Tuesday 31 October 2017

Audio reflections of Wednesday, November 1, 2017 the feast of All Saints

To hear the Audio reflections of Wednesday, November 1, 2017 the feast of All Saints click HERE

Wednesday, November 1, 2017 - All Saints Day

To read the texts click on the texts: Rev7:2-4,9-14; 1 Jn 3:1-3; Mt 5:1-12

“I want to be in that number when the Saints go marching in”. These words from the popular spiritual song “When the Saints Go Marching In” can be regarded as one of the two important reasons why we celebrate the feast of All Saints.

In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III consecrated a new chapel in the Basilica of St. Peter to all saints on November 1, and he fixed the anniversary of this dedication as the date of the feast. In the ninth century, Pope Gregory IV extended the celebration of All Saints for the entire Church and since then, the Church celebrates the feast of all Saints on this date.

While the celebration of this solemnity may be seen on the one hand as a remembrance or memorial of the numerous courageous men and women who lived lives of selfless love, it may also be seen as an event which makes each of us aware that we, too, as those who have gone before, are capable of living such lives. It is a celebration of possibilities, potential and promise. They could, we also can.

This possibility and potential is brought out vividly in the first reading from the Book of Revelation. While on the one hand there are the chosen one hundred and forty four thousand made up of twelve thousand each from the twelve tribes of Israel, there is also the great multitude from every nation and tribe and language. This great multitude is a demonstration that the possibility of being included is a very real one and that everyone who desires it can receive it. While it is true that the choice is made by God, we as humans can desire it by being willing to be washed in the blood of the lamb. This means the willingness to undergo persecution, trials and tribulations and resisting the pressure to conform to values of the “world” which include selfishness and self centeredness.

This willingness not to conform is precisely the reason why, in the Gospel text of today, Jesus can declare as “blessed”, those who in the eyes of the world might seem as those who are cursed. This declaration is a confident assertion of the reality that is now and here. The beatitudes are not a “wish list” nor a projection of the future state of what is to come. They are not conditions for discipleship or preliminary requirements for an initiate. Rather, they describe those who belong to the community of the Lord. They describe the Saints.

The nine pronouncements, or declarations, are thus not statements about general human virtues. Rather, they pronounce blessing on authentic disciples in the Christian community. All the beatitudes apply to one group of people. They do not describe nine different kinds of good people who get to go to heaven, but are nine declarations about the blessedness, contrary to all appearances, of the eschatological community living in anticipation of God’s reign.
“Poor in spirit” definitely includes being economically poor, but goes further than literal poverty. It refers also to an absence of arrogance and the presence of dependence. It refers to an absence of ego and a presence of awareness that one’s true identity is found only in God.

The “mourning” of disciples is not because of the loss of something personal or because of the death of a loved one. It is a mourning that is outward in that the mourning is because things are the way they are. The mourning is because God’s will is not being done and represents also a desire to do it. It is mourning because of what is not and also because of what can be.

 Meekness in the third beatitude represents not a passive attitude of endurance or as is sometimes understood: gullibility. Rather it is an active disposition that will refuse to use violent means. This refusal does not represent inability, weakness or impotence. It represents instead a deliberate choice of one’s way of proceeding.

This is also what is meant by the desire or hunger for righteousness or justice. It is the courage to do God’s will here and now with the confidence and optimism that the kingdom is indeed now and here.
The disciples are pure in heart or have a single minded devotion to God and will not be swayed by things that are temporary and passing. They will not be divided or serve two masters. They will serve the Lord and the Lord alone.

This single minded service of the Lord will also enable them to work for peace and reconciliation. They will bring together people of different experiences, races, religions, and languages not through any kind of coercion or force, but through the example of consecrated and selfless lives. All this they will do with a deep sense of joy, because they know that this is really the only way to live fully and completely the life that God in his graciousness has bestowed.

It is the same God who calls them his children and to whom he is Father. The disciples know that this is indeed what they are because they live lives that are in keeping with their call.

The elder who invited John to identify those robed in white continues to invite us not only to identify them today, but also to have the confidence that, if we dare to live as Jesus has lived and shown us and as the Saints who have gone before us have lived, then we too can be counted in that number.

Monday 30 October 2017

Audio reflections of Tuesday, October 31, 2017

To hear the Audio reflections of Tuesday, October 31, 2017 click HERE

Tuesday, October 31, 2017 - Have you sometimes been tempted to give in to despair when you look at the injustice, corruption and negatives around you? Will these parables help give you hope?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 8:18-25; Lk 13:18-21

In the two parables that make up the text of today, we once again find the mention of a man and a woman. While in the first parable of the mustard seed, it is a “man” who sows, in the second parable of the yeast; it is a “woman” who mixes it. The parable of the mustard seed is found also in Mark and Matthew, whereas the parable of the yeast is in Matthew but not in Mark.

The Lukan version of the parable of the mustard seed is the shortest of the three. It lacks the description of the mustard seed as the smallest of all seeds (Mt 13:31; Mk 4:31) or the mature plant as “the greatest of all shrubs” (Mt 13:32; Mk 4:32). The point that Luke seems to be making by omitting these details is that rather than compare the kingdom to a mighty cedar, he describes it in terms of an insignificant seed. The emphasis is not on future glory, but on the present sign of its presence, even though it cannot be seen as clearly as some would like to. In Luke, it is a parable of the beginnings of the kingdom and not on its final manifestation. The people expected a spectacular, extra-ordinary cedar, but Jesus preferred to bring the kingdom as insignificantly as a mustard seed.

The point of the parable of the yeast in Luke is not the same as the point being made in the parable of the mustard seed. In this parable it is a clearly a case of small beginnings contrasted with great endings. While the quantity of yeast is not specified, the use of the word “hid’ indicates that it is an extremely small quantity. In contrast the three measures of flour that are leavened are the equivalent of fifty pounds of flour, enough to make bread for about one hundred fifty people. The kingdom like the yeast will eventually leaven the whole of humanity.

While the parable of the mustard seed dramatises the presence of the kingdom in its insignificant beginnings, the parable of the yeast reminds us that even small beginnings are powerful and eventually change the character of the whole.

When we realise that with the motley crew that Jesus chose he could achieve so much in the world, then we realise that his words in the parable are indeed true. The kingdom does have insignificant beginnings, but even this insignificant or small beginning has resulted and will continue to result in great endings. 

Sunday 29 October 2017

Audio reflections of Monday, October 30, 2017

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Monday, October 30, 2017 - Has your adherence to rules and regulations sometime blinded you from love?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 8:12-17; Lk 13:10-17

In Luke, scenes involving a man are often balanced with scenes involving a woman. The healing of a woman who had been crippled for eighteen years which is our text for today is paralleled with the healing of a man with dropsy (Lk 14:1-6). Like this healing that one too occurs on the Sabbath, and in both there is a controversy with a leader of the synagogue. In both miracles there is a pronouncement as well as a healing, and in both Jesus invites his opponents to reason what they should do for a fellow human being from what they would do for an ox. This is the last time in Luke that Jesus enters a synagogue, though he will continue to teach even in later chapters. 

In this incident, the main point that is made is that concern over the suffering of fellow human beings takes precedence over obligations related to keeping the Sabbath. 

Love takes precedence over rules and regulations. The number eighteen (the number of years for which the woman was sick) does not seem to have any special significance except that it is a long period of time and is probably to link this scene with the previous one in which eighteen persons perished when the tower of Siloam fell (Lk 13:4).

Jesus heals the woman by both a pronouncement and a laying on of hands. The latter may also be taken to indicate the conferral of a blessing on the woman. The leader of the synagogue does not address Jesus directly, but speaks to the crowd and expresses his indignation that a healing took place on the Sabbath. His focus is not on the wholeness of the woman but on the breaking of the law. Jesus too, in his response addresses the crowd and challenges his opponents to reason from the lesser to the greater. Since a bound animal would surely be unbound even if the day were a Sabbath, a human person who had been bound would most definitely be unbound. The result of Jesus’ pronouncement is that all his opponents were put to shame. It seems that while the woman was only physically crippled, the leader of the synagogue was spiritually crippled.

It is possible that because of our myopic vision we might sometimes lose sight of the larger picture. While it is good to have our own point of view, we must also keep in mind that ours is one point of view and there will be others, and therefore ours will not necessarily be the correct one.

Saturday 28 October 2017

Audio reflections of Sunday, October 29, 2017

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Sunday, October 29, 2017 - Love of God means love of neighbour and love of neighbour means love of God. The two are inseperable

To read the texts click on the texts: Ex 22:20-26; 1 Th 1:5-10; Mt 22:34-40

There is an immortal poem written by Englishman, Leigh Hunt about a man called Abou Ben Adhem. Abou Ben Adhem woke from his sleep one night and saw in his room an angel writing in a book of gold the names of those who love God. “And is mine one?” inquired Abou. “Nay, not so,” replied the angel. “I pray thee, then,” said Abou, “Write me as one who loves his fellow men and women.” The following night the angel came again and displayed the names of those who love God. Abou Ben Adhem’s name was on top of the list.

This poem makes the point that true love of God and true love of our fellow human beings are like two sides of the same coin. One cannot exist apart from the other.

 That is what we find in today’s gospel in which Jesus is asked about the greatest commandment in the law. Though he is asked for the greatest commandment only, in his response Jesus gives what at first glance seem like two but which are in reality one. True love of God and true love of neighbour is practically one and the same thing.

Jesus is here reacting against a one-dimensional understanding of love. For Jesus, true love must express itself in the vertical and horizontal dimensions. The vertical dimension refers to the love which a person has for God and the horizontal dimension to that love for God which must be expressed in love for the other. He even goes so far as to say this is the summation of the law and prophets, namely the summation of all that has ever been said by anyone. Thus, the first entails the second, the second presupposes and depends on the first. In neither case, however, is love construed as an emotion.

Love for one’s neighbour means acting toward others with their good, their well-being, their fulfillment, as the primary motivation and goal of our deeds. Such love is constant and takes no regard of the perceived merit or worth of the other person.

Love of God, on the other hand, is to be understood as a matter of reverence, commitment, and obedience. It is at once an acknowledgement of God’s identity as Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer and a reflection of that reality in the ordering of our lives. With this orientation toward God and others, the law and the prophets have reached their ultimate goal.

The first reading from Exodus provides some help in understanding why these commands are interrelated. Whenever someone is wronged, hurt or forgotten, God hears their cry. Whenever one fails to regard the needs of the neighbour, he or she has broken trust with the God of compassion. After all, the Exodus text reminds the hearers of their own position as strangers and foreigners. The same God who took compassion on them when they were in exile now looks to see his own spirit of compassion living on in them. The God of love first and foremost draws all people into a loving relationship with himself.

God’s love is also evident in Paul’s earliest record of his ministry. In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul acknowledges that it takes courage to declare the Gospel in the face of opposition. This Gospel is about Jesus the tangible expression of God’s unconditional love. His sole intention in coming to earth was to save people from their sins by manifesting to them the reality of the unconditional love of God. This love experienced by them was a love that became visible in their actions towards their neighbours. The reason for the opposition is because people prefer to lead selfish and self centered lives rather than have the courage to live other centered lives like Jesus. Those with advantage tend to regard the existing order as appropriate.

We live in a world that is quickly being destroyed by consumerism and greed. It is a world in which to “have more” is more important than to “be more” and even if this having more is at the cost of giving less and sometimes nothing to others. It is a world in which we turn our heads as the rainforests burn and glaciers melt only because we want to live in bigger houses and drive bigger cars that consume more oil and gas than can be produced. It is a world that answers the “wants” of a few by destroying more and more of God’s creation. It is a world in which those with enough and more clothes for themselves dare to take away their neighbour’s only cloak and leave him or her naked.

Thus being loving and compassionate involves more than mere kindness. It is the passion to develop strategies and structures to lift up those who are down. If our political and economic systems allow the marginalized to fall between society’s cracks, then we who have been loved into action by a compassionate God are encouraged to challenge the existing order or to find ways to alter their predicament. To fail to do this is to lose God in the chaos of society.

Only when we show this love for neighbour in so tangible a manner that we can profess to love God.

Friday 27 October 2017

Audio reflections of Saturday, October 28, 2017 the feast of Saints Simon and Jude

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Saturday, October 28, 2017 - Saints Simon and Jude

To read the texts click on the texts: Eph 2:19-22; Lk 6:12-19

Jude is one of the twelve Apostles in the list of Luke (and also Acts of the Apostles). Some think that since Jude is not mentioned by Matthew and Mark but Thaddeus is, that Jude and Thaddeus are the same person. Besides mention in the list of the Twelve, he is not well known.

Simon is mentioned in all four lists of the apostles. In two of them he is called "the Zealot." The title probably indicates that he belonged to a Jewish sect that represented an extreme of Jewish nationalism. For them, the messianic promise of the Old Testament meant that the Jews were to be a free and independent nation. God alone was their king, and any payment of taxes to the Romans—the very domination of the Romans—was a blasphemy against God. Nothing in the scriptures speaks of his activities as a Zealot.

The Gospel text chosen for the feast of these Saints is The naming of the twelve apostles. By placing the appointment of the Twelve immediately after the controversies with the Pharisees—and the dramatic distinction between old and new that these controversies exposed—Luke presents the appointment of the Twelve as the constitution of a new nucleus for the people of God, perhaps in deliberate succession to the twelve tribes of Israel. The conflicts between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees have already shown that they represent the old and that, therefore, they are no more fit for leadership in the kingdom than old wineskins are fit for new wine. The events at this juncture of the Gospel foreshadow the opposition that will lead to Jesus’ death and the witness of the apostles in Acts.
Luke again signals the introduction of a new scene by means of “Now it came to pass” and a temporal phrase: “Now during those days.” The significance of the coming scene is indicated both by its setting on a mountain and the report that Jesus spent the night in prayer. The only other time Jesus goes up on a mountain to pray in Luke is the occasion of the transfiguration (9:28), just prior to the start of his journey to Jerusalem. Prayer is a regular feature of Luke’s account of the ministry of Jesus and the growth of the church, and references to prayer often occur in connection with significant turning points in this history (Luke 3:21, the coming of the Spirit upon Jesus; 9:18, Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah; 9:28, the transfiguration; 11:1, the Lord’s prayer; and 22:40-46, Gethsemane). It is not surprising; therefore, that Luke adds a reference to prayer at this point.
In one verse, Luke refers to “the disciples,” “the Twelve,” and “apostles,” but the terms are not synonymous and do not refer to the same groups. In Luke’s account, in contrast to Mark and Matthew, the Twelve are distinct from the larger group of disciples: “He called his disciples and chose twelve of them.” In the next scene Jesus is still surrounded by “a great crowd of his disciples” (6:17). Luke states that Jesus named the twelve “apostles,” thereby characterizing their role as witnesses. The references to apostles in the early church in Acts and in the rest of the New Testament make it clear that many who were not among the Twelve were still called apostles.
The points being made by this text of the naming of the Twelve in Luke may be summarized as under:
1.   God calls those whom God wants. The individual’s merit or talent is not a necessary condition for the call. God graces those who are called and equips them for Mission. The initiative is always with God, but the response is from the human.
2.   Like God called Israel and then Jesus called the Twelve to continue the Mission that was given to Israel to be that Contrast Community, so God continues to call even today. Consequently, blessing and mission are vital aspects of God’s purpose for the community of faith, whether it be Israel or the church.

3.   Particularly in Luke, the call to follow Jesus is a call to imitate him, and in Acts we see the disciples continuing to do what Jesus began during his ministry. Jesus blessed the poor and the outcast; he ate with the excluded and defended them against the religious authorities. Jesus showed compassion on the weak, the sick, and the small, and in these matters the disciples had a particularly hard time in following Jesus’ example. Nevertheless, if discipleship and lordship are directly related, then the Gospel’s portrayal of Jesus is vital for the church. We can follow Jesus in the Lukan sense only when we see clearly who he is. Ultimately, of course, the Gospel challenges each reader to respond to the call to discipleship and join the Twelve as followers of Jesus.

Thursday 26 October 2017

Audio reflections of Friday, October 27, 2017

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Friday, October 27, 2017 - Where in the scale of “attention to detail” does your devotion to the teachings of the Lord rank?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 7:18-25; Lk 12:54-59

The warnings about the coming judgement continue in the Gospel reading of today. The text contains two clusters of sayings addressed to the crowds. They are charged with hypocrisy in the first of the two clusters for not being as observant of the signs of the coming judgement as they are of the weather. If they pay attention to the slightest sign of change in the weather, then they must also pay attention to the present time, which is the time of Jesus and his works and words.

In the second they are warned to make every effort to settle accounts so that they may be blameless when they are brought to court.

While we must keep in touch with what is happening around us so that our responses to different situations can be adequate, it is also important to keep in touch with what is happening in us. This means that while we need to take good care of our physical and material well being, we must not do it at the cost of our spiritual well being.

Compromise is often better than confrontation. When it is not a matter of one’s principles or when one is not called to do something against one’s conscience then it is better to compromise when some conflict arises. This approach saves energy, time and money.

Wednesday 25 October 2017

Audio Reflections of Thursday, October 26, 2017

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Thursday, October 26, 2017 - Will you do good today even in the face of opposition? How?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 6:19-23; Lk 12:49-53

The verses of today contain three pronouncements regarding the nature of Jesus’ mission. The first is that he has come to cast fire on the earth. Fire is used as an image of God’s judgement, but ironically when it comes on the disciples at Pentecost (Acts, 2:3), it is the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, the crisis of judgement is never far away.

The second is about his own baptism, which may be an allusion to his death or to the conflict and distress in which he would be immersed. This governs his whole life. Until he completes his mission, he will not be satisfied.

The third is about the division that his mission will cause. Although the kingdom of God is characterised by reconciliation and peace, the announcement of that kingdom is always divisive because it requires decision and commitment. Though this announcement will indeed cause stress and division, Jesus will not shy away from it because it is the Mission given to him by his Father. Anyone who commits him/herself to Jesus must also then be prepared for the opposition that they will face.

The reason why the announcement of the kingdom brings division is because it calls for a radical change of heart and mind. It overturns our value system and calls us to a life that is challenging and if lived fully also challenges others. It calls for decision and commitment at every moment.

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Audio reflections of Wednesday, October 25, 2017

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017 - Are you good because of fear of punishment or hope of reward, or are you good because it is good to be good?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 6:12-18; Lk 12:39-48

The text of today is the one immediately after Jesus has begun to exhort his disciples’ to watchfulness (12:35-38). Based on instructions given in earlier contexts, however, readiness here means trust in God as a heavenly Father, putting away all hypocrisy, handling one’s material possessions faithfully, obeying the ethic of the kingdom, and making life a matter of constant prayer. 

Peter’s question regarding whether this “parable” was for the disciples alone or for everyone, does not receive a direct answer from Jesus. However, in his response to the question, Jesus responds with another “parable”, which is about the faithful and unfaithful servant/slave. While there will be a reward for the faithful servant, there will be punishment for the unfaithful servant. God will seek much from those to whom he has given much, because everything has been given in trust.

Each of us has a specific role to play in the world, which is confirmed by the fact that we are unique and that there is not one else exactly like us anywhere. Since this is the case, we have to be faithful to that to which we are called. If we do not do what we have to do, no one else will do it and it will remain undone. 

Besides this it will also mean that we have been negligent in our duty and not appreciated enough the uniqueness of our creation.

Monday 23 October 2017

Audio reflections of Tuesday, October 24, 2017

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - Do you live one moment of one day at a time or are you living only in the future?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 5:12,15,17-21; Lk 12:35-38

The sayings in these verses are a call to watchfulness and readiness. The call to be dressed for action would mean literally to draw up the longer outer garment and tuck it into the sash around one’s waist so as to be prepared for strenuous activity. If the servants/disciples are so ready, they will be able to be prompt in responding to the master’s knock, and will be blessed. This blessing will take the form of a reversal of roles. The master will become servant/slave. 

The time of the coming of the master is not known and he may come at any time, but if the servant/disciple is always ready, he/she will be blessed.

It is not difficult for us as Christians to relate to this reversal of roles, simply because our God in Jesus has already become slave. It is now left to us as servants to be ready at all times.

Sunday 22 October 2017

Audio Reflections of Monday, October 23, 2017

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Monday, October 23, 2017 - Do you possess things, or do things possess you? If God were to call you to himself at this moment would you be ready to go?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 4:20-25; Lk 12:13-21

The text begins with someone in the crowd asking Jesus to serve as judge in the division of an inheritance. While Jesus will not accept this role, he points the man and the crowd to a different understanding of the meaning of wealth and life. 

This different understanding is explicated through a parable, which is found exclusively in Luke. It is about a rich man who had more than he required and soon became possessed by his riches. This possession leads him to focus on making provision to store his great wealth so that he can use it exclusively for himself in future. It is self-centeredness at its worst. 
The only ones in the parable are the rich man and his wealth. In the midst of all his planning and calculations, God speaks to him addressing him as “fool”. There is a sharp contrast between the rich man’s planning for “many years” and the “this very night” of God. It is clear that first of all when God calls, he will have to go and second that when he goes he can take nothing of what he has stored with him. There is the very real danger of forgetting God if one allows oneself to be possessed by one’s riches.

The manner in which some of us accumulate things seems to indicate on the one hand that we think we are going to live forever and on the other hand that even if we have to die that we can take all of which we have accumulated. 

The parable of today calls us to realise first that we can be called at any time and hence must live in such a manner that we will have no regrets no matter when that might be and second that whenever we are called we can take nothing of what we have gathered together but will have to leave it all behind. Thus while planning for the future may be necessary, obsession with the future is uncalled for.

Saturday 21 October 2017

Audio reflections of Sunday, October 22, 2017

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Sunday, October 22, 2017 - God and Caesar

To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 45:1, 4-6; 1 Thes 1:1-5b; Mt 22:15-21

There are times when we wish that certain incidents narrated by the evangelists, in which Jesus speaks, would have been omitted. The Gospel text of today is one such incident. This is because, if taken out of context, the saying of Jesus to the Pharisees and Herodians “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s”, can be used to justify the clear division that some are wont to make between the sacred and the secular and to divide these into two autonomous realms. Others may interpret the saying as a call to unswerving loyalty and obedience to “secular” authority.

The first reading, however, makes clear that loyalty and obedience are always to the Lord though it may seem, at first glance, that it is a human being who is responsible for the salvation of people. Thus, though it was through the Persian king Cyrus that the Jews in Babylon were given their freedom, he was but an instrument in the hands of the Lord. It was God who guided him to disarm other kings and to open the gates of freedom by “grasping his hand”. The whole world must be made to see that it was the Lord and the Lord alone who brought liberation.

This is why, in his response to the Pharisees, Jesus goes beyond the question asked by the Pharisees and adds that what is God’s must be given to God. This does not mean a separation of religion and politics, but rather that the kingdom of God embraces every aspect of human life. Ultimate loyalty is always to God and the kingdom rather than to narrow and parochial political interests.

The question of the Pharisees is not a general question. That they intended to trap him through his answer is clear when one realizes that the tax referred to was the “census”. This was the Roman head-tax which had been instituted when Judea became a Roman Province. Payment of the tax was a burning issue and the tax could be paid only in Roman coinage. A “Yes” answer on the part of Jesus would alienate the nationalists who were against paying the tax. A “No” answer would probably lead to the arrest of Jesus by the Romans. Ironically the Pharisees, who considered the image and inscription on the coin idolatrous, have a coin and that too in the sacred precincts of the Temple. In principle, that Pharisees resented and rejected the payment of the tax but would not go so far as to physically oppose it. Though Jesus’ answer is an indirect “Yes” .he makes clear by the addition “and to God the things that are God’s” that God always has first place. While material things may be given to the Caesars of this world, the human person belongs only to God. If one rendered to the state its restricted due, all the more was one to render to God his unrestricted due, namely, the totality of one’s being and substance, one’s whole existence, was to be rendered to God. Loyalty to Caesar must always be set in the larger context and thus be relativized by the full submission of the self to God. The bottom line for the disciple of Jesus is to “render to God the things that are God’s” Since the human person bears the image of God he/she cannot be given to Caesar, but only to God.

The Psalmist reiterates this theme in his invitation to all peoples to give glory and honour only to God, since he alone is God. He is the one who made the heavens and is king of all peoples. The Lord alone must be worshipped and no one else. The worship offered to the Lord is one offered in holiness. His governance is a governance of equity.

When we are aware that we are made in God’s image and that everyone we encounter is made in God’s image we may feel less inclined to separate ourselves from each other. Yet it is equally important that we retain our identity as children of God whether we are functioning as members of our household, our workplace, our neighbourhood, or our city or nation.

As committed Christians we are also obliged to look into the faces of our neighbours and see God, especially when we are tempted to see those neighbours as aliens. The Holy Spirit can work with us and through us when we do not separate ourselves from that image, as he did in the life of Paul and the Christians of Thessalonica. We then render to God our very selves in obedience and service, which will in time touch all we have and own.

Friday 20 October 2017

Audio Reflections of Saturday, October 20, 2017

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Saturday, October 21, 2017 - Will you depend on God today? How will you show this dependence?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 4:13,16-18; Lk 12:8-12

The sin against the Holy Spirit that Jesus speaks about in the Gospel reading of today does not refer to a particular sin or action. It is not an impulsive, momentary rejection of Jesus, such as Peter’s denial of Jesus in the courtyard, but a persistent, obdurate rejection of God’s saving grace through the work of the Holy Spirit. It is, in other words dependence only on self and not on God.

Today the sin against the Holy Spirit is to no longer believe that the Holy Spirit can transform me. It is to give up before one can begin. It is to give in to despair and to lose hope. It is not to make a resolution for fear of breaking that resolution. It is not to trust, not to hope and not to believe.

Thursday 19 October 2017

Audio reflections of Friday, October 20, 2017

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Friday, October 20, 2017 - Are you still afraid of a God who is only Love? What will you do about your fear today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 4:1-8; Lk 12:1-7

The text of today begins immediately after Jesus has spoken the woes against the Pharisees and scribes. Though there is a large crowd, which has gathered, Jesus speaks first to his disciples cautioning them against the yeast of the Pharisees.

The yeast of the Pharisees is identified as hypocrisy only in the Gospel of Luke. To be a hypocrite (Greek hupokrisis) originally meant to wear a mask or to play a role. The point that is being made is that at the judgment, everyone’s true character will be revealed. There will be no masks, and everyone will be seen as he or she is. Even the sparrow which is so insignificant when compared to human beings is looked after by God therefore, there is no need to be afraid, because a God who is and will always remain, Father, will judge us.

Though Jesus constantly revealed God as unconditional love, many of us still relate to him from fear. This is the reason why we wear masks before him and consequently before others. We are afraid to be ourselves. If we begin to realise that our God is a God who primarily wants to save, we can improve our relationship with him and with others.

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Audio reflections of Thursday, October 19, 2017

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Thursday, October 19, 2017 - Have you through your words or actions been a stumbling block in the way of others? What will you do about it today?

To rad the texts click on the texts: Rom 3:21-30; Lk 11:47-54

The text contains the second (11:47–51) and third (11:52) woe to the lawyers. The second woe deals with the attitude of the lawyers to the prophets whom their ancestors killed and the lawyers approve of that killing by building monuments to the same prophets. In this way they are accomplices to the murders.

The final woe condemns the lawyers because though they possessed knowledge, they did not use it as it was meant to be used, nor did they allow others to use it. They acted as stumbling blocks in others way. 

The woes that Jesus pronounces do not go down too well with the Pharisees, who began to ask many questions in order to catch Jesus on the wrong foot.

We too can become stumbling blocks in other’s way to God by the things that we say and the things that we do. When we point out the negatives in others and in the process forget all the positive qualities they possess we cause them to stumble. 

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Audio Reflections of Wednesday, October 18, 2017 the feast of St. Luke

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - St. Luke - Evangelist - Luke wrote a Gospel to share his experiences of Jesus. What will you do to share your experiences of Jesus?

To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Tim 4:10-17; Lk 10:1-9

St. Luke is regarded as the patron of physicians and surgeons. He wrote one of the major portions of the New Testament, a two-volume work comprising the third Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. In the two books he shows the parallel between the life of Christ and that of the Church. He is the only Gentile Christian among the Gospel writers. Tradition holds him to be a native of Antioch, and Paul calls him "our beloved physician" (Col 4:14). His Gospel was probably written between C.E. 70 and 85.

Luke appears in Acts during Paul’s second journey, remains at Philippi for several years until Paul returns from his third journey, accompanies Paul to Jerusalem and remains near him when he is imprisoned in Caesarea. During these two years, Luke had time to seek information and interview persons who had known Jesus. He accompanied Paul on the dangerous journey to Rome where he was a faithful companion. "Only Luke is with me," Paul writes (2 Tim 4:11).

The Gospel text chosen for the feast is the Mission Discourse to the seventy (seventy-two). These number seventy/seventy-two seems to have their origin the list of nations in Gen 10, where the Hebrew text lists seventy nations and the Septuagint lists seventy-two. It may also recall Moses’ appointment of seventy elders to help him (Exod 24:1; Num 11:16, 24). The more likely interpretation, however, is that the number is related to the biblical number of the nations (Gen 10), so that the commissioning of the seventy/seventy-two foreshadows the mission of the church to the nations (Lk 24:47). In these verses Jesus instructs his disciples how they are to do Mission and conduct themselves in Mission. The key to Mission is detachment. The disciples are to be detached from things, persons and place. They are also to be detached from the outcome of Mission. They must constantly keep in mind that the Mission is the Lord’s and not theirs.

Monday 16 October 2017

Audio reflections of Tuesday, October 17, 2017

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017 - Will your external actions show that your inner self is pure? How?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 1:16-25; Lk 11:37-41

The section beginning in Lk 11:37 and ending in 11:54 is set in the context of a meal. The text of today begins with the notice that a Pharisee invited Jesus for a meal. Jesus sits/reclines at table without washing his hands, and this amazes his host. The Pharisees observed strict rules regarding ritual cleanliness, and generally ate only with those who also maintained ritual purity. By not washing, Jesus scandalizes his host. This amazement allows Jesus to give all those present a lesson on internal and external cleanness.

Jesus’ response to his host who is surprised because Jesus did not first wash, is that God is not concerned with the observance of rituals of purity, but with the purity of the heart. A person’s actions should reflect his or her inner purity.

The best way to remove greed and wickedness from one’s heart is to be generous with what one has. The practice of constant giving, leads one to develop an attitude of detachment. 

Sunday 15 October 2017

Audio reflections of Monday, October 16, 2017

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Monday, October 16, 2017 - What sign are you seeking from the Lord? Will you believe in His love even without this sign?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 1:1-7; Lk 11:29-32

Jesus’ debate with the crowd following the exorcism of the demon that made a man mute continues. 

The response of Jesus is not to give in to the demand of some for a sign. While a similar saying is also found in Matthew (12:38-42) which indicates that both Matthew and Luke have taken it from the “Q” source {Mark also has the episode of the demand for a sign and Jesus’ response (Mk 8:11-12), but it is much shorter and does not have the details found in both Matthew and Luke}. 

However, Luke has so formulated the response of Jesus, that it forms an inclusion. It begins and ends with Jonah. Through this, Luke has associated Jonah’s preaching with Solomon’s wisdom. Since Luke makes this association, for him the sign of Jonah was not Jonah’s being in the belly of the whale for three days and three nights (Mt 12:40), but the call to repentance that Jonah preached. As the people of Nineveh repented after the call by Jonah, so Jesus calls the crowd to repentance after his proclamation. He refuses to give the crowds any other sign, because any demand for a sign means that they have not understood what Jesus is about, and what his mission is. Jesus also knows that for those who believe, no sign is necessary, whereas for those who do not, no sign is sufficient.

The call to repentance is a call to look at everything in a new light. The old is past, the new has come with the coming of Jesus. If one persists in the old way of looking which is a way of finding God only in miraculous and spectacular events, one will miss him. Now he can be found in all things and all things can be found in him.

Saturday 14 October 2017

Audio reflections of Sunday, October 15, 2017

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Sunday, October 15, 2017 - Are you wearing the wedding garment?

To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 25:6-10; Phil 4:12-14.19-20;  Mt 22:1-14

The last four verses of today’s Gospel have caused much consternation when heard or read and this is possible one reason why the Church allows these verses to be omitted. 

It seems however, that they are part of the original parable even if seen as an expansion and Matthew’s own composition, but if read bring out the whole meaning of the parable. While at first glance it seems quite unreasonable to expect someone who has been invited from the streets to have a wedding garment, it must also be noted that all others who have also been invited from the streets except this one are wearing theirs. This is an indication that the others accepted the invitation and after doing so did something about it. On the other hand, the one who did not have the wedding garment was there in body but not in spirit. He was at the feast but was not partaking of it. He was present yet absent. He sought the benefits of the feast without the required response to the invitation. Thus he can make no response or claim ignorance when he is questioned by the king. He knows what the appropriate garb is in order to remain; and he knows well that he is not wearing it. The notion of election here works together with, rather than against, the reality of human responsibility.

This is why it is made quite clear that there is no coercion or force on the part of the king, but the issuance of an invitation. Those invited are free to respond in any way they want, but must be prepared to face the consequences of this response. Some of the original invitees make light of the invitation and pretend as if they have not heard it. They ignore the messengers and go off to do their own thing. These are engaged not in sin but in events of life which have taken hold of them to such an extent that they cannot even understand the privilege that they are receiving in being invited. Still others behave irrationally by attacking and killing the messengers who bring the invitation.

Since the invitation is spurned by the original invitees, the king is forced to send new invites to those who will accept them. These are the ones who are considered the scum of society, who are found on the streets or byroads. While these fill the banquet hall and accept the invitation willingly, it is also necessary for them to show in action this acceptance which they have made in freedom. This they do by wearing the required wedding garments which in this context can be interpreted as being present in both body and mind at the wedding feast. Matthew’s Gospel interprets this as doing deeds of righteousness. The consequence of not having a wedding garment or not showing in action that one has accepted the invitation is banishment from the feast. This is not the punishment given by the king but one which the invited guest has brought on him or herself.

An invitation to a feast is also issued in the first reading from Isaiah.  Those who will heed the call are invited to the mountain of the Lord, Zion. Here is the choicest of food and drink which is served in abundance. It is an invitation to feast and rejoice and an assurance that all tears will be wiped away and the people who come will be accepted. All reproach will be removed and God will reveal himself as a God who saves. This salvation will be shown in the most tangible of ways in that death itself will be destroyed.

Paul in the second reading of today tells of how because he has accepted the invitation in both words and deeds, he is completely sated. He does not hunger or thirst for anything but has been fulfilled in every single aspect of his life. The promise of Isaiah finds its meaning in the manner in which Paul lives his life. He lacks nothing. He has everything. In every single situation of life he is content.

The challenge of the readings to each of us who are also called is to also be lived out as those who are chosen. This is not a once for all response, but a constant one since the invitation is constant. In order to be regarded as chosen, the ones called must manifest through their lives in deeds of love and service that the invitation to participate in the feast has been accepted. 

Thus while the good news is of an open invitation to everyone who is willing to listen leaving no one out, the fact remains that the response has to be shown through the actions of ones life. Not all who are invited are receptive to the invitation of the Lord and thus not all will bring forth the deeds of righteousness expected of the invitees. Those invited are expected to wear the wedding garment.