Thursday, August 16, 2018

Twentieth Sunday of the Year :B: August 19,2018

    "JESUS THE GIVER OF ETERNAL LIFE"

First Reading: Proverbs 9:1-6
Second Reading: Ephesians 5: 15-20
Gospel Reading: John 6:51-58

   * First reading is from the book of Proverbs. This passage personifies Wisdom as a great Lady who has built herself a great mansion. Wisdom invites everyone who is open minded to take part in the banquet given by her. Wisdom wants  to teach people to walk in the way of insight.

   * Second reading is from the letter of St. Paul to Ephesians. In this passage Ephesian Christians and all of us are urged by Paul to live according to the Christian wisdom they received. He asks them not to be foolish and live unworthy ways but rather be filled with the Holy Spirit and always live with  hearts grateful to the Lord.

"Jesus is the Living Bread"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. John, Chapter 6. In this passage we have the teaching on Eucharist by our Lord Jesus. His teaching on Eucharist was rather extraordinary and not so easily understood by the people. For a Jew to eat the body and drink the blood of a person was unthinkable and totally repugnant. Hence when Jesus told them that "the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh", many of them protested saying "how can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
The teaching of real presence of the Lord in the Eucharist was culminated at the last supper, where Jesus said to the disciples, "This is my body...this is my blood given for you": which was not easy to accept except in deep faith. But for a true follower of Jesus, there is no option but to accept the real presence of the Lord in the Eucharist. Jesus clearly warns us in these words, "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you"(v.53)
Hence by partaking in the Eucharistic meal, a true believer is in communion with the Lord. The early Christian community understood it. That is why St. John specifically explains this teaching in the sixth Chapter of his Gospel. Let us appreciate this self gift of the Lord Jesus and accept that He is truly present in the Eucharistic bread.
"Jesus has made Himself the Bread of life to give us life" - St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Nineteenth Sunday of the Year:B: August 12, 2018

"JESUS THE LIVING BREAD FROM HEAVEN"

First Reading: 1 Kings 19: 4-8
Second Reading: Ephesians 4: 30- 5:2
Gospel Reading: John 6: 41-51

   * First reading is from the first book of  Kings. This passage narrates how Prophet Elijah was miraculously fed by an Angel of the Lord God. Elijah was depressed and dejected before his journey through the desert. However, the Lord God provided him with food so that he was strengthened before he undertook the journey which lasted forty days and forty nights to reach Horeb mountain. This incident is a pre- figuration of the Eucharistic meal which is given to us by Jesus for our life's tiring journey.

   * Second reading is from the letter of St. Paul to Ephesians. In this passage, Paul urges the Christians in Ephesus to practice charity and love of the neighbour which is the hall mark of all true  followers of Christ. Before that they are asked to get rid of their evil ways namely, bitterness, anger, and slander. Further the Apostle urges them to forgive one another.

"The Bread which I shall give for the world is my Flesh"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. John, Chapter 6. In this passage Jesus gives some instructions to His disciples after the miracle of multiplication of bread. Jesus teaches them and us about the imperishable food and eternal life. He told them that He is indeed the bread which has come down from heaven. Those who eat this bread (Himself) will have eternal life. When the Jews heard these words of Jesus, they got disturbed and murmured against Him and they rejected those life giving words. They were like those Israelites who murmured against the Lord God in the wilderness.
The bread of life for us today is the Body of Christ offered on the Cross in sacrifice so that we might live for ever. Not only Jews of that time took offense at this teaching of Jesus regarding Eucharist, but today also many Christian denominations refuse to believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharistic bread. Let us be reminded of the life giving words of Jesus in this context. "If any one eats of this bread, he will live forever and the bread which I shall give for the world is my flesh."
Let us be thankful to Lord Jesus for giving us this great gift of living bread for us. 

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Eighteenth Sunday of the Year:B: August 5,2018

              "JESUS THE BREAD OF LIFE"

First Reading : Exodus 16: 2-4, 12-15
Second Reading: Ephesians 4: 17, 20-24
Gospel Reading: John 6: 24-35

   * First reading is from the book of Exodus. This passage explains how the Israelites had to struggle through the desert for forty years, while they were on their way to the promised land. When they became hungry, they bitterly complained and murmured against Moses and the Lord God who brought them out of the slavery of Egypt. The Lord God listened to their complaints and provided them with manna and quails for their food. Then Moses told the people,"This is the bread which the Lord God has given you to eat". Manna became a pre-figuration of the Living Bread that is Jesus.

   *Second reading is from the letter of St. Paul to Ephesians. In this passage Paul urges the Christians in Ephesus to leave their former nature and former way of life which was corrupt and deceitful. The new way of life is in the likeness of God which is righteousness and holiness.

"You believe in Him whom God has sent"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. John. This passage has the context of the multiplication of loaves by Jesus and feeding the five thousand in a desert. People were very excited about Jesus after they had their food. They felt that He is a permanent solution for their hunger. They are in search of Him. Jesus is not very amused but firmly told them that they are looking for signs and perishable food. Jesus took this opportunity to teach them about the imperishable and life giving food that will give them eternal life. In order to receive eternal life they have to believe in the one sent by God.
After listening to Jesus people asked for a sign from Him like what Moses did when he  gave them manna. Jesus explained to them that it was the Heavenly Father who gave them food from heaven. Finally Jesus revealed Himself to them,"I am the Bread of life, he who comes to me shall not hunger and he who believes in me will never thirst".
Often we too are like the Jews at the time of Jesus looking for immediate benefits rather than lasting solutions - short term happiness without really looking for lasting and permanent solutions to our problems of life. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Seventeenth Sunday of the Year : B: July 29, 2018

     "JESUS FEEDS THE FIVE THOUSAND"

First Reading: 2 Kings 4: 42- 44
Second Reading: Ephesians 4: 1-6
Gospel Reading: John 6: 1-15

   * First reading is from the Second Book of Kings. This passage tells us that Prophet Elisha asked his servant to feed 100 men with 20 barley loaves. The servant was reluctant and doubtful of feeding them. But Elisha insisted that the Lord God had assured him that even after feeding all of them, there would be food left over. And so, it happened as the Prophet told. Hand of God was instrumental in this miracle.

   * Second reading is from the letter of St. Paul to Ephesians. In this passage Paul pleads with the Ephesian community to lead a life worthy of their call. They have to remain in unity and peace. Paul explains to them that they are called to be part of one body(of Christ) and sharing in one Spirit(Holy Spirit) and one God (the Father of all) who is the ultimate source of everything. This Trinitarian unity of purpose should be seen in the life of every Christian. 

"Jesus took the Loaves gave thanks and distributed them"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. John. This passage focuses our attention on the day Jesus worked a great miracle by feeding five thousand people with five loaves and two fish. That day a large crowd followed Jesus and listened to His life giving words to the extent that they forgot their own hunger. Jesus was concerned about them and when He asked the disciples to find food for them, Philip told Jesus that it would require a large sum of money to feed them even if food could be bought. Jesus was not discouraged by this reply. He immediately made use of the available resources : five loaves and two fish which a little boy had brought along. He instructed the disciples to make the crowd sit on the grass. Then He gave thanks to God the Father and blessed the food and gave to the disciples to distribute it to the hungry people. To everyone's amazement all of them ate their fill - more than 5000 of them. Later on they even collected twelve baskets full of left over pieces.
This miracle is a pre-figuration of the Eucharistic meal - the heavenly banquet where Jesus feeds not just 5000 people but every one who believes in Him. 
The miracle of multiplication of loaves is possible even today.
1. When we are ready to share the little we have with others.
2. When we humbly realize our limitations and ask God's grace and blessings.
"There are people in the world so hungry that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread" - M.K. Gandhi.
"Every miracle must be seen through the eyes of faith. The 'everyday miracle' is when one is willing to share with others what he/she has lovingly received. It is a miracle that is happening everyday when we share love and care for others" - C.B. Buenafe
"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs but not for every man's greed" - M.K. Gandhi.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Sixteenth Sunday of the Year :B: July 22, 2018

"JESUS THE COMPASSIONATE SHEPHERD"

First Reading: Jeremiah 23:1-6
Second Reading: Ephesians 2: 13-18
Gospel Reading: Mark 6: 30-34

   * First reading is from the book of Prophet Jeremiah. In this passage Jeremiah severely warns the leaders of Israel for their unfaithfulness in their duty of taking care of the people of the Lord God. Instead of caring, they scattered the people. The Lord God gives the assurance that He will send shepherds who will take care of His flock. The promised future leader will be righteous and he will be from the lineage of King David- an allusion to Jesus. 

   * Second reading is from the letter of St. Paul to Ephesians. In this passage Paul reminds the Ephesian Christian community that Christ has brought unity of brotherhood to Jews and Gentiles. Christ has broken down all types of hostility and barriers among the people and united all people as children of one Father. And He has brought peace to everyone who acknowledges Him as his/her saviour and Lord.

"He Had Compassion On Them"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Mark. This passage gives us a short description about the return of twelve Apostles after their missionary journey. Jesus invites them to come to a lonely place to take some rest. But this rest was short lived because of the crowds coming there to listen to Jesus and to be healed by Him. Jesus is indeed moved with compassion and expresses it by saying 'They are like sheep without a shepherd'
Even in our most busy days, we need to take a little rest in the presence of the Lord. It can be any place of our choice, in the quietness of a chapel where Jesus is present in the Blessed Sacrament or it can be a corner of our room or in the garden where we can listen to the comforting and soothing words of the compassionate Shepherd. When we listen to Jesus the Lord, we will be able to discover deep within us new resources of strength and energy. As we experience the love and care of the good Shepherd, we in our turn are invited to make use of  this gift to care and to be compassionate to others.
'While there is always more to be done, we have to choose how to use our time' - Biblical Resources.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Fifteenth Sunday of the Year:B: July 15,2018

     "THE MISSION OF THE APOSTLES"

First Reading: Amos 7: 12-15
Second Reading: Ephesians 1: 3-14
Gospel Reading: Mark 6: 6-13

   * First reading is from the book of Prophet Amos. This passage speaks about the plight of Prophet Amos. He was sent by the Lord God to King Amaziah. The King was unhappy with the Prophet and he was warned not to prophecy in Bethel where the King resides. Later Amos was expelled by the King. Amos was not discouraged but told Amaziah that the Lord God has commanded him to go to the people of Israel and prophecy. In spite of hardships and opposition, Amos was faithful to the task given to him by the Lord God.

   * Second reading is from the letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians. The Ephesian community was brought to faith by Paul. In this passage Paul encourages them to be faithful to the teachings he had handed over to them. He instructs them that God's will is the source of our Christian vocation and of our holiness. Paul expresses his thankfulness to God for the great spiritual gifts received through Christ.

"Jesus called the Twelve and began to send them out two by two"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Mark. This passage gives some details of how Jesus sent out the twelve Apostles on a mission journey. They were told to preach and to do the works He Himself did so far. Their three fold duties were to announce that the Kingdom of God has come, to heal the sick and to cast out demons. He instructed them that for their journey, they are to take nothing: no money, no extra clothing, not even a staff which was normally carried by travelers to protect themselves from attacks of thieves and wild animals. Disciples of Jesus are to depend entirely on God during their mission journeys. 
What we notice is that Jesus did not hesitate to involve the Apostles in His work in spite of the fact that most of them were illiterate fishermen with little experience in preaching. Jesus is inviting us to continue His mission in the world. In spite of our inexperience and lack of expertise He wants us to do our part. The mission of Christ is very simple. As St. Mother Teresa  of Calcutta  once said,"We can do no great things. Only little things with great love. You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together we can do something beautiful for God."
All of us without exception are invited to handover our faith to others as the Apostles did.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Fourteenth Sunday of the Year: B : July 8,2018

   "REJECTION OF PROPHETS OF GOD"

First Reading: Ezekiel 2: 2-5
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10
Gospel Reading: Mark 6: 1-6

   * First reading is from the book of Prophet Ezekiel. This passage gives us the message that the Lord God is sending prophets to the people of Israel who rebelled against Him. The Lord God specifically gave this mission to Ezekiel to speak to the people in the name of the Lord God whether they listen to him or not. The Prophet had to face rejection and scorn from the chosen people of God.

   * Second reading is from the second letter of St. Paul to Corinthians. In this passage Paul admits that he too has weaknesses in spite of receiving many revelations and blessings from God. However, Paul is not discouraged or disillusioned because the Lord assured him that "My grace is sufficient for you." This message of assurance is for all of us who are troubled by our weaknesses and problems that disturb us and hurt us. Paul assures us that when we trust in the grace of God, our weaknesses become  source of strength because we are no more trusting in ourselves but in God's grace.

"Rejection of Jesus at Nazareth"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Mark. The context of this passage is Jesus' arrival at His home town Nazareth. Jesus had been preaching, teaching and healing in Judea, Sumeria and many other towns and villages of Galilee. Finally he came to Nazareth where he was brought up. Although he had a great reputation as a prophet all over Palestine, His own people failed to recognize Him and acclaim Him. Instead of admiration He faced scorn. Their attitude was, after all He is a carpenter's son. We know his family background. They could not just accept the fact that God is in their midst and communicates with them through Jesus the carpenter's son.
Jesus was totally disappointed by their scornful attitude. Hence he said, "No prophet is acceptable in his own country, in his own relations and in his own house." There are several occasions we have rejected God's chosen messengers. It may also happen that we may have faced rejection from our own family or community. Jesus has shown us the way. He did not stop His ministry because the people of Nazareth rejected Him. He did not blame others or God for His failures and lack of acceptance. Nazareth was certainly a learning experience for Jesus.
"Familiarity breeds contempt" - Proverb