Monday, October 8, 2018

Twenty Eighth Sunday of the Year: B: October 14, 2018

"THE QUESTION OF GAINING ETERNAL LIFE"

First Reading: Wisdom 7: 7-11
Second Reading: Hebrews 4: 12-13
Gospel Reading: Mark 10: 17-30

   * First reading is from the book of Wisdom. This passage explains to us the priceless gift of Wisdom of God. According to the author, all possessions - wealth and riches in the world - are nothing compared to the Wisdom of God. Because all good things in the world has its origin in the Wisdom of God.

   * Second reading is from the letter to Hebrews. This passage tells us about the power of the Word of God. The Word of God is sharper than a two edged sword which pierces through the soul and spirit. The author warns all believers that nothing they do, can be hidden from God for their innermost thoughts and intentions are known to Him.

"The rich young man and Jesus"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Mark. This passage speaks about an young man who wanted to inherit eternal life and sought advice from Jesus. After listening to him, Jesus told him to kept the commandments. The the young man told Jesus that he kept the commandments all his life. At this answer Jesus looked at him with affection and wanted this law abiding young man to become one of His disciples.
So Jesus challenged him and told him "Go and sell everything you have and give the money to the poor and come and follow me". When he heard these words of Jesus, the young man left Jesus and went away quietly.
His vast wealth held him back from being a disciple of Jesus. If he was ready to leave his possessions, he would have gained eternal life. He was attached to his wealth more than Jesus. After this Jesus told His disciples,"how hard it is for those who have riches to enter the Kingdom of God". The disciples were certainly surprised by this observation of Jesus. Because according to Jewish understanding wealth and power are signs of God's blessings. The rich young man in the Gospel loved his possessions more than God and hence he lost eternal life which he was seeking.
The challenge that Jesus puts to us is "If you want to be perfect, sell everything, give to the poor and then come and follow me". How many of us can accept this challenge is the question.
"You cannot serve God and money" - Mk 6:24 & Lk. 16:13

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Twenty Seventh Sunday of the Year: B: October 7, 2018

"THE QUESTION OF MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE"
"Is divorce permitted?"

First Reading: Genesis 2: 18-24
Second Reading: Hebrews 2: 9-11
Gospel Reading: Mark 10: 2-16

   * First reading is from the book of Genesis. This passage gives an account of how God brought woman to man. When man saw her, he readily acknowledged her as "bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh" which implies the intimate and close relationship between man and woman. Thus the book of Genesis instructs us how man and woman should share their lives with each other.

   *Second reading is from the letter to the Hebrews. In this passage St.Paul speaks of the humiliations, sufferings and death of Jesus. Through Jesus' death salvation of humankind is perfected through sufferings. It instructs us that in order to be sanctified we too need to undergo sufferings. 

"Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?"
Some people asked Jesus the above question and it is being repeated ever since. Is divorce permitted by the Church? Today's Gospel reading from St. Mark gives us some interesting and deep insights into this very difficult and very relevant question.
Jewish law permitted divorce. However when asked Jesus clearly and unequivocally stated that it was allowed due to the hardness of their heart. God never intended that married couple should ever divorce. Hence the answer given by Jesus "What God has joined together, let not man put asunder" is very important. 
Disciples of Jesus were rather disheartened and unhappy with the answer of Jesus. So Jesus clarified the matter and said, one who divorces his or her legally married partner and marries another commits the sin of adultery. Hence indissolubility of the marriage bond is affirmed by Jesus.
As we are aware, breakdown of many marriages is due to selfishness and lack of acceptance of one another by partners. Often it  ends up in endless blame game and eventually in divorce.
"Marriage is an act of will that signifies and involves a mutual gift, which unites the spouses and binds them to their eventual souls, with whom they make up a sole family - a domestic Church" - Pope John Paul II 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Twenty Sixth Sunday of the Year :B: September 30, 2018

"HE WHO IS NOT AGAINST US IS FOR US"

First Reading : Numbers 11:55-59
Second Reading: James 5: 1-6
Gospel Reading: Mark 9: 38-43, 47-48

   * First reading is from the book of Numbers. This passage speaks of God's Spirit descending on seventy elders of Israel and how they were empowered to prophesy. However two men who were not in that group, Elad and Medad  too received the gift  and they too were able to prophesy . Joshua who was ministering to Moses was upset and he wanted Moses to forbid these two men from prophesying. But Moses told Joshua that it is not right to be jealous of God's gifts. He took a more positive approach that "if only all the Lord's people were prophets that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them".

   *Second reading is from the letter of St. James. In this passage the Apostle warns us that our ill-gotten wealth gained by oppressing labourers and harvesters will  be an evidence against us before the Lord. He further adds that everyone who lives in luxury and pleasure will be answerable if they do not share their wealth with the poor and the needy.

"Respecting people of different beliefs"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Mark. The theme of this passage is tolerance as expressed by Jesus. John, one of the twelve Apostles, told Jesus about a man casting out demons in His name and that he had forbidden this man because he was not a follower of Jesus. After listening to John, Jesus expressed His disapproval about John's action. He corrected him and told him, "He who is not against us is with us". Hence Jesus took a more positive view that instead of discouraging that person, he should be encouraged. 
We have an important lesson from the Lord from this incident. We should appreciate and encourage all those who do good in the world around us no matter whether they belong to our community/ ethnic group or of different faiths. We should be open to the Spirit of God and recognize the work of God through them. 
In the second part of today's Gospel Jesus warns us that anyone who leads the little ones to sin will be severely punished. Crimes against children are on the rise. Jesus further added that even an essential organ of our body like the eye or the hand is a cause of sin, we should not hesitate to get rid of it rather than face eternal damnation.
"On our part there must be no pride or arrogance, no contempt or lack of reverence for people of different beliefs" - 2nd Vatican Council 
"The love of one's country is a natural thing. But why should we stop at the border?" -Anon

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Twenty Fifth Sunday of the Year :B: September 23, 2018

"THE WISDOM OF GOD"

First Reading: Wisdom 2: 12, 17-20
Second Reading: James ch 3:16 to ch.4 :3
Gospel Reading: Mark 9: 30-37

   * First reading is from the book of Wisdom. This passage explains to us about the evil designs of the godless who plot against the righteous and upright people. The just man is inconvenient to them because he stands against their evil plans. So they want to do away with him. 

   * Second reading is from the letter of St. James. In this passage the Apostle pinpoints the causes of divisions and fights whether it is within a family or within a community or between nations. Jealousy and selfishness lead us to do vile practices. But we should strive for wisdom from above which is pure and peaceable and brings good fruits. 

"Being the first and the last"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Mark. In this passage we see the sharp differences in perception between Jesus and that of His disciples. After Peter declared that Jesus is the anointed one, the Messiah, Jesus explained to them the meaning of Messiah the anointed one. When he told them that the Messiah has to suffer and die and after three days will rise again, the disciples could not accept such an idea and totally rejected it. They were more concerned about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Jesus.
Knowing their thoughts Jesus told them plainly about the true greatness in His Kingdom. He said,"whoever wants to be first among them has to be the last of all and be the servant of all" Hence for Jesus true greatness is in serving others. May be many of us are like the disciples and measure greatness according to the standards of the world. Often we are not able to appreciate (true) greatness according to the standards of Jesus.
Today Jesus is inviting us to be part of His Kingdom by being at the service of others. Jesus has given us the example of washing the feet of His disciples and sharing His own life with us. 
Many saints have followed this teaching of Jesus. St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta and St. Francis Assisi are prime examples of serving the poorest of the poor. They have shown us how to be truly great in the Kingdom of God. 
Now it is our turn to accept Jesus' invitation to achieve true greatness.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Twenty Fourth Sunday of the Year:B: September 16, 2018

    "THE REAL IDENTITY OF JESUS":
         'Who do you say that I am?'

First Reading: Isaiah 50: 5-9
Second Reading: James 2: 14-18
Gospel Reading: Mark 8: 27-35

   * First reading is from the book of Prophet Isaiah. This passage describes the sufferings and the rejection experienced by Isaiah from the people of Israel. He assures us that although people try to disgrace and harm him in every way, the one who trusts in the Lord will not be harmed in any way. He affirms that God vindicates and protects such a person. This passage alludes to the rejection of the suffering servant of the Lord God. It also points to Christ who will undergo all manner of sufferings.

   * Second reading is from the letter of St. James. In this passage the Apostle exhorts the Christian community that faith itself is of no use if that faith is not accompanied by action. He gives the specific example of a person who is hungry and that of another who needs clothing. It is not enough to say to such a person, be filled or to the other, be warmed and we do not make any effort to give the person food or clothing. So our faith should be seen in action.

"Confession of St. Peter: 'You are the Christ the Messiah'"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Mark. In this passage Jesus gives us some important clarifications about Himself and His mission. On His way to the village Caesarea Phillippi, Jesus put a very vital question to His disciples. "Who do men say that I am?" In response, disciples gave various answers: some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah or one of the ancient prophets etc. Then Jesus put a very personal question to His disciples. "Who do you say that I am?" Immediately St. Peter confessed "You are the Christ - the Messiah - the anointed one of God".
Subsequently Jesus tried to explain to the disciples what it means to be the Messiah or Christ. It would mean that He has to suffer much and die. The disciples could never understand or appreciate such an answer. Hence they vehemently protested saying, such a thing should never happen. Then Jesus explained to them that to be His disciple would mean that one should take up one's cross and follow Him.
Jesus is putting the same question to each one of us as He  put the question to His disciples. Each of one has to make a personal decision regarding who Jesus is for him/her.
To be part of Jesus' life would mean that we have to die to our selfishness and pride every day of our lives. 


Thursday, September 6, 2018

Twenty Third Sunday of the Year:B: September 9, 2018

             "EPHPHETHA : BE OPENED"

First Reading: Isaiah 35:4-7a
Second Reading: James 2: 1-5
Gospel Reading: Mark 7: 31-37

   * First reading is from the book of Prophet Isaiah. In this passage the Prophet speaks about the future changes that will take place by the power of the Lord God. He assures the people of Israel that the Lord God will save His people. He tells them that the blind, the deaf, the lame and the dumb will be healed by the power of the Lord God.

  * Second reading is from the letter of St. James. In this passage, the Apostle exhorts the members of the Christian community not to be partial to anyone because they are rich or poor. He reminds us that earthly wealth or high position are no criterion for distinction in the community. All are equal before God. 

"He even makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Mark. This passage describes in detail how Jesus healed a deaf and dumb man. During His public ministry, Jesus healed many people. Thus the prophecy of Isaiah found its fulfillment in Jesus. In the Gospel a deaf and dumb man was brought to Jesus so that He may heal him. Jesus took him aside to a secluded place and put His finger into the man's ears. Then Jesus spat and touched his tongue. Later Jesus commanded "Ephphetha" which means, be opened. Immediately the deaf and dumb man was healed and he was able to hear clearly and speak fluently.
Hearing and speech are gifts of God. Jesus felt compassion for the man who had lacked these gifts. By His words Jesus restored those lost faculties and made him whole. Now it is our turn to realize that Jesus is able to restore all our lost powers, unused and unrecognized talents once we put our trust in the Lord. The touch of our divine Master continues to transform our lives.
"At our own baptism, we were all touched on the ear and the mouth. In this way, we are in the story and are invited to see ourselves in the man who was cured" - Biblical resources. 
"I alone cannot do anything. Jesus alone will not do anything. Jesus and I do everything" - St. Teresa of Avila. 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Twenty Second Sunday of the Year:B: September 2,2018

"LIP SERVICE TO GOD AND MEN"

First Reading: Deuteronomy 4:1-2,6-8
Second Reading: James 1:17-18, 21-22,27
Gospel Reading: Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23

   * First reading is from the book of Deuteronomy. In this passage Moses exhorts the people of Israel to follow the statutes and ordinances of the Lord and keep the commandments. They were told not to add or deduct anything from them. As a wise and understanding people, they have to follow them in letter and spirit.

   * Second reading is from the letter of St. James. In this passage, the Apostle reminds us that God can be loved and served only through our love for fellow humankind: especially by serving the poor and the orphans and the widows and the needy. He tells us that we have to be doers of the word and not merely hearers. That way we will be doing the will of God.

"You leave the commandments of God and hold fast to traditions"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Mark. In this passage Jesus confronts the Pharisees and the Scribes who accused His disciples of not keeping the traditions and practices of the Jews. This was told in the context of His disciples eating food without washing their hands as the Jewish custom was. According to their traditions they were expected to wash their hands before eating any food. Jesus went on to explain that what really make us impure is not what we eat or drink: that which goes into the stomach but rather, what comes out of our heart: that is evil thoughts, desires, fornication, theft, murder and adultery.
Jesus is inviting us to have a close look at our set practices and observed traditions. He wants us to have a conversion of heart that will lead us to God experience. Let us not waste our precious lives in trivial matters but give importance to the essentials of life. It is not enough to do lip service to God and fellow humans but rather by concrete actions which comes from our hearts (cf. James Ch. 1)
"Serving the poor is serving God" - St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
" The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others" - Mahatma Gandhi.