Friday 30 September 2022

Saturday, October 1, 2022 - St. Therese of the Child Jesus - Homily


Though St. Therese was often sick and often plagued with doubts, she remained faithful and received the ability to find God in all things and all things in God.

Saturday, October 1, 2022 - St. Therese of the Child Jesus - The Little Flower

To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 66:10-14; 1 Cor 13:4-13; Mt 18:1-4

St. Therese of the Child Jesus is one of my most favourite saints. I admire and am inspired by her for a number of reasons, but one of the most important reasons for this is her response to life. She had more challenges than most of us will ever have, yet her response was always positive no matter what the challenge she faced. In this regard she teaches us how we too must be able to see the hand of God in everything that happens to us.

She was born in 1873 and died very young at the age of 24 (1897). At the age of 14, she had an experience that transformed her life. She decided to give her whole life to God and entered the Carmelite convent in Lisieux. Though she was often sick and often plagued with doubts, she remained faithful and received the ability to find God in all things and all things in God. Her focus was not on doing great things but on doing all that she did with unconditional love. She would do even the most ordinary tasks with extraordinary love.

The Gospel text for the feast  is taken from what is termed by as Matthew’s “Community Discourse” (18:1-35). It is the fourth of the long discourses in Matthew. Some see the discourse as divided clearly into two parts (18:1-14 and 18:15-35), with various indications, which point to such a division. Some of these indications are as follows: Both sections end with a parable (18:12-13 and 18:23-34), after the parable is a concluding statement of Jesus, which begins with the word “So” (18:14.35), there is also in the sayings, a reference to the heavenly Father and the saying is about the subject of the preceding section (“little ones” and “brother/sister”).

The discourse begins with a question about the disciples regarding greatness. In his response, Jesus makes clear that being in the kingdom or coming into it, is not a matter of one’s talents or qualities, but “becoming like a child”. In first-century Judaism, children were often regarded as inferior and were treated as property rather than as persons. The point Jesus makes here is that one must acknowledge dependence on the Father. The reception of a child is an indication that one has accepted the values of the kingdom and one is no longer concerned about being greatest.

This was the attitude of St. Therese to life and she lived as a child of God all through her life. She inspires and invites us to the same.

Thursday 29 September 2022

Friday, September 30, 2022 - Homily

 We need to stop looking for miracles only in the spectacular and extraordinary and realise that they happen at every moment of every day.

Friday, September 30, 2022 - If you were a resident of Chorazin, Bethsiada or Capernaum, what would you do after hearing these words of Jesus?

 To read the texts click on the texts: Job38:1,12-21; 40:3-5; Lk 10:13-16

Immediately after the Mission Discourse to the seventy-two (10:1-12), Luke has added the sayings on the woes against Chorazin , Bethsaida and Capernaum (10:13-15). The reason why the woe is pronounced on them is because they did not repent even after seeing the deeds of power that were wrought in their towns. The people of even Tyre and Sidon, which were condemned in Isaiah 23:1-18, would have repented if the same deeds had been done in their towns. Therefore the judgement on Chorazin and Bethsaida will be all the more severe. In Luke, Jesus had done a number of deeds of power in Capernaum (4:23,31-41), and still there was no repentance in the hearts of the people. Capernaum will not be exalted, but will be brought down to Hades. The last verse of this section (10:16) confers on the disciples the authority of Jesus himself. The authority of the disciples who are sent by Jesus is the same as the authority of Jesus himself.

Miracles take place every day if only we open our eyes to see. When a child is born, when a tree comes out if flower, when it rains, when a bird sings, when a person reaches out selflessly with a kind word or deed, miracles happen. We need to stop looking for miracles only in the spectacular and extraordinary and realise that they happen at every moment of every day.

Wednesday 28 September 2022

Thursday, September 29, 2022 - Homily

 God shows constant concern for the world through his angels or messengers


To read the texts click on the texts: Dan 7:9-10,13-14; Rev 12:7-12; Jn 1:47-51

The three Archangels Michael (Who is as God? or Who is like God?), Gabriel (Strength of God) and Raphael (God heals) are the only angels named in Sacred Scripture. However, ancient apocryphal literature mentions others beside these three, but the names are spurious.

Archangel Michael is invoked for protection against evil and regarded as a Champion of God’s people. Gabriel is mentioned four times in the Bible. Of these the most significant are in the New Testament when he makes the announcement of the birth of john the Baptist and Jesus to Zechariah and Mary respectively. Raphael is mentioned in the Book of Tobit and is the one who heals Tobias’ blindness. Raphael is not mentioned in the New Testament, but is invoked for healing and acts of mercy.

The choice of the Gospel reading from John is because of the mention of angels in the last verse of the text. Though having an opinion about where the Messiah would come from, Nathanael remains open to another revelation. Though skeptical, he is willing to be convinced. Jesus addresses Nathanael as an “Israelite” which signifies his faithfulness to the law and is used here in a positive sense. He is without guile because though he has questions and even doubts, he is open and receptive and willing to learn. Jesus’ intimate knowledge of Nathanael and the revelation that he makes to him leads to a transformation in Nathanael and he comes to faith. He responds to Jesus with a confession and though he begins with Rabbi, he moves on to recognizing Jesus as Son of God and King of Israel.

However, Jesus responds by pointing out to Nathanael that this is only the beginning of the revelation that Jesus makes. If he continues to remain open he will experience even greater things. By means of a double “Amen”, Jesus points out to Nathanael and to others there that he will be the bridge between heaven and earth. Through the phrase “you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” (Jn 1:51) which combines images from the descent of the Son of Man as narrated by Daniel (7:13) and the ladder of Jacob’s dream in Genesis (28:12), Jesus states that Jacob’s ladder is replaced by the Son of Man. He will be that place and person in whom the earthly and divine encounter each other. He as Son of man will make God known. The Son of Man becomes the place where the earthly and the heavenly, divine and human, temporal and eternal meet.

When looked at from this angle, the feast of the Archangels is saying to us that our God is not merely in the heavens. Our God is not merely a God who has created the world and left it to its own design. Rather our God is a God who is intimately connected to the world and present to and in it. Our God is a God who is concerned about our world and ever willing to lend a hand whenever any one of us requires it.

Tuesday 27 September 2022

Wednesday, September 28, 2022 - Homily

 What is preventing you from loving as you ought to? Will you do something about it today?

Wednesday, September 28, 2022 - What is preventing you from following Jesus unconditionally? What will you do about it today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Job9:1-12,14-16; Lk 9:57-62

While part of this text is found also in Matthew, the latter part (9:60b-62) is exclusive to Luke. It concerns the would-be followers of Jesus, and Jesus’ warnings about what discipleship will entail.

To the first would-be follower who promises to follow Jesus wherever he goes, Jesus responds by stating clearly that unlike even the foxes that at least have holes, he does not have anywhere he can call his own. If the would-be follower is ready for this insecurity, he may follow.

The second person is called to follow by Jesus, but responds by asking for permission to bury his father. This was a duty that was binding on all devout Jews. Jesus’ response is harsh and demands that the disciple be primarily concerned about the kingdom.

The third would-be follower puts conditions to his following namely that he wants to say farewell to his family. However, here too the response of Jesus is clear. Looking back while ploughing leads to a crooked furrow.

While it is not necessary to give up the state of life one has chosen in order to follow Jesus, what is to be understood is that following will necessarily mean changing one’s style of life. It will mean a move from selfishness to selflessness, from acquiring material possessions to sharing them with others and from anything negative to everything that is positive.

Monday 26 September 2022

Tuesday, September 27, 2022 - Homily

 Don’t try to teach a pig to sing. It is waste of your time and irritates the pig.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022 - Don’t try to teach a pig to sing. It is waste of your time and irritates the pig.

To read the texts click on the texts: Job 3:1-3.11-17,20-23; Lk 9:51-56

The section of the Gospel of Luke beginning from 9,51 and ending at 19,28 is known as the Travel Narrative or Journey to Jerusalem. Beginning today and on all weekdays till Advent, (except on feast days) we will be reading from this section of Luke’s Gospel. It is therefore important to have an understanding of what this section means. Luke begins this travel narrative by telling us that when the days drew near for Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. Jesus’ arrival at Jerusalem in 19,28 marks the end of this section. One important reason for this section where Luke diverts from Mark, is so that Luke can add here material from his own special source and also material from the source known as “Q” which he and Matthew have in common. In this section we will also find many parables, sayings meal scenes, controversies and warnings, through which the Lucan Jesus explicates his way of life.

In the text of today, we will read of the opposition that Jesus encounters already at the beginning of his journey. A Samaritan village refuses to welcome him. This rejection of Jesus at the beginning of his ministry coincides with the rejection at the beginning of his ministry in Nazareth (4,16-30). This foreshadows the rejection that Jesus will face in Jerusalem. In response to the rejection, James and John want to react and destroy the whole village. Jesus’ rebuke of James and John is an indication that he will not use violence in his ministry, but will win people only through love. The last verse of this text where we are told that they went on to another village also makes clear that Jesus will not force his teaching on anyone who does not want to listen to it.

Sometimes we are faced with opposition with regard to an idea that we may put forward or a suggestion that we may offer. When we identify with that idea or suggestion and feel rejected when it is rejected, then we might be tempted like James and John to react. The attitude of Jesus invites us to detach ourselves from all that we propose, so that we can continue to stay calm and collected.

Sunday 25 September 2022

Monday, September 26, 2022 - Homily

 How will you show through your actions that you belong to the kingdom? 

Monday, September 26, 2022 - How will you show through your actions that you belong to the kingdom?

 To read the texts click on the texts: Job 1:6-22; Lk9:46-50

This scene shows the disciples debating among themselves as to which of them was the greatest. The fact that this episode occurs immediately after Jesus has predicted his passion, death and resurrection for the second time, shows that the disciples have not understood the meaning of Jesus’ predictions. In his response to their argument, Jesus puts a child by his side as an example of what it means to be the greatest. The one who like a child acknowledges total dependence on God, the one who does not have any visible means of support, is the one who is greatest.

The second scene in this section is the last one before Jesus turns towards Jerusalem, and also shows the disciples of Jesus in a poor light. This is the only scene in which the apostle John appears alone in the Synoptic Gospels. Here he acts as the spokesman for the group. The reason why they try to stop the unnamed exorcist is because he does not belong to the “inner circle”. The irony is that they as disciples were not able earlier to cast out a demon (9,40), and now someone who is not even part of their group is able to do so. Jesus’ response calls for openness and tolerance. Jesus also seems to say that one’s actions will determine who belongs and does not belong to the kingdom.

Even two thousand years after Jesus, we do not seem to have understood the meaning of what it takes to belong to the kingdom. We keep associating greatness with possessing things or having authority to dominate. Authority for anyone who belongs to the kingdom can only be translated as service.

Though the Gospels do seem to indicate that Jesus came primarily for the Jews, his was an inclusive approach. He excluded no one. All who were open to receive his radical message were welcome to be part of his community. We need to be constantly aware of this especially when we make such clear distinctions between those of other faiths and ourselves. They are also called in their own way.

Saturday 24 September 2022

Sunday, September 25, 2022 - Homily

 Is my faith merely lip-service?

Sunday, September 22, 2022 - Is my faith mere “lip service”? What prevents me from “acting” out my faith?

To read the texts click on the texts: Am 6:1, 4-7; 1 Tim 6:11-16; Lk 16:19-31

While at first reading, both the text from Amos and the Gospel text of today might seem to indicate that riches are bad, or that luxury is to be shunned, or that one must live an ascetic life. A deeper reading however, indicates that the core question of these texts is “Am I my brother/sister’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9). Riches and luxury are a problem when they are gained at the expense of others’ misery.  They are a problem when they deaden the mind and the senses to responsibility. They are a problem when they become ends in themselves or when those who possess them become insensitive and unfeeling to the needs of others around them.

This is what the readings of today seem to point to. The Gospel parable of today has often been titled as the parable of “Dives and Lazarus”. It may be seen to be divided into three parts. In the first part, the focus is on rich man’s opulence and wealth.  The rich man is not named. The Latin term “dives” means “rich”.  In the second part, the focus is on the rich man’s death and burial. In the third part, which is the longest, there is, for the first time in the story, a dialogue. It is between the rich man and Abraham and this is the climax of the story.

The story begins by describing the rich man and his dress and food. The “purple and fine linen” may signify that he was a high ranking official, since the Romans had set standards regarding who could wear purple and how much purple they could wear. In contrast to the rich man, there is a poor man, named Lazarus. It is significant that Lazarus is the only character in any of Jesus’ parables who is given a name. The name Lazarus means “God helps”. The fact that he is at the gate of the rich man’s house signifies that, though the rich man could see Lazarus, he was not aware of his existence. He was so caught up in his world of material things; he was so caught up in his luxuries and personal enjoyment, that he was unable to see reality right before him. The problem was not so much the riches or luxuries that the rich man was enjoying but that they had blinded him from the reality around him.  They had made him immune to the suffering of those whom he could see.

Amos speaks, in the first reading of today, of this same callous attitude on the part of the rich. These are the ones who, like the rich man of the parable, have lived lives of ease and eaten their fill, without being concerned about the numerous poor and their unmet needs. This is why they are the ones who will be the first to suffer exile and punishment. They have not been their brother/sister’s keepers.

God, however, is the keeper of the poor as is made explicit in the detail found in the Gospel.   Lazarus was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man may have deliberately ignored Lazarus and pretended that he did not exist, but God is aware of Lazarus. God indeed came to Lazarus’ help.  The death of the rich man, in contrast, is described in a short sentence: “The rich man also died and was buried.” This indicates both that he was forgotten soon after his death and strikingly, how transient is his opulence and wealth. His riches are of no consequence now. He has to leave all that he has behind. He can take nothing with him. No matter how rich he was, or how much he possessed, he had to let go when his time was up.

None of us knows when that time will be, but all know that we can take nothing with us.  Paul exhorts Timothy, in the second reading of today, to shun riches which can be as shown, in the case of the rich man and to the people of Amos’ time, as the root of many evils. He must pursue instead that which remains, even when all else has gone, namely, concern for others manifested in unconditional love. It is love alone which is eternal and which does not die. It is love alone which remains forever. This is the love that was manifested by Jesus from the beginning of his ministry right to the time that he stood, witnessed before Pilate, and was put to death. Jesus lived a life that showed that every human being was his brother or sister and he was indeed, their keeper. As disciples of Jesus, we have to realize that each one of us, like Jesus, is indeed, our brother or sister’s keeper.

A number of questions to which there are no easy answers are raised by this parable and we must reflect on them constantly if we are not to lose touch with reality.

Ø Can I be accused of sins of lack of concern, inability to assess the reality of situations, closing my eyes and ears to the injustices around me, being caught up in my own small world? Does my reflection on sin include “sins of omission”?

Ø Is my attitude towards those less fortunate than I one of condescension? Do I regard them as persons, like myself?

Ø Did the brothers of the rich man get the message?

Ø How would you like to conclude the story? Place yourself in the position of the rich man’s brothers and write down what you would do to ensure that you do not suffer the same fate as the rich man.

Friday 23 September 2022

Saturday, September 24, 2022 - Homily

 There may be times when we need to give up control and especially to God acting through humans if we are to be faithful to his will.

Saturday, September 24, 2022 - Does it make sense to proclaim a “Suffering Messiah” today? How will you do it if it does?

To read the texts click on the texts: Ecclesiastes 11:9–12:8; Lk 9:43-45

The second Passion prediction in the Gospel, which is our text for today, follows immediately after Jesus’ mighty work in exorcising the demon in the previous scene. It is only in Luke that Jesus announces his passion and death while “all were marvelling at everything he did.” Only Luke adds the phrase, “Let these words sink into your ears;” in order to bring out the gravity of the pronouncement. He abbreviates the Passion prediction of Mark, so that his passion prediction simply has “the Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men.” Through this shortening, Luke focuses on Jesus’ “being handed over” or “delivered”, and omits any reference to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Like in Mark, here too the disciples’ are not able to understand. However, Luke gives a reason for this, namely “it was concealed from them”, though he does not say by whom.

It is not easy for us to give up control. Most of us like to be in control of every situation so that we do not need to depend on someone else. These verses are calling us to understand that this is not always possible or even necessary. There may be times when we need to give up control and especially to God acting through humans if we are to be faithful to his will.

Thursday 22 September 2022

Friday, September 23, 2022 - Homily

 When we suffer, God also suffers.

Friday, September 23, 2022 - Can you identify with a “Suffering Messiah”? Would you have preferred that Jesus not go to the Cross? What kind of death would have preferred Jesus to die?

To read the texts click on the texts : Ecclesiastes 3:1-11; Lk 9:18-22
Though Luke depends on Mark for this scene of Peter’s confession, he has made some significant changes in order to bring out his meaning of the text. The first is that unlike Mark, Luke does not give the geographical location (Caesarea Philippi), but gives instead the context of the prayer of Jesus. Through this change, Luke makes the confession a spiritual experience. Luke also changes Marks, “one of the prophets” to “one of the old prophets has risen.” Though the difference does not appear to be great, it is for Luke. In the Gospel of Luke, before Jesus everything is old. Jesus makes all things new. Luke has also eliminated Peter’s refusal to accept Jesus as the suffering Messiah and the rebuke of Peter by Jesus. Luke avoids narrating Marcan texts that show Peter and even the disciples in a bad light.

The second question to the disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” shows on the one hand that the answers given of the crowd’s understanding of Jesus are inadequate, and on the other that Jesus wants to know their understanding of him. In all the Synoptic Gospels it is Peter who answers, but here too Luke adds to Mark’s, “You are the Christ”, the words “of God”. The Greek word “Christos” means in English “the anointed” and this conveys the meaning of royalty. However, by his addition, Luke also brings in the prophetical dimension of Jesus’ person and mission. This prophetical dimension is explicated in the verses, which follow the confession of Peter, in which Jesus explains the kind of Christ/Messiah/Anointed One that he will be. The reason for the rebuke or “stern order” not to tell anyone is because Jesus wanted to avoid any misunderstanding of the term which could be understood only in the glorious sense. Jesus as “the Christ of God” will come in glory, but only after he has gone to the cross, died, been buried and then raised.

Who Jesus is cannot be captured by a title and we must not attempt to do so or imagine that this is possible. Any title we may use for Jesus will always be inadequate and this leads us to the realisation that while we may encounter him in different situations, he will always be bigger than anything we can ever imagine.

Wednesday 21 September 2022

Thursday, September 22, 2022 - Homily

 What kind of a God do you believe in?

Thursday, September 22, 2022 - You know a great deal about Jesus, but do you really know him? When did you last meet him personally?

To read the texts click on the texts: Ecclesiastes1:2-11; Lk 9:7-9

This text (9:7-9) forms the meat of the sandwich formed by the sending out of the Twelve (9:1-6) and their return (9:10-17). In a sandwich construction, an event is begun, interrupted by another event and the first event is continued and completed. In this instance, the disciples are sent on mission (9:1-6), the return is interrupted by the question of Herod (9:7-9) and the event of the sending out of the disciples is continued and completed by their return (9:10-17). In such a construction, the first and the third events throw light on the event in the middle or the meat of the sandwich. The first and third events narrate the sending and successful return, and it is in this light that the question of Herod, “Who is this?” which is the second event or in the centre, must be read. Herod’s desire to see Jesus foreshadows coming events. When Herod did meet Jesus, his desire to see Jesus was fulfilled, but he wanted only to see Jesus perform a sign. He never really grasped the answer to his own question. Though John the Baptist has been beheaded and Jesus will also be killed, yet the violence of the wicked will be no match for God’s grace. The success of the disciples’ in mission is only a shadow of the success that Jesus will experience in mission.

The intention behind wanting to meet Jesus is extremely important. If one’s approach is curiosity that will be the level at which one will see him. If one’s approach is faith, then one will encounter him as he is.

Tuesday 20 September 2022

Wednesday, September 21, 2022 - Homily

 What will you do today to share your experience of God?

September 21, 2022 - THE FEAST OF ST. MATTHEW - Matthew wrote a Gospel to share his experience of the Lord. What will you do today to share your experience of the Lord?

If you wish to read the texts click here: Eph 4:1-7, 11-13; Mt 9:9-13

Most scholars hold today that the Gospel of Matthew was written after Mark. Matthew’s Gospel was the one that was used most often in the early Church and so it has been placed before Mark in the Bible. It is known as the Ecclesial Gospel or the Gospel of the Church. One reason for this is that Matthew’s thesis seems to be that since Israel for whom Jesus came rejected Jesus as Messiah, the Church has become now the new and true Israel. Also Matthew is the only one of the four Evangelists who uses the word “Ekklesia” translated “Church” in his Gospel (16:18;18:17). There is however, throughout the Gospel the tension between Particularism on the one hand and Universalism on the other. The Jesus of the Gospel of Matthew is sent “only to the lost sheep of Israel” (15:24; see also 10:6) and the same Jesus can tell Israel “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it” (21:43).

Matthew’s Gospel begins with the genealogy of Jesus, which goes back to Abraham. Joseph is not called the father of Jesus but the husband of Mary (1:16) since Matthew is clear that Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus. The birth of Jesus is then narrated, followed by the visit of the wise men to Bethlehem and Herod’s plan to kill Jesus. This leads the family to go to Egypt where they remain till Herod’s death and then return to Nazareth. The birth, flight into Egypt and return to Nazareth all fulfil scripture. Matthew then goes on to narrate the Baptism of Jesus by John and Jesus’ temptations and his overcoming them. Jesus then begins his public ministry in Galilee after calling the first four disciples. Unlike Mark, which is a story, Matthew intersperses his narrative with long discourses. The first of these is the Sermon on the Mount (5:1-7,29). There are four other discourses in the Gospel. These are The Mission Discourse (10:1-11:1), The parable Discourse (13:1-53), The Community Discourse (18:1-19:1) and the Eschatological Discourse (24:1-26:1). Each of these discourses ends in a similar manner with the words, “and when Jesus had finished (7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1). This is also Matthew’s way of focussing on the teaching of Jesus and giving it as much if not more importance that the deeds of Jesus. Like in Mark, Jesus enters Jerusalem triumphantly, but soon encounters opposition, which grows and leads to his arrest, passion and death. The Gospel ends with accounts of the resurrection appearances of Jesus to his disciples and what is known as the Great Commission, in which the disciples are commanded to go to all nations and make disciples of them and assured of the presence of the ever present Lord to whom all authority in heaven and earth has been given (28:16-20).

The characteristics unique to Matthew’s Gospel are as under:

1.   Matthew mentions five women in his genealogy (Luke has no mention of women). While many explanations have been offered to explain this fact the most plausible one is that in the case of all five women there was something irregular in their union with their husbands.

2.   The visit of the wise men from the East (2:1-12) is exclusive to Matthew and probably with the intention to show that though the Jewish leaders “know” the details of the birth of the Messiah, they “do” nothing about it. On the other hand, Gentiles (represented by the Magi) do not “know” the details, but are willing to “obey and do”.

3.   Only in the Gospel of Matthew is the tax collector who is called referred to as Matthew (9:9) and is referred to as "Matthew the tax collector" in the list of the disciples (10:3).

4.   Matthew uses the phrase "the Kingdom of God" only in 12:28; 19:24; 21:31.43. Instead, the term "the Kingdom of Heaven" is preferred (3:2; 4:17; 5:; 7:21; 8:11; 10:7; 11:11.12; 13:; 16:19; 18:1.3.4; 19:; 20:1; 22:2; 23:13; 25:1). In some of these, Matthew has changed his Marcan source. The best explanation of this phenomenon is Matthew prefers to avoid use of the word "God," using the circumlocution "Heavens" instead.

5.   More than the other synoptic gospels, the Gospel of Matthew stresses the fulfilment nature of Jesus' ministry. The author explicitly cites Old Testament messianic prophecies as having been fulfilled in or by Jesus, often with a formula using the verb "to fulfil."  The following are those instances that are unique to the Gospel of Matthew.

6.   Matthew often doubles the numbers found in his Marcan source. Thus one demoniac of Mark 5:1-20 becomes two in Mt 8:28-34; one blind man of Mark 10:46-52 becomes two blind men in Mt 20:29-34. Matthew also has in 22:2 an ass and a colt where Mark 11:2 has only a colt. One reason that has been proposed for this is that Matthew wants to ensure the proper number of witness that was required to certify an act.

7.   Only in Matthew 16:17-19 is Peter commended by Jesus after his answer that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” and given the keys of the kingdom and the power to bind and loose. This is interpreted here as the authority to determine who is allowed in and for the authority to determine what interpretation of the law is binding. Also Peter’s failed attempt to walk on water (14:28-31) after Jesus has successfully done so and the incident of payment of the Temple tax in which Peter is asked to go to the sea to find a shekel in a fish’s mouth (17:24-27) are exclusive to Matthew. This probably indicates that Peter was an important figure in the Matthean community.

8.   Matthew alone narrates that Judas was paid thirty pieces of silver for his willingness to betray Jesus (26:14-16). While some see the connection with Zech 11:12-13 where thirty shekels of silver is mentioned as the wages of the shepherd, others see it as related to Exodus 21:32 which is price that had to be paid by the owner of an ox to the master of a slave who was gored to death by the ox. Judas’ repentance and suicide is also exclusive to Matthew (27:3-10)

9.   Pilate receiving a message from his wife to have nothing to do with Jesus (27:19) and his washing his hands and declaring himself innocent of the death of Jesus (27:24), are incidents that are found only in Matthew. Some see this as Pilate’s obedience to the command of God communicated to him by his wife’s dream and also as Matthew’s attempt to put the onus for the death of Jesus on the shoulders of the Jews. This is also probably why Matthew alone has the people as a whole answer, “His blood be on us and on our children!” (27:25).

The text chosen for the feast contains the call of Matthew, and Jesus’ fellowship with tax collectors and sinners. It is only in the Gospel of Matthew that the tax collector is called Matthew. In Mark and Luke he is called Levi. However, in the lists of the Twelve in both Mark and Luke, the disciple is named Matthew and Levi does not appear. It is unlikely that Matthew and Levi refer to the same person. It was rare for Jews to have two different Jewish names. The reason for the author choosing the name Matthew remains unknown. However, in the text what strikes one is that whereas most people who passed by the tax office would see a corrupt official; Jesus was able to see a potential disciple. It was Jesus’ way of looking that led to the transformation and the response of Matthew to the call. In his response to the objection of the Pharisees, Jesus responds with a common proverb about the sick needing a doctor, and also quotes from Hoses 6:6, which here is interpreted to mean that the mercy of God in Jesus is extended to all humanity and takes precedence over everything else. All else must be understood in this light.

There are times when we judge people too easily and many of these times our judgement of them is negative. This is also how we often look at the whole of creation and because we put labels on things, people and all else in creation, we may miss out on the uniqueness that each possesses.

Monday 19 September 2022

Tuesday, September 20, 2022 - Homily

 Are you God's son or daughter? How does this show in your life?

Tuesday, September 20, 2022 - Would Jesus point to you as a member of his family? Why?

 To read the texts click on the texts: Prov 21:1-6.10-13; Lk 8:19-21
Though this text, which concerns the mother and brothers of Jesus, is found also in Mark 3,21-22 and 3,31-35 and Matthew 12,46-50, Luke narrates it quite differently from both. In Mark 3,33 and Matthew 12,48 Jesus asks who his mother and brothers are. In Luke, however, Jesus does not ask this question, but says simply when told that his mother and brothers desire to see him, that his mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it. Luke thus gives a positive thrust to the scene unlike Mark and Matthew. It might be said that while in Mark and Matthew Jesus seems to reject his physical family and choose instead the crowd (so Mark) or his disciples (so Matthew), in Luke he does not do so. This means that though family relations with Jesus are not based on physical relations but on the word of God, his physical family does indeed hear the word of God and acts on it.

We might possess the name Christian because of our baptism, but this does not necessarily mean that we belong to the family of Jesus. In order to belong what is also necessary is putting into action what Jesus has taught

Sunday 18 September 2022

Monday, September 19, 2022 - Homily

 What is the good news according to you?

Monday, September 19, 2022 - What is the Good News according to you? Will you share it with others today? How?

 To read the texts click on the texts: Pro3:27-34; Lk 8:16-18

These verses in Luke are a commentary on the Parable of the Sower, which in Luke appears in 8,5-8. Just as a farmer sows the seed so that all of it may bear fruit, so also a lamp is lit so that it may give light. Like seed is sown not to be trampled on, eaten by birds, to wither or to be chocked, so a lamp is lit not to be hid under a jar or under a bed. Knowledge of the kingdom is not esoteric or secret, reserved for a particular group alone, but must be made known to all. It is knowledge, which must be shared openly with others. It is indeed the Good News, since it is a communication of love, and therefore it must not only be heard, but also experienced. By adding, “Then pay attention to how you listen”, the Lucan Jesus reminds listeners that they can choose and control how they will listen to the word of God. A total openness to the word of God results in an appropriate response to it.

Hearing is an active process. It calls for a commitment. Those who are open to that word are like a lamp, which gives light to all. An attentive hearing of the word of God can result in the transformation of one’s life and the living out of that word can lead to transformation in the lives of others.

Saturday 17 September 2022

Sunday, September 18, 2022 - Homily

 How do you attain the focus in your life?

Sunday, September 18, 2022 - How do you attain the focus in your life?

To read the texts click on the texts: Am 8:4-7; 1 Tim 2:1-8; Lk16:1-13

The story is told of a man who was caught stealing. He was ordered by the king to be hanged. On the way to the gallows, he said to the governor that he knew a wonderful secret and it would be a pity to allow it to die with him. He wanted to disclose it only to the king and so, he was taken to the king. He told the king that he would put a seed of a mango into the ground and, through a secret taught to him by his father, he would make it grow and bear fruit overnight. There would be no need to wait for the mango season or for years; the result would be almost immediate. The king was intrigued.

The next day, the thief, accompanied by the king and several ministers and officers of high ranking, was taken to a field. There, the thief dug a hole in the ground and spoke out the secret saying, “For this seed to grow overnight, it must be put into the ground only by a man who has never stolen or taken anything which did not belong to him. That man must be a totally honest man. Since it will only grow if this condition is fulfilled, I cannot do it since I am a thief. One of you will have to plant the seed.” The thief turned to the Vizier who, frightened, said that in his younger days he had retained something which did not belong to him. The treasurer said that dealing with such large sums, he might have entered too much or too little and even the king owned that he had kept a necklace of his father’s without permission. The thief then looked at all of them and smiled. The king, pleased with the ruse of the thief, pardoned him.

On the one hand, a story like this might lend itself to being interpreted to mean that dishonesty or thievery is all right. It might be taken to mean that, though the man had done something wrong, he got away with subterfuge and cunning. However, the point is not so much that, as the fact that, when faced with death, the thief uses all his ingenuity, creativity, and inventiveness to save his life. He uses all his skill to get out of an extremely difficult situation.

This is also the point that Jesus makes in the parable that forms the Gospel text for today. Jesus is not praising dishonesty or even the dishonest steward. His focus in the parable is on the prompt and speedy action that the steward takes. He takes control of a terrible situation and acts decisively because his livelihood and therefore, his life are at stake. He casts caution to the winds, seizes an opportunity and makes provisions for his future.

More importantly, the focus of Jesus is on the contrast between the steps that a person takes for things that are temporary and the lethargy that is shown by most when it comes to things that are eternal. This is what Jesus means when he says,” … for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.”

This lethargic attitude regarding things that are eternal is the attitude that Amos berates in the first reading of today. The people imagined that the good fortune that they were presently enjoying would continue forever and so, concentrated only on earthly, temporary realities. They would not repent, or seize the opportunity to make amends. They would continue to carry on with the evil they were doing. They would continue to “practice deceit with false balances” “trample on the needy and bring to ruin the poor of the land”. They would continue to cheat the poor and downtrodden and be concerned only with how much they can earn for themselves and that, through unfair and unjust means. Their belly has become their god.

Yet, now is the time of salvation, now is the appointed hour and so, decisions as important as these cannot be left for tomorrow or even later. The kingdom of God is indeed in our midst and in us and this is why we who are called to focus on permanence and eternalness have to act in the present moment. How is this focus attained? What changes must we make in order to get back this focus?

Paul gives us an indication in the second reading of today when he calls Timothy, and us, to supplications and prayers for a peaceable life.

This is a life where each person will live in dignity. This is a life where no one will be in need because there will be equitable distribution and each will have what he/she needs.

This is a life in which none will show the greed and selfishness that has become so much part of our culture and way of living.

This is a life in which “Christ Jesus, himself human,” who dared to give himself as a ransom for all, is the inspiration that, if followed, will make that life a reality.

This is a life in which each one is determined to live for the values of love and justice – everlasting values of the kingdom of God.

Friday 16 September 2022

Saturday, September 17, 2022 - Homily

 Do I usually focus more on the reaping than on the sowing? Do I focus more on the result than on the action? Do I focus more on the future than on the present?

Saturday, September 17, 2022 - 1. Do I usually focus more on the reaping than on the sowing? Do I focus more on the result than on the action? Do I focus more on the future than on the present?

 To read the texts click on the texts:1 Cor 15:35-37,42-49; Lk 8:4-15

The text of today combines both the Parable of the Sower (8:5-8) and the allegory (8:11-15) {in an allegory, every element in the story is given a meaning. So, the seed is regarded as the word of God, those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe an be saved, and so on}. Though it is true that the Sower disappears from the scene after he is first mentioned, and the seed takes centre stage, the parable is really one of contrast between the beginning and the middle, and the end. Thus, the Sower (whom the end will affect) is still an important figure in the parable. Since many have confused the allegory with the Parable, the meaning of the parable may have been missed. In this reflection we will focus on the Parable.

The farmer would sow along “the path”, because according to research done on the agricultural practices in Palestine at the time of Jesus, the practice was to sow seeds first and then plough it into the ground. Sowing on “rocky ground” is not surprising because the underlying limestone, thinly covered with soil, barely showed above the surface until the ploughshare jarred against it. Sowing among “thorns” is also understandable, because this too will be ploughed up. Though the ploughing of the three kinds of soil above will be done, it will result in a loss, because in none of them will the seed grow. It will seem that seventy-five percent of the effort is lost. While most of the parable focuses on “sowing”, in the last verse it is already “harvest time”. The abnormal, exaggerated tripling, of the harvest’s yield (thirty, sixty, a hundredfold) symbolises the overflowing of divine fullness., surpassing all human measure and expectations (A tenfold harvest counted as a good harvest and a yield of seven and a half as an average one).To human eyes much of the labour seems futile and fruitless, resulting in repeated failure, but Jesus is full of joyful confidence; he knows that God has made a beginning, bringing with it o harvest of reward beyond all asking or conceiving. In spite of every failure and opposition, from hopeless beginnings, God brings forth the triumphant end, which he has promised.

Thursday 15 September 2022

Friday, September 16, 2022 - Homily

 Jesus treated men and women equally

Friday, September 16, 2022 - Does the plight of others affect me at all? What do I do about it?

To read the texts click on the texts:1 Cor 15:12-20; Lk 8:1-3

This is a text that is exclusive to the Gospel of Luke and is about the women who ministered to Jesus during his ministry. It begins by presenting Jesus as an itinerant preacher going through the cities and villages in order to proclaim the good news of the kingdom.

Luke often mentions a corresponding female or group whenever he mentions a male. He does this first in the example of Zechariah and Elizabeth, and then in the examples of Joseph and Mary, Simeon and Anna. Here too, after Luke has mentioned the Twelve, he mentions women. Mary Magdalene is identified at the one from whom seven demons had gone out and Joanna as the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza and these two appear also in 24,10 in the episode of the empty tomb. Susanna the third woman named here does not appear elsewhere in the Gospel. These and other women provided for Jesus out of their resources.

The striking point about this text is the fact that the disciples were women. At a time when a woman was looked down upon and her place in society was pre-determined, it is quite amazing to note that these became followers of Jesus and even provided for him. This is an indication of the openness that Jesus possessed and of his freedom from all kinds of constraints.

Wednesday 14 September 2022

Thursday, September 15, 2022 - Our Lady of Sorrows - Homily

 For those who believe, death is not the end. There is the resurrection

Thursday, September 15, 2022 - Our Lady of Sorrows

To read the texts click on the texts: Heb 5:7-9; Jn 19:25-27; Lk 2:33-35

The title, “Our Lady of Sorrows,” given to our Blessed Mother focuses on her intense suffering and grief during the passion and death of our Lord. Traditionally, this suffering was not limited to the passion and death event; rather, it comprised “the seven dolours” or “seven sorrows” of Mary, which were foretold by the Simeon who proclaimed to Mary, “This child  is destined to be the downfall and the rise of many in Israel, a sign that will be opposed and you yourself shall be pierced with a sword so that the thoughts of many hearts may be laid bare” (Luke 2:34-35). These seven sorrows of our Blessed Mother included the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt; the loss and finding of the child Jesus in the Temple; Mary's meeting of Jesus on His way to Calvary; Mary's standing at the foot of the cross when our Lord was crucified; her holding of Jesus when He was taken down from the cross; and then our Lord's burial. In all, the prophesy of Simeon that a sword would pierce our Blessed Mother's heart was fulfilled in these events. For this reason, Mary is sometimes depicted with her heart exposed and with seven swords piercing it. More importantly, each new suffering was received with the courage, love, and trust that echoed her fiat, “let it be done unto me according to Thy word,” first uttered at the Annunciation

The readings chosen for the feast are from Hebrews and a choice of either John or Luke. All three readings speak about how Jesus and Mary handled suffering in their lives and how we can learn from them.

The text from Hebrews speaks about the total humanity of Jesus to make abundantly clear that the suffering that Jesus went through was an integral part of his earthly life. Though he was challenged with accepting the Cross and though he prayed that the Cross be taken away, what was more important than that was ‘doing God’s will’. This led to acceptance of the Cross willingly and courageously.

The Gospel text from Luke is Simeon’s second oracle and addressed specifically to Mary.  It prefigures the rejection of Jesus. Not all will receive the salvation that has been prepared, see the light of revelation, or recognize the glory of God in the coming of Jesus. The sword that will pierce Mary’s heart refers to the rejection of her son and to the final rejection on the Cross. Mary’s response is courageous, because she knows like Jesus that God’s will for her son is infinitely better than anything she could hope for.

The scene in the Gospel of John is where four women are named standing by the Cross (his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene). Of these the focus falls on Mary, the mother of Jesus and the beloved disciple who is given charge of the mother of Jesus. While the beloved disciple is indeed a historical figure, he/she can also be anyone who loves Jesus. The command of the Lord to such a disciple, who loves him, is that he/she must also take his mother into their home because she is an integral part of the family of Jesus.


The feast of Our Lady of Sorrows is relevant for each of us today. It shows first of all that though Jesus and Mary were constantly doing God’s will, they were not spared from the Cross and the challenges and vicissitudes of life. Second it shows that even in the midst of these challenges we must always remember that God walks ahead of us and will never abandon us. This is why we never give up or give in. Finally, it reminds us that sorrow and the Cross is never the end, but only a step towards resurrection and the fullness of life.

Tuesday 13 September 2022

Wednesday, September 14, 2022 - The Exaltation of the Cross

 The Cross motivates us every time we want to give up to keep on keeping on

Wednesday, September 14, 2022 - The Exaltation of the Cross - Lifted up and Exalted

To read the texts click on the texts: Num 21:4-9;Phil 2:6-11; Jn 3:13-17

The Exaltation of the Cross is one of the twelve great feasts in the yearly Church cycle. Because the cross is at the heart and centre of all that we as Christians believe, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, the triumph of the cross of Christ over the power of sin and death. And so this feast provides us with another opportunity to reflect on the central mystery of our faith: that the one who was lifted up on the cross in crucifixion has triumphed over the power of sin and death because God highly exalted him.

This feast commemorates two historical events: first, the finding of what was considered the Cross of Christ in the year 326 by the mother of Constantine the Great, St Helen, and second its recovery from Persia in 628.

A story is told of Emperor Heraclius who in the year 628 after making peace with the Persians carried what was considered the Cross on which Jesus hung back to Jerusalem on his shoulders. He was clothed with costly garments and with ornaments of precious stones. But at the entrance to Mt. Calvary a strange incident occurred. Try as hard as he would, he could not go forward. Zacharias, the Bishop of Jerusalem, then said to the astonished monarch: "Consider, O Emperor, that with these triumphal ornaments you are far from resembling Jesus carrying His Cross." The Emperor then put on a penitential garb and continued the journey and carried the Cross into the Church of Holy Wisdom where it was triumphantly exalted. It was then resolved that the Fest of the Triumph or Exaltation of the Cross be celebrated by the Church in all parts of the world.

The Cross -- because of what it represents -- is the most potent and universal symbol of the Christian faith. It is a constant reminder -- and witness -- of Christ's ultimate triumph, His victory over sin and death through His suffering and dying on the Cross. The cross, once a tool of death, has become a means to life, an instrument of our salvation; it gives strength to resist temptation, it gives hope to seek new life and it dispels fear and darkness.

As Christians, we exalt the Cross of Christ as the instrument of our salvation. Adoration of the Cross is, thus, adoration of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who became Man, who suffered and died on the Cross for our redemption from sin and death. The cross represents the One Sacrifice by which Jesus, obedient even unto death, accomplished our salvation. The cross is a symbolic summary of the Passion, Crucifixion, Death and Resurrection of Christ.

In the first reading of today we read of how Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in order to heal and bring wholeness to a broken people. This was God’s way of showing the people that He was primarily a God who wanted to save and redeem and not condemn and destroy. The Church and especially the evangelist John interpreted this lifting of the bronze serpent by Moses as a foreshadowing of the salvation through Jesus when He was lifted up on the Cross. The Triumph of the Cross is the Triumph of Jesus Christ whose love for us and obedience to his Father climaxed with his death on the cross. The deeper meaning of the Cross is presented in The Christological hymn in today's second reading from the Letter of Paul to the Philippians. Jesus emptied himself completely, not just becoming a human being but accepting the worst public death of the society he lived in to demonstrate the extent of the love of God for us. He died making a willing statement of love, filling the world with the love he had for his Father and his Father had for him. We are saved from the horrors of evil, from meaningless lives due to the love of the Lord. Because Jesus died on a cross for us we are able to proclaim to the world: Jesus is Lord. His love made this possible. When we venerate and adore the cross we are saying: Jesus is Lord of our lives.

To the world this act of surrender on the cross was an act of utter humiliation and subjugation and the height of folly. To the world this death on the cross was a wasted life. To the world this death on the cross was a sign of utter defeat. But what the world calls wisdom, God calls foolishness, and what the world calls strength God call weakness. Therefore God highly exalted the crucified one by raising him from the dead. God gave Jesus his own name so that every creature on earth must now call Jesus “Lord.” What human beings did, God contradicted. And so in the weakness and foolishness of the cross we see the wisdom and power of God: Christ crucified. In him and his cross, surrender becomes power, waste becomes gain and death and defeat become victory and new life.

The cross is at the centre of our lives every time we face sickness and death. The cross is at the centre of our lives in frailty and old age. The cross is at the centre of our lives every time we feel utterly alone and abandoned. The Cross is at the centre of our lives every time we are tempted to give in and give up. It is at the centre of our lives every time we are tempted to throw our hands up in despair. It keeps reminding us that only when we embrace the cross in the midst of suffering and abandonment can we understand the power of the resurrection. Only when we have the courage to keep on keeping on can we like Christ become victorious and conquer. Only when we embrace the cross is it possible for God to raise us up and give us new life.

Monday 12 September 2022

Tuesday, September 13, 2022 - Homily

 If God were to call you today, what are the three things you would regret not having done? Will you do them today?

Tuesday, September 13, 2022 - If God were to call you to himself now, what are the three things you would regret not having done? Will you do them today?

 To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Cor 12:12-14,27-31; Lk 7:11-17

The miracle of the raising the widow’s son at Nain is a miracle that is found only in the Gospel of Luke. If the centurion’s servant healed in 7,1-10 was ill and at the point of death, the son of the widow in this story is already dead. There are many similarities between this story and that of Elijah’s raising the widow’s son in 1 Kings 17,10.17-24. Luke emphasises that the son was the widow’s “only son” (7,12). Luke also states that when Jesus saw the widow, he had compassion for her.. Jesus raises the boy quite simply with an authoritative command. The crowd responds by regarding Jesus as a prophet and by affirming that God has been favourable to his people through the deed that Jesus had just done.

The scripture offers many instances where men and women of faith ask for help, and are granted it, even though under normal experiences they might have gone on for the rest of their lives with sin or weakness or sickness or oppression. Does prayer change anything? Again and again the scripture teaches that it does indeed. God can and does intervene in the normal running of his universe. We see just such an instance in this passage. The young man is dead -- his life cut short by sickness perhaps, but death is a "normal" experience in our fallen world. Then Jesus sees a mother's tears, realizes that this widow -- there is no husband and other children mourning beside her -- has lost her only son, and Jesus moved with compassion, and intervenes. God doesn't intervene every time we are hurting or have problems, just as loving parents do not or cannot intervene to soften everything for their children. Sometimes we are angry with God for not giving us the answer to prayer that we desire. Sometimes we blame him for not intervening when our loved ones are sick or die. But it is not because God lacks compassion, for Jesus shows us the Father, and Jesus is full of compassion. We are left with the fact that Jesus indicates that the Father will do things as a result of our prayers, because of his compassion, that he will not otherwise do. Prayer can appeal to the heart of God to bring about change.

Sunday 11 September 2022

Monday, September 12, 2022 - Homily

 Keep on keeping on.....

Monday, September 12, 2022 - Will you keep on keeping on today; even when things might not go the way you plan?

To read the texts click on the texts:1 Cor 11:17-26,33; Lk 7:1-10

In the story of today’s Gospel, we will read of a centurion’s response of faith in Jesus. The emphasis in the miracle is given to the power of Jesus’ word. There is a close parallel to this story in Matthew and a more distant parallel in John. In Matthew, the servant is “lying paralysed at home”, whereas in Luke, the “slave is at the point of death”. While in Matthew, it is the centurion himself who comes to make the request of Jesus, in Luke; he sends first a delegation of elders who would have been leaders of the synagogue. They vouch for the merit of his request. As Jesus starts for the centurion’s house, a second delegation is sent. This time it is the friends of the centurion. The centurion’s words, “I am not worthy” contrast sharply with the tribute paid to him by the Jewish elders, who testified, “He is worthy”. The effect is to place the centurion in an even better light. The centurion’s words may also convey that he was aware that the Pharisees’ regarded a Gentile’s house as unclean and that a Jew would be defiled by entering his home. He is also confident that Jesus could heal at a distance. Just as he acts by commanding his subordinates, he expects no more than that Jesus would do the same. The point of the story is Jesus’ affirmation of the centurion’s faith and not the report of the healing that concludes the story. Luke’s description communicates Jesus’ surprise at the Gentile’s faith, and his approval as well. Where Jesus would have expected to find faith in an Israelite, here he finds it in a Gentile.

There are times when after having tried all available means to solve a problem that we might be facing, we might be tempted to throw up our hands in despair and simply give up. The centurion’s faith is an inspiration to everyone of us that we need to keep on keeping on despite all evidence to the contrary. 

Saturday 10 September 2022

Sunday, September 11, 2022 - Homily

 God is a prodigal father and mother

Sunday, September 11, 2022 - The Prodigal Father

To read the texts click on the texts: Ex 32:7-11,13-14; 1Tim 1:12-17; Lk 15:1-32

The Parable in the Gospel text of today is popularly known as “The Prodigal Son.” However, a more apt title is “The Prodigal Father.” This is because the son is prodigal only with material things. It is the father who is the real prodigal in the story. It is the father who is lavish. It is the father who is wasteful. It is the father who is a spendthrift, but with his love. The prodigality of the father’s love shines through the whole story.

Demanding his share of the property while his father was still alive would mean that the younger son regarded his father as dead. The younger son’s selfishness and self-centeredness led him to concentrate only on his own wants. The needs of the other did not matter. Despite this offensive and rude demand, the father gives the younger son what he demands. The father will be selfless. He will hold nothing back. For the father, the son’s wants are greater than his own needs. The selfishness of the son reaches its depths when he spends all that he receives from his father for his own pleasure and enjoyment.

This is the selfishness shown by the people in the first reading of today when they make “gods” of things. They are so caught up in their own desire for pleasure and gratification that they will stoop down to making things ends in themselves. They forget that the one end is God. However, like the father in the Gospel text, God shows that, despite the people’s selfishness, God will be selfless. Despite their abandoning God, God will not abandon them. Though by right, and in justice, God ought to have let God’s wrath burn against the people, God relented and, after listening to Moses, did not bring on them the destruction that was intended. God’s love exceeds mercy and this love is shown in giving people a chance to change, a chance to repent. The repentance that the people are called to is shown by the younger son in action. When he is in dire straits and at the lowest depth of his life, he comes to his senses. He realizes that he can go back. He realizes that there is mercy. He realizes that his father’s love will take him back. However, the reality of the father’s welcome goes beyond the younger son’s expectations. He is not even allowed to finish the act of contrition that he had prepared. He is not allowed to finish speaking his words of remorse and regret. His father does not need words. His father does not need to know how many sins his son has committed. His father does not ask for an account of the money that he squandered, nor does he impute guilt to his son. It is enough for the father that his son has come home. It is enough that his son who had gone away has returned. It is enough that the son, who was lost and dead, is now found and alive.

The Apostle Paul experienced this mercy and love and he speaks about this in the second reading of today. God did not count his sins against him. God did not hold his wrong doings in front of his face. God forgave his blasphemy. God showed him mercy. This mercy is intrinsic to God and is borne out by the name that the Son of God bears: Jesus. It is the name which means God saves from sin. It is a name which means that, no matter how far away we might go, no matter how many graces we squander, no matter how many sins we commit, God, in Jesus, will ever love and forgive.


If this is so evident why do so many people find it difficult to believe that God is good and loving, that God is forgiving and merciful, and that God’s mercy always outweighs human sinfulness? The answer to this is found in the second part of the Parable of the Gospel text and in the attitude of the elder son. For him, like for many of us, the relationship with his father is one of quid pro quo or barter exchange, rather than love. He is good only because he hopes to receive reward. He does not address his father as “Father”, nor does he refer to his brother as “brother”. He distances himself from both his father and his brother and attaches himself to his own merit and fidelity. He argues his case on the grounds of what he thinks he rightfully deserves. Even as he does this, he points to the failings of the younger son.

The elder son represents all of us who think we can make it on our own, all of us who might be proud of the kind of lives we live. He represents all of us who have an image of God as one who must reward us for the good that we do and a God whom we dare not displease because we might be punished. However, even to persons such as these, God continues to reach out in love. God continues to plead with such persons to realize that their good actions must not stem from a desire for reward or from a fear of punishment. Good actions must be the consequence of having received God’s unconditional mercy and love. They must be the result of having been loved. All persons must love and forgive unconditionally because that is the way God loves and forgives them.