Wednesday 28 February 2018

Audio reflections of Thursday, March 1, 2018

To hear the Audio reflections of Thursday, March 1, 2018 click HERE

Thursday, March 1, 2018 - Jer 17:5-10; Lk 16:19-31

Thursday, March 1, 2018 - Jer 17:5-10; Lk 16:19-31

  1. What did the rich man first ask Abraham?

  2. To send Lazarus to his family and warn his brothers
    To ask Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool his tongue.
    To take him away from Hades

  3. Whom did the rich man's brothers have as messengers?

  4. Jacob and the prophets
    Moses and the prophets
    Aaron and the prophets

  5. What does the Lord say about those who do not trust the Lord?

  6. They will be blessed
    They will be prosperous
    They will not see prosperity when it comes

  7. How many brothers did the rich man have?

  8. Five

  9. Where was the beggar carried after he died?

  10. To Abraham's side
    To Hades
    To Paradise

  11. Like what kind of tree will be the one who trusts in the Lord?

  12. Like a tree planted in the desert
    Like a tree planted by the water
    Liek a tree planted by the wayside

  13. Where will the ones who trust in humans and not God live?

  14. In the choicest of places
    In the parched places of the desert
    In a land flowing with milk and honey

  15. Where did the rich man find himself after he died and was buried?

  16. At Abraham's side
    In Hades
    In Heaven

  17. Which is the only Parable of Jesus in which a character in the story is named?

  18. The Prodigal son
    The Rich man and Lazarus
    The Good Samaritan

  19. What is the message of the readings of today?

  20. Faith has to be shown in action
    We can be guilty not only of sins of commission but also of sins of omission
    Concern for others is inherent to the one who believes in Jesus

Thanks for taking the Quiz. I hope it makes the word of God more relevant

Thursday, March 1, 2018 - Can I be accused of sins of lack of concern, inability to assess the reality of situations, closing my eyes and ears to the injustices around me, being caught up in my own small world? Does my reflection on sin include “sins of omission”?

To read the texts click on the texts: Jer17:5-10; Lk 16:19-31

The parable of today has often been titled as the parable of “Dives and Lazarus”. It can be seen to be divided into three parts. If in the first part the focus is on rich man’s (who is not named. The term “dives” in Latin means “rich”) opulence and wealth, in the second part it is on his death and burial. In the third part which is the longest there is for the first time in the story, a dialogue. It is between the rich man and Abraham and is the climax of the story.  

The story begins by describing the rich man and his dress and food. The “purple and fine linen” may signify that he was a high ranking official, since the Romans had set standards regarding who could wear purple and how much purple they could wear. In contrast to the rich man there is a poor man who is named Lazarus. He is the only character in Jesus’ parables to be given a name. The name Lazarus means “God helps”. The fact that he is at the gate of the rich man’s house signifies that though the rich man could see Lazarus, he was not aware of his existence. He is so caught up in his world of material things that this results in his inability to see reality right before him. Lazarus would have been content with the bread which was used to wipe the grease from the hand of the one eating and then thrown under the table. However, even this he did not receive. Instead, dogs fed off his sores.

The death of Lazarus is no surprise. However, the detail that is added is that Lazarus is carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. This detail brings to mind that God indeed comes to Lazarus’ help.  The death of the rich man is described in a short sentence which brings out strikingly the transient nature of all his opulence and wealth.

In the third part, there is dialogue between the rich man and Abraham. Lazarus does not speak at all. He is in the bosom of Abraham. Being “in the bosom” of Abraham may imply that Lazarus was the honoured guest at the eschatological banquet, feasting while the rich man was in torment.   In the request that the rich man makes of Abraham to let Lazarus dip the tip of his finger in water to cool his tongue, he calls Lazarus by name which indicates that he knew who Lazarus was and yet refused to look at him on earth as a person. In his response, Abraham reminds the rich man of his and Lazarus’ past and of the chasm that separated them then, but which had been erected by the rich man, and which still separates them now. It is admirable that even in his torment the rich man can think of others (even if they be members of his own immediate family). He makes a second request of Abraham to send Lazarus as a messenger to warn his brothers. Abraham responds that the brothers have already received enough and more instruction and if they have not heeded that they will not heed another. The rich man tries one final time to convince Abraham to send Lazarus as one who has gone back from the dead. Abraham responds by telling the rich man that for those who believe no proof is necessary and for those who do not no proof is sufficient.

The rich man in the story is so caught with the things of the world and with his own self interests that these prevent him from even becoming aware of the needs of another. A number of questions to which there are no easy answers are raised by this parable and we must keep reflecting on them constantly if we are not to lose touch with reality.

Is my attitude towards those less fortunate than I one of condescension? Or do I regard them as persons like myself?

Is my faith mere “lip service”? What prevents me from “acting” out my faith?

Did the brothers get the message?

How would you like to conclude the story? Place yourself in the position of the rich man’s brothers’ and write down what you would do to ensure that you do not suffer the same fate as the rich man.

Tuesday 27 February 2018

Audio reflections of Wednesday, February 28, 2018

To hear the Audio reflections of Wednesday, February 28, 2018 click HERE

Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - Jer 18:18-20; Mt 20:17-28

February 28, 2018 - Jer 18:18-20; Mt 20:17-28

  1. Who will hand Jesus over to be mocked and flogged and crucified?

  2. The Saducees
    The chief priests and teachers of the law
    The Pharisees

  3. Who will grant the places to the right and left of Jesus?

  4. The Father
    The Spirit

  5. From which Prophet is the first reading of today taken?

  6. Ezekiel

  7. How did the ten respond when they heard about the request of the two brothers

  8. They had compassion on them
    They were joyful
    They were indignant at them

  9. Who are the sons of Zebedee?

  10. Simon and Andrew
    James and John
    James and Joses

  11. To which place was Jesus going when he predicted to his disciples about his death and resurrection

  12. Galilee

  13. Which Passion and Resurrection prediction is the one in the Gospel text of today?

  14. First

  15. How will the enemies of the Prophet attack him?

  16. With swords
    With their tongues
    With clubs

  17. Who comes to Jesus with the request for places on the right and left of Jesus?

  18. James and John
    The mother of the sons of Zebedee
    The father of the sons of Zebedee

  19. What is the message of the readings of today?

  20. We must do the good we do with no expectation of reward
    To speak the truth requires courage
    To follow Jesus means to be ready for any and all crosses

Thanks for taking the Quiz. I hope it makes the word of God more relevant. Send me feedback on Suggestions are always welcome and encouraged

Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - When you are being introduced by a friend to a stranger how would you want your friend to introduce you?

To read the texts click on the texts: Jer 18:18-20; Mt20:17-28

The text begins with what is known as the third and final Passion and Resurrection prediction in Matthew’s Gospel. This is the most detailed of the three and Matthew specifies crucifixion as the manner in which Jesus will be put to death. However, Jesus is not simply a passive victim, his death is in obedience to the will of God and he will let nothing and no one come in the way of this obedience. Even as he speaks of his death, Jesus also predicts his being raised on the third day.

If in Mark, it is the brothers James and John who make of Jesus the request for places of honour (Mk 10:35-37), in Matthew, it is the mother of the sons of Zebedee (Matthew does not name the brothers since he wants to spare them this ignominy) who comes with the request on behalf of her sons. The right hand and left hand symbolize places of honour and authority. In his response, Jesus does not address the mother or even James and John, but all the disciples. In contrast to Mark who mentions both the cup and baptism, Matthew focuses exclusively on the cup of suffering, testing, rejection, judgement and violent death. The metaphor “cup” here seems to refer to the death ordained by God which is willingly accepted by the one who is to go to his death. The disciples’ bravado and willingness to drink the cup is only verbal and not one which they can show in their deeds. Though Jesus is aware of this, he looks beyond their failure and invites them to share his cup. However, even martyrdom does not gain one a special place in the kingdom because not even Jesus will be able to assign such places. These are the exclusive prerogative of God.

The request of the mother of the sons of Zebedee leads to anger on the part of the other ten. This anger indicates that they too like the mother (and the two brothers) had not really understood Jesus’ way of proceeding. Jesus thus has to teach them yet again the meaning of discipleship, authority and service in the kingdom. The king in the kingdom is not a ruler but one who serves, the Lord does not lord it over others but is their slave. By adding “Just as” before the final verse here, Matthew makes Jesus as the model whom the disciples are called to imitate.

The desire to be in charge and dominate others is a very real desire and most of us possess it. Some in large measure others in small, but it is there. We like others to follow our instructions and do what we tell them and feel upset or angry if they do not obey. Too easily we judge people by the titles they have or the positions they occupy in society and this leads to a desire in each of us to want to possess those titles or occupy those positions. We identify ourselves and others too much by these external titles and do not look at other more important areas of their lives and ours. The text of today calls us to review our need for titles and positions of honour and spend ourselves instead in service.

Monday 26 February 2018

To hear the Audio reflections of Tuesday, February 27, 2018 click HERE

Tuesday, February 27, 2018 - Isa 1:10, 16-20; Mt 23:1-12

Tuesday, February 27, 2018 - Isa 1:10, 16-20; Mt 23:1-12

  1. How did the Scribes and Pharisees like to be addressed?

  2. As Lord
    As Rabbi
    As everyone else

  3. In which Gospel alone do we find the parable of the ten virgins?

  4. Mark

  5. Whom does Jesus address in the Gospel text of today?

  6. The crowds
    The crowds and his disciples
    His disciples

  7. Which cities are addressed by Isaiah?

  8. Sodom and Jerusalem
    Sodom and Gamorrah
    Sodom and Sheba

  9. Which group must be defended?

  10. The jews
    The fatherless
    The gentiles

  11. On whose seat do the scribes and Pharisees sit

  12. Moses' seat
    Aaron's seat
    Pilate's seat

  13. Who is the master of the disciples?

  14. God
    The Christ

  15. What is the consequence of refusing to listen to the Lord?

  16. The disobedient will be called sinners
    The disobedient will be devoured by the sword
    The disobedient will be sent to hell

  17. Who will be exalted?

  18. The one who exalts him/herself
    the one who humbles him/herself
    The ones who pray everyday

  19. What is the message of the Gospel text of today?

  20. Our actions must match our words
    We must practice what we preach
    Actions speak louder than words

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018 - Will you let people hear what you do rather than what you say? How?

To read the texts click on the texts: Isa1:10, 16-20; Mt 23:1-12

Jesus here addresses the people and his disciples and speaks of the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees. Scribes were a professional class with formal training. They were schooled in the tradition and its application to current issues. Pharisees were a group within Judaism defined by strictly religious rules, composed mostly of laypersons without formal theological training. Some scribes were also Pharisees, but few Pharisees were scribes.  

Moses’ seat is a metaphorical expression representing the teaching and administrative authority of the synagogue leadership, scribes and Pharisees. Jesus condemns only the practice of the scribes and Pharisees and not their teaching. The Matthean Jesus makes three points about the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees. The first is that “they say but do not do”, which means that there was no consonance between their words and actions. They did not act on their words.  The second is that “they burden while failing to act themselves” which means that they lay law upon law upon the people and make life so much more complicated than it really is, and the third is that “they act for the wrong reasons: to make an impression on others”. This they did by wearing broader phylacteries. “Phylacteries” is the term Matthew uses for the “tephillin”, which were small leather boxes containing portions of the Torah (Exod 13:1-16; Deut 6:4-9; 11:13-32) strapped to the forehead and arm during the recitation of prayers in literal obedience to Deut 6:8. The “tassels” were attached to the prayer shawls, and the most important seats in the synagogue refer to the place of honour at the front facing the congregation, occupied by teachers and respected leaders. The term “Rabbi” was a title of honour. The Scribes and Pharisees wanted to be noticed, commended and honoured more than to pray.

In contrast the disciples of Jesus ought not to go for external titles and especially those which heighten distinction since they were brothers and sisters and there was to be no greater and smaller among them. They were to be one in God who alone is father. Authority and leadership were to be expressed in selfless service.

It is easy to say, but difficult to do, it is easy to preach but difficult to practice. There must be a correlation between our words and our actions. The way to ensure that there is a correlation between the two is to first do and then say, or better to let people hear not what we say but what we do. This doing, if it is to be regarded as a genuine work of love must be done not to earn titles or the approval or commendation but because one is a disciple of Jesus who has shown through his life and actions what true leadership means.

Sunday 25 February 2018

Audio reflections of Monday, February 26, 2018

To hear the Audio reflections of Monday, February 26, 2018 click HERE

Monday, February 26, 2018 - Dan 9:4-10; Lk 6:36-38

Monday, February 26, 2018 - Dan 9:4-10; Lk 6:36-38

  1. Who does Daniel say spoke in the name of the Lord?

  2. The Princes
    The Kings
    The prophets

  3. How must we judge others?

  4. We must not judge
    We must leave the judging to God
    If we judge we must judge positively

  5. What does the name Daniel mean?

  6. God heals
    God is my judge
    God is my refuge

  7. What is the measure that we will receive if we are generous?

  8. Good measure, pressed down shaken together, running over
    The measure we give
    Whatever we desire

  9. What is the consequence of non-condemnation?

  10. We will be forgiven
    We will not be condemned
    We will have kept the law

  11. Why are disciples of Jesus called to be merciful?

  12. Because that is the easy way out
    Because God is merciful
    Because the law demands it

  13. Which three places are mentioned by Daniel?

  14. Judah, Jerusalem and Nazareth
    Judah, Jerusalem and Israel
    Judah, Jerusalem and Galilee

  15. What is the message of the Gospel text of today?

  16. Our God is a merciful God and so we must be merciful
    When we do good, we must do it without any expectation of reward
    We must avoid judging others since that is only God's prerogative

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Monday, February 26, 2018 - How often have you done something for someone else without any expectation whatever? Will you do something like this today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Dan9:4-10; Lk 6:36-38

The injunction to “be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” which begins the text of today adapts the Old Testament command to “be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy” (Lev 19:2), which in the Sermon on the Mount of Matthew has become “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48). Whereas this injunction stands at the conclusion of the six antitheses in Matthew 5, here it concludes the section on love for one’s enemy by placing the challenge to be merciful in a theological context. Just as God’s love for all is indiscriminate, so must the love of the true disciple be. If love is given only in return for love, it is not love at all. To be called love, it must be unconditional.

The next two verses move to the theme of not judging and not condemning. The reason for this is that the one who does not judge and condemn will not be judged or condemned him/herself. Instead, the disciple of Jesus is called to forgive and let go of hurts and resentments as these block the receipt of pardon and forgiveness that is freely available from God. The section ends with a call to a kind of giving which does not count the cost, but which gives generously and freely. The result of such giving will be God’s unbounded generosity.

Mercy, forgiveness and love are in short supply today. Most relationships between people are built on what one can gain from the other and how the relationship will help one. It is rare to see (even in relationships between members of one family) selflessness and generosity. Yet, this is what Jesus calls the disciple to and expects that the disciple will live such a generous life.

Saturday 24 February 2018

Audio reflections of Sunday, February 25, 2018 the Second Sunday in Lent

To hear the Audio reflections of Sunday, February 25, 2018 the Second Sunday in Lent click HERE

Sunday, February 25, 2018 - Gen 22: 1-2, 9,10-13,15-18; Rom 8:31-34; Mk 9:2-10

Sunday, February 25, 2018 -0 Gen 22: 1-2, 9,10-13,15-18; Rom 8:31-34; Mk 9:2-10

  1. What is the order of the two Old Testament figures who appear on the mountain?

  2. Moses with Elijah
    Elijah with Moses
    I am not sure

  3. What did Abraham finally offer instead of his son?

  4. a goat
    A bull
    A ram

  5. How many letters of Paul to the Church in Rome are found in the Bible

  6. One

  7. What was the name of Abraham's son that God asked him to sacrifice?

  8. Isaac

  9. How many booths did Peter want to build?

  10. Four

  11. According to the promise of God how numerous would the descendants of Abraham be?

  12. A million
    As the stars of heaven
    As the sand which is on the seashore

  13. Where did the Lord ask Abraham to go?

  14. Sinai

  15. What did the voice from heaven say?

  16. This is my beloved Son
    This is my beloved Son; listen to him
    This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.

  17. Who were the three disciples that Jesus took with him to the mountain?

  18. Peter and James and Andrew
    Peter and James and John
    Peter and James and Philip

  19. What is the message of the readings of today?

  20. When we are willing to give all to God we get more than we can ever expect back from God
    Jesus is as much Son of God is his Passion as he is in his resurrection
    God's love for us is bountiful and unconditional

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Second Sunday in Lent - February 25, 2018 - Look at the Son

To read the texts click on the texts: Gen 22: 1-2,9,10-13,15-18; Rom 8:31-34; Mk 9:2-10

I still remember that night, eight years ago, when I received a call at 11.45 p.m. I knew immediately that it would be from someone with a very great need or someone in great despair. It was. The father of a young man was calling to tell me that his 23 year old son had just died. He was his only son. The boy was coming home from work when a drunk driver knocked him down and fled the scene. He was taken to hospital but declared dead on arrival. At the funeral Mass the next day, there was not one person in the church who was not moved by tears by the sight of that young man in his coffin. The questions on everyone’s lips were: “How could God…” and “Why”?

I do believe that the answer to our every “How could God…” and “Why” is provided for us in God sending his only son.

The first reading also speaks to us about a father and his only son. Abraham was asked to give up his only son, and this, after being promised that his descendants would be as numerous as the grains of sand on the seashore. How could God, who had made such a promise, expect it to be fulfilled, if Isaac was to be sacrificed? This kind of sacrifice would result in cutting Abraham off from his future. Abraham did not know that God was actually testing him. He heard the command from God as something that he was being called to do. However, he did know that God would provide and find a way. He believed that God could do even what was impossible. This is why his constant response to God was “Here I am”. This willingness and faith of Abraham resulted in God being able to work in and through him. It resulted in the promises of God being fulfilled in the life of Abraham. He did, indeed, become a great nation and his descendants were as numerous as grains of sand on the seashore.

The willingness and faith that Abraham showed was exemplary. However, it pales in comparison with the willingness and faith that Jesus showed when he took up his cross. This is what God commanded Jesus to do and this is what he did. While in Abraham’s case, he was stopped before he could complete the act of offering his son, in the case of Jesus, he had to go the full way to show his obedience to God’s will and fulfil God’s plan for the salvation of the whole world.

We are given a foretaste of this obedience in the scene of the Transfiguration. The figures that appear with Jesus on the mountain are Elijah and Moses. These were prophets who were considered (along with Enoch) as alive in the presence of God. The voice from heaven, after addressing Jesus as beloved son, asks the three disciples who were with Jesus on the mountain to listen to him.  Despite being God’s beloved son, Jesus would have to go to his suffering and death and, only then, enter his glory. There was no other way. Jesus did not simply obey God; he obeyed God because he trusted. He knew that God was in charge and, even in what seemed like defeat and death, there would be victory and new life.

We sometimes tend to think that Jesus is most clearly Son of God only in glory, not in suffering. The transfiguration challenges us to revise our understanding of how God’s presence comes to the world. Even as he stands transfigured, Jesus is aware that the cross is a certainty in his life. He is aware that, though he is beloved son, he will have to suffer and die.  The command to silence, given by Jesus to the disciples, reminds us that glory and suffering cannot be separated.

Yes, Jesus was able to go to the cross in the full knowledge that God would always do what was best for him. He was aware that the God who delivered Elijah and Moses would also deliver him. He was able to go through the cross because he knew that, in and through the cross, he would save the world. That Jesus continues to live today is proof that his faith and confidence in the goodness of God was affirmed and confirmed. It was a proof that Paul experienced when he told the community in Rome that “neither death nor life…. nor anything else in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

The message then, on this second Sunday of Lent, to every one of us, is that God continues to be in charge. He continues to want what is best for each of us at every moment of our life. Even at those times when we cannot see his hand as clearly as we would like, or cannot feel his presence as tangibly as we would want, he is still working for our good. This was confirmed in the life of Abraham, but fulfilled in the most perfect way in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every time we are tempted to ask “Why” or “How could God….” we have only to look at his Son.

Friday 23 February 2018

Audio Reflections of Saturday, February 24, 2018

To hear the Audio Reflections of Saturday, February 24, 2018 click HERE

Saturday, February 24, 2018 - Mic 7:14-15, 18-20; Lk 15:1-3, 11-32

Saturday, February 24, 2018 - Mic 7:14-15, 18-20; Lk 15; 1-3, 11-32

  1. Who murmured about Jesus' table fellowship?

  2. The Pharisees and Chief priests
    The tax collectors and sinners
    The Pharisees and scribes

  3. In which other Gospel is the parable of the Prodigal Father found?

  4. Matthew
    No other Gospel

  5. Where does Micah want the people of God to feed?

  6. Mount Olive
    Bashan and Gilead
    Ur of the Chaldeans

  7. Where does Micah say God will cast our sins?

  8. Into sheol
    Into the depths of the sea
    Into the other world

  9. Which son in the parable asked for his share of property?

  10. The elder
    The younger
    I do not know

  11. What did the father ask the servants to do for the younger son?

  12. Lay the red carpet out for him
    Put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet
    Ask him why he had come back

  13. What job was the son given in the far country?

  14. To till the fields
    To feed swine
    To dig and plant

  15. To whom will the Lord show faithfulness?

  16. Jacob and Isaac
    Jacob and Abraham
    Abraham and Isaac

  17. Where was the elder son when his brother returned?

  18. In the market place
    In the field
    With his friends

  19. What is the message of the readings of today?

  20. Our God is a loving and forgiving God
    We must be aware of the times we behave like the elder son.
    Our God is a Prodigal Father because he is prodigal with his love.

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Saturday, February 24, 2018 - What names do you use to address God? What does this tell you about your relationship? God has FORGIVEN YOU, have you FORGIVEN YOURSELF/OTHERS?

To read the texts click on the texts: Mic 7:14-15, 18-20; Lk 15;:1-3, 11-32

The setting for the Parable of the Prodigal son (more correctly called “The Prodigal father”) is the same as at the beginning of Chapter 15 and concerns the murmuring of the Pharisees and scribes because Jesus eats with “tax collectors and sinners.”

Direct taxes (poll tax, land tax) were collected by tax collectors employed by the Romans, while tolls, tariffs, and customs fees were collected at toll houses by toll collectors, the group that appears frequently in the Gospels and is not entirely accurately identified as “tax collectors.” Toll collectors paid in advance for the right to collect tolls, so the system was open to abuse and corruption. The toll collectors were often not natives of the area where they worked, and their wealth and collusion with the Roman oppressors made them targets of scorn.

Those designated as “sinners” by the Pharisees would have included not only persons who broke the moral laws but also those who did not maintain the ritual purity practiced by the Pharisees. The scandal was that Jesus received such outcasts, shared table fellowship with them, and even played host to them.

The beginning of the Parable which speaks of “two sons” indicates that the focus is on their relationship to the Father and not to each other as “brothers”. The demand of the younger son is disrespectful and irregular. There is no rationale here. He was breaking family ties and treating his father as if he were already dead. The father divides his life among them. As soon as the younger son receives his share, there is a progressive estrangement. He goes into a far away country which indicates gentile land and mismanages the money given to him. He spends it all on loose living. His descent into poverty and deprivation is swift. He descends as low as to agree to work for a gentile and in a gentile land. Swine were an abomination to Jews, and they were prohibited from raising swine anywhere. The man who would dare to breed swine was considered cursed.  Human beings even ate carob pods, which were used as animal fodder, in times of famine. This is an indication of the complete destitution of the younger son. He comes to his senses when he is at the depth of his degradation and in the midst of mire and filth.

There are four parts to the speech that the younger son prepares
1.   An address – “Father”
2.   A confession – “I have sinned”
3.   Contrition – “I am no longer worthy”
4.   A Petition – “treat me as one of your hired servants.
The journey begins with coming to himself and ends with his going to his Father. It means learning to say ABBA again, putting one’s whole trust in the heavenly Father, returning to the Father’s house and the Father’s arms. That the younger son is serious about his return is shown in his action. He gets up from the mire and begins the return to his father.

The father’s response is mind boggling. While the son is still a long way off, he runs to meet him. In the first century it was considered undignified for grown men to run. The father sets aside respect and dignity. His only focus is his son. The son begins his speech but is not allowed to complete it. The father interrupts his son even before he can finish. He gives instructions to his servants for a robe, ring and sandals all of which indicate that the son is given back his original place as son. The call to kill the fatted calf is a sign that the return of the son is to be regarded as a time of celebration. The dead son has come alive, the lost son has been found.

Even as the celebration is on, the elder son is introduced. When he is informed about the reason for the celebration, he sulks and refuses to enter the house. Like in the case of his younger son, the father goes to meet his elder son. However, while he does not have to plead with the younger son, he does so with the elder son. The elder son does not address his father as “Father”, nor does he refer to his brother as “brother”. He argues his case on the grounds of merit and what he thinks he rightfully deserves. Even as he does this, he points to the failings of the younger son. What then is the point of being good?

In his response to the elder son, the father first addresses his son as “Son” though he was not addressed as “Father” and also reminds him that the younger son is also his brother. Reconciliation for the younger son meant reconciliation with his father, but for the elder son it means reconciliation with his brother. There is thus both the vertical dimension and the horizontal dimension of reconciliation.

Much of the fascination of this parable lies in its ability to resonate with our life experiences: adolescent rebellion; alienation from family; the appeal of the new and foreign; the consequences of foolish living; the warmth of home remembered; the experience of self-encounter, awakening, and repentance; the joy of reunion; the power of forgiveness; the dynamics of “brotherly love” that leads to one brother’s departure and the other’s indignation; and the contrast between relationships based on merit and relationships based on faithful love.

Unfortunately, we usually learn to demand our rights before we learn to value our relationships. The younger son was acting within his rights, but he was destroying his closest relationships in the process. How many times a week will a parent hear one child say to another, “This is mine. Give it to me”? Children quickly learn to demand their rights, but it often takes much longer for them to learn how to maintain relationships. Governments and law courts defend our civil rights, but how do we learn to defend our civil and familial relationships?

From a distance, the “far country” can be very appealing. Young people leave home for fast living. Spouses move out to form liaisons with exciting new partners. The glow that surrounds the far country is a mirage, however. Home never looks as good as when it is remembered from the far country.

The journey home begins with coming to oneself. That means that the most difficult step is the first one. The younger son had to face himself in the swine pen of his own making before he faced his father on the road. Pride can keep us from admitting our mistakes; self-esteem may require us to take decisive action to set right the things we have done wrong.

Although the opportunity to restore relationships and remedy wrongs begins with coming to oneself, it requires more. We must go to the person we have wronged. Was the younger son just seeking to improve his situation, or was he seeking reconciliation with his father? The direct confession in his interior monologue confirms the sincerity of his intent. Neither the younger son’s pride nor his shame mattered as much as his need to restore his relationship to his father. He did not ask for his filial privileges to be restored. He did not even ask for forgiveness. He merely stated his confession. When the prodigal son came to himself, he came to his father. . . .

The temptation a parent faces is to allow the child’s separation to become reciprocal. If the child separates from the parent, the parent may be tempted to respond in kind. The parable’s model of parental love insists, however, that no matter what the son/daughter has done he/she is still son/daughter. When no one else would even give the prodigal something to eat, the father runs to him and accepts him back. Love requires no confession and no restitution. The joyful celebration begins as soon as the father recognized the son’s profile on the horizon.

Insofar as we may see God’s love reflected in the response of the waiting father, the parable reassures all who would confess, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.” The father runs to meet his son even before the son can voice his confession, and the father’s response is far more receptive than the son had dared even to imagine. The father’s celebration conveys the joy in heaven. The picture is one of sheer grace. No penance is required; it is enough that the son has come home.

If this is the picture of God’s joy in receiving a sinner coming home, then it can also give assurance of God’s love to those who face death wondering how God will receive them. In the end we all return home as sinners, so Jesus’ parable invites us to trust that God’s goodness and mercy will be at least as great as that of a loving human father.

The elder brother represents all of us who think we can make it on our own, all of us who might be proud of the kind of lives we live. Here is the contrast between those who want to live by justice and merit and those who must ask for grace. The parable shows that those who would live by merit can never know the joy of grace. We cannot share in the Father’s grace if we demand that he deal with us according to what we deserve. Sharing in God’s grace requires that we join in the celebration when others are recipients of that grace also. Part of the fellowship with Christ is receiving and rejoicing with others who do not deserve our forgiveness or God’s grace. Each person is of such value to God, however, that none is excluded from God’s grace. Neither should we withhold our forgiveness.

The parable leaves us with the question of whether the elder brother joined the celebration. Did he go in and welcome his brother home, or did he stay outside pouting and feeling wronged? The parable ends there because that is the decision each of us must make. If we go in, we accept grace as the Father’s rule for life in the family.

Thursday 22 February 2018

Audio Reflections of Friday, February 23, 2018

To hear the Audio Reflections of Friday, February 23, 2018 click HERE

Friday, February 23, 2018 - Ezek 18:21-28; Mt 5:20-26

Friday, February 23, 2018 - Ezek 18:21-28; Mt 5:20-26

  1. From which discourse of Jesus in Matthew is the Gospel text taken?

  2. The Parable Discourse
    The Sermon on the Mount
    The Mission Discourse

  3. Which emotion does Jesus speak about in the Gospel text of today?

  4. Revenge

  5. What is the consequence of the wicked turning from their sins?

  6. They will be punished
    They will live
    They will be blessed

  7. How many discourses does the Gospel of Matthew contain?

  8. Thre

  9. From which prophet is the first reading of today taken?

  10. Jeremiah

  11. Whose righteousness must the righteousness of the disciples exceed?

  12. The Pharisees
    The Scribes
    The Scribes and Pharisees

  13. Which house does the Lord address in the first reading?

  14. The house of Jerusalem
    The house of Israel
    The house of Judah

  15. What is the message of the Gospel text of today?

  16. There is ony a D which separates Anger from Danger
    Anger against anyone destroys the person who is angry
    A moment of anger can ruin years of goodwill

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Friday, February 23, 2018 - How many times did you get angry yesterday? Will you attempt to make it one less time today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Ezek 18:21-28; Mt 5:20-26
The righteousness of the disciples of Jesus must exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees whose standard of religious piety and practice was high. These of course did what they did only to be seen by people and to show off their piety. The disciples are called not merely to avoid being hypocritical.

In the six antitheses (5:21-48) that follow, Matthew shows what it means in practice for the righteousness of the disciples to exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees. Each of the six begins with what was said of old and what Jesus is now saying. In these verses (5:21-26) Matthew narrates first of the six, which is about the Torah’s prohibition of murder (Exodus 20:13; Deut 5:18). The supplementary “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement” is not found verbatim anywhere in the Old Testament, and seems to have been added by Matthew to introduce the word “judgement” which he uses in the next verse. After stating the law and adding a supplementary, the Matthean Jesus then radicalises the law and calls for an interiorization of it (5:22). The call seems to be to submit one’s thoughts about other people, as well as the words they give rise to, to God’s penetrating judgement. It is a call to realize that God wills not only that human beings not kill each other but also that there be no hostility between human beings. The next verses (5:23-26) are an application of what Jesus says. Reconciliation is even more important than offering worship and sacrifice. The disciples are called to work for reconciliation in the light of the eschatological judgement toward which they are journeying.

If we come to worship God and there are feelings of anger, revenge or hatred in our hearts, then our worship remains incomplete. It is only an external worship and not true worship. God does not need our adoration, but if want to adore him it must also come from within.

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Thursday, February 22, 2018 - The Chair of St. Peter - 1 Peter 5:1-4; Mt 16:13-19

Thursday, February 22, 2018 - The Chair of St. Peter - 1 Peter 5:1-4; Mt 16:13-16

  1. In which other Gospels did Jesus ask the question about his identity?

  2. Mark and John
    Mark and Luke
    Luke and John

  3. Besides John the Baptist, who are the other prophets named in the peoples answer?

  4. Elijah and Elisha
    Elijah and Jeremiah
    Elijah and Ezekiel

  5. From which letter of Peter s the first reading of today taken?

  6. Second

  7. In which district did Jesus ask his disciples the question about his identity?

  8. Galilee
    Caesare′a Philippi

  9. What does the feast of the Chair of St. Peter mean?

  10. The ones in charge must lead by serving
    Authority in the Church is for service
    The builder of the Church is Christ

  11. What will the elders gain when the Chief Shepherd appears?

  12. The ability to work miracles
    The unfading crown of glory
    Great riches

  13. What will the Lord build on Peter the rock

  14. His kingdom
    His Church
    His empire

  15. Who answered the question of Jesus on behalf of the disciples?

  16. Simon
    Simon Peter

  17. What was Peter's answer according to Matthew?

  18. You are the Christ of God
    You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
    You are the Christ

  19. What is the message of the readings of today?

  20. Jesus continues to choose sinners to lead his Church
    We are all sinners. It is the grace of God that cleanses us
    Without God's grace we are nothing

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Thursday, February 22, 2018 - The Chair of St. Peter - If Jesus were to ask you the question he asked the disciples, what would your response be?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Peter 5:1-4; Mt 16:13-19

The Chair of St. Peter is a feast which celebrates the Lord’s choice of Peter to be the servant-leader of the Church. The choice of Peter is indicative of what the Church is. On the one hand Peter was over zealous, brash, impulsive, spontaneous and ready to die for the Lord, while on the other he would deny the Lord and run away when trouble arose. The Church as a whole has been like Peter. Yet, this is whom the Lord chooses and continues to choose, broken men and women called to heal a broken world.

The Gospel text chosen for the feast is popularly known as “Peter’s Confession”. The question of Jesus concerning his identity is not because he wanted to be informed about people’s opinion of him, but to draw a contrast between people’s answers and the answer of the disciples. Matthew is the only evangelist who adds Jeremiah to the answers of the people. Some think that Matthew has done so because of Jeremiah’s association with the fall of Jerusalem. Others think that Jeremiah is mentioned because of his prophecy of the new covenant.

After hearing through the disciples what the people have to say about his identity, Jesus asks the disciples the same question. The “you” is plural and therefore addressed to all disciples. It is also emphatic. Simon Peter answers on behalf of the group. Matthew adds “the Son of the living God” to Mark’s “Christ”. Only in Matthew does Jesus respond directly to Peter. Peter is not blessed because of a personal achievement, but because of the gift he received from God. Jesus names Peter as rock, the one who holds the keys and the one who binds and looses. Rock here stands for foundation, and though Peter is the foundation, Jesus is the builder. The holder of keys was one who had authority to teach and the one who binds and looses is the one who had authority to interpret authoritatively. The reason for ordering them to tell no one is to reinforce the idea that the community founded by Jesus is distinct from Israel who rejected Jesus.

The feast of today invites us to reflect on two aspects in the Church. The first of these is that authority in the Church does not mean domination but always service. The model of this service is Jesus and it is him that we must imitate. The second is that even as we are broken ourselves and sinners, we are called to heal the world. This is because like in Peter’s case so in ours, it was not his merit that made him the leader of the Church, it was the grace of God which worked in him despite his sin.

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Audio Reflections of Wednesday, February 21, 2018

To hear the Audio Reflections of Wednesday, February 21, 2018 click HERE

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 - Jon 3:1-10; Lk 11:29-32

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 - Jon 3:1-10; Lk 11:29-32

  1. Which queen is mentioned in the Gospel text of today?

  2. The North (Israel)
    The South (Sheba)
    I do not know

  3. Which Gospel mentions Jonah being in the belly of the whale?

  4. Mark

  5. Which king did the queen come to see?

  6. David

  7. To which city was Jonah sent?

  8. Gamorrrah

  9. How large was the city of Nineveh?

  10. Tow days journey in breadth
    Three days journey in breadth
    One days journey in breadth

  11. How many days did Jonah predict before Nineveh would be destroyed?

  12. Fifty

  13. How did the king respond to the preaching of Jonah?

  14. He was angry with Jonah
    he arose from his throne, removed his robe, and covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
    He was angry with God

  15. Why did the queen come to meet the king according to the Gospel text?

  16. To take a tour of his kingdom
    To hear the wisdom of Solomon
    To see his riches

  17. Why did Jesus call the generation an evil generation?

  18. Because they were sinners
    Because they demanded a sign
    Because they did not care about their neighbour

  19. What is the message of the readings of today?

  20. All the signs needed are given in Jesus
    Repentance means a new mind and a new heart
    Repentance must come from within

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018 - 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: Jon3:1-10; Lk 11:29-32

Jesus’ debate with the crowd following the exorcism of the demon that made a man mute (11:14-16) continues. 

One of the challenges posed by some in the crowd was to demand from Jesus a sign from heaven. The response of Jesus is not to give in to their demand for a sign. 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. The Queen of Sheba, or the Queen of the South, journeyed from her kingdom in southwest Arabia to test the reports she had heard of Solomon’s wisdom (1 Kgs 10:1-13; 2 Chr 9:1-12). When she had tested Solomon with “hard questions” (1 Kgs 10:1), she was convinced of the wisdom God had given to him and blessed the Lord who had set Solomon on the throne of Israel (1 Kgs 10:9). At the judgement, therefore, she also would rise to condemn that wicked generation because they had one who was greater than Solomon, and they did not hear him.

Jesus thus refuses to give the crowds any other sign, because any demand for a sign meant that they have not understood what Jesus was about, and what his mission was. Jesus also knew 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.

Monday 19 February 2018

Audio Reflections of Tuesday, February 20, 2018

To hear the Audio Reflections of Tuesday, February 20, 2018 click HERE

Tuesday, February 20, 2018 - Isa 55:10-11; Mt 6:7-15

Tuesday, February 20, 2018 - Isa 55:10-11; Mt 6:7-15

  1. What does the address of God as father mean?

  2. That God is closer to us that we are to ourselves
    That Jesus was conditioned by his time and so used patriarchal language
    That there is an intimacy between God and us

  3. In which other Gospel is a version of the Lord's also found?

  4. Matk

  5. What is the last petition in the Lord's prayer in Matthew?

  6. God's kingdom
    Daily bread

  7. From which prophet is the first reading of today taken?

  8. Amos

  9. How you would summarise the Lord's prayer?

  10. A prayer in which God is at the centre
    Petitionary prayer
    A prayer of dependence

  11. Which group does Jesus say only heap up empty phrases?

  12. The Pharisees
    The Gentiles
    The Scribes

  13. To what is the rain and snow compared in the first reading of today?

  14. The people
    The prophet
    The word of God

  15. In which Gospel is the version of the Lord's prayer longer?

  16. Longer in Matthew when compared with John
    Longer in Matthew when compared with Mark
    Longer in Matthew when compared with Luke

  17. In which discourse in Matthew is the Lord's prayer found?

  18. The Community Discourse
    The Sermon on the Mount
    The Mission Discourse

  19. What is the message of the readings of today?

  20. We are dependent on God for everything
    The Lord's prayer is not merely a prayer it is a way of life
    God in primary. All else is secondary

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018 - How will you acknowledge your dependence on God today? Is there someone who you think has hurt you whom you have not yet forgiven? Will you forgive that person today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Isa55:10-11; Mt 6:7-15

The three chapters beginning from 5:1 and ending at 7:29 contain one of the most famous discourses of Matthew known as “The Sermon on the Mount”.

It is important to have a brief background of the Sermon in order to appreciate fully each separate text within it. The first point that we note about the Sermon on the Mount is that it is the first of the five great discourses in the Gospel of Matthew. Each of these five ends with the phrase, “and when Jesus had finished…” (7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1). It begins by showing Jesus as a Rabbi teaching ex-cathedra (5:1) and ends by showing Jesus as the Messianic prophet addressing the crowds (7:28).

The second point that must be kept in mind is that the Sermon is a composition of Matthew. An analysis of similar texts in the Gospels of Mark and Luke indicate that many verses found here in Matthew are found in Mark and Luke in different contexts. This does not mean that Jesus did not say these words. It means that Matthew has put them together in this manner.
The third point is the theme, which will determine how one will interpret the Sermon as a whole. Most are agreed that the theme of the Sermon is found in 5:17-20, in which Jesus speaks about having come not to abolish but to fulfill the Law and Prophets, and issues a challenge to those listening to let their “righteousness” be greater than that of the scribes and Pharisees in order to enter the kingdom.

The mountain is a “theological topos” in the Gospel of Matthew (Luke’s Sermon is from “a level place” see Lk 6:17) and therefore means much more than simply a geographical location. Matthew does not name the mountain, but by choosing it as the place from where Jesus delivers the Sermon, he probably wants to portray Jesus as the New Moses delivering the New Law from a New Mountain. While Jesus in the Gospel of Luke “stands” and delivers the Sermon (Lk 6:17), in Matthew, Jesus sits down. This is the posture that the Jewish Rabbis adopted when communicating a teaching of importance or connected with the Law. In Luke the crowd is addressed from the beginning of the Sermon and addressed directly, “Blessed are you poor…” (Lk 6:20), but in Matthew, it is the “disciples” who come to Jesus and whom he begins to teach.

The section on Prayer begins in 6:5 and Jesus contrasts the prayer of his disciples with the prayer of hypocrites who like to be seen by all and also Gentile prayer which heaps words upon words and may also mean a prayer made to many “gods” to placate them. This kind of prayer is only for self gratification or to receive favours. The prayer of the disciple is to God who is Father and who knows what they need even before they can ask. Thus, prayer is not simply to place the petition before God who is all knowing but primarily to acknowledge dependence on God for everything.

What follows this contrast is the prayer that Jesus teaches his disciples and which is commonly known as the "Our Father". However, a better term for this would be "The Lord's Prayer". The reason for this is because there are two versions of the same prayer. The other is found in Lk. 11:2-4. There, the pronoun "Our" is missing and the prayer begins simply with "Father". In Matthew this prayer is at the very centre of the Sermon and must be read with that fact in mind. It begins with an address and then goes on to make two sets of three petitions. The address of God as “Father” brings out the intimacy of the relationship that disciples and God share. The pronoun “Our” here indicates that God is not merely the father of individual believers but of the community as a whole and therefore all in the believing community are brothers and sisters.

The opening petitions indicate that prayer does not begin with one’s needs, but with the glory and honour due to God. God’s name is and will be honoured by all men and women, since God as revealed by Jesus is primarily a God of mercy, forgiveness and unconditional love. The kingdom of God has come in Jesus and is also in the future when God will be all and in all. This is a situation in which God will show himself to be king as he has done in the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. As Jesus constantly did God’s will, so it will continue to be done both in heaven and on earth. It is only when God’s will is done rather than one’s own that there can be true and lasting peace and harmony.

Despite petitioning God for something as stupendous as the kingdom, the disciple also acknowledges dependence on God for something as regular and ordinary as bread. God’s forgiveness is unconditional and without any merit on the part of the disciples. However, in order to receive this forgiveness which God gives graciously and gratuitously, the disciple will have to remove from his/her heart any unforgiveness, resentment, bitterness or anger that might be present there. The prayer ends with a final petition that God, who always leads the people, will not bring them into a time of testing, when the pressure might be so great as to overcome faith itself, but that he will save them from the ultimate power of evil.

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