Saturday 31 March 2018

Sunday, April 1, 2018 - Easter Sunday - Every Area Starts To Enter Renewal

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts10:34, 37-43; Col 3:1-4 John 20:1-9

John Donne the sixteenth century poet ends his poem “Death Be Not Proud” in the following manner: “One short sleep past we wake eternally, And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.”

This is a good summary of the Easter event. Death is no more; death has died because of the Resurrection of Jesus. Easter is primarily a feast of hope. Light has conquered darkness, truth has conquered untruth and eternal life has conquered death. No more will death hold sway, no more will death be a threat, no more will death be something to be feared. Those who believe in the Resurrection can look death in the face and not be afraid. The hope that Easter brings is that no matter how bleak the present might look, no matter how daunting the road ahead might seem, no matter how intimidating the situation at hand might be, one need not give in to despair, one need not give up or give in, one needs only to hope, trust and believe. Jesus went to his death believing his father would raise him on the third day and his Father did.

The Gospel text of today brings out this fact in the narrative of the Empty tomb. Unlike the Synoptic Gospels where Mary Magdalene is accompanied by other women, in the Gospel of John she comes to the tomb alone. John alone mentions that “it was still dark”. John is not stating here a time of the day or narrating the physical situation, he is saying that no matter what time of the day it is, no matter how brightly the sun might be shining, it will continue to be dark, because Jesus is not present. The absence of Jesus is what causes the darkness. Once Jesus appears, it will always be light. This darkness that Mary experiences is the darkness that all of us experience when Jesus is absent from our lives. Ordinary problems of life seem overwhelming, small difficulties seem intimidating and life becomes a burden. However, with the appearance of Jesus, darkness retreats and only light appears.
The fact that the stone is rolled back does not necessarily mean that the Lord is not in the tomb, yet that is how Mary Magdalene interprets it. She goes even further when she interprets the absence of the body of Jesus as his having been taken away and lack of knowledge of where his body has been placed. This is indeed the mystery that all of us encounter. We cannot capture Jesus, we cannot confine him, and we cannot know where he comes from and where he is going. We have only to dare to follow and believe.

Peter and the beloved disciple act on Mary’s information and like her, they too run to the tomb to see for themselves what has been told them. If Mary saw only the stone rolled back, the beloved disciple sees this and also the linen cloths used to wrap the body of Jesus. Peter sees even more. Besides what the beloved disciple sees, Peter sees also the cloth that was used to wrap the head of Jesus. There is thus a progression, a development, an enlargement of the picture and the puzzle is not so much a puzzle now.

The leaving behind of the grave cloths is extremely significant since the empty tomb by itself does not signify or mean that Jesus has been raised from the dead. Thus the cloths are an indication of two facts. First, the body of Jesus could not have been stolen by grave robbers since is very unlikely that they would unwrap the body before stealing it and leave the cloths behind. What is more likely is that they would take the cloths and leave the body. Second leaving behind of the grave cloths means that Jesus has left death behind as symbolized by the grave cloths. When Lazarus who was raised by Jesus from the dead came out of the tomb, he did so bringing with him his grave cloths. This was because he would need them when he died again. Jesus, however, will never die again and so will not need the grave cloths. He has risen to a new life; he has risen never to die again. Death has died.

However, as Peter makes explicit in the first reading of today, the conquering of death by Jesus is only one part of the story. There is a second part narrated by Peter and even a third part explicated in the second reading of today.

The second part is that because of Jesus’ resurrection everyone who believes will also partake of the same privilege. For everyone who believes, death will never be the end. For everyone who believes, there is the hope of new life. This is because in Jesus and through his death and resurrection forgiveness of sins has been obtained by all. The colour of the person is inconsequential; the nationality does not matter, the language spoken is unimportant because God shows no partiality. God forgives and welcomes all in Jesus the Risen Christ.

Precisely because God forgives and welcomes, this forgiveness has to be accepted and lived out. The living out of the forgiveness and acceptance follows the forgiveness and the new life. It is not a condition. This is the third part of the resurrection story. The manner in which it is to be lived out is spelled out in the second reading of today which is part of the letter to the Colossians. Those who accept this forgiveness of God in Jesus will be determined to seek only that which enhances and builds up. They will strive only for what is positive and life giving. They will be encouraged and encourage. They will never give in to despair, they will never give up or give in, and they will never lose hope.

Sunday, April 1, 2018 - Easter Sunday - Acts 10:34, 37-43; Col 3:1-4; John 20:1-9

Sunday, April 1, 2018 - Easter Sunday - Acts 10:34, 37-43; Col 3:1-4 John 20:1-9

  1. On which day did Peter say God raised Jesus?

  2. The third day
    The first day
    The seventh day

  3. What did Mary see when she reached the tomb?

  4. Jesus in all his glory
    The stone rolled back
    The linen cloths

  5. To whom did Mary convey the news of the empty tomb?

  6. Peter and James
    Peter and the beloved disciple
    Peter and Andrew

  7. When did the beloved disciple go into the tomb?

  8. After Peter
    Before Peter
    Along with Peter

  9. From which letter is the second reading of today taken?

  10. Galatians

  11. On which day of the week did Mary Magdalene go to the tomb?

  12. Seventh day
    First day
    Third day

  13. From where did the message of Jesus begin?

  14. Samaria

  15. With what did God anoint Jesus of Nazareth?

  16. With the ability to perform miracles
    With the Holy Spirit and power
    With authority from on high

  17. What things should Christians seek?

  18. The things that are below
    The things that are above
    Fame and power

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

  20. God is true to his promises
    Jesus went to his death believing his father would raise him and his father did
    Jesus lives now in our hearts

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Friday 30 March 2018

Saturday, March 31, 2018 - The Seven Sorrows of Mary

Yesterday we celebrated the passion and death of the Lord. The last words of Jesus on the cross were “it is finished, it is accomplished”. Jesus accepted what the father sent him to do. And so he could say “it is finished”. However, it continues because of whom Jesus left behind. And he left behind his mother and his disciples.

During the course of our meditation this morning, when all over the world is Holy Saturday, we will spend this time with Mary by going through the mysteries of her life as mother of Jesus, as mother of God and see what fruit we can draw from the manner in which she responded. There are so many things that one could say about Mary but for our reflection this morning I will take, what is commonly called the 7 sorrows, the 7 dolours of our Blessed Mother.

The first of these is the prophecy of Simeon, Lk 2:34-35 - Jesus is brought by Mary and his foster father to the temple to be presented to God, to be gifted to God, to be handed over to God. And even as he is presented, Simeon who was waiting for the Lord’s kingdom realizes that it has come in this child. And his response on encountering Jesus is to address his mother, He speaks to Mary and tells her in prophecy that Jesus will be a sign that is accepted, and rejected, a sign that will frighten those who are corrupt and dishonest, a sign that will wake people up from their slumber and a sign that will be rejected and killed. And even as he says that, he brings Mary into salvation history when he speaks of a sword piercing Mary’s heart as well. Mary will be a collaborator with her son in achieving salvation history. And through this prophecy of Simeon brings to our attention the fact that just because God has favoured her, just because God has chosen her, just because God has given her the privilege and honour of being the mother of Jesus does not necessarily mean that everything will be smooth sailing. As a matter of fact it means she would have more difficulties than others who were not chosen. So often in our lives we might tend to lose hope, we might tend to think God is not on our side, we might tend to think that God is punishing us and we might ask “where is God in all of this?” If we reflect on the prophecy of Simeon addressed to Mary we will realize God is constantly present. So let the first sorrow of Mary be an inspiration for us that no matter how many trials we may have to undergo, no matter how many swords pierce our own hearts, we will look to Mary for consolation and strength.

The second sorrow is traditionally narrated as the flight into Egypt Mt. 2:13-15. It speaks you might say of displacement, it speaks you might say of uprootedness, it speaks you might say of change and transformation, it speaks you might say of Mary and Joseph’s world being turned upside down; it speaks of instability, it speaks of the fact that they are unable to make their home in one particular place, and have to constantly to be like pilgrims moving from one place to another. Many of us are fortunate to be living in the same place for a number of years, many of us are fortunate to have stable homes, many of us are fortunate to live in countries in which the political situation is stable and there is no threat of a war; and yet I want you to reflect on the instability of your life, of sometimes your own life is turned upside down and upheavals in your heart, when you are having marital discord for example, when your children go astray for example, when your parents don’t understand you for example, when in the community of religious you feel that you are isolated and alone, when as the Superior of the community or as the Parish Priest as in a parish, you feel that the parishioners, the members of your community don’t understand you, then you go through these upheavals, there’s unprootedness I would like you to bring to mind the flight into Egypt, and you will see and reflect on how Mary and Joseph were so obedient to God’s word because they knew that God’s plan for them was better than the plan they would have for themselves. The flight into Egypt is a sign that God is in charge. So no matter how many upheavals there may be in your life, no matter how many times you might be uprooted in your hear, keep in mind that at these times the Lord is with you.

The third sorrow is commonly called the finding in the temple Lk 2:41-52 and even though it seems that it was Mary who found Jesus, my own interpretation is Jesus was never lost. It was Mary who was lost without Jesus, because the answer, the response of Jesus to his mother “Why did you look for me, you ought to know where I can be found. I can be found doing my Father’s business,” Mary was, at least in the beginning, looking in the wrong place and then she realized that Jesus is found when we do God’s will. And that is why in the gospel of Luke; Mary is portrayed right from the time of the Annunciation in Lk 1:26-38, till the end of the gospel, as a woman who constantly does God’s will. She learnt, you might say, from that incident of finding in the temple that if she had to be a disciple of her son, she to constantly do God’s will. And so I ask you where are you looking for Jesus? If you are looking for him only in the tabernacle, if you are looking for him only in the church, if you are looking for him only in holy places, you are looking for a very, very, limited places because the Lord in the words of Teilhard de Chardin, the Cosmic Christ, the Lord is now the Risen Christ, the Lord must now be found in all things, in all persons, in all situations. And primarily, as the Lord tells us in Mt 7:21-28, the Lord can be found when you do God’s will.

The fourth sorrow of Our Lady which is not really narrated by the scriptures is Mary encounters Jesus carrying his cross. Even though none of the scriptures speak about Jesus meeting his mother on the way to Calvary or Golgotha, tradition is clear about this encounter because the Gospel of Luke tells us Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem on his way to Jerusalem. So surely he would have met his mother. What kind of an encounter do you think it would have been?  Do you think that Mary would have been feeling sorry for herself; do you think she would have been feeling sorry for her son, do you think she would want to reach out to Jesus and wipe his battered face? Do you think that she would want to help Jesus carry the cross? What kind of an encounter would this have been? I invite you to spend a few moments reliving this scene, seeing in your mind’s eye the Mother and Son. I would like to think that they would each be consoling the other. I would like to think that they would each be strengthening the other; I would like to think that they would each be reaching out to the other rather than being concerned about their sorrow. And so this encounter might be summarized in one word ‘selflessness’. It might be termed as a reaching out. When you reach out even when you’re sad and you feel the whole world is conspiring against you, when you reach out in sympathy and empathy to someone else, when you avoid making yourself the focus and saying ‘Oh, look at me, how I’m suffering for my sins and for the sins of the others”. When you avoid doing that and look outside of yourself then you are being like Mary focusing on Jesus, and focusing on others.

The fifth sorrow is Jesus dies on the cross Jn19:25-27 narrates this scene where Mary and the beloved disciple are standing at the foot of Jesus’ cross. And Jesus, before his last breath in the Gospel of John hands over his mother to the beloved disciple and hands over the disciple to his mother. Who then is the beloved disciple? The beloved disciple is anyone who loves Jesus. So if you love Jesus you cannot but take Mary into your home, if you love Jesus you cannot but honour his mother and ours. If you love Jesus, you cannot but make Mary an integral part of your life. As a matter of fact in the Gospel of John this is how Church is described. The Spirit of Jesus (which he breathes before his death), the beloved disciple (anyone who loves Jesus) and the mother of Jesus. These three elements make up church. These three are what church is all about in the Gospel of John. So today let us realize that we cannot really have a full church, the church of the Lord unless his mother is in that church as well. I am fond of saying that if Mary had to say NO we would never have had Jesus, and you would not even be listening to this talk of mine. So the fact that you are listening to the talk has its origin in Mary. And once again I repeat the beautiful words of the Memorare “It was never know that anyone who fled to her protection was left unaided.” And proof of that is again in the scriptures where the mind of Jesus has changed because of the intervention of Mary at Cana, Jn 2:1-12.

The sixth sorrow is Jesus is handed over to his mother, the pieta of Michael Angelo. And if you can google this, put down ‘pieta’, you will get a number of images of this beautiful scene, you will a number of images of this beautiful scene portrayed. So beautifully by Michael Angelo and so many artists after and before him of Jesus lying dead in the lap of his mother. And Mary is not a woman who’s going to shed tears for herself; Mary is not a woman who’s going to shed tears for her son, Mary is a woman who’s going to continue the mission because she knows that her son has done all that was required of him and that she is to do all that is required of her. And that brings me once again to how so many of us unfortunately cry at the death of a loved one as if the person is never going to rise again, how many of us cry at the death of loved one for years after the person has gone simply because we do not believe in the Resurrection. If you are one of those who is crying for a dead parent, or a dead relative, or a dead friend, then I need your you to understand that our God is not a God of the dead, but a God of the living. And so today is not a day when you shed tears. Today is a day when you give thanks that God did through your parent, through your friend, through your relative who is now living with God all the beautiful things. And now you have to let go, now we have to leave it in the hands of God, now you have to believe that the person is in a much, much better place and situation than ever before.

And the last sorrow is when Jesus is laid in the tomb, Even as we stand watching them lay Jesus in the tomb, let us stand with Mary and us stand with confidence, let stand with courage, let us stand with trust and faith and hope.

Let us remain quiet and as we see the stone being rolled to close the tomb, let us together recite the Hail and Holy Mary. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen

Saturday, March 31, 2018 - The Mysteries of the Rosary

Holy Saturday - The Mysteries of the Rosary

  1. Which is the third Glorious mystery?

  2. The Ascension
    The descent of the Holy Spirit
    The Resurrection

  3. Which is the first sorrowful mystery?

  4. The Scourging at the Pillar
    The Crowning with thorns
    The Agony in the Garden

  5. Which is the fourth Luminous mystery?

  6. The Baptism in the Jordan
    The Proclamation of the kingdom
    The wedding at Cana

  7. Which is the second Joyful mystery?

  8. The Nativity
    The Annunciation
    The Visitation

  9. Which is the second Glorious mystery?

  10. The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
    The Ascension
    The Assumption of Mary into heaven

  11. Which is the third sorrowful mystery?

  12. The Crowning with thorns
    The Crucifixion
    The Carrying of the Cross

  13. Which is the second Luminous mystery?

  14. The Institution of the Eucharist
    The Wedding at Cana
    The Transfiguration

  15. Which is the fourth Joyful mystery?

  16. The Presentation
    The finding in the temple
    The Nativity

  17. Which is the fifth glorious mystery?

  18. The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
    The Assumption of Mary into heaven
    The descent of the Holy Spirit

  19. Which is the fourth sorrowful mystery?

  20. The Crucifixion
    The Carrying of the Cross
    The Scourging at the Pillar

  21. Which is the fifth Luminous mystery?

  22. The Proclamation of the Kingdom
    The Institution of the Eucharist
    The Baptism in the Jordan

  23. Which is the first Joyful mystery?

  24. The Visitation
    The Annunciation
    The Nativity

  25. Which is the first glorious mystery?

  26. The Ascension
    The Resurrection
    The descent of the Holy Spirit

  27. Which is the fifth sorrowful mystery?

  28. The Carrying of the cross
    The Crucifixion
    The crowning with thorns

  29. Which is the first Luminous mystery?

  30. The Baptism in the Jordan
    The wedding at Cana
    The Proclamation of the Kingdom

  31. Which is the fifth Joyful mystery?

  32. The Nativity
    The finding in the Temple
    The Presentation of Jesus in the Temeple

  33. Which is the fourth glorious mystery?

  34. The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
    The Assumption of Mary into heaven
    The descent of the Holy Spirit

  35. Which is the second sorrowful mystery?

  36. The Agony in the Garden
    The scourging at the Pillar
    The crowning with thorns

  37. Which is the second Luminous mystery?

  38. The Wedding at Cana
    The Proclamation of the Kingdom
    The Baptism in the Jordan

  39. Which is the third joyful mystery?

  40. The Annunciation
    The Nativity
    The Visitation

  41. Why do we pray the Rosary?

  42. We go to Jesus through Mary
    It was never known that anyone who fled to Mary's protection was left unaided
    Jesus' mother is an integral part of Jesus' Church

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Thursday 29 March 2018

Friday, March 30, 2018 - Good Friday - God knows????

To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 52:13-53:12; Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9; Jn 18:1-19:42

The phrase “God knows” is used most often to indicate lack of knowledge on our part. When something is beyond our comprehension and understanding we use the phrase “God knows”.  And in every sense of the word we are right, because God does indeed know.

However, even as we use the phrase, I am not sure whether we really mean it. This is because sometimes we tend to lose heart, we tend to lose faith and we give in to despair and lose hope. This indicates that we do not really believe that God knows.

I want to focus on three characters mentioned in the Gospel of John and try to apply this phrase “God knows” to all three. The first of these is Jesus. Jesus has washed the feet of his disciples and is aware now that he must go to the Cross, he must go to what God knows is to happen to him. Since Jesus believes in his heart that “God knows”, he goes to his cross courageously and without flinching. This is evident in the Passion of John. Having said that, however, I want to insist, that Jesus is not a sadist. He is not looking for trouble, he is not looking for the Cross, he is not looking to die. However, Jesus does what he has to do and only after he has done that leaves the rest ion God’s hands. If being faithful to his Mission means having to go to the Cross so be it. This is because Jesus knows that God knows. Even as Jesus hangs on the cross there is no miraculous rescue, Elijah will not come to save. There is no seeming intervention and interference by God, but Jesus is confident in the knowledge that “God knows”.  Those of us who might imagine that Jesus was God and therefore could go to the Cross as he did are very much mistaken. Jesus was fully human and it was in his full humanity that he went to his cross and his death and his annihilation. He did not have any foreknowledge of the resurrection, what he had only was his FAITH that “God knows”.

The second character is that of Mary. She is regarded in tradition as a model of faith, and yet she is not a Mary who is only docile and submissive. She is the handmaid of the Lord surely but she is also courageous enough to ask questions of God and expect an answer. Yet, when she receives an answer that goes beyond her comprehension, she does not persist, but accepts like Jesus humbly and courageously. If it is God’s will that she be the mother of a condemned man, if it is God’s will that her son be crucified to a tree, if it is God’s will that she stand at the foot of the Cross of her son, then so be it. God’s will be done because “God knows”.

Two words and one conviction you must take as you leave this evening the ONE CONVICTION that GOD KNOWS.

Aristotle define humans as rational animals, Rene Descartes took it one step further and said “I think, therefore I am” (ego Cogito ergo sum). I want you to take home another revelation today, “God knows, therefore I know”

Friday, March 30, 2019 - Good Friday

Friday, March 30, 2018 - Good Friday - Isa 52:13-53:12; Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9; Jn 18:1-19:42

  1. To whom was Jesus first taken by the soldiers?

  2. Caiaphas

  3. Who will shut their mouths because of the servant?

  4. Prophets

  5. Into how many parts were the clothes of Jesus divided?

  6. Four

  7. Who drew the sword to cut off the high priest's slaves' right ear?

  8. Andrew
    Simon Peter

  9. How must Christians approach the throne of grace?

  10. With boldness
    With fear
    With trepidation

  11. Which valley did Jesus cross with his disciples?

  12. Jehoshaphat
    King's valley

  13. What colour was the robe in which the soldiers dressed Jesus?

  14. Green

  15. In how many languages was the title on the Cross written?

  16. Two

  17. What was the Hebrew name for the Stone Pavement?

  18. Golgotha

  19. Which Psalm speaks about the division of clothes

  20. 22

  21. What were the last words of Jesus on the Cross in John?

  22. I am thirsty
    It is finished
    Father forgive them for they know not what they do

  23. To whom did Jesus hand over his mother before his death?

  24. The disciple whom he loved
    Simon Peter
    James and John

  25. What was the weight of the mixture of myrrh and aloes?

  26. 10 pounds
    50 pounds
    100 pounds

  27. Who were the two men who buried Jesus?

  28. Simon Peter and Andrew
    Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus
    James and John

  29. What is the message of Good Friday?

  30. God loved the world so much that he sent his son
    Jesus died believing that it was his Father's will
    True worship is now on the Cross

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Wednesday 28 March 2018

Maundy Thursday, March 29, 2018 - Ex 12:1-8,11-14; 1 Cor 11:23-26; Jn 13:1-15

Maundy Thursday - Ex 12:1-8,11-14; 1 Cor 11:23-26; Jn 13:1-15

  1. What is special about the washing of the disciples' feet by Jesus?

  2. It is found in all four gospels
    It is found only in the Gospel of John
    It is found only in Mark and John

  3. Who objected to Jesus washing his feet?

  4. Simon Peter
    Judas Iscariot
    James and John

  5. Where did the Lord address Moses and Aaron?

  6. In the land of Israel
    In the land of Egypt
    In the land of Assyria

  7. On which day was the lamb to be slaughtered?

  8. Tenth day
    Fourteenth day
    Eleventh day

  9. How were the people to eat the Passover?

  10. Slowly
    Sitting down

  11. On which day of the first month was each family to take a lamb?

  12. Twelfth

  13. Which festival is mentioned in the Gospel text of today?

  14. Tabernacles

  15. How old was the lamb to be that was taken for each household?

  16. Six months
    Two years
    A year old

  17. With what was the lamb to be eaten?

  18. Unleavened bread and bitter herbs
    Bread and butter
    Bread and vegetables

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

  20. The new command Jesus gave is to love unconditionally
    Washing of the feet means spending ourselves in service

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Thursday, March 29, 2018 - Maundy Thursday - To love as Jesus loved. To live as Jesus lived.

To read the texts click on the texts: Ex 12:1-8,11-14; 1 Cor 11:23-26; Jn 13:1-15

The English word Maundy comes from the Latin Mandatum which means command. And the reason why Maundy Thursday is so called is because the church celebrates this as the day in which Jesus gave his love command. What Jesus was in effect doing was summarizing his entire life. In bending down to wash the feet of the disciples in Jn 13:1-13, Jesus brings together all that he was, all that he is, all that he does. With Jesus there was no dichotomy, there was no separation between his being and his doing. Jesus did who he was. Jesus said what he did.

And so, on this Maundy Thursday we are called through this event of the washing of the feet, to ask ourselves some serious questions, and the first of these is “Is there a separation between my being and my doing?

Am I one of those persons who say one thing but does another? Or am I a person who does not do what he says?

Am I a person who cannot be trusted to fulfil an obligation?

Am I a person who is known for not keeping his word? Another area that we can look at, is the area of our conditional, of determined love?

Is my love barter exchange? Do I expect something in return for my love? Is my relationship with people a matter of “you give me, I give you”? Is it a matter of how much can I get out of this person rather than how much can I give?

Another theme that we can look upon during this reflection is the prophetic gesture that Jesus performs when he washes the feet of the disciples. Many interpret this gesture as an action of a slave. However, John is very clear that the washing was not before the meal as slaves would do but when they were in the midst of the meal. And even though Jesus knows that Judas is going to betray him, even though Jesus knows that Peter is going to deny him, he washes their feet. And this is what is prophetic about the gesture. First, that it was done after the meal had begun, something totally unexpected, and second, that he could wash the feet of the betrayer, of a denier and of the others who ran away. So there was nothing within the disciples that would have prompted anyone to wash their feet; there was nothing within the disciples that would have made anyone reach out to them. It was what was in Jesus that made him even to look at the disciples with the eyes, the heart, the mind, of love. And even as he washed the feet of Judas and Peter, he was loving, forgiving and accepting them. This is the true meaning of forgiveness; it is the true meaning of love, it is the true meaning of Maundy Thursday.

So, If Jesus was able to bring together his being and his doing, his word and his action, I need to ask myself whether I can do that myself. If Jesus was able to love unconditionally, expecting nothing in return, I need to ask myself whether I’m capable of such love. If Jesus was able to love, forgive, and accept and pardon even those who he knew would reject him, deny him, betray him, am I capable of such forgiveness and acceptance? This is the theme of the life of Jesus, of the ministry of Jesus and of what Jesus is calling us to do before we enter, to reflect on his passion. And we need to ask ourselves what have I done for Christ, what am I doing for Christ, what ought I do for Christ?

During this time and before we can enter the passion proper, our hearts, our minds, our whole being must get ready for this challenge. In the gospel of Lk 9:57-62, we read about the would be disciples of Jesus, those who had the intention, may be even the desire of following, but those who had excuses ready why they could not follow. Am I like those would be disciples, am I like those who are ready with an excuse why I cannot love or cannot forgive, am I like those who are ready in fact that being and doing do not coincide and so can find an excuse. Or am I going to rise up to that challenge of Jesus who invites me today to take up your cross and follow him. And even as I spoke about love and forgiveness, I want to speak about your own love and forgiveness; I want to speak about your own love for your husband or your wife, for your children or parents, for your neighbour or your colleague, and I would like to ask you whether your love is unconditional or whether it can be termed barter exchange. A very good way to find that out is to ask yourself this question – Do I love this person? Is it because of an obligation, is it because of a duty, is it because many years ago I made a commitment in the church, and so now I have to stick to that commitment? If that is the case, then it is very likely that your love is a barter exchange. But, if your love is without any kind of wanting from the other person then it can be like the love of Jesus.

And even as you are unable to forgive, I would like to direct your attention to this beautiful scene, and picture in your mind’s eye of Jesus washing the feet of Judas, looking at him possibly, looking at his eyes and seeing in there the betrayal, and yet having the ability to wash his feet and forgive. If you can think, reflect, pray and know in your heart that you are capable of such love, then you can enter with the Lord into his passion.

Tuesday 27 March 2018

Wednesday, March 28, 2018 - Do you often blame God and others when things do not go the way you want them to go? Will you grow up and accept responsibility for your actions today? Do you often play “the blame game”? Do you not realize that when you point one finger at someone there are three pointing back at you?

To read the texts click on the texts: Isa50:4-9; Mt 26:14-25

The text on the day before Maundy Thursday invites us to reflect on the initiative taken by Judas in going to the chief priests and agreeing to betray Jesus, the preparation for the Passover and the prediction of Judas’ betrayal.

Matthew’s reason for the betrayal by Judas is greed. Judas wants something if he agrees to betray Jesus and agrees to the thirty pieces of silver offered to him, a detail mentioned only by Matthew. Unlike in Mark where the money is promised, in Matthew Judas is paid on the spot. Some see the reference to the thirty silver pieces as taken by Matthew from Zech 11:12-13 in which there is an obscure reference to the wages of a shepherd, who puts money back into the treasury. In Exod 21:32 thirty silver pieces is the price of an injured slave.

According to Exod 12:1-20, the Passover lambs were to be killed on the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan, and the festival itself began with the ritual meal on the evening that began the 15th of Nisan. The Festival of Unleavened Bread began on the 15th and continued for seven days, during which no leaven should be found in the house. By the first century, the two festivals had merged and their names were used interchangeably. In addition, the pious practice of removing leaven one day early, the 14th, had become common.

Preparation for the Passover involved (1) locating an appropriate place within the city walls of Jerusalem, the only legitimate location for eating the Passover meal; (2) searching the room for leaven and removing any items that might contain yeast (bread crumbs, etc.); (3) obtaining a lamb and having it ritually slaughtered by the priests in the Temple; (4) roasting the lamb and preparing it with the other necessary items for the meal in the place previously arranged. While it is important to Matthew for theological reasons that the last supper was a Passover, he narrates none of the details associated with the Passover meal and ritual, concentrating his interest on the meal of the new covenant to be celebrated.

While Judas’ question to the chief priests focuses on himself and what he can gain, the disciples question to Jesus focuses on Jesus and what he wants them to do.

After Jesus takes his place at the table, he announces the fact of his betrayal by one of the Twelve. This announcement leads to distress on the part of the disciples. Each asks in turn whether he is the one. Jesus responds by indicating that one of those who eat with him will betray him, but does not explicitly identify Judas. Judas’ question is left till after Jesus’ response.
The dialectic of divine sovereignty and human responsibility in the passion is brought out strongly in Jesus’ comment that it would be better for the betrayer if he had not been born. Jesus is fully aware of who it is that will betray him. God is not taken by surprise in the betrayal that leads to crucifixion; it goes according to the divine plan expressed in Scripture. But this does not relieve the burden of human responsibility. God is fully sovereign, humanity is fully responsible.

Judas who is in the process of betraying Jesus asks if he is the one. Unlike the other disciples who address Jesus as Lord, Judas addresses him as Rabbi indicating that he is not an insider but an outsider. Jesus’ response “You said it” is a clear affirmation that Judas is indeed the one.

There are some, who because they find it easier, prefer to lay the blame at God’s door for their “misfortune”. These are people who have not yet grown up. If children blame others for the mistakes they make or refuse to accept responsibility it can be understood, but when adults do that it is a sign of not having grown up. While it is true that God remains sovereign, it is also true that we as humans have total freedom and thus must accept responsibility for our actions. We are always free to act as we see fit, but we must also realize that our every action has consequences which we must be willing to accept.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018 - Isa 50:4-9; Mt 26:14-25

Wednesday, March 28, 2018 - Isa 50:4-9; Mt 26:14-25

  1. Which is the only Gospel that mentions the amount paid to Judas?

  2. Luke

  3. What will happen to the enemies of the prophet?

  4. They will repent
    They will wear out like a garment
    They will be put to shame

  5. What kind of tongue did the Lord give the prophet?

  6. Teacher

  7. How did Judas address Jesus?

  8. Lord

  9. What part of the day was it when Jesus took his place at table with his disciples?

  10. Morning

  11. How much was Judas paid by the chief priests to betray Jesus?

  12. Forty pieces of silver
    Thirty pieces of silver
    Fifty pieces of silver

  13. On which day of unleavened bread did the disciples come to Jesus?

  14. The third day
    The second day
    The first day

  15. How did the other disciples Jesus?

  16. Lord

  17. Who does Jesus say will betray him?

  18. Judas
    the one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with Jesus

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

  20. We have to accept responsibility for our actions
    We always have a choice. We can choose good or evil
    God is sovereign, but humans are responsible

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Monday 26 March 2018

Audio Reflections of Tuesday, March 27, 2018

To hear the Audio Reflections of Tuesday, March 27, 2018 click HERE

Tuesday, March 27, 2018 - When things do not go the way you plan do you throw in the towel too quickly? Has your arrogance sometimes led to your downfall?

To read the texts click on the texts: Isa49:1-6; Jn 13:21-33, 36-38

The text of today begins after the action of the washing of the feet of his disciples by Jesus and the words that he speaks explaining the meaning of the event. Thus this text must be read with that background in view.

It begins by an announcement of the betrayal in the context of Jesus’ emotional distress. This announcement is greeted with confusion on the part of the disciples. This confusion is an indication that betrayal can lie in the heart of any disciple and that no one is really exempt or can take for granted his/ her fidelity. This confusion leads to questioning on the part of the disciples. Each wants to know who Jesus meant. “The disciple whom Jesus loved” is introduced for the first time in the Gospel and plays a prominent role from now on. The fact that the disciple is not named points to the fact that it is not so much the person, but his relationship to Jesus that defines and determines who he is. Like the Son who is in the bosom of the Father (1:18) so this disciple reclines in the bosom of Jesus. Prompted by Simon Peter’s nod, the beloved disciple asks Jesus who the betrayer is. Through the gesture of giving the morsel to Judas and his words, the contrast between the intimacy of the meal on the one hand and the betrayal by Judas on the other is brought into sharp relief. Even as he is offered a sign of friendship, intimacy and fidelity, Judas chooses distance, betrayal and infidelity. Though Jesus “knows” who will betray him, he still reaches out in love and friendship.

The mention of Satan entering Judas indicates that the real battle is not between Jesus and Judas but between Jesus and the powers’ of evil, between light and darkness, and between falsehood and truth. Jesus is willing to face head on and immediately the powers’ of evil and so instructs Judas to act quickly. Jesus alone understands the significance of the hour. The disciples remain ignorant and even misunderstand. That Judas leaves immediately is an indication that his commands are followed even as he is going to be betrayed. Jesus remains in control of all the events of his “hour”. The phrase “and it was night” can mean on the surface level a chronological notation. However, it has a much deeper meaning in John. On the deeper level it means that Judas has cut himself off from Jesus who alone is the light and also that he has sided with the darkness which tries to overcome the light.

The verses which follow and complete the reading of today can either be seen as a conclusion to the previous episodes of the washing of the feet and the prediction of the betrayal or as an introduction to the Farewell Discourse. They speak of the glorification of Jesus as Son of Man and also of the glorification of the Father. While it is true that the mutual glorification began when the father was manifested through the Son at the incarnation and continued in the words and works of Jesus, it will be completed and reach its fulfilment in the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus to the Father. This final departure from the world and return to the Father is here seen as a seal of the disciples’ new relationship with God, with him and with one another. Jesus responds to Simon Peter’s question about his final destination by predicting Peter’s denial of him. Though Peter protests by offering his life to Jesus in keeping with the command to lay down one’s life for one’s friend, he speaks more from a misplaced enthusiasm than from the reality of the situation. When confronted with reality, Peter will in fact deny Jesus three times.

There are numerous times in our lives when things do not go the way we plan. It is as times like these that we tempted to throw in the towel like Judas and Peter did. However, the challenge is that even at times like these to continue to trust and believe that even though we may not fully understand why things happen the way they do, that God is still in control and will never let anything happen to is that is not for our good and for his glory.
Remaining with Jesus, following his commands and living the life that he demands is thus not an easy task. The numerous laws, rules and regulations of the Jews have been summarized into one command which is to love God by loving neighbour. This reduction of the numerous into one does not mean that the one is easier; it means that the focus has changed from external observance to internal disposition and from personal achievement to grace. That grace is at the heart of the command is made evident in the cases of Judas and Peter who both fail in keeping it. While Judas’ betrayal may be seen as a dramatic and extreme case of refusing to remain with Jesus and follow his commands, the denials by Peter indicate that every disciple is at risk of failure if he/ she depends on his/her own strength and not enough on the Lord.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018 - Isa 49:1-6; Jn 13:21-33, 36-38

Tuesday, March 27, 2018 - Isa 49:1-6; Jn 13:21-33, 36-38

  1. Who asked the Lord where he was going?

  2. The beloved disciple
    Simon Peter

  3. Whose tribes will the prophet raise?

  4. Jacob

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

  6. Pride can sometimes result in a downfall
    Like Judas we too often betray the Lord
    Fidelity to the Lord is not easy and requires grace from God

  7. How many times would the cock crow before Peter denied Jesus three times?

  8. Not even once

  9. Which disciple took the piece of bread and went out?

  10. Peter

  11. How did the Lord make the mouth of the prophet?

  12. Like a polished arrow
    Like a sharp sword
    Like a tree planted by the water

  13. As what will the prophet be given to the nations?

  14. Light

  15. How many chapters does the book of Isaiah contain?

  16. Sixty-six

  17. Who was reclining next to Jesus?

  18. Peter
    The beloved disciple

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Sunday 25 March 2018

Audio Reflections of Monday, March 26, 2018

To hear the Audio Reflections of Monday, March 26, 2018 click HERE

Monday, March 26, 2018 - How will you make the unconditional love of Jesus tangible for at least one person today? Will you respond to the unconditional love of God like Mary or like Judas?

To read the texts click on the texts: Isa42:1-7; Jn 12:1-11

The story of the anointing of Jesus is found in all four Gospels. Yet, the manner of the anointing, the reason for the anointing and the anointing on the head as mentioned by Mark and Matthew and the feet as mentioned by Luke and John indicate that each evangelist interprets the anointing differently. While in Mark and Matthew the anointing is as a preparation for the burial of Jesus’ body and is thus just before the Passion, in Luke the anointing of the feet of Jesus by a sinful woman is an explication of her love and respect for Jesus and his love for her shown in the forgiveness of her sins. The woman is named only in the Gospel of John and is not Mary Magdalene. In John, she is Mary, the sister of Lazarus. Though it is not the head but the feet of Jesus which Mary anoints, the focus of the anointing here is the “hour” of Jesus. The dinner that Jesus is attending here is an anticipation of the last dinner that he will have with his disciples soon.

The story begins with the dinner given for Jesus by Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary. The anointing by Mary is narrated immediately after this. Though Mark also points to the quality of the ointment, only John mentions the quantity. By wiping the feet of Jesus with her hair, Mary anticipates the wiping of the disciples’ feet by Jesus at the last supper. The anointing here therefore points to the washing and wiping of the feet of the disciples by Jesus. The protest about the extravagance of the gesture is voiced in John by Judas alone. This is already an anticipation of the betrayer’s role that Judas will play later in the garden. The protest of Judas is not genuine, because his concern stems from his own desire to steal. Jesus’ response to Judas is to point to the revelatory significance of Mary’s act. It is an anticipation of the final anointing after the death of Jesus and thus confirms that it will take place. Jesus also reminds his disciples of the limited time before his “hour” and invites them to recognize it like Mary did. They need to respond like her.

Since many of the Jews were going to Jesus and began to believe in him, the chief priests make plans to kill Jesus. They also plan to kill Lazarus so as not to leave any trace of the miraculous powers of Jesus and also to stop people from believing in him.

The contrast between the insight of Mary and the blindness of Judas is brought out powerfully in this story. She recognizes who Jesus is and the fate that awaits him and so acts accordingly. Judas on the other hand has closed himself to the revelation of God in Jesus and thus can only act to suit his selfish interests. The anointing of the feet by Mary and the wiping them with her hair is also an indication of the action of a true disciple of Jesus. She anticipates what her master and Lord will do and does it. She does not need to be taught it like the other disciples at the last supper. She has learnt it by observing the actions of the Lord. Judas on the other has shown that he is not a true disciple because he is able to see only the negative in the loving action of service and reaching out. His only response is therefore to protest.

The love command was not only spoken of by Jesus but lived out by him throughout his life. The best manner in which that love command was manifested was not only in the washing of the feet of his disciples, but in the spreading out of his arms in total surrender and unconditional love. This is the love to which we as disciples are challenged today. We can decide to respond like Mary because we are convinced and have experienced the unconditional love of God ourselves, or we can be like Judas who focus on our own selfish interests and so miss out on the beauty and reality of unconditional love.

Monday, March 26, 2018 - Isa 42:1-7; Jn 12:1-11

Monday, March 26, 2018 - Isa 42:1-7; Jn 12:1-11

  1. Who planned to put Lazarus to death as well?

  2. The Chief priests
    The Scribes
    The Pharisees

  3. What will the Lord's servant not break?

  4. A dimly burning wick
    A bruised reed
    His own back

  5. Who complained about the cost of the perfume?

  6. Judas

  7. For how many denarii could the perfume been sold?

  8. One hundred
    Two hundred
    Three hundred

  9. How many days before the Passover did Jesus come to Bethany?

  10. Six

  11. From which book is the first reading of today taken?

  12. Isaiah

  13. Who wiped Jesus' feet with her hair?

  14. Mary

  15. What is special about the incident of the anointing of Jesus?

  16. It is found in all four Gospels
    It is found only in the Gospel of John
    It is not found in the Gospel of Luke

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

  18. Jesus' love is unconditional
    What we call love is often barter exchange
    We must respond to God like Mary and not Judas

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Saturday 24 March 2018

Sunday, March 25, 2018 - Passion and Palm Sunday - Son and Slave, Servant and king

To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 50:4-7; Phil2:6-11; Mk 14:1-15:47

In the past, the fifth Sunday of Lent (the Sunday before Palm Sunday) was known as Passion Sunday, However, following Vatican II, the sixth Sunday of Lent was officially re-named Passion Sunday. This Sunday is also called Palm Sunday, since palm branches are still distributed, but the focus is on the betrayal arrest, suffering and crucifixion of Jesus rather than on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem just before his death. Passion / Palm Sunday is the start of Holy Week in which the Church commemorates the Last Supper and the first Eucharist on Holy Thursday and Christ’s death on Good Friday.

What Jesus experiences for us is a manifestation of God’s overwhelming love for each one of us. Further, by our identifying ourselves with the ‘mystery’ of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection we ourselves experience a great liberation, a joy and freedom. This is because Christ came for precisely this purpose, to save in and through his death.

This idea is brought out powerfully by Mark in his Passion Narrative, which, though the shortest of all the four, is unique in many ways. While some think that the Passion narrative proper begins with the last supper, others see it as beginning with the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane after the supper. The fact that the reading of today begins at 1:1 is an indication that the Church wants us to see the Passion Narrative beginning with the plot to arrest and kill Jesus. Be that as it may, it seems to me that the Passion Narrative actually begins after the Baptism of Jesus, when Jesus accepts the invitation of the Father to be both beloved son and slave, but more importantly the invitation to become beloved son and king, by being slave and servant.
Following the last supper and beginning with the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane, the narrative may be seen to be divided into six parts. The first of these is the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane, followed by the scene of his arrest. There is then the trial before the Sanhedrin or the Jewish trial followed by the Roman trial. This is followed by the way of the cross, crucifixion, and the events after the death of Jesus and concluded in the sixth scene by the burial of Jesus.

The prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane (14:32-42) is a lesson in prayer. There are two aspects to this prayer. The first aspect is that this is the only time in the Gospel that Mark gives us the content of the prayer of Jesus. In the first part of the prayer, Jesus states his petition, but adds in the second part that he wants this to accord with God’s will. The second aspect of the prayer is that though Jesus does not hear the Father’s voice like he heard at his Baptism and Transfiguration, he gets up fortified after his prayer. The fact that he was fortified is seen clearly in Jesus’ response to those who come to arrest him (14:43-52). If God wanted it this way, Jesus was willing. The disciples all run away. Not even one remains.

The trial before the Sanhedrin (14:53-72) ends with the whole Sanhedrin condemning him, not one voice is raised in protest. The trial before Pilate (15:1-15), deals with a political question which is whether Jesus is king of the Jews. Jesus’ response is enigmatic. He neither denies nor confirms. Pilate representing the Roman authorities condemns Jesus to death.

On the way to the place of crucifixion, Jesus is hailed as King of the Jews albeit in mockery. Those who mock him do not realize that this is indeed the kind of king he has come to be. When on the cross, the passersby deride him and the chief priests mock him. Even the one crucified with him taunts him. Jesus has no support from anyone. He is alone. Not even his Father will come to his aid. But the centurion recognizes the crucified Jesus, the Jesus who dies on the Cross as Son of God.

The final scene in the Passion narrative which is the scene of Jesus’ burial (15:42-47) also reinforces the idea of a servant king. Joseph of Arimathea who was a respected member of the Sanhedrin that condemned him as deserving death now realizes that Jesus is indeed Son of God. This is what prompts him to take courage and ask Pilate for Jesus’ body, so that he could bury it. This is exactly how Jesus won victory. In his suffering and ignominy, God vindicates him. He becomes Son of God when he hangs on the Cross.

This vindication and exaltation forms the last part of the kenosis hymn of Paul. The hymn summarises the whole of salvation history succinctly. It begins with the pre-existence of Christ, moves on to the incarnation and mission and then narrates his passion and death on the cross before speaking of his resurrection and exaltation.

However, there is no room for any kind of triumphalism here! There is no room for a victory that does not first know the “fellowship of His sufferings” on behalf of others. He clung to nothing; he let go of everything. Do we have the courage to do likewise?

Sunday, March 25, 2018 - Passion and Palm Sunday - Isa 50:4-7; Phil 2:6-11; Mk 14:1-15:47

Sunday, March 25, 2018 - Passion and Palm Sunday - Isa 50:4-7; Phil2:6-11; Mk 14:1-15:47

  1. Where di Jesus pray to the Father?

  2. In Gethsemane
    Mount of Olives
    Kidron Valley

  3. For how many denarii could the ointment that the woman used have been sold?

  4. Three hundred
    Two hundred
    One hundred

  5. In which place was the house of Simon the leper?

  6. Capernaum

  7. What kind of tongue has the Lord given the Prophet?

  8. A seer
    A Teacher
    A Prophet

  9. To whom did Judas go to betray Jesus?

  10. The Scribes
    The chief priests
    The Pharisees

  11. Which part of Jesus' body did the woman anoint?

  12. The feet
    The head
    The forehead

  13. How many days before the Passover were the chief priests and scribes looking for a way to arrest J

  14. Three

  15. How many times will the cock crow before Peter will deny Jesus?

  16. Thrice

  17. Why did they not want to arrest Jesus during the festival?

  18. Because there would be a riot
    Because they had a change of heart
    Because they were concerned with worship

  19. Whom did Jesus take with him when he went to pray?

  20. Peter and James and Andrew
    Peter and James and John
    Peter and James and Philip

  21. What did the crowd who came to arrest Jesus have?

  22. Lanterns and torches
    Swords and clubs

  23. How did Judas address Jesus before he kissed him?

  24. Lord

  25. Who questioned Jesus at the Sanhedrin trial?

  26. The chief priests
    The High Priest
    The Pharisees

  27. What question did Pilate ask Jesus?

  28. Are you the Son of God?
    Are you the king of the Jews?
    Are you the Messiah?

  29. What was the name of the prisoner released in place of Jesus?

  30. Judas

  31. What colour was the robe that the soldiers put on Jesus?

  32. Purple

  33. How many women were watching from a distance?

  34. Four

  35. Who asked Pilate for the body of Jesus?

  36. Nicodemus
    Joseph of Arimathea
    His mother

  37. Whose father was Simon of Cyrene?

  38. Alexander and Rufus
    James and John
    Peter and Andrew

  39. What is the message of Passion and Palm Sunday?

  40. It is often the case that the very ones who cry "Hossana"will also cry "Curcify him"
    Jesus went to the cross courageously and has set an example for us
    Jesus' death on the cross results in salvation for the whole world

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