Tuesday, 30 November 2021
Wednesday, December 1, 2021 - Homily
Wednesday, December 1, 2021 - Will someone go hungry today because you have more than you require? Will you dare to share at least a little with one person today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 25:6-10; Mt 15:29-37
While in a similar context, Mark narrates the story of the healing of a deaf man with an impediment in his speech, (Mk 7:31-37) Matthew omits this miracle and instead, introduces the miracle of the feeding of the four thousand. While the miracle of the feeding of the four thousand is the only miracle narrated by all the four Gospels, this miracle is narrated by Mark and Matthew. While it is clear that Mark wanted to show two separate feedings, the first and more abundant for the Jews (Mk 6:35-44) and the second and less abundant, for the Gentiles (Mk. 8:1-10), this cannot be Matthew’s intention, because in his Gospel, there seems to be no scope for a Gentile mission. This is why Matthew has altered Mark substantially. All of Mark’s references, to show this as a Gentile feeding, have been omitted or altered by Matthew. Thus, Matthew omits Mark’s Gentile location in the Decapolis, as well as the Markan note that some had come from a great distance. Matthew’s picture is thoroughly Jewish—the “God of Israel” who is praised in Matthew’s conclusion, is not a Gentile acclamation but is in the language of Israel’s own liturgy (Pss 40:14; 71:18; 105:48; Lk 1:68). In addition to preserving it simply because it was in Mark, Matthew seems to welcome another picture, useful in this section that portrays Jesus acting compassionately for Israel while in conflict with the Jewish leadership. In Matthew’s retelling, the two feedings have been assimilated to each other, so that he emphasizes the similarities between the two feedings rather than the differences between them. The Messiah of Israel, typically, almost stereotypically, heals and feeds.
A number of interpretations have been given to explain this miracle. The main ones are:
(1) A miraculous event of feeding hungry people actually happened in the life of Jesus. Jesus was such a charismatic figure that people went away from his presence healed and filled.
(2) A symbolic meal was conducted by Jesus for his followers, foreshadowing the messianic banquet. This was later elaborated into a miracle story in which the numbers were exaggerated.
(3) Jesus gave the people a lesson in altruism or unselfishness by sharing with others the little food that he and his disciples had with them. This action of Jesus motivated others to do the same and there was enough for all.
(4) The story is not fact, but symbol. It summarizes the life of Jesus. His was a life of selflessness and service, a life of giving to everyone who was in need.
However the story may be interpreted, what comes across strongly is the concern and compassion that Jesus has for the crowd. It is a practical concern, one that shows itself in action.
The abundance of the remains, even after such a large number of people have been fed, stresses the generosity of God, revealed in Jesus. Our God is a generous God who gives not only bread to the hungry, but even his very self. He showed this through the Incarnation and the ministry of Jesus. However, this was shown in the most perfect of ways on the Cross. The miracle is thus a call to accept the generosity of God and to show that we have accepted it by the generosity we show to others.
Monday, 29 November 2021
Tuesday, November 30, 2021 - St. Andrew, Apostle - Homily
Following Jesus means doing what we have to do and leaving the rest (including the worrying) to God.
Tuesday, November 30, 2021 - St. Andrew, Apostle - Andrew left everything to follow the Lord. How will you follow the Lord today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Rom 10:9-18; Mt 4:18-22
Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter (Mt 4:18; Mk 1:16; Jn 1:40; 6:8) and along with his brother was a fisherman. According to the Gospel of John, Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist and was one of the first to follow Jesus. The Gospels of Matthew and Mark state that Andrew and his brother were the disciples to be called by Jesus to become “fishers of men”; a phrase which was used to probably link it with their trade.
Though not in the group of the three disciples (Peter, James and John) who seemed to have a special place in the ministry of Jesus, it was Andrew who brought the boy who had five barley loaves to Jesus in the Gospel of John (Jn 6:8) and who along with Philip told Jesus about the gentiles (Greeks) who wished to meet Jesus (Jn 12:22).
Andrew is said to have been martyred by crucifixion at the city of Patras. His crucifixion is believed to have been on Cross that was shaped like the alphabet X. This Cross is commonly known as “Saint Andrew’s Cross” today.
The Gospel text for the Feast is the call of the first four disciples as narrated by Matthew. It is Jesus who takes the initiative in this story and come to the brothers, Simon and Andrew. Jesus’ invitation is also a promise. The invitation which is “to follow” him, will result in the brothers becoming ‘fishers of men and women’. It is an invitation to participate in the saving work of Jesus.
The response of the brothers is immediate. They leave everything to follow Jesus. While it was surely a risk to act in such a manner, it is also true that the call of Jesus was so compelling, that they simply could not refuse.
What does it mean to follow Jesus and accept his invitation to follow? It means that one is willing to accept the challenge to see God in all things and all things in God. It therefore means continuing to follow when everything is going the way we want it to and also when our plans go awry and we cannot understand why things happen the way they do. It means trusting at every moment that we have to continue to what is required of us and leave everything else (including the worrying) to God. It means trusting that God will never let us down and that all that happens to us is for God’s glory and our good.
Sunday, 28 November 2021
Perseverance is necessary
Do you give up when at first your prayers are not answered? Will you persevere in your asking today?
Monday, November 29, 2021 - Do you give up when at first your prayers are not answered? Will you persevere in your asking today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 2:1-5; Mt 8:5-11
Weekdays in the season of Advent begin with the miracle of the healing of a Gentile officer’s servant. In Matthew’s narrative of this miracle the focus of attention is on the sayings of both Jesus and the centurion. The centurion does not explicitly tell Jesus his request, but simply relates the situation of his servant. The fact that he addresses Jesus as “Lord” indicates that he is a believer (in Matthew, only those who believe in Jesus address him as “Lord”). Though the response of Jesus might be read as a statement (“I will come and cure him”) it seems better to read it as a question, “I should come and cure him?” Read as a question, it expresses hesitancy and fits in with Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus as the one sent only to the lost sheep of Israel. The centurion, however, responds with faith.
He regards Jesus as one who is under no power or authority. If he, though under the authority of his superior officers, can command and expect to be obeyed, then it is a sure fact that Jesus, who is above all and under no one, will surely be able to heal his servant. This is why there is no need for Jesus to even enter his house.
Jesus’ response to the centurion’s faith is to comment on the lack of faith of those to whom he had been sent, Israel. This lack of faith on the part of Israel, and faith on the part of the Gentiles, will lead to the inclusion of the Gentiles in the eschatological banquet.
Faith has often been regarded, by some, as a verbal profession of belief. While this is necessary, what is more important is that faith be shown in action. The centurion did this. The confidence with which he approached Jesus is already an indication that, though he had not recited a creed, he had faith. His response to Jesus’ hesitancy is to respond with a positive word of confidence in Jesus’ ability to make whole. He knew in his heart that Jesus had the power, since Jesus’ authority was God’s authority and his word was effective because it was, in fact, God’s word.
An Introduction to the four weeks of Lent
In the first week of Advent with the exception of Tuesday when Luke is read, the Gospel readings are all from the Gospel of Matthew. The readings begin by inviting us to look at Jesus who reaches out to a Gentile by healing his son and gives us a lesson on the meaning of perseverance in prayer. They then take us to Jesus who is the most perfect revelation of the Father and the unconditional love that the Father wants to lavish on the world. This love is shown not in words alone but also in deeds as is evident in the feeding of the four thousand and in Jesus inviting all listeners to show that their faith in him and his words is a practical and tangible faith. This faith is manifested by the two blind men who even though they cannot see, “know” who Jesus is and make their knowledge known. This gift of faith enables the disciples to be sent out like Jesus and to continue the work of preaching and healing that he began. The Mission which Jesus inaugurated is a mission that is shown in deeds and not words alone.
In the second week, except for Monday when the Gospel reading is from Luke, it is from Matthew on the other five days. Here the focus is on the revelation that Jesus makes in revealing his authority to forgive sin which is shown practically in his ability to heal a paralytic. Jesus shows tangible concern for the least in the community and also for the unlettered and ignorant by informing members of the community that the least are their responsibility since they are first God’s responsibility and inviting these to come and learn from him and be sated. These least are even greater than John the Baptist since they have had the privilege of encountering Jesus and hearing his words and seeing his works. However, those who close themselves to the revelation that he makes will continue to be blind and refuse to see. Though Elijah has come in John the Baptist and so the Messiah has come in Jesus, not everyone will be able to recognise him. Faith is needed to see.
In the third week of Advent, Jesus is questioned about his authority and in his answer invites those who pretend to be blind to open their eyes and see. These, however, though they say they know like the second son, do not really know because they do not act on that knowledge. Because Jesus acted so uniquely and unusually, even John the Baptist is not sure whether he is really The One and has to send messengers to ask who Jesus really is. Jesus answers the disciples of John the Baptist by inviting them to see and hear what he says and does. He then reveals to the people how the testimony of John was about him and thus his own testimony is greater because his testimony is that of the Father himself and no other.
In the days leading to Christmas from December 17 onwards, we focus exclusively on events leading to the birth of Jesus. This is done by beginning with the genealogy or origins of Jesus in Matthew and with the birth narrative there. Luke’s Gospel prepares for the birth of Jesus by the announcement of the births of John the Baptist and Jesus and Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth and her song of praise to God. The narrative of the birth of John the Baptist and Zechariah’s song of praise “The Benedictus” bring the Advent Season to a close and ready our hearts for the coming of the Saviour.
Saturday, 27 November 2021
Sunday, November 28, 2021 - Homily
Being good and doing good are not to be looked upon as burdens
Sunday, November 28, 2021 - First Sunday of Advent - Hold your head high
To read the texts click on the texts: Jer 33:14-16;1 Thess 3:12-4:2; Lk 21:25-28, 34-36
There are very clearly two responses to the signs that precede the coming of the Son of Man on the cloud. One response is to be so frightened and paralysed by far that one faints because judgement is near at hand. The other response is to stand up and raise one’s head, because redemption is near at hand.
Why are there two responses? What are the factors which will determine people’s response? The answer to these questions is contained in the texts that have been chosen for this first Sunday in Advent.
No matter how invincible we may think we are, and no matter how many strides we may take in the fields of science and technology; death is a certainty. Our life here on earth is limited and temporary. There is no doubt that we will all pass from this world someday. Since this is the case, some respond by adopting the philosophy of the Epicureans or the Carvkas in which the core theme is “Eat, drink and make merry, for tomorrow you die”. This philosophy is based on the belief that pleasure is the sole good. The Epicureans and the Carvakas live lives centred on themselves and on their wants alone and will not care about the needs of others. It is logical then, that when these are faced with the prospect of death, they will be frightened.
There are, on the other hand, those who will walk the way Jesus has shown. They, too, know that life on earth is temporary and passing and hence, they will do everything in their power to make the lives of others on earth a little more meaningful. They will focus, not on themselves but, on others and in doing so, make even this passing world a heaven on earth. These will be able to hold their heads high and be unafraid when the Son of Man does come. However, since they are prepared all the time, they will neither focus too much on that day when he will come nor will they speculate about when that day will arrive. All that matters to them will be to live fully and completely in the present.
The first reading of today, from the prophet Jeremiah, makes this point clear, While earlier, Jeremiah had named the king whom God would send as “The Lord is our righteousness”, here, it is the city in which God’s people dwell that is called by this name. This is because the king, himself, will show the way by living a righteousness life and he will challenge others who dwell in his city to do the same, Those who dwell in this city must ensure that they live up to its name. This they will do by making certain that justice, honesty, and integrity prevail among them.
The prophecy of Jeremiah was fulfilled in its entirety only in the coming of Jesus, who is the incarnation of justice. It was through his words and actions that he brought justice and righteousness to everyone whom he encountered. Even as he did so, he challenged all who came in contact with him to live the kind of life that he lived and to reflect that kind of life in every action and word. He was able to convince his disciples that this way was the only way to live. He was also able to convert a Saul into a Paul.
It is the same converted Paul who explains to the Thessalonians, in the first reading of today, that their community must be one in which love is shown in action. He himself learnt this from the crucified and risen Christ and he has taught it as he learned it. They must not become complacent or give in to mediocrity.
Many of us live in the future rather than in the present. We want to know what will happen tomorrow and, in the process, do not live fully today. This obsession with the future is because we are frightened. We are frightened of what the future holds for us. We are frightened of whether the future will be better than or worse than our present. The readings of today call for a total living in the present and doing what we have to do in the here and now, without useless worry about what the morrow may bring. This is what it means to be ready at all times.
However, we will only be able to have such confidence to continue doing what we are doing. If we give up the negative things that we might be doing and the negative attitudes that we might carry. We need to substitute the negative with everything that enhances, that builds up and that is positive. Being good and doing good are not to be looked upon as burdens. They are to be seen as something that comes naturally to the Christian who, because of Christ’s life, mission, death, and resurrection has moved from darkness to light and from fear to love. We must show, through this kind of positive and fearless living, that we are, indeed, children of the light. We must show that we have, as inspiration, the person and message of Christ.
We will become that city of righteousness to which everyone will look and learn the Lord’s ways. Those who look will learned that to be obsessed with what is not yet, is to fail to appreciate fully the present moment. They will realize that it is better to be positive than negative, better to enhance and build up rather than pull down and destroy, and better to live fully and completely rather than die without ever having lived.
Friday, 26 November 2021
Saturday, November 27, 2021 - Homily
A good and holy person is primarily a joyful person
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
Friday, November 26, 2021 - Homily
We are not to bother about when the end will be, but live fully in the moment
Friday, November 26, 2021 - Will you live today as if it were your last day on earth?
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 - Homily
If the end were to come today, would you hold your head up high and fearlessly? If no, what will you do about it today?
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 - Homily
The Gospel offeres a spiritual way of responding to the challenges that life throws up.
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 - Homily
Idle speculation will not help. Decisive action is needed
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 - Homily
The spirit with which one gives is more important than the amount
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
Sunday, November 21, 2021 - Christ the Universal King
Sunday, November 21, 2021 - Christ the Universal King - To reach out in love like our King.
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 - Homily
God's love is unconditional
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 himself there?
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
God is in all things
We must develop the ability to find God in all things and all things in God
Thursday, November 18, 2021 - What keeps you from recognising the Messiah?
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 - Homily
It is not always easy to make decisions. However, at times we need to be decisive.
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
Tuesday, November 16, 2021 - Perseverance is imperative for success
Zacchaeus' perseverance helped him to encounter Jesus
Tuesday, November 16, 2021 - What one action will you perform to show that you have repented TODAY?
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 - Homily
There are times when having eyes we may prefer not to see
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
Sunday, November 14, 2021 - Homily
It is those who do not know what to do with this life who are obsessed with the next life
Sunday, November 14, 2021 - Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday
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
Saturday, November 13, 2021 - Homily
Persistence wins the day
Saturday, November 13, 2021 - Do you believe that God will answer your prayer?
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
Friday, November 12, 2021 - Homily
How would you fare if God were to judge you now?
Friday, November 12, 2021 - How would you fare if the Son of Man were to judge you at this moment?
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
The now determines the later
Instead of focussing too much on the afterlife, will you focus on the here and now?
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 - Homily
How often have you thanked God for the wonder of your life? Will you do that today? How?
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 - Homily
The Church is primarily the people of God
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 - Homily
Do your words and actions build up rather than pull down? Will you speak an enhancing word today?
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
Sunday, November 7, 2021 - Homily
Salvation is here and now. The life you live now will be the life you will live in heaven.
Sunday, November 7, 2021 - Giving from the heart
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.