer. John speaks truly when he says of Jesus, "He must increase, but I must decrease." (Jn 3:30).

The Gospel text of today is from the Gospel of Luke. Luke does not give us too many details about the birth of John, and he narrates it with a short sentence. He focuses more on the events that follow the birth and, through them, show that God’s word spoken through the angel, Gabriel, is being fulfilled. Elizabeth does bear a son and the people rejoice at the birth because of the great mercy shown by God.

Circumcision of the child on the eight day was in accord with Gen 17:9-14 where God makes circumcision on the eight day a sign of the covenant with Abraham. It was the father who normally named the child and, in doing so, recognized the child as his own. Sometimes, the child was named after the father, especially if the father was a person who was highly esteemed. Objections were raised to the name “John” (“God had been gracious”), chosen by Elizabeth. That the people made signs to Zechariah to ask him what he wanted to name the child indicates that, besides being dumb, he was also deaf. The moment Zechariah writes the name “John” on a writing tablet, Zechariah regains his speech. Once again, God’s word comes to pass. The fear and amazement with which the people respond to these happenings is an indication that they experienced God’s awesome power. The question that the people ask, about what the child would turn out to be, is answered in summary form by Luke when he ends this narrative by stating that “the hand of the Lord was with him.”

God’s word is a word of power and will come to pass, no matter how many obstacles we may put in its way. It is a word that enhances and builds up, a word that gives life. To be sure, we may not always be able to understand and accept it for what it is, but in the final analysis, it is always a word that is for our good and for his glory.

Wednesday 22 June 2016

Audio reflections of Thursday, June 23, 2016

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Thursday, June 23, 2016 - Do your actions speak louder than your words?

To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Kings 24:8-17; Mt 7:21-29

While the Sermon on the Mount began with Jesus calling his disciples to him and sitting down like a Rabbi to begin to teach them (5:1-2), it ends with Jesus addressing the crowds as a prophet (7:29). 

The last part of the Sermon, which forms our text for today, is about action rather than words. Prophesying in the Lord’s name will be of no help if one is not willing TO DO the will of God. The examples of the one who built his/her house on rock and the one who built his/her house on sand reiterate this point. The Sermon calls everyone to action.

If the foundation of our lives is strong, then what we build on it will also be strong. If we have a strong sense of values and know what our priorities are in life, we can continue to be focussed on what we have to do.

Tuesday 21 June 2016

Audio Reflections of Wednesday, June 22, 2016

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - Is your being good? What will you do to make it better?

To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Kings 22:8-13; 23:1-3; Mt 7:15-20

The text of today is from the latter part of the Sermon on the Mount. In it Jesus asks his listeners to focus on the internal i.e. the heart from which everything else flows. If the heart is pure than everything that a person does or says will also be pure. The external is only an expression of the internal. A person's actions or words flow from what is in his/her heart.

Our actions do not often coincide with our words, because we do not always mean what we say. Sometimes we say one thing and do another. There is a dichotomy between our words and actions. We are called to synchronise the two.

Monday 20 June 2016

Audio Reflections of Tuesday, June 21, 2016

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016 - How will you show that you have chosen the narrow gate?

To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Kgs 19:9-11,14-21,31-36; Mt 7:6,12-14

The first verse of today (7:5) introduces a new subject: holiness. The point that seems to be made here is that holy things have their place and should not be profaned. 7:12 has often been termed, as the Golden rule, which the Matthean Jesus states, is a summary of the law and prophets. Here it is stated positively. One must treat others in the same way that one expects to be treated. This also means that one must take the initiative in doing the loving thing that does not wait to respond to the action of another. In the final two verses of this pericope (7:13-14) the point being made is that it is the narrow gate that leads to life and salvation and the broad or wide gate to damnation. One must make a choice for one or another.

We wish that people would be kind and understanding with us but we are seldom kind and understanding towards them. Often the behaviour that we find revolting in others is the behaviour we ourselves are guilt of. When we criticise others for being too harsh, we need to ask whether we have not been so.

The words that you use to complete this sentence will give you a fairly good idea of how you treat others: People are usually ……………………

Sunday 19 June 2016

Audio Reflections of Monday, June 20, 2016

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Monday, June 20, 2016 - Do you know that when you point a finger at someone there are three fingers pointing back at you?

To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Kgs 17:5-8,13-15,18; Mt 7:1-5

The absolute prohibition of judgement found in 7:1 is unparalleled in Jewish tradition. When the individual comes to stand before God for judgement, he/she will be judged according to the measure that he/she has used for others. Those who have been merciful will receive mercy. One must be aware that one is not in any superior position, which gives one the right to judge others. If one is aware of one’s own weakness and frailty then one will be careful of pointing out the faults of others.

Judging others comes too easily to some and often we judge only by externals. It is important to realise that it is possible that we might not be aware of all the reasons why a person behaves in a particular manner and so mistaken in our judgement. If we can give the benefit of the doubt to the person concerned and find reasons for his/her behaviour we will have done well.

Saturday 18 June 2016

Audio reflections of Sunday, June 19, 2016

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Sunday, June 19, 2016 - Who do I say Jesus is?

To read the texts click on the texts: Zech 12:10-11;13:1; Gal3:26-29; Lk 9:18-24

The two questions regarding Jesus’ identity are found in all three Synoptic Gospels and are extremely significant. The first question concerns who the “people” think Jesus is and the second, who the “disciples” think he is. The answers that the people and the disciples give will determine if they have really understood Jesus. It is clear from the answers of the people that they have not grasped the full import of the person of Jesus. For them, he is merely another prophet, another messenger of God. Peter acts as the spokesman for the disciples in the Synoptic Gospels. His answer differs slightly in each, but the core is the same: Jesus is the anointed one, the Christ, the Messiah.

The question concerning the Messiah or the Christ was a question that was uppermost in the minds of most people at the time of Jesus. They were waiting anxiously for the Messiah to come and redeem them. Roman occupation had tired them and their one hope was redemption through the Messiah. Many saw redemption as the overthrow of the Romans and some even expected it to be violent. No one, not even the disciples, would have expected the Kingdom to come in the way Jesus brought it. His way was beyond their wildest expectations.

We are given some indication of this novel and radical way in the Gospel of Luke, who alone has the scene of “Peter’s Confession” immediately after the feeding of the 5000. Through this, Luke already indicates that Jesus will be the Messiah who, instead of overthrowing the Romans and using violence, will be one who will feed the hungry with bread and make the sick and invalid whole. He will be a Messiah who reaches out in compassion and love. Unlike Mark and Matthew, Luke avoids mentioning the name of the place where the Confession was made, possibly to avoid any association with Caesar and the tetrarch, Philip, after whom the place was named. Luke places it instead in the context of the prayer of Jesus.  This highlights the fact that the way of Jesus stood in direct opposition to the way of the Emperors of this world and their tetrarchs. Their way would be the way of domination, exercising authority, and striving for supremacy.  Jesus’ way would be the way of service, humility, and being least and last. This is confirmed by the command to silence and in the sayings that follow Peter’s Confession.

The command to silence that Jesus gives in each of the Gospels after Peter’s Confession, is a caution that Jesus is unsure if the disciples have understood him as they ought. Although on one level, Peter’s answer is the right one, Jesus needs to ensure that Peter and the disciples have understood the true meaning and consequences of the answer.

The sayings which follow the command to silence reiterate that Jesus is neither a violent Messiah nor one who will come to dominate and subdue. Rather, he will be one who will lose himself so that others may find themselves. He will face all kinds of trials and tribulations, all kinds of insult and injury, and all kinds of ingratitude and thanklessness. He will even carry courageously his daily cross to teach people his way, the way of unconditional love. He will stand by his convictions irrespective of the consequences. He will do what God wants him to do, no matter the outcome.

This way of unconditional love is hinted at in the first reading of today.  The prophet Zephaniah prophesies that the one who has laid himself on the line by standing for his convictions has been put to death. Though he seems defeated in death, this is the one at whom people will look in awe and in wonder. This is the one for whom they will mourn because they will have realized that he was courageous and bold, that he stood for what he believed in.

Today, more than two thousand years after Jesus, his questions remain the same: Who do people say I am? Who do you say I am?  Peter’s answer must remain that: Peter’s answer. Each of us will have to answer these questions for ourselves. Though they seem like two separate questions, they are in fact, intimately connected. The answer to the first question depends on how we answer the second. When we know who Jesus is for us, then people will know who Jesus is. The reason for this is that, unlike two thousand or so years ago, Jesus does not walk the earth physically but only in and through those of us who believe in him. It is we who reveal him to the world.  It is through our words and our actions that those who do not know him can come to know him and recognize him for who he is.

Paul gives us some pointers in the second reading of today of how we are to be if people are to recognize Christ today. When we love without distinction as Jesus did, when we spend ourselves in service, when we are content with letting the reward for our actions be the doing of the actions, and when we give, give, and ever give, then we show that Christ, whom God sent, is present in our midst even today and people will know him and love him as the one who was sent. 

Friday 17 June 2016

Audio reflections of Saturday, June 18, 2016

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Saturday, June 18, 2016 - How often do I try to be in two places at the same time or at two times in the same place?

To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Chronicles 24:17-25; Mt 6:24-34
The text of today begins by stating a general rule that undivided attention can be given to one person alone at a time. If there is more than one, then the disciple’s loyalty is certainly split. One must decide whether one will allow oneself to be controlled by wealth and the things of this world, or whether one will realise that they cannot bring true happiness. 

The prohibition, “Do not worry” dominates the rest of this pericope and is used six times in it. The call to look at nature (the birds of the air and the lilies of the field) is a call to learn how God in his providence provides for them. This does not mean that human beings do not have to work for their living, rather it means that even after working as hard as they can, humans must realise the life is much more than simply work and earning a living. It has also to do with being.

There are indeed many distractions in life, which sometimes can take us away from where we ought to look and focus. While planning is good and desirable, what is undesirable is useless worry or anxiety. 
When we stir the sugar in our coffee or tea every morning we are already thinking of drinking it. When we are drinking our coffee or tea, we are already thinking of washing the cup. When we are washing our cup, we are already thinking or drying it When we are drying it, we are already thinking of placing it on the rack and when we are placing it on the rack we are already thinking of what we have to do next. We have not stirred the sugar, nor have we have drunk the coffee, nor have we washed it nor placed it on the rack. If one takes one moment of one day at a time and gives of one’s best to that moment, life will be well lived. 

Thursday 16 June 2016

Audio Reflections of Friday, June 17, 2016

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Friday, June 17, 2016 - If you were given the chance to take just ONE THING with you when you die, what would it be?

To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Kings 11:1-4,9-18,20; Mt 6:19-23

The section that begins in 6:19 concerns knowing where one’s priorities lie. Treasure stored on earth is of not much use because it is temporary and passing and gathers rust and also can be stolen. Rather heavenly treasure is permanent and eternal. A person’s attention will be concentrated on where his/her treasure is. Thus instead of concentrating on the temporary it is better to concentrate on the eternal, the impermanent. If one does not perceive correctly, one’s whole orientation will be incorrect and one will live a life of futility, concentrating on what is really not essential.

Sometimes we lose focus in our lives and waste so much time on trifles. We are so concentrated on gathering up for tomorrow and the next day, that the present day passes us by and we find that we have live it unaware. An occasional examination of our priorities is required to bring back our focus on what is really necessary.

Wednesday 15 June 2016

Audio Reflections of Thursday, June 16, 2016

To hear the Audio Reflections of Thursday, June 16, 2016 click HERE

Thursday, June 16, 2016 - Is there someone who you think has hurt you whom you have not yet forgiven? Will you forgive that person today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Sirach 48:1-14; Mt 6:7-15

In the text of today, we read what is commonly known as the "Our Father". However, a better term for this would be "The Lord's Prayer". The reason for this is because there are two versions of the same prayer. The other is found in Lk. 11:2-4. There, the pronoun "Our" is missing and the prayer begins simply with "Father". 
Also the context of the prayer in Matthew and Luke is different. While in Matthew the prayer is told in the context of the Sermon of the Mount, in Luke it is told in response to the disciples’ request to Jesus to teach them how to pray (Lk 11:1). 
Be that as it may, in both Matthew and Luke the point is clear that the prayer is primarily a prayer of dependence on God who is Father. This dependence is for something as dramatic and magnificent as the Kingdom and also for something as routine and regular as bread. Both prayers have also the theme of forgiveness, which is received from God and given to others.

The Lord’s Prayer is not just a prayer; it is also a way of life. The words of the prayer communicate the attitude that one must have toward God and others. While we must acknowledge our dependence on God for everything that we need and regard him always as the primary cause, our attitude to others must be one of acceptance and forgiveness.

Tuesday 14 June 2016

Audio Reflections of Wednesday, June 15, 2016

To hear the Audio Reflections of Wednesday, June 15, 2016 click HERE

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 - How often have you made “means” ends in themselves?

To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Kgs 2:1,6-14; Mt 6:1-6,16-18

Immediately after the six antitheses (5:21-48) in the Sermon on the Mount, there follows instructions on three practices that were common among the Pharisees as a sign of closeness to God namely almsgiving, prayer and fasting. All three though only a means to reach God can be made ends in themselves. Almsgiving can be ostentatious, prayer can be used to show-off and fasting can be used to point to one’s self. Jesus cautions the listeners about these dangers and challenges them to make them all internal activities that will lead the way to God rather than being made ends in themselves.

For us as Christians, Jesus has simplified matters. There is absolutely no obligation in the Christian way of life except the obligation to love. When there is love then all our actions come from our hearts and spontaneously without counting the cost. Almsgiving becomes generous and spontaneous, prayer becomes union with God and leads to action and fasting is done in order to show our dependence on God and not on earthly things.

Monday 13 June 2016

Audio Reflections of Tuesday, June 14, 2016

To hear the Audio Reflections of Tuesday, June 14, 2016 click HERE

Tuesday, June 14, 2016 - How often has the expectation of some “reward” been your motivation for “doing good”? Will you “do good” without any expectation of reward today?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Kgs 21:17-29; Mt 5:43-48

In the last of the six antitheses, Matthew focuses on the love command. . While there is no command to hate the enemy in the Old Testament, yet, there are statements that God hates all evildoers and statements that imply that others do or should do the same. Jesus, makes explicit here the command to love enemies. The conduct of the disciples of Jesus must reveal who they are really are, namely “sons and daughters of God”.

The command to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” does not mean to be without faults, but means to be undivided in love as God is undivided in love.

The love we have for others is more often than not a conditional love. We indulge in barter exchange and term it love. We are willing to do something for someone and expect that they do the same or something else in return. It is a matter of “give”, but also a matter of “take”. When Jesus asks us to be like the heavenly Father, he is calling us to unconditional love.

Sunday 12 June 2016

Audio reflections of Monday, June 13, 2016

To hear the Audio reflections of Monday, June 13, 2016 click HERE

Monday, June 13, 2016 - How often have you gone beyond the call of duty? Will you do so today?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Kgs 21:1-16; Mt 5:38-42

The text of today contains the fifth antithesis. In it, Jesus not only affirms the thrust of the Law in opposing unlimited revenge, but also calls for a rejection of the principle of retaliatory violence as well.. In the five examples that follow (being struck in the face, being sued in court, being requisitioned into short-term compulsory service, giving to beggars and lending to borrowers) the one point being made is to place the needs of others before one’s own needs. The disciple of Jesus is called to go beyond the call of the Law and do more than it requires.

It is so easy for us to be reactors. If someone does something to hurt us, we think that it is “natural” for us to want to do something to hurt him or her in return. In the text of today, Jesus is calling us to be actors and not reactors and to do what we do because we think it is right and just and not as a reaction to someone else’s action.

Saturday 11 June 2016

Audio reflections of Sunday, June 12, 2016

To hear the Audio reflections of Sunday, June 12, 2016 click HERE

Sunday, June 12, 2016 - The Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time - God ever forgives

To read the texts click on the texts:2 Sam 12:7-10; Gal2:16,19-21; Lk 7:36-8:3

I was preaching in a Church one Sunday morning about the unconditional forgiveness of God and of God’s unfathomable mercy and love. In the course of my homily I said that God forgives us before we sin, God forgives us after we sin and God forgives us even when we are in the act of sinning. I insisted that God constantly and continuously forgives and loves. I also quoted 1 Jn 4:10 which says: “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” This means that no matter what we do or how far we stray, God will always take us back. After the final blessing, many parishioners came to ask me questions about the homily. One of them said; “Then Father does it mean that I can do whatever I want and be forgiven.” She probably thought I would say No, but my answer was “Yes, yes, yes.”

The same question is raised and answered by the readings of today. The first reading and Gospel both speak of the sinfulness of each one of us. They remind us that all of us without exception are sinners. The second reading answers the question of God’s unconditional forgiveness and mercy in one word: grace.

The attitude of King David in the first reading and that of Simon the Pharisee in the Gospel reading is similar. Both are not able to open themselves to receive God’s grace. There is a double consequence to this attitude. The first is that they see sin easily in the other but not in themselves and second is due to this they condemn the other and so close themselves to forgiveness and pardon.

David is indeed “the man” who is guilty of the sin brought out by Nathan in the parable. Yet, immersed as he is in his own sin, he cannot see it. This is why the initial emotions that well up in his heart are anger, indignation and fury, and not repentance. He points his finger at the other not realizing that three and pointing back at him. This is also what Simon the Pharisee does. He is able to recognize that the woman who anoints Jesus’ feet is a sinner and indeed she is. However, his self-righteousness and conceit does not allow him to see himself also as a sinner. He, like David points a finger at her (and through her, even at Jesus).
Like Nathan who points out David’s sin, Jesus points out to Simon where he falls short.

The woman who anointed Jesus’ feet in the Gospel text of today stands in contrast to both David and Simon. She is aware. She knows she is a sinner and so in need of grace. She knows she has fallen short and so has to repent. She knows that forgiveness from Jesus is assured and so she can love. Her act is an act of love because she has been forgiven. In other words forgiveness is first and the consequence of that forgiveness is her reaching out in love.

This is what Paul means when he speaks of grace in the second reading of today. No one can demand God’s forgiveness. No one is worthy of receiving God’s forgiveness. No one can merit God’s forgiveness, mercy and pardon simply because it is given freely and gratuitously. All the good that we do, all the benevolent acts that we perform and all the love that we share has its source in God’s unconditional love for us. God loved first and so we are able to love. We live in this knowledge that God loves us even when each of us is steeped in sin. God’s love is not given “because of” but “in spite of”.

Though so many pages of scripture speak about this reality, there are so many who are not aware of this unrestricted and unreserved love of God. We continue to think that God’s love has to be earned and merited. We continue to think that we must be good for God to love us. We continue to think that God’s love will be given only when we are obedient and compliant. The truth, however, is exactly the opposite. The truth is that even the most lethal and mortal sin is forgiven because of God’s magnanimity and generosity.

How then are we to respond? What are we to do?

The best response is shown in the attitudes of the woman in the Gospel text of today and Paul. We must first become aware of the reality that it is grace that saves and not our deeds. This means that we become aware that all that we do in love is not for reward but a consequence of our being loved. The woman in the Gospel text was able to love because she became aware of the forgiveness she had already received.

Second because we have received such unconditional love we must like Paul be able to say that Christ lives in us. The consequence of Christ living in us is that we will never condemn others or point fingers at them. We will realize that we are all of us in the same boat and all in need of grace. Our attitude towards others (even if we know that they are sinners) must be of empathy and concern. While on the one hand we are called to be like Nathan and make others aware of their sin, we must also realize the danger of being like Simon and David and being blind to our own sin.

Finally, we are also called like Jesus to understand, understand and understand again.

Friday 10 June 2016

Audio reflections of the feast of St. Barnabas, June 11, 2016

To hear the Audio reflections of the feast of St. Barnabas, June 11, 2016 click HERE

Saturday, June 11, 2016 - St. Barnabas - Is there a person, thing or event which controls you and does not allow you to be free? Make an attempt to give it up through the intercession of St. Branabas.

To read the texts click on then texts:Acts 10:21-26;13:1-3; Mt 10:7-13

Barnabas was originally Joseph and was named Barnabas by the Apostles probably because of his success as a Preacher. The name was interpreted to mean “son of exhortation or consolation”, though this interpretation is disputed by some.

According to Acts 4:36-37, it seems that he was a convert to Christianity shortly after Pentecost in around 29 or 30 C.E. and immediately sold his property and donated the proceeds of the sale to the Church

Though nothing is recorded of Barnabas for some years, he evidently acquired during this period a high position in the Church.

The Gospel text for the feast is from the Mission Discourse of Matthew which contains the instructions for Mission.

Three points may be noticed. The first is that mission is not only words but also action. Jesus sends the disciples not only to preach but also to heal. The second is that Jesus provides a strategy for mission which may be summarised in one word namely, DETACHMENT. The call is to detachment from anything, which will hold a person up or prevent him or her from engaging in mission. The third is that Jesus calls the disciples from a detachment even from the outcome of mission. They must not be concerned about the results or the fruits, but simply do what needs to be done.

Often, too much of focus on the results of our actions do not allow us to focus on the action itself. Consequently, our action is neither effective nor efficacious. If we continue to keep in mind that the Kingdom is not ours but His and we are only called to do our best in striving to make this kingdom a reality in the lives of others, then our action will be both effective and efficacious. Detachment even from the results of our action is an indication that we are aware that God is always in control.