Friday 12 July 2024

Saturday, July 13, 2024 - Homily


 

Saturday, July 13, 2024 - Do you give up or give in when difficulties come your way? Do you throw up your hands in despair? Will you continue to persevere and trust today?

 To read the texts click on the texts: Isaiah 6:1-8; Mt 10:24-33

In the verses of today, a parallel is drawn between the disciples who are sent by Jesus and Jesus himself. The disciples will share the same fate as their master. His response to negative assessment of his mission was equanimity and this must be the response of the disciples’ as well. They must not retaliate, but continue to persevere in the firm hope that they will eventually succeed. They are asked to be fearless in mission. The command “not to be afraid” is repeated twice in these verses. The reason for their fearlessness is that the Father is in control even if all evidence is to the contrary. If they remain faithful they will show themselves to be true disciples.

We often begin things with a bang and then end them with a whimper. This is because sometimes our enthusiasm runs away with us. What is required is perseverance and this is more likely if we start slowly and steadily (as Jesus himself did) and then let things build up gradually than if we start with much fanfare, which soon fizzles out.

Thursday 11 July 2024

Friday, July 12, 2024 - Homily


 

Friday, July 12, 2024 When the going gets tough, the tough get going. What do you make of this statement?

To read the texts click on the texts: Hosea 14:2-10; Mt 10:16-23

The sayings found in Matthew’s Mission Discourse here are found in the Eschatological Discourse of Mark (Mk 13,9-13). This is an indication that for Matthew, Mission is already eschatological. The punishment, which is referred to here is not random, but official punishment from members of organised authority. Even in this difficult situation the disciples are offered encouragement. They will depend not on their own strength, but on the Holy Spirit. They are to be missionaries even in the courtroom. Their imprisonment and trial must be regarded as an opportunity to make mission known. Mission takes priority even over family ties and if family ties have to be broken because of mission then so be it. The affirmation of the coming of the Son of Man is probably meant to provide succour to the missionaries in their distress.

Jesus is not calling us here to be sadists and look for suffering, persecution and pain. Rather he is challenging us to go about doing what we have to do, to be as prudent as possible about it and if despite that persecution, suffering and pain come, to be prepared and ready for it and not to be afraid.

Wednesday 10 July 2024

Thursday, July 11, 2024 - Homily


 

Thursday, July 11, 2024 - How often have you focussed on the result rather than on the action? Will you focus only on the action today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Hosea 11:1-4,8-9; Mt 10:7-15

The text of today, which is part of the Mission Discourse of Matthew contains the instructions for Mission. Three points may be noticed. The first is that mission is not only words but also action. Jesus sends the disciples not only to preach but also to heal. The second is that Jesus provides a strategy for mission which may be summarised in one word namely, DETACHMENT. The call is to detachment from anything, which will hold a person up or prevent him or her from engaging in mission. The third is that Jesus calls the disciples from a detachment even from the outcome of mission. They must not be concerned about the results or the fruits, but simply do what needs to be done.

Often, too much of focus on the results of our actions do not allow us to focus on the action itself. Consequently, our action is neither effective nor efficacious. If we continue to keep in mind that the Kingdom is not ours but His and we are only called to do our best in striving to make this kingdom a reality in the lives of others, then our action will be both effective and efficacious. Detachment even from the results of our action is an indication that we are aware that God is always in control.

Tuesday 9 July 2024

Wednesday, July 9, 2024 - Homily


 

Wednesday, July 10, 2024 - How would you define “your” mission today? Are you engaging in mission?

To read the texts click on the texts: Hosea 10:1-3,7-8.12; Mt 10:1-7

The text of today is what may be termed as the Introduction to the Mission Discourse of Matthew (10,1- 42). It is only here that the Twelve are called “apostles”. This may be because of the context of the “sending” of the Twelve. Matthew has arranged the list into six pairs of two, by using the conjunction “and” after the first of each pair. The statement of Jesus to “go nowhere among the Gentiles” (10,5b) might seem harsh, but it must be kept in mind that even historically, the disciples were reluctant to go to non-Jews even after the resurrection and it took considerable time for the Church to realise that it had a universal mission. It must also be noted that this Universality is present at the end of the Gospel of Matthew when the risen Jesus commands the disciples to go to “all nations” (28,18-20).

The Mission of the disciples is both to preach and to heal, to say and do, word and action.

Our Mission as disciples of Jesus is not merely a spiritual enterprise and not only to a select view. It is a practical mission, which includes the material, economic and tangible areas of people’s lives, and must include all. As disciples called to Mission we are called to make the world we live in a better place for everyone.

Monday 8 July 2024

Tuesday, July 9, 2024 - Homily


 

Tuesday, July 9, 2024 - “There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so”. Do you agree with this statement? Why?

 To read the texts click on the texts: Hosea 8:4-7,11-13; Mt 9:32-38

Our text for today includes the final miracle in Matthew’s Miracle Cycle. The response to the same miracle is two-fold. On the one hand, the crowd seeing the miracle are amazed, and speak of their amazement, but on the other, the Pharisees’ the power that Jesus has to Beelzebul. What follows is a summary statement of the words and deeds of Jesus, which is very similar to the summary statement in 4,23 before the Sermon on the Mount. By repeating the summary statement here after the Miracle Cycle, Matthew shows that Jesus is Messiah not only in words (as expressed in the Sermon on the Mount) but also in deeds (as explicated in the Miracle Cycle).

Often the external stimulus is the same for two persons and yet each responds differently. This is an indication that it is not the external stimulus that is causing the response, but the person him/herself. In other words, each of us can decide how we want to respond. We can look at the half-filled or half-empty part of a bottle. We can look at the black spot or at the white wall. It depends on what we want to see and how we see.

Sunday 7 July 2024

Monday, July 8, 2024 - Homily


 

Monday, July 8, 2024 - On a scale of 1 to 10 where would you mark your faith? Why?

To read the texts click on the texts: Hosea 2:16-18,21-22; Mt 9:18-26

In the text of today, which Matthew has taken from Mark, the sandwich construction is maintained. This means that the first incident is interrupted by the narration of another incident complete in itself, and after this the first incident is resumed and completed. The story that is inserted into the story of raising the ruler’s daughter is the story of the healing of a woman with a hemorrhage. While Mark gives us the name of the leader of the synagogue, Jairus (Mark 5,22), Matthew omits his name. Matthew also omits a number of Marcan details namely Jesus’ question about who touched him and the disciples response, the fear of the woman about being found out and her falling down before Jesus. In Matthew it is very clear that the woman is healed not by a magic touch but by faith. While in Mark, the messengers come to inform Jairus about his daughter’s death, this whole scene is absent in Matthew, because in Matthew, the girl is already dead when the ruler comes to him. This has the effect of the ruler professing resurrection faith in his entreaty.

In Matthew, the story becomes a confessional statement of faith in the power of the resurrected Jesus.

In the first few days or even weeks of a terminal illness, the person who is ill continues to hope that he/she will get well. As time goes by and the healing does not occur, soon hope begins to dim. Finally the person gives up and gives in. The woman’s attitude in the story of today is calling each of us to perseverance, hope and faith and to develop an attitude of never giving up. That we must cultivate such an attitude is made clearer when we realise that Jesus could raise even those whom others gave up for dead.

Saturday 6 July 2024

Sunday, July 7, 2024 - Homily


 

Sunday, July 7, 2024 - Be careful of saying “I know”. You may miss the Messiah.

 To read the texts click on the texts: Ezek 2:2-5;2 Cor 12:7-10; Mk 6:1-6

When I go to a place where I am not known, the first question I am often asked is “Father, where are you from?” I reply to this question not in words, but by pointing my thumb and looking upwards at the sky. The person who asks the question will look at my thumb and glance upwards and then respond, “Father, we have all come from heaven, but where are you from?” My response is to continue to point upwards without saying a word. One important reason why I do this is because of what we hear in the Gospel text of today.

The Jesus, who has come to his hometown, is a Jesus who has been mighty in word and deed. He is a Jesus who has exorcised a demon, healed numerous people including a leper, a paralytic, and a man with a withered arm. He is a Jesus who has calmed a storm, healed a woman with a hemorrhage and even raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead. He is also a Jesus who has spoken mightily through his word and revealed in simple language that even the unlettered can understand the secret of the kingdom of God. Yet, when he comes to his hometown, instead of being welcomed like the mighty prophet that he has shown himself to be, the people respond with disbelief.

This is, first of all, because they “know”. They “know” who Jesus is.  They “know” where he comes from and what he is capable of. They cannot believe that this man, who is one of them, can be capable of all that he has done. They refuse to believe. This is made explicit in the statement, “… and they took offence at him”.

Their negative response to Jesus had a tremendous impact on Jesus and on them. While, on the one hand, they rendered Jesus incapable, on the other hand, they missed out on all the graces they could have received if only they had remained open to the revelation that he was making. Thus, Jesus “could do not mighty work there”. However, this did not completely immobilize or paralyze Jesus. He continued to go to places where he was needed and taught.

A similar situation is addressed in the first reading of today. Ezekiel is asked to go to his own people and address them. He is to alert them of the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple if they continue to live as they do. He is warned, however, that they are stubborn and impudent. He is warned that they are rude, disrespectful, and closed. Yet, the message has to be communicated and when it has, they will know what they have missed if they refuse to hear.

There are two dangers that the readings of today warn us about. The first is that of our familiarity with the Lord. Since we may be cradle Christians, we may tend to think we know everything about the Lord and thus, set limits on what he can and cannot do. This danger is pointed out to Paul in the second reading of today in which God instructs him to let God be God. He is a human and must trust that God’s weakness is stronger than his strength and that God’s foolishness is wiser than his wisdom. Paul realizes this and therefore can boast about his weakness because he trusts in God’s strength.

The second danger that we are warned about today is Stereotyping. Stereotyping people is common among many today. We stereotype on the basis of country, state, religion, and caste. We tend to categorize people on these bases and so, prejudge them much like the people of Jesus’ hometown did. We lump all of one kind together and look at them with prejudiced and jaundiced eyes. We do not give them a chance to reveal their uniqueness, because once we “know” where they are from, we think we “know” all there is to know about them. We close our minds and eyes and ears and refuse to see and hear. We refuse to change our opinion because of what we already “know”. “They are always like that”, “they will never change”, and “what else can you expect from them” are some of the responses which reflect this closed attitude. This kind of attitude leads to a loss on both sides. We lose out on the individuality of the person we have judged and he or she is not allowed to be the person that he or she is because “We know”.  Be careful of saying “I know”. You may miss the Messiah.

Friday 5 July 2024

July 6, 2024 - Homily


 

Saturday, July 6, 2024 - How often have you made rules and regulations ends in themselves? What will you do about it today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Amos 9:11-15; Mt 9:14-17

The question about fasting is raised here by the disciples of John the Baptist. Jesus’ first response is that the wedding guests do not fast during the wedding. In other words the time of Jesus is considered as a time of celebration, it is the time of the presence of the Kingdom of God. The second and third responses are about the new cloth and old garment and about new wine in old wine skins. The point here seems to be that both have their place in appropriate settings and must not be mixed up. Fasting does have a place in spirituality, but must not be made an end it itself.

It is possible that even our good actions might take a hold of us and so become ends in themselves. There is only one end: God and all else that we do even if it is good can never be an end. We must use them as means to reach God. This means that if something helps me, I use it, if it hinders me I give it up.

Thursday 4 July 2024

Friday, July 5, 2024 - Homily


 

Friday, July 5, 2024 - Is your “usual” way of looking a “negative or pessimistic” way? Will you look at persons, things and events positively today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Amos 8:4-6,9-12; Mt 9:9-13

The text of today 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.

Wednesday 3 July 2024

Thursday, July 4, 2024 - Homily


 

Wednesday, July 3, 2024 - Homiy


 

Thursday, July 4, 2024 - Do you believe that God has forgiven you all your sins? Will you now extend the same forgiveness to at least one person whom you find it difficult to forgive?

To read the texts click on the texts: Amos 7:1-10; Mt 9:1-8

The miracle of the healing of the paralytic who was let down from the roof which forms our text for today is found also in Mark (2, 1-12) and Luke (5,17-26). Matthew has omitted some details from Mark and thus shortened his narrative. Through these omissions, Matthew allows the reader to focus exclusively on Jesus and his words. It is unusual that Jesus does not respond to the paralytic’s immediate need but first forgives him his sins. The healing of the man is done later and only as demonstration of the fact that Jesus has power and authority to forgive sin, because the scribes consider Jesus’ pronouncement of forgiveness of sins as blasphemy. Since Jesus heals by the power of God, he can forgive sins by the same power. In Matthew, the crowd does not praise God for the miracle like they do in Mark and Luke, but for the authority to forgive sins attributed not only to Jesus but to human beings (“such authority to human beings” – Mt 9,8).

Most doctors today are convinced that there is an intimate connection between negative feelings and especially unforgiveness and physical ailments and advice a positive attitude and forgiving and letting go, for quicker healing. If we persist in our unforgiveness, we will continue to have a variety of ailments and sometimes no amount of external medicine will help at all. Forgive it is good for health.

Tuesday 2 July 2024

Wednesday, July 3, 2024 - St. Thomas, Apostle of India - Will one person be 'believing' today because you have made Jesus known to him/her?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 10:24-35; Heb 1:2-3; Jn 20:24-29

Thomas the Apostle, also called Didymus (meaning "Twin," as does "Thomas" in Aramaic") was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was perhaps the only Apostle who went outside the Roman Empire to preach the Gospel. He is also believed to have crossed the largest area, which includes the Parthian Empire and India.

The text chosen for the Feast of St. Thomas from the Gospel is often mistakenly referred to as that of “Doubting Thomas”. However, that is a misnomer. Jesus does not use the word doubt in these verses. Rather, Jesus chides Thomas for being unbelieving. The story focuses on the grounds of faith. Thomas seeks tangible proof which the disciples are unable to provide. Jesus provides this for Thomas and in so doing asks him to move from unbelief to faith.

Thomas does not touch the hands and side of Jesus as Jesus invites him to do, but responds with the highest acclamation or title for Jesus anywhere in the New Testament. Thomas sees God fully revealed in Jesus. This is why Jesus is for Thomas “My Lord and my God!”

The Beatitude or blessing pronounced by Jesus on future generations’ states that having seen Jesus is not a prerequisite for faith. One must first believe in order to see.

Monday 1 July 2024

Tuesday, July 2, 2024 - Homily


 

Tuesday, July 2, 2024 - Have the “storms” of your life sometimes overwhelmed you? Will you believe that with Jesus in the boat of your life these can be controlled?

To read the texts click on the texts: Amos 3:1-8;4:11-12; Mt 8:23-27

The miracle in our text for today known sometimes as the Calming of The Storm is found also in Mark (4,35-41) and Luke (8,22-25). It is only Matthew, however, who emphasises that the disciples “followed Jesus into the boat”. The miracle is not only a nature miracle but also a story told to indicate that Jesus has control over the storms of life itself. In Matthew the “storm” indicates the stormy experience of the community (represented by the disciples in the boat) who follow Jesus. While in Mark the cry is one of distress (“Teacher do you not care if we perish?”), in Matthew, it is a liturgical-sounding cry for help (Save, Lord; we are perishing). In both Mark and Luke the reprimand about “little faith” is after Jesus has calmed the storm, whereas in Matthew, the reprimand precedes the calming. This is an indication that “faith” is primary, and if the disciples had the faith needed, they would not be agitated.

We may sometimes get disturbed and agitated when thigs do not happen the way we expect them to or when we are faced with a difficult situation. At times like the disciples in the Gospel of Mark we may accuse Jesus of not being concerned about our plight and at other times like the disciples in the Gospel of Matthew we may plead with him to come to our aid. No matter which approach we may use, we need to remember that he will let nothing happen to us that is not part of his plan and will. We have to continue to do what is required of as and confidently leave the rest to him.