Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Thursday, January 27, 2022 - How would you define the WORD OF GOD? Have you assimilated this WORD?

To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Sam 7:18-19,24-29;  Mk 4:21-25

The text of today follows immediately after the interpretation of the Parable of the Sower and the seed and contains two similes: that of the lamp and the measure. In Mark they seem to be connected with the response that a person makes to the Word spoken by Jesus. This Word is not an esoteric or secret Word. It is a Word that is to be make known, to be revealed, like a lamp is to be on a lamp stand. If one is open and receptive to this Word (the Measure of one’s openness) one will receive from God not only the ability to understand it but also to assimilate it.

Sometimes our closed attitudes and minds and our reluctance to accept change and newness may result in our missing out on all the revelations of the glory of God taking place around us. If we only open the eyes of our heart to see and the ears of our hearts to hear, we will be able to find God in all things and all things in him.

Happy Republic Day 2022


 

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Wednesday, January 26, 2022 - Homily


 

How often have you given into despair and lost hope? Will you continue to hope today?

Wednesday, January 26, 2022 - How often have you given into despair and lost hope? Will you continue to hope today?

To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Sam 7:4-17; Mk 4:1-20

The text of today is taken from what is known as The Parable Discourse in the Gospel of Mark. The text contains an introduction to the Discourse (4:1-2), the parable of the Sower (4:3-9), a saying on the kingdom and its secret (4:10-12) and the interpretation of the parable (4:13-20). It is important that while it is likely that Jesus uttered the parable, in all probability the interpretation is the work of the early church. This is why; the interpretation of these texts must be done separately.

The parable of the Sower seems to point out that of the four types of soil in which the seed falls, it is LOST in three types and bears fruit in only one type. This indicates that while three quarters of the effort are lost, only a quarter is gain. However, the focus of the parable is not on the loss but on the gain, which even that one-quarter brings. The Parable is pointing out to the fact that this is how life often is. Three quarters of our efforts seem to be wasted and it is possible that when this happens we may give in to despair. However, we are called to focus not on this but on the enormous gain that the one-quarter of our effort will indeed bring.

We may tend to lose heart when we see that most of our efforts do not seem to be bearing fruit. At times like these the Parable of the Sower offers hope that even though much of our effort may seem to be lost, the gain that will arise from it will be enormous. It invites us not to ever lose heart but to keep on doing our part and leave the rest to God. It is calling us to sow and rest confident in the hope that God will make it grow.

Monday, 24 January 2022

Tuesday, January 25, 2022 - Homily


 A summary of the Gospel that Paul proclaimed was "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself"

Tuesday, January 25, 2022 - The Conversion of St. Paul - Saul changed his name to Paul after his conversion. What will you do as a result of having met Jesus Christ?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts22:3-16; Mk 16:15-18

Paul’s entire life can be explained in terms of one experience—his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus. In that instant he saw what he could become through grace and not law. It was a revelation to him that no matter how low a person may have fallen; God’s grace could always lift him/her up. It was also a revelation of the heights of mysticism one could reach if one opened oneself to God’s unlimited and unconditional grace.

The story of Paul’s conversion is narrated twice in the Acts of the Apostles (Chapters 9 and 22) and Paul himself makes reference to it in some of his letters (Gal 1:13-14; 1 Cor 9:1-2; 15:3-8).

The conversion of Saul to Paul was the conversion and transformation of a person who lived out the letter of the law, but forgot its spirit. However, once he allowed God’s grace to enter his heart, all that mattered to him was Christ and through Christ divine, gratuitous love. From the moment of his transformation, the focus of his preaching was that salvation was FOR ALL and that no amount of merit could save, because salvation was a free gift of God.

The first reading for the Feast speaks of his conversion and the Gospel text is from the longer ending of Mark and is an apt description of Paul’s power and actions after his transformation. He did indeed proclaim the Gospel to all creation and today invites us to do the same.

His Gospel may be summarised in one sentence, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor 5:19)

Sunday, 23 January 2022

Monday, January 24, 2022 - Is your general attitude to life positive or negative? Will you make an attempt to interpret every incident positively today?

To read the texts click on the texts:2 Sam 5:1-7.10; Mk 3:22-30

The text of today is known as the Beelzebul controversy. Scribes who come from Jerusalem accuse Jesus of casting out demons by the prince of demons. Jesus refutes their claim by showing how absurd it would be for Satan to cast himself out. The strong man whom Jesus talks about is Satan and the one who binds up the strong man is Jesus himself. Rather than accuse Jesus, the scribes must be able to see that with the coming of Jesus the reign of Satan is at an end.

The sin, which cannot be forgiven, is the sin against the Holy Spirit. Since there is the danger of looking at this sin as a specific sin, Mark clarifies that the reason why Jesus says this is because they accused him of having an unclean spirit. This means that the sin spoken of here is an attitude rather than a specific sin. It refers to the attitude of being closed to the revelation that God is making of himself in Jesus. It is an attitude of closing one’s eyes and refusing to see.

Today the sin against the Holy Spirit is to refuse to believe that the Spirit can transform me. Practically this means to give up even before one can begin. It means to give in or throw in the towel. It means not to give the Spirit a chance to work in our lives. It means a refusal to persevere and keep on keeping on.

Saturday, 22 January 2022

Sunday, January 23, 2022 - Homily


 We keep as our model and inspiration the mission and person of Jesus who, even on the Cross, continued to say “Amen, Amen”.

Sunday, January 23, 2022 - To proclaim good news to the poor

To read the texts click on the texts: Neh 8:2-4, 5-6,8-10; 1 Cor 12:12-30; Lk 1:1-4, 4:14-21

The beginning of the Gospel of Luke is unique because Luke is the only one of the four evangelists who states the purpose of his writing. It seems, from what he states, that his intention is to supply an orderly account, a doctrinal truth, and an assurance about the meaning of the whole Christ-event, to Theophilus – for whom he is writing. Thus, his intention is not merely historical. He will also narrate the things “that have been fulfilled” so that Theophilus may know the “truth”.

A summary of the Christ-event is given in the inaugural act of Jesus when he comes to the synagogue at Nazareth and reads from the scroll of Isaiah. Jesus, in all probability, chose the passage that he would read. Even as he read from this chosen text, he made subtle changes in his reading. The chosen passage, and the changes he made, brings out what his intentions are for all those whose lives he will touch. In his reading, the Lucan Jesus omits the phrase from Isaiah “to bind up the broken hearted” and adds instead, from Isa 58:6, “He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free”. Also, he omits, from Isa 61:2, “and the day of vengeance of our God” and ends, instead, by proclaiming the “favourable year of the Lord”.

What could be the possible reasons for the choice of this reading in his inaugural discourse? Why would he make the changes he made? One important reason for the choice seems to be the mention of the Spirit. The Spirit plays an important role in the Gospel of Luke and, right at the beginning, Luke shows that Jesus’ ministry, which he will soon begin, is empowered by the Spirit by whom Jesus was anointed at his baptism. Second, the poor are given special prominence in the Gospel of Luke, and so, the Lucan Jesus begins with an option for the poor. While the rich are not excluded, it is very clearly the poor who will have preference. “Poor” in Luke primarily means the economically poor, but also includes here, captives, the blind, and the oppressed. In a word, Jesus has come primarily for the marginalized, the scum of society, and those who are on its fringes.

What has Jesus come to proclaim to these? What are the implications of his proclamation for us today? Jesus has come to proclaim a year of God’s favour. He has come to show, through his word and deeds, that the God he will reveal is a God whose intention is to liberate the impoverished and the oppressed and, in that respect, fulfil the ideal and social concern of the Jubilee year. Jesus has come to announce God’s promise of liberation for all the poor and oppressed, regardless of nationality, gender, or race. The radical inclusiveness of his message was not easy for all to accept. Many preferred to be exclusive. They wanted a Messiah who would fit in with the categories they had set. Thus, not only was the message of Jesus scandalous, he was himself a scandal. Since they closed their minds and hearts to his inclusive message of God’s unconditional love, they were unable to receive it.

The implications of the proclamation of Jesus for us today are, first; the kingdom that Jesus proclaimed, and that we must continue to proclaim, must be a kingdom that has the poor at its very centre. The rich are not excluded because the kingdom is all inclusive. Yet, there can be no doubt that the preference must always be for the poor, the marginalized, the impoverished, and those of no consequence. Even as we work for the kingdom, we must keep in mind that others, too, are called to the same task and responsibility. Thus, as Paul reminds the Corinthians, and us, we must remember always that we are one body made up of many parts. We must be able to accept, not only unity in diversity but unity, even in diversity. This means that the work being done by those of other religions, other faiths, and other orientations, as long as it results in furthering God’s kingdom, is good and to be commended. We must learn to work, not only for others, but with others, as well. God’s word is a word that cannot be restricted to any particular group or community. It is a word that is freely given to all who are willing to understand and to accept it.  In the first reading of today, Ezra, the priest, exposes the word of God to the people and tells them to not be sad and to not weep. We, too, need to understand that the word is not a word that causes sorrow or brings tears. It is not a word that causes division or strife. Rather, it is a word that builds up because the Lord is, indeed, our strength and our hope.

Because this is the case, and even though we realize that, despite our very best efforts, the kingdom will always remain beyond our grasp, we keep striving, never giving up, never giving in. We keep as our model and inspiration the mission and person of Jesus who, even on the Cross, continued to say “Amen, Amen”.

Friday, 21 January 2022

Saturday, January 22, 2022


 Would Jesus point to you as a member of his family? If yes, why? If not, why not?

Friday, January 21, 2022 - Homily


 

Each of us also received a new name at our Baptism: the name “Christian”. The challenge is to hear Jesus call our name and to have the courage to answer that call.

Saturday, January 22, 2022 - Would Jesus point to you as member of his family? Why?

 To read the texts click on the texts:2Samuel 1:1-4,11-12,17,19,23-27; Mk 3:20-21

This text is part of a larger text, which ends at 3,35. It is about the family of Jesus. In 3,20-21 (our text for today) the family of Jesus is introduced in a negative manner. They think that Jesus has gone out of his mind and want to restrain him. One possible reason why his family would have thought that he was “out of his mind” was because he was working miracles and this could have been seen as associated with magic and such persons could either be banned or even executed. His family thus come to take him away by force.

This episode is followed by the Beelzebul controversy (3,22-30) in which Jesus is accused of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul, by the scribes who come from Jerusalem. Mark then forms a "sandwich construction" by taking up in 3,31-35 a text concerning the family of Jesus. Here, however, Jesus makes clear that his true family are not those related to him by blood only, but by the will of God.

There are times when because we do not understand the actions of another person, we may tend to condemn them or look down on them or sometimes label them. We need to realise that because of our lack of understanding we may need to be open rather than closed and judgemental.

Thursday, 20 January 2022

Friday, January 21, 2022 - If Jesus were to choose a nickname for you, what would that be? Why?

 To read the texts click on the texts:1Sam 24:3-21; Mk 3:13-19

Mark narrates here the choice of the twelve disciples. The number twelve makes this group representative of the twelve tribes of Israel and thus Jesus would be seen as the one who has come to restore Israel.

Mark makes three points in his narration of the choice of the twelve. The first is that the primary reason for the choice of the Twelve is “to be with him”. This means that their primary responsibility is to accompany Jesus on his journey to the Father. The second point is that besides “being with him”, they are also sent out to preach and heal, to say and to do, word and action. The Kingdom of God is not merely a spiritual enterprise, but connected intimately with the whole of life. It is a practical enterprise as well. The third point that Mark makes is that some of the Twelve are given nicknames. Simon is named “Peter” (which means “rock”) and James and John are named “Boanerges” (which means “sons of thunder”). These signified their function. Judas Iscariot is not renamed, but Mark gives us an indication already here of what he will do in the future.

Each of us also received a new name at our Baptism: the name “Christian”. The challenge is to hear Jesus call our name and to have the courage to answer that call.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Thursday, January 20, 2022 - Homily


 

If you were to choose one word to describe your relationship with Jesus what word would you choose?

Thursday, January 20, 2022 - If you were to choose one word to describe your relationship with Jesus what word would you choose?

To read the texts click on the texts:1Sam 18:6-9; 19:1-7; Mk 3:7-12

Mark gives in these verses a summary account of the themes that have appeared from the beginning of the Gospel. Jesus' popularity increases and he cannot appear in public without being pressured by great multitudes seeking to he healed. Jesus' reputation has spread even to those towns where he did not go personally. The use of the term multitude here and the mention of the names of places as far as the region around Tyre and Sidon are an indication that Jesus’ authority is much greater than that of John the Baptist to whom in Mark people came from only the Judean countryside and Jerusalem (1,5). These multitudes are not necessarily disciples, and could have come to see Jesus out of curiosity or even to receive healing.

Mark once again has the command to silence, which is where Jesus commands the demons not to make him known. While some interpret this command as belonging to the rite of exorcism, others see it as Mark's desire to reject the testimony of the demons as evidence for Jesus' identity.

It is possible that we relate to God or Jesus as we would relate to the local grocer and go to him only when we need something. The text of today challenges us to review our relationship with Jesus and ask ourselves what he really means to us.

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Wednesday, January 19, 2022 - Homily


 Will your actions match your words?

Wednesday, January 19, 2022 - Is there a synchrony between your words and your actions?

 To read the texts click on the texts :1Sam 17:32-33,37,40-51; Mk 3:1-6

The Gospel text of today concerns a Sabbath controversy. Though Mark does not specify at the beginning of this episode who it was that was watching Jesus for a reason to accuse him, at the end of the episode they are named as Pharisees and Herodians. While Pharisees had no political authority at the time of Jesus, they were influential. Herodians were a group of wealthy people who were partisans of Herod Antipas.

It is important to note that Jesus does nothing to break the Sabbath rest, but his question is the reason for the hostility. The response to Jesus' question is silence which here may be interpreted as an indication of the hostility of his opponents and of their intention to destroy him. Anyone who truly cares about the law will agree with Jesus and rejoice that a man has been made whole again. Though the man in this case is not in any way near death, Jesus adds to the second part of his question the words "to save life or to kill?" This seems to be Mark's way of anticipating the intentions of Jesus' opponents. The point he seems to be making is that they object to someone being made whole on the Sabbath because they are concerned about the law, yet on the same Sabbath, they will not hesitate to plot the destruction of someone else. The contrast between their words and their deeds is strongly brought out.

Often in our lives there is a dichotomy between what we say and what we do. Our actions do not always match our words. There are also times when we say one thing and do another. The call of the text of today is to be as consistent as we possibly can. One way of doing this is to avoid judging others too easily. Another way would be to avoid promising what we know we will not be able to deliver and to think carefully before we speak and commit.

Monday, 17 January 2022

Tuesday, January 18, 2022 - Homily


 

How often in your life have rules and regulations become more important than love? What will you do about it today?

Tuesday, January 18, 2022 - How often in your life have rules and regulations become more important than love? What will you do about it today?

 To read the texts click on the texts:1Sam 16:1-13; Mk 2:23-28

Today’s text is a pronouncement story. In such a story, the saying of Jesus is of central importance. In this story, it appears at the end where after Jesus pronounces that it was the Sabbath (rules and regulations) that was made for the human person and not the other way around, he identifies The Son of Man as Lord even of the Sabbath.

The Gospel of Mark does not explicate what the Pharisees are complaining about. They surely could not be complaining that the disciples of Jesus were stealing because they were plucking ears of corn, since Deut. 23,25 permitted a person to pluck ears of grain when he/she went into a neighbour’s field. Luke 6,1 seems to indicate that the objection of the Pharisees was that the disciples of Jesus were rubbing the heads of grain they had plucked in their hands which could be considered as threshing and therefore work, which was prohibited on the Sabbath (Exod 34,21). As he often does in his responses, Jesus takes the objectors beyond the immediate objection to a higher level. Here, he focuses not just on the question of work on the Sabbath or the incident that is questioned, but beyond: to the Sabbath itself. The Sabbath is at the service of the human person and not the human person at the service of the Sabbath. In other words, human needs take precedence over any rules and regulations. This must be the primary focus.

There are times in our lives when we treat rules as ends in themselves. One reason why we do this is because we have an image of God as a policeman who will catch and punish us if we do not follow the rules, as we ought to. Another reason could be that we expect that God will be gracious to us and bless us if we are faithful in following the rules. It is possible that sometimes we are so focussed on following the rules that we believe God has set for us that we might lose sight of human persons whose needs we must respond to first.

Sunday, 16 January 2022

Monday, January 17, 2022 - Homily


 

How often have your actions been motivated out of fear rather than love? Will you perform at least one action from love today?

Monday, January 17, 2022 - How often have your actions been motivated out of fear rather than love? Will you perform at least one action from love today?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Sam15:16-23; Mk 2:18-22

The text of today is a controversy story, and concerns one of the three important traditions of the Jews: fasting, the other two being alms giving and prayer. The question of the people compares the behaviour of Jesus’ disciples with that of John’s disciples and the Pharisees. The latter fast whereas the disciples of Jesus do not. The law required that people fast only on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16,1-34; 23,26-32; Num 29,7-11), though there were other reasons why a person might fast including as a personal expression of sorrow or repentance (1 Kgs 21,27; 2 Samuel 3,35). The Pharisees were said to fast twice a week (Luke 18:12). Since the people considered Jesus as a prophet or religious teacher, they would have expected his disciples to fast as other sects did. In his response to the people, Jesus clarifies that with his coming the new age has dawned, which is an age of freedom. He does this first by using the analogy of the bridegroom, and states that those who fast at the wedding are seriously insulting the host or bridegroom. However, even though there is the element of celebration in the analogy of the bridegroom, there is also a sombre note, which speaks of the bridegroom being taken away, and seems to refer to the death of Jesus, which will be an appropriate time to fast. The unshrunk cloth and the new wine refer to this new age, whereas the old cloak and the old wine skins refer to the old age. The two are incompatible. An attempt to patch an old garment using a new or unshrunk cloth will result in a worse tear; just as to put new wine into old skins will result in a great loss. The conclusion of the saying of Jesus emphasises that the presence of Jesus brings newness and to understand him one will need to give up the old categories that one has.

If we can talk of a rule or regulation that Jesus gave his disciples, it would only be the rule of love. All the actions of Jesus’ disciples must be motivated by love. This means that one may or may not fast, but that one will always and every time only love.

Saturday, 15 January 2022

Sunday, January 16, 2022 - Homily


 

The Lord can turn the water of your life into wine if you let him.

Sunday, January 16, 2022 - Will you do what the Lord tells you and so allow him to turn the water of your life into wine?

To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 62:1-5; 1 Cor 12:4-11; Jn 2:1-12

While Year A is known as the year of Matthew, since the Gospel readings during this year are taken mainly from the Gospel of Matthew, Year B is known as the Gospel of Mark, for the same reason. Year C, in which we are now, is the year of Luke. However, in all three years, the second Sunday in Ordinary time takes the reading from the Gospel of John. In year A, the text deals with the identification of Jesus by John. In year B, the text discusses the first disciples who follow Jesus and remain with him and, in this year, the text concerns the wedding feast at Cana and the turning of water into wine.

John’s placement of the story of the miracle at Cana, at the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, gives it an added significance. This is so because it is the first public act Jesus performs in John’s Gospel. Thus, it serves as the inaugural event of the ministry of Jesus. It also serves as a forerunner of things to come. Numerous themes are highlighted in this miracle, like Jesus’ hour, his glory, the sign pointing to a deeper reality, and the faith of his disciples in him. All these serve to indicate how the miracle must be interpreted.

Some have interpreted the miracle as Jesus’ rejection of the waters of purification and hence, a symbol of Jesus’ rejection of Judaism. Others have interpreted it as the replacement of the old with the new. However, neither of these interpretations seems to fit the context. They seem to read into the text what is not actually there. The jars standing there are empty and so, there can be no question of rejection or replacement. They are filled with water on the instruction of Jesus and, filled “to the brim”. It is in these details that the interpretation must be sought. Therefore, two points are being made. The first is that the old vessels are filled with a wondrous new gift. The second is that this gift is not given in measure but given abundantly. With the coming of Jesus, gifts, like that of new wine, will be given in abundance.

That this is the better interpretation is confirmed by the scene of the intervention of Jesus’ mother and his response to her, in which he makes mention of his “hour”. Jesus’ response to Mary, while seemingly harsh, is not really so, It must be seen more as a form of disengagement. Jesus’ hour, the hour set by the Father, has not yet arrived. Thus, even his mother does not have claim over him and what he is to accomplish. This is determined by his Father, and by his Father alone. No human, no matter how close he/she might be to Jesus, can hasten it. Mary understands this and this is why her instruction to the stewards is “Do whatever he tells you”. Mary will leave Jesus free to act. Accordingly, Jesus acts freely at this “hour” and through this act, gives a glimpse of what he will accomplish when the hour set by the Father actually arrives. Here, he merely converts water into wine, which John refers to as a sign. It is a sign because it points to greater things that are to come. It points to a time when he will convert his body and blood into a living sacrifice of praise. He has come to bring abundance to his people; he has come to vindicate then; he has come to save them.

This is also the theme of the first reading of today in which Isaiah speaks of the people’s vindication and salvation because of the coming of the Lord. This vindication will be public and will be seen and witnessed by all, much like the miracle at Cana. Forsakenness and desolation are things of the past. Now, the new and the novel have come and will remain. No longer will the negative hold and sway over the people. This is because God brings, with his coming, all which is positive.

 

This vindication and salvation will remain at the theoretical level if it is not translated into action. Paul, in the second reading of today, shows how this must be. Two ways are indicated. The first is the recognition of the individual’s gifts, of which there is a wide variety. Each is blessed with a special talent and gift and, each of these is unique. There is no greater or lesser; there is no good or better. They are different and so, need not be compared. The second is that the gifts of the individual are not for him/her alone. The gifts of the individual are for the sake of the community since they have as their source and origin, one Lord. If the gifts are used for one’s own glorification and praise, they are of no consequence whatsoever. However, if they are used in humility, and for the sake of the community, then they become gifts of the one Spirit and of the one Lord.

Saturday, January 15, 2022 - Homily


 

When you look at an egg will you see the eagle? Has your stereotypical way of looking prevented you from seeing people as they are?

Friday, 14 January 2022

Saturday, January 15, 2022 - When you look at an egg will you see the eagle? Has your stereotypical way of looking prevented you from seeing people as they are?

 To read the texts click on the texts:1 Sam 9:1-4,17-19; 10:1; Mk 2:13-17

If in 2,1-12 through the incident of the healing of the paralytic, Mark portrayed Jesus as one who had the authority to forgive sin, in the text of today, he shows Jesus as reaching out to tax collectors and sinners. There are two episodes, which are connected. The first is the Call of Levi and the second is the dinner in Levi’s house during which Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners.

In Matthew 9,9, the tax collector who is called is named Matthew, but in Mark (and Luke 5,27) he is called Levi. However, the name Levi does not appear in any list of twelve whereas Matthew appears in all the lists. The tax collector at the time of Jesus was a person whose duty it was to collect tax or duty on goods crossing the border. They were accused of charging more than the required amount and so were considered as thieves and seen as dishonest. This is the kind of person called by Jesus to discipleship. The structure of the call of Levi is similar to that of the first four disciples in mark (1,16-20). Here too, it has five parts, Jesus passes by, sees Levi at his work, calls to him, Levi leaves his work and follows Jesus. Immediately after the call and following, Jesus goes to Levi’s house for a meal during which many tax collectors and sinners sit at table with him. This leads to the scribes of the Pharisees complaining probably that Jesus was not observe that higher standard of holiness that would be expected of him. Jesus responds to their objection in two parts. In the first part, he states what many regard is a common proverb of the time (“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick”). In the second part of his response (“I have come not to call the righteous but sinners”), Jesus states explicitly the reason for his coming: to call sinners. The force of this mission statement of Jesus will be understood better when we realise that the righteous referred to those who were zealous for the law and tried to live it out as completely as they could, whereas sinners meant those who deliberately flouted/flaunted the law and paid no heed to it. Jesus has come to seek those who everyone considers evil.

Many of us tend to look down on those who may not come up to our expectations or behave the way we want them to. We may also often judge others by what we see and be too quick to do that. The challenge for each of us is to realise that our way of looking may be a stereotypical way of looking and that we may be looking with a prejudiced view.

Thursday, 13 January 2022

Friday, January 14, 2022 - Homily


 One of the keys to wholeness and good health is forgiveness. We must forgive because it is good for our health.

Friday, January 14, 2022 - Is there an area in my life in which I suffer from paralysis? Do I believe that Jesus can heal me?

To read the texts click on the texts:1 Sam 8:4-7,10-22; Mk 2:1-12

The text of today is a pronouncement story, which also contains a miracle. A pronouncement story is one in which the saying of Jesus is the central point. Some pronouncement stories contain miracles, whereas others do not (2,23-27). In the story of today, it seems that Mark has converted an original miracle story in which a paralytic is healed into a pronouncement story (by inserting the dialogue between Jesus and the scribes after the words, “said to the paralytic” found in 2, 5a, and repeating them in 2,10b), to bring out the point that Jesus has the authority like God to forgive sin. In his challenge to the scribes, Jesus is able to prove that he has this authority to forgive, because he has been able to heal the man completely. Mark might also be indicating that Jesus wanted total healing for the man rather than just physical healing. The response of the crowds is of amazement.

We come across here for the first time a “Son on Man” saying, which is used for the second time in 2,28 and after that only from the Passion and resurrection predictions in Mark (8,31; 9,31; 10,33; 14,62). Characters in the Gospels never use this expression to describe Jesus or refer to him; rather Jesus uses it of himself. While the expression could be used to mean a human being, it seems that the evangelists intend the expression to refer to Jesus’ special status. Here, he has special authority and that to forgive sin.

Our own psychological paralysis is often connected with our lack of forgiveness and keeping feelings of bitterness, anger and the like in our hearts and minds. One of the keys to wholeness and good health is forgiveness. We must forgive because it is good for our health.

Thursday, January 13, 2022 - Homily


 Prayer means to acknowledge our dependence on God and also to have faith that God can do what to us may seem impossible.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022 - Homily


 Is the content of your prayer connected with your life or is it removed from it?

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Thursday, January 13, 2022 - Who are those whom you treat as lepers? Will you reach out to them with a kind word or touch today?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Sam 4:1-11; Mk 1:40-45

The healing of a leper, which is our text for today, is also found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, but both Matthew and Luke omit the emotional reactions of Jesus found in Mark. The term leprosy was used for any kind of skin disease, and those with such kind of diseases were considered as unclean and not allowed to be part of society. They had to live on the outskirts of the city, and had to make their presence known whenever they entered the city, so that others could avoid any kind of contact with them and so not get contaminated.

In this miracle, Jesus not only heals the leper, but also reaches out and touches him. This probably means that Jesus cannot be contaminated or made unclean by anything from outside. It could also indicate Jesus’ wanting to reach out to the leper in a personal manner and treat him as a full human being.

The prayer of the leper is a lesson for each one of us on the meaning of prayer. In his prayer the leper both acknowledges his dependence on Jesus through the words, “If you will” and also has faith in the ability of Jesus to heal through the words, “you can make me clean”. Prayer means to acknowledge our dependence on God and also to have faith that God can do what to us may seem impossible.

Tuesday, 11 January 2022

Wednesday, January 12, 2022 - Do you use the talents God have gifted you for service, or do you keep them to yourself? Do you appreciate good health, or do you more often than not complain that things are not as good, as you would like them to be? Is the content of your prayer connected with your life or is it removed from it?

To read the texts click on the texts:1 Sam 3:1-10,19-20; Mk 1:29-39

The text of today is made up of three parts. In the first part (1:29-31), we are told of the healing of Simon’s Mother-in-law. This miracle story follows the pattern of the typical healing stories of the Synoptic Gospels in which three clear parts can be distinguished. These are the narration of the case, the cure (in the larger majority of the healing miracles of Jesus it is merely with a word and/or the act of lifting the person up) and the confirmation that the person has indeed been cured. Here, after her healing she begins to wait on Jesus and his disciples. While on the one hand this detail communicates that she was healed completely and can now serve, on the other hand, Mark may also have intended to communicate to his readers, that healing is for service.

In the second part of today’s text (1:32-34), numerous sick are brought to Jesus, who heals them all. There is also at the end of this section the command to silence, which is connected to the Messianic Secret in the Gospel of Mark where Jesus does not allow demons to tell other who he is, because he did not want to be misunderstood simply as a wonder working Messiah.

In the third and final part of today’s reading (1:35-39), we are given an insight into a very personal aspect of the life of Jesus; his prayer. In this context, the content of Jesus’ prayer seems to be discernment on whether he must stay or move. While it would have been easier to stay because of the approval he receives here, as is evident from the comment of his disciples that he was being sought after, Jesus opts to move because that is what he sees as his Father’s will, and Mark makes abundantly clear on numerous occasions in his Gospel that nothing and no one can come between Jesus and his Father’s will.

The talents that we have and the gifts that we possess have been given to us in trust. We have therefore to use them to enhance life and continue to be co-creators with God in his work of building the new heaven and new earth.

Monday, 10 January 2022

Tuesday, January 10, 2022 - Let your actions match your words


 Let your actions match your words

Tuesday, January 11, 2022 - How often is there a dichotomy between your words and your actions? Will you try to synchronise them today?

To read the texts click on the texts:1 Sam1:9-20; Mk 1:21-28

The first miracle in the Gospel of Mark is an exorcism and is the text for today. At the beginning of this pericope we are informed that Jesus taught in the synagogue with authority and the crowds were astounded at his teaching. Mark then immediately narrates the exorcism story to give a practical example of the teaching of Jesus. The demon "knows" who Jesus is and also that with his coming Satan’s reign is ended. Jesus has indeed come to cast Satan out.

The exorcism indicates what it means that the kingdom has indeed drawn near. This is the first time in the Gospel of Mark that we come across what is commonly known as “the command to silence”, which is a technique that Mark uses in his Gospel in which Jesus commands sometimes demons (1:25, 34), sometimes those he has healed (1:44) and sometimes the family members of the one healed (5:43) not to make known his identity or that he has been the one who has healed them. While many interpretations have been offered as to why Mark has used this technique, the one which has found wide acceptance is that the Marcan Jesus did not want people to mistake him for merely an exorcist or miracle worker, but wanted them to realise that he was the Christ who would suffer, die on the cross and be raised.

In this case he is able to exorcise the demon by a mere word, which the crowd interpret as a "new teaching".

By associating the teaching of Jesus with the first miracle and having the people regard the exorcism as a “new teaching”. Mark seems to want to indicate that there is no dichotomy between Jesus’ words and actions. They synchronise. Jesus does what he says and says what he does.

Sunday, 9 January 2022

Monday, January 10, 2022 - Love is show in deeds not words.


 How will you show love in deeds to at least on person today?

Monday, January 10, 2022 - How will you as a disciple of Jesus make known his love to at least one person today?

To read the texts click on the  texts: 1 Sam 1:1-8; Mk 1:14-20

The first Chapter of the Gospel of Mark is about the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, which occurs near the Sea of Galilee and in Capernaum. A number of themes that will figure prominently in the Gospel appear already in the first Chapter. These are: Jesus reaching out to heal and make whole those who come to him for healing (1,29-34. 40-45), his exorcising those possessed by demons and commanding them to be silent about his identity (1,23-28), his being led in all things by the Spirit (1,8.10.12.23-28), the misunderstanding on the part of his disciples and people about who Jesus really is which plays a big part in the Gospel already finds some mention here (1,35-39).

It is also in the first Chapter that Jesus receives the invitation from God (through the voice from heaven 1,11) to be both beloved Son and slave. Jesus accepts this invitation as is evident in the angels attending to him though he is tempted by Satan (1,13) and in his proclamation of the good news of God, which is that the Kingdom of God has indeed, arrived (1,14-15).

The public ministry of Jesus begins after his baptism and his being led by the Spirit into the wilderness. Jesus comes to Galilee “after John was arrested” (1,14). This could be Mark’s way of removing John the Baptist from the scene who until this verse had held centre stage. It could also be a reminder that the fate of John the Baptist will also be the fate of Jesus. He too like John the Baptist will be “handed over” (9,31; 10,33; 14,21.41). Jesus comes “proclaiming the good news of God” which is an indication that he is on the side of God and has accepted the invitation issued to him at his Baptism. The content of this proclamation is that the arrival of Jesus and his ministry is bringing about the salvation promised by the prophets. The Kingdom of God has been inaugurated by the coming of Jesus. All that humans have to do now is to open their hearts to receive it in all its fullness.

The call of the first four disciples in the Gospel of Mark (1,16-20) follows immediately after the first public proclamation of Jesus (1,14-15). Two pairs of brothers are called, Peter and Andrew and James and John. These call stories have five parts. Jesus passes by (1,16.19), sees the brothers at their work (1,16.19), he calls to them (1,17.20), they leave their work (1,18. 20), and they follow Jesus (1,18.20). Though their lives would have been disrupted, they dare to follow and this is an indication that they recognise that the summons comes from God himself. Some interpret the “casting of a net” to identify the Evangelical aspect and “mending their nets” to identify the reconciling aspect of the ministry of the disciples.

The first public proclamation of Jesus is about God’s unconditional and magnanimous love for anyone who is open to receive this love. This love is given freely and without charge. In order to receive one does not have to “do” anything, but simply possess an open and generous heart. The call of the disciples seems to indicate that Jesus is aware that he will need humans to cooperate with him in this seemingly daunting task and thus chooses his first disciples. The good news includes disciples. It is not just about Jesus. It includes in the broadest sense the Church. The Church performs about as well as the disciples in Mark, but it is still part of the breaking in of God’s reign, or, can be. That is why Mark tells his story the way he does. This mission of Jesus continues even today and we are those who are called to be those disciples who will continue it and who are being called at every moment to make known top everyone we meet the unconditional and gratuitous love and mercy of God.

Saturday, 8 January 2022

Sunday, January 9, 2021 - The Baptism of Jesus - Homily


 The consequence of the Baptism of Jesus was the giving of himself. What will be the consequence of our Baptism?

Sunday, January 9, 2022 - The Baptism of the Lord


 The consequence of the Baptism of Jesus was the giving of himself. What will be the consequence of our Baptism?

Sunday, January 9, 2022 - What will the consequence of my Baptism be?

 To read the texts click on the texts:  Is40:1-5,9-11; Tit 2:11-14, 3:4-7; Lk 3:15-16,21-22

The feast of the Baptism of the Lord concludes the Advent-Christmas liturgical season. It is also the first Sunday in Ordinary Time.

The baptism itself is an event that is narrated in all the synoptic gospels and, though the Gospel of John does not narrate the event, it is referred to in John’s testimony to Jesus. The fact that all the Evangelists either narrate the event or allude to it is a clear indication that the early Church saw the baptism as of prime importance in the life of Jesus. The Synoptic writers also looked upon this event as foundational to the ministry of Jesus.

Why is this so? What did the baptism of Jesus mean for the Evangelists and for the early Church? What does it mean for us today?

In order to answer these questions, it is important to note the distinctive features in Luke’s narration of the Baptism scene. First, Luke, alone of the evangelists, has John in prison before Jesus is baptized, which is why he does not mention that it was John who baptized Jesus. While this serves, on the one hand, to show that Jesus is definitely greater than John, it also serves to point out the fact that, with the Baptism of Jesus, John’s work and era is over. A new era, the era of Jesus, has begun. Second, Luke, alone, has Jesus praying at the time of his baptism and the Holy Spirit descending on him in “bodily form” like a dove. By adding this detail, Luke emphasizes both tangibility and inexpressibility. The tangibility is expressed through the words “in bodily form” and the inexpressibility is expressed by stating that it was not a dove, but “like a dove”. The opening of heaven, at the baptism of Jesus, signals that he is the Messiah and that the fulfillment of Israel’s eschatological expectations is at hand. If the closing of heaven brought drought, the opening of heaven brings God’s blessings. God’s power and mercy are about to be revealed. Third, Luke, like Mark, has the voice from heaven address Jesus as “Beloved Son”. The voice at the baptism of Jesus, therefore, discloses both the identity of the Son and the character of the Father. Jesus is the “agapetos” of God and God is “Father”.

By placing the text of the baptism at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, Luke states that all that Jesus will do in his ministry is through the empowerment, blessing, and approval of his father. By submitting to God’s grace, Jesus finds his identity and the affirmation from the father that he is, indeed, on the right course of action.

This course of action is explicated beautifully by Isaiah in the first reading of today. With the coming of Jesus, and the beginning of his ministry, a new age had dawned. Punishment and penalty are things of the past. Now, Comfort is what people will experience. In other words, baptism brings forth God's comfort, which is forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness of sins and comfort come both at the same time and, for this reason, joy is overflowing. The former word of promise, and the new word of fulfillment, doubles what we might ever have imagined true joy to be. The Lord, who comes to rule, is a God who will judge tenderly, not to punish but, to gather. He will be like a shepherd who gathers the sheep to his bosom and carries them home.

Even as we experience this, because of the baptism and ministry of Jesus, there is another side to the story. It is that we, too, like Jesus, have been baptized and so have experienced, like he did, the outpouring of the Spirit. This means that, like Jesus, we, too, have the responsibility of bringing healing and forgiveness to our broken world. This we can do, as the letter to Titus points out, by giving up everything that does not lead to God. This would mean giving up all kinds of selfish and self centered attitudes that make us concentrate only on ourselves. This would mean giving up worldly ambitions which create in us the desire to have more rather than to be more and to accumulate for ourselves, even at the cost and peril of others. This would mean reaching out in loving service, as Jesus has shown us, even if we are inconvenienced or put out. This would mean giving till it hurts, just as Jesus gave, when he gave, not merely gifts and healing, but his very self.

At our Baptism, we receive the kindness and love of God. We receive these gifts, not because of any righteous action on our part or because we merited it, as the letter to Titus reminds us. We receive them because God, in Jesus, is a compassionate, caring, and loving God. The consequence of the Baptism of Jesus was the giving of himself. What will be the consequence of our Baptism?

Friday, 7 January 2022

Saturday, January 8, 2022 - Homily


 Like John, our role is to prepare the way for Jesus and to point out to him through our words and actions.

Saturday, January 8, 2022 - How will you point to Jesus through your words and actions today?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Jn 5:14-21; Jn 3:22-30

This is John’s final appearance in the Gospel of John in which he gives his final witness to Jesus. The reason for the witness is the report of his disciples that Jesus to whom John bore witness was also baptizing and that “everyone” was now going to him. This witness begins with John stating what at first glance might seem like a logical statement, but in its deeper sense means that Jesus has what he has from God. It is a gift from God to Jesus and given to him directly. This is why in his earlier testimony, John had made clear that while he was not the Christ, and he was the one sent ahead of him to prepare the way. Since he was clear about his role in God’s plan of salvation, he had no difficulty with accepting it and living it out. He is but the friend of the bridegroom, who when the bridegroom appears will take his secondary and less important place. The bridegroom is the one who is at the centre of the marriage feast. When it begins the friend must recede into the background.

 

The choice of this text on the last day of the Christmas Season is apt because it defines the roles of each of us who like John are friends of the bridegroom, Jesus. Like John, our role is to prepare the way for him and to point out to him through our words and actions. If we understand this role and if at every moment we realize where our authority ends, we can fulfill this role as we ought to.

Thursday, 6 January 2022

Friday, January 7, 2022 - Homily


 

Will you say that kind word; give that loving touch or that uninhibited hug that can result in someone being healed today?

Friday, January 7, 2022 - Will you say that kind word; give that loving touch or that uninhibited hug that can result in someone being healed today? Are there people you have been treating as lepers? Will you dare to reach out and “touch” them today?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Jn 5:5-13; Lk 5:12-16

In the NT, “leprosy” seems not to be limited to Hansen’s disease but denotes various skin diseases that could produce scales, inflammation, or lesions. The priestly legislation regarding the detection and treatment of leprosy is reported in detail in Leviticus 13–14. The Levitical law required that the afflicted person be examined by a priest. If the priest determined that the person had leprosy, he or she was to be quarantined for seven days. At the end of the week, the priest might extend the quarantine a second week or pronounce the person clean or leprous. The law required that a leprous person wear torn clothing, leave his hair disheveled and live alone or with other lepers. When approached by another person, the leper was to cover his or her upper lip and call out, “Unclean, unclean” (Lev 13:45-46). Leviticus 14 prescribes a detailed ritual for the cleansing of a leper who has been healed from the disease. The leper must be examined by a priest, a ritual involving two birds was performed, and then the cleansed leper would bathe, shave, and wash his or her clothes before returning to the community.

This story of the healing of a leper in Luke is found also in Mark 1:40-45. Luke, however, states that the man was “covered with leprosy” and so heightens the man’s condition. The leper makes a fervent plea to Jesus as is evident when he falls “on his face” and asserts that Jesus can cure him and make him clean. Jesus reaches out and touches the leper which here could be Luke’s way of showing that Jesus could not be defiled by external laws, rules and regulations. It could also mean that while others would shun an unclean person like a leper and run as far away as possible from him, Jesus draws close and even touches the man. The leper is healed instantly. In Luke, the reason for the man to remain silent and to tell no one seems to be in order to get the certification from the priest that he was clean.  Unlike Mark who ends the story by saying that the leper did not obey the command to silence but proclaimed it freely and began to spread the word, Luke does not say anything further about the leper. The text ends with the growing popularity of Jesus and the crowds’ attraction to him. Jesus, however, would always seek solitude and silence and the opportunity to be alone with his father.

 

Though the scriptures explicate on many occasions that there is no connection between sin and illness, many today attribute diseases, illness and misfortune to sin. Sometimes it is not the individual’s sins but the sins of his/her forefathers which they think are being brought on them. Nothing is further from the truth than this warped way of thinking. Most of the sicknesses today are psychosomatic and those which are not are often the result of an unhealthy life style or in the case of the poor malnutrition. Our response to our own illnesses and to those of others has to be the response of Jesus. The first step towards healing is having a positive attitude as both the leper and Jesus show. The leper approaches Jesus with confidence and a positive attitude and Jesus responds with compassion and love. Jesus makes no judgement on the cause of the leper’s illness but does what he has to do to reach out and heal and this is what we are called to do when we see someone in need of healing. Often it is not external medicine but a kind word, a loving touch or an uninhibited hug that can result in healing. This remains the challenge for us today.

Wednesday, 5 January 2022

Thursday, January 5, 2022 - Homily


 How would you define your life’s mission in one sentence?

Thursday, January 6, 2021 - How would you define your life’s mission in one sentence?

To read the texts click on the texts:  1 Jn 4:19-5:4; Lk 4:14-22

This text contains the first public appearance of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. This occurs in a synagogue in which Jesus announces the coming of the kingdom of God and all that it entails by reading from the prophet Isaiah.

The Spirit plays an important role in the Gospel of Luke and so at the beginning of his public ministry Jesus is led by the Spirit and begins teaching in the synagogues and wins the approval of all people.

In the synagogue of Nazareth, Jesus chooses the text from Isa 61:1 and 58:6. He would have read standing up and taught sitting down. While the reading would have been from the Hebrew text, the interpretation/teaching would have been in Aramaic. The Lucan Jesus omits the reference in Isaiah “to bind the brokenhearted” and adds instead from Isa 58:6 “to let the oppressed go free”. He also omits and significantly “and the day of vengeance of our God” found in Isa 61:2. The result of these omissions and addition is that the mission and vision of Jesus becomes a very practical and tangible one and not one that is merely psychological or spiritual. It is an all inclusive mission which has its priority the poor. Jesus’ ministry signaled that the time for the liberation of the impoverished and oppressed had come, and in that respect at least his work would fulfill the ideal and the social concern of the Jubilee year.

Jesus’ first words after the reading are electric. He announces that the centuries of waiting on God’s blessing have ended: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” The words from Isaiah spoke of an anointing by the Spirit, the work of a prophet, and dramatic signs of God’s redemption. The townspeople had heard reports of Jesus’ teaching elsewhere and might reasonably have expected that if he was a prophet endowed by the Spirit of God he would favor his hometown with his mightiest works. Thus they would share in the fame of the prophet from Nazareth so that no longer would anyone be able to say (however wrongly) that there were no prophets from Galilee (John 7:52). In short, they heard Jesus’ declaration of fulfillment as a promise of special favor for his own people and his “hometown”

As confirmation of the crowd’s initial enthusiasm for Jesus’ announcement, Luke reports that they bore witness to him and marveled at the “gracious words” he spoke. Luke is depicting a positive response to Jesus based on the content of Jesus’ proclamation. If the people find him eloquent it is because they are pleased by what he has said.

By placing this text at the beginning of his Gospel Luke makes clear what the Mission of Jesus will be about not only throughout the Gospel, but even after the death and resurrection of Jesus. The summary of the Mission statement of Jesus is that the “good news” of God’s graciousness is preached primarily to the poor. This news is not merely a verbal proclamation but one that includes actions of healing and making whole. Every kind of limitation that a person experiences, whether economic, physical, psychological, or spiritual is addressed by Jesus. Indeed, Jesus addresses not just one aspect of a person’s life but the whole person and the whole life.

Tuesday, 4 January 2022

Wednesday, January 5, 2021 - Homily


 When are rowing against the wind, God comes to us walking on the water and leads us to the shore.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022 - When you are rowing against the wind, do you give in to easily to negative emotions? Will you realize today that Jesus continues to be present in the boat of your life?

 To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Jn 4:11-18; Mk 6:45-52

With the exception of Luke who does not narrate the miracle of walking, the other three evangelists do. In Mark, the story is linked to the previous miracle of feeding the five thousand. Jesus dismisses the crowd and goes to pray. Mark portrays Jesus as praying three times in his Gospel. The first time is in 1:35-38, the second time here and the third time in the garden of Gethsemane (14:32-42). In each of these three occasions the prayer is prompted by something significant that Jesus has to discern about. If in the first instance it is whether he must stay in Capernaum or move to other parts of Galilee, here it is about his role as shepherd to the people and in Gethsemane it is about his fidelity to his Father’s will and his acceptance of the Cross.

Three pointers indicate that this miracle is to be interpreted as a “theophany” (a revelation of God). The first is of Jesus walking on the water. While Mark does not intend to portray Jesus as defying the law of gravity by walking on the water, he does intend to show Jesus as subduing the forces of evil. In the Old Testament only God has the power to walk on the water (Job 9:8; 38:16). The second pointer is in the phrase, “he intended to pass them by” which is a reference most probably to God as the One who passed by Moses (Exod 33:19–23; 34:6) and Elijah (1 Kgs 19:11) in a moment of self revelation.  The third pointer is the manner in which Jesus identifies himself: I am”. This is the name which God gives to Moses in Exod 3:14 when Moses asks for it in order to tell the people with whose authority he would speak. The fact that the disciples are struggling against the wind is an indication that Jesus approaches them to help them in their hour of distress.

The disciples in Mark are unable to understand this theophany and respond not out of faith but fear.

It is not always the case that the tide is with us and we are rowing in the same direction as it. There are times when we are rowing against the wind. It is at times like these when the going is tough, when there seems to be no respite in sight that Jesus comes to us walking on the water and assuring us that he has and is able to conquer all the negative forces that threaten to pull us down. He comes to us in the darkest part of the night when nothing seems clear and visibility is low to assure us of his presence in the boat of our lives. He comes to us with words of comfort and hope: “Courage! I am. Do not be afraid”.

Monday, 3 January 2022

Tuesday, January 4, 2022 - Homily


 

When was the last time you gave without counting the cost? Will you dare to give like this today?

Tuesday, January 4, 2022 - When was the last time you gave without counting the cost? Will you dare to give like this today?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Jn 4:7-10; Mk 6:34-44

The miracle of the feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle that Jesus worked that is found in all four Gospels (Mt 14:13-21; Lk 9:10-17; Jn 6:1-15). While details differ, what is common are the numbers: With five loaves and two fish, five thousand (“besides women and children” in Matthew) are fed and twelve baskets are gathered.

The story in Mark begins by Jesus having compassion on the crowds when he sees them because they seem as sheep without a shepherd. The images of sheep and shepherd evoke many Old Testament references where kings are condemned by prophets for not being shepherds to their people and to the pleas of prophets to God to shepherd his people. Here, Jesus takes on the role of shepherd of the people. Though he begins this role by teaching the people, he does not stop there. Theory is translated into action, words are shown in deeds.

In Mark the disciples are shown in a bad light. Their response to Jesus’ charge to them, “you give them something to eat”, is sarcastic. They stress the impossibility of what Jesus charges them to do and even ridicule that charge. Jesus responds by asking them to do what they are told and when they find out that there are only five loaves and two fish, they are ordered to ask the crowd to sit down in groups. Miraculously these are enough to feed five thousand and also to gather what is left over which signify the abundance of the miracle. Not only do people have enough, they have more than enough.

The primary function of the feeding miracle in this section of the Gospel is to demonstrate that the people now have a true shepherd in Jesus. They need not be hungry anymore. God’s word and bread will be available in abundance because of the presence of Jesus.

While some see the miracle clearly as miraculous and which cannot be explained rationally, others see it as one in which selflessness is at the core. Seeing Jesus share his own meal so freely, others were motivated into sharing what they had so that there was more than required. It is in giving that we receive and more than we ever expected.

Sunday, 2 January 2022

Monday, January 3, 2022 - Homily


 We can be good because God is good to us. We can love because God loves us.

Monday, January 3, 2022 - Is your goodness the result of your being loved or will you be good only to earn rewards? Does your goodness flow naturally from your person or is it added on?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Jn 3:22 – 4:6; Mt 4:12-17, 23-25

The arrest of John the Baptist is the occasion for Jesus to withdraw. However, the withdrawal of Jesus is not one from fear or cowardice, but in keeping with his view of a non-violent kingship. Jesus will not retaliate or react. He remains always the actor, not the reactor.

The reason why Matthew has Jesus settle in Galilee is because of its association with Gentiles as is evident in the fifth formula or fulfilment quotation in Matthew’s Gospel which here is from Isaiah. In Isaiah the context is the reversal which will occur in the latter days, when the spiritual darkness of Galilee will be dispelled by the dawn of the new age when the ideal king appears. In Matthew, the text functions as a fulfilment of that new age. In Jesus all darkness has been removed because the light has come.

While in Mark the first words that Jesus speaks consist of his proclamation, this is not the case in Matthew. Jesus speaks first with John the Baptist and during the temptations responds to Satan. However, the first public words that Jesus speaks in Matthew are found here. They consist of an imperative based on an indicative. The imperative is the call to “Repent”. The reason for this repentance is that the kingdom of heaven is here or has already arrived. The text therefore explicates that no one can do anything or need do anything to bring about the kingdom. No amount of effort on the part of human beings can result in the coming of the kingdom. The reason for this is that it has already come and is given as a free gift to all of humankind. The proper response to the arrival of the kingdom is receiving it with all humility and simplicity and openness and receptivity. A change of mind, heart and vision is what is required to receive the kingdom as a free gift from God. Since the kingdom that Jesus brings is one that has never been experienced before, a narrow mind with a stereotypical way of looking at God and the world will not be able to comprehend it, thus the new mind.

Many of us still think that it is our good deeds which are responsible for our salvation and that if we continue to do good and be good, we will have earned eternal life. This is a warped way of understanding God, Jesus and his message. Our God in Jesus is not a God who is a grocer or one who deals with us as in barter exchange. Salvation can never be earned or bought by our goodness. Rather, our goodness is a consequence of our salvation.

Saturday, 1 January 2022

Sunday, January 2, 2021 - Epiphany


 Our God is bigger than we can ever imagine and is available to the whole world.

Sunday, January 2, 2022 - The Epiphany - How BIG is your CHRIST?

To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 60:1-6; Eph 3:2-3,5-6; Mt 2:1-12

Epiphany (Greek “Epiphaneia” “appearance or manifestation”) has been defined as the manifestation of the divine nature of Jesus to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi. The feast is also sometimes called the twelfth day as it is celebrated on the twelfth day after Christmas.

A story is told of three individuals who professed different religions who were discussing which religions was the right one. They could not come to any agreement and the discussion was turning into an argument. They decided to ask an old man who was sitting near for his opinion. He replied in these words, “Well, you know there are three ways to get from here to the flour mill. You can go right over the hill. That is shorter but it is a steep climb. You can go around the hill on the right side. That is not too far, but the road is rough and full of potholes. Or you can go around the hill on the left side. That is the longest way, but it is also the easiest.” He paused and then added, “But you know when you get there, the mill man doesn’t ask you how you came. All he asks is, ‘Man, how good is your wheat?’”

The choice of the Gospel text of today for the feast of the Epiphany underscores the truth that Jesus is God’s revelation not to a select few, but to the whole world. The magi or wise men or astrologers in Matthew are guided not only by pagan astrology but also by the scriptures. Revelation outside Scripture motivates them to obey the one God; yet, they do not find their way to Jesus without Scripture. This means that God, not the social or political structures of the day, is the source of our light. It teaches that openness and humility are necessary if we wish to read correctly the “signs of the times.” It insists that when we discover the “promised one,” we must be willing to offer him all that we have. The light has come, and we are invited to live in it.  In contrast to the Jewish leaders, the magi act rather than merely hear. The gifts they offer; gold, frankincense and myrrh have taken to be symbolic of the royalty, divinity and the sacrificial death of Jesus, though Matthew does not give such an explanation. Also though Matthew does not mention the number who came to worship Jesus, they have been identified as three because of the three gifts.

What is more important for Matthew, however, is that the magi are Gentiles in the extreme, characters that could not be more remote from the Jews in heritage and worldview. Thus even at the very beginning of Jesus’ life, then, we see the dividing walls between races and cultures breaking down. Even here, at the beginning of the Gospel, the mission to all nations is anticipated.

Paul understood this mission perfectly as is evident in the second reading of today when he announces that the Gentiles are no longer outsiders but "fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel." This is the Gospel that he preaches because he received it directly from God and this is the Gospel of which he is a minister. And that is the paradox that resides deep within Epiphany: we are made, through Christ, to be both those who bring our gifts to offer him and those who receive the gift of God's grace to be ministers and stewards of the Gospel ourselves. As Paul himself notes, this grace was given to him, the "very least of all the saints," so that he might share the "unsearchable riches of Christ" and help all people to know that it is God who creates all things -- not we ourselves.

This universal idea of mission is also spoken of in the first reading of today in which the prophet Isaiah promises a light full of hope. Jerusalem went through destruction and forced migration and is now in desperate need of rebuilding. He proclaims to the exiles that the darkness of despair has been lifted, and a new day of restoration has dawned. At last, the light has come! According to Isaiah, the glory of God will shine through Israel onto the other nations. The whole world will come to join in the new liturgy of the new Temple. The psalm echoes this idea when it speaks of justice flourishing and peace on all humankind. The poor, the needy and the weak will be heard and saved.

Epiphany seeks to remind us that we cannot and must not restrict or put our God in a pigeon hole. He is bigger than we can ever imagine and his mercy and forgiveness are not restricted to only a few but is available to all. Even as it does this the feast also challenges us to be today the star which guided the magi to the Christ child. It invites us to so shine that others who have not yet encountered God in Christ will be motivated to come and encounter him who in his love continues to sustain the world.