Friday, 31 July 2020
Saturday, August 1, 2020 - Will you, like John the Baptist point to Jesus through your life today? How?
Thursday, 30 July 2020
Friday, July 31, 2020 - St. Ignatius of Loyola - The Founder of the Society of Jesus - A transformed and transforming life
To read the texts click on the texts: Dt 30:15-20; 1 Tim 1:12-17; Lk 9:18-26
The readings of today set the tone for the celebration of the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits. In the first reading of today, Moses makes a strong plea to the Israelites to choose life. Ignatius did precisely that when he was convalescing after the injury he suffered at the battle of Pamplona in 1520. His reflections during this time became the turning point of his life. It was when lying in his sick bed and contemplating the life of Christ that he decided that everything was refuse when compared with the knowledge of Christ.
This deep and intimate knowledge of Christ which was not merely intellectual but knowledge of the heart, led him to love Christ with all his heart and mind and to follow him unconditionally.
It was this intimate knowledge of Christ which sustained him all through his life and especially during the tremendous challenges that he faced. Like Paul, he too believed that he received mercy from the Lord. One important reason for receiving this mercy in such large measure was because he recognised that he was a sinner and in need of God’s grace made available freely in Christ. Like Paul, Ignatius became an example to many. One of these whom he converted through Christ’s grace was the now famous Francis Xavier.
The Gospel text from Luke serves as an apt description of how Ignatius perceived his master and Lord Jesus. Though Luke depends on Mark for this scene of Peter’s confession, he has made some significant changes in order to bring out his meaning of the text. The first is that unlike Mark, Luke does not give the geographical location (Caesarea Philippi), but gives instead the context of the prayer of Jesus. Through this change, Luke makes the confession a spiritual experience. Luke also changes Marks, “one of the prophets” to “one of the old prophets has risen.” Though the difference does not appear to be great, it is for Luke. In the Gospel of Luke, before Jesus everything is old. Jesus makes all things new. Luke has also eliminated Peter’s refusal to accept Jesus as the suffering Messiah and the rebuke of Peter by Jesus. Luke avoids narrating Marcan texts that show Peter and even the disciples in a bad light.
The second question to the disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” shows on the one hand that the answers given of the crowd’s understanding of Jesus are inadequate, and on the other that Jesus wants to know their understanding of him. In all the Synoptic Gospels it is Peter who answers, but here too Luke adds to Mark’s, “You are the Christ”, the words “of God”. The Greek word “Christos” means in English “the anointed” and this conveys the meaning of royalty. However, by his addition, Luke also brings in the prophetical dimension of Jesus’ person and mission. This prophetical dimension is explicated in the verses, which follow the confession of Peter, in which Jesus explains the kind of Christ/Messiah/Anointed One that he will be. The reason for the rebuke or “stern order” not to tell anyone is because Jesus wanted to avoid any misunderstanding of the term which could be understood only in the glorious sense. Jesus as “the Christ of God” will come in glory, but only after he has gone to the cross, died, been buried and then raised.
Taken together the five sayings on discipleship show clearly that discipleship to Jesus requires a total commitment of life, taking the cross, giving one’s life in obedience to Jesus’ direction, forsaking the pursuit of wealth, and living out one’s discipleship publicly before others.
This is what Ignatius did and taught others to do. Today more than 450 years after his death, his legacy still remains. The Society of Jesus that he founded remains a Society that has at its core the following of the Crucified Christ.
Wednesday, 29 July 2020
Thursday, July 30, 2020 - If the sorting were to take place now, would you be kept or thrown away? What will you do to ensure that you are kept?
To read the texts click on the texts: Jer 18:1-6; Mt 13:47-53
The parable of the Net (13,47-48) its interpretation (13,49-50) and the parable of the householder (13, 51-52) are found only in the Gospel of Matthew.
In the parable of the Net, a large net is used to catch fish of every kind. There is no sorting out of the fish at the time of their being caught. It is only after the net is full and drawn ashore that the sorting takes place. The good fish are kept and the bad are thrown away.
The interpretation focuses on the fate of the evil (bad fish), which will be thrown into the furnace of fire. It does not speak about the fate of the righteous except to say that the evil will be separated from them.
In the parable of the householder, both the new and old are affirmed. However, the old, which is valuable, is presented in a new light and therefore seen in a new way. The fact that the order of the words is “new” and “old” is an indication that the new is to be used to interpret the old and not the other way around.
Tuesday, 28 July 2020
Wednesday, July 29, 2020 - St. Martha - Will you like Martha, presume to tell Jesus what he ought to do, or will you like Mary listen to what he would like you to do
To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Jn 4:7-16; Lk 10:38-42
St. Martha whose feast is celebrated today is mentioned in the Gospels of Luke and John. She is the sister of Mary and Lazarus. She comes across in the Gospel of Luke as a doer.
This text, which speaks of the encounter of Martha and Mary with Jesus, takes the form of a pronouncement story (a story in which a saying of Jesus stands out and is the focus of the story). While the Gospel of Luke explicitly mentions women disciples of Jesus, here Mary is even sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to his teaching, something unthinkable at the time of Jesus. By sitting at his feet, Mary is acting like a male, and in doing so neglects her duty of helping to prepare the meal. This action of Mary also results in bringing shame upon her house. Though justified Martha’s protest is put negatively by her. It is clear that her focus is not the Lord, but herself. She is concerned not with her service of the Lord, but the trouble that it is causing her because she is left alone to serve. The response of Jesus to Martha is the main point of the story and the pronouncement. The repetition of her name is a mild rebuke. Her “cares” have prevented her from unhindered devotion and attention to the Lord. Mary has chosen the one thing necessary and that is the Lord. Martha presumes to tell Jesus what he should do; Mary lets Jesus tell her what to do.
There are times when we do things not because we are convinced that they have to be done but because we want the approval of others or we want others to know how hard we are working. These are selfish acts and do not bring grace. The act that does bring grace is when we do what has to be done simply because it has to be done and expect nothing in return.
Monday, 27 July 2020
Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - Are you too quick to condemn others merely by what you notice externally? Will you reserve your judgement today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Jer 14:17-22; Mt 13:36-43
These verses contain the interpretation or allegory of the parable of the weeds and are found only in the Gospel of Matthew. Since Jesus speaks to the crowds only in parables, Matthew has Jesus go into the house after leaving the crowds and explain privately the meaning of the parable to his disciples. In the interpretation, the attention is on the weeds and so on the final judgement. The Son of Man has indeed sowed good seed in the field, which is the world and not merely the church, but the devil who is responsible for the second sowing has sown weeds. Though this is the case, it is not the believers who represent the good seed who will pass judgement on the unbelievers who represent the weeds Judgement will be passed by God through the Son of Man.
We sometimes wonder why “evil” people seem to be thriving. When we do this we are already making a judgement about a person or about something, which we might not fully know. If we avoid comparing ourselves with others and stop labelling them especially when we are not fully aware of the facts, we can concentrate better on what we are called to do and be.
Sunday, 26 July 2020
To read the texts click on the texts: Jer 13:1-11; Mt 13:31-35
There are three parts to the text of today. The first is the parable of the mustard seed (13,31-32) then is the parable of the yeast (13,33) and finally the reason why Jesus speaks in parables (13,34-35).
While the parable of the Mustard seed is found also in Mark 4,30-32, Matthew follows the Q version more closely. While in Mark, the mustard seed becomes more correctly a shrub which puts forth large branches (Mk 4,32) and the birds of the air make nests in the shade of the shrub (Mk 4,32), in Matthew, the mustard seed becomes a tree (13,32) and the birds of the air makes nests in its branches (13,32). The tree motif probably has references to the symbol of the imperial tree mentioned in Ezekiel 17,23 and 31,6. The point, however seems to be to contrast the present lowliness of the kingdom with its ultimate greatness.
In the parable of the yeast, we are told about the act of a specific woman in hiding the yeast in three measures of flour, just as the mustard seed had spoken about the act of a specific man in sowing the seed. Yeast, here is used in the positive sense, whereas generally it has negative overtones. The reason for the use of yeast as a symbol for the kingdom is to probably shock the listeners. The quantity of flour into which the yeast is hid is three measures, which would produce enough bread to feed about 150 people, and is indeed a large amount, brings out the aspects abundance and extravagance. The kingdom at present seems small and insignificant, as is the yeast, but it will be revealed in its fullness later.
Though Mt 13,34 parallels the conclusion of Mark’s parable discourse (Mk 4,33-34), which states that Jesus spoke to the crowds only in parables, Matthew has added in 13,35 the eighth of his formula or fulfilment quotations. The quotation is from Ps 78,2 and Matthew probably uses it because of the word “parable” found in it, though the context in the Psalm is not about hiding but about revelation.
We might tend to get discouraged sometimes when we cannot see clearly the results of our actions. We have striven hard and at times all that we have to show for our hard work seems negligible in comparison. The parables of the mustard seed and yeast are calling us to continue to sow and mix or in other words to do what is required of us to the best of our ability.
Saturday, 25 July 2020
To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Kgs 3:5,7-12; Rom 8:28-30; Mt 13:44-52
The parables of the treasures hidden in a field and the pearl of great price which begin the Gospel reading break the natural flow of ideas from the allegory of the parable of the wheat and weeds, which are continued in the parable of the net. Though the word “treasure” at the beginning of today’s text (13:44) and again at the end of it (13:52) is an indication that all these verses form one unit, this homily will focus on the first two parables of today’s reading. These parables are found only in Gospel of Matthew and the first point that strikes one is the brevity of the parables. They do not give too many details and one must avoids the danger of filling in details which are not in the parables.
Both parables centre on one point, namely that the main character in the parable sells everything that he has for the sake of what he wants. They each act with single-mindedness. However, even as the one working in the field does not seem to be looking for something specific, the merchant is specifically searching for fine pearls. Though questions may be raised about the legality, integrity and honesty of the one working in the field or about the prudence of the merchant, these do not seem to have any connection with the main point.
The parables pronounce no judgement on the ethics or commonsense of the characters, but stress that the coming of the kingdom requires radical decisions. An important point that must be noted here is that the decisions of the individuals to do what they did, come after the discovery is made. This means that is the discovery which prompts the decision. In other words, after the discovery they could not but do what they did. The discovery compels their action.
The discovery that wisdom was indeed that treasure led Solomon to forgo all that a “sensible” person might have considered important and even necessary. As a young king he had many legitimate needs. He needed wealth, military might, fame, security, prosperity, long life and happiness and yet he knew that these were not the real treasure, these were not the pearl of great price. In the first reading of today in which he responds to God’s generosity to him by asking for the gift of wisdom or a discerning mind indicates that he too had discovered the treasure and pearl.
Thus it may be said that the kingdom of God is not really a place but a state of being. The treasure and pearl of great price are not things that one possesses, rather it is something that possesses or grasps us. It is what leads us to let go of everything else that we might possess and focus on it alone. It is that good which contains in itself or brings along with it all other good and desirable things, that which completely satisfies the otherwise insatiable desires of the human heart.
The kingdom of God is God’s reign in our hearts, in our lives, in our society, and in our world. The one who finds the kingdom of God finds everything desirable besides. That is why it is compared to hidden treasure in a field which a man finds, then goes and sells all that he has and buys the field. Or a precious pearl which a merchant finds, then goes and sells everything he has and buys this one pearl. In fact, these parables invite us not only to seek first the kingdom of God but to seek only the kingdom because with the kingdom of God comes every other good thing that we desire and long for.
Paul gives us a good picture of the kingdom in today’s second reading. It is the kingdom when all things somehow work together for good for those who love God. This is being done by God himself who will cooperate with them. It is the kingdom when seekers will receive his justification and share his glory. The kingdom of God is God’s reign in our hearts, in our lives, in our homes, in our society, and in our world. It is the realization that God loves us unconditionally and that nothing that we may do – however despicable – will ever stop that love from flowing into our hearts.
Friday, 24 July 2020
St. James is described as one of the first disciples along with his brother John to join Jesus (Mk 1:19-20). He was one of the three whom Jesus took with him when he raised Jairus daughter from the dead (Mk 5:35-43), on the mountain of transfiguration (Mk 9:2-9) and at Gethsemane (Mk 14:32-42).
The Acts of the Apostles 12:1 records that Herod had James executed by sword. He is the only apostle whose martyrdom is recorded in the New Testament.
The Gospel text chosen for the feast of St. James is from the Gospel of Matthew. In order to spare the disciples, whom Matthew usually represents as understanding, Matthew replaces the Marcan disciples’ own request with one represented by their mother and does not name the “sons of Zebedee” here. The request for seats at the “right hand and left hand” reflects the rule of the Son of Man from his throne.
In his reply to the request the Matthean Jesus focuses on the image of the cup which is used as a symbol for suffering, testing, rejection, judgement and even violent death. Though they express confidence that they are able to drink the cup, Jesus knows better. However, even martyrdom will not gain the disciples special places. That is God’s prerogative and grace.
Jesus then takes the disciples to another level and perspective of leadership where to be a leader is not to dominate or dictate but to serve. Christian leadership may be defined as service.
James understood this after the death and resurrection of Jesus as was evident in his martyrdom. He followed his Lord and Master to the end and did indeed drink the cup courageously.
Thursday, 23 July 2020
Friday, July 24, 2020 - What prevents you from listening to what God is calling you to do? What will you do about it today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Jer 3:14-17; Mt 13:18-23
These verses contain what is known as the allegory of the parable of 13:10-17. Unlike Mark who does not give it a name, Matthew names it the Parable of the Sower (13:18), and in doing so concentrates attention on the Sower. While in the Marcan interpretation there is confusion as to whether the seed is the word (as in Mark 4:14) or the hearers (as in Mark 4,16,18,20), Matthew rewrites Mark to avoid this confusion but does not succeed fully in this endeavour. Matthew also specifies that the word that is sown is the word of the kingdom. While in Mark collective nouns are used focussing on a group of people, Matthew emphasises individual responsibility by changing the nouns to the singular. Despite these changes, Matthew essentially adopts the interpretation of the Parable as in Mark 4:13-20 where it is understood as the Church’s reflection on its bearing witness to the Gospel that Christ inaugurated.
Christianity is both an individual and communitarian religion. Each sacrament has both the individual and communitarian dimensions. This means that while on the one hand we are each responsible for the other, we are also responsible for ourselves and need to make our commitment individually. We cannot disown this responsibility or thrust it on the community.
Wednesday, 22 July 2020
Thursday, July 23, 2020 - Do you consider yourself a disciple or are you an outsider? How does your discipleship show in your life?
To read the texts click on the texts: Jer 2:1-3,7-8,12-13; Mt 13:10-17
This text concerns the reason for Jesus’ speaking in parables. While in Mark (4,10-12) a larger group asks about the parables, in Matthew, it is the disciples who ask Jesus why he speaks to “them” in parables. Understanding the parables of Jesus is not simply a matter of using one’s intellect, but a grace given by God himself. It is given to those who acknowledge their dependence on God. Only those who have committed themselves to follow Jesus are given an insight into the mysteries of the kingdom. Since they have Jesus as their teacher, they will be able to understand all there is to know. The closed attitude of those who do not wish to follow is what is responsible for their lack of understanding. Matthew quotes Isaiah 6,9-10 completely here, and regards the lack of understanding as a fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy. Since the disciples are open and receptive they are indeed blessed. They are able to see and hear and understand what mere human knowledge can never hope to understand.
Humanity has taken great strides in the areas of science and technology, and yet there are many things that we still do not understand. We can use technology to communicate with someone who is thousands of miles away, but technology cannot explain to us why we cannot communicate with a neighbour who lives by our side. This must lead to the realisation that when all is said and done we will still fall short of understanding all the mysteries there are and have to depend on God.
Tuesday, 21 July 2020
Wednesday, July 22, 2020 - St. Mary Magdalene - Will you like Mary Magdalene be an Apostle of the Ascension of Jesus? How?
To read the texts click on the texts:Canticles(Song of Solomon) 3:1-4; Jn 20:1-2,11-18
Except for Mary, the mother of Jesus, few women are honoured in the Bible as Mary Magdalene. She is mentioned by all four evangelists as being present at the empty tomb. In the Gospel of John she is the first person to whom Jesus appeared after his resurrection.
After Peter and the beloved disciple see the empty tomb with the linen cloths, they return home. Though John does not give any reason why Mary returns to the tomb, he, also, of all the evangelists, tells us that she stood outside the tomb weeping. This detail sets the stage for the fulfilment of the promise of Jesus that the sorrow of the disciples will turn to joy (16:20, 22). Mary sees the angels who make no pronouncement of the resurrection. In John, the pronouncement of the resurrection and ascension comes only through Jesus. The angels only draw attention to Mary’s present state. Mary’s response to the question of the angels is a plaintive cry for her “lost” Lord.
Immediately after she makes this statement, Jesus himself appears to her but, because of her tears, she cannot recognize him. While Jesus repeats the question of the angels and thus, draws renewed attention to Mary’s present state, he asks a second and more important question: “Whom are you looking for?” This, or a similar question, is asked three times in the Gospel of John. The first time Jesus asks such a question is to the two disciples who follow him (1:38). These are the first words spoken by Jesus in the Gospel of John and so, carry added significance. The question here is “What do you seek?” The second time, the question is asked of those who come to arrest Jesus in the garden (18:4). The question in all three instances, while courteous, is a deep and penetrating question. It requires the one of whom it is asked to go deep into him/herself to search for the response. The disciples are seeking for the residence of Jesus but encounter the Messiah. Those who come to arrest Jesus are seeking for “Jesus of Nazareth” and so are thrown to the ground. Mary Magdalene is seeking for the dead Jesus, but finds the risen Lord.
Yet, this recognition of the risen Lord is not easy for Mary to make. While in many instances in Jesus’ life, the metaphors he used were misunderstood, here it is Jesus himself. Mary is so caught up in her own desire for the dead Jesus and for what she wants that she cannot recognize his voice when he asks her two pertinent questions. It is only when Jesus calls her name that she is awakened. Though some spiritualize this scene by stating that Mary recognized Jesus since only he called her in this manner, it is not plausible, since John does not speak of the intonation or inflection in the voice of Jesus. Others interpret this scene as a revelation of Jesus as the good shepherd who knows his sheep by name. The sheep respond to his voice, when he calls to them, as Mary does here. Though this is more plausible, it must also be noted that Mary does not recognize Jesus’ voice before he calls her name, although he has asked two questions of her. It thus seems that the main reason Mary was able to recognize Jesus when her name was called was because, being so caught up in herself, only calling her by name would have awakened her from her stupor. That this seems to be the best explanation is also evident in the response of Mary on hearing her name. After addressing Jesus as “Rabbouni”, which is an endearing term, she wants to cling to Jesus. Though the text does not explicitly state that Mary held on to Jesus, his words indicate that either she was about to do so or had already done so. Jesus will not allow this. Mary has to go beyond her selfish interests and get used to the presence of the Lord in a new way. She need not hold onto a memory since Jesus is and continues to be.
Despite this self absorption, Jesus commands Mary to be an apostle, not merely of the resurrection but of the ascension. For the first time in the Gospel of John, the Father becomes the Father of the disciples also. A new family is created. This means that the disciples and Jesus are related. Jesus is the brother of all disciples and the disciples share the same relationship with God that Jesus shares.
Mary does what Jesus commanded. She has indeed seen the risen Lord. This return makes new life possible for the believing community, because Jesus’ ascent to God renders permanent that which was revealed about God during the incarnation. The love of God, embodied in Jesus, was not of temporary duration, lasting only as long as the incarnation. Rather, the truth of Jesus’ revelation of God receives its final seal in his return to God.
Self pity, uncontrollable grief, and self absorption can all prevent us from encountering Jesus in the challenging situations of life just as they did Mary Magdalene. These emotions take hold of us when we misunderstand the promises of God or, when we do not take them as seriously as we ought. They arise when we give up, even before we begin, or when we prefer to be negative rather than positive about life. It is at times like these that Jesus comes to us, like he came to Mary Magdalene, and asks us to open our eyes and see that he is still with us and alive. He asks us to get used to his presence in all things, in all persons, and in all events. He asks us to be able to see him in the bad times and in the good, in sickness and in health, and in all the days of our lives. We need only open our hearts wide enough to see.
Monday, 20 July 2020
Tuesday, July 21, 2020 - Is Jesus pointing to you as his brother/sister? If yes, Why? If no, why not?
To read the texts click on the texts:Micah 7:14-15,18-20; Mt 12:46-50
The text of today contains a pointer as to who make up the true family of Jesus. Unlike in Mark, where the “crowd” is pointed out to as the true family of Jesus, in Matthew, it is the community of disciples who make up the true family. The point being made in this text is not so much about the mother or brothers and sisters of Jesus, but about who will be regarded as true members of Jesus’ family. The action of stretching out his hand has been used earlier to portray Jesus as compassionate (8:3) and also an act, which will be used later to show him as the great deliverer who comes to the aid of his disciples (14:31). In the concluding statement, the Matthean Jesus makes clear that discipleship and being a member of his family is not merely a matter of verbal profession even proclamation, but doing the will of God. This aspect makes anyone a brother or sister of Jesus.We may imagine that because we have been baptised into the faith we can take for granted that we are members of Jesus’ family. This need not be so, since we need to keep renewing our commitment to Jesus and his cause every day. While verbal proclamation does have its place, it alone is not enough. We must show through our deeds whom we believe in.
Sunday, 19 July 2020
Monday, July 20, 2020 - What sign have you been seeking from the Lord? Will you believe in his presence even in the absence of signs today? How?
To read the texts click on the texts: Micah 6:1-4,6-8; Mt 12:38-42
The text of today is continuation of the earlier text (12, 25-37) in which Jesus makes a series of pronouncements regarding the coming judgement. The Pharisees respond to these statements of Jesus by demanding a sign. In Matthew only disciples address Jesus as Lord, and the address “Teacher” here by the Pharisees indicates that they are not disciples. The sign they demand is a proof of Jesus’ identity. Jesus’ response to the Pharisees’ demand is to make another pronouncement. In this pronouncement he regards them as an “evil and adulterous generation” which means a people who have closed their hearts to the revelation that God is constantly making. The sign of Jonah here refers clearly to the resurrection of Jesus. Further, it is the Gentiles (people of Nineveh) who will rise up and condemn the Jews. It is a clear reversal of roles. Jesus is greater than both Jonah and Solomon.
The manner in which some of us mourn and weep at the death of a loved one seems to indicate that we do not believe in the resurrection. This is the only sign that Jesus continues to give. If we keep looking for other signs of his presence we might find ourselves in the same position as the Pharisees of his time and miss him who makes himself available and visible at every moment of our lives.
Saturday, 18 July 2020
Sunday, July 19, 2020 - Will you continue to be wheat even in a field that is made up largely of weeds?
To read the texts click on the texts:Wis12:13,16-19, Rom 8:26-27; Mt 13:24-43
The first parable of the Gospel text of today, found only in the Gospel of Matthew, is known variously as the parable of the wheat and weeds or the parable of the wheat and darnel or tares. It is one of the only two parables which have been allegorized, the other being the parable of the sower. Though the text for today includes the parables of the mustard seed (13:31-32), and the yeast or leaven (13:33), let us focus on the parable of the wheat and weeds (13:24-30).
The story is told of a man who went from church to church, hoping to find and then join a “perfect church.” In the midst of his search someone was bold enough to say to him, “I feel sorry for that church if you ever find it, for in the moment you join it, it will not be perfect any more!” The parable seems to speak precisely of this: were there to be a perfect church, it would be less than perfect once any human joined it, simply because all are sinners. It also warns us against relying on our human capacity to know full the mind of God. It suggests that what might appear to be bad and corrupt or good and pure to us might not necessarily be any of these. The master’s instructions to the servants are therefore clearly that they are not to get involved with separating the wheat from the weeds. The master goes so far as to say that if they ever try to do it, they could end up damaging the wheat.
This is reiterated by both the first and third readings. The reading from Wisdom speaks of God’s leniency, though he has all the power. He gives sinners time for repentance because though he is just, he is also merciful. Through this patience God teaches humans how they must behave towards their fellow humans. The virtuous must be understanding towards others and slow to condemn.
The text from Romans makes clear that no one can penetrate the mystery and depth and any attempt to do so is futile. God is indeed a mystery and we will never be able to know him fully. One can only accept this fact humbly and realize its truth.
However, the fact is that in every generation, in every century in every epoch of time, there have been and are people who attempt to be more religious than God himself and some who attempt to be more Catholic than the Pope. Such people try to make others feel irreligious, guilty and not very good inside, like weeds in a field of wheat. As humans we are often quick to judge. We want to remove the obstacles in our way, get rid of, or avoid people who disagree with us. We want to make life as simple, as easy, and as straightforward as possible. And unfortunately, many people throughout history have taken it upon themselves to choose who belongs in the field and who should be weeded out.
But we are called today to recognize that it is not for us place to judge others. Our task is not to judge how others should live their lives, for that is between them and God. Our task is to think and judge for ourselves how we should live our own lives. By weighing what we see, feel, and discern, in the context of community, we are given the chance to choose whether we will let what is good grow in us or what is evil. We are called to be wheat as far as possible.
Nothing can stop God’s work in Christ. His kingdom is forever. Even when it is difficult to discern signs of the kingdom, because the field might seem to us to be full of weeds, we must continue to remember that the wheat will continue to grow.
In the meantime we have to accept the fact that we live in a world that has both wheat and weeds. But who can identify weeds? Can we pull up every plant that looks vaguely suspicious?
The truth is that none of us is completely free of evil. As someone once said, “there is more bad in the best of us, and more good in the worst of us, than any of us, in this life, will ever know.” This is all the more reason to leave the sorting of good and evil to God who is patient, merciful and wise. We need to spend our time trying to be wheat in the world rather than pull up weeds. At the harvest, that is what will matter most.
Friday, 17 July 2020
Saturday, July 18, 2020 - How do you usually react to stressful situations? Will you learn from Jesus’ response today?
To read the texts click on the texts:Micah 2:1-5; Mt 12:14-21
The reason why the Pharisees conspire against Jesus, how to destroy him is because he healed a man with a withered arm on the Sabbath, and though at first glance it might seem that this is an overreaction on the part of the Pharisees, when looked at in the broader context of the Kingdom of heaven which Jesus represents and the Kingdom of Satan which is represented by the Jewish leaders and which continues to oppose the Kingdom of heaven, then it is easier to understand the reaction of the Pharisees. The response of Jesus to this conspiracy is to withdraw from that place. However, it is to be noted that Jesus does not withdraw to run away or from fear, but to continue the work of healing and making whole. In this withdrawal is strength and not weakness and it explicates the response of God (Jesus) to human violence and plotting of destruction. Even in his making people whole, Jesus does not want to be known or acclaimed and so commands those whom he has healed to remain silent about their healing and not to make him known. This attitude of Jesus leads to the quotation from Isaiah 42,1-4 which is the longest scriptural quotation in the Gospel of Matthew. It is about the suffering servant of Yahweh whose primary mission is to accept those who have been rejected by others as is shown in his not breaking the bruised reed or quenching the smouldering wick. Also, he does this without much fanfare, and yet his ultimate goal is to bring justice to those who place their hope in him. He will ultimately triumph.
Our response to challenging situations or to situations that threaten us is sometimes to run away from fear, and sometimes to use defence mechanisms. Neither of these ways is advocated by Jesus whose way would be to face the challenges head on.
Thursday, 16 July 2020
To read the texts click on the texts: Isaiah 38:1-6,21-22,7-8; Mt 12:1-8
The story, which forms the text of today, may be termed as a Sabbath controversy. Matthew refers here to Sabbath for the first time in his gospel. The point of contention is not very clear in Matthew, because the law permitted a person passing through a neighbour’s grain field to pluck heads of corn and eat them (Deut 23:23-25). The point here seems to be whether such an act could be done on the Sabbath. While in Mark the Pharisees ask a question, in Matthew, they are clearly hostile and make a charge. In his response to the Pharisees, Jesus quotes refers to the story of David in 1 Samuel 21:1-6, where David went beyond the rule to the need of his men. If David could do such a thing, then Jesus who is greater than David can do so even more. The Matthean Jesus also refers to the text from Numbers 28:9-10 where the priests in the Temple sacrifice there on the Sabbath, indicating that sacrifice is greater than the Sabbath. Since mercy is greater than sacrifice, it is surely greater than the Sabbath.
Reaching out in love to anyone in need takes precedence over every rule, law and regulation. It is the human who must always come first. The rule, law and regulation follows.
Wednesday, 15 July 2020
To read the texts click on the texts:Isaiah 26:7-9,12,16-19; Mt 11:28-30
Jesus invites all those who are burdened to come to him for rest. The burden in this context seems to be that of the law and its obligations. When Jesus invites the burdened to take his yoke, which is easy, he is not inviting them to a life of ease, but to a deliverance from any kind of artificiality or the blind following of rules and regulations. The disciple must learn from Jesus who is in Matthew “the great teacher”. The rest that Jesus offers is the rest of salvation.
We can get so caught up today with wanting to have more that we might lose sight of the meaning of life itself. The desire to acquire more and more and be regarded as successful based on what we possess sometimes leads to missing out on so much that life has to offer.
Tuesday, 14 July 2020
Wednesday, July 15, 2020 - Is your pride preventing you from encountering Jesus? What will you do about it today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Isaiah 10:5-7,13-16; Mt 11:25-27
This text is addressed to all those who accept the message of Jesus unlike those in Chorazin and Bethsaida.
Jesus begins his prayer here by giving thanks to the Father. It is openness to the revelation of God that Jesus makes which is responsible for the receipt of this enormous privilege. Acknowledging Jesus is not a matter of one’s superior knowledge or insight, but given as a gift to those who open themselves to this revelation. Jesus himself is an example of such openness, which allowed him to receive everything directly from God. It is his intimacy with the Father and not his religious genius, which is responsible for this grace.