Friday, 26 November 2021
Saturday, November 27, 2021 - How would you define prayer? Can it be said of you that your life is prayer?
To read the texts click on the texts: Dan 7:15-27; Lk 21:34-36
These verses are the conclusion of the Eschatological Discourse, and in them, Luke composes an exhortation that stresses constant watchfulness and prayer as opposed to drunkenness and dissipation. The reason for alertness is because the day can come at any time. The final verse introduces a positive exhortation. The opposite of sleep and dissipation is vigilance and prayer. The final verse of the discourse calls for constant alertness and prayer, so that one will be able to stand before the Son of Man with dignity and honour. Life itself must be prayer.Some of us regard being good as a burden. This is because we wrongly associate with seriousness and a lack of joy. On the contrary, a good person and holy person is primarily a joyful person. Such a person enjoys every moment of every day and lives it fully. Such a person leaves nothing undone and therefore will be ready at all times.
Thursday, 25 November 2021
To read the texts click on the texts: Dan 7:2-14; Lk 21:29-33
The parable of the fig tree found in these verses is the last parable that Jesus tells in the Gospel of Luke. This parable is found also in Mark 13,28-29 and Matthew 24,32-33, but whereas Mark and Matthew speak only of the fig tree, Luke speaks of “the fig tree and all the trees” (21,29). When people can see for themselves that these trees have come out in leaf they know for themselves that summer is near, so when they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud (21,27) they will know that the kingdom is near. Since Luke probably thought that the end would come soon, he has added the last two sayings about what will not pass away until “these things” have taken place. They are “this generation” and the “words” of Jesus. These pronouncements must serve as a reminder of the assurance of redemption for the believer.
Our job as Christians is not to bother about when the end will be but to live fully in the present moment. If we do so then no matter when the end comes we will always be ready.
Wednesday, 24 November 2021
Thursday, November 25, 2021 - If the end were to come today would you be able to hold your heal high fearlessly? If No, what will you do about it today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Dan 6:12-28; Lk 21:20-28
The text of today, continues the Eschatological Discourse, but speaks now of the destruction of Jerusalem and other cosmological signs which announce the coming of the Son of Man. Josephus the Jewish historian recorded the horrors of the Jewish war, which lasted from April until August of the year 70 C.E. It was a terrible for all the inhabitants and many were killed during it. The Romans razed the whole city to the ground. Once this happens and the other signs have come to pass signalling the end that is at hand, the Son of Man will appear in a cloud, with great power and glory. When this happens others might faint from fear, but the disciples are asked to hold their heads up high, because their salvation has indeed come.
As Jerusalem was faced with a crisis when Jesus appeared to teach there, so will the world be faced when he comes as the Son of Man. In contrast to the judgment to be passed on the world, Christian disciples will then realize that their deliverance is near.
Tuesday, 23 November 2021
Wednesday, November 24, 2021 - If someone witnessed your actions all through today, would they conclude that you are a disciple of Jesus?
To read the texts click on the texts: Daniel 5:1-6,13-14,16-17,23-28; Lk 21:12-19
These verses are part of Luke’s Eschatological Discourse. The Greek word “Eschaton” is translated as “the last things”, “the things of the next life”. The main point of these verses is to prepare the disciples for the coming trial by exhorting them to regard trials as an occasion for bearing witness. The text begins by telling the disciples what they (the persecutors) will do namely arrest you, persecute you etc. It then goes on to advise the disciples what they must do in the face of this persecution, namely that they must bear witness but not be obsessed with the anxiety of preparing their defence. The reason for this is because of what Jesus will do, namely, give the disciples wisdom to counter any argument of the opponents. The text ends with an assurance of God’s support and protection on those who endure.
The persecution of the disciples, however, does not exceed what Jesus himself will experience. He, too, will be arrested and brought before Pilate and Herod. It is Jesus himself therefore who will give the disciples the content of what they are to say.
The gospel offers not a way of predicting the end of the world but the spiritual resources to cope with the challenges of life. In times of distress the disciples of Jesus are called not to throw their hands up in despair, but to be unafraid. It is a fact that following Jesus who is The Truth will have repercussions and consequences, some of which may be disastrous. However, it is in these circumstances that perseverance and endurance is called for. This is the test of our faith and courage in the promises of the Lord.Thus we can opt for one of two ways of proceeding. One is to focus so much on prophesies of the future, that they frighten us into idle speculation and inaction. The other is to dare to commit ourselves and actions to make a difference here and now.
Monday, 22 November 2021
Tuesday, November 23, 2021 - Are you so concerned about the next life that you are not living fully this life?
To read the texts click on the texts: Dan 2:31-45; Lk 21:5-11
Luke follows Mark 13:1-8 quite closely in these verses, though he also makes some changes. While in Mark 13:1 Jesus comes out of the Temple and predicts its destruction when his disciples point to it magnificence, in Luke, Jesus is within the Temple when he predicts its destruction when some (not the disciples) speak of its magnificence (21:5-6). This is why unlike in Mark 13:3 he is not on the Mount of Olives opposite the Temple, but within its precincts when he is asked about when this will take place (21:7). Mark 13:3 has Peter, James, John and Andrew who ask this question; Luke has the people pose the question. Jesus responds by stating not the hour when this will take place, but by issuing a set of three warnings. The first warning is not to allow oneself to be led astray and be led into believing that the ones’ who come in his name are the Messiah. The meaning of this warning is broad and encompasses being led to sin, being taught false teachings, and being deceived regarding apocalyptic events.
The second warning follows the first: the disciples of Jesus must not go after these false Messiahs.
The third warning is not to be terrified when they hear of wars and insurrections, because they are part of God’s plan in bringing about the kingdom and must out of necessity happen before the final coming.In times of great danger, stress, and hardship it is natural for persons and communities of faith to turn to God and to the future for hope, for the promise of deliverance. However, idle preoccupation and speculation of what will happen at the end times is not called for. It is a distortion of the Gospel message of Jesus who asks that we concern ourselves not with gossip and guesswork, but in how we must do what we have to do in the present.
Sunday, 21 November 2021
Monday, November 22, 2021 - Will you forego one meal this week and give what you save to someone less fortunate than you?
To read the texts click on the texts: Dan 1:1-6,8-20; Lk 21:1-4
Jesus’ comment on the widow’s offering follows immediately after his condemnation of the scribes, who “devour widow’s houses”. Luke omits most of Mark’s introduction to the widow’s offering (Mk 12:41). In the new scene, which Luke brings about by his comment that “He (Jesus) looked up and saw”, Luke introduces two sets of characters: the rich contributors and a poor widow. The action of both is the same. However, the size or amount of the gifts of the rich contributors is not mentioned, but it is explicitly stated that the widow put in two lepta, the smallest copper coins then in use. It would have taken 128 lepta to make one denarius, which was a day’s wage. Two lepta would therefore have been worthless. In a twist reminiscent of many of Jesus’ parables, Jesus states that the widow who put in what seems like a worthless amount has put in more than any of the rich contributors. The following statement clarifies how this could be. They contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty. They contributed gifts she contributed herself.
Saturday, 20 November 2021
To read the texts click on the texts: Dn 7:13-14;Rev 1:5-8; Jn 18:33-37
Quas Primas - which is Latin for “In the first”, was an encyclical of Pope Pius XI. It was titled such because these are the words that begin it. It was promulgated on December 11, 1925, and introduced the Feast of Christ the King. World War I (1914-1918) had ended, and had not brought real peace, but more hatred, more anger, and more violence. Coming as it did after the War, the encyclical sought to give the whole world a new idea of kingship. The encyclical asked the world to look at Christ, the Universal King, and see how he lived out his kingship. Christ is a King who totally identifies with his subjects and, of these, with the marginalized, the downtrodden, the scum of society, and the poorest of the poor.
The feast of Christ the Eternal King is celebrated every year on the last Sunday in Ordinary time, just before the season of Advent begins. It may be seen as a feast that is both a conclusion and a new beginning. It concludes the ordinary time of the year and is a new beginning or preparation for the coming Messiah.
The readings chosen for the feast of today make two interrelated points. The first is that everlasting dominion is given to Christ who is eternal king. The second is that this King is the one who had been crucified, died, and raised.
The first reading, from the book of Daniel, focuses on the first point. In the vision that Daniel sees, the empires of this world are rendered powerless. The reason for this is because now, all authority is given to one person who is “one like a Son of Man”. He only looks like a human being, but he is not. Also, he is not an earthly figure because he comes from heaven and not from earth. It is to him that sovereignty, honour, glory, and kingship over all peoples, nations, and languages is given. While many link this figure to the Archangel Michael, there is no doubt that, when interpreted in the light of the Gospels, the words fit much better the resurrected Christ. He is the one whose dominion is indeed everlasting and to whom has been given all power and glory.
However, as the Gospel reading of today makes explicit, the kingship of Jesus was not won by force, coercion, intimidation, or violence. It was won on the Cross. In the second of the seven scenes in which Jesus is inside, the people outside and Pilate vacillating, the kinship of Jesus is explained. The question which Pilate asks Jesus “Are you the king of the Jews” is a question that is found in all four Gospels. It is extremely significant and relevant because it is one which determines who Jesus really is and what kind of king he has come to be. In his response, Jesus turns the tables on Pilate and instead of being the one who is questioned, becomes the questioner. However, Jesus’ question is also asked to find out if Pilate has understood the true meaning of kingship. Pilate, however, like the others who have condemned Jesus shows that he has not understood. He refuses to see. He dare not understand. Still, Jesus tries to explain to Pilate the true meaning of kingship and authority. Very clearly his kingship is not one that is won by force or violence. It is a kingship that has as its basis truth, justice, peace and unconditional sacrificing love. It is a kingship in which the king does not expect people to die for him; rather he goes to his death for them. It is a kingship in which no matter how badly he is abused and reviled, he will continue to be a king who will give and keep giving without expecting anything in return.
That this is indeed Jesus’ kingship is confirmed by the second reading from the Book of Revelation, in which John tells us that we were loosened from the bonds of sin and selfishness by the blood of Jesus on the Cross. It is through this one act of altruism and unselfishness that Jesus has become king and that we have been made his brothers and sisters. Since he is not merely a God who was but also, a God who is, he invites, beckons, and challenges us to the same selfless service and unconditional love. He beckons us and invites us to his way of life.
His way of life is not only a life of words, but a life of action as well. It is a life in which we, as followers of this eternal king, will forget ourselves and concentrate on how we can make the lives of those around us better. It is a life in which we wake up from our stupor and move out of the islands that we have built and become aware of the cries and needs of people, especially the poor. It is a life through which we will keep proclaiming that violence, domination, hostility, bloodshed, and aggression can never be the answer. It is a life where authority means service and greatness means to be last of all.
Thus, the good news we celebrate today is that we have a King who, unlike the kings of this world, pays attention to us and helps us, not only when we are needy and disadvantaged, but especially when we are needy and disadvantaged. The challenge for us today is to forget our own need for love and happiness. The challenge is to reach out in love, as Christ the Eternal king has shown, to make someone else happy, someone who may be in greater need. Are we willing to celebrate and extol such a king?
Friday, 19 November 2021
Saturday, November 20, 2021 - If you were told that your life after death would be determined by the life you live now, what changes would you make in this life?
To read the texts click on the texts :1Maccabees 6:1-13; Lk 20:27-40
The Sadducees were a group of Jews who did not believe in the resurrection. The question they ask Jesus assumes the practice of levirate marriage, where according to Deut 25,5, the brother of a deceased man was to take his brother’s widow as his wife. The Sadducees extend the situation to the point of ridicule by speaking of seven brothers who marry the same woman. The question is whose wife she would be in the resurrection. While in Mark, Jesus first rebukes the Sadducees, in Luke he begins to teach them immediately. Jesus’ response is that life in the resurrection will not simply be a continuation of the life, as we know it now. In the second part of his response, Jesus calls the attention of the Sadducees to the familiar story of the burning bush, in which the point is that God is not God of the dead but of the living.
Thursday, 18 November 2021
Friday, November 19, 2021 - If the Lord were to come to the Temple of your heart, would he find selling and buying or would he find himself there?
To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Macc 4:36-37, 52-59; Lk 19:45-48
The cleansing of the temple is one of the few incidents that are narrated by all four Gospels. However, the distinctiveness of Luke’s account stands out more clearly when it is compared with Mark. In Marks account, Jesus enters Jerusalem and the temple, and then withdraws for the night to Bethany. In contrast, Luke has Jesus proceed directly to the Temple. The cleansing in Luke is greatly abbreviated, omitting Mark’s references to those who were buying, overturning the tables, selling doves and forbidding anyone to carry anything through the Temple. While in Mark Jesus’ action is part of his prophetic announcement of the destruction of the temple, in Luke, the cleansing prepares his “father’s house” to serve as the site for Jesus’ teaching in the following section (19,47 – 21,38). While in Mark Jesus leaves the Temple definitively after the cleansing, in Luke, Jesus continues to teach in the Temple even after the incident. Since the people were spellbound by the words of Jesus, the chief priests, scribes and the leaders could do nothing to him.The related scenes of Jesus weeping over the city and driving out the merchants from the Temple speak poignantly of God’s judgment on human sinfulness. These are passages heavy with pathos and tragedy. Jesus weeps, laments, and sounds warnings that fall on deaf ears.
Wednesday, 17 November 2021
To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Maccabees 2:15-29; Lk 19:41-44
The text of today dwells on the theme of Jesus’ rejection by the religious elders. The city Jerusalem, whose name contains the word peace, does not recognise the King of Peace, Jesus Christ. Jesus’ tears for Jerusalem are because she did not recognise that if she accepted him as Messiah, true peace would indeed reign. The numerous attempts of Jesus to win over the people were met with stiff resistance. They had closed their minds and hearts to anything that he had to say because it did not fit in with what they had already set their minds to believe.There are times in our lives when we 'conveniently' believe what suits us and reject many other truths. In doing so we are like the people of the city of Jerusalem who have closed ourselves to the revelation that God continually makes. We must develop the ability to find God in all things and all things in God.
Tuesday, 16 November 2021
Wednesday, November 17, 2021 - How will I show through my life that I have opted for Jesus the king?
To read the texts click on the texts:1 Maccabees 7:1,20-31; Lk 19:11-28
The parable in the text of today is from the common source of Matthew and Luke known as “Q”. However, Matthew (Mt 25:14-30) presents it differently. While in Matthew there are three servants who are given five talents (a talent was equivalent to 20 years wages for a common labourer), two and one talent respectively, in Luke there are ten servants who are given one mina each (a mina was about three months wages for a common labourer). The amounts in Luke are much smaller than in Matthew. Though there are ten servants, we are told only about three. The first of the three has earned ten minas with the one he was given, the second has earned five and so these are given charge of ten and five cities respectively. The third returns the mina to the king because he was afraid of him and knew him to be a harsh man. After berating the man for not putting the mina into the bank, which would have earned interest, the king commands that his mina be given to the one who already has ten.
The point, which Luke seems to make in this parable, is that responses to Jesus the king have a decisive role in human destiny, for responses to him determine life and death. There is no “safe” position. The only road to success is to take risks as taken by the first two servants.
Monday, 15 November 2021
Zacchaeus' perseverance helped him to encounter Jesus
To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Maccabees 6:18-31;Lk 19:1-10
The story of Zacchaeus’ encounter with Jesus is exclusive to the Gospel of Luke and is the last encounter of Jesus with outcasts before he enters Jerusalem. It takes place when Jesus is passing through Jericho and on his way to Jerusalem. Zacchaeus is the name of the tax collector who Luke informs us is “rich” (19,2). He desires to see Jesus, but there are obstacles to his desire. The first is the crowd and the second is his own short stature. These are interconnected. If there were no crowd, his short stature would not have mattered and if he were tall the crowd would not have mattered. Zacchaeus does not allow these to hinder him and does what no grown man at his time would do: he runs. Worse: he climbs a tree. Through this Luke indicates that Zacchaeus was willing to face ridicule and being mocked by the crowd in order to do what he had set about to do. He gives up his self-importance and dignity, because all that matters to him is to see and encounter Jesus. When Jesus comes to the place where Zacchaeus he asks him to hurry and come down. Zacchaeus obeys instantly. The reaction of the crowd is to grumble that Jesus would go to the house of a sinner. Zacchaeus on the other hand responds with generosity and uses the visit of Jesus to redeem himself. Jesus responds by confirming Zacchaeus’ status as a “son of Abraham”, not because he was born one, but because of his repentance. In the last verse of the story, Jesus pronounces salvation on the house of Zacchaeus and reaffirms his own mission as Son of man: to seek and save the lost.
Sunday, 14 November 2021
Monday, November 15, 2021 - What is it that prevents me from seeing good in others? Do I want to receive back my sight?
To read the texts click on the texts:– 1 Maccabees 1:10-15,41-43,54-57,62-64; Lk 18:35-43
The text of today is also found in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, but whereas in Matthew there are two blind men and in Mark the name of the blind man is Bartimaeus, in Luke there is one blind man who is not named. However, what is common to all three Gospels is that the blind man/men cries out to Jesus with a messianic title, “Son of David”, and perseveres in his plea despite being told by the people to quiet down. Though the question that Jesus asks the blind man seems redundant, it is necessary for Jesus to ask the question to indicate his respect for the freedom of the man. While on the physical level the man is blind, on the spiritual level he has insight because despite his physical blindness, he is able to recognise that Jesus of Nazareth is also the Messiah, which those who have physical sight are not able to do. Jesus attributes the recovery of his sight to his faith.
We might tend sometimes to close our eyes to the good that there is in others, and we might also prefer to close our eyes to the injustice that we see around us. We might close our eyes to the suffering of people around us and we might prefer to close our eyes to the needs of others. Having eyes we might prefer not to see.
Saturday, 13 November 2021
To read the texts click on the texts: Dn 12:1-3; Heb 10:11-14,18; Mk 13:24-32
Someone once said, tongue in cheek, “It is the very people who do not know what to do with this life who are anxious and worried about the next life”. While at first glance, the readings of today might seem to be referring to the next life, a deeper reading shows that what they are really referring to is the present; the life lived here and now.
It is, therefore, apt that on the Sunday before we celebrate the feast of Christ the Eternal King, the Church has chosen readings that call us to reflect on our preparedness and readiness to receive him, not in the future, but now. This is because he “comes, comes ever comes”. The theme of the readings today may be summarized in one word: Watch. Watchfulness is indeed the key word and that message is made explicitly clear in the last verse of the Gospel. In it, Jesus states, “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” This means that no one can expect any advance warning about the day, the date or the time. This lack of knowledge has a number of consequences.
The first of these cannot but strike us in the face: It is the temporariness of all that is. Though this is so simple to understand and so true without a doubt, we need to be constantly reminded of it. We keep forgetting that we are living in a passing and transient world. Though we do not need any kind of special grace or enlightenment to realize that this is true, the manner in which many of us live our lives belies this fact. That we are of flesh and blood necessarily means that we, who have had a beginning, will also have an end. Our time here on earth is limited. Yet, when we look around us, we find so many who live as if this were not true. The numerous things we accumulate, our possessiveness, and the hurt, resentment, and bitterness we harbour, without the slightest desire to let them go, are indications that we think that we are going to be here forever. The truth, however, is that we are not.
Secondly, because we are not going to be here forever, we must concern ourselves, not with apocalyptic speculation but, with living fully here and now. We have but one life to live and we must live it as best we can. Our one concern, at all times, ought to be to do what God wills. This means being the kind of person that God wants each of us to be. Each one of us is unique and special. Each of us has a particular role to play in the world. No one else can play our role for us. No one can take our place. If we do not do what we have to do, it will be forever left undone. Since we do not know when our time on earth will end, the best time to do what we are required to do is not tomorrow, or the day after. The best time is now.
Thirdly, the coming of the Son of man will not be to scatter but to gather. Since we will be doing what is required of us, we will not have to worry about being gathered. Our response to God’s grace will ensure that we are in the number gathered. Thus, our actions will be motivated not by hope of reward or by fear of punishment. Our actions will be motivated, instead, by a conviction that it is good to be good. The reward of our action is in the doing of the action itself. It invigorates, revitalises, and refreshes. It contents and satisfies the heart. We will, thus, live fearless lives.
This kind of selfless action and fearlessness is what the second reading of today points to. It is the action and fearlessness exhibited by Jesus on the Cross. When he offered himself for the whole of humanity, he did not do it because he wanted to gain something for himself.
As a matter of fact, he could gain nothing through his death because he already had everything. Thus, he did it for one reason and one reason alone. He did it to save humanity from the sin of selfishness and egocentricity. He did it because he wanted to show us the way. He did it because he wanted us to do as he had done. His death on the Cross, however, was only a culmination of how Jesus had lived his life. It was a summation of all that he had been and all that he had done. It was a perfect example of unconditional love, in action. In his death and resurrection, he remains, for each of us, the model and inspiration that we are challenged to imitate and to follow. He keeps coming through his spirit.
We concern ourselves not with a future coming but with the fact they are here and now. We, therefore, must also be here and now.
Friday, 12 November 2021
To read the texts click on the texts: Wis 18:14-16; 19:6-9; Lk 18:1-8
This is a parable found only in the Gospel of Luke. While some focus on the judge and term it as the Parable of the Unjust Judge, others focus on the widow and so call it the Parable of the Persistent Widow. Luke introduces this parable as a parable on prayer. The judge is described as a man “who neither feared God nor had any respect for people” (18,2). It is difficult to imagine how such a man can be worthy of being a judge. The widow is introduced as someone who is going repeatedly to the judge for justice. The text does not state the nature of her complaint, nor does it tell us why the judge refused to listen to her for a while (18,3-4). The judge finally relents and decides to grant her justice, because the woman is constantly bothering her and because he does not want to be worn out by her constant petitions.
If one focuses on the judge, then the point of the parable is that if the judge who was unjust could grant the woman justice, then God who is just and judge over all will surely heed the cries of those who call on him.
If on the other hand the focus is on the widow, then the parable calls for persistence in asking and not giving up or giving in.
The final verse of this section ends with a question from the Lucan Jesus about whether he will find faith on earth when he comes. Since Luke introduces the parable as one, which speaks about persistence and constant asking, he may have felt the need to end with the question of faith.Prayer can and does “change” the mind of God.
Thursday, 11 November 2021
To read the texts click on the texts: Wis 13: 1-9; Lk 17:26-37
This section starts with the examples of the days of Noah and Lot (17,26-29). Just as in the days of Noah and Lot the life of the people at that time proceeded normally and people were going about their daily business until all of a sudden the flood and brimstone and fire respectively destroyed the people, so it will be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. This means that decisive action is absolutely necessary. There will be no turning back. Lot’s wife who turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back (Genesis 19, 26) is given as an example of the dangers of looking back. When the Son of Man does indeed come, then the choice of those who will be taken and those who will be left will be made. In answer to the disciples’ question, “Where, Lord?” (17,37), Jesus answers with an enigmatic proverb, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather” (17,37). The point of this proverb here seems to be that just as it is sure that vultures will gather where a corpse is found, as surely will the judgement of the Son of Man fall upon on the wicked.
Decisive action does not mean desperate action. It means steady and regular action. If one is at any given moment in time doing what one is supposed to do, it may be regarded as decisive action. A person engaged in such an activity is always ready.
Wednesday, 10 November 2021
Thursday, November 11, 2021- Instead of focussing too much on the afterlife, will you focus on life here and now?
To read the texts click on the texts: Wis 7:22-8:1; Lk 17:20-25
The first two verses of this section (17,20-21) are exclusive to Luke though Matthew 24,23 and Mark 13,21 contain part of Luke 17,21. In Luke the Pharisees pose the question about the future coming of the kingdom. In his response, Jesus speaks not of the time when the kingdom will come, but about the very nature of the kingdom. Since the pronoun “you” is plural, Jesus’ saying that the kingdom is “among you” is unlikely to mean that the kingdom is within a group of individuals. Rather it seems to mean that the kingdom is in Jesus who is among them at that time.
The next verse (17,22) begins the discourse of the coming of the Son of Man. There will be a long period when the disciples long to see even a glimpse of their deliverance (one of the days of the Son of Man). Though some will point here and others there, the disciples must not be taken in. When the Son of Man does appear he will be visible to all everywhere. However, before he comes, he will have to endure suffering. The Son of Man who comes will be the Son of Man who has suffered and been rejected.Obsession with the afterlife does not help us to live fully the life we have here and now. Too many questions about death and what will happen after death result in life passing us by. While as Christians we do believe in the life to come, we are also instructed in many places in the Gospels that the life to come will not be a totally different kind of life, but a life which will continue in a fuller way the present one we have. Our focus therefore ought to be on living this life fully at every moment of every day
Tuesday, 9 November 2021
Wednesday, November 10, 2021 - How often have you thanked God for the wonder of your life? Will you do that today? How?
To read the texts click on the texts: Wis 6:1-11; Lk 17:11-19
The miracle of the healing of ten lepers is found only in the Gospel of Luke. The mention of Samaria at the beginning of this miracle story prepares us for the Samaritan who gave thanks at the end. Lepers were not allowed to live within the city limits and had to live outside (Numbers 5,2-3). They also had to cry out that they were unclean when anyone approached them (Leviticus 13,45-46). This is why Luke has the lepers in this story stand at a distance (17,12) and call out in unison addressing Jesus as Master, which only disciples do in the Gospel of Luke. Their cry for mercy would ordinarily have been a cry for alms, but in this case, it seems to be for much more. When Jesus sees them, he issues a command that they go and show themselves to the priests and as they obeyed this command, they were made clean. It is interesting to note that the healing here takes place after they obey Jesus’ command. One of the ten on realising that he was healed began to praise God and his action of falling prostrate at Jesus’ feet is an indication that he recognised God as acting in and through Jesus. Though ten were made clean, only one of them and that too a Samaritan who was despised by the Jews and regarded as an outcast and foreigner has returned to thank God. The faith of the man here is shown not before but after his healing. This results in the man receiving not just healing, but salvation.Gratitude does not come naturally to many of us. Before the favour can be done for us, we are willing to do anything for the person who can do us that favour. However, often once the favour has been done, we forget to thank. While the person concerned might not expect any thanks from us, it is our responsibility to acknowledge our gratitude by our thanks.
Monday, 8 November 2021
Tuesday, November 9, 2021 - Dedication of the Lateran Basilica - We are each and as a whole part of CHURCH
To read the texts click on the texts: Ez 47:1-2,8-9,12; 1 Cor 3:9-11,16-17;Jn2:13-22
The Basilica of St John Lateran is the cathedral of Rome, the cathedra, or Chair, at which the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, presides. In order to express devotion and unity of all Catholics to the successor of Peter, the Church commemorates the dedication of the Lateran Basilica. Since the Pope presides in charity over the universal Church, the Lateran Basilica is affectionately called the "mother and head of all the churches of Rome and the world".
When the Cathedral in Milan was finished, in the vast throng of people assembled for the dedication, a little girl cried out in childish glee, as she pointed to it: I helped build that. One of the guards challenged her: “What? Show me what you did.” The girl replied, “I carried the lunch box for my father, while he worked there.” The cathedral, the Church the Basilica is not primarily a building but the people of God. Each of us and all of us help build up the Church.
It is interesting but mainly revealing that the gospel reading chosen for this feast in which we celebrate the Lateran Basilica would be Jesus cleansing the Temple. Much like the Temple was a significant and symbolic building for the Jewish people the Lateran Basilica serves in this capacity for us.
The first Christians gathered to pray in private homes. To be a Christian was for the first three hundred years after the Resurrection of Christ a crime of treason against the Roman state. Therefore, believers would meet secretly to hear the Gospel and break the bread. Today's feast commemorates the end of those many long years of terrible persecutions and martyrdom and the dedication of the Christians' first public place of worship.
While this was a welcome change for the first Christian community, it also began to soon struggle with a dilemma. The source of Jesus' power is found in weakness and poverty. While being an underground church this was easy to accept. Now, being accepted by the state, Christianity's power began to be aligned with fame and fortune, buildings and property, prestige and status. The church began to take on the political structure of the Roman state. Officials began to be identified by secular titles such as “prince of the church" (Cardinal) and "lord" (Bishop).While it is advantageous to have a place to worship and also advantageous to have a structure to maintain a sense of order, both, however, can also prevent us from encountering God by presenting an image of God that is quite different from the one that Jesus presented and revealed.
Writing during the period of Exile, the prophet Ezekiel dreamed of returning to his home in Israel and especially to the Temple. The vision narrated in the first reading of today is of water flowing from the Temple giving abundant life to the valley below, even to the arid, lifeless region around the Dead Sea. However, at the time of Jesus, this life giving water had dried up and the temple was no longer what it ought to have been.
The cleansing of the Temple is an incident that is narrated by all four evangelists. However, there are significant differences in the manner in which John narrates it when compared with the Synoptic Gospels. In John, the incident appears at the beginning of the Gospel and immediately after the Cana miracle of turning water into wine, and so sets the stage for the kind of revelation of God that Jesus makes in this Gospel. The temple in Jerusalem was considered the dwelling place of God on earth and a place where people expected to encounter God in prayer and sacrifice. However, as is evident in the actions of Jesus, the Temple had become instead a market place. When one considers that some trade and exchange of Tyrian coins for Roman or Greek coins was absolutely necessary for worship to proceed smoothly, one realizes that this action of Jesus is extremely radical and goes to the root of the meaning of worship and encountering God.
All religious institutional rootedness whether in the form of worship, unjust social systems or repressive religious practices are challenged by this action of Jesus. Zeal for his Father’s house did indeed consume him when it led to his passion and death at the hands of religious authorities. While he was aware that this would be one of the main actions that would lead to his death, Jesus went even further when he pointed to himself as the new Temple, the new place of worship. In him a person encounters God as never before.
Thus, Christians, being identified with Christ in Baptism, are also temples of God, living temples of the Holy Spirit. Paul reminds the early Christians of the community at Corinth that they are themselves God’s Temple. God, in Christ, dwells in each one. Moreover, the whole community of Christians forms a temple, in which each Christian is a living stone, with Jesus himself as the cornerstone.
It is in the context of these readings that we must ask ourselves what we are really celebrating today. While it is true that the very orderly, stable and universal structure is surely to be celebrated in this feast and we need the certainty and conviction that comes from something that is consistent and bigger than ourselves, we also need to accept the fact that this is not all that the Church is. We also celebrate weakness in today’s feast. First, the weakness and numerous failures of each of us individuals who make up the Church, and also the failures and shortcomings of the Church as a whole. Both are in constant need of cleansing by the head of the Church Jesus Christ who continues to make all things whole.
Sunday, 7 November 2021
Monday, November 8, 2021 - Do your words and actions build up rather than pull down? Will you speak an enhancing word today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Wis 1:1-7; Lk 17:1-6
There are three units in this section. The first concerns being a cause of scandal (17,1-2), the second is on forgiveness (17,3-4) and the third is on faith (17,5-6). This section is addressed to the disciples.
Since we are living in a sinful world, occasions for sin will continue to be present, but humans cause these and the one who is the cause for such an occasion must accept responsibility. In a striking metaphor in 18,2 about a millstone being hung around the neck of the one who causes scandal and he/she being cast into the sea, the Lucan Jesus makes the point that the one who is responsible for causing the scandal will not be able to escape the consequences of his/her action. Since this is a warning addressed to the disciples, the term “little ones” in this context must be interpreted as those who are just beginning to believe and so will need all the help that they can get to enhance their faith. These must not be scandalised.
The next unit concerns forgiveness, but also speaks of rebuking the one who commits sin. This has to do with not turning a blind eye to the faults of others but challenging them to rise higher. It is a matter of “carefrontation” rather than confrontation, since it speaks also of forgiveness that must be granted if the offender repents. In order to drive home the point of forgiveness, the next verse (17:6) is the command of Jesus to forgive repeatedly even seven times in a day.The final section begins with a plea to Jesus to increase their faith. This is an indication that faith is not static but dynamic and continues to grow. It also means that the Lord can give the grace required for faith to grow. In his response Jesus challenges them to reflect on whether they have faith at all. It is not a matter of little or great faith, but faith per se. If the faith of the disciples was even as small as a grain of mustard seed they could achieve the impossible.
Saturday, 6 November 2021
To read the texts click on the texts: 1Kgs 17:10-16; Heb 9:24-28; Mk 12:38-44
The second part of the Gospel story for today is often referred to as the story of “The Widow’s Mite” where “mite” refers to a small copper coin. An even better title might be “The Widow’s Plight” because this is what the story is really about. On the one hand, and at the surface level, the generosity of the widow’s selfless act is commended by Jesus. This is also the theme of the first reading in which the Sidonian widow, who gave generously to Elijah out of her meagre resources, is commended and also rewarded. On the other hand, however, and at a deeper level, Jesus is pointing out the plight of the widow and, by doing so, pointing out the plight of the numerous poor in the Church, and in the world, who are being exploited and divested even of their meagre possessions.
This kind of exploitation is brought out powerfully in the famous remark that Bishop Desmond Tutu likes to make often: “When the missionaries came to Africa, we had the land and they had the Bible. Then they said ‘Let us pray’ and asked us to close our eyes. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible”. He does not end here, however. He adds, “And I think we got the better deal”. The widow in the Gospel text of today also gets the better deal but there is much that goes on before she does.
What goes on before is the exploitation of the widow whom organized religion, at the time of Jesus, had indoctrinated and programmed to give up even her very life. This exploitation is made bare by Jesus in the first part of today’s Gospel text. It begins with the condemnation of the “scribes” who here, represent the authorities. The charge against them is that, not only do they wear their religion on their sleeve for outward show, but that they also, in the name of religion, “devour widows’ houses”. The “scribes,” who do not practice religion as they are meant to, are the very ones who instruct others on what they ought to do.
Widows are not exempted. A widow, at the time of Jesus, was regarded as a non-entity. She was despised, reviled, and unloved. She could be taken advantage of merely because she had no man to protect her. Thus, she could easily become the target for unscrupulous and deceitful men. This is the kind of person who, in the Gospel text of today, is willing, even in the dire straits that she is in, to give her all. She will hold nothing back. This is precisely the reason why Jesus lavishes praise on her. She has done all that is required of her. She has trusted, she has faith and she shows this, in action, by giving. In praising the widow, however, Jesus is definitely not sanctioning the practice of the poor giving to the Temple. This is made clear in the contrast that he makes between the scribes, who offer from their abundance, and the widow, who gives generously from her poverty.
It is the practice in some quarters to ask people to be generous with their money. Often, scripture is quoted to make the point and what the Lord said about generosity and giving, in quite a different context, is used by the unscrupulous to fill their coffers. Many TV evangelists preach what is known as the Prosperity Gospel. These evangelists offer to the simple “a pie in the sky when you die” kind of hope, while all the time, they themselves have their pie right here on earth. The Gospel text of today is a condemnation of such people and practices, no matter under what holy semblance they may hide. These, who ought to lead people to God, instead lead the money of the poor to their own treasuries.
The condemnation of the scribes is not merely a condemnation that was relevant 2000 years ago but is a condemnation relevant today. Whenever the poor are exploited, the condemnation of Jesus is heard again. Whenever the poor are denied their rights, the condemnation is heard again. Whenever the poor are taken advantage of, the condemnation is heard again.
The letter to the Hebrews confirms and affirms that, with Jesus, it was not a “pie in the sky when you die” kind of existence. It was a real existence which did not deny the trials and tribulations of life and so, faced them squarely. It was an existence which was willing to suffer on earth, not because of the reward in heaven, but because that was the way life was to be lived. It was an existence in which Jesus was willing to give up his very life so that others might have life in abundance. Through this kind of life, Jesus gives a message to all of us who wish to live fully. The message is this: Salvation is here and now. The life you live now will be the life you will live in heaven.
The Sidonian widow, who was generous with Elijah, and the widow in the Gospel text of today, who gave her very self, lived this kind of life. The scribes did not. Others today, who continue to take advantage of the poor and oppressed, often in the name of religion, will receive the harsher condemnation.
Friday, 5 November 2021
To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 16:3-9,16,22-27; Lk 16:9-15
These verses are found only in the Gospel of Luke and continue what was begun in 16:1-8, but also make a new beginning with the phrase, “and I tell you” in 16:9.
The disciples are called to use wealth to make friends. If they use their wealth to help others, they can be assured that they would be welcomed into their homes when their wealth is all used up.
The person who is faithful in little will also be faithful in much. However, one who is unfaithful in little will also be unfaithful in much. And, if a person is not able to manage honestly that which is given in trust he/she will surely not be given what actually belongs to him/her. If that person cannot be faithful with worldly wealth that has been entrusted to their care by God, how can God give them their treasure in heaven?
While wealth must be used, it must never be allowed to control a person or use him/her. Wealth must be at the service of human beings not be served by them. God alone is the one to be served.
Thursday, 4 November 2021
Friday, November 5, 2021 - If you were told that you have only one more day before the Lord called you to himself, what three decisions would you make?
To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 15:14-21; Lk 16:1-8
The text of today contains a parable found only in the Gospel of Luke and which is often titled as the Parable of the Dishonest Steward.
In the Parable, the steward is about to be dismissed because of charges against him of squandering his master’s property. Since he does not want to have to do manual labour or beg after his dismissal, he responds to the crisis in his life by taking the decision of reducing the debtor’s debts. The amounts mentioned are all large, and indicates commercial rather than household transactions. By the reduction of the debts, he gains the favour of his master’s debtors, which will stand him in good stead in the future.
It is not clear whether the steward acted dishonestly through this action, because some presume that he was foregoing his own commission or acting righteously by excluding the interest prohibited by Deut 23:19-20. Despite this, however, most prefer the interpretation that the steward continued to be dishonest and arbitrarily reduced the amounts of the debts. By doing this, the steward provides for his own future by acting in the present.
The point of the parable of the parable is not so much honesty or dishonesty, but a call to cast caution aside, seize the opportunity and make provisions for the future before God. The kingdom is here.
Wednesday, 3 November 2021
Thursday, November 4, 2021 - Do you believe that you have been forgiven/accepted/loved? Will you forgive/accept/love in return?
To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 14:7-12; Lk 15:1-10
While the parable of the Lost Sheep, which makes up part of our text today, is also found in the Gospel of Matthew, the parable of the Lost Coin is found only in the Gospel of Luke. Also the setting for the parable of the Lost Sheep is different in Matthew and Luke. Whereas in Matthew it is part of the Community Discourse, in Luke it is told in the context of Jesus’ table fellowship. i.e. his eating with tax collectors and sinners, .and the murmurings of the Pharisees and the scribes because of this act.
In the first story of the Gospel text of today, the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine sheep to go in search of the lost one. The joy of finding the lost sheep is compared with the joy that God “feels” over the repentance of one sinner. By implication, Jesus’ action in accepting sinners and eating with them reflects God’s gracious spirit toward those who were held in contempt by the Pharisees and scribes.
The second parable, that of the Lost coin features a woman with ten coins. A drachma was a silver coin worth about a denarius, or a day’s wage. Hence ten drachmas was not a great sum of money. This makes it clear that the parable is pointing not to the great monetary value of the coin or loss but to the human reaction to prize what is lost, even if it is of lesser value than what one still possesses. Since in this parable there is no comparison with the other nine coins like there was in the Parable of the Lost Sheep with the ninety-nine who had no need of repentance, the parable focuses even more sharply on God’s joy at the recovery of what had been lost.The parables therefore seem to focus not on the need for repentance but on the rejoicing and the call to the righteous to join in the celebration. Whether one will join in the celebration will reveal whether one’s relationships are based on merit or mercy. Those who cannot rejoice exclude themselves from God’s grace.
Tuesday, 2 November 2021
Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - What are the things, which are the persons, which are the events that are preventing you from following? What will do about them today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 13:8-10; Lk 14:25-33
The sayings in these verses are addressed to the large crowds that are following Jesus. Those who wish to follow are asked to consider the cost of that following and to check whether they have it in them to persevere. Three conditions are laid down to following. The first (14,26) is renouncing family ties. This of course does not mean hating family, but means not letting anyone including family come in the way of following. When it comes to a matter of choice, following Jesus must take precedence over family ties.
The second condition (14:27) is carrying one’s cross. While in Luke 9:23 the challenge is to “take up” one’s cross, here it is to carry it. This means that the disciple who intends to follow Jesus must be prepared to face the same fate as Jesus, which will include rejection, ignominy and even death.
Before the third condition of giving up possessions (14:33), two parables are told to illustrate the folly of failing to consider what following would entail. These parables are found only in Luke’s Gospel. The first (14, 28-30) is about a man who intends to build a tower, but would not do so until he has first counted the cost of doing so. This calculation is done not after he has begun the work, but before he begins it, in order to ensure that he can finish what he has begun. If he does not do, he will be ridiculed. The second parable (14:31-32) is about a king who before he can go to war with another king would first ensure that he has enough soldiers and strength to resist the other. If he realises that he does not have enough, prudence will demand that he not start the war, but instead sue for peace. In the same way anyone who wishes to be a disciple must first count the cost and only on finding that he/she has the strength to persevere, must dare to follow.
The third condition (14:33) is that of giving up possessions or total renunciation. This means that nothing or no one can be allowed to come in the way of following Jesus on mission. If one allows oneself to be restrained by things or persons, one cannot be a disciple in the true sense of the word.We can come up with numerous excuses why following Jesus today is not easy. However, no matter what they might be, they will still remain excuses. If we are determined to follow and are convinced of his call, excuses cease and following begins.
Monday, 1 November 2021
After God has spoken in Jesus, death is seen only as transition from one kind of life to another.
To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 25:6-9; 1 Thess 4:13-18; Mt 11:25-30
The Commemoration of the faithful departed reminds us that we are still one with those who have gone before us into eternal life, and that death is not and can never be the end. Since they are alive we still owe them love and support in Christ’s name, even beyond the grave.
While the readings for the day may be chosen from a great variety found in the Masses for the dead I have taken the ones mentioned above. This gives us an opportunity to look at the mystery of death and the new life that Christ has won and promised for all of us who believe.
The question of where we go when we die is a question that has puzzled and continues to puzzle the minds of many. It is a question that brings out the fact that we realize that this life has to end and all of us no matter how strong we are, no matter how rich or poor have to die someday. Death has been and will continue to be a mystery. While we know that we have to die and today with the advancement of science and technology can delay death by a few days, months or even years in some cases and can tell how a person may have died, what we will never know, what will always remain a mystery is why a person must die at a particular moment in time. The feast of the Commemoration of the faithful departed does not provide the answer to this question, but informs us that for us as believers, death is not and can never be the end.
If in the past the focus of the feast was on praying for the deliverance of the “souls” in purgatory who were regarded as the “Church suffering” and needed our prayers so that they could join in heaven the saints and add to the number of the “Church triumphant”, today the focus is different. This focus is brought out through the readings suggested for this day.
It is quite amazing to find a text like the first reading of today in the Old Testament in which we do not find any clear theology of the resurrection of dead. During most of the time before Christ, only a vague idea of afterlife is found: and "abode of the dead" called Sheol, whose inhabitants had only a shadowy existence. God’s favour or disfavour was understood in terms of the present life only. However, as hard times and tragedies befell the Jewish people, ideas of life beyond this life began to emerge. Isaiah saw this as eternal restoration of the nation where death would be destroyed and the whole people would live forever. The text comes from within the block of material known as 'The Isaiah Apocalypse' (Isa 24-27). The view of the future within these chapters is universal in outlook and speaks of God's power in the cosmic as well as the earthly realm. An invitation to a feast is also issued in the first reading from Isaiah. Those who will heed the call are invited to the mountain of the Lord, Zion. Here is the choicest of food and drink which is served in abundance. It is an invitation to feast and rejoice and an assurance that all tears will be wiped away and the people who come will be accepted. All reproach will be removed and God will reveal himself as a God who saves. This salvation will be shown in the most tangible of ways in that death itself will be destroyed.
The Gospel text is addressed to all those who accept the message of Jesus unlike those in Chorazin and Bethsaida. To understand it fully, two points must be kept in mind. The first is that it is placed by Matthew after three “negative” passages which begin at 11:2. These are the response of Jesus to the disciples of John the Baptist to their question whether Jesus was the Messiah, the exasperation with the crowd who do not recognize John nor Jesus, and the denunciation of the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum. Indeed, this entire section of Matthew’s Gospel seems to lean on a sense of apparent “failure” on the part of Jesus to measure up to the expectations that all around him had in terms of what a “Messiah” would look like or act like. The second point is that this text is clearly a Matthean composition and is made of three elements. This first two of these are found in Luke but in different contexts and the third is exclusive to Matthew. In Matthew the audience is clearly the crowds and so the words of Jesus here are meant for all. The passage appearing as it does in this context seeks to state that despite so much of doubt and negativity, that despite so much of blindness and closed attitudes, this is not the last word. Despite the fact that Jesus’ message has been questioned by John the Baptist, rejected by many and especially the wise and understanding and not paid heed to by the cities, yet the invitation and message will find acceptance among the open and receptive of which there are still some left. There is no arbitrariness in this. Rather, it is simply true that for the most part the wise tend to become proud and self-sufficient in their wisdom and particularly unreceptive regarding the new and the unexpected. On the other hand the childlike are most often unself-conscious, open, dependent, and receptive. They are willing to let God work in their lives. They have not decided in advance how God must act and are willing to let God be God. They are willing to believe that in Jesus, God has indeed brought salvation from sin, failure and even death itself. Jesus himself is an example of such openness, which allowed him to receive everything directly from God. It is his intimacy with the Father and not his religious genius, which is responsible for this grace.
Even as we commemorate the faithful departed we must remember that the readings of today do not focus on death at all rather they focus on life and life in abundance. In writing to the Thessalonians Paul makes clear that we cannot behave as a people who have no hope. Our grief has to be a controlled grief. It has to be a grief that has its basis in the hope that all who have died in Christ are sure to rise with him. After God has spoken in Jesus, death is seen only as transition from one kind of life to another. In the words of the sixteenth century poet John Donne: “Death, thou shalt die”.