Sunday 31 October 2021

Monday, November 1, 2021 - All Saints Day

 If we dare to live as Jesus has lived and shown us and as the Saints who have gone before us have lived, then we too can be counted in that number.

Monday, November 1, 2021 - All Saints Day - The Saints could, we also can

To read the texts click on the texts: Rev 7:2-4,9-14; 1 Jn 3:1-3; Mt 5:1-12

“I want to be in that number when the Saints go marching in”. These words from the popular spiritual song “When the Saints Go Marching In” can be regarded as one of the two important reasons why we celebrate the feast of All Saints.

In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III consecrated a new chapel in the Basilica of St. Peter to all saints on November 1, and he fixed the anniversary of this dedication as the date of the feast. In the ninth century, Pope Gregory IV extended the celebration of All Saints for the entire Church and since then, the Church celebrates the feast of all Saints on this date.

While the celebration of this solemnity may be seen on the one hand as a remembrance or memorial of the numerous courageous men and women who lived lives of selfless love, it may also be seen as an event which makes each of us aware that we, too, as those who have gone before, are capable of living such lives. It is a celebration of possibilities, potential and promise. They could, we also can.

This possibility and potential is brought out vividly in the first reading from the Book of Revelation. While on the one hand there are the chosen one hundred and forty four thousand made up of twelve thousand each from the twelve tribes of Israel, there is also the great multitude from every nation and tribe and language. This great multitude is a demonstration that the possibility of being included is a very real one and that everyone who desires it can receive it. While it is true that the choice is made by God, we as humans can desire it by being willing to be washed in the blood of the lamb. This means the willingness to undergo persecution, trials and tribulations and resisting the pressure to conform to values of the “world” which include selfishness and self centeredness.

This willingness not to conform is precisely the reason why, in the Gospel text of today, Jesus can declare as “blessed”, those who in the eyes of the world might seem as those who are cursed. This declaration is a confident assertion of the reality that is now and here. The beatitudes are not a “wish list” nor a projection of the future state of what is to come. They are not conditions for discipleship or preliminary requirements for an initiate. Rather, they describe those who belong to the community of the Lord. They describe the Saints.

The nine pronouncements, or declarations, are thus not statements about general human virtues. Rather, they pronounce blessing on authentic disciples in the Christian community. All the beatitudes apply to one group of people. They do not describe nine different kinds of good people who get to go to heaven, but are nine declarations about the blessedness, contrary to all appearances, of the eschatological community living in anticipation of God’s reign.

“Poor in spirit” definitely includes being economically poor, but goes further than literal poverty. It refers also to an absence of arrogance and the presence of dependence. It refers to an absence of ego and a presence of awareness that one’s true identity is found only in God.

The “mourning” of disciples is not because of the loss of something personal or because of the death of a loved one. It is a mourning that is outward in that the mourning is because things are the way they are. The mourning is because God’s will is not being done and represents also a desire to do it. It is mourning because of what is not and also because of what can be.

 Meekness in the third beatitude represents not a passive attitude of endurance or as is sometimes understood: gullibility. Rather it is an active disposition that will refuse to use violent means. This refusal does not represent inability, weakness or impotence. It represents instead a deliberate choice of one’s way of proceeding.

This is also what is meant by the desire or hunger for righteousness or justice. It is the courage to do God’s will here and now with the confidence and optimism that the kingdom is indeed now and here.

The disciples are pure in heart or have a single minded devotion to God and will not be swayed by things that are temporary and passing. They will not be divided or serve two masters. They will serve the Lord and the Lord alone.

This single minded service of the Lord will also enable them to work for peace and reconciliation. They will bring together people of different experiences, races, religions, and languages not through any kind of coercion or force, but through the example of consecrated and selfless lives. All this they will do with a deep sense of joy, because they know that this is really the only way to live fully and completely the life that God in his graciousness has bestowed.

It is the same God who calls them his children and to whom he is Father. The disciples know that this is indeed what they are because they live lives that are in keeping with their call.

The elder who invited John to identify those robed in white continues to invite us not only to identify them today, but also to have the confidence that, if we dare to live as Jesus has lived and shown us and as the Saints who have gone before us have lived, then we too can be counted in that number.

Saturday 30 October 2021

Sunday, October 31, 2021 - Homily

 Love of God necessarily means love of neighbour. 

Sunday, October 31, 2021 - Love of God means love of neighbour

To read the texts click on the texts: Deut 6:2-6; Heb 7:23-28; Mk 12:28-34

The question of the scribe in the Gospel text of today must be seen in the light of the numerous commandments, statutes and ordinances that had become common at the time of Jesus. There was much debate about which was first and most important. According to some there were 613 commandments, 248 of which positive and 365 negative. Thus the question was of great significance to them.

The Great Commandment as explained by Jesus contains three key elements in Christian faith: (a) belief in one God, (b) whole-hearted devotion to God, and (c) love of neighbour.

What does it mean for us today to say “the Lord our God, the Lord is one”? It means one pointed worship of God. This is because we tend sometimes to regard things as God. Some of these may even be good things like our jobs, vehicles, televisions sets, mobile phones, computers, family, political causes or even theological systems. That the Lord our God is one God is a reminder to all of us that only God is and must be absolute. All else is relative, temporary and passing.

The exchange between Jesus and the scribe becomes itself something of an illustration of what love of neighbour means. Even though the exchange occurs in the middle of a dispute (12:28), Jesus and the scribe are able to transcend the party strife and cross the dividing line of hostility to confess a common faith. Because they join together in the conviction that there is no commandment greater than love of God and neighbour, they are able to treat each other as neighbours.

Both the scribe and Jesus have stepped away from the “us” versus “them” categories. Their mutual affirmation is an island of reconciliation in a sea of hostility. The scribe recognizes Jesus as the great Teacher; Jesus recognizes the scribe as a pilgrim moving toward the kingdom. Their lived out common devotion to God and neighbour silences the debate (12:34).

For the larger majority of us it seems easier to love God rather than neighbour. Jesus knew this and that is why though he is asked ONLY the FIRST, he also gives another (which is not really another but like the first). At the end of his reply Jesus says: “There is no commandment greater than these”. By wording it in this manner rather than “There are no commandments greater than these”, Jesus has effectively made it ONE COMMANDMENT.

In other words, if we say we love God, then we must love our neighbour. We cannot have one without the other.

Friday 29 October 2021

Saturday, October 30, 2021 - Homily

 Do you agree with this statement, “Humility is a funny thing, once you think you’ve got it, you’ve lost it”? Why?

Saturday, October 30, 2021 - Do you agree with this statement, “Humility is a funny thing, once you think you’ve got it, you’ve lost it”? Why?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 11:1-2,11-12,25-29;  Lk 14:1,7-11

Since the text of today includes 14:1,which spoke of a Sabbath setting, this text must be seen in that light. The text is set in the context of a meal, and contains instructions on behaviour to guests who were invited. Meals were important social ceremonies, and very little was left to chance. In his instructions, Jesus advocates what may be termed as practical humility, with words from Proverbs 25:6-7. It must be noticed that when the host asks the guest to move down from the place of honour, no term of address, respect or affection is used, whereas when the host invites the guest to move up, the guest is addressed as “friend”. The future tense that is used in 14,11 (“will be humbled”, “will be exalted”) points beyond the immediate situation to the reversal of values that is characteristic of the economy of God’s kingdom. When one realises that God accepts one unconditionally, the result is practical humility.

Thursday 28 October 2021

Friday, October 29, 2021 - Homily

Human need even if not urgent takes precedence over rules and regulations.

Friday, October 29, 2021 - Do you “try to be good” or do you “do the right thing”?

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

The scene described in the Gospel text is the third scene describing a healing on the Sabbath (see 6,6-11; 13,10-17). However, in this scene the setting is a meal rather than in the synagogue. The issue, however, is the same namely whether a person’s needs takes precedence over rules and regulations.

The man in the story suffers from dropsy or edema, which is the abnormal accumulation of fluids in the body. It is a symptom of serious physical problems. Unlike in the previous Sabbath healings, here there is no dialogue with the man (as there was with the woman in 13,12) or questioning by the Pharisees (as there was in 6,8; 13,14). Instead Jesus poses the question of whether one is allowed to heal on the Sabbath. The healing is narrated simply, and hence the focus is removed from it and placed on the second question of Jesus, which is connected with the first. Since there is the mention of “son/child” who has fallen into well, the point seems to be the urgency of the situation and not as in the case of the question asked in 13,15 where the argument is from the lesser to the greater. The silence of Jesus’ opponents to both questions concedes to him the victory. The point has been made; human need even if not urgent takes precedence over rules and regulations.

Wednesday 27 October 2021

Thursday, October 28, 2021 - Saints Simon and Jude - Homily


We can follow Jesus only when we see clearly who is and Jesus is the love of God made incarnate and visible. This love is not restricted to a few, but available to all. The call to follow Jesus is a call to imitate him.

How will you show that you are imitating the Lord?

Thursday, October 28, 2021 - Saints Simon and Jude - Will you respond to the call of the Lord as Simon and Jude did?

To read the texts click on the texts: Eph2:19-22; Lk 6:19-22

Jude is one of the twelve Apostles in the list of Luke (and also Acts of the Apostles). Some think that since Jude is not mentioned by Matthew and Mark but Thaddeus is, that Jude and Thaddeus are the same person. Besides mention in the list of the Twelve, he is not well known.

Simon is mentioned in all four lists of the apostles. In two of them he is called "the Zealot." The title probably indicates that he belonged to a Jewish sect that represented an extreme of Jewish nationalism. For them, the messianic promise of the Old Testament meant that the Jews were to be a free and independent nation. God alone was their king, and any payment of taxes to the Romans—the very domination of the Romans—was a blasphemy against God. Nothing in the scriptures speaks of his activities as a Zealot.

The Gospel text chosen for the feast of these Saints is The naming of the twelve apostles. By placing the appointment of the Twelve immediately after the controversies with the Pharisees—and the dramatic distinction between old and new that these controversies exposed—Luke presents the appointment of the Twelve as the constitution of a new nucleus for the people of God, perhaps in deliberate succession to the twelve tribes of Israel. The conflicts between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees have already shown that they represent the old and that, therefore, they are no more fit for leadership in the kingdom than old wineskins are fit for new wine. The events at this juncture of the Gospel foreshadow the opposition that will lead to Jesus’ death and the witness of the apostles in Acts.

Luke again signals the introduction of a new scene by means of “Now it came to pass” and a temporal phrase: “Now during those days.” The significance of the coming scene is indicated both by its setting on a mountain and the report that Jesus spent the night in prayer. The only other time Jesus goes up on a mountain to pray in Luke is the occasion of the transfiguration (9:28), just prior to the start of his journey to Jerusalem. Prayer is a regular feature of Luke’s account of the ministry of Jesus and the growth of the church, and references to prayer often occur in connection with significant turning points in this history (Luke 3:21, the coming of the Spirit upon Jesus; 9:18, Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah; 9:28, the transfiguration; 11:1, the Lord’s prayer; and 22:40-46, Gethsemane). It is not surprising, therefore, that Luke adds a reference to prayer at this point.

In one verse, Luke refers to “the disciples,” “the Twelve,” and “apostles,” but the terms are not synonymous and do not refer to the same groups. In Luke’s account, in contrast to Mark and Matthew, the Twelve are distinct from the larger group of disciples: “He called his disciples and chose twelve of them.” In the next scene Jesus is still surrounded by “a great crowd of his disciples” (6:17). Luke states that Jesus named the twelve “apostles,” thereby characterizing their role as witnesses. The references to apostles in the early church in Acts and in the rest of the New Testament make it clear that many who were not among the Twelve were still called apostles.

The points being made by this text of the naming of the Twelve in Luke may be summarized as under:

God calls those whom God wants. The individual’s merit or talent is not a necessary condition for the call. God graces those who are called and equips them for Mission. The initiative is always with God, but the response is from the human.

Like God called Israel and then Jesus called the Twelve to continue the Mission that was given to Israel to be that Contrast Community, so God continues to call even today. Consequently, blessing and mission are vital aspects of God’s purpose for the community of faith, whether it be Israel or the church.

Particularly in Luke, the call to follow Jesus is a call to imitate him, and in Acts we see the disciples continuing to do what Jesus began during his ministry. Jesus blessed the poor and the outcast; he ate with the excluded and defended them against the religious authorities. Jesus showed compassion on the weak, the sick, and the small, and in these matters the disciples had a particularly hard time in following Jesus’ example. Nevertheless, if discipleship and Lordship are directly related, then the Gospel’s portrayal of Jesus is vital for the church. We can follow Jesus in the Lukan sense only when we see clearly who he is. Ultimately, of course, the Gospel challenges each reader to respond to the call to discipleship and join the Twelve as followers of Jesus.

Tuesday 26 October 2021

Wednesday, October 27, 2021 - Homily


We are all exhorted to do what we have to do. We must not take for granted that salvation is assured and especially if we are not willing to receive it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021 - Will you take the road “less travelled”?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 8:26-30; Lk 13:22-30

The first verse of today’s text 13:22, reintroduces the journey motif, which began in 9:51, where we were told that Jesus set out resolutely for Jerusalem. 

To the question whether only a few will be saved, Jesus responds not with a direct answer, but by placing the onus of entry into the kingdom on each individual’s shoulders. This is because while the door is open it does not necessarily mean that anyone will enter it. God will not force a person to enter if he/she does not want to do so.  

Jesus does not explicate what striving to enter through the narrow door entails, but states clearly that once the door has been shut, it will not be opened to those who presume that the Lord knows them. This means that the believer is challenged to do what he/she has to do and not presume or take for granted that salvation is assured and especially if one is not willing to receive it. God’s grace is abundant but can only be received by those who want to receive it.

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I …. I took the one less travelled by and that has made all the difference” (Robert Frost)

Monday 25 October 2021

Tuesday, October 26, 2021 - Homily


Have you sometimes been tempted to give in to despair when you look at the injustice, corruption and negatives around you? Will these parables help give you hope?

Tuesday, October 26, 2021 - Have you sometimes been tempted to give in to despair when you look at the injustice, corruption and negatives around you? Will these parables help give you hope?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 8:18-25; Lk 13:18-21

In the two parables that make up the text of today, we once again find the mention of a man and a woman. While in the first parable of the mustard seed, it is a “man” who sows, in the second parable of the yeast; it is a “woman” who mixes it. The parable of the mustard seed is found also in Mark and Matthew, whereas the parable of the yeast is in Matthew but not in Mark.

The Lukan version of the parable of the mustard seed is the shortest of the three. It lacks the description of the mustard seed as the smallest of all seeds (Mt 13:31; Mk 4:31) or the mature plant as “the greatest of all shrubs” (Mt 13:32; Mk 4:32). The point that Luke seems to be making by omitting these details is that rather than compare the kingdom to a mighty cedar, be describes it is terms of an insignificant seed. The emphasis is not on future glory, but on the present sign of its presence, even though it cannot be seen as clearly as some would like to. In Luke, it is a parable of the beginnings of the kingdom and not on its final manifestation. The people expected a spectacular, extra-ordinary cedar, but Jesus preferred to bring the kingdom as insignificantly as a mustard seed.

The point of the parable of the yeast in Luke is not the same as the point being made in the parable of the mustard seed. In this parable it is a clearly a case of small beginnings contrasted with great endings. While the quantity of yeast is not specified, the use of the word “hid’, indicates that it is an extremely small quantity. In contrast the three measures of flour that are leavened are the equivalent of fifty pounds of flour, enough to make bread for about 0ne hundred fifty people. The kingdom like the yeast will eventually leaven the whole of humanity.

While the parable of the mustard seed dramatises the presence of the kingdom in its insignificant beginnings, the parable of the yeast reminds us that even small beginnings are powerful and eventually change the character of the whole.

When we realise that with the motley crew that Jesus chose he could achieve so much in the world, then we realise that his words in the parable are indeed true. The kingdom does have insignificant beginnings, but even this insignificant or small beginning has resulted and will continue to result in great endings.

Sunday 24 October 2021

Monday, October 25, 2021 - Homily


It is possible that because of our myopic vision we might sometimes lose sight of the larger picture. While it is good to have our own point of view, we must also keep in mind that ours is one point of view and there will be others, and therefore ours will not necessarily be the correct one.

Monday, October 25, 2021 - Has your adherence to rules and regulations sometime blinded you from love?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 8:12-17; Lk 13:10-17

In Luke, scenes involving a man are often balanced with scenes involving a woman. The healing of a woman who had been crippled for eighteen years which is our text for today is paralleled with the healing of a man with dropsy (Lk 14,1-6). Like this healing that one too occurs on the Sabbath, and in both there is a controversy with a leader of the synagogue. In both miracles there is a pronouncement as well as a healing, and in both Jesus invites his opponents to reason what they should do for a fellow human being from what they would do for an ox. This is the last time in Luke that Jesus enters a synagogue, though he will continue to teach even in later chapters. In this incident, the main point that is made is that concern over the suffering of fellow human beings takes precedence over obligations related to keeping the Sabbath. Love takes precedence over rules and regulations. The number eighteen (the number of years for which the woman was sick) does not seem to have any special significance except that it is a long period of time and is probably to link this scene with the previous one in which eighteen persons perished when the tower of Siloam fell (Lk 13, 4). Jesus heals the woman by both a pronouncement and a laying on of hands. The latter may also be taken to indicate the conferral of a blessing on the woman. The leader of the synagogue does not address Jesus directly, but speaks to the crowd and expresses his indignation that a healing took place on the Sabbath. His focus is not on the wholeness of the woman but on the breaking of the law. Jesus too, in his response addresses the crowd and challenges his opponents to reason from the lesser to the greater. Since a bound animal would surely be unbound even if the day were a Sabbath, a human person who had been bound would most definitely be unbound. The result of Jesus’ pronouncement is that all his opponents were put to shame. It seems that while the woman was only physically crippled, the leader of the synagogue was spiritually crippled.

It is possible that because of our myopic vision we might sometimes lose sight of the larger picture. While it is good to have our own point of view, we must also keep in mind that ours is one point of view and there will be others, and therefore ours will not necessarily be the correct one.

Saturday 23 October 2021

Hope against hope

 Our hope, faith and perseverance can help us to achieve wholeness

Sunday, October 24, 2021 - Having eyes do you not see? Having ears do you not hear?

 To read the texts click on the texts: Jer 31:7-9; Heb 5:1-6; Mk 10:46-52

The promise of a return to the Promised Land is one of many instances in The Old Testament in which God’s deliverance is seen as belonging to the real and material world of human existence.  It is a promise in time and space and is not limited only to a spiritual realm. While this is seen clearly in the First reading of today, it is even clearer in the Gospel text in which Jesus heals blind Bartimaeus. If, in the words of Jeremiah, God is shepherd and keeper of his people, for Mark, God is one who restores wholeness.

The tone of the reading from Jeremiah is one of sheer joy, hope, and confidence. It is not the strong whom God will gather but the helpless and the weak. The ones gathered are those who are unable to take care of themselves and those who depend on the Lord for their salvation. These will be led by a smooth path and they will not stumble because it is the Lord himself who will go ahead of them.

The privilege of being led by God is a blessing, not only for the covenant people, but through them, for all the earth. Something in the very heart of God is moved by suffering, and hurt, and pain, by the plight of the mocked and the ridiculed, the lonely and the desolate, the besieged and the afflicted. The Lord will not let the uncared for remain that way.  He will not let the taunts of the mockers go untended. This is what we know to be at the very center of the revelation of the love of God—in both the story of Israel and particularly, in the story of Jesus Christ. The grace of God always triumphs over the judgment of God.

This fact is made absolutely clear in the Gospel text of today when we read how blind Bartimaeus is healed. This is the last miracle before Jesus can enter Jerusalem to suffer and to die and thus, is significant. Though the crowd tries to silence him, Bartimaeus will not be silenced. His faith in the power of Jesus to make him whole prompts him to keep pleading. Bartimaeus’ faith is rewarded by Jesus and Bartimaues is able to see again. It is significant to note that, though physically blind, Bartimaeus is able to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. This is evident in the title that he uses to address Jesus – “Son of David”. However, Jesus is not merely Son of David; he is also Son of God. The plea of Bartimaeus – “have mercy on me” is an indication of the fact that the mercy of God is given generously and freely to those who ask. God wants to give. What is lacking is not his desire to give, but our perseverance in asking.

This God, who wants to give, was made manifest in Jesus.  Jesus, a God who knows completely the sufferings and trials of the human race. As a matter of fact, Jesus becoming human enables him to understand every aspect of human life, its ups and downs, its highs and lows, its good times and bad times. This is why he is able to deal gently with those who go astray and with those who are in need of healing and wholeness.

The God revealed in Jesus goes even further than God went with the people of old.  The God revealed in Jesus promises not merely a return to a promised land but a return to new life itself. This he does through the very tangible action of giving himself over to death on a Cross. He died so that we might live and live fully.

To be sure, blindness, deafness, lameness, paralysis, and other illnesses, continue to plague humanity.  We are still a long way off from the wholeness that Jesus proclaimed and brought to those around him. Yet the fact remains that this is what we, as disciples of Jesus, are called to continue to proclaim and to bring. Do we lack the power to bring healing and wholeness to others today? No.  Does God not want to make people whole? No. We are unable to bring healing and wholeness to others because we lack the will to ask and the determination to believe. We give up even before we can try. We do not persevere. The negatives around us have taken such a hold of us that they dominate our lives and do not allow us to be optimistic and positive. The problems that we encounter sometimes overwhelm us and do not allow us the courage to hope.

The remnants who are brought back to the Promised Land and Blind Bartimaeus offer us a lesson in hope, faith, and perseverance. Their hope, faith, and perseverance helped them to receive the blessing that God wanted to grant them. It helped them to return to the Promised Land and to be restored to wholeness. Our hope, faith, and perseverance can help us to achieve healing and wholeness as well.

Friday 22 October 2021

Saturday, October 23, 2021 - Homily

If you were given only one more day to live, what are the things that you would do? What is preventing you from doing these today?

Saturday, October 23, 2021 - If you were given only one more day to live, what are the things that you would do? What is preventing you from doing these today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 8:1-11; Lk 13:1-9

The warnings and admonitions regarding the coming judgement that began in 12:1, reach their conclusion here with a call to repentance. Jesus uses two sayings to make the same point. The first is about the calamity that occurred when Pilate slaughtered a group of Galileans and when the tower of Siloam fell and killed eighteen people. Though no other historical reports narrate these incidents, there may be some historical background to the first one, Josephus the Jewish historian does narrate many incidents, which confirm that Pilate shed much blood. In the incidents that Jesus narrates, however, he makes clear that what is required on the part of the human person is not the focus on sin and its consequences but on repentance, which means the acquisition of a new mind, a new heart and a new vision.

Near Eastern wisdom literature contains stories of unfruitful trees and the story of the barren fig tree is similar to the stories found there. While in the story as told by the Lucan Jesus there is mercy, it is still a warning of the urgency of repentance.

Each new day brings with it new hope and a new opportunity to right the wrongs that we may have done, to say the kind word that we ought to have said and to do the good that we ought to have done.

Thursday 21 October 2021

Friday, October 22, 2021 - Homily


Where in the scale of “attention to detail” does your devotion to the teachings of the Lord rank?

Friday, October 22, 2021 - Where in the scale of “attention to detail” does your devotion to the teachings of the Lord rank?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 7:18-25; Lk 12:54-59

The warnings about the coming judgement continue in the Gospel reading of today. The text contains two clusters of sayings addressed to the crowds. They are charged with hypocrisy in the first of the two clusters for not being as observant of the signs of the coming judgement as they are of the weather. If they pay attention to the slightest sign of change in the weather, then they must also pay attention to the present time, which is the time of Jesus and his works and words.

In the second they are warned to make every effort to settle accounts so that they may be blameless when they are brought to court.

While we must keep in touch with what is happening around us so that our responses to different situations can be adequate, it is also important to keep in touch with what is happening in us. This means that while we need to take good care of our physical and material well being, we must not do it at the cost of our spiritual well being.

Compromise is often better than confrontation. When it is not a matter of one’s principles or when one is not called to do something against one’s conscience then it is better to compromise when some conflict arises. This approach saves energy, time and money.

Wednesday 20 October 2021

Thursday, October 21, 2021 - Homily

 The reason why the announcement of the kingdom brings division is because it calls for a radical change of heart and mind.

Thursday, October 21, 2021 - Will you do good today even in the face of opposition? How?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 6:19-23; Lk 12:49-53

The verses of today contain three pronouncements regarding the nature of Jesus’ mission. The first is that he has come to cast fire on the earth. Fire is used as an image of God’s judgement, but ironically when it comes on the disciples at Pentecost (Acts, 2,3), it is the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, the crisis of judgement is never far away.

The second is about his own baptism, which may be an allusion to his death or to the conflict and distress in which he would be immersed. This governs his whole life. Until he completes his mission, he will not be satisfied.

The third is about the division that his mission will cause. Although the kingdom of God is characterised by reconciliation and peace, the announcement of that kingdom is always divisive because it requires decision and commitment. Though this announcement will indeed cause stress and division, Jesus will not shy away from it because it is the Mission given to him by his Father. Anyone who commits him/herself to Jesus must also then be prepared for the opposition that they will face.

The reason why the announcement of the kingdom brings division is because it calls for a radical change of heart and mind. It overturns our value system and calls us to a life that is challenging and if lived fully also challenges others. It calls for decision and commitment at every moment.

Tuesday 19 October 2021

Wednesday, October 20, 2021 - Homily


Are you good because of fear of punishment or hope of reward, or are you good because it is good to be good?

Wednesday, October 20, 2021 - Are you good because of fear of punishment or hope of reward, or are you good because it is good to be good?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 6:12-18; Lk 12:39-48

The text of today is the one immediately after Jesus has begun to exhort his disciples’ to watchfulness (12, 35-38). Based on instructions given in earlier contexts, however, readiness here means trust in God as a heavenly Father, putting away all hypocrisy, handling one’s material possessions faithfully, obeying the ethic of the kingdom, and making life a matter of constant prayer. Peter’s question regarding whether this “parable” was for the disciples alone or for everyone, does not receive a direct answer from Jesus. However, in his response to the question, Jesus responds with another “parable”, which is about the faithful and unfaithful servant/slave. While there will be a reward for the faithful servant, there will be punishment for the unfaithful servant. God will seek much from those to whom he has given much, because everything has been given in trust.

Each of us has a specific role to play in the world, which is confirmed by the fact that we are unique and that there is not one else exactly like us anywhere. Since this is the case, we have to be faithful to that to which we are called. If we do not do what we have to do, no one else will do it and it will remain undone. Besides this it will also mean that we have been negligent in our duty and not appreciated enough the uniqueness of our creation.

Monday 18 October 2021

Tuesday, October 19, 2021 - Homily

 Do you possess things or, do things possess you?

Tuesday, October 19, 2021 - Do you live one moment of one day at a time or are you living only in the future?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 5:12,15,17-21; Lk 12:35-38

The sayings in these verses are a call to watchfulness and readiness. The call to be dressed for action would mean literally to draw up the longer outer garment and tuck it into the sash around one’s waist so as to be prepared for strenuous activity. If the servants/disciples are so ready, they will be able to be prompt in responding to the master’s knock, and will be blessed. This blessing will take the form of a reversal of roles. The master will become servant/slave. The time of the coming of the master is not known and he may come at any time, but if the servant/disciple is always ready, he/she will be blessed.

It is not difficult for us as Christians to relate to this reversal of roles, simply because our God in Jesus has already become slave. It is now left to us as servants to be ready at all times.

Sunday 17 October 2021

Monday, October 18, 2021 - St. Luke - Homily

 The key to Mission is detachment.

Monday, October 18, 2021 - St. Luke, Evangelist - Luke wrote a Gospel to share his experience of Jesus? What will you do to share your experience?

To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Tim 4:9-17; Lk 10:1-9

St. Luke is regarded as the patron of physicians and surgeons. He wrote one of the major portions of the New Testament, a two-volume work comprising the third Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. In the two books he shows the parallel between the life of Christ and that of the Church.

He is the only Gentile Christian among the Gospel writers. Tradition holds him to be a native of Antioch, and Paul calls him "our beloved physician" (Col 4:14). His Gospel was probably written between C.E. 70 and 85.

Luke appears in Acts during Paul’s second journey, remains at Philippi for several years until Paul returns from his third journey, accompanies Paul to Jerusalem and remains near him when he is imprisoned in Caesarea. During these two years, Luke had time to seek information and interview persons who had known Jesus. He accompanied Paul on the dangerous journey to Rome where he was a faithful companion. "Only Luke is with me," Paul writes (2 Tim 4:11).

The Gospel text chosen for the feast is the Mission Discourse to the seventy (seventy-two), a text found only in the Gospel of Luke. The number seventy/seventy-two seems to have their origin the list of nations in Gen 10, where the Hebrew text lists seventy nations and the Septuagint lists seventy-two. It may also recall Moses’ appointment of seventy elders to help him (Exod 24:1; Num 11:16, 24). The more likely interpretation, however, is that the number is related to the biblical number of the nations (Gen 10), so that the commissioning of the seventy/seventy-two foreshadows the mission of the church to the nations (Lk 24:47).

In these verses Jesus instructs his disciples how they are to do Mission and conduct themselves in Mission. The key to Mission is detachment. The disciples are to be detached from things, persons and place. They are also to be detached from the outcome of Mission. They must constantly keep in mind that the Mission is the Lord’s and not theirs.

Saturday 16 October 2021

Sunday, October 17, 2021 - Homily

 Jesus challenges us to give up our acquisitiveness and take on detachment instead

Sunday, October 17, 2021 - How does your way compare with Jesus' WAY?

To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 53:10-11; Heb 4:14-16; Mk 10:35-45

The Gospel of Mark contains three passion, death, and resurrection predictions. These are found in 8:31, 9:31, and 10:32-34. It is only in Mark that all three predictions are “on the way”. This fact illustrates that Mark intends readers of his Gospel to realize, not merely that Jesus spoke these predictions while travelling with his disciples along the road, but also, and more importantly, that Jesus was speaking about his WAY OF LIFE and the way of life to which those who followed him were being invited.

After each of these predictions, there was misunderstanding on the part of one or all the disciples. After the first prediction, Peter is the one who misunderstands.  He protests Jesus’ going to his cross.  Jesus corrects this misunderstanding by insisting that the cross is the only way. After the second, it is all twelve who misunderstand. They discuss among themselves who is the greatest.  Again, Jesus has to correct the misunderstanding by pointing out to them the least is the greatest. After the third prediction, it might seem at first glance that James and John misunderstand when they ask for places of honour.  A closer reading indicates that, along with them, the other ten also misunderstand because of their indignation with the brothers. This indignation indicates that the ten were thinking in the same way as James and John. Jesus, however, is not indignant and again, sets about correcting their misunderstanding. He does this by explicating his way of life and the way of life that he will expect those who follow him to live.

This explication is done, not in words alone but, as both the first and second readings of today point out, in and through inconceivable and mind boggling action.

The first reading speaks of the prophecy of Isaiah. It is part of the fourth and final servant song that is contained in the Book of Isaiah. The suffering of the servant is a definite part of God’s incomprehensible and unfathomable plan. It is the servant who will show through his life, what true love and service really mean.  Appointed by God, he will use his power, not to condemn, but to save. He will bring to completion and fruition the plan of God to save all peoples everywhere and for all time. This is the theme that Jesus takes up in his instruction to the disciples. His task in the world, like that of the suffering servant whom Isaiah had prophesied about, was to become ransom for all. This he would do, not by being served, but by serving. If the disciples wanted to follow him, as fully as they ought to, they had to realize that, in his view, authority meant service. They had to realize that wanting to be first meant willingness to be last.  They had to realize that being master and Lord meant being slave and servant of all.

Jesus showed them how this was done through his willingness to embrace the cross, even if it meant scandal to those who did not believe and foolishness to others. He was willing to embrace the cross even if meant the end of his days, the end of his life. He was willing to embrace the cross even if it meant that he would be abandoned by all, abandoned even by his God and father.

This is why the second reading from Hebrews expresses, as confidently as it does, that we, as believers, need have no fear. We have before us a model that we can imitate. This model is not merely a heavenly model but rather, he is a model who has been, in every way, like us even to the point of being tested as we are. He did not show us the way from on high, but by becoming human, so that he could inspire, encourage, invite, and challenge us. Thus, he is able to understand us in all of our weaknesses and in our striving for position and honour and power.

While, on the one hand, we may be too quick to judge and even condemn the disciples for their striving, any attempt to practice detachment ourselves indicates how difficult it can really be. We often experience feelings of jealousy, envy, resentment, and antipathy or hostility towards those who have more than we, or who are in a “better’ position than we are. We keep craving for things that we mistakenly believe will satisfy.

Jesus shows us, in the Gospel text of today, what it means to be a true disciple. He challenges us to give up our acquisitiveness and take on, instead, the attitude of detachment. He has shown through his life, his mission, and his death, that this detachment is possible. He has shown us this by the totally human life that he led. He has shown us this by going ahead of us and leading the way. The way to do this is to be bold and to approach the throne of God’s unconditional love, mercy, and grace. The way to do this is in knowing that, even if we fall or fail, we can lift ourselves up because of his graciousness to us all. The way to do this is to believe that, with his help, we can be true disciples.  Are we willing to believe that this is so?

Friday 15 October 2021

Saturday, October 16, 2021 - Homily

 Today, the sin against the Holy Spirit is to no longer believe that the Holy Spirit can transform me.

Saturday, October 16, 2021 - Will you depend on God today? How will you show this dependence?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 4:13; 16-18; Lk 12:8-12

The sin against the Holy Spirit that Jesus speaks about in the Gospel reading of today does not refer to a particular sin or action. It is not an impulsive, momentary rejection of Jesus, such as Peter’s denial of Jesus in the courtyard, but a persistent, obdurate rejection of God’s saving grace through the work of the Holy Spirit. It is, in other words dependence only on self and not on God.

Today the sin against the Holy Spirit is to no longer believe that the Holy Spirit can transform me. It is to give up before one can begin. It is to give in to despair and to lose hope. It is not to make a resolution for fear of breaking that resolution. It is not to trust, not to hope and not to believe.

Thursday 14 October 2021

Friday, October 15, 2021 - Homily


Are you still afraid of a God who is only Love? What will you do about your fear today?

Friday, October 15, 2021 - Are you still afraid of a God who is only Love? What will you do about your fear today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 4:1-8; Lk 12:1-7

The text of today begins immediately after Jesus has spoken the woes against the Pharisees and scribes. Though there is a large crowd, which has gathered, Jesus speaks first to his disciples cautioning them against the yeast of the Pharisees.

The yeast of the Pharisees is identified as hypocrisy only in the Gospel of Luke. To be a hypocrite (Greek hupokrisis) originally meant to wear a mask or to play a role. The point that is being made is that at the judgment, everyone’s true character will be revealed. There will be no masks, and everyone will be seen as he or she is. Even the sparrow which is so insignificant when compared to human beings is looked after by God therefore, there is no need to be afraid, because a God who is and will always remain, Father, will judge us.

Though Jesus constantly revealed God as unconditional love, many of us still relate to him from fear. This is the reason why we wear masks before him and consequently before others. We are afraid to be ourselves. If we begin to realise that our God is a God who primarily wants to save, we can improve our relationship with him and with others.

Thursday, October 14, 2021 - Homily


Have you through your words or actions been a stumbling block in the way of others? What will you do about it today?

Thursday, October 14, 2021 - Have you through your words or actions been a stumbling block in the way of others? What will you do about it today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 3:21-30; Lk 11:47-54

The text contains the second (11,47 – 51) and third (11,52) woe to the lawyers. The second woe deals with the attitude of the lawyers to the prophets whom their ancestors killed and the lawyers approve of that killing by building monuments to the same prophets. In this way they are accomplices to the murders.

The final woe condemns the lawyers because though they possessed knowledge, they did not use it as it was meant to be used, nor did they allow others to use it. They acted as stumbling blocks in others way. 

The woes that Jesus pronounces do not go down too well with the Pharisees, who began to ask many questions in order to catch Jesus on the wrong foot.

We too can become stumbling blocks in other’s way to God by the things that we say and the things that we do. When we point out the negatives in others and in the process forget all the positive qualities they possess we cause them to stumble.

Tuesday 12 October 2021

Wednesday, October 13, 2021 - Homily

 When anyone focuses too much on sin and not enough on love, that person is also as guilty.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021 - How often have your external actions been a cause of scandal for others? What will you do about them today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 2:1-11; Lk 11:42-46

The first of the four woes of the Gospel reading of today, continues the contrast between the inner and outer, but also adds the contrast between the important and insignificant. Jesus criticizes piety that observes external obedience while neglecting justice and the love of God. In the second woe, Jesus emphasizes that true piety does not seek praise from others, and in the third Jesus returns to the contrast between the inner and outer. Since the inner corruption of the Pharisees is not visible, others are defiled by their influence. (Contact with a corpse rendered a person unclean (Lev. 21,1-4.11; Num. 19,11-22). Graves had to be marked, therefore, so that persons would not unwittingly defile themselves by contact with them). The Pharisees are like graves that cannot be seen/are hidden and consequently result in corrupting others.

The fourth woe (11,46) is the first of the three addressed to lawyers. Here the woe is in response to the lawyer’s allegation that in condemning the Pharisees, Jesus is condemning them as well. Jesus responds by pronouncing a woe on them for imposing legal restrictions on people but doing nothing to help them. The law, which was meant to be a pointer and help, has been made into a burden and an end in itself.

There is the danger that when we read these woes, we might think that they apply to Pharisees only. However, they could just as easily apply to anyone today who like the Pharisees focuses on what is not essential and in the process forgets what is really important. When a person makes physical attendance at the sacraments more important than spiritual or internal attendance, he/she is also as guilty. When anyone focuses too much on sin and not enough on love, that person is also as guilty.

Monday 11 October 2021

Tuesday, October 12, 2021 - Homily


The practice of constant giving, leads one to develop an attitude of detachment.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021 - Will your external actions show that your inner self is pure? How?

 To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 1:16-25; Lk 11:37-41

The section beginning in Lk 11,37 and ending in 11,54 is set in the context of a meal. The text of today begins with the notice that a Pharisee invited Jesus for a meal. Jesus sits/reclines at table without washing his hands, and this amazes his host. The Pharisees observed strict rules regarding ritual cleanliness, and generally ate only with those who also maintained ritual purity. By not washing, Jesus scandalizes his host. This amazement allows Jesus to give all those present a lesson on internal and external cleanness.

Jesus’ response to his host who is surprised because Jesus did not first wash, is that God is not concerned with the observance of rituals of purity, but with the purity of the heart. A person’s actions should reflect his or her inner purity.

The best way to remove greed and wickedness from one’s heart is to be generous with what one has. The practice of constant giving, leads one to develop an attitude of detachment.

Monday, October 11, 2021 - Homily

 The call to repentance is a call to look at everything in a new way

Sunday 10 October 2021

Monday, October 11, 2021 - What sign are you seeking from the Lord? Will you believe in His love even without this sign?

To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 1:1-7; Lk 11:29-32

Jesus’ debate with the crowd following the exorcism of the demon that made a man mute continues. The response of Jesus is not to give in to the demand of some for a sign. While a similar saying is also found in Matthew (12,38-42) which indicates that both Matthew and Luke have taken it from the “Q” source {Mark also has the episode of the demand for a sign and Jesus’ response (Mk 8,11-12), but it is much shorter and does not have the details found in both Matthew and Luke}. However, Luke has so formulated the response of Jesus, that it forms an inclusion. It begins and ends with Jonah. Through this, Luke has associated Jonah’s preaching with Solomon’s wisdom. Since Luke makes this association, for him the sign of Jonah was not Jonah’s being in the belly of the whale for three days and three nights (Mt 12,40), but the call to repentance that Jonah preached. As the people of Nineveh repented after the call by Jonah, so Jesus calls the crowd to repentance after his proclamation. He refuses to give the crowds any other sign, because any demand for a sign means that they have not understood what Jesus is about, and what his mission is. Jesus also knows that for those who believe, no sign is necessary, whereas for those who do not, no sign is sufficient.

The call to repentance is a call to look at everything in a new light. The old is past, the new has come with the coming of Jesus. If one persists in the old way of looking which is a way of finding God only in miraculous and spectacular events, one will miss him. Now he can be found in all things and all things can be found in him.

Saturday 9 October 2021

Sunday, October 10, 2021 - Homily

 Do you use things or do things use you?

Friday 8 October 2021

Saturday, October 9, 2021 - Homily

 If we like Jesus hear the word of God and act on it, then others will pronounce the same blessing on us.

Sunday, October 10, 2021 - Need or Greed?

To read the texts click on the texts: Wis 7:7-11; Heb 4:12-13; Mk10:17-30

Today, more than ever before, it is being brought to our attention what greed and a desire for more can do, not only to us, as humans, but also, to our environment. Global warming, changing weather conditions, the melting of glaciers, intermittent rain, lack of water and other basic necessities in so many parts of the world, the growing number of those who go to bed hungry every day, are only some of the consequences of the greed of a few. Even today, when some have more than they will ever need, others are struggling to get even the little that they require to live. The excess consumption of some deprives others of the resources they need just to survive. The disparity between the rich and the poor is growing larger with each passing day. Our world seems to be closing in on itself. The readings of today address these issues.

In the Gospel text of today, Jesus offers a challenge, not only to the rich man, but to each of us as well.

To be sure, the rich man has obeyed all the commandments. He has kept the law. It is precisely because he has kept the law to such perfection that Jesus issues the challenge. Surely, a man who has been so true and so faithful will rise to the greater challenge. Surely, a man who has been so observant of what the law requires him to do will dare to go further. Surely, a man so close to God will walk that extra mile. Sadly, however, this does not turn out to be the case. The rich man cannot make the leap of faith. He cannot give up what is required to be given up by him. It is not so much that he possesses riches but rather, that riches possess him. It is not that he owns things but rather, that things own him. Because things own him and riches possess him, they will not let him be free to make a decision. Things obstruct his hearing, and his vision. Things will not let him see, or hear, or act.

This problem is at the root of what is happening in our world today. There are so many of us who are controlled by things. So many of us have let our riches control us and have power over us. We have given in to selfishness and self-centeredness to such an extent that we are not able to see beyond our noses. Each one of us, in his or her own way, is responsible for setting himself or herself on a destructive path.

There is one prime reason why the possessions of the rich man control him, and why we have set ourselves on a similar path of self destruction. The reason is because, while he and some of us possess external riches, he, and we, do not possess the most valuable of all riches: wisdom. Solomon realized this well which is why, in the first reading of today, he prayed to God, not for external riches, but for one gift and one gift alone: the gift of wisdom. He did not selfishly ask for riches, or honour, or glory. He did not selfishly ask for things to satisfy only momentarily. He did not selfishly ask to satisfy his own desires. Solomon understood, unlike the rich man, and unlike us, that wisdom is superior to all riches. It is superior to power, superior to precious stones, superior to even health, beauty, and light. This wisdom made Solomon realize his own finitude and so, his identity with the rest of the human race. It also led him to a desire not to close in on himself but to keep hoping, searching, and reaching out. It led him to pray and to call out to God, not in desperation, but with confidence and courage.

This he does because he knows that God’s word is, as the letter to the Hebrews points out, a two edged sword. It is this word which knows the thoughts and innermost desires of each one of us. It is this word that will call each of us to account for our every word and action. It is this word that questions and challenges us. It is this word to which we must answer.

The answer that we give to this word, which is alive and active, will depend on our response to the challenge which Jesus poses to us through the Gospel of today: “sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” What are we being called to in such a summons? How do we respond?

Different people respond in different ways. Francis of Assisi and Ignatius of Loyola interpreted these words literally and so, divested themselves of every form of external riches and also the internal riches of the ego and the self. Environmentalists respond by making people aware of the dangers of the degradation of the environment and the ill effects of such acts on the whole of humanity. Social workers respond by making the poor aware of their rights and giving them the courage to fight for them. Even if most of us are not called to such radical sacrifice, what we are called to is a reflection on our life style. Has the consumer culture of the world taken such hold of us that we, too, like the rich man, are possessed by things? Have we converted our wants into our needs? Is our excess consumption responsible, in some way, for the fact that others have less? Will we dare to give up, and to follow?

Saturday, October 9, 2021 - How would you define “God’s Word” today? Do you put this “Word” into practice in your life? How?

To read the texts click on the texts: Joel 3:12-21; Lk 11:27-28

The words, “While he was saying this” connect what follows to what has gone on before. Jesus has just challenged his listeners to fill their lives with the kingdom of God, and now a woman in the crowd blesses the mother of Jesus, because of the beauty she sees in Jesus. While Jesus does not deny that his mother is indeed blessed, he uses this opportunity to extend the blessing to anyone who like his mother will hear the Word of God and put it into practice in their lives.

If the woman in the crowd was able to bless the womb that bore Jesus, it was because she could see and experience the goodness in Jesus. This goodness was manifested not only in what he said but in what he did and was therefore visible in his person. If we like Jesus hear the word of God and act on it, then others will pronounce the same blessing on us.

Thursday 7 October 2021

Friday, October 8, 2021 - Homily

Some of the demons that possess us today are consumerism, selfishness, ignorance and a better than thou attitude.

Friday, October 8, 2021 - Which is the demon that has possessed you and does not leave you free? Will you attempt to get rid of that demon today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Joel 1:13-15; 2:1-2; Lk 11:15-26

The onlookers respond to the exorcism of a demon that made a man mute, in different ways. While there are some who are amazed, others attribute Jesus’ power to cast out demons to Beelzebul. This is an indication that no one doubted Jesus’ power to exorcise and heal. They attributed it to different sources. In his response to this charge, Jesus says that since exorcisms represented a direct assault on Satan’ power and kingdom, it is clear that he cannot be on Satan’s side. Also, if Jesus’ exorcisms’ were performed by the power of Satan, the same would have to be said of other exorcists belonging to their community. Instead Jesus’ works indicate that the kingdom of God has indeed arrived. Through his exorcisms, Satan’s power is broken. In the simile of the strong man and his castle, Jesus explicates that he is the stronger one who overpowers Satan who had guarded his kingdom well till this time. Finally Jesus invites his listeners to take a stand for him. The saying here is strong. If one does not positively opt for Jesus, one has opted against him. The time now is for decision and choice.

Once he has answered his critics (11,17-23), Jesus moves on to exhort his listeners to fill their lives with the kingdom of God, because it is possible that despite the exorcism, if a person persists in his old ways, he will be possessed once again and this will be ever worse than before.

While there is no doubt that Jesus did exorcise people who were possessed by demons, we must avoid getting caught up with exorcisms ourselves. Rather, today there are many subtle forms of “possession” which are more dangerous than “external possession”. Some of these are consumerism, selfishness, ignorance and a better than thou attitude. We need to ask the Lord to exorcise these demons from our lives.

Wednesday 6 October 2021

Thursday, October 7, 2021 - Our Lady of the Rosary

The text of today is, then, a call and challenge to each one of us, that we, too, like Mary, might be able to say YES to all that God wants to do in our lives.

Thursday, October 7, 2021 - Our Lady of the Rosary

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 1:12-14; Lk 1:26-38

The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary was formerly known as the Feast of Our Lady of Victory. Legend has it that Our Lady appeared to St. Dominic in 1208, and gave him the Rosary to be used as a tool against all kinds of challenges.

Our Lady of the Rosary, also known as Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, is a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary in relation to the Rosary. The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is October 7. It was formerly known as the Feast of Our Lady of Victory. The development of the Rosary as a form owes much to the followers of St. Dominic. On October 13, 1917, Our Lady of Fatima told the children, “I am the Lady of the Rosary”.

The text chosen for the feast relates a scene immediately after the announcement of the birth of John the Baptist and contains the announcement of the birth of Jesus. There are many similarities in the annunciations to Mary and to Zechariah. The angel Gabriel is the one who makes both announcements. Both Zechariah and Mary are called by name and exhorted not to be afraid. Both ask a question of the angel, and it is the angel who tells them what name each child is to be given.  It is the angel who predicts what each child will turn out to be. However, even as there are similarities, there are differences in the narratives. While the announcement to Zechariah comes in the Temple and as a result of his fervent prayer, the announcement to Mary comes (apparently) when she is in her home and it is unanticipated. While Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth are advanced in age, Mary has not yet stayed with her husband, and so is a virgin. The birth of John to parents who are past the age of child bearing is a miracle, but even greater is the miracle of the birth of Jesus, who would be born through the Holy Spirit, and to a virgin. Even as John the Baptist goes with the spirit and power of Elijah, Jesus will be called “Son of God”. Luke clearly wants to show John as great, but only the forerunner of the Messiah, Jesus, who is greater.

Here, too, like in the case of the announcement of the birth of John the Baptist, God intervenes in human history.  Mary though betrothed or engaged to Joseph, who was of David’s family, had not yet lived with him. This she would do only after marriage, which would be one year after the betrothal. The angel greets Mary as the recipient of God’s grace. She has opened herself to the promptings of God’s Spirit. While Zechariah was gripped with fear at the very appearance of the angel, in the case of Mary, it is the angel’s greeting that perplexed her. The angel reassures Mary and makes the announcement, not only of Jesus’ birth, but of who he will be and all that he will accomplish.

In response to this announcement Mary, like Zechariah, asks a question. While both questions seem similar, it is clear that Zechariah’s question expressed doubt and asked for a sign, as is evident in the angel’s words before Zechariah is struck dumb. Mary’s question, on the other hand, is a question asked in faith. Mary did not question the truth of the revelation like Zechariah did. She asked only for enlightenment on how God would accomplish this wonderful deed. This will be accomplished in Mary through the work of God’s spirit. This is why the child will be called holy. Luke probably also intends to convey here that it is not merit on Mary’s part that obtained for her what she received, but God’s generous gift in the Spirit.

The evidence that what the angel has announced will indeed take place is the pregnancy of Elizabeth, for nothing is impossible for God. Mary responds, not merely with a Yes, but by asking that the Lord work in her to accomplish all that he wants. The annunciation would not have been complete without Mary’s trusting, obedient response.

Today, many assume that those whom God favours will enjoy the things we equate with a good life: social standing, wealth, and good health. Yet Mary, God’s favoured one, was blessed with having a child out of wedlock who would later be executed as a criminal. Acceptability, prosperity, and comfort have never been the essence of God’s blessing. The story is so familiar that we let its familiarity mask its scandal. Mary had been chosen, “favoured,” to have an important part in God’s plan to bring salvation to God’s people, but it is unthinkable that God would have forced Mary to have the child against her will. Mary is an important example, therefore, of one who is obedient to God even at great risk to self.

When we think of or reflect on Mary, the one word that comes to mind to describe her whole life is the word, AMEN, a word which may be translated, “so be it”, “your will be done”, “do whatever you want to do in my life”. This was, indeed, Mary’s constant response to every situation in her life, especially when she could not understand why things were happening the way they were. The text of today is, then, a call and challenge to each one of us, that we, too, like Mary, might be able to say YES to all that God wants to do in our lives. It is a challenge to be open and receptive to the Spirit of God, so that we, too, might be able to give birth to the Saviour in our hearts.