Saturday, 28 May 2022

Sunday, May 29, 2022 - The Ascension of the Lord - As a disciple of Jesus, will you continue his mission on earth?

To read the texts click on the texts:Acts1:1-11;Eph 1:17-23; Lk 24:46-53

The ascension of the Lord might be seen, on the one hand, as a feast that celebrates the completion of the Lord’s work on earth.  On the other hand, it might be seen as a feast that celebrates the beginning of the work of the Church. The Lord has done what he was meant to do; he had the courage of his convictions and even went to his death for them. He is now raised and has gone to his rightful place. What matters now is that the Church continues the work that he inaugurated. What matters now is that the Church has the courage of its convictions. What matters now is that the Church be prepared to face all kinds of difficulty and hardship, turmoil and tribulation, and still dare to believe that God will accompany the Church every step of the way just as God accompanied Jesus, even to the Cross.

The work that Jesus inaugurated is summarised in the first verses of today’s Gospel. These verses contain, in a capsule form, the whole purpose of the Incarnation. Jesus came to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins.  He was willing to go to his death because of such a proclamation, but was raised by the Father and now lives with the Father. However, there is more.  The repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be preached by his disciples to all nations. No one is excluded or to be excluded. The message is too good not to be shared. It is too good to be kept exclusively for a select group of people. It is too good not to be communicated to the whole world.

What does repentance and forgiveness of sins entail? How does one repent? How are sins forgiven? Repentance does not mean being sorry.  Rather, it means the willingness to put on a new mind.  It means the willingness to see things, persons, and events in a new way. It means letting go of the past, without regret, and putting on the new with courage, conviction, and confidence. Repentance is not the condition for forgiveness of sins but its consequence. Precisely because our sins are forgiven, we repent. Repentance follows the forgiveness of sins.  The desire to repent is proof that one has accepted the forgiveness that God grants. This is exactly what the disciples do after they receive the commission from Jesus. They “returned” to Jerusalem with great joy even as Jesus was carried into heaven. They had received his blessing and had accepted it; they had received his forgiveness and had shown this in their response.

Their response is shown in the beginning of the first reading of today which recapitulates the last verses of the Gospel. The disciples received the power of forgiveness and were to become witnesses of this power to all nations. Jesus, who had been a witness of this power in his life time, was now taken up to heaven and the responsibility of being witnesses now rested on the shoulders of the disciples. According to these verses, discipleship is defined in terms of an active witness to the risen and ascended Jesus. Jesus’ disciples must show, as he did, that God was indeed forgiveness and love. They must show that the plan and will of God was to reconcile the world to himself in Jesus.

This is the hope to which the Ephesians were called in the second reading and to which each one is called, even today. This hope was made manifest and tangible in what God did in Jesus and in what God will continue to do in those who believe. The end of the reading reinforces the command that Jesus gave to the disciples in the Gospel text of today. Since the Church is the body of Christ, it has to live like his body and not separate from him. In other words, it means that the Church is an extension of Jesus and all that he was, and must be, to the world.

Today, more than two thousand years after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, the mandate, the commission, remains the same. We, as Church, are called to make present Jesus through the words we speak and the actions we perform. We are called to preach that same forgiveness and repentance that Jesus brought from God. We can do this, as the disciples did, by “returning to Jerusalem”. This means a conviction that we have been forgiven, accepted, and loved by God, in Jesus.  We can show this conviction, in a tangible way, by accepting, forgiving, and loving in return. The world will never know or receive this forgiveness if we do not proclaim it and make it known. The body of Jesus is visible today in all who claim to be his disciples. This is to be shown to the world as “proof”, not only of the fact that Jesus is alive, but that in his name, forgiveness is even now being preached. It is significant that the content of the preaching, even after the resurrection of Jesus, is to be forgiveness.  That is why Jesus came into the world; to save people from their sins. This forgiveness can be preached and made real only if we bear witness to it through our lives.

Since God, in Jesus, saves, sends and blesses, the Church must, in continuation of God’s action, do the same.

Friday, 27 May 2022

Saturday, May 28, 2022 - Homily


 When we pray we believe that what we are praying will be received and it will be.

Saturday, May 28, 2022 - Do you remember to add at the end of your prayer the words “not my, but your will be done”?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 18:23-28; Jn16:23-28

The death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus will be the event that will enable the disciples to pray, not only in Jesus’ name, but like he prayed. Through this event, the disciples will enter into a new relationship with Jesus and with God through him. This relationship will be a relationship of love. As God showed his love for the world in sending Jesus, and Jesus showed his love for the world by accepting the cross, so the disciples have shown love for Jesus and God by accepting and believing that Jesus has come from God.

In the last verse of today’s text the entire mission of Jesus is summarized. Jesus has been sent by God and has come from God. After completing the mission entrusted to him, he is returning to where he has come from: God. The story of Jesus, which began with his coming from the Father ends, but also continues with his ascending to the Father.

Prayer in Jesus’ name and praying like Jesus means to believe, before we receive something, that it will be given to us. It is a confidence that God is on our side. We may not always be able to see at first glance how what we receive is for our good, much like the cross that Jesus carried. However, it means that we continue to trust and believe that all will be well because God is always in control of any and every situation.

Thursday, 26 May 2022

Friday, May 27, 2022 - Homily


 We experience sorrow when our expectations are not met

Friday, May 27, 2022 - What causes sorrow in you? Can you be described as primarily a “happy” person? If No, why not?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts18:9-18; Jn 16:20-23

Jesus explains in these verses how the disciple’s sorrow will turn to joy. The metaphor of child birth is used to explain the in-breaking of God’s kingdom. Just as the birth of a child turns the pain of the mother into joy, so the in-breaking of God’s kingdom will turn the disciples’ sorrow into joy. Jesus’ appearance to the disciples after his death will be the cause of their sorrow turning to joy. This joy will not be temporary, but permanent, and no one or event will be able to take it away. This is because the whole of life’s perspective will change and the disciples will become a new people, a new creation. On that day, all the questions of the disciples will cease because nothing will need to be explained. It will be as clear as it needs to be.

Sorrow and joy are common everyday experiences of all humans. Sorrow is caused when things do not go the way we expect them to or when people do not respond in the way we want them to. When our expectations are not met, we feel sad and upset. However, after the resurrection of Jesus and his presence among us in his Spirit, sorrow can never be an enduring experience for a believer. It is always temporary. Joy is permanent. This joy is not caused by the happening or not happening of events, it is not caused by our expectations being fulfilled, but by a realization that, in Jesus, God always wants what is best for us and will never do anything that is not for our good and for his glory. It is a realization that, in Jesus, we are loved unconditionally by a God who is Father and who always wants what is best for his sons and daughters.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Thursday, May 26, 2022 - Homily

We can experience joy even in the midst of pain
 

Thursday, May 26, 2022 - Can you be courageous even when it seems that the whole world is conspiring against you?

 To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 18:1-8; Jn16:16-20

In the first verse of today’s reading, 16:16, the focus is turned back from the Paraclete to the impending departure of Jesus and the response of the disciples to that departure. The first “little while” in this verse refers to the time before his death, which Jesus sees as fast approaching, whereas the second “little while” refers to the events after his death to his resurrection appearances and even beyond. The disciples are not able to understand the meaning of Jesus’ words and keep questioning among themselves what they mean.

Though they have not addressed Jesus with their questions, he is aware of what they are discussing. Yet, he does not answer their question directly, but moves the question to a new direction. A new teaching is introduced by the use of the words, “Amen, amen”. There will be contrasting responses to the death of Jesus. The disciples will weep and mourn, whereas the “world”, which here must be translated as those opposed to the revelation of God in Jesus, will rejoice.  However, this will only be a temporary response. The pain and sorrow of the disciples will soon turn to joy.

It is easy to be happy and believe that God is on our side when things go the way we want. However, when we are faced with obstacles and difficulties, when we do not get the due we think we deserve and, when the road is steep and the going is difficult, then we begin to wonder if God is on our side. The text of today is a call to believe, even in the most difficult circumstances. It is a call to know that there will be joy, even in the midst of pain, and happiness, even in the midst of sorrow. It is a call to have faith and see the risen Jesus, even as he hangs on the cross, and to see in the crosses that we have to carry every day, our own resurrection. 

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Wednesday, May 25, 2022 - Homily


 The Sprit of God makes God present

Wednesday, May 25, 2022 - What contemporary symbol describes Jesus for you? How will you share this symbol with at least one other person today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 17:15,22-18:1;Jn 16:12-15

The Paraclete is mentioned for the last time in the Farewell Discourse in these verses. Jesus has taught the disciples all that they are to know and understand about the present time. There is nothing more about the present that he can say to them. What they need to know about the future will be revealed to them at the appropriate time and when the Spirit that is sent comes. This means that, even when they are faced with the future which is uncertain, God’s presence will be with them. They are not alone. The Paraclete is the “spirit of truth” since he comes from Jesus, who is “the truth” and will guide the disciples into the way of truth, into the way of Jesus. Since the Paraclete will be sent by Jesus, he will only explicate and make clearer what Jesus has already said. He will not give a new teaching but will continue what Jesus has begun. As Jesus taught what he heard from God, so the Paraclete will teach what he hears from Jesus.

He will also declare “the things that are to come” which here means the preparation of the disciples for the time after Jesus. This also indicates that the words of Jesus are not time bound, but available anew for every succeeding generation of disciples. The Paraclete always makes the teachings new and relevant for the times. Just as Jesus made God visible through his words and actions, so the Paraclete will make Jesus present through the inspiration and support he provides to the disciples.

The Paraclete thus makes Jesus present even after his death, resurrection, and ascension to the Father. He is the teacher and witness of all that Jesus has said and done. That is, the Paraclete enables the Christian community, at any time in its life, to reach back to the teachings of Jesus and “remember,” and bring Jesus’ teachings to life afresh with new understanding. However, the Paraclete’s role as teacher is also creative. The Paraclete enables the word of Jesus to move forward from its moment in history to the present life of the church. The Paraclete gives new meanings to the teachings of Jesus as the changing circumstances of faith communities and the world demand.

The Paraclete that Jesus sent two thousand years ago is the same Paraclete that is available to us today. The presence of the Paraclete will be seen and felt when we make the teachings of Jesus relevant and alive today. The idiom, symbols, and language that we use have to be understood by contemporary hearers. All too often, language about Jesus is too pious and even outdated and so, does not touch the lives of many. If we open ourselves to the working of the Paraclete in our lives, we will be able to make Jesus present even now.

Monday, 23 May 2022

Tuesday, May 24, 2022 - Homily


 How will you make God present today?

Tuesday, May 24, 2022 - If people heard you speak and saw your actions today, would they recognize you as a follower of Jesus?

 To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 16:22-34; Jn16:5-11

These verses continue the farewell Discourse which was begun in 14:1. Since Jesus had been physically present to the disciples, he did not need to give them instructions about the time when he would not be with them. However, since that time has now come, they need to be informed about how they are to handle the future without him. They are dismayed and troubled, even though they know that he is going to the Father. They must realize and accept that it is to their advantage that Jesus goes. If he does not go, the Paraclete cannot come. Jesus’ departure, which means his death, resurrection, and ascension, must precede the Paraclete’s coming. When this happens, Jesus will have completed the work given to him by the Father and the Paraclete will continue the work begun by Jesus.

The Paraclete’s work in the world will be to bring people to trial. This, however, is only one of the many functions that the Paraclete performs. It will bring out into the open the true meaning of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and the “world”, which here means those who rejected Jesus, will be held accountable.

The “world’s” sin is exposed because they have not believed in Jesus as the one who was sent from, and by, the Father. This means that the focus is not on one particular act, but on the attitude of rejection. Though the “world” might assume that Jesus’ death is the end, it is mistaken and, in this is righteousness exposed. Jesus’ death is not the end; rather, it is the completion on earth of the work entrusted to him by the Father. It is to be seen in the context of obedience to his Father’s will for him and the world. The final judgment will be that of the “ruler of this world”. By his death, resurrection, and ascension, the devil, the embodiment of all that is opposed to Jesus, will be judged. It will be proved, through this decisive act, that God has triumphed in his Son.

The “world” continues to be opposed to Jesus and to love. However, Jesus continues to be present to the world in his Spirit, made manifest in his disciples. It is the task of the disciples inspired and guided by the Spirit to continue to expose the sin of the world and bring the world to judgment. While this may be done by verbal proclamation, it must also be, like in the case of Jesus, a proclamation that is shown in action.

Sunday, 22 May 2022

Monday, May 23, 2022 - Homily


 Verbal profession must be translated into action

Monday, May 23, 2022 - Will you persevere in love today? When you are repaid with ingratitude for your kindness, will you continue to love?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 16:11-15; Jn15:26-16:4

This is the third promise of the coming of the Paraclete in the Gospel of John. Jesus had made the first promise in 14:16-17, and the second one in 14:26. The Paraclete or Advocate is sent by Jesus and the Father. The Paraclete is sent by Jesus, but is sent from the Father. The Paraclete is sent here to testify or bear witness to Jesus. This means that the teaching of the Paraclete will not be new teaching but a confirmation of what Jesus has already taught and done. Just as the Paraclete bears witness, so must the disciples, since they have seen and heard Jesus from the beginning. The Paraclete will give strength to the disciples in their time of trial so that they will not fall away. The Paraclete will work in and through the disciples. The work of Jesus continues through the Paraclete working in the disciples.

Because of this work of Jesus, the disciples will have to face persecution from those who do not accept them. As a matter of fact, those who engage in such persecution will think they are right and, by so persecuting the disciples, will think they are, in effect, worshipping God. This is because they have not understood the meaning of the incarnation and so, have not been able to recognize God’s unconditional and gratuitous love made manifest in Jesus. Jesus predicts these happenings, to both prepare the disciples in advance for what is to come and also, to warn them about the consequences of following him. Their perseverance and standing firm, even in the midst of persecution, will reveal their love for him and the Father and will be the tangible expression of their faith.

Believing in Jesus is not easy. It is one thing to verbally profess faith in him and another to live out all that he taught and did. It is especially difficult to follow him when things do not go the way we want them to and when things happen contrary to our expectations. When those to whom we are good repay us with goodness, we are not surprised, because we expect them to do just that. However, when those to whom we have reached out in love are ungrateful and sometimes openly hostile to us, we get shocked at their behavior, simply because we did not expect them to react in that way. It is at times like these that we must remember the predictions of Jesus made here. His love for the world, shown in the most tangible manner on the cross, was spurned by most of his contemporaries, yet that same love continues to be made new, even today, two thousand years later. We, too, are called not to fall away but to persevere in love.

Saturday, 21 May 2022

Sunday, May 22, 2022 - Homily


 The Spirit of God is a Spirit of freedom and love

Sunday, May 22, 2022 - Christianity is not a set of rules or commands. There is only one rule or command: The Command to Love

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Rev 21:10-14, 22-23; Jn 14:23-29

A priest was invited to a meal by one of his parishioners during the season of Lent and on a Friday. He sat down at table and was surprised when most of the dishes placed in front of him contained meat. He remarked to the parishioner that they were in the Lenten season and, even more significant, that the day was Friday and meat could not be eaten. The parishioner replied, “Do not worry, father. I sprinkled some holy water on all the meat, baptized it, and called it fish.” Did the meat become fish? Did the priest eat the “meat”? Was he guilty of sin if he did eat? Was the parishioner making a joke of the whole Lenten season? These are questions for which we find responses in the readings of today.

Christianity was never meant to be a religion of rules and regulations. More than once, Jesus encountered people who had made rules and regulations ends in themselves.  And, more than once, indeed often, in his responses to such people, he would ask that the focus be on love rather than on law, that it be on the person rather than on the rule, and that it be on the heart rather than on the body. Yet, it seems that, more and more, we continue to focus on the external rather than the internal.

This is evident in the first reading of today when, a few years after the death and resurrection of Jesus, the first Christian community is debating about what makes a Christian and a disciple of Jesus. Their focus is on the external, on circumcision, on the body. However, even as they debated, they realised that this is not what Jesus had intended at all. The Spirit inspired them to change their focus to the internal, to the heart. This is the same Spirit that Jesus promised the disciples in the Gospel text of today. This Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus and so, will not teach something different from what Jesus taught.  Rather, the Spirit that Jesus sent, and continues to send, will reinforce and confirm all that they have been taught by Jesus. By listening to this Spirit of freedom, they will be empowered to keep the word spoken to them and enable Jesus and the Father to make a home with them. The word spoken to them by Jesus was not a set of rules and regulations.  The word spoken to them was not a list of commandments.  The word spoken to them was not, primarily, a word about the law. It was always, with Jesus, a word of love. This is why the gift that Jesus leaves with the disciples is the gift of peace, which means wholeness and well being. The focus of the gift is the heart.

Since this is so, the Book of Revelation, in the second reading of today, can speak of the apostles as being the foundations of the new Temple and of God and Jesus being the Temple. There are no bricks and no walls that make up the new Temple. It is a Temple which has as its cornerstone, Jesus himself.  This new Temple will not need external light. It will not even need the sun and the moon.  Jesus will be all the light that the Temple needs.

Why is it that, almost from the “foundation” of Christianity, and continuing even today, the Church has focussed on externals and on what constitutes and does not constitute sin? There could be a variety of reasons for this. The core reason, however, seems to be that, like Jesus was misunderstood so often in his lifetime, he was misunderstood also after his death and resurrection. Instead of being content with living out the message of love, the Church became more interested in converting others to Jesus. Instead of showing, in and through the reality of love, what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus, the Church focussed, on merely proclaiming the word.  Instead of concentrating on Jesus and his Spirit, the Church shifted the focus to everything else. We moved our gaze away from the crucified Jesus and risen Christ.

What must we do to bring back this focus? What must we do? Only one response is required: the response of love. As Jesus lived out throughout his life, and in the face of all opposition, the reality of unconditional and absolute love, so we, as Church, are called to do so today. We need not concern ourselves so much with numbers and statistics, but with living out the message that Jesus brought. We need not concern ourselves with external conversions, but must focus more on the conversion of the heart. We need not worry so much about eating or not eating meat and fish and thus, what goes in, but must concentrate instead on what comes out from within. Then, that Temple, which John speaks about in the second reading of today, will become a reality. Then, its light will be the glory of God and the Lamb. Then, the Spirit that Jesus sent, and continues to send even today, will not be stifled and will be free to transform our lives and the lives of those we encounter and so, win them over to love.

Friday, 20 May 2022

Saturday, May 21, 2022 - Homily


 It is better to BE MORE than to have more

Saturday, May 21, 2022 - How often has your comparison with what others have led you to feel jealous of them? Will you realize that you can be the most contented person if you so decide today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 16:1-10; Jn 15:18-21

These verses of the Discourse on the Vine and the Branches focus not on the relationship of Jesus and the disciples, like the earlier verses did, but on the relationship of the disciples with the “world”. Here, the word “world” is used to represent, not the physical world, but those who are opposed to God’s revelation in Jesus.

The challenge of love will be truly encountered when the community faces the “world”. The “world” will hate the disciples because of their relationship with Jesus and because they live out his teachings. If the disciples want the world to love them, they must give up the teachings of Jesus. However, because they have been chosen by Jesus and set apart from the “world”, they too, like Jesus, will have to endure the “world’s” hatred.

The disciples must realize that following and obeying Jesus, as servants obey their masters, will lead to persecution. What has happened with Jesus will be repeated in the disciples’ lives. While the authority of the one sent is the same as the sender, it is also true that the response to the one sent will be the same as the response to the sender. Those who do not accept the word of truth, spoken by God in Jesus, will indulge in persecution. Those who accept the word will respond by living out that word in their lives.  Rejection of the disciples means rejection of Jesus because it is Jesus who sends them.  Rejection of Jesus means rejection of God who sent him.

In a world in which the resonating message is to “have more”, it is not always easy to speak and live Jesus’ message to “be more”. Those who do this are labeled as crazy and out of touch with reality. Possession of things has so possessed us that we do not even realize that, most of the time, it is things that possess us rather than the other way round. We are held by the things we want to possess and they will not let us rest. Often, it begins with a small possession and then goes on to something bigger and soon gets so big that we lose control of ourselves and who we are. Our identity is linked with what we have and what we have achieved. In a situation like this, we need to take stock and decide when enough is enough. We need to ask ourselves whether we will live our lives moving from one possession to the next, often not even having the time or energy to enjoy what we possess.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Friday, May 20, 2022 - Homily


 When we reach out in love we make God present

Friday, May 20, 2022 - Have you received Jesus’ gift of unconditional love? Does this show in your sharing of that love?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 15:22-31; Jn15:12-17

The first verse of today’s reading repeats the love commandment of 13:34, which there, was referred to as a new commandment. This love is expressed in the most perfect of ways in the willingness to go to one’s death for the sake of a friend. The disciples are indeed friends of Jesus, as has been manifested in their keeping his command to love. It is important to note that Jesus is not placing a condition for friendship here (you can be my friends only if…); rather he is stating what and who the disciples are (because you are my friends, you do what I command).

The friendship that the disciples share with Jesus is grounded in love. This means that Jesus keeps back nothing from his disciples and reveals to them all that they need to know. His primary revelation to them has been of God as a loving and compassionate Father.

It is Jesus who has taken the initiative in calling and choosing the disciples and this fact reinforces the idea of grace. It is not one’s effort that can earn discipleship but the grace of God which, when received, results in one living out the call to discipleship. The living out of the call is not merely a once for all act, but something that is done constantly and with perseverance. This will ensure that the effects of their love are abiding and lasting. The last verse of today, with its reminder to “love one another”, forms an inclusion with the first.

The relationship that we share with God because of Jesus is one of sons and daughters. We are Jesus’ brothers and sisters, even friends. This is because he has given us everything in all its fullness. He held nothing back, not even his own self. The manifestation of this self giving, which began with the incarnation, was completed and continued on the cross, and through his resurrection and ascension. He continues to give, even today. However, the giving is only one side of the story. Without a receiver, the gift has no value. This is why, while the grace of God given as a gift in Jesus is first, our reception of that gift is as important if the act of giving is to be completed. We show that we have received this gift when we, like Jesus, also dare to reach out in love. When we speak an enhancing word, perform a loving action, behave a little less selfishly, and a little more selflessly, then the gift is given and received, again and again.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Thursday, May 19, 2022 - Homily


 In love there is no "I"

Thursday, May 19, 2022 - In love there is no "I"

To Read the texts click on the texts: Acts 15:7-21; Jn15:9-11 

The love which the Father has for Jesus is the same love that Jesus has expressed and shown for his disciples. It is a love that is unconditional, a love without end. It is not merely a verbal expression, or an emotion, but a love that is shown tangibly and in every action that Jesus performs. The disciples have to act in the same manner as Jesus in order to make this love visible. There is only one commandment and that is the commandment to love. If the disciples keep this commandment, it will result in their being like Jesus, their master, who before them, revealed God’s love for the world.

Keeping the commandment of Jesus is thus not a chore or burden but done willingly because one has experienced this love first. The outcome of this sharing and manifestation of love is unbounded joy.

The word “love” has been a word that is used so often that it has been abused. We speak of our love for the good things of life, and of our love for the members of our family, and of our love for God in the same breath. “I love mixed vegetables” we might tell our spouse and, in the next breath, say “I love you”. Love is not primarily an emotion; it is not even a feeling, but reality. As a matter of fact, the only reality is love. Fear, which is regarded as the opposite of love, is not real, it is only an illusion. If there is fear, there cannot be love, and where there is love, there is no fear (1 Jn 4:18). While Paul gives a beautiful definition of love in 1 Cor 13:1-9, my own definition of love is simple, but not simplistic. “In love, there is no “I””.

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Wednesday, May 18, 2022 - Homily


 I am my brother's and sister's keeper

Wednesday, May 18, 2022 - Do I consider myself as part of the vine or do I regard myself as an individual branch? How will I show that I am part of the vine?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 15:1-6; Jn 15:1-8

 John 15:1-17 are the verses for today and the next two days. These verses contain the final “I am” sayings in the Gospel (vv. 1, 5) and introduce the central metaphor of this unit: the vine and its branches. Jesus uses, in the first verse of Chapter 15, a common symbol of the world at that time: Vine. While in 15:1, the relationship with Jesus and the Father is stressed, in 15:5, when the metaphor is used again, Jesus does so in the context of his relationship with his disciples. Thus, the focus of the metaphor is interrelationship. If God is the vine dresser, Jesus is the vine and the disciples are the branches. All three are required for the production of fruit.

God, as the vine dresser, is the origin or source and, because Jesus comes from the Father, he is the true vine. God acts in his capacity as vine dresser and does what is best for the vine. Those branches that do bear fruit are pruned and those that do not, are cut away. This means that those of the community who express their union with Jesus by acting it out in works of love are pruned, whereas those who do not show their faith in action are cut off. The disciples have been given an insight into how they must remain in the vine, through the words that Jesus has spoken to them and through the loving actions that he performed, symbolized in the washing of the feet. They must learn from these actions and realize that, without abiding or remaining in Jesus, they can do nothing. Their own power or effort will never be sufficient for the works they have to perform. These can only be done if accompanied by the grace that Jesus gives.

“I am the vine, you are the branches” in 15:5 is not a repetition of what was said earlier. Rather it stresses the relationship of the community with Jesus. Without the vine, the branches are nothing. Mutual indwelling will result in bearing fruit. If a branch decides that it wants to live apart from the vine, it is in effect asking for death. Life apart from the vine is not possible for any branch.

Mutual indwelling is not merely with a single branch and the vine but with all the branches in the vine with one another. This unity of the branches among themselves will result in fruit bearing. This unity will also be a witness for the world and the glorification of the vine dresser: God. When people see the works of the disciples, it will lead them to glorify the Father.

All too often Christianity has been understood as a religion that has only the individual dimension. The communitarian dimension has been neglected. This is seen in so many of the Sacraments (which are both individual and communitarian) being treated and regarded as private devotions. The approach of many Christians has often been: My God and I. This approach is to misunderstand Christianity and all that Jesus stood for. The metaphor of today makes explicit that mutual indwelling is at the heart of the preaching of Jesus, and that Christianity, while it surely has an individual dimension, just as surely has a communitarian dimension. I am, as a Christian my brother’s and sister’s keeper. Their joys and sorrow, their trials and tribulations, their successes and failures, have to be as real to me as my own if I am to be a Christian in the true sense of the word. The Christian does make an individual commitment and choice to follow Jesus but he/she makes it in and through a community.

Monday, 16 May 2022

Tuesday, May 17, 2022 - Homily


 God is Emmanu el which means God is with us

Tuesday, May 17, 2022 - When adversity knocks at your door do you open with dread and fear or faith, hope and courage?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 14:19-28; Jn14:27-31 

A new promise is given to the disciples. This is first occurrence of “peace” in the Gospel of John. Peace here does not mean simply a wish, but must be seen as a legacy or bequest that Jesus leaves behind for the disciples. This peace that Jesus gives is not merely a sense of security, not merely the end of conflict and strife, but it embraces every aspect of a person’s life. This peace makes the weak strong and the fainthearted brave. It is a wholeness which makes one courageous to face all the trials and tribulations of life without getting overwhelmed. It is a peace which gives them the strength to face every kind of adversity with equanimity and faith.

Even as he offers this gift to them, Jesus reminds them of his departure because this is what God wills and it must come to pass. It is a reality that cannot be avoided and the peace given to them must make them able to accept it. The disciples must accept this reality, not out of resignation but, with an active joy. The reason for this joy is that Jesus goes to the Father after having completed the work given to him. It is the Father who has sent Jesus and given him the work to do - the work of making the Father known to the world - and now, after completing it thoroughly, Jesus goes back to where he has come from.

The foretelling of the events is Jesus’ way of preparing the disciples for what is to come and also to reveal to them that Jesus continues to go to his departure willingly and knowingly. It is not as if some unseen hand or “fate” is responsible for what is to come. Since what will happen fits in with God’s plan for Jesus and the world, Satan is never in control. He cannot have any power over Jesus. Jesus does what he does willingly and in obedience to the will of the Father.

The event of the death of a loved one sometimes shatters our world. We find it difficult to cope with the loss and wonder if the God we believe in really is a God of unconditional love. Does our God really care what happens to us? If he does, then why did he let this misfortune befall us? Where is he when we need him most? Why does he not answer? The answers to these questions are provided by Jesus in the Gospel text of today.  He tells his disciples, and us, to rejoice at such happenings because they fit in with God’s plan for us and the world. We may not be able to see this plan at first glance, like the disciples were not able to see it when Jesus spoke it to them, but we also know that Jesus’ words are true because of his resurrection and ascension and because of the transformation in the lives of his disciples because of these events. We have to continue to dare to believe.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Monday, May 16, 2022 - Homily


 To keep the words of Jesus means to live them out

Monday, May 16, 2022 - Do Jesus and the Father dwell in you? How will you show this through your actions today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 14:5-18; Jn14:21-26

To be a true disciple of Jesus, it is not enough to make a verbal proclamation of faith in him. One is also required to keep his commandments. It is important to note here that one does not earn Jesus’ love by keeping his command to love.  It is because one has already experienced that love that one wants to love and obey in return.

Judas (not Iscariot) does not appear in any of the Synoptic Gospels. He is the one who misunderstands here and asks a question about the revelation that Jesus is to make, not realizing that the revelation has been made already. If the disciples want to continue to experience the love that Jesus has made manifest to the world, they must continue to love one another. It is in the love of one another that they will experience the love of God and Jesus. This will result in a mutual indwelling. Just as Jesus dwells in the Father and the Father in him, so Jesus and the Father will live in the disciples and the disciples in them. This abiding presence of God and Jesus within the disciples as a community is both the foundation and the result of love expressed in deeds. Where there is no love shown, Jesus and the Father cannot be made present.

Though Jesus has made explicit what the disciples are to do if they are to make him present, it is possible that they may not have grasped all the implications of the command. The Paraclete or Advocate, only here in John identified with the Holy Spirit, will “remind” them of Jesus’ teachings. This clearly indicates that the Holy Spirit will not give new or different teaching, but only reinforce all that Jesus has already taught. The Spirit will be sent in Jesus’ name and so, like Jesus was the exegesis of the Father, the Spirit will be the exegesis of Jesus.

To keep the words of Jesus means to live them out in action. The ones who do that have already experienced the indwelling of God and Jesus in them. This indwelling will strengthen them and enable them to live out the word more fully each day. This is not a linear but cyclic process. More living out means more indwelling and more indwelling means more living out.

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Sunday, May 15, 2022 - Homily


 Who are you that you do these things and that you do them in this way?

Sunday, May 15, 2022 - The Fifth Sunday of Easter - The fire that kindles other fires

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts14:21b-27; Rev21:1-5a; Jn 13:31-33a; 34-35

The 35th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus was held at the beginning of the year 2008. In Decree 2 titled “The Fire that Kindles Other Fires,” a line reads thus: “Our lives must provoke the questions, “Who are you that you do these things…. and that you do them in this way”? Through this the members of the Society of Jesus are exhorted to “manifest especially in the ceaseless world of noise and stimulation – a strong sense of the sacred inseparably joined to involvement in the world.” These words can well be used as a summary of the challenge of the Gospel text of today.

The background to the verses of the Gospel text is the episode in which Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. It is a gesture that is not merely symbolic, or a lesson in humility, but a prophetic gesture. Jesus is showing through this prophetic act not what his disciples are expected to do but what they are expected to be. Jesus wanted their actions to stem from their being. Today’s verses begin after Judas has gone out. He has decided not to be what Jesus expects him to be. He has decided to opt out. It is in this context and even in the midst of impending betrayal and deceitfulness that Jesus gives a new command. To be sure the command per se is not new. It forms part of the Torah in the Old Testament. What is new about it is that the commandment to love has its roots in the incarnation. God’s love for the world was so great that God could only send the Son as a perfect manifestation of that love. The second reading from the book of Revelation confirms this when it affirms that because of the incarnation, the dwelling of God is on earth and among mortals. God dwells with humans and manifests his love to them in wiping away their tears, and taking away their crying, mourning and pain. The disciples are asked to enter into that same love. They will show that they have entered into this love by keeping this command of love. It is a sure and tangible sign of the disciples abiding in Jesus. This love will also be a sign to the world of who the disciples are and why they do what they do.

The first Christian community continued to give this sign because of which many who experienced it were drawn to their way of life. The first reading of today narrates how Paul and his companions were able to transform the lives of many not merely because of their preaching the Word, but because they lived out the Word they preached. They were unafraid to continue to love even in the midst of persecution and rejection. What mattered to them was that love be proclaimed. What mattered to them was that the love that God had made incarnate in Christ be made known to all. What mattered was that no matter how arduous the road ahead or how terrifying the terrain, they would continue to persevere and love. They were thus instrumental in giving a glimpse to those who encountered them of the new heaven and new earth that the second reading of today speaks of. The first heaven and earth which was a heaven and earth that had not had the privilege of witnessing and experiencing the incarnation was no more. It had passed away because of the coming of Christ and his gift on unconditional love. The new heaven and new earth that the first Christian community experienced in Christ and wanted to share with others. It was a situation in which there would be no sea and therefore no negatives because all that was negative would fade with the coming of the positive of unrestricted and unreserved love.

Today more than two thousand years after the inauguration of that new heaven and new earth, the challenge remains. The Christian community of today has to waken to this challenge and call to give a glimpse of what was through the coming of Christ and so what can be. It will do this when individual members of the new community take on the responsibility of becoming Christ to those who do not know him or have not yet encountered him. It will do this when the community as a whole is united in that love which Christ brought with his coming. It will do this when those who encounter Christians today ask, “Who are you that you do these things… and that you do them in this way?”

Saturday, May 14, 2022 - This Eucharist was celebrated on June 14, 2020.


 My mum was named GRACE and was always GRACEFUL. She was called by God to her eternal reward on May 14, 2020 and in now our intercessor in heaven.

Friday, 13 May 2022

Saturday, May 14, 2022 - St. Matthias - Homily


 Keeping the commandment of Jesus is not a chore but done willingly and generously

Saturday, May 14, 2022 - St. Matthias, Apostle - Jesus revealed the Father as love. How will you reveal Jesus today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts1:15-17,20-26; Jn 15:9-17

There is no mention of a Matthias among the lists of disciples or followers of Jesus in the three synoptic gospels, but according to the first reading chosen for the feast of St. Matthias, he had been with Jesus from his baptism by John until his Ascension. In the days following, Peter proposed that the assembled disciples, who numbered about one hundred and twenty, nominate two men to replace Judas. After they had cast lots, the lot fell to Matthias; so he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Though no further information is available about Matthias in the New Testament, he is identified with Zacchaeus and also with Nathanael.

The Gospel text is from the Gospel of John and is part of the Discourse on the Vine and the Branches and focusses on Jesus’ gift of love given to him by his Father.

This love which the Father has for Jesus is the same love that Jesus has expressed and shown for his disciples. It is a love that is unconditional, a love without end. It is not merely a verbal expression, or an emotion, but a love that is shown tangibly and in every action that Jesus performs. The disciples have to act in the same manner as Jesus in order to make this love visible. There is only one commandment and that is the commandment to love. If the disciples keep this commandment, it will result in their being like Jesus, their master, who before them, revealed God’s love for the world.

This love is expressed in the most perfect of ways in the willingness to go to one’s death for the sake of a friend. The disciples are indeed friends of Jesus, as has been manifested in their keeping his command to love. It is important to note that Jesus is not placing a condition for friendship here (you can be my friends only if…); rather he is stating what and who the disciples are (because you are my friends, you do what I command).

The friendship that the disciples share with Jesus is grounded in love. This means that Jesus keeps back nothing from his disciples and reveals to them all that they need to know. His primary revelation to them has been of God as a loving and compassionate Father.

It is Jesus who has taken the initiative in calling and choosing the disciples and this fact reinforces the idea of grace. It is not one’s effort that can earn discipleship but the grace of God which, when received, results in one living out the call to discipleship. The living out of the call is not merely a once for all act, but something that is done constantly and with perseverance. This will ensure that the effects of their love are abiding and lasting. The last verse of today, with its reminder to “love one another”, forms an inclusion with the first.

The relationship that we share with God because of Jesus is one of sons and daughters. We are Jesus’ brothers and sisters, even friends. This is because he has given us everything in all its fullness. He held nothing back, not even his own self. The manifestation of this self-giving, which began with the incarnation, was completed and continued on the cross, and through his resurrection and ascension. He continues to give, even today.

However, the giving is only one side of the story. Without a receiver, the gift has no value. This is why, while the grace of God given as a gift in Jesus is first, our reception of that gift is as important if the act of giving is to be completed. We show that we have received this gift when we, like Jesus, also dare to reach out in love. When we speak an enhancing word, perform a loving action, behave a little less selfishly, and a little more selflessly, then the gift is given and received, again and again.

Keeping the commandment of Jesus is thus not a chore or burden but done willingly because one has experienced this love first. The outcome of this sharing and manifestation of love is unbounded joy.

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Friday, May 13, 2022 - Homily


 God is made present when we love.

Friday, May 13, 2022 - Have you, by your narrow mindedness, prevented others from encountering Jesus? Will you realize that he is bigger than anything that you can ever imagine?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 13:26-33; Jn14:1-6

Today’s Gospel reading contains the first of the teachings of Jesus that speak about his departure and what it means for his disciples.  At the beginning of these teachings, Jesus commands his disciples to stand firm. They are not to let the event of his departure overwhelm them. They are not to give in to despair, give up, or lose hope. They must continue to trust and believe. Even though it might seem, on the surface level, that evil is winning, the disciples must realize that God is always in charge and in control of all situations.  They must place their trust in God and in Jesus. Since Jesus shares an intimate relationship with the Father, and since the disciples can do so too, there will be as many rooms as there are believers. God and Jesus will exclude no one who wants to share this relationship with them. Jesus goes, but only to return and so, his going is not permanent. It is a temporary act that must be done and completed. This going and returning will be evidence of his power over everything, including death. Nothing and no one will ever be able to separate the disciples from the love that Jesus has for them. The purpose of Jesus’ returning is to take the disciples to the place where he is: the bosom of the Father. Even as Jesus points to himself as the one who reveals the Father, Thomas misunderstands and asks a question. He interprets the words “where I am going” only as a physical destination and so, protests that, since he does not know the final destination of Jesus, it is not possible to know how to get there. Jesus corrects this misunderstanding with an “I am” saying. “The Way” is not a geographical term or physical road, it is Jesus himself. Thus, to know Jesus is to know the way and, to know the way is to know Jesus. In his being “the Way” Jesus is also “Truth” and “Life”. Jesus is the “Truth’ because he has been sent by God to make God’s word known. He became “flesh” and anyone who recognizes this and listens to his voice, is of the truth. Recognition of the truth in Jesus leads to “life” in abundance. Since the fullness of God’s life was revealed in Jesus, one can only partake of this life through Jesus.

It is important not to be too fundamental in interpreting the last verse of today’s reading. All too often, insistence on the exclusiveness of the Christian way has been responsible for problems in various parts of the world. The Gospels all agree that the approach of Jesus was all inclusive and excluded no one who would want to come to the truth. There is no doubt that Jesus revealed the Father in the most unique of ways, as no one before had ever done. This is because, in the incarnation, God took on “flesh” in all its weaknesses and limitations. Jesus did not simply put on human nature but became like us in every single way and thus, can understand every aspect of our lives. However, by the fact of the incarnation, Jesus also gave us an insight into who God is and who we are called to be. He made us aware of our own limitlessness. Though he limited himself, we must realize that Jesus is much bigger than the narrow image of him we often have. This narrow image is responsible for our restricting him and making him as small as we are.

John was writing about his community’s experience of seeing God in Jesus incarnate and was not concerned with showing the superiority of this revelation over any other or with the fate of believers of other religions. We must keep this in mind when interpreting the last verse of today’s text. We must, however, rejoice because we are privileged to receive such a unique revelation of God in Jesus Christ.

When one brackets out the questions that contemporary Christians falsely import into these verses, there is nothing outrageous or offensive about the claims made here. Rather, at the heart of Christianity is this affirmation of the decisive revelation of God in the incarnation. John 14:6 can thus be read as the core claim of Christian identity; what distinguishes Christians from peoples of other faiths is the conviction given expression in John 14:6. It is, indeed, through Jesus that Christians have access to their God.

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Thursday, May 12, 2022 - How do you show that you are part of community?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 13:13-25; Jn13:16-20

These verses contain the second part of the discourse spoken by Jesus after he washes the feet of his disciples. In the first part (13:12-15), Jesus teaches his disciples about the meaning of his washing their feet, and the implications that this action has for their lives as his disciples.

In the second part of this discourse (13:16-20), Jesus teaches about discipleship in general and the relationship that the disciples share with him. The double Amen at 13:16, and at 13:20, forms an inclusion and so brackets and highlights what Jesus says in between. The disciples must remember that their role, in their relationship with Jesus, is that of servants to their master. If they understand this and act on it, then they will be blessed. They must, at every stage, know where their authority ends. The sayings which are highlighted by the inclusion are in 13:18-19 and contain a prediction of betrayal. Jesus is aware of who the betrayer is and also knows that it is not an outsider, but one who has eaten at table with him. Ps 41:9 is quoted here to accentuate the intimacy of the betrayal. The betrayer is someone whose feet he has washed, one with whom he has broken bread and one whom Jesus has loved to the very end. This foreknowledge of the betrayer also means that Jesus is in control of the events that lead to his death and is not taken by surprise. Another reason for informing his disciples about his betrayal, in advance, is so that they may realize who Jesus is: Son of God. Even as he is betrayed, he will reveal himself as God for us.

Since Jesus has been sent by God, he has God’s stamp and authority. The disciples, who are in turn sent by Jesus, have the authority and stamp of Jesus. Thus, if anyone accepts the disciples, they are in effect accepting Jesus. Just as Jesus shares fully in God’s work, so the disciples share fully in Jesus’ work of giving life to all and giving it in abundance.

Jesus’ act toward us, in love, manifested symbolically in the washing of the feet and sharing of bread, presents every one who sits at his table with a choice: One can embrace Jesus’ gift to us and embody one’s embrace of that gift through one’s own acts of love or, one can turn one’s back on Jesus’ gift of love. This means that merely sitting at Jesus’ table, and even eating the bread that he gives, is not the full story. It has to be continued in the giving of self to others and is only completed when this is done. We then enter into community with Jesus and with one another.

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Wednesday, May 11, 2022 - Homily


 The commitment we make FOR God must be shown in action

Wednesday, May 11, 2022 - Have you decided “for” or “against” Jesus? How will you show the choice that you have made?

 To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 12:24-13:5; Jn12:44-50

Today’s Gospel reading contains the last public discourse of Jesus in the Gospel of John. It serves as the epilogue to, and summarizes the main themes of Jesus’ public ministry. The words are a proclamation, as indicated by the words “cried out” in 12:44, which begin the discourse. Jesus has been sent as the revelation of God and, though no one has ever seen God, the one who sees Jesus, sees God. Jesus makes God known in a way never known before. He is the unique revelation of the Father as Father since he is Son. His reason for coming into the world was not to hide but to reveal and hence, he came as light. All are invited to come to this light so as not to stay in darkness any longer. Since the invitation that Jesus gives is free, one is not compelled to accept it. Every individual is free to make his/her choice. There is no coercion or force or any kind of pressure to accept. One will not be judged, even if one rejects the invitation, since the prime purpose of Jesus’ coming into the world is not to judge, but to save.  Though this is true, the ones who do not accept the true word spoken in Jesus will have to accept responsibility for the choice that he/she makes.  Jesus keeps revealing all that the Father has asked him to reveal.

These verses are a call to decision and commitment. One has to decide for or against, one has to make a choice. If one does not make a choice “for”, one is, in effect, making a choice “against” because with Jesus, there is no middle way. 

Monday, 9 May 2022

Tuesday, May 10, 2022 - Homily


 Our God leads us to places of abundance

Tuesday, May 10, 2020 - Do you believe that God always wants what is best for you? How will you respond if things do not go the way you wish them to go today?

 To read the texts click on the texts: Acts, 11:19-26; Jn 10:22-30

The verses that begin today’s reading inform us that Jesus is in Jerusalem at the Feast of Dedication which was celebrated in December each year. This feast is the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. It celebrated the liberation of Jerusalem from the reign of the Syrian (Seleucid) king Antiochus Epiphanes. Antiochus had defiled the Jerusalem Temple in 167 BCE by building an altar to his own gods within the Temple sanctuary.  In 165 BCE, Judas Maccabeus and his brothers regained control of the Temple and rededicated it to the God of Israel. The eight-day feast took place in the month December and was marked by the lighting of lamps and rejoicing.

The Jewish religious authorities begin the dialogue by asking Jesus whether he is the Messiah. They are annoyed that Jesus is not being explicit. This is the only place in the Gospel of John where Jesus is asked explicitly whether he is the Messiah. Jesus responds that he has been explicit and that he has told them, in no uncertain terms, the truth about himself and yet, they do not believe. Jesus then points to his ‘works” as indicators of this claim. “Works” here does not refer to miracles alone, but to the broader scope of Jesus’ ministry and includes the revelation of himself as having been sent by God.

Belief in Jesus determines whether one belongs to the fold of Jesus. Since the Jewish leaders do not believe, they cannot and do not belong to the fold. Those who belong to the fold hear the voice of the Shepherd and follow trustingly. Following Jesus leads to eternal life which he alone can give. The reason why Jesus can do this is because he has received this gift directly from the Father. What is more is that Jesus and the Father are one. This means that Jesus and God are united in their work of salvation and Jesus shares completely in God’s work.

We are privileged, as Christians, to have as our God one who is Good Shepherd, one whose primary interest and concern is to care for the good of the sheep. Our God is a God who wants to lead us to safety and to places where there is abundance. He wants what is best for us at all times and will do anything to protect us from any kind of harm. Though this is the case, we do not always listen to his voice and we prefer to go our own way. The only result that we can expect, after such a choice, is destruction and death.

Sunday, 8 May 2022

Monday, may 9, 2022 - Homily


 

Monday, May 9, 2022 - What is the shepherd calling you to do today? Will you listen to his voice?

 To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 11:1-18; Jn 10:1-10

These verses contain part of the Discourse on Jesus, the Good Shepherd. This Discourse appears in the Gospel of John after Jesus has healed a blind man on the Sabbath, because of which, the Jews are upset (9:1-41). It is the last full discourse of the public ministry of Jesus. The Farewell Discourse from 14:1-16:33 is exclusively given to the disciples and not to the public. 

The focus in the first part of the Discourse (10:1-5) is on the shepherd and his relation to the flock. A contrast is made between the authorized shepherd and the bandit. The authorized shepherd enters by the gate, but the bandit climbs in another way. The reason for this is because the gate keeper opens the gate for the authorized shepherd but not for the bandit. Since he is the authorized shepherd, the sheep hear and recognize his voice. When he calls, they answer. There is an intimate bond between the shepherd and his sheep. They recognize and know each other. The shepherd walks ahead of the sheep and leads them out. The sheep are confident in his leadership and thus, follow him trustingly. They will not follow a stranger but will rather run away from him. The comment of the evangelist serves two purposes. The first is that the reader must understand that Jesus is using a “figure of speech” and thus, not take the metaphor literally. The reader must realize that many meanings are possible and therefore, must go below the surface, to the deeper meaning. The second point is that the listeners did not understand this figure of speech. If seen in the context of the miracle, and the healing of the blind man on the Sabbath, and the Pharisees objection because the healing took place on the Sabbath, then it seems clear that the authorized shepherd is Jesus and the bandits are the objectors.  Jesus has the good of the sheep at heart and the bandits do not.

In the second part (10:7-16), while pastoral imagery is still used, the Discourse moves in a new direction. Jesus is also the “Gate” for the sheep. The gate has two functions: one is to give access to those who are legitimate and have a right to enter, and the other is to prevent those whose intention is to cause destruction. Rightful entry into the fold is only through Jesus, who is the gate.

The text of today concludes with one of the most beautiful and comprehensive statements of the mission of Jesus. Jesus is the Good Shepherd and Gate. He has come to give life and give it to the full. All who listen to his voice will receive this life in abundance.

As the gate, Jesus is the way to life, but he is not merely that.  He also leads the way and so, is the Good Shepherd. Jesus is the way to life because he is himself life and he leads the way to life because he lays down his own life. These are non-transferable attributes; they derive from the heart of Jesus’ identity as one sent by God.

Saturday, 7 May 2022

Sunday, May 8, 2022 - Homily


 

Sunday, May 8, 2022 - The Fourth Sunday of Easter - Will you be an instrument of God's unconditional love?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts13:14,43-52; Rev 7:9,14b-17; Jn 10:27-30

All three readings of today centre on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. If, in the first reading, Paul includes Gentiles as those who are also called to be disciples, in the Gospel text, Jesus speaks of disciples as those who listen to the voice of the shepherd. The second reading speaks of showing in action rather than in words that one is a disciple.

The final verse of the Gospel text of today, “The Father and I are one,” summarizes beautifully what discipleship means. It explicates and explains the relationship of Jesus and God as well as the relationship of disciples with Jesus.  The oneness, which Jesus shares with God, is acted out in the whole Gospel. He speaks God’s words, he does God’s deeds and he makes God known, as no other has ever done before. Jesus is thus the manifestation of God’s unconditional love for the world. God sent Jesus and gave him to the world to show, on the one hand, that God would hold nothing back from the world and to show on the other that it was possible for every human being who encountered Jesus in any way to share in such a relationship with God because of Jesus. In Jesus, the world was able to witness who God is and what God is like. Disciples of Jesus who walk the same path can also reveal Jesus and so God.

This revelation of Jesus is what Paul invites the people in the Synagogue to. However, here, like in the case of Jesus’ voice, there is no coercion, pressure or force from without. The response has to be free. Like the sheep of Jesus hear his voice and follow him the people in the synagogue must decide if they are willing to follow. Since those to whom the voice was first addressed reject the Shepherd, others are invited to follow. Thus it is not primarily external identification marks that will determine a disciple of Jesus, rather one who shows in action that he/she wants to follow.

This action is narrated in the second reading of today, which speaks of those who dared to follow unconditionally and had to pay the price of such following. These are people from every nation, tribe and language, which is a clear indication that discipleship is not exclusive nor determined by one’s background, but by having the courage to follow even in the midst of all odds. These are the ones who have undergone all kinds of persecution and maltreatment and have persevered. They have shown not in words, but in action, what it means to follow and be a disciple of Jesus. They have behaved as obedient sheep of the Good shepherd.

Thus, discipleship as brought out in the readings of today is not merely a matter of saying, “Lord, Lord.” It concerns living out such a confession. To live out such a confession means to live as Jesus did and to manifest God as he did. The unique way in which Jesus revealed God is as unconditional forgiveness and love. This is why God is not a God who needs merely external worship and praise but a God who looks at the internal at the heart. This is because it is God who loves first. God does not need one to do anything to gain the love, because it is a love that is given gratis. One cannot acquire such a love or ever be worthy of it. One cannot earn such a love or merit it. However, one can show that this love given freely has been received and accepted only if one shares that love with everyone.

The sharing of such love was what the incarnation, mission, life, death and resurrection of Jesus was all about. God realised that the best way to show this love was through becoming an integral part of creation. In Jesus, this love reached the highest point and was manifested as pure, unadulterated love. It was a love that was shown when things were going well, but it was also a love that was revealed on and from the Cross. The multitude from every nation, tribe and language that followed the lamb realised this and that is why they, too, were able to go through the great ordeal and withstand all kinds of persecution. Thus, like Jesus, they too revealed God and thus, like Jesus, they too were able to see the face of God and stand before God.

The world today is hungering for such a love. There is too much hate, indifference, apathy and coldness. There is too much selfishness and self-centredness. Those of us who profess to be disciples of Jesus are challenged through the readings of today to bring about the change that is needed. We have to dare like Jesus and the first Christian community to first open our hearts to receive the unconditional forgiveness and love that God keeps pouring and to share that love with all. In this we, too, make no distinction between nation, race, tribe and language. In this we do not discriminate between them and us, for all are invited to partake of this gracious love of God made manifest and revealed in Jesus.

 

Friday, 6 May 2022

Saturday, May 7, 2022 - Homily


 Change is not easy. We want others to change but we refuse to change.

Saturday, May 7, 2022 - Will you opt for Jesus today? How will you show this in your actions?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 9:31-42; Jn6:60-69

The text of today begins with the disciples grumbling after hearing what Jesus has said. The sayings are too difficult for them to accept. Jesus responds to their grumbling by issuing a challenge to them. If this affects them, they will be even more affected when they experience the death, resurrection, and ascension of the Son of Man. Jesus takes the disciples beyond the specific event of becoming and giving bread.  He takes them to the whole of the Christ event and its mystery.  Jesus, as Bread of Life, must be seen in the larger context of God’s plan of salvation through his Son.

The flesh, as flesh, and without the Spirit, is nothing. It cannot give live, nor does it have life. It is the Spirit that gives life and makes the flesh what it is. This means that simply eating the flesh of Jesus, without the right disposition, will not lead to life. Thus, those who eat and drink are not merely eating Jesus’ flesh and blood but the Spirit filled flesh and blood of Jesus. Even as Jesus offers the gift of life, through becoming bread, the gift is rejected because most prefer death. There are still those who will not believe. They have made their choice. God offers the gift of his Son to all, but not all will accept him. This is why many disciples drew back and no longer went with Jesus. This rejection leads Jesus to turn to the Twelve and ask them about their stand. They must choose whether they will accept or reject the offer of life that God makes in Jesus.

Simon Peter responds on behalf of the Twelve and at least verbally accepts that offer of life. He acknowledges that Jesus has the words of eternal life and that he is the Holy One of God, the one set aside by God.

Life always offers us choices. The choices that we are sometimes faced with might not always be what we desire, but the fact remains that we are free to choose. We can choose to be miserable or to be happy, we can choose to fear or to love, and we can choose to say No or to say Yes. Every choice that we make has its own consequences and we must be prepared to face them since it is we who have made the choice.