Thursday, February 23, 2017

Eighth Sunday of the Year : A

"STOP WORRYING AND START LIVING"

First Reading: Isaiah 49: 14-15
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Gospel Reading: Matthew 6: 24-34

   * First reading is from the book of Prophet Isaiah. In this passage Prophet Isaiah gives consolation and hope to the Jewish exiles in Babylon. He assures them that the Lord God will never forget them. Further he adds, even if a nursing mother forgets her infant (which is most uncommon), even then , the Lord God will will never ever forget His chosen people. This is the assurance of God to each one of us chosen by Him. We can always trust in God. He is always faithful.

   * Second reading is from the first letter of St. Paul to Corinthians. In this passage, Paul tells the Christian community in Corinth that God alone can judge rightly because He alone knows the secrets of the heart of a person. We should not make hasty judgments about other people. God is the only one who can judge rightly.

"Freedom from Worries and Anxieties"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Matthew. In this passage, Jesus urges His disciples and us not to be anxious about the things of this world. He urges us to trust in the providence of God. Different causes of anxieties and worries are taken into consideration by Jesus.
1. The disciples are not to be anxious about life. By being anxious, we cannot add one day to our life.
2. The disciples are not to be anxious about what they will eat or drink. Jesus gives us the example of the birds of the air. They neither sow nor reap like men do. But heavenly Father feeds them without fail. We are of more value than the birds.
3. The disciples are not to be anxious about their clothing. Jesus gives us the example of the lilies of the field. They are far better presented than King Solomon in his glorious days. If so, God will certainly take care of us.
4. The disciples are to have single minded loyalty. Divided loyalties are also cause of anxieties in our lives.
To be blessed by God, all we need to do is to seek God's Kingdom and His righteousness. The rest will follow. Finally, Jesus tells us that we need not be worried about tomorrow either because, tomorrow will have its own worries and problems to be dealt with.
Hence, Jesus' message liberates us of  all types of worries and anxieties, so that we may be free to follow His divine will.
"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength" - C.T.Boom.
"The secret of health of both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly " - The Buddha.  

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Seventh Sunday of the Year : A

                "LOVE YOUR ENEMIES"

First Reading: Leviticus 19: 1-2, 17-18
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 3: 16-23
Gospel Reading: Matthew 5: 38-48

   * First reading is from the book of Leviticus. In this passage, the Lord God asks Moses to instruct the Israelites regarding their way of life. They were told to be holy like the Lord Himself. To be holy would mean : Not to hate one's neighbour or take vengeance or grudge as they love themselves. This teaching of the Lord God is echoed in the teaching of Jesus.

   * Second reading is from the first letter of St. Paul to Corinthians. In this passage, Paul reminds the Corinthian Christians that Holy Spirit dwells among them. They are the temples of the Holy Spirit and hence they should be holy. Further, he adds that wisdom of the world is folly. Paul asks them to respect one another forgetting their differences.

"You must be Perfect as your Heavenly Father is Perfect"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Matthew. This passage contains one of the most difficult and revolutionary teachings of Jesus. To love those who love us is easy. But Jesus tells His disciples and us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. Such a teaching is never heard off.
Jesus gives us the example of the heavenly Father who is good to everyone. : both good and bad. Jesus goes beyond the teaching of Leviticus, where love was restricted to the neighbour. Revenge and retaliation is not for His disciples. Old Testament teaching of eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth is not to be practiced by His disciples. because, revenge and retaliation eventually destory a person and the society. Jesus asks His disciples to be better than the gentiles/ordinary people, in their behaviour.
Jesus' teaching is very sensible if we look at the world today. Hate never solves any problems , rather, when we hate another person, we give him/her tremendous power over us.: he/she robs us of our peace of mind and capacity to love. Let us turn our enemies into friends,
"Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends" - Abraham Lincon.
" Love is the only force capable of transforming any enemy into a  friend" - Martin Luther King Jr.
"Overcome the angry by non-anger: overcome the wicked by goodness."- The Buddha.
"To error is human but to forgive is divine"- a Proverb.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Sixth Sunday of the Year : A

"FULFILLMENT OF THE COMMANDMENTS"

First Reading: Sirach 15: 15-20
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 2: 6-10
Gospel Reading: Matthew 5: 20-37

   * First reading is from the book of Sirach. In this passage, the author says that God has given us freedom to choose good and evil. But God wants that we humans should always use our freedom with a sense of responsibility.

   * Second reading is from the first letter of St. Paul to Corinthians. In this passage, Paul tells the Christian community in Corinth that salvation through the cross of Christ is God's marvelous plan for the world. He gives us a future vision too: what no eye has seen, no ear has heard, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.

"Letter of the Law V/s Spirit of the Law"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Matthew. In this passage, Jesus reinterprets the ten commandments given by the Lord God to Moses on Mount Sinai. The new Moses, that is, Jesus gives us a new vision and a new understanding.
1. Jesus confirmed the Law in its condemnation of killing. But He went deeper in condemning the motivation that leads to such a crime: that is anger. He teaches us that reconciliation is far more important than offering sacrifices. The duty of making peace is more urgent than the duty to offer worship to God.
2. Jesus confirmed the law that adultery is a sin. But He went much further by teaching us that a person who looks lustfully at the opposite sex has already sinned in his/her heart. A person's sinful intentions and attitudes are equally sinful as the sin itself.
3. Jesus gave a clear teaching about divorce too. Law of Moses allowed a husband to divorce his wife on grounds of unchastity . But Jesus taught that divorce is unacceptable in the eyes of God.
Demands of Jesus from His followers is certainly very tough. On our own we cannot measure up to His standards. But with God's grace, we can certainly measure up to the standards set by Jesus.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Fifth Sunday of the Year: A

"DISCIPLESHIP = Being Salt of the Earth and Light of the World"

First Reading: Isaiah 58: 7-10
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 2: 1-5
Gospel Reading: Matthew 5: 13-16

   * First reading is from the book of Prophet Isaiah. In this passage, the Prophet tells the people Israel who wanted to restore the glory of Jerusalem temple that, what God wants from them is not a great temple but Social justice. They were asked to turn  their prayer into action and share their riches with the poor and the needy. If they show concern for others, especially the poor, then their light will break forth like the dawn.

   * Second reading is from the first letter of St. Paul to Corinthians. In this passage, the Christian community at Corinth is instructed by the Apostle that when he brought them the message of the Gospel, he did not rely on human wisdom and his own cleverness but on the power of God. He reminds them that living the message is more urgent and important than his eloquence.

             " Let Your Light Shine"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Matthew. In this passage, Jesus instructs His disciples what they are expected to do in the world: that is, to be salt of the earth and light of the world. After His discourse on who are the blessed in the Kingdom of God, Jesus explains to them how these blessed ones should live in this world.
Jesus used two familiar metaphors to explain discipleship.
1. Salt has to give saltiness to the earth, and give taste to the food. So also a disciple should show that he/she is truly a disciple by his/her day to day actions of love and concern for the people around.
2. Jesus spoke a second metaphor, that they are the light of the world. Light is not a private energy. It is not for hiding or hoarding. The light should be put where it shines for everyone. So also being a disciple of Jesus is something which is worth showing and sharing.
When we as disciples of Jesus act as salt of the earth, giving the world taste and preserves the world, then our discipleship becomes meaningful. So also, when we give hope and consolation to the world around us through our good works, we truly become light of the world, no matter what the darkness around us is.
Malcom Muggeridge said the following about St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta in the context of being light of the world.
"She showed me love in action. She showed me how the love of one person can start a tidal wave that can spread across the world"

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Fourth Sunday of the Year :A

"BLESSED ARE THE POOR,THE GENTLE...."

First Reading: Zephaniah 2: 3, 3:12-13
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1: 26-31
Gospel Reading: Matthew 5: 1-12

   * First reading is from the book of Prophet Zephaniah. In this passage, Zephaniah appeals to the people of Israel and asks them to seek God with a sincere and humble heart because the Lord God favours the humble and punishes the proud. He assures them that those who walk in His Ways are few ,and are poor and lowly from the point of view of the world. However, the Prophet says, they are fortunate because they will enjoy the shelter of God's care.

   * Second reading is from the first letter of St. Paul to Corinthians. In this passage, Paul reminds the people and Corinth and all of us that it is through God's grace we are what we are today. God does not pick people who are wise and powerful or of noble birth; but rather he selects those who are poor, weak and lowly, so that no one can boast in the presence of the Lord . Yes, we are totally dependent on God.

"Who are Blessed in the Eyes of God"
Today's Gospel reading from St; Matthew. In this passage, Beatitudes are narrated and explained. We are presented with the values Jesus preached and lived and what He expects from His followers. The Beatitudes are the sum total of Jesus' preaching.
Today, Jesus tells us who are really Blessed in the sight of God: they are, the poor, the gentle, those who mourn, the hungry, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and the persecuted. Those who are called 'Blessed ' or 'Happy' in those beatitudes can hardly be described as fortunate or lucky in the eyes of the world. Jesus is not offering an unusual programme for happiness. Rather, He is describing what happens to Christian discipleship when the Kingdom of God breaks in this broken world. The beatitudes speak of a variety of experiences that disciples have to undergo as a result of their involvement in living the Gospel. The result of their involvement can be suffering, persecutions and even death as has happened to many believers in the past. Jesus heaps blessing on those who struggle to live the truth of the Gospel.
It is our turn to look and see how far we measure up to Jesus's standards. All of us without exception are called to be blessed.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Third Sunday of the Year : A

       "THE CALL TO DISCIPLESHIP"

First Reading: Isaiah 9: 1-4
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1: 10-13, 17
Gospel Reading: Matthew 4: 12-23

   * First reading is from the book of Prophet Isaiah. In this passage, the Prophet predicts the future glory for an oppressed and suppressed people. There will be three fold changes: Darkness will be replaced by Light, Sorrow will be replaced with Joy and Oppression will be replaced by freedom. Prophecy of Isaiah finds its fulfillment in Jesus who has come as the light and liberator of the world.

   * Second reading is from the first letter of St. Paul to Corinthians. In this passage, Paul speaks of the polarization in Corinthian community. He denounces those divisions in the community in strong terms and pleads with them to be united in mind and heart and to heal their divisions. The Apostle reminds them that all Christians are united in the Lord and thus they should live in unity and peace without giving room for divisions and dissensions.

"I Will Make You Fishers of Men"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Matthew. This passage has two vibrant themes. At first it speaks about the inauguration of Jesus' public ministry in a land of gloom and darkness. Jesus began His mission with the simple invitation to "Repent". The repentance demanded by Jesus from his followers implies willingness to sacrifice and make radical changes in their value system.
In the second part of today's Gospel we have the call of the first disciples. The setting is the sea of Galilee in the land of Zeblum  and Naphthali. The fisher men were Simon Peter, his brother Andrew and two other brothers James and John. Walking along the shore, Jesus called them to leave their fishing nets and to come after Him. There was no hint about where they were going. There were no details of what the discipleship would lead to. All that is promised by Jesus is that they will be made fishers of men. They immediately left their boats, nets (their possessions) and followed Jesus.
We are called to be witnesses to the Lord and fishers of men and women for Him. We fulfill this mission whenever we reach out to others in love , to heal them  and to comfort them in their sorrows. To be a fishers of men and women is not a metaphor. It is a mission from, through and in Christ. Everyone of us are called to continue that mission.
"Discipleship is not limited to what you can comprehend - it must transcend all comprehensions" - Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
"Discipleship is relationship" - T. Bonifacio.
"Discipleship is 'Not hero worship' but intimacy with Christ" - Dietrich Bonhoeffer.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Second Sunday of the Year: A

"WITNESSING OF JOHN: BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD"

First Reading: Isaiah 49: 3, 5-6
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1-3
Gospel Reading: John 1: 29-34

   * First reading is from the book of Prophet Isaiah. In this passage, the Prophet describes the servant of God, one who is anointed by God, who glorifies God by being faithful restorer of peace and freedom to the people of Israel. He will be a light to the nations and an agent for universal salvation. This prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled in the person of Jesus.

   * Second reading is from the first letter of St. Paul to Corinthians. In this passage, Paul asserts that he too is called to be an Apostle of Christ to bring grace and peace to all people of God. He explains to the Christian community in Corinth and to us the great dignity of those who are called to follow Jesus.

"Jesus the Lamb of God"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. John. This passage gives details of the witness given by John the Baptist about Jesus.
1. Jesus is the one sent by God to take away our sins.
2. John himself is not the promised Messiah. The one who comes after him, that is, Jesus indeed is the Messiah.
3. The descending of God's Spirit on Jesus is the sign that Jesus is truly sent by God and he will be baptizing with the Holy Spirit.
John announced to the people that Jesus would take away our sins. Jesus does take away our sins but the effect of our past sins cannot be just removed or wiped off. It is much deeper. We are born in a sinful world and each of us are in some way broken and damaged. Hence we need someone to repair our brokenness and to heal our wounds. This healing and restoration can be done only by Jesus. That is why Jesus has come into the world to live among us.
In order to heal the brokenness and remove sinfulness, Jesus sought out those who were lost and discarded in the society. He has come to heal the sick, not those who are healthy. Like John the Baptist, we too need to recognize God's Spirit working among us. It is the Spirit of God that helps us to love one another. It is the same Spirit praying within us so that we may walk in the truth. Like John, we too need to discover the living Jesus in us and His Spirit working in manifold ways in the world.