Wednesday 31 January 2024

Thursday, February 1, 2024 - Homily


Thursday, February 1, 2024 -How often have you given up when the results of your action were not as you expected? Will you keep on keeping on today? How would you define Mission? Will you engage wherever you are today?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Kings 2:1-4,10-12; Mark 6:7-13

The text of today contains what may be termed as the “Mission Discourse” according to Mark. Jesus sends his disciples out on mission, and instructs them about the content of mission and provides a strategy for mission. The content combines word and action, proclamation and deed. The Kingdom is not merely a spiritual enterprise, but connected intimately with the whole of life. The strategy that Jesus gives may be summarised in one word, which is “detachment”. Jesus instructs them to be detached from material things and even from the outcome of mission. The job of the one who is sent is to engage in mission and not bother about the results. The results will be taken care of by God.

The Church has two patrons of Mission St. Francis Xavier and St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, whose lives were quite different from each other. While St. Francis Xavier was active moving from place to place with the hope of baptising as many as he could, St. Theresa of the Child Jesus spent her religious life as a Cloistered Carmelite and never went from place to place but remained where she was and still did mission. By placing these two different individuals and lives before us, the Church is pointing out to us that Mission is one: namely working to make the kingdom that Jesus inaugurated a reality. This may be done through various ministries or apostolate. While one kind of ministry may be prayer, another kind can be preaching .

Tuesday 30 January 2024

Wednesday, January 31, 2024 - Be careful of saying “I Know”, you may miss the Messiah.

To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Samuel 24:2,9-17; Mark 6:1-6

Jesus’ visit to his hometown is not a pleasant experience. While in Mark he is designated as a carpenter, in the parallel text in Matthew (Mt 13,53-58), he is designated as “the carpenter’s son”, since Matthew wants to portray Jesus as son of Joseph and so son of David. His status as a carpenter would have been lower than that of a member of the educated class, and the villagers would probably have resented the position that Jesus reached and the status he has acquired. By designating Jesus as “son of Mary” rather than “son of Joseph” they may have intended to insult Jesus, and so cut him down to size. Jesus’ response to his townspeople is in the form of a proverbial saying. Jesus is amazed at the lack of faith among his own people. Mark adds strongly at the end of the episode that Jesus “could do no mighty work there because of their unbelief” which indicates that Jesus was rendered incapable by the lack of faith of his own.

Often we deal with others in a stereotypical way and label people all too easily. This does not allow us to encounter them in their uniqueness and freshness and we may miss a great deal.

Monday 29 January 2024

Tuesday, January 30, 2024 - Homily


Tuesday, January 30, 2024 - How easily do you give up when this do not go your way? Will you persevere today?

To read the texts click on the texts:  2 Samuel 18:9-10,14,24-25,30 – 19:3;Mark 5:21-43

In the text of today, Mark has used what is known as the sandwich construction. This means that he has introduced the incident about Jairus’ daughter being ill (5,21-24), interrupted it with the cure of the woman with the flow of blood (5,25-34) and continued again and completed the incident of the curing of Jairus’ daughter (5,35-43). The reason for this sandwich construction seems to be to heighten the suspense. Since Jairus’ daughter is at the “point of death”, Jesus must not tarry but hurry if she is to be saved. Yet, Jesus tarries, confident in the knowledge that he can indeed raise even the dead.

In these miracles, both of those who are healed are female, and the number twelve appears in both. The woman has been ill for twelve years and the girl is twelve years old. In both, the cure is the result of faith. These incidents indicate that Jesus has power over both life and death. He is indeed Lord of heaven and earth.

We may tend to give up and lose heart especially when our prayers remain unanswered for a period of time. We may sometimes accept defeat and stop praying. We may lose faith. These miracles call us to continue to hope even if there are times in our lives when our prayers do not seem to be answered. If we persevere and have faith like the woman and Jairus, we too can obtain from the Lord what seems impossible.

Sunday 28 January 2024

Monday, January 29, 2024 - Homily


Monday, January 29, 2024 - How often has another person’s need been more important to you than your own?

To read the texts click on the texts:  2 Samuel 15:13-14,30; 16:5-13;Mark 5:1-20

The healing miracle of today is known as the healing of the Gerasene demoniac. The man is so utterly possessed, that it seems almost impossible that he will be healed. Addressing Jesus as the Son of the Most High God, the demon attempts to possess Jesus. However, Jesus will have none of it, and silences him with a word. The name “legion” used by the demoniac may mean on the one hand that he did not want to give his name and so be cast out by Jesus, and on the other hand may also refer to the Roman occupation of Palestine. The presence of pigs suggests that it is Gentile territory, because Jews considered pigs as unclean animals, and would not have them near. Some have raised questions about the destruction of nature because of the fact that the herd of pigs is drowned after the demon is sent into them. However, it may also be interpreted as the extent of concern that Jesus had for the man. In other words, the salvation of a human being is worth any price. The healed man becomes an apostle.

Today there are various demons that can possess each one of us. Some of these are consumerism, selfishness, addictions and the like, which result in tensions within the family and at times leads to a breakdown of family life. We need first to become aware of them and call them by their names so that with the Lord’s grace they will be exorcised from our hearts and lives. 

Saturday 27 January 2024

Sunday, January 28, 2024- Homily


Sunday, January 28, 2024 - FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - Which dog is winning in you?

To read the texts click on the texts: Dt 18:15-20; 1 Cor7:32-35; Mk 1:21-28

An old American Indian tale recounts the story of a chief who was telling a gathering of young braves about the struggle within. “It is like two dogs fighting inside of us,” the chief told them. “There is one good dog who wants to do the right and the other dog always wants to do the wrong. Sometimes the good dog seems stronger and right is winning the fight. But sometimes the bad dog is stronger and wrong is winning the fight.”

     “Who is going to win in the end?” a young brave asks.

     “The one you feed,” the chief answered.

Since for both kings and priests, authority was based on an inherited status, they often became unresponsive to people’s needs. This is one of the main reasons why prophets were needed. Prophets would not inherit their status but would be appointed by God to bring newness and revolution into the lives of people. They would be charismatic and would preach what God commanded them to preach. To some, it seems that they were self appointed. This is why they had to have a strong local following in order to limit or even nullify any attempt to thwart their message. Moses tells the people that the prophet, whom God will raise, will be like him and from among them. This will ensure that their teachings will accord with the teachings of Moses and will be for the benefit of the people even though, at times, the words they would speak would not be easy to digest.

The Gospel text of today narrates that Moses’ prophesy was fulfilled in the most perfect in Jesus. It is significant that, even before Jesus can begin his public ministry, Mark contrasts his teachings with that of the scribes. Though the content is not explicated, it is clear that the teaching of Jesus is a teaching based, not on learning as that of the scribes was but, on experience, and that he believed that his authority came directly from God, as is evident when he comes into Galilee proclaiming the “good news of God” (1:14).

This “teaching” is then shown, in action, in the exorcism that follows, which is the first miracle that Jesus works in the Gospel of Mark. Through this, the authority of Jesus is demonstrated. The demon also recognizes the authority of Jesus and regards him as superior. The demon knows that Jesus has been divinely ordained and set apart by God. As “prophet” of God, Jesus utters a commanding word and subdues the demon. The demon obeys the command and leaves the man. The crowd’s response indicates how authoritative is Jesus’ teaching. With just a word from Jesus, the demon is subdued. The coming of Jesus, as “prophet” of God, signals the end of all satanic and demonic forces.

The demonic forces that Jesus subdued in his time continue to raise their ugly heads, again and again. They take a variety of forms. The recent financial crisis from which the whole world is still reeling and because of which, many have lost their hard earned money, strikes terror in various parts of the world. The hunger of so many people when the world has enough and more for all and the environmental degradation are striking examples of these demonic forces today. One response that we might be tempted to give is to lay the blame for the present situation in our world at God’s door. Since Jesus could exorcise demons at will, what is preventing him from doing so now? Is not God concerned about the plight of so many of his people? Why does he not act? This, however, is not an adult response.

We have to realize that the demons that are rearing their ugly heads are not willed by God but are a creation of our own selfishness and self-centeredness. If we keep feeding the “bad dog: as we seem to want to do, then it will keep winning. To be sure, the coming of Jesus means that Satan’s rule is at an end, but for this to become a reality today we have to collaborate with Jesus in wanting to exorcise those demons. We can do this, no matter in what state of life we are, if we, like Paul, and have the best interests of others at hear. If we too, like him, want to promote what is good and pleasing to the Lord, then the demons can once again be subdued and God’s power can be seen at work in the world again, like it was in Jesus’ time. Then, the “good dog” will win.

Friday 26 January 2024

Saturday, January 27, 2024 - Feast of Sts. Timothy and Titus

To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Tim 1:1-8; Tit 1:1-5; Lk 10:1-9

We  celebrate today the liturgical memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, close companions of the Apostle Paul and bishops of the Catholic Church in its earliest days.Both men received letters from Paul, which are included in the New Testament.

Timothy was supposed to have come from Lystra which is in present day Turkey and was known to be a student of Sacred Scripture from his youth. He accompanied Paul on his journeys and was later sent to Thessalonica to help the Church during a period of persecution. Like Paul, he too was imprisoned and his release from prison is mentioned in in the letter to the Hebrews (Heb 13:23). Tradition has it that Timothy died a martyr for the faith like Paul before him.

Titus was born into a Non-Christian family, yet would read the Hebrew Scriptures to find ways and means to live a virtuous life. He was both assistant and interpreter of Paul was sent to the Church in Corinth when Paul could not go. He was Bishop of Crete. According to tradition Titus was not martyred, but died of old age.

The Gospel text chosen for the feast is from Luke and is about the sending of the seventy-two, which is text that is exclusive to Luke. Matthew and Mark have the sending of the Twelve, as does Luke. This then is regarded as a doublet of the sending of the Twelve in Lk. 9:1-6.

The fact that seventy-two and not just twelve are sent indicates growth and movement. The kingdom of God is preached not just by Jesus or the Twelve, but also by many more.

In some manuscripts, the number is recorded as seventy. This is probably due to the list of nations in Genesis 10, where while the Hebrew text lists seventy nations, the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) list seventy-two. This will mean that the commissioning of the seventy-two foreshadows the mission of the church to all nations.

In this sending, they are sent in pairs (not in the earlier sending of the Twelve in Lk. 9:1-6), and ahead of Jesus, in order to prepare the way before him. In this sense, they are called to be pre-cursors, forerunners like John the Baptist. The instructions begin with a prayer to be made to God, because it is his mission that they will be engaged in. At the outset they are warned that they will need to be on their guard at all times. The strategy proposed is detachment from things, persons and events. This detachment will help to proclaim the kingdom more efficaciously. Three interconnected aspects of the mission are stressed. The missionaries are to eat what is set before them in order to show the same table fellowship that Jesus showed, they are to cure the sick and to proclaim the kingdom in order to show that the kingdom is not only spiritual but also very practical and touches every aspect of human life. They are to do and also to say.

It is sometimes mistakenly thought that only religious men and women are called to be missionaries. However, as the feast of today indicates though Timothy and Titus were both Bishops in the early Church they were initially lay men (and Titus was a Non-Christian). Some also think that only those who work in the villages are to be termed missionaries. However, the sending of the seventy-two corrects this misunderstanding. The feast of today asks us to reflect on the fact that every Christian is sent on a mission and called to engage in mission, simply because mission is to be done where one is. The threefold mission task in these verses is a further confirmation of the fact that mission includes every aspect of life and so is not the responsibility of only a few, but every disciple of Jesus.

Thursday 25 January 2024

Friday, January 26, 2024 - Homily


Friday, January 26, 2024 - India's Republic Day - The Truth in Jesus will set you free

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Tim 2:1-6; Jn 8:33-36

January 26, 1950, is one of the most important days in Indian history as it was on this day the constitution of India came into force and India became a truly sovereign state. On this day India became a totally republican unit.

It was at the Lahore Session of the Indian National Congress at midnight of December 31, 1929 - January 1, 1930, that the Tri-Colour Flag was unfurled by the nationalists and a pledge taken that every year on January 26, the "Republic Day" would be celebrated and that the people would unceasingly strive for the establishment of a Sovereign Democratic Republic of India. The professed pledge came to fruition on January 26, 1950, when the Constitution of India framed by the Constituent Assembly of India came into force, although the Independence from the British rule was achieved on August 15, 1947. 

In the first reading chosen for today, the primary emphasis seems to be to stress the breadth of concern for each other that Christians must aspire to express which is a reflection of God’s concern is. Prayer must be communitarian in that it must be made for all. Those in authority need prayers and so Christians must prayer for them.

The Gospel text of today is about Jesus’ interpretation of freedom. Freedom, according to Jesus, is primarily freedom from sin. Sin in this context may be seen as the refusal to acknowledge Jesus as sent by God to set people free. Consequently, freedom is to know and follow the truth. THE TRUTH in all its fullness is manifested in Jesus.

On the 74th Anniversary of our Republic day we need to ask ourselves if we are indeed free.

Wednesday 24 January 2024

Thursday, January 25, 2024 - Homily


Thursday, January 25, 2024 - The Conversion of St. Paul - Saul changed his name to Paul after his conversion. What will you do as a result of having met Jesus Christ?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 22:3-16; Mk16:15-18

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 23 January 2024

Wednesday, January 24, 2024 - Homily


Wednesday, January 24, 2024 - How often have you given into despair and lost hope? Will you continue to hope today?

To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Samuel 7:4-17; Mark 4:1-20

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

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

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

Monday 22 January 2024

Tuesday, January 23, 2024 - Homily


Tuesday, January 23, 2024 - If Jesus were to point to his family today, would you be counted as a member?

To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Samuel 6:12-15,17-19; Mark 3:31-35

The text of today forms the second part of the “sandwich” construction that Mark has used here. He introduced the family of Jesus in 3,20-21, interrupted this with the text on the Beelzebul controversy (3,22-30) and returns to the family of Jesus is today’s text 3,31-35. By using such a structure, Mark indicates that the family of Jesus are also hostile to Jesus. Also, Mark places them “outside” while Jesus is “inside” the house. This too indicates that they are not disciples. Jesus then defines family in terms of those who do the will of God. Some also think that by not mentioning the father of Jesus, Mark wants to assert that for Jesus and his disciples, only God is Father.

We may imagine that because we have been baptised are bear the name Christian we are automatically counted as members of Jesus’ family. However, baptism alone will not make us members of Jesus’ family, but the living out of the baptismal promises in our lives. This means that we must each do what we are called to do, namely our best at every given moment. 

Sunday 21 January 2024

Monday, January 22, 2024 - Homily


Sunday, January 21, 2024 - Homily


Monday, January 22, 2024 - Is your general attitude to life positive or negative? Will you make an attempt to interpret every incident positively today?

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

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

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

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

Saturday 20 January 2024

Sunday, January 21, 2024 - A New Mind and a New heart

To read the texts click on the texts: Jon 3:1-5, 10; 1 Cor 7:29-31; Mk 1:14-20

The common thread that runs through the first reading and gospel of today is the invitation, or call that is made, and the response to it. If, in the first reading, Jonah calls the people of Nineveh to repentance and they respond, in the Gospel of today, Jesus calls the first disciples to be fishers of men and women, and they respond. A positive note is thus struck. There is an adequate response made to both calls.

Jonah is invited by God, in the first reading of today, with three imperatives. He is called to arise, to go, and to proclaim the message that God himself will give. He responds perfectly. He arose, went, and proclaimed. Though the content of his proclamation is not specified by God, Jonah proclaims a call to repentance, an overturning, a complete reversal of the world. The response of all people, from the greatest to the least, was to listen to the proclamation and to act on it immediately.

That this is the case is made more than amply clear in the preaching of Jesus, when he “came into Galilee”. However, even before Jesus can utter the first words in his Gospel, Mark gives us four pointers or indicators. The reason why he does this is because the message that Jesus will proclaim and the words that he will speak are revolutionary and novel. The words of Jesus will result in waking the listener from his/her sleep and in turning the world of the listener upside down. The first of these four indicators is a time indicator; “After John had been arrested”. The reason for the mention of the arrest of John the Baptist here is to effectively remove John from the scene and to prepare the reader for both the departure of John and the arrival of Jesus. This is because with Jesus, a new time has come, a new message is brought and a new kingdom is inaugurated. The old time of John is now over. The second indicator is a place indicator: “Jesus came into Galilee” which, in Mark, is the place where Jesus is at home. It is a place of acceptance and proclamation and the place where miracles are worked. The third indicator is a form indicator: “Proclaiming” which indicates, as in the case of Jonah, the crying out of an urgent message. The proclamation does not explain or give details, it simply invites, beckons, and challenges the listener to hear and respond. The fourth and final indicator is a content indicator: “The good news of God, and the good news that God has authorized Jesus to proclaim. This proclamation of Jesus may be summed up as: “The kingdom of God is here. Repent”.

The placement of the words is extremely important if one is to understand fully the implications of this radical proclamation. In this proclamation, the indicative is before the imperative or, in other words, because the kingdom has come, people are called to repentance. It does not state that the kingdom will come only if people repent or, that people must repent first for the kingdom to come. God has taken the initiative, the first step, and the humans have only to respond. The kingdom is given gratis, as a gift to anyone who is open to receive it.

What does this mean in practice? On the lips of Jesus, the inauguration of the kingdom would mean that, in him and in his ministry of preaching and healing, God reigns or God rules. God’s forgiveness and mercy had been made visible. In other words it means that God loves unconditionally, he forgives unconditionally. The response of those who are willing to accept this startling revelation is one of acceptance of that love, forgiveness, and acceptance. This is not as easy as it sounds. Jesus calls the people to repentance which does not mean that one must be sorry for one’s sins. It means, rather, that one must get a new mind, a new heart, a new vision, and a new way of looking, like the man who came home one day and told his wife, “Honey, I’ve changed my mind”. “Thank God”, his wife replied, “I hope the new one will function better”.


Since Jesus wanted to reveal this truth to as many as possible, he calls disciples to share in this mission. Simon and Andrew, James and John are called, and they respond immediately, and with generosity. They are willing to join Jesus in his mission of transforming the world.

Stressing the immediacy of this message, Paul invites the Corinthian community, in the second reading of today, to this change of mind, heart, and vision. It is a call to focus on things that matter, like the fact of God’s love, rather than on things which will take one away from this revelation.

This call is being issued to us today. It is a call that we are challenged to issue to others. It is a realization of the unconditional love, mercy, and forgiveness of God, made visible and available in Jesus, freely, without charge or condition. It is a love which must, therefore, be shared with others.

Friday 19 January 2024

Saturday, January 20, 2024 - Homily


Saturday, January 20, 2024 - Would Jesus point to you as a member of his family? Why?

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

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

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

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

Thursday 18 January 2024

Friday, January 19, 2024 - Homily


Friday, January 19, 2024 - If Jesus were to choose a nickname for you, what would that be? Why?

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 17 January 2024

Thursday, January 18, 2024 - Homily


Thursday, January 18, 2024 - If you were to choose one word to describe your relationship with Jesus what word would you choose?

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 16 January 2024

Wednesday, January 17, 2024 - Homily


Wednesday, January 17, 2024 - Is there a synchrony between your words and your actions?

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

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

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

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

Monday 15 January 2024

Tuesday, January 16, 2024 - Homily


Tuesday, January 16, 2024 - How often in your life have rules and regulations become more important than love? What will you do about it today?

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

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

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

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

Sunday 14 January 2024

Monday, January 15, 2024 - Homily


Monday, January 15, 2024 - How often have your actions been motivated out of fear rather than love? Will you perform at least one action from love today?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Sam 15:16-23; Mk 2:18-22

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

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

Saturday 13 January 2024

Sunday, January 14, 2024 - Homily


Sunday, January 14, 2024 - Called to be witnesses

To read the texts click on the texts:1 Sam 3:3-10, 19; 1Cor 6:13-15, 17-20; Jn 1:35-42

The feast of the Baptism of the Lord begins what is known as ‘Ordinary Time’ in the Church’s liturgical year. Ordinary, in this context, does not mean mundane or regular or usual or average. It comes from ‘Ordinal’ which means ‘counted time’ or time that is not seasonal. During this time, the Church invites us to reflect on the mystery of Christ in all its wonder and fullness and to be inspired to live out what we celebrate in the life of Christ, in our own lives.

In many ways, Ordinary time is really extra-ordinary time because we realize, through the scripture readings and reflections, that God in Christ enters our ordinary world and makes it extra-ordinary with his presence. This entry of God into our lives also challenges us to find the extra-ordinary in the ordinariness of life.

The first reading and Gospel of today might seem, at first glance, as ‘Call’ narratives. However, they go much deeper. In the case of Samuel, it is more an inauguration of his mission rather than a call. The inauguration of Samuel’s mission as the mediator of God’s word does not simply happen. A lot of effort is necessary on the part of both God and Samuel. Though Samuel is sleeping near the ark, which is a source of divine presence and illumination, he cannot perceive the presence of God. Eli, who is nearly blind and sleeping away from the divine presence of the ark, perceives that the Lord is speaking to Samuel. Samuel makes the response suggested to him by Eli, but he omits the word “Lord”, possibly because he did not yet “know the Lord”. At this point, the Lord “came and stood” before Samuel, indicating a visionary as well as auditory experience. The word of the Lord is now reliably present in the midst of Israel through Samuel. Samuel’s commission is to tell people that the Lord is going to wake people up from their slumber and do something that will make their ears ring.

The Gospel text of today begins by speaking of the witness of God’s word: John the Baptist. Even as Samuel’s mission is to take people up, the mission of John the Baptist goes even further, namely, to point Jesus out to people. It is interesting that of the four titles that John used to identify Jesus earlier, he chooses here the title “Lamb of God”. While this title may signify the conquering lamb of Yahweh, here it signifies the lamb that is led to the slaughter, the suffering servant of God. John points Jesus out to his disciples as the one who will save  people by giving his life as a ransom for all.

The disciples realize that, in Jesus, they will receive more than John could ever hope to give. The disciples start following Jesus not fully knowing what this will entail. The first words that Jesus asks them, which are the first words that Jesus speaks in the Gospel of John, are in the form of a question, “What do you seek?” This question is at once both courteous and penetrating. It requires the disciples to go into the deepest recesses of their beings to answer it. They respond with a question of their own, “Rabbi, where do you stay (remain)?” They do not seem to be asking for Jesus’ residential address, but want to know where Jesus’ being is. They want to know what motivates Jesus and makes him the kind of person that he is. They want to know the source of his power and authority. Jesus does  not answer with an address, but with an invitation. They must “Come and See”.. If they really want to know who Jesus is, and what he stands for, they must experience him for themselves. They must stay where he stays and they must remain where he remains. They do that and it is the turning point in their lives. John signifies this by stating that “It was the tenth hour”. The tenth period, according to some apocalyptic calculations, was the decisive hour, the hour when one had to decide for or against. The disciples decided for Jesus. This, however, is only one part of the story. What follows is as important or even more important. The disciples, like Samuel and John the Baptist also become mediators or witnesses of God’s word

Paul like the first disciples continued to witness to God’s word and, in the second reading of today, urges the Christian community to do the same. He does this by reminding them that they are, indeed, temples of the Holy Spirit, who should witness to Christ through their actions.

This call to witness to, and be mediators of, God’s word made flesh in Jesus, is the responsibility of anyone who professes faith in him. We must be able to say like Samuel: “Here I am. You called me”.

Friday 12 January 2024

Saturday, January 13, 2024 - Homily


Saturday, January 13, 2024 - When you look at an egg will you see the eagle? Has your stereotypical way of looking prevented you from seeing people as they are?

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

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

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

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

Thursday 11 January 2024

Friday, January 12, 2024 - Homily


Friday, January 12, 2024 - Is there an area in my life in which I suffer from paralysis? Do I believe that Jesus can heal me?

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 10 January 2024

Thursday, January 11, 2024 - Homily


Thursday, January 11, 2024 - Will you learn to pray like the leper and say, “If it is your will grant me my petition”?

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 9 January 2024

Wednesday, January 10, 2024 - Homily


Wednesday, January 10, 2024 - Do you use the talents God have gifted you for service, or do you keep them to yourself? Do you appreciate good health, or do you more often than not complain that things are not as good, as you would like them to be?

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 8 January 2024

Tuesday, January 9, 2024 - Homily


Tuesday, January 9, 2024 - How often is there a dichotomy between your words and your actions? Will you try to synchronise them today?

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday 7 January 2024

Monday, January 8, 2024 - Homily


Monday, January 8, 2024 - The Baptism of the Lord - What does your Baptism mean to you? How will you show this in your life?

To read the texts click on the texts: Isa42:1-4,6-7; Acts 10:34-38; Mk 1:7-11

The feast of the Baptism of the Lord brings to an end the Christmas season. That the Baptism of Jesus was historical is doubted by almost no one today. The reasons for this are not merely because it is an event that is narrated by all the Synoptic Gospels, but mainly because despite the fact that Matthew and Luke are struggling to narrate the event of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, they do narrate it in their Gospels. While Mark states quite unambiguously that Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan (Mk. 1:9); Luke will have John the Baptist in prison (Lk.3:19) before the baptism of Jesus (Lk.3:21) and does not state explicitly who baptized Jesus. Matthew is careful not to have John the Baptist preach a baptism for the “forgiveness of sins” and alone adds a dialogue between Jesus and John to stress both Jesus’ superiority and that John baptized Jesus only after Jesus allowed him to do so and in order “to fulfil all righteousness”.


Though there are differences in the first part of their narration, all three evangelists agree about the three events that took place at Jesus’ baptism. The first was that the “heavens were torn open”, the second was that Jesus is the only one who sees the heavens torn open and the Spirit descend, and only he hears the divine voice. The heavens’ being torn’ open reflects a metaphor for the coming of God into human history to deliver his people. It reflects the prayer of Isaiah to God to repeat for one last time the great redemptive acts for his people. The dove imagery symbolizes the creative activity of the Spirit of God and also the coming of the Spirit for empowerment. Jesus is empowered and his unique status is confirmed by the Spirit which comes down from heaven. The climax, however, is what the voice from heaven says. It is clear that in Mark Jesus receives an invitation from God. This invitation is through the combination of two Old Testament texts. The first of these is Ps. 2:7 which says “You are my beloved Son” and the second is from Isa 42:1 which says “in you my soul delights”. Ps.2 is a coronation Psalm originally referring to the Davidic king. It was sung when the king was being placed on his throne and so has to do with coronation, sonship and kingship. It has to do with glory and power. Isa 42 is the first of the four suffering servant songs in the second book of Isaiah and so has to do with the crowning with thorns, with being servant and slave. This means that the voice invites Jesus to be King and Servant, to be Servant king and clearly in Mark to be King who becomes king by being servant.

That this is clearly Mark’s intention is confirmed by many indicators in his Gospel. Of these one stands out. This is the indicator given my Mark after the death of Jesus.

After the death of Jesus on the Cross, two incidents occur. The first is that the inner veil separating the holy of holies from the rest of the sanctuary is torn open, much like the heavens were torn open at the baptism. This might be intended to reveal that God is no longer present in the sanctuary or that now there is open access to God’s presence. It might also be that the torn veil foreshadowed the destruction of the Temple. While these interpretations are reasonable, it seems most likely, however, that Mark meant that true worship is now no longer in the Temple but on the Cross. The second incident that occurs after the death of Jesus is the Centurion’s confession. While at the baptism of Jesus it was the heavenly voice that called him “beloved Son”, here it is a human voice, the voice of a Gentile who calls Jesus “Son of God”. Jesus “becomes” Son of God and King on the Cross, when his arms are opened out in total surrender to the will of God. He accepted the invitation from God and responded to it wholeheartedly.

This paradoxical manifestation then is the focus of the readings and of the Baptism. The mysterious prophetic figure that Isaiah speaks about in the first reading of today in the first of the four servant songs is clearly in Mark, Jesus himself. He will fulfil the prophecy of Isaiah in every single aspect. He will bring forth God’s justice to all and in an unobtrusive quiet way. He will make the broken whole. His manner will be gentle, and he will be respectful of others especially the weak and will not give in to discouragement or despair. He will accomplish his mission.

This manner of Jesus is what Peter highlights in his speech to Cornelius and his household in which he summarizes Jesus’ life and mission. Jesus, God’s anointed, “went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed”.

Thus the feast of the Baptism of the Lord which begins the Ordinary time of the year is a feast which issues an invitation to each of us who are willing to hear. This means that a believer in Jesus is willing to accept that pain is part of the human condition. That joy can be found even in the midst of pain, happiness can be found even in the midst of sorrow and hope is present even in seeming despair.

Saturday 6 January 2024

Sunday, January 7, 2024 - Homily


Sunday, January 7, 2024 - The Epiphany - How BIG is your CHRIST?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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