Saturday, 25 June 2022
To read the texts click on the texts:1 Kgs. 19:16,19-21; Gal 5:1,13-18; Lk 9:51-62
"Rejection” seems to be one word that summarises, at least partly, the readings of today. Other words are “perseverance, determination, and commitment.” As soon as Jesus sets out for Jerusalem where he will be finally rejected, he faces rejection in a Samaritan town. However, he will not be deterred. His face will be set like flint for Jerusalem because that is where the will of God will be finally accomplished. This is all that matters for Jesus: to do God’s will no matter the consequences. He is determined to see the completion of the task assigned to him. He is committed till the end. He will persevere.
The response of Jesus to James and John, who want to call down fire from heaven on the Samaritans, is a double response. On the one hand, Jesus is not Elijah and so will not call down fire from heaven like Elijah did. On the other hand, Jesus’ response makes clear that his mission is not to pull down and destroy but to build up and enhance. He has come not to condemn but to save.
Though the mission of Jesus is not to win through domination and subjugation, but rather through unconditional and continual love, he will demand from his disciples an unconditional following. As a matter of fact, it is precisely because his way is more challenging than the way of conquest and invasion that there can be no half hearted or lukewarm response to his call. Unlike Elisha, who is allowed to go back and say farewell to his father and mother, Jesus demands radical and total commitment. This kind of commitment can result in being able to fulfil the task of discipleship. It is a decision that is not made lightly, but after much thought, consideration, and contemplation.
Jesus does not use coercion or force to gain disciples. He only invites. However, even as he invites, he makes it abundantly clear to those who dare to follow what the consequences will be of their following. They will have to be as ones who have no security of home or hearth. They will have to be as ones who have no family to call their own. They will have to be as ones who are ready to face opposition, hostility, and conflict. They will be as ones who profess total and complete detachment. This is the kind of detachment that Elisha shows when he slaughters his oxen and uses the equipment that comes with them for fuel. Through this act, Elisha, though allowed to say farewell to his father and mother, demonstrates that he is prepared for an unconditional following of God through his mentor, Elijah.
The work of the kingdom which Jesus inaugurated is heavy and demanding work. It requires a persevering commitment. It is easy to get discouraged and want to give up in the face of trials and difficulties and what sometimes seem to be insurmountable odds. It is easy give up in the fact of rejection. It is because of this that Jesus states, in unambiguous terms, what it entails to follow him. The disciple who follows will have no place to lay his/her head.
Following Jesus will mean, as Paul explicates in the second reading of today, the desire to communicate love and to do it constantly, even in the face of fear and rejection. Love indeed sums up the whole law. Those who decide to follow will have to show through both word and deed this love which Jesus manifested when he was on earth. This means first, living by the spirit and not by the flesh. This means that any kind of behavior which makes the self more important than others is unacceptable and not part of the kingdom. This means that, even in the face of haughtiness, arrogance, pride, and conceit, the disciple will always respond with modesty, humility, and love.
Like Elijah before him, Jesus knew that if the work of the kingdom had to be carried on, he had to choose disciples who would do this. To be sure, the disciples would not be perfect. They would stumble and fall numerous times and would pick themselves up again and again. Yet, the work of the kingdom would go on. Even Elijah, who had experienced God’s providence and power, had his moments of darkness. He had been blessed with much success, but at the slightest sign of a reversal of fortune, he was ready to quit. He was quick to blame others for the situation in which he found himself. On numerous occasions, he felt all alone. Yet, just as in all these situations he was consoled by God and invited to carry one, so too will the disciples of Jesus who feel alone be consoled by him. They will feel the presence of God in Jesus even when they and their message are rejected and go unheeded. On their part, they must make it their constant endeavour never to give up, but to carry on with perseverance, determination, and courage. Rejection of the message of love must not be a hindrance to the disciples task of spreading this love to everyone they meet. They had been set free by Christ. Now it is their responsibility to set others free from the bondage of fear and self centeredness. Now it is their responsibility to free others for the true freedom of love.
Friday, 24 June 2022
Saturday, June 25, 2022 - The Birth of St. John the Baptist - Will you speak God’s word to at least one person today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 49:1-6; Acts 13:22-26; Lk 1:57-66,80
The Birth of Saint John the Baptist is celebrated on June 24 each year. The reason for this is the mention in the Gospel of Luke that Elizabeth was in her sixth month when the Announcement was made to Mary (Lk 1:36) about the birth of Jesus. Thus if Christmas is celebrated on December 25 each year, John the Baptist who was the son of Elizabeth and Zechariah had to have been born six months before Jesus.
According to some, John is born when the days are longest (June 24), and from his birth on they grow steadily shorter. Jesus is born when the days are shortest (December 25), and from his birth on they grow steadily longer. John speaks truly when he says of Jesus, "He must increase, but I must decrease." (Jn 3:30).
The Gospel text of today is from the Gospel of Luke. Luke does not give us too many details about the birth of John, and he narrates it with a short sentence. He focuses more on the events that follow the birth and, through them, show that God’s word spoken through the angel, Gabriel, is being fulfilled. Elizabeth does bear a son and the people rejoice at the birth because of the great mercy shown by God.
Circumcision of the child on the eight day was in accord with Gen 17:9-14 where God makes circumcision on the eight day a sign of the covenant with Abraham. It was the father who normally named the child and, in doing so, recognized the child as his own. Sometimes, the child was named after the father, especially if the father was a person who was highly esteemed. Objections were raised to the name “John” (“God had been gracious”), chosen by Elizabeth. That the people made signs to Zechariah to ask him what he wanted to name the child indicates that, besides being dumb, he was also deaf. The moment Zechariah writes the name “John” on a writing tablet, Zechariah regains his speech. Once again, God’s word comes to pass. The fear and amazement with which the people respond to these happenings is an indication that they experienced God’s awesome power. The question that the people ask, about what the child would turn out to be, is answered in summary form by Luke when he ends this narrative by stating that “the hand of the Lord was with him.”
God’s word is a word of power and will come to pass, no matter how many obstacles we may put in its way. It is a word that enhances and builds up, a word that gives life. To be sure, we may not always be able to understand and accept it for what it is, but in the final analysis, it is always a word that is for our good and for his glory.
Thursday, 23 June 2022
To read the texts click on the texts: Ez 34:11-16; Rom 5:5-11; Lk 15:3-7
Ever since the seventeenth century when St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was granted visions of the Sacred Heart and asked to spread this devotion, the Jesuits represented by her confessor St. Claude de la Colombière, played a fundamental role in spreading this devotion. Colombière, spoke with Margaret Mary a number of times and after much prayer, discernment and reflection became convinced of the validity of her visions.
In recent times, one of the most loved and admired Generals of the Society of Jesus Fr. Pedro Arrupe was instrumental in reviving this devotion and placing Jesuits once again at the forefront of spreading this devotion. This devotion according to Arrupe was “the centre of the Ignatian experience”. It is an “extraordinarily effective means as much for gaining personal perfection as for apostolic success”. Arrupe was aware of the fact that the devotion had to be spread using newer symbols and made every attempt to do so.
According to one of the visions made to Margaret Mary, Jesus made twelve promises to those who would have devotion to the Sacred Heart. Of these one is of special significance. It reads “Sinners shall find in My Heart the source of an infinite ocean of mercy”. This promise is totally in keeping with the message of Jesus on every page of the New Testament. Jesus, the revelation of the Father’s love, was consistent and constant in his message of the unconditional love of God. His inaugural proclamation as he began his ministry in Galilee was that the kingdom had indeed come, that God’s love and mercy and forgiveness was being given freely to anyone who was willing to open their hearts to such love. His table fellowship with “tax collectors and sinners” (who were regarded as outcasts and so not to be associated with) was tangible proof of this promise. Jesus even went as far as to say “I have come to call not the righteous but sinners” (Mk 2:17). The parables like those of the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin and ‘Prodigal Father’ (Lk 15:1-32) are further confirmation of this promise. As a matter of fact a clear connection is made between the murmurings of the ‘Scribes and Pharisees’, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Lk 15:2) and Jesus’ telling the parable of the Lost Sheep (Lk 15:3-7). Thus, while “sinners shall find an infinite ocean of mercy” in the Sacred Heart is not a new teaching, it is an important reminder to us of how gracious God is, in the heart of Jesus.
What then does the Feast of the Sacred Heart mean for us today? First the heart is a symbol of the whole person and so the Sacred Heart of Jesus represents the whole Christ who is and will always be unconditional and eternal love. This love of Christ is given freely, without reservation and measure to all who open themselves to receive it. Second, the feast reminds us of the constant care and concern that God has even now for each one of us and the whole Universe. By celebrating the feast we make present the self-sacrifice of Jesus for all humankind. Our God is a God ‘with us and for us’. God is Emmanuel. Third, the feast of the Sacred Heart reminds us of the intimate connection between the Sacrament of the Eucharist and devotion to the Sacred Heart. The Eucharist was that pivotal event in the life of Jesus when he showed how much he loved the whole world. Just as the bread was broken so would his body be and just as the wine was shared so would his blood be spilled. In the Sacrament of the Eucharist we receive the real, whole and risen Christ, so in the devotion that we profess to the Sacred Heart we relive this encounter.
The feast is thus not only a privilege and grace, but also carries with it a responsibility. First, the love that we receive from the Sacred Heart of Jesus is not a private possession, but one that must be shared with all. Just as the Father makes no distinction and makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good (Mt 5:45), so must we in our sharing of the love of Christ. Second, the concern that God has for us and our Universe must be a concern which we must show to our world. The wanton destruction of nature, excessive and abusive use of scarce resources like water, indiscriminate cutting of trees for selfish gain, unlawful and criminal killing of wild animals are signs that we are working against God’s concern. If God cares for us so much, must we not care for our world? Third, the intimate connection of the Sacred Heart and Eucharist reminds us that just as Christ is so easily available to us, we must also be to each other. The Eucharist and the feast of the Sacred Heart ought not to be private and passive devotions, but celebrations that make us ready to reach out in service and availability to anyone who needs us
Wednesday, 22 June 2022
To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Kings 24:8-17; Mt 7:21-29
While the Sermon on the Mount began with Jesus calling his disciples to him and sitting down like a Rabbi to begin to teach them (5,1-2), it ends with Jesus addressing the crowds as a prophet (7,29). The last part of the Sermon, which forms our text for today, is about action rather than words. Prophesying in the Lord’s name will be of no help if one is not willing TO DO the will of God. The examples of the one who built his/her house on rock and the one who built his/her house on sand reiterate this point. The Sermon calls everyone to action.
If the foundation of our lives is strong, then what we build on it will also be strong. If we have a strong sense of values and know what our priorities are in life, we can continue to be focussed on what we have to do.
Tuesday, 21 June 2022
To read the texts click on the texts: 2Kings 22:8-13; 23:1-3; Mt 7:15-20
The text of today is from the latter part of the Sermon on the Mount. In it Jesus asks his listeners to focus on the internal i.e. the heart from which everything else flows. If the heart is pure than everything that a person does or says will also be pure. The external is only an expression of the internal. A person's actions or words flow from what is in his/her heart.Our actions do not often coincide with our words, because we do not always mean what we say. Sometimes we say one thing and do another. There is a dichotomy between our words and actions. We are called to synchronise the two.
Monday, 20 June 2022
To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Kings 19:9-11,14-21,31-36; Mt 7:6,12-14
The first verse of today (7:6) introduces a new subject: holiness. The point that seems to be made here is that holy things have their place and should not be profaned. 7,12 has often been termed, as the Golden rule, which the Matthean Jesus states, is a summary of the law and prophets. Here it is stated positively. One must treat others in the same way that one expects to be treated. This also means that one must take the initiative in doing the loving thing that does not wait to respond to the action of another. In the final two verses of this pericope (7,13-14) the point being made is that it is the narrow gate that leads to life and salvation and the broad or wide gate to damnation. One must make a choice for one or another.
We wish that people would be kind and understanding with us but we are seldom kind and understanding towards them. Often the behaviour that we find revolting in others is the behaviour we ourselves are guilt of. When we criticise others for being too harsh, we need to ask whether we have not been so.
Sunday, 19 June 2022
Monday, June 20, 2022 - Do you know that when you point a finger at someone there are three fingers pointing back at you?
To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Kings 17:5-8,13-15.18; Mt 7:1-5
The absolute prohibition of judgement found in 7,1 is unparalleled in Jewish tradition. When the individual comes to stand before God for judgement, he/she will be judged according to the measure that he/she has used for others. Those who have been merciful will receive mercy. One must be aware that one is not in any superior position, which gives one the right to judge others. If one is aware of one’s own weakness and frailty then one will be careful of pointing out the faults of others.
Judging others comes too easily to some and often we judge only by externals. It is important to realise that it is possible that we might not be aware of all the reasons why a person behaves in a particular manner and so mistaken in our judgement. If we can give the benefit of the doubt to the person concerned and find reasons for his/her behaviour we will have done well.
Saturday, 18 June 2022
Sunday, June 19, 2022 - Corpus Christi - The Body and Blood of Christ - Will you like Jesus become bread for thers today? Will your participation in the Eucharist make you more giving?
To read the texts click on the texts: Gen 14:18-20; 1 Cor 11:23-26; Lk 9:11-17
In Luke, the placement of the periscope on the feeding of the five thousand is in an extremely significant position. This must be understood if the significance of the miracle is to be understood if the significance of the miracle is to be understood in its entirety. Immediately after Jesus sends his disciples out on mission, Luke inserts the question that Herod asks about Jesus’ identity. This is followed by the return of the twelve, the feeding of the five thousand, and a repetition of the question about Jesus’ identity. The placement of these incidents in this order is to indicate that Christology and mission, proclaiming Christ and doing what he would have done, are wedded as two sides of the same reality. Jesus’ identity is revealed in what he is and does and what he calls others to be and do. By the same token, those who desire to see and know who Jesus is, will see and know him only if they respond to his call to preach the gospel, heal the sick, and feed the hungry. This forms the background for the meaning of the feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ, the Eucharist.
The Eucharist, which is often relegated to the level of a ritual, was never meant to be merely that. The blessing at the end of the ritual states that those who have partaken of the Eucharist are sent forth to love and serve just as Jesus loved and served. The disciples are thus, expected to go beyond the ritual and take the Eucharist to the world. This is why, when Jesus saw the crowds following him, he not only welcomed them and spoke about the kingdom of God but he also healed and cured those who needed to be made whole. Not content with that, Jesus ordered that the crowds be fed with bread that the disciples were expected to provide. He then shows them how. Because Jesus fed the multitude, his disciples saw that he was God’s anointed one. In Luke, this combination of the feeding of the five thousand and Peter’s confession suggests that the recognition of Jesus as the Christ of God is linked to his action of reaching out and feeding the hungry. It is also a signal of what the Eucharist is really meant to be.
Thus, the Body of Christ today cannot be restricted to the bread and wine that is broken and shared on the altar. It is also made of the community who participate in the act. The second reading of today makes precisely this point. The “remembrance” to which the Corinthian community and those who partake in the Eucharist are called, is not merely to remember a past event to but making the past, present. The narrated history in the Eucharist becomes also the history of the partakers. The past of the event becomes their present. When they do this, they begin to”proclaim” even in the present, the Lord’s death until he comes. This means that they live out fully the implications of partaking in the body of Christ. Their faith makes itself known through who they become and what they do. This faith, which is alive and active, manifests itself to others and makes an impact on them. Others want to know what it is about the Christian community that makes them what they are and what gives them the motivation for what they do. Every time believers take part in the supper of the Lord, they relive God’s story as revealed in the Christ event. If they live it as they should, their very lives will become a fitting proclamation of the gospel to the world.
Therefore, the Eucharist is communion in a double sense. It is the most intimate sharing and participation with Christ. And, that very communion with Christ is also the sharing in and with other believers who, by definition, are also those “in Christ.” The Eucharist is thus inextricably both personal and communal. On the one hand, each individual receives the whole body of Christ. On the other hand, the whole community, gathered together in faith, also receives the whole body of Christ and becomes that body.
In a sense therefore, the Eucharist never ends. It goes on and on. As the identity of Jesus was revealed after the feeding of the five thousand, and act which shows concern, compassion, and empathy, so will the identity of believers be revealed, not merely when they, who have received the body of Christ, become that Body. They do this by going like Christ into the world and daring to become bread for everyone they meet.
Friday, 17 June 2022
Saturday, June 18, 2022 - How often do I try to be in two places at the same time or at two times in the same place?
To Read the texts click on the texts: 2 Chronicles 24:17-25; Mt6:24-34
The text of today begins by stating a general rule that undivided attention can be given to one person alone at a time. If there is more than one, then the disciple’s loyalty is certainly split. One must decide whether one will allow oneself to be controlled by wealth and the things of this world, or whether one will realise that they cannot bring true happiness. The prohibition, “Do not worry” dominates the rest of this pericope and is used six times in it. The call to look at nature (the birds of the air and the lilies of the field) is a call to learn how God in his providence provides for them. This does not mean that human beings do not have to work for their living, rather it means that even after working as hard as they can, humans must realise the life is much more than simply work and earning a living. It has also to do with being.
Thursday, 16 June 2022
Friday, June 17, 2022 - If you were given the chance to take just ONE THING with you when you die, what would it be?
To read the texts click on the texts:2Kings 11:1-4,9-18,20; Mt 6:19-23
The section that begins in 6:19 concerns knowing where one’s priorities lie. Treasure stored on earth is of not much use because it is temporary and passing and gathers rust and also can be stolen. Rather heavenly treasure is permanent and eternal. A person’s attention will be concentrated on where his/her treasure is. Thus instead of concentrating on the temporary it is better to concentrate on the eternal, the impermanent. If one does not perceive correctly, one’s whole orientation will be incorrect and one will live a life of futility, concentrating on what is really not essential.
Wednesday, 15 June 2022
Thursday, June 16, 2022 - Is there someone who you think has hurt you whom you have not yet forgiven? Will you forgive that person today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Sirach48:1-14; Mt 6:7-15
In the text of today, we read what is commonly known as the "Our Father". However, a better term for this would be "The Lord's Prayer". The reason for this is because there are two versions of the same prayer. The other is found in Lk. 11, 2-4. There, the pronoun "Our" is missing and the prayer begins simply with "Father". Also the context of the prayer in Matthew and Luke is different. While in Matthew the prayer is told in the context of the Sermon of the Mount, in Luke it is told in response to the disciples’ request to Jesus to teach them how to pray (Lk 11,1). Be that as it may, in both Matthew and Luke the point is clear that the prayer is primarily a prayer of dependence on God who is Father. This dependence is for something as dramatic and magnificent as the Kingdom and also for something as routine and regular as bread. Both prayers have also the theme of forgiveness, which is received from God and given to others.
Tuesday, 14 June 2022
To read the texts click on the texts:2Kings 2:1,6-14; Mt 6:1-6,16-18
Immediately after the six antitheses (5,21-48) in the Sermon on the Mount, there follows instructions on three practices that were common among the Pharisees as a sign of closeness to God namely almsgiving, prayer and fasting. All three though only a means to reach God can be made ends in themselves. Almsgiving can be ostentatious, prayer can be used to show-off and fasting can be used to point to one’s self. Jesus cautions the listeners about these dangers and challenges them to make them all internal activities that will lead the way to God rather than being made ends in themselves.
Monday, 13 June 2022
Tuesday, June 14, 2022 - How often has the expectation of some “reward” been your motivation for “doing good”? Will you “do good” without any expectation of reward today?
To read the texts click on the texts:1Kings 21:17-29; Mt 5:43-48
In the last of the six antitheses, Matthew focuses on the love command. . While there is no command to hate the enemy in the Old Testament, yet, there are statements that God hates all evildoers and statements that imply that others do or should do the same. Jesus, makes explicit here the command to love enemies. The conduct of the disciples of Jesus must reveal who they are really are, namely “sons and daughters of God”.
The command to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” does not mean to be without faults, but means to be undivided in love as God is undivided in love.
Sunday, 12 June 2022
To read the texts click on the texts:1Kings 21:1-16; Mt 5:38-42
The text of today contains the fifth antithesis. In it, Jesus not only affirms the thrust of the Law in opposing unlimited revenge, but also calls for a rejection of the principle of retaliatory violence as well. In the five examples that follow (being struck in the face, being sued in court, being requisitioned into short-term compulsory service, giving to beggars and lending to borrowers) the one point being made is to place the needs of others before one’s own needs. The disciple of Jesus is called to go beyond the call of the Law and do more than it requires.
Saturday, 11 June 2022
To read the texts click on the texts:Prov8:22-31; Rom 5:1-5; Jn 16:12-15
Trinity Sunday might also be termed Mystery Sunday. This is because the focus on this Sunday is solely on God, and God is a mystery. He meaning of a mystery is that there is something about it that we can know, but there is also a great deal about if that we do not and can never know. We can also know who God is through the revelation that Jesus Christ has made as Paul points out in the second reading of today. However, even as we do know something about God it is always important to realize that God will continue to remain a mystery and that there is a great deal that we do not and can never know about God because our minds are too finite to know the Infinite God. Much as we try to understand and define who God is, we keep in mind that we will always fall short. As a matter of fact, the more we try to understand the more we realize that we simply do not know. This does not deter us. Rather it makes us keep wondering about the mystery of God. We as Christians are fortunate that God has been revealed to us in a unique manner in the person, mission, death and resurrection of Jesus and that much of what we know of God, is through the revelation that Jesus has made.
The first reading from the Book of Proverbs includes part of this revelation when it introduces Wisdom as both part of the ordering of the created universe and its delight. Just as creation is both intrinsic to God and an expression, delight is intrinsic to the relationship within the Trinity as well as its effect. The reason for the choice of this reading is to show that Jesus as Wisdom is both the love and delight of God. Toward the end of her life, Julian of Norwich penned this short but profound exchange which can be regarded as a summary of the first reading: “Would you know your Lord’s meaning?” she asks. “Know it well, love was God’s meaning. Who showed it to you? Love. What did Love show you? Love. Why did Love show it? For love.” God is love and only love.
This is also the love that Paul speaks of in the second reading of today when he tells the Romans and us that God’s love has been poured into our hearts because of Jesus Christ and the Spirit that Jesus gives. This love made manifest on the Cross by Jesus Christ is a love through which a new relationship is established between God and the whole of creation. It is a love that is unconditional and given freely and a love which helps us to endure all and any kind of trial and tribulation.
The ability to undergo trials is because the Spirit that Jesus promised his disciple and gave is a life giving Spirit. It is not something given at a moment in time but continuously and constantly. The gift of the Spirit ensures that those who believe in Jesus will not be left alone but will always have help and assistance. It is an indication that God’s presence in Jesus will be with the community of disciples always. This constant presence of the Spirit of God made manifest in Jesus is an indication that God is not for the Christian one who is merely Creator, but also Redeemer and Sustainer. God is Father, Son and Spirit and Almighty God, Word made flesh and Comforter. God is past, present and future. God was, is and will be. God is all and in all.
Even as this eternal presence of God with us and for us is true, it is also true that three persons in one God indicates community, unity and inclusiveness. God does not exist in isolated individualism but in a community of relationships. In other words, God is not a loner or a recluse. This means that a Christian in search of Godliness must shun every tendency to isolationism and individualism. God is found in one’s heart but also in community and in relationships. Since God is present in the now and in the world, it is right and fitting to find God in all things and all things in him. Thus, the ideal Christian spirituality is not that of flight from the world away from contact with other people and society but an immersion into the world with a view to transforming sorrow to joy, injustice to justice, negatives to positives, darkness to light and death to life. It is a spirituality which seeks to transform fear into love.
Since love is Universal, there is no one who is outside the kingdom of God.
We are all connected and interconnected. Yet, though the Trinity is united it also embraces diversity. We are not required to be the same. We can be different and yet united, we can be different and yet one, we can be different and yet integrated. We are asked each of us to offer our unique gifts for the good of the community. There is unity even in diversity. There is oneness even in difference. There are three persons yet one God.
Friday, 10 June 2022
To read the texts click on the texts:1 Kings 19:19-21; Mt 5:33-37
The fourth of the six antitheses is completely a Matthean composition. There is no precedence for the absolute prohibition of oaths in Judaism. Rather, an oath invoked God to guarantee the truth of what was being sworn or promised, or to punish the one taking the oath if he was not faithful to his word. The Matthean Jesus here rules out oaths completely. He rejects not only false and unnecessary oaths, but also any attempt to bolster one’s statement claim to truth beyond the bare statement of it. It is a demand for truthfulness in everything that one says.
If we are convinced that we are telling the truth as we see it, there may not be any need for us to either raise our voices when making our point or to swear or even to call others to witness what we have said.
Thursday, 9 June 2022
Friday, June 10, 2022 - Will you bother less about your “doing” and focus more on your “being”? How?
To read the texts click on the texts:1 Kings 19:9,11-16; Mt 5:27-32
The text of today contains the second (5,27-30) and third (5,31-32) of the six antitheses (5,21-48), which appear in the Sermon on the Mount immediately after the theme. All six while addressing various aspects of the law move the focus away from the letter to the spirit. Each of the six begins similarly i.e. with a juxtaposition of what was said (by God through Moses) and what is now being said (by Jesus to his disciples).
In this pericope, Jesus reaffirms the prohibition against adultery (Exodus 20,14), but goes beyond i.e. to the intention of the heart.
The third antithesis about divorce is related to the earlier one about adultery in subject matter. Deut 24,1-4 assumes the legitimacy of divorce, and in Jewish tradition divorce was relatively easy to obtain. Jesus, however, prohibits divorce. Matthew alone adds the exception clause, not found in Mark 10,2-9 which here is more original and reflects the position of the historical Jesus.
There is sometimes in our understanding of Christianity too much emphasis on what constitutes and does not constitute sin, and on how far we can go before we commit sin. The real question we must ask is how far we must go in love.
Wednesday, 8 June 2022
Thursday, June 9, 2022 - How many times did you get angry yesterday? Will you attempt to make it one less time today?
To read the texts click on the texts:1Kings 18:41-46; Mt 5:20-26
The righteousness of the disciples of Jesus must exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees. In the six antitheses (5,21-48) that follow, Matthew shows what this means in practice. Each of the six begins with what was said of old and what Jesus is now saying. In these verses (5,21-26) Matthew narrates first of the six, which is about the Torah’s prohibition of murder (Exodus 20,13; Deut 5,18). The supplementary “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement” is not found verbatim anywhere in the Old Testament, and seems to have been added by Matthew to introduce the word “judgement” which he uses in the next verse. After stating the law and adding a supplementary, the Matthean Jesus then radicalises the law and calls for an interiorization of it (5,22). The call seems to be to submit one’s thoughts about other people, as well as the words they give rise to, to God’s penetrating judgement. It is a call to realise that God wills not only that human beings not kill each other but also that there be no hostility between human beings. The next verses (5,23-26) are an application of what Jesus says. Reconciliation is even more important than offering worship and sacrifice. The disciples are called to work for reconciliation in the light of the eschatological judgement toward which they are journeying.
Tuesday, 7 June 2022
Wednesday, June 8, 2022 - When was the last time you performed an action without any expectation of reward? Will you perform one today?
To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Kings 18:20-39; Mt 5:17-19
These verses contain what are commonly known as the “theme” of the Sermon on the Mount. In these verses, the Matthean Jesus makes explicit that he is a law abiding Jew. His attitude towards the Jewish law is fundamentally positive. However, Jesus also makes explicit here, that he has come not merely to confirm or establish the law, but to fulfil or complete it. This means that he will go beyond a purely legal interpretation to a broader perspective. He will remove the focus from the mere external and concentrate on the internal. The focus will be more on the attitude than merely on the action.
Monday, 6 June 2022
To read the texts click on the texts:1 Kings17:7-18; Mt 5:13-16
The text of today is somewhat of a link text, which joins the beatitudes (5:3-12) to the theme of the Sermon (5,17-20). These verses point out the effect that living the Sermon will have on the liberation of the world. The text makes two assertions about the followers of Jesus. The first is that they are the salt of the earth and the second is that they are the light of the world. Both these symbols seem to point to the indispensable role that the disciples of Jesus are to play in the liberation of the world. It is through the lives of the disciples of Jesus that the world will be moved to glorify God. This is indeed a great privilege, but also a great responsibility.
Salt is an ingredient that adds flavour or taste to that to which it is added. It makes the insipid tasty, edible and enjoyable. Disciples of Jesus are called to add taste and flavour to the lives of others. Light enables one to see correctly and results in removing darkness. This is what the disciples of Jesus must do if they are to be true disciples: remove the darkness from the lives of others.
Sunday, 5 June 2022
Monday, June 6, 2022 - Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church - How will you show that you are part of the Church of God founded by Jesus?
To read the texts click on the texts: Acts1:12-14; Jn 19:25-27
Pope, St. Paul VI declared Mary as Mother of the Church on November 21, 1964. In 2018, Pope Francis reinvigorated the title by proclaiming the Monday after Pentecost as the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Church. Through Scripture and tradition, we clearly see how Mary has been “Mother of the Church.”
The Synoptic Gospels provide an account in the ministry of Jesus, when the mother of Jesus and his brothers and sisters approach the house where Jesus was teaching (Mt 12:46–50, Mk 3:31–35, Lk 8:19–21). When word reaches Jesus that his mother is outside, he says, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it” (Lk 8:21). In Luke more clearly than in the others Synoptic Gospels, Jesus is pointing to Mary no merely as his physical mother or the one who gave birth to him and brought him into the world, but also as one who is mother to him because like him she too does the will of God.
In the first reading chosen for the memorial, we read how Mary is with the eleven before the choice of Matthias and also before Pentecost. The presence of Mary with the disciples whom Jesus left behind is an indication that she was an integral part of the ministry of Jesus and also one of those on whom the Spirit was poured at Pentecost. As mother of Jesus, she is also the mother also of the disciples and all others who believe in Jesus. In the Gospel text from John, it is from the cross that Jesus hands his mother over to the beloved disciple. While the beloved disciple is indeed a historical figure, he/she can also be anyone who loves Jesus. The command of the Lord to such a disciple, who loves him, is that he/she must also take his mother into their home because she is an integral part of the family of Jesus. As a matter of fact in the Gospel of John this is how Church is described. The Spirit of Jesus (which he breathes before his death), the beloved disciple (anyone who loves Jesus) and the mother of Jesus. These three elements make up church. These three are what church is all about in the Gospel of John.
So today let us realize that we cannot really have a full church, the church of the Lord unless his mother is in that church as well. I am fond of saying that if Mary had to say NO we would never have had Jesus. We remember the words that we recite in the Memorare “It was never know that anyone who fled to her protection was left unaided.” And proof of that is again in the scriptures where the mind of Jesus has changed because of the intervention of Mary at Cana, (Jn 2:1-12) where Jesus turned water into sparkling wine.
How will you show that you are part of the Church of God founded by Jesus?
Saturday, 4 June 2022
To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 2:1-11; 1Cor 12:3-7, 12-13; Jn 20:19-23
A story is told of a man, who, when a very young boy, was taken to nursery school by his mother. Attentive to his anxiety about being abandoned, the boy’s mother leaned down, kissed her son, and said, “Good bye, my love. No one is leaving.” Each day, his mother would bid him farewell with those same words. The boy was too young to recognize the paradox, and embraced his new existence and quickly adjusted to new and frightening surroundings. Day after day, and week after week, his mother bid the same farewell: “Good bye, my love. No one is leaving.”
The boy grew into adulthood, and was during this time confronted with the reality of having to place his mother in a nursing home. She -- now elderly and frail, with advanced Alzheimer’s disease -- barely recognized him, often forgot to eat, and simply could no longer care for herself. As he departed from her, leaving her in her new and frightening surroundings, he remembered her words. He leaned down, kissed his mother, and said, “Good bye, my love. No one is leaving” -- words his mother recognized even though she no longer recognized him. A tear appeared in her eye, as she clasped his hand and repeated, “Good bye, my love. No one is leaving.”
This is Jesus’ message on his departure to the Father: “Good bye, my love. No one is leaving”.
The annual celebration of the paschal mystery, which began on Ash Wednesday, culminates at Pentecost. In a narrative evocative of major Old Testament themes, Acts recounts the overwhelming gift of the Spirit. Such a fresh outpouring of the Spirit was to accompany the messianic age. Also the first-century Jewish feast of Pentecost, which occurred 50 days after Passover, memorialized the covenant at Sinai. Having celebrated the liberating Passover sacrifice of Jesus, the disciples are formed into a covenant community that is to continue the work of Christ through history. As we celebrate the traditional birthday of the church, the readings present the genetic code of the living church.
Jesus is departing from us, out of our sight. We find ourselves in the new and frightening surroundings of this life, in a place where we are uncomfortable and often feel ill-equipped to carry on. And yet, Jesus continues to assure us of his continued presence through his gift of the Holy Spirit. This is why though he says Good bye, he is not leaving. This is shown in the Gospel text of today when he comes to the frightened disciples after his Resurrection on Easter evening, with a twofold greeting of peace. These disciples, who fled in fear at Jesus’ arrest, are now themselves forgiven and told to continue his mission from the Father. Though they abandoned Jesus, he will not abandon them; though they failed him, God’s love will not fail them. Then, reminiscent of God’s action at creation, Jesus breathes on them, and gifts them the gift of the Spirit and with it the gift of new life. They have become a new creation. Along with the gift of the Spirit is also a commission which is to forgive and retain sin.” Retaining sin” has sometimes been equated with a juridical act, but two indicators caution us that it should not be so. The first is that it is not just the eleven but the “disciples” who are gathered in the room. John uses the term “disciples’ for a much larger group than the twelve or eleven. This group could also have included women and so the commission has to do with something that is more than juridical. The second is that the Greek “kratein” can also mean “restrain or hold in check.” This thus means that through the gift of the Spirit, who is also the Spirit of truth, the disciples are given power to take away sin the sin of the world and unmask and control the power of evil as Jesus himself did. They are not to act as arbiters of right and wrong, but through their just and loving actions in imitation of the Lord, they are to communicate the unconditional love of the Father.
At Pentecost, as the Acts of the Apostles narrates, the Spirit of God comes down upon the disciples, resting on each of them and thereby bringing them—and us—together once again. The disciples get a crash course in the language of God. After Pentecost the days of Babel and confusion are over. The great differences among us, in communication and dialogue, culture and background, wealth and poverty, are scattered in “the rush of a violent wind.” They are burned away by tongues of fire. It does not matter now whether we are Parthians, Medes or Elamites of old, or Indians, Chinese, Pakistanis of today. Each one hears the same message in his/her native tongue simply because the language of love is one. Our world, however, is still tongue-tied. What can be misunderstood will be misunderstood. But Babel, the parable of our first clash of cultures and failure to communicate, is more than a mythic explanation of the differences among nations and languages. It is an apt description of the human condition itself. We often do not understand one another even when we speak the same language. We all remain stymied by our fundamental inability to accept the differences among us in how we live and what we believe.
But the unity which love brings is summarized by Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians. The Spirit, though one, is never bottled or canned. It is at work in each of us, always fresh and always new, waiting to be translated into the language of our own lives, into the language of love. It is only to the extent that we make an effort to accept the other, no matter how different or foreign, that we come to understand the language of God. Only then is Babel turned to Pentecost.
As the Spirit used the discourse of the disciples on Pentecost to reshape and redirect the lives of those who listened to their words, so the Spirit on this Pentecost will reshape and mould us if we but listen. After all, God speaks to us in the one abiding word that ends fear and brings lasting peace and love—the Word- Made-Flesh, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Friday, 3 June 2022
To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 28:16-20, 30-31;Jn 21:20-25
The first two verses of today’s text shift the focus from Peter to the Beloved disciple. Like he does elsewhere, with other characters in his Gospel, John reminds the reader of when the beloved disciple first appeared in his narrative. The question of Jesus to Peter in 21:22: “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” has caused consternation. John already provides a correction of the misunderstanding that this disciple would not die and so, this is not what Jesus meant. By using a favorite word of his, “remain”, John points out what he means by Jesus’ seeming enigmatic words. This disciple will indeed remain through the words that he has written in his Gospel. Though he will die a physical death, he will continue to live in the witness that he has given to Jesus in his Gospel. Just as Peter will give witness to Jesus by dying a martyr’s death, the beloved disciple will give witness to Jesus by his Gospel.
The Gospel ends with a hyperbolic statement which also serves as a warning of how the Gospel and all of scripture must be interpreted. The Gospel is only a pointer and must be seen in that light. The person of Jesus is bigger than any writing or Gospel can ever contain and, no matter how much is said of Jesus, in the final analysis, it will always be inadequate. This does not mean that we must not say what we know. Rather, it means that, even as we say what we know, we must realize that there is much more that we do not know and so cannot say.
Thursday, 2 June 2022
Friday, June 3, 2022 - Be careful of saying you are a friend of Jesus, he will call you to live and love for him.
To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 25:13-21; Jn21:15-19
The first verse of today’s text links this section with the previous one (21:4-14) through the words, “When they had finished breakfast”. It is a continuation of the appearance of Jesus to the disciples at Lake Tiberius where, because they obey his instructions, they are able to haul in 153 fish.
The verses of today’s text narrate the conversation that Jesus has with Simon Peter. Some are of the opinion that the reason why Jesus asks Peter three questions is because Peter denied him three times. While this may be so, it is also important to realize that the questions are all different. The first question which Jesus asks is inclusive. It includes the other disciples, the boat, the nets, and the fish. Jesus is asking Peter whether Peter loves him more than he loves the other disciples and/or his livelihood. The second question is direct and involves only Jesus and Peter. Everything else recedes into the background. The spotlight shifts only to the two. Does Peter love Jesus? Though the third question seems similar to the second, it is really different because in it, Jesus asks Peter about friendship. It reads: “Simon, son of John, are you my friend?” This is a crucial change from the earlier question because, in 15:13, Jesus had explained the true meaning of friendship when he said: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” By affirming that Peter is, indeed, a friend of Jesus, he is affirming his willingness to die for Jesus.
This interpretation is confirmed by the fact that as soon as Peter affirms his friendship, Jesus invites him to lay down his life. This invitation begins with the double Amen in 21:18, and so marks the introduction of a solemn pronouncement. The saying of Jesus that follows explains how, when Peter was young, he fastened his own belt and went wherever he wished to go. This is an indication of the freedom that Peter experienced earlier. However, soon he will have to stretch out his hands and someone else will fasten his belt for him, and take him where he does not wish to go. This is seen as a specific reference to Peter’s death by crucifixion, and is confirmed by the explanation that John gives in parenthesis in 21:19: “(He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.)”
The text ends with Jesus inviting Peter to follow him. Though this command of Jesus may be seen as a general invitation to discipleship, here it means a specific command to martyrdom and even death.
It is significant that the call to martyrdom to Peter is given only after his threefold confession of his love of Jesus, and he is given charge of the sheep only after he has confessed this love. It is thus clear that there is no coercion on the part of Jesus, but a call that Peter has accepted freely. Peter knows, even as he answers, that trials and difficulties are part and parcel of his commitment. He is aware that following Jesus is not going to be easy and that he will be called to make great sacrifices. He is ready, willing, and able.The call to follow Jesus today is a call that will continue to be heard as long as there are people who dare to open their hearts to this call. While it will not always be a call to martyrdom by death, like it was in the case of Peter, it will always be a call to be a martyr or witness. This is because the voice of Jesus can only be heard today in his disciples and he can be seen and experienced only when those who profess to follow him reach out in love.
Wednesday, 1 June 2022
Thursday, June 1, 2022 - Are the troubles and difficulties of your neighbour as real to you as your own? Or do you regard their problems as of no consequence to you?
To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 22:30-23:6-11;Jn 17:20-26
In these last verses of the prayer, Jesus expands the circle of those for whom he prays to include believers of the future. Since Jesus did not come to make a limited revelation, but one that was meant to embrace the whole world, it is only appropriate that he pray also for those who will believe because of the disciples’ word and witness. The primary invocation that Jesus makes here is the all be one. It is a petition for unity. The reason for this petition is that Jesus wants all those who will believe in him to share in the same relationship that he shares with his Father. Just as Jesus and the Father are one, so, he prays, that all believers will also share in this mutual indwelling. When this unity is seen by those who do not yet believe, they, too, will be inspired to know and believe that Jesus was indeed sent by God. Unity of the community, which has as its source the unity of the Son and Father, will be the drawing force that will lead others to Jesus. By the unity that is shown in community, those who believe in Jesus will also be able to complete God’s work in the same way in which Jesus did.
In the last three verses of the prayer (17:24-26), there is a greater intensity. Petition changes to want. This is not to be interpreted as selfishness but rather, as audacity or confidence. Jesus is confident that his Father will give him what he wants and also, that this is his Father’s will for him and all believers. What Jesus wants is that God, he, and the believers, share in a mutual indwelling. What he wants is that all be one. This oneness and unity is expressed in the tangible reality of love.
Tuesday, 31 May 2022
Wednesday, June 1, 2022 - How do I measure my own success? Is my striving to “have more” or to “be more”?
To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 20:28-38; Jn17:11-19
The prayer of Jesus continues with a prayer for the disciples. In the first verse today, Jesus prays for God’s protection for the disciples and the oneness that they must share. This unity must be like the unity that the Son, Jesus, shares with God, his Father. While Jesus was on earth, he was able to instruct his disciples on this unity and show it in his own words and actions. Now that he is going to the Father, he entrusts this teaching to God. The “world”, with its own set of values and way of proceeding, will try to draw the disciples away from the teaching of Jesus, much like it drew Judas Iscariot. Yet, he was the one who decided that he wanted to break away from the community and align with the “world” and so, made his choice. The disciples need to be given the same strength that Jesus had and be sanctified in the truth.