Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Wednesday, September 22, 2021 - Homily


 

We are called to continue to the Mission inaugurated by Jesus and put into motion by his first disciples. It is a mission, which includes every aspect of life and involves all persons. This means that we are called not to be part-time missionaries or disciples, but on mission always and everywhere.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021 - What does mission mean for you today? How and where will you proclaim it?

To read the texts click on the texts: Ezra 9:5-9; Lk 9:1-6

This passage may be seen as the culmination of the entire section Lk. 7,1 – 8,56. In this section, we were shown the nature of Jesus’ Kingdom mission. The Twelve now share in that same mission. These verses may be termed as the Mission Discourse according to Luke. Though Luke has taken much material from the Mission Discourse of Mark (see Mk. 6,6b-13), he has also made changes, which bring out his meaning of mission more clearly. Before Jesus instructs his disciples on how they must go about their mission, he gives them not only authority as in Mark, but power and authority. This power and authority is given not only over the unclean spirits as in Mark, but over all demons and to cure diseases. Only in Luke are they also sent to “preach the Kingdom of God”. This indicates that for Luke, mission is inclusive and includes both doing as well as saying, both action as well as word.

Besides power and authority, Jesus also gives the disciples a strategy for mission. This may be summed up as detachment from things (take nothing for your journey), persons (stay there and from there depart) and from events (and wherever they do not receive you, when you leave shake off the dust from your feet). Dependence ought to be only on the Providence of God. The rejection shown Jesus is also in store for those sent by Jesus. The last verse in today’s text, underscores the disciples’ obedience to the commands of Jesus by reiterating the principal features of mission: preaching the good news and healing the sick. That mission is universal is made clear in the last word, “everywhere”.

As missionaries today, we are called to continue to the Mission inaugurated by Jesus and put into motion by his first disciples. It is a mission, which includes every aspect of life and involves all persons. This means that we are called not to be part-time missionaries or disciples, but on mission always and everywhere. 

Monday, 20 September 2021

Tuesday, September 21, 2021 - St. Matthew, Apostle


 

There are times when we judge people too easily and many of these times our judgement of them is negative. This is also how we often look at the whole of creation and because we put labels on things, people and all else in creation, we may miss out on the uniqueness that each possesses.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021 - St. Matthew, Evangelist - Matthew wrote a Gospel to share his experience of the Lord. What will you do to share your experience of Him?

To read the texts click on the texts: Eph 4:1-7,11-13; Mt 9:9-13

Most scholars hold today that the Gospel of Matthew was written after Mark. Matthew’s Gospel was the one that was used most often in the early Church and so it has been placed before Mark in the Bible.

It is known as the Ecclesial Gospel or the Gospel of the Church. One reason for this is that Matthew’s thesis seems to be that since Israel for whom Jesus came rejected Jesus as Messiah, the Church has become now the new and true Israel. Also Matthew is the only one of the four Evangelists who uses the word “Ekklesia” translated “Church” in his Gospel (16:18;18:17). There is however, throughout the Gospel the tension between Particularism on the one hand and Universalism on the other. The Jesus of the Gospel of Matthew is sent “only to the lost sheep of Israel” (15:24; see also 10:6) and the same Jesus can tell Israel “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it” (21:43).

Matthew’s Gospel begins with the genealogy of Jesus, which goes back to Abraham. Joseph is not called the father of Jesus but the husband of Mary (1:16) since Matthew is clear that Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus. The birth of Jesus is then narrated, followed by the visit of the wise men to Bethlehem and Herod’s plan to kill Jesus. This leads the family to go to Egypt where they remain till Herod’s death and then return to Nazareth. The birth, flight into Egypt and return to Nazareth all fulfil scripture. Matthew then goes on to narrate the Baptism of Jesus by John and Jesus’ temptations and his overcoming them. Jesus then begins his public ministry in Galilee after calling the first four disciples. Unlike Mark, which is a story, Matthew intersperses his narrative with long discourses. The first of these is the Sermon on the Mount (5:1-7,29). There are four other discourses in the Gospel. These are The Mission Discourse (10:1-11:1), The parable Discourse (13:1-53), The Community Discourse (18:1-19:1) and the Eschatological Discourse (24:1-26:1). Each of these discourses ends in a similar manner with the words, “and when Jesus had finished (7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1). This is also Matthew’s way of focussing on the teaching of Jesus and giving it as much if not more importance that the deeds of Jesus. Like in Mark, Jesus enters Jerusalem triumphantly, but soon encounters opposition, which grows and leads to his arrest, passion and death. The Gospel ends with accounts of the resurrection appearances of Jesus to his disciples and what is known as the Great Commission, in which the disciples are commanded to go to all nations and make disciples of them and assured of the presence of the ever present Lord to whom all authority in heaven and earth has been given (28:16-20).

The text chosen for the feast contains the call of Matthew, and Jesus’ fellowship with tax collectors and sinners. It is only in the Gospel of Matthew that the tax collector is called Matthew. In Mark and Luke he is called Levi. However, in the lists of the Twelve in both Mark and Luke, the disciple is named Matthew and Levi does not appear. It is unlikely that Matthew and Levi refer to the same person. It was rare for Jews to have two different Jewish names. The reason for the author choosing the name Matthew remains unknown. However, in the text what strikes one is that whereas most people who passed by the tax office would see a corrupt official; Jesus was able to see a potential disciple. It was Jesus’ way of looking that led to the transformation and the response of Matthew to the call. In his response to the objection of the Pharisees, Jesus responds with a common proverb about the sick needing a doctor, and also quotes from Hoses 6:6, which here is interpreted to mean that the mercy of God in Jesus is extended to all humanity and takes precedence over everything else. All else must be understood in this light.

There are times when we judge people too easily and many of these times our judgement of them is negative. This is also how we often look at the whole of creation and because we put labels on things, people and all else in creation, we may miss out on the uniqueness that each possesses.

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Monday, September 20, 2021 - Homily


 

Hearing is an active process. It calls for a commitment. Those who are open to that word are like a lamp, which gives light to all.

Monday, September 20, 2021 - What is the Good News according to you? Will you share it with others today? How?

To read the texts click on the texts: Ezra 1:1-6; Lk 8:16-18

These verses in Luke are a commentary on the Parable of the Sower, which in Luke appears in 8,5-8. Just as a farmer sows the seed so that all of it may bear fruit, so also a lamp is lit so that it may give light. Like seed is sown not to be trampled on, eaten by birds, to wither or to be chocked, so a lamp is lit not to be hid under a jar or under a bed. Knowledge of the kingdom is not esoteric or secret, reserved for a particular group alone, but must be made known to all. It is knowledge, which must be shared openly with others. It is indeed the Good News, since it is a communication of love, and therefore it must not only be heard, but also experienced. By adding, “Then pay attention to how you listen”, the Lucan Jesus reminds listeners that they can choose and control how they will listen to the word of God. A total openness to the word of God results in an appropriate response to it.

Hearing is an active process. It calls for a commitment. Those who are open to that word are like a lamp, which gives light to all. An attentive hearing of the word of God can result in the transformation of one’s life and the living out of that word can lead to transformation in the lives of others.

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Sunday, September 19, 2021 - Homily


 Today's readings challenge us to be NO ONE so that we can truly be No.1

Sunday, September 19, 2021 - To serve and not to be served

To read the texts click on the texts: Wis 2:12,17-20; Jas 3:16-4:3; Mk 9:30-37

The Gospel of Mark contains three Passion and Resurrection predictions. Three times in the Gospel, albeit with some differences in each, Jesus speaks about his suffering, death, and resurrection. After each of these predictions, there is a misunderstanding of what Jesus says. In the first instance, Peter misunderstands. He insists that Jesus must not suffer and die. In the third instance, the brothers, James and John, misunderstand. They ask for places on the right hand and left hand of Jesus in the kingdom.

It is the second prediction of the Passion and Resurrection, and what follows after, which is the Gospel text of today. Immediately after Jesus has spoken, Mark states unambiguously that the disciples did not understand what Jesus was saying. This is shown also by the silence with which they respond to Jesus’ question “What were you arguing about on the way?” The reason they do not respond is because they had been discussing which one of them was the greatest. They knew, even as they remained silent, that this kind of discussion was not appropriate and did not fit in with Jesus’ world view and scheme of things.

Be that as it may, some more important questions that the Gospel of today raises are these: How could the disciples, who had been so closely associated with Jesus and knew him so intimately, even consider thinking about greatness? Did not all the time they spent with Jesus have any effect on them at all? How come the values that Jesus lived and spoke about constantly, values of self-abnegation, service, selflessness, and the like, have no impact on them?

The answer to these questions is provided in part by the first and second readings of today. The first reading spells out how the attitude of a righteous person, like Jesus, is not at all easy to accept. The righteous person is someone who is inconvenient and tiresome to many. There are two responses to such a person. The first is to ignore him and all that he stands for. However, sometimes, through his life of righteousness, he exposes us who are unrighteous. The second response, therefore, is to do away with him as quickly as one can. It is to test him with opposition, insult, and torture, in the hope that he will give up his position of righteousness and buckle under the pressure. It is to test his forbearance, and patience, and perseverance. It is to find out whether he is really serious about what he preaches and whether he will be able, in reality, to practice it. The disciples choose the first response.

They pretend not to understand because what Jesus preaches is too difficult to translate into action. They prefer, instead, to go the way which most normally go. They prefer to walk the easy road, trod by most others; the road of power, prestige, and honour. The adversaries of Jesus, however, choose the second response. They will do away with Jesus. His presence, and all he stands for, is a threat to them. They will not tolerate this new way that he preaches. It is against everything that they want to be.

The reason they will do this is because, as James explains in the second reading of today, there is envy and selfish ambition in the very core of their being. There is a lack of wisdom and thus, disorder and wickedness of every kind. Their cravings and covetousness prevent them from seeing that there is another way. Their unchecked desires prevent them from daring to walk the path of selflessness and service. They would rather be served than serve.

Jesus, however, will make no compromise. He is convinced that the only way to live life, fully and completely, is through serving rather than being served. In his scheme of things, and in his view of life, the only way to be first is to be last; the only way to be master is by being servant. The only way to be No. 1 is by being No one. He makes this explicit, not only through his words, but also by his action of placing a child in front of the disciples. He points to the child, one who was regarded as a non-person, as his representative. In doing so, Jesus is telling his disciples, and each of us, that in his kingdom, egolessness, dying to oneself, and serving as he served, are the only ways through which one can hope to enter his kingdom.

Greatness in the kingdom overturns the usual perceptions we have of greatness and honour. It is almost normal to consider the first as first and the last as last. The challenge is to learn to think as God thinks which runs counter to well-established behaviour patterns. We often pay lip service to the view that the “first shall be last,” as long as we are not challenged to put that view to the test. The readings of today then, issue a call and challenge to each of us to dare to see that there is another way: the way of being No one so that one can indeed be No.1.

Friday, 17 September 2021

Saturday, September 18, 2021 - Homily


 When my effort does not seem to bear fruit, how do I respond?

Saturday, September 18, 2021 - 1. Do I usually focus more on the reaping than on the sowing? Do I focus more on the result than on the action? Do I focus more on the future than on the present?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Tim 6:13-16; Lk 8:4-15

The text of today combines both the Parable of the Sower (8:5-8) and the allegory (8:11-15) {in an allegory, every element in the story is given a meaning. So, the seed is regarded as the word of God, those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe an be saved, and so on}. Though it is true that the Sower disappears from the scene after he is first mentioned, and the seed takes centre stage, the parable is really one of contrast between the beginning and the middle, and the end. Thus, the Sower (whom the end will affect) is still an important figure in the parable. Since many have confused the allegory with the Parable, the meaning of the parable may have been missed. In this reflection we will focus on the Parable.

The farmer would sow along “the path”, because according to research done on the agricultural practices in Palestine at the time of Jesus, the practice was to sow seeds first and then plough it into the ground. Sowing on “rocky ground” is not surprising because the underlying limestone, thinly covered with soil, barely showed above the surface until the ploughshare jarred against it. Sowing among “thorns” is also understandable, because this too will be ploughed up. Though the ploughing of the three kinds of soil above will be done, it will result in a loss, because in none of them will the seed grow. It will seem that seventy-five percent of the effort is lost. While most of the parable focuses on “sowing”, in the last verse it is already “harvest time”. The abnormal, exaggerated tripling, of the harvest’s yield (thirty, sixty, a hundredfold) symbolises the overflowing of divine fullness., surpassing all human measure and expectations (A tenfold harvest counted as a good harvest and a yield of seven and a half as an average one).To human eyes much of the labour seems futile and fruitless, resulting in repeated failure, but Jesus is full of joyful confidence; he knows that God has made a beginning, bringing with it o harvest of reward beyond all asking or conceiving. In spite of every failure and opposition, from hopeless beginnings, God brings forth the triumphant end, which he has promised.

How do I react when most of my effort seems to be in vain? Do I throw up my hands in despair? Do I give up? Do I get despondent? Or do I carry on despite all odds? Do I continue to persevere? Do I keep on keeping on?

How attached am I to the result of my action? Can I plunge into the din of battle and leave my heart at the feet of the Lord?

Write down your response to this statement of St. Ignatius – “WHEN YOU WORK, WORK AS IF EVERYTHING DEPENDS ONLY ON YOU YOY. WHEN YOU PRAY, PRAY AS IF EVERYTHING DEPENDS ONLY ON GOD.”

Do you sometimes act as the “General Manager of the Universe”? Will you resign from that position today?

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Friday, September 17, 2021 - Homily


 Jesus was free from all constraints. This is why even at a time when it was unthinkable, he had women disciples and treated them as his equals.

Friday, September 17, 2021 - Does the plight of others affect me at all? What do I do about it?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Tim 6:2-12; Lk 8:1-3

This is a text that is exclusive to the Gospel of Luke and is about the women who ministered to Jesus during his ministry. It begins by presenting Jesus as an itinerant preacher going through the cities and villages in order to proclaim the good news of the kingdom.

Luke often mentions a corresponding female or group whenever he mentions a male. He does this first in the example of Zechariah and Elizabeth, and then in the examples of Joseph and Mary, Simeon and Anna. Here too, after Luke has mentioned the Twelve, he mentions women. Mary Magdalene is identified at the one from whom seven demons had gone out and Joanna as the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza and these two appear also in 24,10 in the episode of the empty tomb. Susanna the third woman named here does not appear elsewhere in the Gospel. These and other women provided for Jesus out of their resources.

The striking point about this text is the fact that the disciples were women. At a time when a woman was looked down upon and her place in society was pre-determined, it is quite amazing to note that these became followers of Jesus and even provided for him. This is an indication of the openness that Jesus possessed and of his freedom from all kinds of constraints.

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Thursday, September 16, 2021 - Homily


 Is it love which leads to forgiveness or is the ability to forgive received because one has been loved?

Thursday, September 16, 2021 - Does love lead to forgiveness or is the ability to love the result of being forgiven?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Tim 4:12-16; Lk 7:36-50

This is a fairly well known story from the Gospel of Luke. However, it is important to note that though the woman is termed as a “sinner”, she is not named. The dinner given by the Pharisee would have been much more public than a dinner in a private home today, so the presence of uninvited persons would not have been unusual. The guests would have been reclining on pillows, supported by their left arms and would be eating with their right hands, with their feet away from the mat on which the food would have been spread before them. Thus the woman could easily approach Jesus’ feet. The fact that she brought a jar of ointment shows that she had planned to anoint Jesus – a sign of her love. Though the woman’s act expresses love and gratitude, it also violated social conventions. Touching or caressing a man’s feet could have sexual overtones, as did letting down her hair, so a woman never let down her hair in public. Moreover the woman was known to be a sinner. Assuming that she was unclean, she would have made Jesus unclean by touching him. In the Pharisee’s eyes the woman’s act represents a challenge both to his honour and to Jesus’. In response, Jesus poses a riddle for Simon to solve, based on patron-client relationships. If a patron had two debtors, one who owed him much and the other who owed him little and he cancelled the debts of both, who would love him more? After Simon answers that it would be the one who had the greater debt cancelled, Jesus exposes the contrast between Simon’s lack of hospitality and the woman’s selfless adoration of Jesus. The main point of the story is Jesus’ pronouncement in 7,47. Did the woman love because her sins were forgiven or was she forgiven because she loved much? The woman’s loving act is evidence that she has been forgiven. She recognised her need for forgiveness and therefore received it totally, whereas the Pharisee did not recognise his need and therefore received less.

This story seems to make two points that we can reflect on. The first is our judgement of others without knowing all the facts. Some of us are sometimes quick to judge from external appearances, only to realise later that we misjudged. The second point is the acceptance of our need for God’s mercy and love. Like the Pharisee, there may be some of us who do not consider ourselves as grave sinners and consequently we may not be open to God’s unconditional love and grace.

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - Homily


 Will you follow the Lord in his dance or will you dance your own steps?

Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - Will you dance to the tune of the Lord or are you dancing your own dance?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Tim 3:14-16; Lk 7:31-35

The point of these sayings of Jesus is to bring out the failure of the crowd to respond to the invitation of John and Jesus. Though John and Jesus are different from each other and went about their ministries differently, the people accepted neither. John lived a very austere life and indulged in no excesses at all, but he was not accepted. Rather he was labelled as a wild man. Jesus on the hand lived quite openly and freely due to this was labelled as a glutton and drunkard.

Many of us are so concerned about what people say about us that we sometimes live our lives based on their opinions. The text of today teaches us that you cannot please everybody every time. There are some who will neither join in the dance nor in the mourning, but sit on the fence and criticise. It is best to leave these alone and do what one believes one ought to do.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - Our Lady of Sorrows - Even Mary was not spared the Cross

To read the texts click on the texts: Heb 5:7-9; Jn 19:25-27; Lk 2:33-35

The title, “Our Lady of Sorrows,” given to our Blessed Mother, focuses on her intense suffering and grief during the passion and death of our Lord. Traditionally, this suffering was not limited to the passion and death event; rather, it comprised “the seven dolours” or “seven sorrows” of Mary, which were foretold by the Simeon who proclaimed to Mary, “This child  is destined to be the downfall and the rise of many in Israel, a sign that will be opposed and you yourself shall be pierced with a sword so that the thoughts of many hearts may be laid bare” (Luke 2:34-35).

These seven sorrows of our Blessed Mother included the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt; the loss and finding of the child Jesus in the Temple; Mary's meeting of Jesus on His way to Calvary; Mary's standing at the foot of the cross when our Lord was crucified; her holding of Jesus when He was taken down from the cross; and then our Lord's burial. In all, the prophesy of Simeon that a sword would pierce our Blessed Mother's heart was fulfilled in these events. For this reason, Mary is sometimes depicted with her heart exposed and with seven swords piercing it. More importantly, each new suffering was received with the courage, love, and trust that echoed her fiat, “let it be done unto me according to Thy word,” first uttered at the Annunciation.

The readings chosen for the feast are from Hebrews and a choice of either John or Luke. All three readings speak about how Jesus and Mary handled suffering in their lives and how we can learn from them.

The text from Hebrews speaks about the total humanity of Jesus to make abundantly clear that the suffering that Jesus went through was an integral part of his earthly life. Though he was challenged with accepting the Cross and though he prayed that the Cross be taken away, what was more important than that was ‘doing God’s will’. This led to acceptance of the Cross willingly and courageously.

The Gospel text from Luke is Simeon’s second oracle and addressed specifically to Mary.  It prefigures the rejection of Jesus. Not all will receive the salvation that has been prepared, see the light of revelation, or recognize the glory of God in the coming of Jesus. The sword that will pierce Mary’s heart refers to the rejection of her son and to the final rejection on the Cross. Mary’s response is courageous, because she knows like Jesus that God’s will for her son is infinitely better than anything she could hope for.

The scene in the Gospel of John is where four women are named standing by the Cross (his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene). Of these the focus falls on Mary, the mother of Jesus and the beloved disciple who is given charge of the mother of Jesus. While the beloved disciple is indeed a historical figure, he/she can also be anyone who loves Jesus. The command of the Lord to such a disciple, who loves him, is that he/she must also take his mother into their home because she is an integral part of the family of Jesus.

The feast of Our Lady of Sorrows is relevant for each of us today. It shows first of all that though Jesus and Mary were constantly doing God’s will, they were not spared from the Cross and the challenges and vicissitudes of life. Second it shows that even in the midst of these challenges we must always remember that God walks ahead of us and will never abandon us. This is why we never give up or give in. Finally, it reminds us that sorrow and the Cross is never the end, but only a step towards resurrection and the fullness of life.

Monday, 13 September 2021

Exaltation of the Cross - Homily


 For those who do not understand the cross is foolishness. For those who do it is salvation.

Tuesday, September 14, 2020 - The Exaltation of the Cross - Lifted up and Exalted

To read the texts click on the texts: Num 21:4-9;Phil 2:6-11; Jn 3:13-17

The Exaltation of the Cross is one of the twelve great feasts in the yearly Church cycle. Because the cross is at the heart and centre of all that we as Christians believe, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, the triumph of the cross of Christ over the power of sin and death. And so this feast provides us with another opportunity to reflect on the central mystery of our faith: that the one who was lifted up on the cross in crucifixion has triumphed over the power of sin and death because God highly exalted him.

This feast commemorates two historical events: first, the finding of what was considered the Cross of Christ in the year 326 by the mother of Constantine the Great, St Helen, and second its recovery from Persia in 628.

A story is told of Emperor Heraclius who in the year 628 after making peace with the Persians carried what was considered the Cross on which Jesus hung back to Jerusalem on his shoulders. He was clothed with costly garments and with ornaments of precious stones. But at the entrance to Mt. Calvary a strange incident occurred. Try as hard as he would, he could not go forward. Zacharias, the Bishop of Jerusalem, then said to the astonished monarch: "Consider, O Emperor, that with these triumphal ornaments you are far from resembling Jesus carrying His Cross." The Emperor then put on a penitential garb and continued the journey and carried the Cross into the Church of Holy Wisdom where it was triumphantly exalted. It was then resolved that the Fest of the Triumph or Exaltation of the Cross be celebrated by the Church in all parts of the world.

The Cross -- because of what it represents -- is the most potent and universal symbol of the Christian faith. It is a constant reminder -- and witness -- of Christ's ultimate triumph, His victory over sin and death through His suffering and dying on the Cross. The cross, once a tool of death, has become a means to life, an instrument of our salvation; it gives strength to resist temptation, it gives hope to seek new life and it dispels fear and darkness.

As Christians, we exalt the Cross of Christ as the instrument of our salvation. Adoration of the Cross is, thus, adoration of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who became Man, who suffered and died on the Cross for our redemption from sin and death. The cross represents the One Sacrifice by which Jesus, obedient even unto death, accomplished our salvation. The cross is a symbolic summary of the Passion, Crucifixion, Death and Resurrection of Christ.

In the first reading of today we read of how Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in order to heal and bring wholeness to a broken people. This was God’s way of showing the people that He was primarily a God who wanted to save and redeem and not condemn and destroy. The Church and especially the evangelist John interpreted this lifting of the bronze serpent by Moses as a foreshadowing of the salvation through Jesus when He was lifted up on the Cross. The Triumph of the Cross is the Triumph of Jesus Christ whose love for us and obedience to his Father climaxed with his death on the cross. The deeper meaning of the Cross is presented in The Christological hymn in today's second reading from the Letter of Paul to the Philippians. Jesus emptied himself completely, not just becoming a human being but accepting the worst public death of the society he lived in to demonstrate the extent of the love of God for us. He died making a willing statement of love, filling the world with the love he had for his Father and his Father had for him. We are saved from the horrors of evil, from meaningless lives due to the love of the Lord. Because Jesus died on a cross for us we are able to proclaim to the world: Jesus is Lord. His love made this possible. When we venerate and adore the cross we are saying: Jesus is Lord of our lives.

To the world this act of surrender on the cross was an act of utter humiliation and subjugation and the height of folly. To the world this death on the cross was a wasted life. To the world this death on the cross was a sign of utter defeat. But what the world calls wisdom, God calls foolishness, and what the world calls strength God call weakness. Therefore God highly exalted the crucified one by raising him from the dead. God gave Jesus his own name so that every creature on earth must now call Jesus “Lord.” What human beings did, God contradicted. And so in the weakness and foolishness of the cross we see the wisdom and power of God: Christ crucified. In him and his cross, surrender becomes power, waste becomes gain and death and defeat become victory and new life.

The cross is at the centre of our lives every time we face sickness and death. The cross is at the centre of our lives in frailty and old age. The cross is at the centre of our lives every time we feel utterly alone and abandoned. The Cross is at the centre of our lives every time we are tempted to give in and give up. It is at the centre of our lives every time we are tempted to throw our hands up in despair. It keeps reminding us that only when we embrace the cross in the midst of suffering and abandonment can we understand the power of the resurrection. Only when we have the courage to keep on keeping on can we like Christ become victorious and conquer. Only when we embrace the cross is it possible for God to raise us up and give us new life.

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Monday, September 13, 2021 - Homily


The Centurion's faith is an inspiration to us to persevere and not give up

Monday, September 13, 2021 - Will you keep on keeping on today; even when things might not go the way you plan?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Tim 2:1-8; Lk 7:1-10

In the story of today’s Gospel, we will read of a centurion’s response of faith in Jesus. The emphasis in the miracle is given to the power of Jesus’ word. There is a close parallel to this story in Matthew and a more distant parallel in John. In Matthew, the servant is “lying paralysed at home”, whereas in Luke, the “slave is at the point of death”. While in Matthew, it is the centurion himself who comes to make the request of Jesus, in Luke; he sends first a delegation of elders who would have been leaders of the synagogue. They vouch for the merit of his request. As Jesus starts for the centurion’s house, a second delegation is sent. This time it is the friends of the centurion. The centurion’s words, “I am not worthy” contrast sharply with the tribute paid to him by the Jewish elders, who testified, “He is worthy”. The effect is to place the centurion in an even better light. The centurion’s words may also convey that he was aware that the Pharisees’ regarded a Gentile’s house as unclean and that a Jew would be defiled by entering his home. He is also confident that Jesus could heal at a distance. Just as he acts by commanding his subordinates, he expects no more than that Jesus would do the same. The point of the story is Jesus’ affirmation of the centurion’s faith and not the report of the healing that concludes the story. Luke’s description communicates Jesus’ surprise at the Gentile’s faith, and his approval as well. Where Jesus would have expected to find faith in an Israelite, here he finds it in a Gentile.

There are times when after having tried all available means to solve a problem that we might be facing, we might be tempted to throw up our hands in despair and simply give up. The centurion’s faith is an inspiration to everyone of us that we need to keep on keeping on despite all evidence to the contrary.

Saturday, 11 September 2021

Sunday, September 12, 2021 - Homily


 Like Jesus we must learn to make God's will our own

Sunday, September 12, 2021 -- Jesus - The Glorious Messiah who suffered

To read the texts click on the texts: Is 50:5-9a;Jas 2:14-18; Mk 8:27-35

“Praise the Lord! Father, my son has been healed from his cancer. Brother Peter laid his hands on him and prayed and the cancer was gone.” These were the words spoken to me by the mother of a young boy who was stricken with cancer. A month later, the cancer came back stronger than before and before long, the young boy was called to eternity.

Many interpreters of Mark’s Gospel consider the Confession of Peter as the watershed of Mark’s Gospel. This confession is the first part of the Gospel text of today. In a sense, this is true because, everything up to this point in the Gospel seems to lead to this confession and it is from this confession that the rest of the Gospel flows. However, even as Peter confesses Jesus as Christ, he is not fully aware of what he is really saying and Jesus has to both correct and enhance his understanding through the words that he speaks after the confession.

The reason why Jesus asks the disciples the two questions about his identity is not because he was facing any sort of identity crisis, but because he wanted to ascertain whether the people, and his disciples, really understood who he was. Where one would have expected immediate praise from Jesus after Peter’s confession, there is the surprising command to the disciples to tell no one about it. This might even seem strange. However, deeper reading shows that this is not as strange as it seems.

In the first part of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus commands both demons and some of those whom he has healed to silence after the exorcism and cures. He does not want them to reveal his identity. The main reason for this seems to be that he did not want to be understood, primarily, as a miracle or wonder worker. Here, too, he commands Peter and the disciples to silence because it is clear that, though the correct confession has been made with the lips, it is not a confession that has come from understanding, That there is lack of understanding is evident in Peter’s rebuke of Jesus after Jesus challenges him, and the disciples, to realize that, as Son of Man, he must suffer, die, and be raised. This means that the title of Messiah, for Jesus, is a title that can only be correct when in the same breath one speaks of him as the Suffering Servant of God. While, for Peter, the title “Messiah” excluded suffering, for Jesus there could be no “Messiah” without the cross and vindication after it.

This image of the Suffering servant is brought out in the first reading of today, which contains the third of the fourth servant songs found in Isaiah. In this song, the focus and elaboration is very clearly to exhort those who listen to it. They, who have witnessed the servant’s activity and suffering, are called to follow in his footsteps rather than go their own way of selfishness and self-interest. The servant, very clearly, will follow God’s will no matter how difficult it may be. God has taught him, prepared him, and will continue to help him. God will not abandon him. God has faithfully responded to the servant in his situation of distress, In fact, it is in the context of God’s attending to the servant that affliction arises and yet, is borne without complaint or resistance to bearing additional afflictions. The servant is helped by God precisely in his ability to bear assaults. God is the source of strength more than of merited justice, and God will, in time, vindicate his servant. No one is able to declare the servant guilty, yet, despite his not being guilty; he will suffer in silence and will suffer courageously.

We are living in a culture in which suffering is seen as a negative and thus, something to be avoided at all costs ad to be gotten rid of as soon as possible. This is not to say that suffering is good and desirable or that God delights in human suffering. As a matter of fact, in the second reading of today, James is emphatic that a faith that does not show itself in deeds is a faith that is dead. Only such a faith is truly alive that manifests itself in action. It has to be a faith that results in making the pain and suffering of a fellow human being less, and lighter to bear.

The Gospels, too, explicate that Jesus reaches out to people in their need and redeems them from their suffering. When he sends his disciples out on Mission, it is not merely to preach but also to heal and make whole. Yet, we must also keep in mind that suffering is part of the human condition and the fact that we are human means that we will suffer. The call of the readings of today is not a call to run away from suffering or regard it in any way as punishment from God. The call is to face up to it squarely in the manner in which Jesus did. While we continue to believe in the miracles of Jesus, and in the fact that Jesus can work miracles even today, we must balance this understanding by realizing that there is also, in Jesus, the cross. The challenge is to make God’s will for us, our own.

Friday, 10 September 2021

Saturday, September 11, 2021 - Homily


 There is no point in merely saying “I believe” if we are not going to show that belief in action.

Saturday, September 11, 2021 - Will your faith show in action today? How?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Tim 1:15-17; Lk 6:43-49

In the last part of the Sermon on The Plain, the Lucan Jesus uses the metaphor of a tree and its fruit, and through it exhorts the listeners not merely “to say”, but rather “to do”. The nature of a tree is known by the fruit it produces, and each tree produces a different kind of fruit. If a person’s heart is good, then what he/she produces will also be good, whereas if a person’s heart is evil, then the deeds of that person will also be evil.

Luke concludes his sermon with an exhortation to do what the Lord says rather then merely to call him Lord. There is no point in merely saying “I believe” if we are not going to show that belief in action. 

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Friday, September 10, 2021 - Homily


 

Did you know that when you point a finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you?

Friday, September 10, 2021 - Did you know that when you point a finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Tim 1:1-2,12-14; Lk 6:39-42

The parable that begins this section is a rhetorical question. The blind who need someone else to lead them surely cannot lead another who is blind. What is worse is that if this is attempted both persons will be in trouble. This is why disciples who intend to lead others must first learn to be like the master. If they attempt to lead others without first learning from the master, their teaching will be erroneous.

The second parable reinforces the point made in 6,37-38 about not judging or condemning. Before one can point to the faults of others, introspection is called for. One must realise that often one might be guilty of greater misdeeds than the person to whom one is pointing.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Thursday, September 9, 2021 - Homily


 

How often have you done something for someone else without any expectation whatever? Will you do something like this today?

Thursday, September 9, 2021 - How often have you done something for someone else without any expectation whatever? Will you do something like this today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Col 3:12-17; Lk 6:27-38

After pronouncing the beatitudes and woes, the Lucan Jesus goes on to speak of love of enemies. The disciples are called to be actors rather than reactors. They are to love their enemies and bless and pray for those who are against them. How this is to be done practically is then illustrated. Disciples are to offer no resistance to the violent and are to be generous in their giving expecting nothing in return. The Golden rule is stated positively here and by placing it in this context, Luke probably intends that this is how the disciples must respond to those who are against them. Our relationships generally are based on barter exchange. If someone does good to me then I will be good to that person in turn. However, the Lucan Jesus calls his disciples to go beyond and to build relationships based on unconditional love. The last two verses of this section deal with not judging and not condemning. These are followed by two positive prescriptions to forgive and give freely without measure.

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Wednesday, September 8, 2021 - The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary


 

It was because Mary said "Let it be done to me according to your word" that made it possible for the word to become flesh. Will you imitate Mary today?

Wednesday, September 8, 2021 - The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

To read the texts click on the texts:Micah 5:1-4; Mt 1:1-16,18-23

The source for the story of the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Protoevangelium of James, an apocryphal gospel written around 150 C.E. From it, we learn the names of Mary's parents, Joachim and Anna, as well as the tradition that the couple was childless until an angel appeared to Anna and told her that she would conceive.

The traditional date of the feast, September 8, falls exactly nine months after the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

The readings clearly indicate that the feast of the nativity of Mary is a preparation for the feast of the Nativity of Jesus. Mary is that open vessel who allowed God to work in her and so enabled God to bring to fruition through her Son Jesus, the salvation of the whole human race.

The text chosen for the feast is from the Gospel of Matthew and contains the Genealogy and the story of the birth of Jesus. The Gospel of Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus.

 Jesus is, for Matthew, the Messiah who has descended from David, as foretold by the scriptures. God continues to act in human history, and that God acts now, in a decisive way, in the sending of God’s Son. God is not simply a God in the heavens, but a God who is Emmanuel, God with us.

Matthew’s genealogy consists of three parts. The first, which begins with Abraham, ends with the Davidic kingship. The second begins with David and ends with the deportation or exile to Babylon. The third begins with the exile and ends with the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Matthew calls attention to the number fourteen at the end of the genealogy and, though a variety of suggestions have been offered as to why he chose fourteen, the simplest explanation is that the numerical value of “David” in Hebrew (DWD) is fourteen (d, 4; w, 6; d, 4). By this symbolism, Matthew points out that the promised "son of David" (1:1), the Messiah, has come. And, if the third set of fourteen is short one member (to solve this problem some count Jechoniah twice), perhaps it suggests that, just as God cuts short the time of distress for the sake of his elect, so also he mercifully shortens the period from the Exile to Jesus, the Messiah.

Unlike Luke’s genealogy, which does not name a single woman, Matthew’s genealogy mentions four women besides Mary. These are Tamar, Ruth, Rahab, and Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. Several reasons have been offered as to why Matthew mentioned these four women. Three of these reasons are widely accepted today: (a) there was something extraordinary about their union with their partners; (b) they showed initiative or played an important role in God’s plan and so came to be considered as instruments of God’s providence or of his Holy Spirit; and (c) all four women (except Mary) were Gentiles and Matthew wants to show that in God’s plan of salvation, the Gentiles were included from the beginning.

Through this, Matthew probably wants to show that God wants all to be saved and that he uses the unexpected to triumph over human obstacles and that he intervenes on behalf of his planned Messiah. This combination of scandalous and irregular union, and divine intervention, explains Matthew’s choice of the four women.

What are the points that Matthew makes in his genealogy and what does he want to achieve by it? Matthew clearly wants to show that Jesus is the fulfilment of all Israel’s hopes. The story of Jesus is part of the story of God’s constant saving acts throughout the history of Israel. God involves himself in the nitty-gritty of life. Despite the constant infidelity of Israel, God remained faithful and, in a definitive way, directed its history towards its fulfilment in Jesus Christ.

Matthew is also interested in affirming that the plan of God has often been fulfilled in history in unanticipated and “irregular” ways, as was the case in the birth of Jesus from Mary, and that Matthew is interested in showing that God worked through irregular, even scandalous ways, and through women who took initiative, like Tamar and Ruth. Yet the main reason for Matthew’s inclusion of these women corresponds to one of the Gospel’s primary themes: the inclusion of the Gentiles in the plan of God from the beginning. All of the men in Jesus’ genealogy are necessarily Jewish. But the four women mentioned, with the exception of Mary, are Gentiles, “outsiders,” or considered to be such in Jewish tradition. Just as the following story shows Jesus to be the fulfilment of both Jewish and Gentile hopes, so also the genealogy shows that the Messiah comes from a Jewish line that already includes Gentiles.

By showing Jesus as descended from David, Matthew wants to explicate that Jesus is the royal heir to the throne. Jesus, however, thorough his life, cross, death and resurrection will redefine the meaning of Kingship as never before.

Finally, Matthew wants to stress that God is active constantly in history and involved in the lives of his people. He works not only miraculously but also ordinarily in human effort, pain, and struggle to bring people to the kingdom.

The genealogy is followed by the story of the birth of Jesus. Since Mary and Joseph were engaged, they were legally considered husband and wife. Thus, infidelity in this case would also be considered adultery. Their union could only be dissolved by divorce or death. Though Joseph is righteous or just, he decides not to go by the letter of the law and publicly disgrace Mary, but he chooses a quieter way of divorcing her. God, however, has other plans for both Joseph and Mary and intervenes in a dream. Joseph is addressed by the angel as “Son of David” reiterating, once again after the genealogy, the Davidic origin of Jesus. He is asked to take Mary as his wife and also informed that is the Spirit’s action that is responsible for her pregnancy. He is told that he is to give the child the name “Jesus". Jesus (Iesous) is the Greek form of "Joshua" which, whether in the long form yehosua, ("Yahweh is salvation") or in one of the short forms, yesua, ("Yahweh saves”), identifies the son, in the womb of Mary, as the one who brings God’s promised eschatological salvation. The angel explains what the name means by referring to Ps 130:8. The name “Jesus” was a popular and common name in the first century.  By the choice of such a name, Matthew shows that the Saviour receives a common human name, a sign that unites him with the human beings of this world rather than separating him from them.

Matthew then inserts into the text the first of ten formula or fulfilment quotations that are found in his Gospel. This means that Matthew quotes a text from the Old Testament to show that it was fulfilled in the life and mission of Jesus. Here, the text is from Isa 7:14 which, in its original context, referred to the promise that Judah would be delivered from the threat of the Syro-Ephraimitic War before the child of a young woman, who was already pregnant, would reach the age of moral discernment. The child would be given a symbolic name, a short Hebrew sentence “God is with us” (Emmanu‘el) corresponding to other symbolic names in the Isaiah story. Though this text was directed to Isaiah’s time, Matthew understands it as text about Jesus, and fulfilled perfectly in him, here in his birth and naming.

This birth narrative of Matthew invites us to reflect on a number of points. Of these, two are significant.  First, many of us are often caught in the dilemma of doing the right thing which might not always be the loving thing.  If we follow only the letter of the law, we may be doing the right thing but not the most loving thing.  However, if we focus every time on the most loving thing, like Joseph, it is surely also the right thing. Though Joseph could have done the right thing and shamed Mary by publicly divorcing her, he decides to go beyond the letter of the law and do the loving thing, which in his case was also the right thing.

Second, the story also shows us who our God is.  Our God is God with us. Our God is one who always takes the initiative, who always invites, and who always wants all of humanity to draw closer to him and to each other. This God does not come in power, might, and glory, but as a helpless child. As a child, God is vulnerable. He is fully human and in his humanity, is subject to all the limitations that humanity imposes on us. Yet, he will do even that, if only humans respond to the unconditional love that he shows.

Monday, 6 September 2021

Tuesday, September 7, 2021 - Homily


 

Will you collaborate with God in bringing about the kingdom today? How?

Tuesday, September 7, 2021 - Will you collaborate with Christ in bringing about the kingdom today? How?

To read the texts click on the texts: Col 2:6-15; Lk 6:12-19

By placing the appointment of the Twelve immediately after the controversies with the Pharisees (6,1-11) and the dramatic distinction between old and new (5,36-39), Luke presents the appointment of the Twelve as the constitution of a new nucleus for the people of God, perhaps in deliberate succession to the twelve tribes of Israel. The conflicts between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees have already shown that they represent the old and that, therefore, they are no more fit for leadership in the kingdom than old wineskins for new wine.

Luke makes special mention of the personal prayer of Jesus at all the important events in his life, and so Luke portrays Jesus as praying before his baptism, before his temptation, after a hard days work of preaching, teaching and healing and just before his choice of the Twelve. Jesus knows that even though humans will be weak and fail, even though they will deny and betray him again and again, he would still want them to collaborate with him in bringing about the kingdom.

The choice of the Twelve is a text that offers each of us a lot of hope and consolation. This is because we are aware of what Jesus could accomplish even with such a motley band of men. Since he did so much with and through them, he can do the same with and through us.

Sunday, 5 September 2021

Monday, September 6, 2021 - Homily


 

How often have you made rules and regulations more important in your life than love?

Monday, September 6, 2021 - How often have you made rules and regulations more important in your life than love?

To read the texts click on the texts: Col 1:24-2:3; Lk 6:6-11

This is the second Sabbath controversy story. Already at the beginning we are told that the day is a Sabbath and that Jesus goes to the synagogue to teach. In this context, his teaching is not only in words but also in deeds by means of a situation from life.. Only Luke of all the three evangelists tells us that it was the man’s right hand that was withered. This was the hand normally used for work, gesturing and greeting. He would have had to do all of the above with the left hand, which ordinarily was not to be used in public. The scribes and Pharisees are also introduced into the scene, so that there are four parties: Jesus, the man with the crippled hand, the scribes and Pharisees and those who were in the synagogue. While the crippled man sees Jesus as a potential healer, the scribes and Pharisees pose an obstacle to the healing. Jesus makes a public example of the man. All will see what he is about to do. Before the healing, Jesus asks a question, which poses two sets of antitheses: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it. Sabbath observance is defined positively, not in terms of what one will do, but in terms of what one must do. The question brings out the dichotomy that existed in their own lives, because though they would not want a man to be healed from his illness on that holy day, they would have no qualms about discussing the “best way to deal with Jesus” on that same holy day. They preferred the law to life and love.

We might tend after reading this story to condemn the Pharisees and scribes. However, we too often behave as they did. We might attend a Eucharistic celebration and wish everyone in the church the peace of Christ, eat the same bread and yet come out of the church continuing to keep feelings of resentment and anger against our neighbours in our hearts.

Saturday, 4 September 2021

Sunday, September 5, 2021 - Homily


 

 

The challenge of the readings of today is to remove the stoppers that we have placed in our ears and the blinders that we have placed before our eyes.

Sunday, September 5, 2021 - Healed to heal the world

To read the texts click on the texts: Is 35:4-7; Jas2:1-5; Mk 7:31-37

The vision proposed by Isaiah in the First reading of today is a cosmic vision. The central theme of this vision is the proclamation that the natural order will be dramatically transformed. The first exhortation to those who listen is that they must remove all fear from their hearts. The reason for this is that the Lord himself is coming to help them in their need. The Lord is the antithesis of fear. This salvation, which will be effected by the Lord, is tangible and real. It will result in the blind being able to see again, the deaf being able to hear, the mute being able to speak, the lame being able, not merely to walk, but to leap and run This is not all. With the coming of the Lord, the whole of nature will be transformed and redeemed. Where there was once a desert, there will be springs of water. Waterlessness will be converted into flowing streams.

However, this will happen after, and only after, the blind see, the deaf hear, the mute speak, and the lame leap and run. In other words, the redemption of the people will lead them to see the redemption of nature. The people will not redeem or ransom themselves. Redemption and ransom are effected by God, and God alone. Through divine action, the people of God become the redeemed of God, and that transforms their lives in every possible way.

In the Gospel text of today, we read about a similar transformation that takes place in the life of a man after he encounters Jesus. This miracle is unique to Mark’s Gospel. This man is deaf, with an impediment in his speech. His deafness prevents him from speaking properly. Thus, it is only after his ears are opened, by Jesus’ words and action that he is able to speak properly.

Now that he can hear clearly, he can also speak clearly. Interestingly, this is the first of only two miracles in the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus uses external methods. Also, the preparation for the miracle is elaborate. The man is taken aside from the crowd and, after Jesus puts his fingers in the man’s ears, he spits and touches the man’s tongue and gives the command for the healing in Aramaic. The response of the people, at the conclusion of the miracle, is an indication that the promised salvation by Isaiah has become a reality in Jesus. This promised salvation has exceeded all expectations.

However, despite this fact, this salvation cannot really be witnessed in our world today. Sometimes, it might seem to us that things around us are as if Jesus had never come. One of the main reasons for this is that, like the people whom Isaiah addressed before their redemption and, like the deaf man before his healing, we seem to have lost use of our faculties. Having eyes, we do not see; having ears, we do not hear; having hearts, we do not love. This lack of seeing, hearing, and loving, prevents us from witnessing the salvation that God has effected and is effecting in Jesus, even now. We are so caught up in ourselves and our own small worlds that we fail to take notice of others and especially the poor.

This selfish and self-centered attitude is pointed to in the second reading of today when James exhorts his readers, and us, that because of lack of genuine love, they, and we, have neglected the poor and have become partial, biased, and prejudiced. We attend only to those who we believe can do us favours and so, our relationships are based on barter exchange than on genuine love. This attitude prevents us from seeing people as they are. We look at them as objects that can fulfill our wants and we use people rather than love them. We do not really see them or hear them at all. We do not really love. This lack of love, in turn, prevents us from being the kind of persons that we have been made in Jesus. It prevents our tongues from speaking God’s praise and our hearts from reading out to all. This is why, even though deserts have indeed been turned into springs and dry lands have been turned into rivers of flowing water, we do not experience these as we ought.

The challenge of the readings of today is to remove the stoppers that we have placed in our ears and the blinders that we have placed before our eyes. It is a challenge to remove the blocks that we have placed in our hearts. It is to dare to hear and see rightly so that we can, indeed, love as we ought. Then, the dry lands will be watered yet again and the arid ground turned into rivers of abundant life.

Friday, 3 September 2021

Saturday, September 4, 2021 - Homily


 

All rules and regulations are at the service of humans and not the other way around. How often have you made rules and regulations ends in themselves?

Saturday, September 4, 2021 - How often have you made rules and regulations ends in themselves?

To read the texts click on the texts: Col 1:21-23; Lk 6:1-5

The episode is a Sabbath controversy, and is found also in Mark 2,23-28 and Matthew 12,1-8. Since Deut 23,24-25 allowed a person passing a neighbour’s field to pluck heads of grain with the hand, this does not seem to be the reason for the complaint of the Pharisees. Luke (6,1) alone states that the disciples were rubbing the heads of grain in their hands, which could be interpreted as threshing, and threshing was one of the forms of work forbidden on the Sabbath. In his response, Jesus refers to the incident from 1 Samuel 21,1-6 in which David confronted Ahimelech at Nob. The point that the Lucan Jesus makes is that if David had the authority to overturn Levitical rules and eat the bread of the Presence and even give it to his companions, because he gave priority to human need over ritual observance, so can Jesus, who is Lord of the Sabbath.

Rules and regulations are made so that there might be order in society and each will know his/her role. It is possible that sometimes they might become ends in themselves and take precedence over everything else. They can never take precedence over human need. All rules and regulations are at the service of humans and not the other way around.

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Friday, September 3, 2021 - Homily


 

It is not always easy to accept change. We prefer to do things the old way and feel comfortable when things remain the same. While we need not change just for the sake of changing, we must be open and receptive to change and be ready to change when we have to.

Are you afraid of change? Why?

Friday, September 3, 2021 - Are you afraid of change? Why?

 To read the texts click on the texts: Col 1:15-20; Lk 5:33-39

In Luke, this episode about fasting continues from the previous one (5,27-32) in which after the call of Levi (5,27-28), Jesus eats in Levi’s house along with tax collectors and others. This table fellowship leads the Pharisees to murmur. Jesus responds with a common proverb about only the sick needing a physician and then emphasises that he has come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance (5, 31 – 32). Luke omits Mark’s introduction, which informs us that John’s disciples’ and the Pharisees were fasting, and thus allows the conversation of the previous scene to continue. In response to the comment that John’s disciples like those of the Pharisees fast and pray, Jesus responds with a metaphor of a wedding feast and the inappropriateness of the guests fasting while the wedding is in process and the bridegroom is with them. While in Mark the new or unshrunk cloth is sought to be sewn onto an old garment; in Luke the cloth is first torn from a new garment and then sought to be put onto an old garment. In Luke the destructive effect of tearing the new garment is highlighted. Lk 5,39 is exclusive to Luke and brings out the closed attitude of those who do not want the new. They prefer to stick to the old because they feel comfortable with it and are not willing to change or see things from a new perspective. They insist that the old is good.

It is not always easy to accept change. We prefer to do things the old way and feel comfortable when things remain the same. We must realise that the only thing that is permanent is change and we must get used to it. While we need not change just for the sake of changing, we must be open and receptive to change and be ready to change when we have to.

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Thursday, September 2, 2021 - Homily


 

What do you think Jesus is calling you to today? Will you answer his call?

Thursday, September 2, 2021 - What do you think Jesus is calling you to today? Will you answer his call?

 To read the texts click on the texts: Col 1:9-14; Lk 5:1-11

The call of the first disciples in the Gospel of Luke is different from the other Synoptic Gospels. While in Matthew and Mark Jesus calls to them when he was passing by the Sea of Galilee, here he is in Simon’s boat. While there are similarities between this account in Luke and the account of the miraculous catch in John 21, 1-4, there are also differences. The most striking difference is that Luke uses the story here as the setting for Simon’s call to follow Jesus, whereas John uses it to show that Peter was reconciled with the risen Jesus after having denied him. While in John, Jesus is not in the boat but on the shore, here in Luke he is in the boat. In John there is only one boat, that in which the disciples are, here there are many boats. The nets in Luke are beginning to break, but John explicitly mentions that despite the large haul, the nets did not break.

The point that Luke seems to make is that following Jesus on his way will entail a completely different life style, will call for a different set of priorities. Where Simon and the others were focusing on fish (material, temporary, passing things), Jesus calls them to focus on people (spiritual, permanent, things that last).

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Wednesday, September 1, 2021 - Homily


 

Jesus was busy day and night “doing” and yet a Jesus who would manage to find the time “to be”. He challenges us today to be men and women who derive our strength “to do” from “the one who is and will always be”.

Will you find the time today, “to be”, so that “your doing” will be more efficacious? How?

Wednesday, September 1, 2021 - Will you find the time today, “to be”, so that “your doing” will be more efficacious? How?

To read the texts click on the texts: Col 1:1-8; Lk 4:38-44

The reading of today allows us to encounter a Jesus who was busy day and night “doing” and yet a Jesus who would manage to find the time “to be”.

The first of the three scenes that form part of this section deals with the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law. Since in Luke this healing takes place before the call of the first disciples, he does not mention Andrew, James and John as Mark does (Mk 1,29). He also probably uses this healing to prepare for the call of Peter, which he narrates in 5,1-11.

In the second scene, Luke depicts a Jesus who would heal people at all times of the day or night. While the demons use the title “Son of God” to identify Jesus, Luke himself informs the readers that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ. Luke seems to have taken the silencing function from Mark because it is not clear in his Gospel as it is in Mark, why Jesus would not allow the demons to speak.

In the third and final scene of this section, Luke portrays a Jesus who would find time to commune with his Father. He portrays a man of action and yet a man of prayer, though he does not explicitly state here that Jesus prayed. Though the crowds want to prevent Jesus from leaving, Jesus is clear that he must go on to other places as well, for the kingdom belongs to all.

This Jesus is the one who challenges us today to be men and women who derive our strength “to do” from “the one who is and will always be”.