Friday, 14 May 2021

Saturday, May 15, 2021 - Do you remember to add at the end of your prayer the words “not my, but your will be done”?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 18:23-28; Jn16:23-28

The death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus will be the event that will enable the disciples to pray, not only in Jesus’ name, but like he prayed. Through this event, the disciples will enter into a new relationship with Jesus and with God through him. This relationship will be a relationship of love. As God showed his love for the world in sending Jesus, and Jesus showed his love for the world by accepting the cross, so the disciples have shown love for Jesus and God by accepting and believing that Jesus has come from God.

 

In the last verse of today’s text the entire mission of Jesus is summarized. Jesus has been sent by God and has come from God. After completing the mission entrusted to him, he is returning to where he has come from: God. The story of Jesus, which began with his coming from the Father ends, but also continues with his ascending to the Father.

 

Prayer in Jesus’ name and praying like Jesus means to believe, before we receive something, that it will be given to us. It is a confidence that God is on our side. We may not always be able to see at first glance how what we receive is for our good, much like the cross that Jesus carried. However, it means that we continue to trust and believe that all will be well because God is always in control of any and every situation.

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Friday, May 14, 2021 - Homily

 

Keeping the commandment of Jesus is thus not a chore or burden but done willingly because one has experienced this love first. The outcome of this sharing and manifestation of love is unbounded joy.


Join me at the Eucharist. May 14, 2021 8 am IST

I will offer a Mass to celebrate the first anniversary of my mum's entry into heaven. It will be livestreamed on YouTube on May 14, 2021 at 8 am IST. This is the YouTube link and you are welcome to join me https://youtu.be/kMdxZ8vd_dY

 

Friday, May 14, 2021 - St. Matthias, Apostle - Jesus revealed the Father as love. How will you reveal Jesus today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts1:15-17,20-26; Jn 15:9-17

There is no mention of a Matthias among the lists of disciples or followers of Jesus in the three synoptic gospels, but according to the first reading chosen for the feast of St. Matthias, he had been with Jesus from his baptism by John until his Ascension. In the days following, Peter proposed that the assembled disciples, who numbered about one hundred and twenty, nominate two men to replace Judas. After they had cast lots, the lot fell to Matthias; so he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Though no further information is available about Matthias in the New Testament, he is identified with Zacchaeus and also with Nathanael.

The Gospel text is from the Gospel of John and is part of the Discourse on the Vine and the Branches and focusses on Jesus’ gift of love given to him by his Father.

This love which the Father has for Jesus is the same love that Jesus has expressed and shown for his disciples. It is a love that is unconditional, a love without end. It is not merely a verbal expression, or an emotion, but a love that is shown tangibly and in every action that Jesus performs. The disciples have to act in the same manner as Jesus in order to make this love visible. There is only one commandment and that is the commandment to love. If the disciples keep this commandment, it will result in their being like Jesus, their master, who before them, revealed God’s love for the world.

This love is expressed in the most perfect of ways in the willingness to go to one’s death for the sake of a friend. The disciples are indeed friends of Jesus, as has been manifested in their keeping his command to love. It is important to note that Jesus is not placing a condition for friendship here (you can be my friends only if…); rather he is stating what and who the disciples are (because you are my friends, you do what I command).

The friendship that the disciples share with Jesus is grounded in love. This means that Jesus keeps back nothing from his disciples and reveals to them all that they need to know. His primary revelation to them has been of God as a loving and compassionate Father.

It is Jesus who has taken the initiative in calling and choosing the disciples and this fact reinforces the idea of grace. It is not one’s effort that can earn discipleship but the grace of God which, when received, results in one living out the call to discipleship. The living out of the call is not merely a once for all act, but something that is done constantly and with perseverance. This will ensure that the effects of their love are abiding and lasting. The last verse of today, with its reminder to “love one another”, forms an inclusion with the first.

The relationship that we share with God because of Jesus is one of sons and daughters. We are Jesus’ brothers and sisters, even friends. This is because he has given us everything in all its fullness. He held nothing back, not even his own self. The manifestation of this self-giving, which began with the incarnation, was completed and continued on the cross, and through his resurrection and ascension. He continues to give, even today.

However, the giving is only one side of the story. Without a receiver, the gift has no value. This is why, while the grace of God given as a gift in Jesus is first, our reception of that gift is as important if the act of giving is to be completed. We show that we have received this gift when we, like Jesus, also dare to reach out in love. When we speak an enhancing word, perform a loving action, behave a little less selfishly, and a little more selflessly, then the gift is given and received, again and again.

Keeping the commandment of Jesus is thus not a chore or burden but done willingly because one has experienced this love first. The outcome of this sharing and manifestation of love is unbounded joy.

Mass to celebrate the Anniversary of my mum's entry into heaven on May 14, 2021 at 8 am IST


 

On May 14, 2020, my mum GRACE left this world to go to heaven. She is now there with God and enjoying eternal life. Along with her all those who have died in the last year are also with God. I will offer a Mass to celebrate the first anniversary of this event which will be livestreamed on YouTube on May 14, 2021 at 8 am IST. This is the YouTube link and you are welcome to join me https://youtu.be/kMdxZ8vd_dY

May God comfort all whose loved ones have left this earth with the firm knowledge that they are with God and enjoying eternal life.

https://www.facebook.com/ajesuitsblog/photos/a.269341626580516/1941249166056412/

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Thursday, May 13, 2021 - Homily


 

The text of today is a call to believe, even in the most difficult circumstances. It is a call to know that there will be joy, even in the midst of pain, and happiness, even in the midst of sorrow. It is a call to have faith and see the risen Jesus, even as he hangs on the cross, and to see in the crosses that we have to carry every day, our own resurrection.

Thursday, May 13, 2021 - Can you be courageous even when it seems that the whole world is conspiring against you?

To read that texts click on the texts: Acts 18:1-8; Jn16:16-20

In the first verse of today’s reading, 16:16, the focus is turned back from the Paraclete to the impending departure of Jesus and the response of the disciples to that departure. The first “little while” in this verse refers to the time before his death, which Jesus sees as fast approaching, whereas the second “little while” refers to the events after his death to his resurrection appearances and even beyond. The disciples are not able to understand the meaning of Jesus’ words and keep questioning among themselves what they mean.

 

Though they have not addressed Jesus with their questions, he is aware of what they are discussing. Yet, he does not answer their question directly, but moves the question to a new direction. A new teaching is introduced by the use of the words, “Amen, amen”. There will be contrasting responses to the death of Jesus. The disciples will weep and mourn, whereas the “world”, which here must be translated as those opposed to the revelation of God in Jesus, will rejoice.  However, this will only be a temporary response. The pain and sorrow of the disciples will soon turn to joy.

 

It is easy to be happy and believe that God is on our side when things go the way we want. However, when we are faced with obstacles and difficulties, when we do not get the due we think we deserve and, when the road is steep and the going is difficult, then we begin to wonder if God is on our side. The text of today is a call to believe, even in the most difficult circumstances. It is a call to know that there will be joy, even in the midst of pain, and happiness, even in the midst of sorrow. It is a call to have faith and see the risen Jesus, even as he hangs on the cross, and to see in the crosses that we have to carry every day, our own resurrection. 

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Wednesday, May 12, 2021 - Homily

The Paraclete that Jesus sent two thousand years ago is the same Paraclete that is available to us today. The presence of the Paraclete will be seen and felt when we make the teachings of Jesus relevant and alive today.

 

Wednesday, May 12, 2021 - What contemporary symbol describes Jesus for you? How will you share this symbol with at least one other person today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 17:15,22-18:1; Jn 16:12-15

The Paraclete is mentioned for the last time in the Farewell Discourse in these verses. Jesus has taught the disciples all that they are to know and understand about the present time. There is nothing more about the present that he can say to them. What they need to know about the future will be revealed to them at the appropriate time and when the Spirit that is sent comes. This means that, even when they are faced with the future which is uncertain, God’s presence will be with them. They are not alone. The Paraclete is the “spirit of truth” since he comes from Jesus, who is “the truth” and will guide the disciples into the way of truth, into the way of Jesus. Since the Paraclete will be sent by Jesus, he will only explicate and make clearer what Jesus has already said. He will not give a new teaching but will continue what Jesus has begun. As Jesus taught what he heard from God, so the Paraclete will teach what he hears from Jesus.

He will also declare “the things that are to come” which here means the preparation of the disciples for the time after Jesus. This also indicates that the words of Jesus are not time bound, but available anew for every succeeding generation of disciples. The Paraclete always makes the teachings new and relevant for the times. Just as Jesus made God visible through his words and actions, so the Paraclete will make Jesus present through the inspiration and support he provides to the disciples.

The Paraclete thus makes Jesus present even after his death, resurrection, and ascension to the Father. He is the teacher and witness of all that Jesus has said and done. That is, the Paraclete enables the Christian community, at any time in its life, to reach back to the teachings of Jesus and “remember,” and bring Jesus’ teachings to life afresh with new understanding. However, the Paraclete’s role as teacher is also creative. The Paraclete enables the word of Jesus to move forward from its moment in history to the present life of the church. The Paraclete gives new meanings to the teachings of Jesus as the changing circumstances of faith communities and the world demand.

The Paraclete that Jesus sent two thousand years ago is the same Paraclete that is available to us today. The presence of the Paraclete will be seen and felt when we make the teachings of Jesus relevant and alive today. The idiom, symbols, and language that we use have to be understood by contemporary hearers. All too often, language about Jesus is too pious and even outdated and so, does not touch the lives of many. If we open ourselves to the working of the Paraclete in our lives, we will be able to make Jesus present even now.

Monday, 10 May 2021

Tuesday, May 11, 2021 - Homily


 

The “world” continues to be opposed to Jesus and to love. However, Jesus continues to be present to the world in his Spirit, made manifest in his disciples. It is the task of the disciples inspired and guided by the Spirit to continue to expose the sin of the world and bring the world to judgment. While this may be done by verbal proclamation, it must also be, like in the case of Jesus, a proclamation that is shown in action.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021 - If people heard you speak and saw your actions today, would they recognize you as a follower of Jesus?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 16:22-34; Jn16:5-11

These verses continue the farewell Discourse which was begun in 14:1. Since Jesus had been physically present to the disciples, he did not need to give them instructions about the time when he would not be with them. However, since that time has now come, they need to be informed about how they are to handle the future without him. They are dismayed and troubled, even though they know that he is going to the Father. They must realize and accept that it is to their advantage that Jesus goes. If he does not go, the Paraclete cannot come. Jesus’ departure, which means his death, resurrection, and ascension, must precede the Paraclete’s coming. When this happens, Jesus will have completed the work given to him by the Father and the Paraclete will continue the work begun by Jesus.

The Paraclete’s work in the world will be to bring people to trial. This, however, is only one of the many functions that the Paraclete performs. It will bring out into the open the true meaning of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and the “world”, which here means those who rejected Jesus, will be held accountable.

The “world’s” sin is exposed because they have not believed in Jesus as the one who was sent from, and by, the Father. This means that the focus is not on one particular act, but on the attitude of rejection. Though the “world” might assume that Jesus’ death is the end, it is mistaken and, in this is righteousness exposed. Jesus’ death is not the end; rather, it is the completion on earth of the work entrusted to him by the Father. It is to be seen in the context of obedience to his Father’s will for him and the world. The final judgment will be that of the “ruler of this world”. By his death, resurrection, and ascension, the devil, the embodiment of all that is opposed to Jesus, will be judged. It will be proved, through this decisive act, that God has triumphed in his Son.

The “world” continues to be opposed to Jesus and to love. However, Jesus continues to be present to the world in his Spirit, made manifest in his disciples. It is the task of the disciples inspired and guided by the Spirit to continue to expose the sin of the world and bring the world to judgment. While this may be done by verbal proclamation, it must also be, like in the case of Jesus, a proclamation that is shown in action.

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Monday, May 10, 2021 - Homily


 Believing in Jesus is not easy. It is one thing to verbally profess faith in him and another to live out all that he taught and did.

Monday, May 10, 2021 - Will you persevere in love today? When you are repaid with ingratitude for your kindness, will you continue to love?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 16:11-15; Jn15:26-16:4

This is the third promise of the coming of the Paraclete in the Gospel of John. Jesus had made the first promise in 14:16-17, and the second one in 14:26. The Paraclete or Advocate is sent by Jesus and the Father. The Paraclete is sent by Jesus, but is sent from the Father. The Paraclete is sent here to testify or bear witness to Jesus. This means that the teaching of the Paraclete will not be new teaching but a confirmation of what Jesus has already taught and done. Just as the Paraclete bears witness, so must the disciples, since they have seen and heard Jesus from the beginning. The Paraclete will give strength to the disciples in their time of trial so that they will not fall away. The Paraclete will work in and through the disciples. The work of Jesus continues through the Paraclete working in the disciples.

Because of this work of Jesus, the disciples will have to face persecution from those who do not accept them. As a matter of fact, those who engage in such persecution will think they are right and, by so persecuting the disciples, will think they are, in effect, worshipping God. This is because they have not understood the meaning of the incarnation and so, have not been able to recognize God’s unconditional and gratuitous love made manifest in Jesus. Jesus predicts these happenings, to both prepare the disciples in advance for what is to come and also, to warn them about the consequences of following him. Their perseverance and standing firm, even in the midst of persecution, will reveal their love for him and the Father and will be the tangible expression of their faith.

Believing in Jesus is not easy. It is one thing to verbally profess faith in him and another to live out all that he taught and did. It is especially difficult to follow him when things do not go the way we want them to and when things happen contrary to our expectations. When those to whom we are good repay us with goodness, we are not surprised, because we expect them to do just that. However, when those to whom we have reached out in love are ungrateful and sometimes openly hostile to us, we get shocked at their behavior, simply because we did not expect them to react in that way. It is at times like these that we must remember the predictions of Jesus made here. His love for the world, shown in the most tangible manner on the cross, was spurned by most of his contemporaries, yet that same love continues to be made new, even today, two thousand years later. We, too, are called not to fall away but to persevere in love.

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Sunday, May 9, 2021 - Homily


 

We show that we have received the gift of love when we, like Jesus, also dare to reach out in love.

Sunday, May 9, 2021 - Sixth Sunday of Easter - If you love like Jesus .....

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts10:25-26, 34-35,44-48;; 1 Jn 4:7-10; Jn15:9-17

A man went to his pastor to say that he felt there was a lack of friendliness among the parishioners and that people were reluctant to greet one another in church. The pastor agreed with him and said that he had devised a plan to change things. During services the next Sunday, the pastor described the situation to the parishioners and said that the following Sunday they would have a brief pause to allow parishioners to turn to those seated near them and greet them with a friendly hello. After the announcement, the man turned around to the woman behind him and said, “Good morning.” She looked at him in shocked indignation and snapped, “That doesn’t start until next Sunday!”

The American author and poet, Stephen Vincent Benet, who won the Pulitzer Prize twice, wrote, “Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small, uncaring ways”. The penultimate verse of the Gospel text of today, in which Jesus tells his disciples, “I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last:, serves as an antidote to this way of living and ensures that one will continue to live even after death.

The disciples can be fruitful primarily because the love which the Father has for Jesus is the same love that Jesus has shown for his disciples. It is a love that is unconditional, a love that is totally caring, a love that places the other before self and, a love without end. It is a love that is shown tangibly and in every action that Jesus performs. There is only one commandment that Jesus gives his disciples. That is the commandment of love. If the disciples keep this commandment, they will resemble Jesus, their master, who revealed God’s love for the world tangibly, in the most perfect of ways, by willingly dying.

The disciples are indeed friends of Jesus, as has been manifested in their keeping his command to love. Jesus is not placing a condition for friendship here (you can be my friends only if…); rather, he is stating who the disciples are (because you are my friends, you do what I command). Keeping the commandment of Jesus is not a chore or burden but something done willingly because one has experienced his love first. The outcome of this sharing of love is unbounded joy.

As Jesus treats his disciples as his friends, he reveals to them all that they need to know. His primary revelation to them has been of God as a loving and compassionate Father. It is Jesus who has taken the initiative in calling and choosing the disciples and this fact reinforces the idea of grace. It is not one’s effort that can earn discipleship but the grace of God which enables one to live out daily the call to discipleship. Jesus’ self-emptying love points back to the self-emptying love expected of us. We are to love one another in the way he loved us.

However, this kind of self-emptying love does not always come easily, as today’s first reading from Acts demonstrates. Initially, Peter was reluctant to have anything to do with Cornelius because he was a Roman centurion. However, he soon learned that, because God does not hold back from anyone his self-emptying and unconditional love. When genuine love was present, all distinctions of caste, creed, colour, and race disappeared, John reiterates this point in the second reading of today and goes even further. He states very clearly that it was not we who first loved, but God. God took the initiative and sent a part of himself, his son. It is in Jesus, the Son that love has its origin and finds its fulfillment.

Love is not just an emotion – but reality. As a matter of fact, the only reality is love. Fear, which is regarded as the opposite of love, is not real, it is only an illusion. If there is fear, there cannot be love, and where there is love, there is no fear (1 Jn 4:18). While Paul gives a beautiful definition of love in 1 Cor 13:1-9, my own definition of love is, I believe, simple, but not simplistic. “In love, there is no ‘I’”.

As love keeps giving, Jesus continues to give, even today. However, the giving is only one side of the story. Without a receiver, the gift has no value. This is why, while the grace of God given as a gift in Jesus is first, our reception of that gift is important. We show that we have received this gift when we, like Jesus, also dare to reach out in love. When we speak a comforting word, perform a loving action, behave less selfishly and more selflessly, then the gift is given and received, again and again.

Friday, 7 May 2021

Saturday, May 8, 2021 - Homily


 

In a world in which the resonating message is to “have more”, it is not always easy to speak and live Jesus’ message to “be more”. Those who do this are labelled as crazy and out of touch with reality.

Saturday, April 8, 2021 - How often has your comparison with what others have led you to feel jealous of them? Will you realize that you can be the most contented person if you so decide today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 16:1-10; Jn15:18-21

These verses of the Discourse on the Vine and the Branches focus not on the relationship of Jesus and the disciples, like the earlier verses did, but on the relationship of the disciples with the “world”. Here, the word “world” is used to represent, not the physical world, but those who are opposed to God’s revelation in Jesus.

The challenge of love will be truly encountered when the community faces the “world”. The “world” will hate the disciples because of their relationship with Jesus and because they live out his teachings. If the disciples want the world to love them, they must give up the teachings of Jesus. However, because they have been chosen by Jesus and set apart from the “world”, they too, like Jesus, will have to endure the “world’s” hatred.

The disciples must realize that following and obeying Jesus, as servants obey their masters, will lead to persecution. What has happened with Jesus will be repeated in the disciples’ lives. While the authority of the one sent is the same as the sender, it is also true that the response to the one sent will be the same as the response to the sender. Those who do not accept the word of truth, spoken by God in Jesus, will indulge in persecution. Those who accept the word will respond by living out that word in their lives.  Rejection of the disciples means rejection of Jesus because it is Jesus who sends them.  Rejection of Jesus means rejection of God who sent him.

In a world in which the resonating message is to “have more”, it is not always easy to speak and live Jesus’ message to “be more”. Those who do this are labeled as crazy and out of touch with reality. Possession of things has so possessed us that we do not even realize that, most of the time, it is things that possess us rather than the other way round. We are held by the things we want to possess and they will not let us rest. Often, it begins with a small possession and then goes on to something bigger and soon gets so big that we lose control of ourselves and who we are. Our identity is linked with what we have and what we have achieved. In a situation like this, we need to take stock and decide when enough is enough. We need to ask ourselves whether we will live our lives moving from one possession to the next, often not even having the time or energy to enjoy what we possess.

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Friday, May 7, 2021 - Homily


 Without a receiver, the gift has no value. This is why, while the grace of God given as a gift in Jesus is first, our reception of that gift is as important if the act of giving is to be completed. We show that we have received this gift when we, like Jesus, also dare to reach out in love.


Friday, April 7, 2021 - Have you received Jesus’ gift of unconditional love? Does this show in your sharing of that love?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 15:22-31; Jn15:12-17

The first verse of today’s reading repeats the love commandment of 13:34, which there, was referred to as a new commandment. This love is expressed in the most perfect of ways in the willingness to go to one’s death for the sake of a friend. The disciples are indeed friends of Jesus, as has been manifested in their keeping his command to love. It is important to note that Jesus is not placing a condition for friendship here (you can be my friends only if…); rather he is stating what and who the disciples are (because you are my friends, you do what I command).

The friendship that the disciples share with Jesus is grounded in love. This means that Jesus keeps back nothing from his disciples and reveals to them all that they need to know. His primary revelation to them has been of God as a loving and compassionate Father.

It is Jesus who has taken the initiative in calling and choosing the disciples and this fact reinforces the idea of grace. It is not one’s effort that can earn discipleship but the grace of God which, when received, results in one living out the call to discipleship. The living out of the call is not merely a once for all act, but something that is done constantly and with perseverance. This will ensure that the effects of their love are abiding and lasting. The last verse of today, with its reminder to “love one another”, forms an inclusion with the first.

The relationship that we share with God because of Jesus is one of sons and daughters. We are Jesus’ brothers and sisters, even friends. This is because he has given us everything in all its fullness. He held nothing back, not even his own self. The manifestation of this self giving, which began with the incarnation, was completed and continued on the cross, and through his resurrection and ascension. He continues to give, even today. However, the giving is only one side of the story. Without a receiver, the gift has no value. This is why, while the grace of God given as a gift in Jesus is first, our reception of that gift is as important if the act of giving is to be completed. We show that we have received this gift when we, like Jesus, also dare to reach out in love. When we speak an enhancing word, perform a loving action, behave a little less selfishly, and a little more selflessly, then the gift is given and received, again and again.

 

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Thursday, May 6, 2021 - Homily


 

In the Gospel text of today, Jesus makes four points. He begins by offering a revelation. This is that the love which he has for the whole world is exactly as the love that God has for him. This love is unconditional and eternal. He then exhorts us to remain in that love. We do that be keeping the one commandment which is to love God by loving others.

Thursday, May 6, 2021 - How often has fear ruled your actions? Will you dare to act from love today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 15:7-21; Jn15:9-11

The love which the Father has for Jesus is the same love that Jesus has expressed and shown for his disciples. It is a love that is unconditional, a love without end. It is not merely a verbal expression, or an emotion, but a love that is shown tangibly and in every action that Jesus performs. The disciples have to act in the same manner as Jesus in order to make this love visible. There is only one commandment and that is the commandment to love. If the disciples keep this commandment, it will result in their being like Jesus, their master, who before them, revealed God’s love for the world.

Keeping the commandment of Jesus is thus not a chore or burden but done willingly because one has experienced this love first. The outcome of this sharing and manifestation of love is unbounded joy.

The word “love” has been a word that is used so often that it has been abused. We speak of our love for the good things of life, and of our love for the members of our family, and of our love for God in the same breath. “I love mixed vegetables” we might tell our spouse and, in the next breath, say “I love you”. Love is not primarily an emotion; it is not even a feeling, but reality. As a matter of fact, the only reality is love. Fear, which is regarded as the opposite of love, is not real, it is only an illusion. If there is fear, there cannot be love, and where there is love, there is no fear (1 Jn 4:18). While Paul gives a beautiful definition of love in 1 Cor 13:1-9, my own definition of love is simple, but not simplistic. “In love, there is no “I””.

 

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Wednesday, May 5, 2021 - Homily


 

The metaphor of today makes explicit that mutual indwelling is at the heart of the preaching of Jesus, and that Christianity, while it surely has an individual dimension, just as surely has a communitarian dimension. I am, as a Christian my brother’s and sister’s keeper.

Pray with me on Saturday, May 8, 2021 - Rosary for the healing of the world

This is the YouTube link 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvxX2ub-Twc

Wednesday, May 5, 2021 - Do I consider myself as part of the vine or do I regard myself as an individual branch? How will I show that I am part of the vine?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 15:1-6; Jn 15:1-8

John 15:1-17 are the verses for today and the next two days. These verses contain the final “I am” sayings in the Gospel (vv. 1, 5) and introduce the central metaphor of this unit: the vine and its branches. Jesus uses, in the first verse of Chapter 15, a common symbol of the world at that time: Vine. While in 15:1, the relationship with Jesus and the Father is stressed, in 15:5, when the metaphor is used again, Jesus does so in the context of his relationship with his disciples. Thus, the focus of the metaphor is interrelationship. If God is the vine dresser, Jesus is the vine and the disciples are the branches. All three are required for the production of fruit.

God, as the vine dresser, is the origin or source and, because Jesus comes from the Father, he is the true vine. God acts in his capacity as vine dresser and does what is best for the vine. Those branches that do bear fruit are pruned and those that do not, are cut away. This means that those of the community who express their union with Jesus by acting it out in works of love are pruned, whereas those who do not show their faith in action are cut off. The disciples have been given an insight into how they must remain in the vine, through the words that Jesus has spoken to them and through the loving actions that he performed, symbolized in the washing of the feet. They must learn from these actions and realize that, without abiding or remaining in Jesus, they can do nothing. Their own power or effort will never be sufficient for the works they have to perform. These can only be done if accompanied by the grace that Jesus gives.

“I am the vine, you are the branches” in 15:5 is not a repetition of what was said earlier. Rather it stresses the relationship of the community with Jesus. Without the vine, the branches are nothing. Mutual indwelling will result in bearing fruit. If a branch decides that it wants to live apart from the vine, it is in effect asking for death. Life apart from the vine is not possible for any branch.

 

Mutual indwelling is not merely with a single branch and the vine but with all the branches in the vine with one another. This unity of the branches among themselves will result in fruit bearing. This unity will also be a witness for the world and the glorification of the vine dresser: God. When people see the works of the disciples, it will lead them to glorify the Father.

All too often Christianity has been understood as a religion that has only the individual dimension. The communitarian dimension has been neglected. This is seen in so many of the Sacraments (which are both individual and communitarian) being treated and regarded as private devotions. The approach of many Christians has often been: My God and I. This approach is to misunderstand Christianity and all that Jesus stood for. The metaphor of today makes explicit that mutual indwelling is at the heart of the preaching of Jesus, and that Christianity, while it surely has an individual dimension, just as surely has a communitarian dimension. I am, as a Christian my brother’s and sister’s keeper. Their joys and sorrow, their trials and tribulations, their successes and failures, have to be as real to me as my own if I am to be a Christian in the true sense of the word. The Christian does make an individual commitment and choice to follow Jesus but he/she makes it in and through a community.

 

Monday, 3 May 2021

Tuesday, May 4, 2021 - Homily


 

When adversity knocks at your door do you open with dread and fear or faith, hope and courage?

Tuesday, May 4, 2021 - When adversity knocks at your door do you open with dread and fear or hope and courage?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 14:19-28; Jn14:27-31

A new promise is given to the disciples. This is first occurrence of “peace” in the Gospel of John. Peace here does not mean simply a wish, but must be seen as a legacy or bequest that Jesus leaves behind for the disciples. This peace that Jesus gives is not merely a sense of security, not merely the end of conflict and strife, but it embraces every aspect of a person’s life. This peace makes the weak strong and the fainthearted brave. It is a wholeness which makes one courageous to face all the trials and tribulations of life without getting overwhelmed. It is a peace which gives them the strength to face every kind of adversity with equanimity and faith.

Even as he offers this gift to them, Jesus reminds them of his departure because this is what God wills and it must come to pass. It is a reality that cannot be avoided and the peace given to them must make them able to accept it. The disciples must accept this reality, not out of resignation but, with an active joy. The reason for this joy is that Jesus goes to the Father after having completed the work given to him. It is the Father who has sent Jesus and given him the work to do - the work of making the Father known to the world - and now, after completing it thoroughly, Jesus goes back to where he has come from.

The foretelling of the events is Jesus’ way of preparing the disciples for what is to come and also to reveal to them that Jesus continues to go to his departure willingly and knowingly. It is not as if some unseen hand or “fate” is responsible for what is to come. Since what will happen fits in with God’s plan for Jesus and the world, Satan is never in control. He cannot have any power over Jesus. Jesus does what he does willingly and in obedience to the will of the Father.

The event of the death of a loved one sometimes shatters our world. We find it difficult to cope with the loss and wonder if the God we believe in really is a God of unconditional love. Does our God really care what happens to us? If he does, then why did he let this misfortune befall us? Where is he when we need him most? Why does he not answer? The answers to these questions are provided by Jesus in the Gospel text of today.  He tells his disciples, and us, to rejoice at such happenings because they fit in with God’s plan for us and the world. We may not be able to see this plan at first glance, like the disciples were not able to see it when Jesus spoke it to them, but we also know that Jesus’ words are true because of his resurrection and ascension and because of the transformation in the lives of his disciples because of these events. We have to continue to dare to believe.

Sunday, 2 May 2021

Monday, May 3, 2021 - Homily


 The incarnation was not a private revelation given to a select few, but an earth shattering event made visible to the whole world. So the revelation of Jesus, today, has to be done visibly and tangibly.

Be Positive and stay positive


 

Now is the time to stay as positive as we can. Let us stop playing the blame game. That does not require intelligence or courage. All of us need to be as positive as we can. Stay strong.

Monday, May 3, 2021 - Jesus revealed the Father as unconditional love. How will you reveal Jesus today?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Cor 15:1-8; Jn 14:6-14

Philip came from the same town as Peter and Andrew which was Bethsaida in Galilee (Jn 1:44). In the first chapter of John’s gospel, Jesus calls Philip directly (1:43). Immediately after his call he found Nathanael whom he shared his experience. To Nathanael’s scepticism, Philip responds in the same words that Jesus used when he invited the first disciples to “Come and see”. In the feeding of the five thousand with five loaves and two fish in which twelve baskets are gathered, Jesus tests Philip by asking him how the people can be fed. Philip’s response indicates that he fails the test (Jn 6:5-7). Here he expresses a similar skepticism that Nathanael expressed. After the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, some Greeks got to Philip with a request to see Jesus (Jn 12:20-21).

James, is James ‘son of Alphaeus’ (Mt 10:3; Mk 3:18; Lk 6:15; Acts 1:13). Not much is known about him except that he was one of the twelve disciples chosen by the Lord.

The text chosen for the feast is from the Gospel of John.  These verses continue the teachings begun in 14:1. The one who knows Jesus also knows the Father for Jesus reveals the Father as Father. In Jesus, one sees the Father as never before because no one has revealed him like Jesus does. Like Thomas before him, now Philip does not understand what Jesus is saying and in his ignorance, asks a question. He does not realize that in seeing Jesus he has seen the Father because of the revelation that Jesus makes of the Father. In offering himself, Jesus has offered all the revelation that the disciples need to identify the Father.

Jesus can only do what the Father has told him and so his works are those of the Father. Philip and the other disciples must be able to see Jesus as the revelation of the Father, if not in his person, at least through the works that Jesus does. The works flow from his person and are not separate from him but an integral part of who Jesus is. The works, too, are works of revelation. They show that the primary aim of God is not to condemn but to save and so are works that enhance and build up.

Since it is Jesus who sends the disciples, the works that anyone who believes in Jesus will do will be the same as those of Jesus. In fact, these will be able to do even greater works than Jesus. These works will make known the whole story of Jesus as Word made flesh and so, will be greater than those which Jesus does. Since these will be done after the whole Christ event – death, resurrection, and ascension to the Father – they will continue the glorification of Jesus.  They will continue to reveal Jesus to the world, sitting at the right hand of God. Jesus will answer every prayer of the disciples made in his name and he will grant their petitions.

 

As Jesus made God known to the world through unconditional, magnanimous love, so the disciples are called to do the same. The works that Jesus did have to be continued today if Jesus is to be made present and is to be revealed to a world that does not yet know him. It is the present community of disciples that has the responsibility to continue the mission that Jesus began. Whenever an enhancing word is spoken, whenever an action that heals is done, whenever love is shown in a tangible manner, then the work of Jesus continues and Jesus continues to be made present.

To be sure, the revelation of God that Jesus made can also be recognized in the depths of one’s heart, but this is not the whole story. It is a love that must be shared and revealed to the world if it is to be complete and whole. The incarnation was not a private revelation given to a select few, but an earth shattering event made visible to the whole world. So the revelation of Jesus, today, has to be done visibly and tangibly.


Saturday, 1 May 2021

Sunday, May 2, 2021 - Homily


 

The Spirit that Jesus breathed on the disciples affirms and continues his message of unconditional love. It is a love that makes no distinction, a love that reaches out of itself and a love through which the world will know that he still lives.


Sunday, May 2, 2021 - Are you part of the vine or the cut off branch?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 9:26-31; 1 Jn 3:18-24; Jn 15:1-8

A tribe in Africa has what we may consider an unusual way of punishing offenders. The one who commits an offence is simply banished from the tribe and is forbidden to have any contact with anyone from it. Research into the lives and workings of these tribes has shown that the one who is so banished has always died within a few days. The reason for the death, researchers point, out is not that the person was not able to fend for him/herself, but the fact that the banished person realizes that such a life is not worth living and simply gives up on life.

The Discourse of Jesus on the Vine and the branches seems to make this very point. It also gives us a beautiful image of Church and in doing so, states emphatically that Christian existence and life is never merely an individual life, but always a life lived in and through community.

The verses of today’s Gospel contain the last of the “I am” sayings in the Gospel of John. Jesus uses a common symbol of the world at that time: Vine. While in 15:1, the relationship with Jesus and the Father is stressed, in 15:5, when the metaphor is used again, Jesus does so in the context of his relationship with his disciples. Thus, the focus of the metaphor is interrelationship. If God is the vine dresser, Jesus is the vine and the disciples are the branches.

While it is easy for most of us to understand God as the vine dresser and Jesus as the vine, it is important for us to understand our role as branches. The first step to this understanding is to note is that on a vine all branches look similar though they are not the same. This similarity suggests cohesiveness and deep inner unity. This unity of the branches is possible only because they grow out of the same vine and it is shown in the fact that all produce the same fruit. This fruit which originates in the vine itself, which is Jesus, is the fruit of unconditional and magnanimous love. Since all produce the same fruit, there is no superior or inferior branch. Each is as precious as the other and is needed to complete the vine. If one branch cuts itself off from the vine not only will that branch wither and die and not be able to produce any fruit, but it will also result in the incompleteness of the vine. This means then that all positions in the Church are only functional and not to be used to dominate or oppress. It also means that each of us is responsible for the welfare of the other.

All too often Christianity has been understood as a religion that has only the individual dimension. The communitarian dimension has been neglected. This is seen in so many of the Sacraments (which are both individual and communitarian) being treated and regarded as private devotions. The approach of many Christians has often been: My God and I. This approach is to misunderstand Christianity and all that Jesus stood for. The metaphor of today makes explicit that mutual indwelling is at the heart of the preaching of Jesus, and that Christianity, while it surely has an individual dimension, just as surely has a communitarian dimension. I am, as a Christian my brother’s and sister’s keeper. Their joys and sorrow, their trials and tribulations, their successes and failures, have to be as real to me as my own if I am to be a Christian in the true sense of the word. The Christian does make an individual commitment and choice to follow Jesus but he/she makes it in and through a community.

This is seen clearly in the first reading of today, in which Saul who became Paul made such a choice. While Paul did have a personal experience of the Lord and was called by him directly, he also had to be accepted by the community who though they were initially afraid because of his past, dared to accept him as one of the branches of the vine. They not only did this, but also made his trial and tribulations their own, protecting him when his life was in danger. In doing so, the community showed in practice what it meant to be part of the vine.

The community lived out the exhortation made by John in the second reading of today in which he asks Christians to love not in word or speech but in action and in truth. The Spirit of Jesus is what sustains the community and constantly reminds them of their status as branches in the same vine. The Spirit that Jesus breathed on the disciples affirms and continues his message of unconditional love. It is a love that makes no distinction, a love that reaches out of itself and a love through which the world will know that he still lives.