Thursday 30 September 2021

St. Therese of the child Jesus, the little flower


St. Therese lived her whole life as a beloved child of God. She invites us to do the same.

Friday, October 1, 2021 - St. Therese of the Child Jesus - The Little Flower

To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 66:10-14; 1 Cor 13:4-13; Mt 18:1-4

St. Therese of the Child Jesus is one of my most favourite saints. I admire and am inspired by her for a number of reasons, but one of the most important reasons for this is her response to life. She had more challenges than most of us will ever have, yet her response was always positive no matter what the challenge she faced. In this regard she teaches us how we too must be able to see the hand of God in everything that happens to us.

She was born in 1873 and died very young at the age of 24 (1897). At the age of 14, she had an experience that transformed her life. She decided to give her whole life to God and entered the Carmelite convent in Lisieux. Though she was often sick and often plagued with doubts, she remained faithful and received the ability to find God in all things and all things in God. Her focus was not on doing great things but on doing all that she did with unconditional love. She would do even the most ordinary tasks with extraordinary love.

The Gospel text for the feast  is taken from what is termed by as Matthew’s “Community Discourse” (18:1-35). It is the fourth of the long discourses in Matthew. Some see the discourse as divided clearly into two parts (18:1-14 and 18:15-35), with various indications, which point to such a division. Some of these indications are as follows: Both sections end with a parable (18:12-13 and 18:23-34), after the parable is a concluding statement of Jesus, which begins with the word “So” (18:14.35), there is also in the sayings, a reference to the heavenly Father and the saying is about the subject of the preceding section (“little ones” and “brother/sister”).

The discourse begins with a question about the disciples regarding greatness. In his response, Jesus makes clear that being in the kingdom or coming into it, is not a matter of one’s talents or qualities, but “becoming like a child”. In first-century Judaism, children were often regarded as inferior and were treated as property rather than as persons. The point Jesus makes here is that one must acknowledge dependence on the Father. The reception of a child is an indication that one has accepted the values of the kingdom and one is no longer concerned about being greatest.

This was the attitude of St. Therese to life and she lived as a child of God all through her life. She inspires and invites us to the same.


Wednesday 29 September 2021

Thursday, September 30, 2021 - Homily


The Mission of each of us is to spread love, kindness and peace

Thursday, September 30, 2021 - How would you define mission today? Are you engaged in mission?

To read the texts click on the texts : Neh 8:1-12; Lk 10:1-12

Luke’s is the only Gospel in which we find the sending of the seventy-two. Matthew and Mark have the sending of the Twelve, as does Luke. This then is regarded as a doublet of the sending of the Twelve in Lk. 9,1-6. The fact that seventy-two and not just twelve are sent indicates growth and movement. The kingdom of God is preached not just by Jesus or the Twelve, but also by many more. In some manuscripts, the number is recorded as seventy. This is probably due to the list of nations in Genesis 10, where while the Hebrew text lists seventy nations, the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) list seventy-two. This will mean that the commissioning of the seventy-two foreshadows the mission of the church to all nations. In this sending, they are sent in pairs (not in the earlier sending of the Twelve in Lk. 9,1-6), and ahead of Jesus, in order to prepare the way before him. In this sense, they are called to be pre-cursors, forerunners like John the Baptist. The instructions begin with a prayer to be made to God, because it is his mission that they will be engaged in. At the outset they are warned that they will need to be on their guard at all times. The strategy proposed is detachment from things, persons and events. This detachment will help to proclaim the kingdom more efficaciously. Three interconnected aspects of the mission are stressed. The missionaries are to eat what is set before them in order to show the same table fellowship that Jesus showed, they are to cure the sick and to proclaim the kingdom in order to show that the kingdom is not only spiritual but also very practical and touches every aspect of human life. They are to do and also to say.

It is sometimes mistakenly thought that only religious men and women are called to be missionaries. Some also think that only those who work in the villages are to be termed missionaries. However, the sending of the seventy-two corrects this misunderstanding. Every Christian is sent on a mission and called to engage in mission, simply because mission is to be done where one is. The threefold mission task in these verses is a further confirmation of the fact that mission includes every aspect of life and so is not the responsibility of only a few, but every disciple of Jesus.

Tuesday 28 September 2021

Our God is God with us - Archangels - Homily


Our God is not only a God in the heavens but also a God with us on earth

Wednesday, September 29, 2018 - Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael

To read the texts click on the texts: Dan 7:9-10,13-14; Rev12:7-12; Jn 1:47-51

The three Archangels Michael (Who is as God? or Who is like God?), Gabriel (Strength of God) and Raphael (God heals) are the only angels named in Sacred Scripture. However, ancient apocryphal literature mentions others beside these three, but the names are spurious.

Archangel Michael is invoked for protection against evil and regarded as a Champion of God’s people. Gabriel is mentioned four times in the Bible. Of these the most significant are in the New Testament when he makes the announcement of the birth of john the Baptist and Jesus to Zechariah and Mary respectively. Raphael is mentioned in the Book of Tobit and is the one who heals Tobias’ blindness. Raphael is not mentioned in the New Testament, but is invoked for healing and acts of mercy.

The choice of the Gospel reading from John is because of the mention of angels in the last verse of the text. Though having an opinion about where the Messiah would come from, Nathanael remains open to another revelation. Though skeptical, he is willing to be convinced. Jesus addresses Nathanael as an “Israelite” which signifies his faithfulness to the law and is used here in a positive sense. He is without guile because though he has questions and even doubts, he is open and receptive and willing to learn. Jesus’ intimate knowledge of Nathanael and the revelation that he makes to him leads to a transformation in Nathanael and he comes to faith. He responds to Jesus with a confession and though he begins with Rabbi, he moves on to recognizing Jesus as Son of God and King of Israel

However, Jesus responds by pointing out to Nathanael that this is only the beginning of the revelation that Jesus makes. If he continues to remain open he will experience even greater things. By means of a double “Amen”, Jesus points out to Nathanael and to others there that he will be the bridge between heaven and earth. Through the phrase “you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” (Jn 1:51) which combines images from the descent of the Son of Man as narrated by Daniel (7:13) and the ladder of Jacob’s dream in Genesis (28:12), Jesus states that Jacob’s ladder is replaced by the Son of Man. He will be that place and person in whom the earthly and divine encounter each other. He as Son of man will make God known. The Son of Man becomes the place where the earthly and the heavenly, divine and human, temporal and eternal meet.

When looked at from this angle, the feast of the Archangels seeming to be saying to us that our God is not merely in the heavens. Our God is not merely a God who has created the world and left it to its own design. Rather our God is a God who is intimately connected to the world and present to and in it. Our God is a God who is concerned about our world and ever willing to lend a hand whenever any one of us requires it.

Monday 27 September 2021

Tuesday, September 28, 2021 - Homily


Try Carefrontation instead of Confrontation

Tuesday, September 28, 2021 - Don’t try to teach a pig to sing. It is waste of your time and irritates the pig.

To read the texts click on the texts: Zech 8:20-23; Lk 9:51-56

The section of the Gospel of Luke beginning from 9:51 and ending at 19:28 is known as the Travel Narrative or Journey to Jerusalem. Beginning today and on all weekdays till November 17, 2021, (except on feast days) we will be reading from this section of Luke’s Gospel. It is therefore important to have an understanding of what this section means. 

Luke begins this travel narrative by telling us that when the days drew near for Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. Jesus’ arrival at Jerusalem in 19:28 marks the end of this section. 

One important reason for this section where Luke diverts from Mark, is so that Luke can add here material from his own special source and also material from the source known as “Q” which he and Matthew have in common. In this section we will also find many parables, sayings meal scenes, controversies and warnings, through which the Lucan Jesus explicates his way of life.

In the text of today, we will read of the opposition that Jesus encounters already at the beginning of his journey. A Samaritan village refuses to welcome him. This rejection of Jesus at the beginning of his ministry coincides with the rejection at the beginning of his ministry in Nazareth (4,16-30). This foreshadows the rejection that Jesus will face in Jerusalem. In response to the rejection, James and John want to react and destroy the whole village. Jesus’ rebuke of James and John is an indication that he will not use violence in his ministry, but will win people only through love. The last verse of this text where we are told that they went on to another village also makes clear that Jesus will not force his teaching on anyone who does not want to listen to it.

Sometimes we are faced with opposition with regard to an idea that we may put forward or a suggestion that we may offer. When we identify with that idea or suggestion and feel rejected when it is rejected, then we might be tempted like James and John to react. The attitude of Jesus invites us to detach ourselves from all that we propose, so that we can continue to stay calm and collected.

Sunday 26 September 2021

Monday, September 27, 2021 - Homily


How will you show through your actions that you belong to the kingdom?

Monday, September 27, 2021 - How will you show through your actions that you belong to the kingdom?

To read the texts click on the texts : Zech 8:1-8; Lk 9:46-50

This scene shows the disciples debating among themselves as to which of them was the greatest. The fact that this episode occurs immediately after Jesus has predicted his passion, death and resurrection for the second time, shows that the disciples have not understood the meaning of Jesus’ predictions. In his response to their argument, Jesus puts a child by his side as an example of what it means to be the greatest. The one who like a child acknowledges total dependence on God, the one who does not have any visible means of support, is the one who is greatest.

The second scene in this section is the last one before Jesus turns towards Jerusalem, and also shows the disciples of Jesus in a poor light. This is the only scene in which the apostle John appears alone in the Synoptic Gospels. Here he acts as the spokesman for the group. The reason why they try to stop the unnamed exorcist is because he does not belong to the “inner circle”. The irony is that they as disciples were not able earlier to cast out a demon (9,40), and now someone who is not even part of their group is able to do so. Jesus’ response calls for openness and tolerance. Jesus also seems to say that one’s actions will determine who belongs and does not belong to the kingdom.

Even two thousand years after Jesus, we do not seem to have understood the meaning of what it takes to belong to the kingdom. We keep associating greatness with possessing things or having authority to dominate. Authority for anyone who belongs to the kingdom can only be translated as service.

Though the Gospels do seem to indicate that Jesus came primarily for the Jews, his was an inclusive approach. He excluded no one. All who were open to receive his radical message were welcome to be part of his community. We need to be constantly aware of this especially when we make such clear distinctions between those of other faiths and ourselves. They are also called in their own way.

Saturday 25 September 2021

Sunday, September 26, 2021 - Homily


When people look at our behaviour what will they believe about Jesus?

Sunday, September 26, 2021 – Will you speak on behalf of God today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Num11:25-29; Jas 5:1-6; Mk 9:38-43,45,47-48

The English word, “prophet,” comes from the Latin, “propheta” or Greek, “prophētēs” which means “one who speaks on behalf of God”. Since the prophet is the mouth by which God speaks to humans, what a prophet says are not his own words, but God’s words. Moses, who figures in the first reading of today, is an example of a prophet from the Old Testament.  James, from whose letter the second reading of today is taken, is an example of a prophet in the New Testament.

The first reading, from the book of Numbers, tells about an incident that occurred as the Israelites were marching through the desert toward the Promised Land. God offered to bestow some of the spirit that was in Moses on seventy elders of the people.  These seventy would then share the duties of leadership with Moses. When God bestowed the spirit on the elders, they, like Moses, became prophets and were able to prophesy or speak on behalf of God. Two men, Eldad and Medad, who had not been part of the group of seventy, also received the spirit and began prophesying. Joshua, who was the assistant to Moses, told Moses to stop them, apparently thinking that it was improper for anyone who had not been part of the group of seventy to prophesy. But Moses refused to accept Joshua's advice. Instead, he said, “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!”

The point that Moses makes is that the Spirit of God cannot be controlled by human structures. It is a force for change that blows where it will. The charisma of God can appear in members who are not supposed to have such power. Their prophesying illustrates that the boundaries of even minimal forms of hierarchy can be broken by the uncontrollable Spirit of God. The role of Moses in this episode illustrates how an ideal and charismatic leader will promote and recognize such power in unexpected places, rather than view it as a challenge to his own authority, as did Joshua. Charisma breaks established boundaries both inside and outside of communities. Charismatic leadership forces communities to be self-critical, because the power of God can appear in unexpected forms, places, and persons.

Such charismatic leadership is noticed in the second reading of today when James also speaks as a charismatic prophet. With words that are bound to sting, he berates the oppressors of the poor. He does not mince words and is categorical and forceful in his criticism of the rich.  He is especially critical of those who have made their riches ends in themselves. Speaking on behalf of God, he calls on them to realize that it is their riches which will be used as evidence for their condemnation and judgement. Like his Lord, Jesus, had done before him, James pronounces woes on the rich because of their mistreatment of the poor.

This Lord, who speaks in the Gospel text of today, is not merely a prophet. He does not merely speak on behalf of God. Rather, he is God. If the words of the prophet have to be taken seriously and acted upon, how much more so the words of God himself.  In the first part of the Gospel text of today, Jesus corrects John, like Moses corrected Joshua. Like Joshua before him, it seems that John, too, was jealous of the unnamed exorcist who was able to exorcise despite not being part of the inner circle of Jesus. Jesus, however, is open and accommodating. He will not set limits on persons as long as they are doing what God wants them to do. He will not be an obstacle or stumbling block in the way of anyone who is doing good, and he exhorts his disciples to adopt this way of thinking. Since Jesus does not stand on his ego, he is able to allow the unnamed exorcist to do God’s work. He does not claim a monopoly on such work. What is important is that the work be done and the kingdom brought closer.

However, the kingdom will remain a distant dream and will not be translated into reality if there are stumbling blocks that keep coming in the way of the kingdom. These are not external events, but persons and their attitudes and this is what Jesus addresses in the second part of today’s Gospel. The behaviour and attitude of the disciples can become a scandal to those who witness them. On the one hand, one cannot blame others for the decisions one makes.  On the other hand, however, if these are simple people, there is every possibility that the scandalous behaviour of Jesus’ disciples can scandalize them. Thus, the disciples are warned.

The scandals that we can cause, as disciples of Jesus, can be seen in two areas. One area is when, like Joshua and John, we become narrow minded and parochial in our way of proceeding. We may focus so much on the external that we might lose sight of the internal. We may place so much emphasis on our small community that we might neglect the larger community. The second area in which we can cause scandal is through the words that we speak and the actions that we do.  Our words and actions may, at times, push people away from Jesus rather than draw people to him. When people look at the lives we lead, and at our way of proceeding, and know that we are followers of Jesus, is it likely or unlikely that they will be inspired to follow him?

The call of the readings then, is a twofold call. It is first a call to each one of us to be prophets of God and to have the courage to speak on his behalf to a world that has grown deaf and will not hear and to a world that has grown blind and will not see. It is also a call to an open-minded attitude that will welcome the actions of those who may not belong to our “inner circle” of faith, realizing that the Spirit of God can work when and where the Spirit wills.  It is also to live our lives as Christians and followers of Jesus in such a manner that, when people see and hear us, they will be seeing and hearing Jesus Christ. It is to dare to say, with Paul, that it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us. (Gal 2:20)

Friday 24 September 2021

Saturday, September 25, 2021 - Homily


 It is not easy to give up control. However, sometimes we need to do. If we let go ... then we can let GOD.

Saturday, September 25, 2021 - Does it make sense to proclaim a “Suffering Messiah” today? How will you do it if it does?

To read the texts click on the texts: Zech 2:5-9,14-15; Lk 9:43-45

The second Passion prediction in the Gospel, which is our text for today, follows immediately after Jesus’ mighty work in exorcising the demon in the previous scene. It is only in Luke that Jesus announces his passion and death while “all were marvelling at everything he did.” Only Luke adds the phrase, “Let these words sink into your ears;” in order to bring out the gravity of the pronouncement. He abbreviates the Passion prediction of Mark, so that his passion prediction simply has “the Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men.” Through this shortening, Luke focuses on Jesus’ “being handed over” or “delivered”, and omits any reference to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Like in Mark, here too the disciples’ are not able to understand. However, Luke gives a reason for this, namely “it was concealed from them”, though he does not say by whom.

It is not easy for us to give up control. Moat of us like to be in control of every situation so that we do not need to depend on someone else. These verses are calling us to understand that this is not always possible or even necessary. There may be times when we need to give up control and especially to God acting through humans if we are to be faithful to his will.

Thursday 23 September 2021

Friday, September 24, 2021 - Homily



Who Jesus is cannot be captured by a title and we must not attempt to do so or imagine that this is possible. Any title we may use for Jesus will always be inadequate and this leads us to the realisation that while we may encounter him in different situations, he will always be bigger than anything we can ever imagine.


Friday, September 24, 2021 - Can you identify with a “Suffering Messiah”? Would you have preferred that Jesus not go to the Cross? What kind of death would have preferred Jesus to die?

 To read the texts click on the texts: Haggai 1:15-2:9; Lk 9:18-22

Though Luke depends on Mark for this scene of Peter’s confession, he has made some significant changes in order to bring out his meaning of the text. The first is that unlike Mark, Luke does not give the geographical location (Caesarea Philippi), but gives instead the context of the prayer of Jesus. Through this change, Luke makes the confession a spiritual experience. Luke also changes Marks, “one of the prophets” to “one of the old prophets has risen.” Though the difference does not appear to be great, it is for Luke. In the Gospel of Luke, before Jesus everything is old. Jesus makes all things new. Luke has also eliminated Peter’s refusal to accept Jesus as the suffering Messiah and the rebuke of Peter by Jesus. Luke avoids narrating Marcan texts that show Peter and even the disciples in a bad light.

The second question to the disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” shows on the one hand that the answers given of the crowd’s understanding of Jesus are inadequate, and on the other that Jesus wants to know their understanding of him. In all the Synoptic Gospels it is Peter who answers, but here too Luke adds to Mark’s, “You are the Christ”, the words “of God”. The Greek word “Christos” means in English “the anointed” and this conveys the meaning of royalty. However, by his addition, Luke also brings in the prophetical dimension of Jesus’ person and mission. This prophetical dimension is explicated in the verses, which follow the confession of Peter, in which Jesus explains the kind of Christ/Messiah/Anointed One that he will be. The reason for the rebuke or “stern order” not to tell anyone is because Jesus wanted to avoid any misunderstanding of the term which could be understood only in the glorious sense. Jesus as “the Christ of God” will come in glory, but only after he has gone to the cross, died, been buried and then raised.

Who Jesus is cannot be captured by a title and we must not attempt to do so or imagine that this is possible. Any title we may use for Jesus will always be inadequate and this leads us to the realisation that while we may encounter him in different situations, he will always be bigger than anything we can ever imagine.

Wednesday 22 September 2021

Thursday, September 23, 2021 - Homily


 You may know a great deal about Jesus.  However, the more important question is Do you know HIM? When did you last meet him?

CHAPTER NINE OF THE GOSPEL OF LUKE

Thursday, September 23, 2021 - You know a great deal about Jesus, but do you really know him? When did you last meet him personally?

To read the texts click on the texts: Haggai 1:1-8; Lk 9:7-9

This text (9:7-9) forms the meat of the sandwich formed by the sending out of the Twelve (9:1-6) and their return (9:10-17). In a sandwich construction, an event is begun, interrupted by another event and the first event is continued and completed. In this instance, the disciples are sent on mission (9:1-6), the return is interrupted by the question of Herod (9:7-9) and the event of the sending out of the disciples is continued and completed by their return (9:10-17). In such a construction, the first and the third events throw light on the event in the middle or the meat of the sandwich. The first and third events narrate the sending and successful return, and it is in this light that the question of Herod, “Who is this?” which is the second event or in the centre, must be read. Herod’s desire to see Jesus foreshadows coming events. When Herod did meet Jesus, his desire to see Jesus was fulfilled, but he wanted only to see Jesus perform a sign. He never really grasped the answer to his own question. Though John the Baptist has been beheaded and Jesus will also be killed, yet the violence of the wicked will be no match for God’s grace. The success of the disciples’ in mission is only a shadow of the success that Jesus will experience in mission.

The intention behind wanting to meet Jesus is extremely important. If one’s approach is curiosity that will be the level at which one will see him. If one’s approach is faith, then one will encounter him as he is.

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?