Thursday 30 November 2017

Audio Reflections of Friday, December 1, 2017

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Friday, December 1, 2017 - Will you live today as if it were your last day on earth?

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

The parable of the fig tree found in these verses is the last parable that Jesus tells in the Gospel of Luke. 

This parable is found also in Mark 13:28-29 and Matthew 24:32-33, but whereas Mark and Matthew speak only of the fig tree, Luke speaks of “the fig tree and all the trees” (21:29). When people can see for themselves that these trees have come out in leaf they know for themselves that summer is near, so when they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud (21:27) they will know that the kingdom is near. 

Since Luke probably thought that the end would come soon, he has added the last two sayings about what will not pass away until “these things” have taken place. They are “this generation” and the “words” of Jesus. These pronouncements must serve as a reminder of the assurance of redemption for the believer.

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

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Audio Reflections for Thursday, November 30, 2017 the feast of St. Andrew

To hear the Audio Reflections for Thursday, November 30, 2017 the feast of St. Andrew click HERE

Thursday, November 30, 2017 - St. Andrew, Apostle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 28 November 2017

Audio reflections of Wednesday, November 29, 2017

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017 - If someone witnessed your actions all through today, would they conclude that you are a disciple of Jesus?

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 27 November 2017

Audio Reflections of Tuesday, November 28, 2017

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - Are you so concerned about the next life that you are not living fully this life?

To read the texts click on the texts: Dan 2:31-35; Lk 21:5-11

Luke follows Mark 13:1-8 quite closely in these verses, though he also makes some changes. While in Mark 13:1 Jesus comes out of the Temple and predicts its destruction when his disciples point to it magnificence, in Luke, Jesus is within the Temple when he predicts its destruction when some (not the disciples) speak of its magnificence (21:5-6). 

This is why unlike in Mark 13:3 he is not on the Mount of Olives opposite the Temple, but within its precincts when he is asked about when this will take place (21:7). Mark 13:3 has Peter, James, John and Andrew who ask this question; Luke has the people pose the question. Jesus responds by stating not the hour when this will take place, but by issuing a set of three warnings. 

The first warning is not to allow oneself to be led astray and be led into believing that the ones’ who come in his name are the Messiah. The meaning of this warning is broad and encompasses being led to sin, being taught false teachings, and being deceived regarding apocalyptic events.

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

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

In times of great danger, stress, and hardship it is natural for persons and communities of faith to turn to God and to the future for hope, for the promise of deliverance. However, idle preoccupation and speculation of what will happen at the end times is not called for. It is a distortion of the Gospel message of Jesus who asks that we concern ourselves not with gossip and guesswork, but in how we must do what we have to do in the present.  

Sunday 26 November 2017

Audio Reflections of Monday, November 27, 2017

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Audio reflections of Sunday, November 26, 2017 the feast of Christ the Universal King

To hear the Audio reflections of Sunday, November 26, 2017 the feast of Christ the Universal King click HERE

Monday, November 27, 2017 - Will you forego one meal this week and give what you save to someone less fortunate than you?

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

Jesus’ comment on the widow’s offering follows immediately after his condemnation of the scribes, who “devour widow’s houses”. 

Luke omits most of Mark’s introduction to the widow’s offering (see Mark 12:41). In the new scene, which Luke brings about by his comment that “He (Jesus) looked up and saw”, Luke introduces two sets of characters: the rich contributors and a poor widow. The action of both is the same. However, the size or amount of the gifts of the rich contributors is not mentioned, but it is explicitly stated that the widow put in two lepta, the smallest copper coins then in use. It would have taken 128 lepta to make one denarius, which was a day’s wage. Two lepta would therefore have been worthless. In a twist reminiscent of many of Jesus’ parables, Jesus states that the widow who put in what seems like a worthless amount has put in more than any of the rich contributors. 

The following statement clarifies how this could be. They contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty. They contributed gifts she contributed herself.

Saturday 25 November 2017

Sunday, November 26, 2017 - Jesus Christ the Universal King - What does our King demand?

To read the texts click on the texts: Ezek 34:11-12,15-17; 1 Cor 15:20-26, 28; Mt 25:31-46

Quas Primas (Latin for “In the first”) was an encyclical of Pope Pius XI promulgated on December 11, 1925. It introduced the Feast of Christ the King. World War I (1914-1918) had ended, and had not brought real peace, but more hatred, anger and violence. Coming as it did after the end of the War, the encyclical sought to give the world, as a whole, a new idea of kingship by asking it to look at Christ the Universal King, and how he lived out his kingship. Christ is a King who totally identifies with his subjects, particularly the marginalized – the poorest of the poor.

This identification is made explicit not only in the Gospel text for the feast but also in the first reading of today.

In the first reading, Ezekiel talks about God as the shepherd of Israel. The kings of Israel were regarded as God’s visible representatives and were given the divine title of shepherd. But many of them did not live up to this responsibility. Their leadership style differed from that of God’s. God’s style was that of giving priority of attention to the needs of the disadvantaged, especially their need for justice and empowerment. First God raised up prophets, like Ezekiel, to warn the kings. When they failed to listen, God decided to get rid of the ungodly kings and their beneficiaries, and promised that he would shepherd the flock himself. The defeat of Israel by her enemies, in which the big people, the royalty and the nobility, were banished into exile, was seen as God’s way of getting rid of the bad leadership.

The Gospel text which continues the theme of the first reading is not so much about the kingship of Jesus. Rather, it is a passage about the “kingdom” of God, about all those who kin to God, and, therefore, who are kin to each other. We are all kin to one another. We are all indeed one. The deepest expression of this truth, on this side of life, is a spirituality  in which there is no split between our devotion and our deed; no split between mystery and commandment,; no split between piety and ethics and no split between being and doing. Like mystery and commandment, interwoven as they are, Jesus is one with the hungry and the thirsty, is one with the stranger and the prisoner, and is one with the naked and the sick. To care for these is to care for Jesus. To care for them is to reach back into the very essence of life and to touch the God who is in and with the hungry, the thirsty…” And then the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these, who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

The text, thus, is not so much God’s condemnation of some people, as it is about the universal vision of the love of God, about the very scope of God’s love in Jesus for the whole world. Jesus remains the model of unconditional and eternal love. This was shown in the most powerful of ways by Jesus himself, when in total obedience to the Father, he dared to spread his arms on the Cross in total surrender of self. Therefore, God raised him.

This understanding is important to avoid any kind of misinterpretation that might arise due to a person thinking that it is his/her deeds that earn merit and reward. The righteous who reached out to the least of their brothers and sisters, did so because they understood it was necessity to help, love, serve, visit and feed. They dared to listen to the promptings of the Spirit and responded to these promptings. They did not do what they did for reward. They did not earn the kingdom but inherited it. Inheritance is determined by the giver not the receiver. The kingdom remains a free gift of God.

Though the unrighteous also addresses Jesus as Lord, it is not enough. Their address remains at the theoretical level and is not translated into action. They did not act because they did not believe that God could hide himself in the poorest of the poor. They did not realize that our God had been made visible in Jesus, who taught all who were willing to listen, that God was primarily a God of the poor, and that though he was king, he came only to serve.

The sufferings borne by the last of our brothers and sisters continue to summon and challenge us as Church today. They continue to ask us to dare to be credible and authentic witnesses of the Gospel. However, what we need is not merely more action, more doing for the sake of doing. No! What our King demands is a universal unity of love and togetherness. It is a togetherness that transcends all of our frontiers, the frontiers of our mind and of our heart, the frontiers of our creeds and doctrines – all of those externals that keep us apart, that keep us apart that keep us separated and split.

The challenge for us today is to forget our own needs and reach out in love to make someone else, who may be in greater need, happy. For whatever we do to the least needy children of God, these brothers and sisters of Jesus, we do to him.

Friday 24 November 2017

Audio Reflections of Saturday, November 25, 2017

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Saturday, November 25, 2017 - If you were told that your life after death would be determined by the life you live now, what changes would you make in this life?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Macc 6:1-13; Lk 20:27-40

The Sadducees were a group of Jews who did not believe in the resurrection. The question they ask Jesus assumes the practice of levirate marriage, where according to Deut 25:5, the brother of a deceased man was to take his brother’s widow as his wife. The Sadducees extend the situation to the point of ridicule by speaking of seven brothers who marry the same woman. The question is whose wife she would be in the resurrection. 

While in Mark, Jesus first rebukes the Sadducees, in Luke he begins to teach them immediately. Jesus’ response is that life in the resurrection will not simply be a continuation of the life, as we know it now. In the second part of his response, Jesus calls the attention of the Sadducees to the familiar story of the burning bush, in which the point is that God is not God of the dead but of the living.

Jesus’ words can thus be approached from a positive side. The God who created human life, including the institution of marriage, has also provided for life after death for those who have cultivated the capacity to respond to God’s love. The biblical teaching is that life comes from God. There is nothing in or of the human being that is naturally or inherently immortal. If there is life beyond death, it is God’s gift to those who have accepted God’s love and entered into relationship with God in this life: They “are children of God, being children of the resurrection”

Thursday 23 November 2017

Audio Reflections of Friday, November 24, 2017

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Friday, November 24, 2017 - If the Lord were to come to the Temple of your heart, would he find selling and buying or would he find himself there?

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Audio Reflections of Thursday, November 23, 2017

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Thursday, November 23, 2017 - What keeps you from recognising the Messiah?

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

The text of today dwells on the theme of Jesus’ rejection by the religious elders. The city Jerusalem, whose name contains the word peace, does not recognise the King of Peace, Jesus Christ. Jesus’ tears for Jerusalem are because she did not recognise that if she accepted him as Messiah, true peace would indeed reign. The numerous attempts of Jesus to win over the people were met with stiff resistance. They had closed their minds and hearts to anything that he had to say because it did not fit in with what they had already set their minds to believe.

There are times in our lives when we 'conveniently' believe what suits us and reject many other truths. In doing so we are like the people of the city of Jerusalem who have closed ourselves to the revelation that God continually makes. We must develop the ability to find God in all things and all things in God.

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Audio Reflections of Wednesday, November 22, 2017

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017 - How will I show through my life that I have opted for Jesus the king?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Macc 7:1, 20-31; Lk 19:11-28

The parable in the text of today is from the common source of Matthew and Luke known as “Q”. However, Matthew (Mt 25,14-30) presents it differently. While in Matthew there are three servants who are given five talents (a talent was equivalent to 20 years wages for a common labourer), two and one talent respectively, in Luke there are ten servants who are given one mina each (a mina was about three months wages for a common labourer). The amounts in Luke are much smaller than in Matthew. 

Though there are ten servants, we are told only about three. The first of the three has earned ten minas with the one he was given, the second has earned five and so these are given charge of ten and five cities respectively. The third returns the mina to the king because he was afraid of him and knew him to be a harsh man. After berating the man for not putting the mina into the bank, which would have earned interest, the king commands that his mina be given to the one who already has ten.

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

Monday 20 November 2017

Audio Reflections of Tuesday, November 21, 2017

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017 - The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Is Jesus pointing to you as his brother/sister? If yes, Why? If no, why not?

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

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

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

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

Sunday 19 November 2017

Audio Reflections of Monday, November 20, 2017

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Monday, November 20, 2017 - What is it that prevents me from seeing good in others? Do I want to receive back my sight?

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

The text of today is also found in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, but whereas in Matthew there are two blind men and in Mark the name of the blind man is Bartimaeus, in Luke there is one blind man who is not named. However, what is common to all three Gospels is that the blind man/men cries out to Jesus with a messianic title, “Son of David”, and perseveres in his plea despite being told by the people to quiet down. 

Though the question that Jesus asks the blind man seems redundant, it is necessary for Jesus to ask the question to indicate his respect for the freedom of the man. While on the physical level the man is blind, on the spiritual level he has insight because despite his physical blindness, he is able to recognise that Jesus of Nazareth is also the Messiah, which those who have physical sight are not able to do. Jesus attributes the recovery of his sight to his faith.

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

Saturday 18 November 2017

Audio Reflections of Sunday, November 19, 2017

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Sunday, November 19, 2017 - Using our talents for His people

To read the texts click on the texts: Prv 31:10-13,19-20, 30-31; I Thess 5:1-6; Mt 25:14-30

A story is told of an old man who, because he thought he had dedicated his whole life to God, wanted God to help him in his old age. He read the passage in Matthew and Luke where Jesus says that we must ask to receive and began to pray to God that he win the lottery. When the results were declared he found that he had not won and was upset with God. “God”, he said, “I have dedicated my whole life to you and I asked you for a simple favour which, for you, would be so easy to do and yet you have refused me. Why dear Lord, why?” “My son”, God replied, “If you want to win the lottery, at least buy a ticket”. The point is that if one wants to win, then one has to play.

The connection between the second reading and Gospel is clearer today than it usually is and the first reading seems only distantly connected with the Gospel.

The word “talent”, though often understood to mean the gifts and abilities that a person possesses, is here clearly a large sum of money. According to some calculation one talent was equal to 15 years’ wages for a day labourer. The master gives no instructions to the servants about what they are to do with the money. Each servant is left to decide what he must do with what is given to him. All three think that the money belongs to the master and is given to them only in trust. The first two take active responsibility to trade with what is given to them and earn more than they had before. Both are rewarded appropriately and it is in the giving of the reward that we realize that the money given to them initially was actually given to them as their own.

Although the parable alludes to a delay in the master’s return, the attention of the reader is directed not to the surprise of his sudden return but more directly the servants’ conduct during the time he has been away. The parable sets the responsibility of the servants in terms of money but the symbolism points to something obviously more comprehensive.

At first glance it might seem that the guilty servant has acted carefully. He has not lost or squandered the money given to him. He seems to have even acted responsibly by burying the money in the ground so that he could return it safely to his master. So the reaction of the master is surprising. Not only is the money taken back from him, but also he is thrown into the outer darkness. However, the reaction of the master will not be so surprising when we realize first that what was given was not given merely in trust but as the personal property of the concerned servant and second, that to be “good and faithful” is not passive waiting, or even merely obeying rules and regulations or even being obedient to the letter of the law but active responsibility that takes initiative and risk. He didn’t gain but just preserved what was given. Fear had motivated this servant, the fear of failure and losing the talent he had been given. He continued to regard the money as his master’s and not his own, whereas the first and second servants responded actively to the grace given to them freely by the master. They were active, alive and awake.

Paul invites the Thessalonians to a similar attitude, in view of the imminent parousia or coming of the Lord. Since this day will come at any time, the best response is to be ready at all times and all the time. This readiness has to be shown in the actual life that one leads – in one’s actions. Since Jesus has made them children of the light, they must act as such and not as children of darkness who never knew the light.

The worthy wife extolled in the first reading is an example of such living. The qualities mentioned are such as must be assimilated by everyone who hopes to be a child of light or to be regarded as a good and faithful servant. The worthy wife does not sit idle all day, but is active doing what she has to do to ensure that the household runs smoothly. Her concern extends not merely to her household but also to the poor and the needy to whom she reaches out.

If the modern use of talents has any relation to the text, it is at the level of allowing God to work in us and with us and putting our talents, qualities and natural abilities at God’s disposal. God has given each one of us gifts and talents. Some have talents of one kind, others of another kind. Some are blessed with more than one, others have just one. However, the fact is that everyone has at least one.

This means that we have to respond to this gift of God, which is latent in us. We will only be brought to fulfillment, when we utilize it and especially for the good of others. We will not be able to do this if, for any reason, we compare who we are or what we have with who others are and what they have. Each of us is unique and special. We are thus responsible and accountable for the way we use what God has given us. We will be affirmed if it is used well and especially for the good of others, and we will condemn ourselves if we bury it in the ground.

Friday 17 November 2017

Audio reflections of Saturday, November 18, 2017

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Saturday, November 18, 2017 - Do you believe that God will answer your prayer? Do you give in too easily when your prayers are unanswered? What keeps you from persevering in prayer?

To read the texts click on the texts: Wis 18:14-16; 19:6-9; Lk 18:1-8

This is a parable found only in the Gospel of Luke. While some focus on the judge and term it as the Parable of the Unjust Judge, others focus on the widow and so call it the Parable of the Persistent Widow. Luke introduces this parable as a parable on prayer. 

The judge is described as a man “who neither feared God nor had any respect for people” (18:2). It is difficult to imagine how such a man can be worthy of being a judge. The widow is introduced as someone who is going repeatedly to the judge for justice. The text does not state the nature of her complaint, nor does it tell us why the judge refused to listen to her for a while (18:3-4). The judge finally relents and decides to grant her justice, because the woman is constantly bothering him and because he does not want to be worn out by her constant petitions.

If one focuses on the judge, then the point of the parable is that if the judge who was unjust could grant the woman justice, then God who is just and judge over all will surely heed the cries of those who call on him.

If on the other hand the focus is on the widow, then the parable calls for persistence in asking and not giving up or giving in.

The final verse of this section ends with a question from the Lucan Jesus about whether he will find faith on earth when he comes. Since Luke introduces the parable as one, which speaks about persistence and constant asking, he may have felt the need to end with the question of faith.

Prayer can and does “change” the mind of God. 

Thursday 16 November 2017

Audio Reflections of Friday, November 17, 2017

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Friday, November 17, 2017 - How would you fare if the Son of Man were to judge you at this moment?

To read the texts click on the texts: Wis 13:1-9; Lk 17:26-37

This section starts with the examples of the days of Noah and Lot (17:26-29). Just as in the days of Noah and Lot the life of the people at that time proceeded normally and people were going about their daily business until all of a sudden the flood and brimstone and fire respectively destroyed the people, so it will be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. This means that decisive action is absolutely necessary. There will be no turning back. Lot’s wife who turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back (Genesis 19:26) is given as an example of the dangers of looking back. 

When the Son of Man does indeed come, then the choice of those who will be taken and those who will be left will be made. In answer to the disciples’ question, “Where, Lord?” (17:37), Jesus answers with an enigmatic proverb, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather” (17:37). The point of this proverb here seems to be that just as it is sure that vultures will gather where a corpse is found, as surely will the judgement of the Son of Man fall upon on the wicked.

Decisive action does not mean desperate action. It means steady and regular action. If one is at any given moment in time doing what one is supposed to do, it may be regarded as decisive action. A person engaged in such an activity is always ready.

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Audio reflections of Thursday, November 16, 2017

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Thursday, November 16, 2017 - Instead of focussing too much on the after life, will you focus on life here and now?

To read the texts click on the texts: Wis 7:22-8:1; Lk 17:20-25

The first two verses of this section (17:20-21) are exclusive to Luke though Matthew 24:23 and Mark 13:21 contain part of Luke 17:21. In Luke the Pharisees pose the question about the future coming of the kingdom. In his response, Jesus speaks not of the time when the kingdom will come, but about the very nature of the kingdom. Since the pronoun “you” is plural, Jesus’ saying that the kingdom is “among you” is unlikely to mean that the kingdom is within a group of individuals. Rather it seems to mean that the kingdom is in Jesus who is among them at that time.

The next verse (17:22) begins the discourse of the coming of the Son of Man. There will be a long period when the disciples long to see even a glimpse of their deliverance (one of the days of the Son of Man). Though some will point here and others there, the disciples must not be taken in. When the Son of Man does appear he will be visible to all everywhere. However, before he comes, he will have to endure suffering. The Son of Man who comes will be the Son of Man who has suffered and been rejected.

Obsession with the after life does not help us to live fully the life we have here and now. Too many questions about death and what will happen after death result in life passing us by. While as Christians we do believe in the life to come, we are also instructed in many places in the Gospels that the life to come will not be a totally different kind of life, but a life which will continue in a fuller way the present one we have. Our focus therefore ought to be on living this life fully at every moment of every day.

Tuesday 14 November 2017

Audio reflections of Wednesday, November 15, 2017

To hear the Audio reflections of Wednesday, November 15, 2017 click HERE

Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - How often have you thanked God for the wonder of your life? Will you do that today? How?

To read the texts click on the texts: Wis 6:1-11; Lk 17:11-19

The miracle of the healing of ten lepers is found only in the Gospel of Luke. The mention of Samaria at the beginning of this miracle story prepares us for the Samaritan who gave thanks at the end. 

Lepers were not allowed to live within the city limits and had to live outside (Numbers 5:2-3). They also had to cry out that they were unclean when anyone approached them (Leviticus 13:45-46). This is why Luke has the lepers in this story stand at a distance (17:12) and call out in unison addressing Jesus as Master, which only disciples do in the Gospel of Luke. Their cry for mercy would ordinarily have been a cry for alms, but in this case, it seems to be for much more. 

When Jesus sees them, he issues a command that they go and show themselves to the priests and as they obeyed this command, they were made clean. It is interesting to note that the healing here takes place after they obey Jesus’ command. One of the ten on realising that he was healed began to praise God and his action of falling prostrate at Jesus’ feet is an indication that he recognised God as acting in and through Jesus. Though ten were made clean, only one of them and that too a Samaritan who was despised by the Jews and regarded as an outcast and foreigner has returned to thank God. The faith of the man here is shown not before but after his healing. This results in the man receiving not just healing, but salvation.

Gratitude does not come naturally to many of us. Before the favour can be done for us, we are willing to do anything for the person who can do us that favour. However, often once the favour has been done, we forget to thank. While the person concerned might not expect any thanks from us, it is our responsibility to acknowledge our gratitude by our thanks.

Monday 13 November 2017

Audio Reflections of Tuesday, November 14, 2017

To hear the Audio Reflections of Tuesday, November 14, 2017 click HERE

Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - Do you constantly expect thanks and praise for all the good that you do? Will you perform one act today without any expectation whatever?

To read the texts click on the texts: Wis 2:23-3:9;  Lk 17:7-10

These verses are exclusive to Luke and contain a parable. In the first part of the parable the disciples are cast in the role of the master through Jesus’ question, “Will any of you who has a servant…” (17:7). No one would expect a master to ask a servant to sit at table and serve him, rather the servant would be expected even after he has come from the field, to get the master’s supper ready and serve the master. Moreover, the servant will not be thanked simply because he has done what was required of him. 

At the end of the parable and in the relationship with God, the disciples are cast in the roles of servants. They must realise that like the servant of the parable they will also have to do all that is required of them and not expect any thanks because they have only done what was expected of them.

Very few of us regard that we have been given the thanks due to us already in the service that we have been allowed to provide. We wait for further thanks and commendations. It is not only spiritual but also prudent and practical to do what we are doing and expect no thanks at all. If it does come we accept it in all humility, whereas if it does not come we are not disappointed.

Sunday 12 November 2017

Audio reflections of Monday, November 13, 2017

To hear the Audio reflections of Monday, November 13, 2017 click HERE

Monday, November 13, 2017 - Do your words and actions build up rather than pull down? Will you speak an enhancing word today? Is there someone whom you think has hurt you and you have not forgiven? Will you have the courage to forgive that person from your heart today? On a scale of 1 to 10 where would you mark you faith? Why? When you pray for rain, do you take an umbrella?

To read the texts click on the texts: Wis 1:1-7; Lk 17:1-6

There are three units in this section. The first concerns being a cause of scandal (17:1-2), the second is on forgiveness (17:3-4) and the third is on faith (17:5-6). This section is addressed to the disciples.

Since we are living in a sinful world, occasions for sin will continue to be present, but humans cause these and the one who is the cause for such an occasion must accept responsibility. In a striking metaphor in 17:2 about a millstone being hung around the neck of the one who causes scandal and he/she being cast into the sea, the Lucan Jesus makes the point that the one who is responsible for causing the scandal will not be able to escape the consequences of his/her action. Since this is a warning addressed to the disciples, the term “little ones” in this context must be interpreted as those who are just beginning to believe and so will need all the help that they can get to enhance their faith. These must not be scandalised.

The next unit concerns forgiveness, but also speaks of rebuking the one who commits sin. This has to with not turning a blind eye to the faults of others but challenging them to rise higher. It is a matter of “carefrontation” rather than confrontation, since it speaks also of forgiveness that must be granted if the offender repents. In order to drive home the point of forgiveness, the nest verse (17,6) is the command of Jesus to forgive repeatedly even seven times in a day.

The final section begins with a plea to Jesus to increase their faith. This is an indication that faith is not static but dynamic and continues to grow. It also means that the Lord can give the grace required for faith to grow. In his response Jesus challenges them to reflect on whether they have faith at all. It is not a matter of little or great faith, but faith per se. If the faith of the disciples was even as small as a grain of mustard seed they could achieve the impossible. 

Saturday 11 November 2017

Audio Reflections of Sunday, November 12, 2017

To hear the Audio Reflections of Sunday, November 12, 2017 click HERE

Sunday, November 12, 2017 - Will the lamp of your life have enough oil to welcome the Lord when he comes?

To read the texts click on the texts: Wis 6:12-16; 1 Thess4:13-18; Mt 25:1-13

The themes of wisdom and preparedness dominate the readings of today. If the first reading is a description of what wisdom is, where she may be found and the consequences of finding her, the Gospel reading of today narrates in practical terms who the wise person is.

Wisdom according to the first reading of today does not hide herself, but continues to make herself available to all who seek her. One who does indeed find her will act prudently and so be free from all kinds of tensions, worries and lack of preparedness. The wise person will be ready at all times and every time.

The parable of the ten bridesmaids narrates graphically the consequences of acting wisely and foolishly. It has no parallel in the Synoptics and is special to the Gospel of Matthew. We are told right at the beginning of the parable that five of the bridesmaids were foolish and five were wise. This is because we cannot tell this just be looking at them. All ten have come to the wedding; all ten have their lamps burning; all ten presumably have on their gowns. The readiness is what distinguishes the wise from the foolish. Five are ready for the delay and five are not. Five have enough oil for the wedding to start whenever the bridegroom arrives; the foolish ones have only enough oil for their own timetable. The point is not so much falling asleep, but readiness at the hour when one is tested. It is thus, not being called that is important but being tested, not the lamp but the oil, not membership in the church but deeds.
For Matthew, “watching” does not mean that one lives in constant fear of missing the time. Instead, “watching” means following the command of Jesus in such constant, complete, and undivided obedience that it is all right to sleep until the time of the Parousia (the second coming of the Lord), because one is always ready and need not change at the last minute. In short, the uncertain time of the parousia becomes completely immaterial for those who always do the will of the Father. Such a person is not concerned about the delay of the bridegroom. Such a person is not worried about the time of the coming. Such a person even though asleep is still ready.

This readiness is possible because of the promise and example of Jesus as narrated by Paul in the second reading of today. We are sure of victory because Jesus has conquered death once for all. For us as believers, salvation is assured and thus our task is to be concerned not with times and seasons but watchfulness and readiness. If we are so ready, the time and season will not matter because of the promise of the Lord.

The texts of toady are therefore calling us to watchful readiness. No one knows the hour when the Lord will decide to come. Delay can be interpreted to mean that the Lord is allowing us the time to get ready and prepare ourselves for his coming, whenever that may be.

It is easy to be good for a day if goodness is seen only as a means to an end. It is easy to be merciful for a day if mercy is seen only as a means to an end. However, if we see goodness and mercy and everything that is positive as an end in itself, then it is possible to be good and merciful and positive always. We are called then to be like the wise ones with our lamps always burning so that we will then be able to welcome the Lord whenever he comes.