Thursday, September 14, 2017

Twenty Fourth Sunday of the Year : September 17, 2017


       "A QUESTION OF FORGIVENESS"

First Reading :Sirach 27:30- 28:7
Second Reading : Romans 14: 7-9
Gospel Reading : Matthew 18:21-35

   *First reading is from the book of Sirach (Eccleasiasticus). This passage explains to us that our desire for revenge and vengeance and our refusal to forgive those who were hurtful or did harm to us is unacceptable in the eyes of God. Such an attitude makes us unworthy of God's forgiveness and mercy. We can experience God's forgiveness only to the extent we forgive those who offended us.

   * Second reading is from the letter of St. Paul to Romans. In this passage, Paul explains to us that we live in union with Lord Jesus so that we become precious in the eyes of God. Our living and dying as Christians is for Christ and for others.

"Not Seven times but Seventy times Seven"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Matthew. In this passage, Jesus graphically explains to St. Peter and to us the need to have unconditional forgiveness. Peter thought forgiving seven times to the one who sinned against him is being very generous. But Jesus told him not seven times but seventy times seven times forgiveness should be granted ( which means that he has to forgive innumerable times).
The parable of the two debtors is a very specific example of the need to forgive others. The parable is about a master and two of his servants. The first one owed the Master 1 million rupees. He was asked to pay back the entire amount. Unable to pay this man pleaded for mercy  from the Master and the Master out of pity forgave all his debt. After some time the same man met a fellow  servant who owed him a mere 1000 rupees. He asked his fellow servant to pay back the entire debt. The fellow servant too pleaded with him to have mercy and asked pardon. But this man did not relent and put his fellow servant in prison till he paid the entire debt.
The Master when he came to know about this unforgiving servant who was a recipient of his mercy became extremely upset and angry because although this servant received mercy from the Master same mercy was not shown to his fellow servant.
Hence our forgiveness of those who have done wrong to us is the precondition for God to forgive our sins. The only obstacle we can put in the way of God's forgiveness of our sins is our refusal to forgive the sins of others.
"To err is Human but to forgive is Divine" - A proverb
"Father, forgive them: for they do not know what they are doing " - Luke 23:34

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Twenty Third Sunday : A : September 10, 2017

"CHRISTIAN DUTY OF CORRECTING THE ERRING"

First Reading: Ezekiel 33: 7-9
Second Reading: Romans 13: 8-10
Gospel Reading: Matthew 18: 15-20

   * First reading is from the book of Prophet Ezekiel. In this passage Ezekiel is asked by the Lord God to be a watchman for the house of Israel. He is given the duty to warn all the wicked people in the land. The duty given to Ezekiel is same for the prophetic role of every leader. He or she has to speak out against evil and correct the erring members of community.

   * Second reading is from the letter of St. Paul to Romans. In this passage Paul reminds the Christian community in Rome and all of us about the preeminence of the law of love in every situations in life. He instructs us that the practice of Christian love fulfills all other commandments and prevents a person from doing wrong.

"Healing Broken Relationships"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Matthew. In this passage, Jesus gives us some important and relevant guidelines regarding the duty of every Christian and of  the Christian community of correcting an erring member of the Church in a gentle and delicate manner.
The advice of Jesus in this context is straight forward. The offended person - not the offending one - should first seek reconciliation. The message is that, members of the Christian community should straighten things out with each other privately and in a personal manner. The purpose of this open personal meeting is not to humiliate the offending person but to be reconciled with him. Hence this kind of Christian action is to regain the brother or the sister who had a break in relationship. It is to restore the broken relationship and not for denouncing or to put blame on the other. That is why Jesus told, "if he listens to you, you have gained your brother."
In the second part of the Gospel Jesus assures us His divine presence where even two or three are gathered in His name. These words of Jesus encourages and strengthens us to be part of a caring, forgiving and praying community. 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Twenty second Sunday: September 3, 2017

            "THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP"

First Reading: Jeremiah 20:7-9
Second Reading: Romans 12: 1-2
Gospel Reading: Matthew 16: 21-27

   * First reading is from the book of Prophet Jeremiah. In this passage Jeremiah bitterly complains about his painful situation when he is faced with fierce opposition, insults, reproach and derision from the people. He is despised by everyone for speaking for the Lord God. He brings his grief and pain to the Lord God. Trusting in the power of the Lord God he pleads that  with the help of the almighty, he be able to continue his mission entrusted to him without fail. 

   * Second reading is from the letter of St. Paul to Romans. In this passage, Paul urges the Christian community  in Rome not to be influenced by the worldly ways of people around them. He pleads with them to live their lives as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.

"Gaining Life and Losing Life"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Matthew. In the first part of the Gospel, Jesus explains to His disciples regarding His rejection in Jerusalem and His impending death on the cross. This was a shocking message for the disciples and they could not accept it. So they protested, beginning with Peter who tried to persuade the Lord and insisted that such a thing should never happen to Him. Jesus' reaction was sharp and He told him 'get behind me Satan'. and warned him not to be a stumbling block to the plans of God. The one who was praised by Jesus and was assured that he would become the rock on which the Church will be built (Matt. 16:18) turned out to be stumbling block. What a turn of events. 
In the second part of today's Gospel, Jesus explains to His disciples the paradox of being His  follower: that is to take up one's cross and follow the Lord. He further added that those who want to save their life will lose it and those who lose their life for His sake will find it. This is the paradox that Jesus puts before us every day of lives. If we put ourselves at the center of our lives, we will fail. But if we put Jesus at the center of our lives, we will succeed. This is a very vital insight that the Lord puts before us to be authentic and genuine disciples. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Twenty first Sunday A: August 27: 2017

"QUESTION OF THE IDENTITY OF JESUS"

First Reading: Isaiah 22: 19-23
Second Reading: Romans 11: 36-37
Gospel Reading: Matthew 16: 13-20

   * First reading is from the book of Prophet Isaiah. In this passage Isaiah assures the people of Israel that the Lord God will remove the corrupt official Shebna who did not take care of the chosen people of God. In his place, the Lord God will appoint Eliakim who will take fatherly care of the people of Jerusalem and of Judah. He will rule people with fairness and justice. Thus the Lord God will bring justice to His people . 

   * Second reading is from the letter of St. Paul to Romans. In this passage Paul tells the Christians in Rome and all of us about the inscrutable mystery of God: that He is the creator and the Lord of all that exist. We humans with all our wisdom and understanding, which is very much limited, cannot comprehend or understand the wisdom of God.

"Who Do You Say that I Am?"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Matthew. In this passage, Jesus reveals His real identity. Jesus put two questions to His disciples. First one was, "Who do men say that I am?" He was curious to know from His disciples, the many opinions people have about Him. The answers as expressed by the disciples were many. They said, 'some say, you are John the Baptist came back to life, or Elijah or Jeremiah or one of the prophets of old'. Hence the opinions of the people were limited to the understanding  Jesus as a prophet or as a man of God. Then Jesus put a very personal question to His disciples. 'Who do you say that I am?' It was a very searching question. Peter immediately spoke up and confessed. 'You are the Christ, the Son of God'.
Jesus was certainly impressed by the answer and praised Peter and told him then and there that this confession of faith is something extra ordinary and it was a revelation from the heavenly Father. Jesus further told Peter that he would be made head of the Church, the rock on which He will build His Church.
Jesus puts the same personal question to each one of us today. 'Who do you say that I am?' As He converses with us, we could think of the faith journeys we had in our lives. Perhaps , the image of Jesus in our early stages of life,  have undergone tremendous transformation. Perhaps as the years have gone by, our faith experiences of Jesus have deepened and strengthened. May be we could also share our faith experiences with others as the Apostles did. They preserved it for the future generations.
"There are so many religions and each one has its different ways of following God. I follow Christ: Jesus is my God" - St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
"I see Jesus in every human being" - St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Twentieth Sunday of the Year : A: August 20, 2017

"PROMISE OF UNIVERSAL SALVATION"

First Reading : Isaiah 56: 1, 6-7
Second Reading: Romans 11: 13-15, 29-32
Gospel Reading: Matthew 15: 21-28

   * First reading is from the book of Prophet Isaiah. In this passage Prophet Isaiah looks beyond the chosen people. He affirms that God's salvation is inclusive of all people and not limited to one's nationality, race or religion. It is open to all who worship God with sincerity no matter where they come from.

   * Second reading is from St. Paul's letter to Romans. In this passage, Paul tells the Christians in Rome and all of us that God never takes back His call and His gifts. In order to receive the gifts of God and live the call, we need to accept Christ . We can receive mercy from God by turning away from our sinful  ways and return to God.

"Healing the Canaanite Woman's Daughter"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Matthew. The context is that, a Canaanite woman pleaded Jesus to heal her daughter from an evil possession. That time Jews and Canaanites had a hostile relationship. At first Jesus did not respond to her desperate cries. The disciples pleaded with Jesus to grant her request because she had become a headache for them. Then Jesus cited the reason for his inaction. His ministry is limited to the Jews. It was not reasonable that the bread of children is given to the house dogs. He has come to bring back the lost sheep of Israel.
However, this woman did not take Jesus' no for an answer but persisted with her request. She humbly accepted her own unworthiness. Her persistent prayer finally made Jesus to grant her wish and  her daughter was healed. 
Hence this miracle story tells us the following: 1. To be persistent in our prayers even if our prayers are not answered immediately. 2. No one is to be denied of God's love , mercy and healing touch because he or she does not belong to our community or our religion. 
"God's dream is that you and I and all of us will realize that we are family, that we are made for togetherness, for goodness, and for compassion" - Bishop Desmond Tutu
"The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are part of one another, and all involved in one another" - Thomas Merton.  

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Nineteenth Sunday of the Year :A: August 13, 2017

" TAKE HEART IT IS I : HAVE NO FEAR"

First Reading : 1 Kings 19: 9, 11-13
Second Reading : Romans 9:1-5
Gospel Reading : Matthew 14: 22-33

   * First reading is from the first book of Kings. This passage describes the plight of Prophet Elijah. He was fleeing for his life because his enemies were trying to kill him. When everything seemed to be lost, suddenly he heard the voice of the Lord God. It was not in a mighty wind, or in a powerful earthquake but in the gentle breeze. Prophet Elijah's experience of the Lord God should remind us that coming of the Lord into our lives may not always be in an awesome manner like the earthquake or fire but in silence and in gentle whisper.

   * Second reading is from the letter of St. Paul to Romans. In this passage, Paul tells the Christians in Rome and us about his own sorrows and anguish that he suffered because of his fellow Jews who refused to accept the Lord Jesus as their messiah. He was willing to forgo everything he had for the sake of the Jews who were not ready to become sons of God through Jesus Christ.

"Jesus Walking on the Sea"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Matthew. In this passage we have the extraordinary miracle of Jesus walking on the sea and coming to the disciples who were in a boat. On that particular day too Jesus had been breaking the word of God and had healed many who were sick. After that he went to a hill to pray alone and be in communion with the heavenly Father. As it happened, disciples went by boat and they were in the sea of Galilee fishing. At day break when it was still dark, Jesus came to them walking on the sea. The disciples thought they saw a ghost and got frightened. But Jesus assured them with the words, "Take heart, it is I, have no fear".
This is the assurance Jesus gives to each one of us when we are worried and frightened by many visible and invisible ghosts of this world. If we recognize Him and put our trust in the Lord, we would be more confident and less confused.
In the second part of the Gospel we see that Peter wanted to walk on the sea. Jesus granted him that privilege. He too started to walk but unfortunately seeing the waves and rough sea , he got frightened and started to drown. Then he cried out for help and Jesus saved him and reproached him for his lack of faith.. Yes we too can sink, if we lose faith seeing the threatening waves of the world and doubt the power of the Lord. Jesus' assurance to the disciples is for all of us. "Take heart it is I, have no fear".
Let our prayer be, Lord,  take us by your hand , lead us to have trust and confidence in You alone.
"Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore , no harm can befall you". -Blessed John Paul II
"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it" - Nelson Mandela.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Eighteenth Sunday A: August 6, 2017

"TRANSFIGURATION OF THE LORD"

First Reading: Daniel 7: 9-10,13-14
Second Reading: 2 Peter 1: 16-19
Gospel Reading: Matthew 17: 1-9

   * First reading is from the book of Daniel. This passage describes various visions of Prophet Daniel. There is a description about the throne of God where one like the Son of man is being presented to God the Father - the Ancient of days. All authority in heaven and earth is given to Him.

   * Second reading is from the second letter of St. Peter. In this passage the Apostle speaks about his own experience of transfiguration of Jesus. He says he was an eye witness to the fact that God the Father bestowed on Jesus the title "My Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased". On the holy mountain Peter had the privilege of being a witness to the heavenly glory of Lord Jesus.

"My Beloved Son: Listen to Him"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Matthew. In this passage the transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor is described in great details. Transfiguration of Jesus was the high point of His public ministry. In front of three of His beloved disciples : Peter, James and John - he was transfigured . Moses and Elijah representing the Old Testament were also present . Heavenly Father publicly proclaimed Jesus as His beloved Son. The three disciples cherished those privileged and wonderful moments of glory of Jesus on the mountain. They were so spell bound that they could not adequately understand it or explain this experience in words.
Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain was to strengthen the disciples for the impending crucifixion and death. But Jesus did not remain in the mountain but came down from the mountain to go to Jerusalem to be rejected and to die.
The transfiguration experience is narrated in the Gospel so that we too may experience it to a limited extent so that our faith in the Lord is strengthened.
"It is indeed good to be here as you have said, Peter. It is good to be with Jesus and to remain here for ever" - Bishop Anastasius of Sinai.