Daily Reflections Wednesday, 11th October 2017. Twenty Seventh Week in Ordinary Time Jon 4: 1-11; Ps 85: 3-6, 9-10; Lk 11: 1-4 THE ART OF PRAYER The simplest definition of prayer, if you will, is to talk to God. The Bible gives us ample examples of Jesus rising early and going up to the mountain to pray. What can we bring to prayer? We can bring anything that bothers us in our prayer: family affairs, relationship problems, health issues or spiritual matters. In the Gospel of today, the Lord taught the disciples to pray for the establishment of God’s Kingdom, which is the loving and saving presence of God. He asked the disciples to pray for daily bread which is the source of our physical strength and at the same time for the ‘bread of life - the Eucharist’ which is our spiritual nourishment. In addition to that He asked them to pray for forgiveness, a healing remedy to our brokenness. What is the right way to pray? Adorers silently converse with God before the Blessed Sacrament. Monks melodiously chant the Psalms. Rosary devotees piously recite the rosary while they slip the beads of the rosary through their fingers and Charismatics loudly pray in tongues. Each one prays according to one’s temperament.
Daily Reflections Wednesday, 4th October 2017. Twenty Sixth Week in Ordinary Time Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi Neh 2: 1-8; Ps 136: 1-6; Lk 9: 57-62 THE COST OF FOLLOWING CHRIST!
We live in a world where costs go up as the risks go up. And many a times the more the cost, the more is the demand. There is a cost also in following Christ. In the Gospel passage, three men come to Jesus and express their desire to follow Him. Yet when Jesus speaks about the cost, they weren’t ready to pay it. They wanted to be with Jesus, but on their terms. They weren’t really ready to give up their own wants, desires, agendas, etc. for Christ. It’s no wonder that Jesus said that the road to eternal life is narrow and few will find it. Nehemiah was the cup bearer in the court of king Artaxerxes. A cup-bearer was an officer of high rank in the royal courts, whose duty it was to serve the drinks at the royal table. On account of the constant fear of plots and intrigues, only a person regarded as thoroughly trustworthy could hold this position. He had to guard against poison in the king's cup, and was sometimes required to swallow some of the wine before serving it. Nehemiah, a foreigner in the land of exile, was found trust worthy. On learning that the walls of Jerusalem were broken down, he asked the king’s permission to go and rebuild them. Artaxerxes sent him to Judah as governor of the province with a mission to rebuild the walls. Once there he defied the opposition of Judah's enemies on all sides - Samaritans, Ammonites, Arabs and Philistines - and rebuilt the walls within 52 days. What should strike us is the love Nehemiah had for Jerusalem, the holy city, which also had the Temple – the house of God. What love do we have for the house and mission of the Lord? Are we committed as true disciples to the point of putting our life at risk?
Jesus’ call is absolute. When He calls us we ought to respond with complete submission of our will and with an abundance of generosity. In the Gospel, God willed that third person immediately and completely follow Jesus. But the person hesitates saying he wants to go and first say goodbye to his family. But Jesus makes it clear that he is called to follow Him immediately and without hesitation. Jesus uses the opportunity to show us that our number one priority must be to answer His call, when He calls, how He calls, and because He calls. In the wonderful and even mysterious call to follow Christ, we must be ready to respond without hesitation. In our own lives, we most likely will not receive the radical call to literally leave everything behind immediately and go serve Christ in some new form of life. But the key is our willingness and our love for the Lord and his household.
SERAPHIM – sometimes called “the burning ones” because they are closest to God and radiate Pure Light. These are the Angels who constantly sing God’s praise, and whose duty it is to regulate the heavens. (Lucifer is said to have been one of the Seraphim who had outshone all the others untill he became the head of the fallen angels). CHERUBIM – sent to guard the gates of Eden. Originally they were depicted as the bearers of God’s Throne, as the charioteers, and as powerful beings with four wings and four faces. However, in modern times, Cheribum have evolved into chubby babies with wings. THRONES – called the ‘many eyed ones’ have the duty of carrying out God’s decisions. They are often represented as firey wheels. DOMINIONS – their job is to regulate the duties of the other Angels and ensure that God’s wishes are carried out. VIRTUES – the Angels of Grace who bring God’s blessings to Earth, usually in the form of miracles. Known as the ‘brilliant’ or “shinning'” ones, they are associated with acts of heroism and bring courage when needed. POWERS – their job is to prevent the ‘fallen angels’ from taking over the world and keeping the Universe in balance. They are also seen as the Angels of birth and death. PRINCIPALITIES – the Guardian Angels of cities, nations and rulers, and guards against the invasion of evil angels. ARCHANGELS – probably the best known of all Angels. They carry God’s most important messages to humans. They also command God’s ‘armies’ of Angels in the constant battle with the “sons of darkness.” ANGELS – the Celestial Beings closest to humans. They act as intermediaries between the Almighty and humanity. Often called our “Guardian Angels.”
Monday, 2nd October 2017. Twenty Sixth Week in Ordinary Time Memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels Ex 23: 20-23; Ps 90: 1-6, 10-11; Mt 18: 1-5, 10 ANGELS – THE PROTECTION OF GOD ON US. The Catholic Church teaches that we must remember how admirable was the intention of Divine Providence in entrusting to the angels the mission of watching over all mankind, and over individual human beings, lest they should fall victims to the grave dangers which they encounter. The readings too highlight the same message. In the first reading we hear that Israel was assigned an angel to guide them through the exodus, and that if they obeyed him God would grant them success and victory against their adversaries. In the Gospel we learn that children should never be despised, for insignificant as they may appear to adults, they are not insignificant to God, for their angels are constantly in God’s presence. In our day-to-day life angels are more likely manifest their voice through the words of a friend or any other person that show us the wrong we have done and recall us to the right way, or through a combination of circumstances that challenge our chosen course of action, or simply through the voice of our conscience, but they never override our free will. Yet we are blessed if we have the wisdom not to resist their gentle invitation to turn away from evil and towards good. Reflect, today, upon the gift of your own guardian angel. This celestial being was created for the sole purpose of caring for you and getting you to Heaven. Speak to your angel, today. Rely upon your angel’s intercession and allow this holy angel to communicate to you God’s abundant grace.
Daily Reflections Thursday, 28th September 2017. Twenty Fifth Week in Ordinary Time Hag 1: 1-8; Ps 149:1-6, 9; Lk 9: 7-9
GROWING DEEPER IN CHRIST In The Gospel text of today, we have Herod troubled when he gets the information about Jesus. His stained conscience went on reminding him of the innocent blood he shed by beheading John the Baptist. Herod’s life lacked nothing in pleasure and entertainment. However, the people were not talking about him. They were talking about Jesus.
Herod was interested in Jesus. “He kept trying to see him” the Scripture says. He knew there was something unique about Jesus and he wanted to understand it. He wanted to know who Jesus was and was intrigued by His message. However, he did not understand nor accept Jesus’ message.
Our pursuit too of Jesus is like that of Herod. Many of us are intrigued by the Gospel and all that our faith presents. We listen with curiosity to what the pope says and how the Church reacts to injustices in the world. But it is many a times superficial. It stops seeking deeper faith.
Let us reflect on our faith in Jesus. Do we desire to know more? Do we seek for deeper knowledge or we stop at superficial knowledge? Perhaps we have friends or neighbors, who want to know more about Jesus, but don’t have the will to know him deeply. Let us pray for them and ask God to use us as He did the Baptist to bring His message to all who seek it.
Daily Reflections Wednesday, 27th September 2017. Twenty Fifth Week in Ordinary Time (Saint Vincent de Paul, Priest) Ezra: 9: 5-9; Tob 13: 2,4,6-8; Lk 9: 1-6 SHAKING THE DUST OFF: MOVING PAST REJECTION Jesus had just finished telling His disciples to go from town to town preaching the Gospel. He instructed them not to bring extra food or clothing on the journey but, rather, to rely upon the generosity of those to whom they preach. The author of the Proverb prays: “Give me neither poverty nor riches” (Pro 30:8), because, if we become very wealthy we might forget God, but if we become extremely poor, we may be forced to steal and thus turn away from God.
He then tells them that some people would not accept them. He asks them to “shake the dust” from their feet as they leave such towns. This means two things. First, when we are rejected it can hurt us, and we might sulk and stew over the rejection and hurt. It’s easy to sit and be angry and, as a result, to allow the rejection to do us even more damage. Secondly, it’s a way of saying that we must keep moving on. Not only do we have to get over any hurt we have, but we need to then move on to seek out those who will receive our love and our message of the Gospel. Shaking the dust from our feet is a way of saying that we ought not to allow the hurt we receive to affect us. It’s a way of making a clear statement that we will not be controlled by the opinions and malice of others. This exhortation from Jesus is not first about dealing with the rejection of others; rather, it’s primarily about seeking out those who will receive us and will receive the message of the Gospel we are called to give.
Let us reflect upon any hurt we still carry in your heart because of the rejection of others. God is calling us to let go of it and to seek out others in love so that we can share the love of Christ with them.
Daily Reflections Tuesday, 26th September 2017, Twenty Fifth Week in Ordinary Time Ezra 6: 7-8,12,14-20; Ps 121: 1-5; Lk 8: 19-21
THE FAMILY OF GOD! The immediate family is generally looked upon as the closest bond on earth. However, Christ teaches that there is a closer tie than the family. It is, the tie that binds Christ and his followers together. This is the message of today’s Gospel passage.
While Jesus was preaching to the crowd, he was interrupted and informed of the arrival of his mother and brothers(which would have been cousins), who were looking for him. Jesus’ reply surprises the hearers. It looked like he disowned his family. But, he did not disown his family nor relegate his family to a position of less importance, nor did he mean that the human family mattered little to God. He was proclaiming the existence of a unique family - a spiritual family. The unique family and kinship is based upon the word of God, ‘hearing it and doing it’. The person who is closest to God is the person who obeys God, who takes his word seriously. Jesus thus invites all his listeners to be part of his family, by living what they had heard him speaking.
This happens when we “hear the Word of God and act on it.” It’s that simple. You are invited to enter the family of Jesus in a deep, personal and profound way if you but listen to all God says and then act on it. Though this sounds simple on one level, it’s very radical on the other level. It’s radical in the sense that it requires a total commitment to the will of God. That’s because when God speaks, His words are powerful and transforming. And acting on His words will change our lives. We see that concretely in the life of Jesus’ mother, who not only heard God’s word, but obeyed it, allowing herself to be transformed as the Mother of God. Let us consider the invitation of Jesus to be a member of His intimate family, and say “Yes” to this invitation. Let us be ready and willing to let His voice and His divine will change our life.
Daily Reflections Monday, 25th September 2017. Twenty Fifth Week in Ordinary Time Ezra 1: 1-6; Ps 125: 1-6; Lk 8:16-18 YOU ARE THE LIGHT: SHINE As the sun sets, darkness creeps in. Light reanimates life, and brings movement and activity. Jesus today makes it clear that our belief in him cannot be a half-hearted following, nor can it be something ‘hidden’ because one is ashamed to show it. “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light.” We all need to “see the light.” This happens when others act as shining lights of Christ for us, and when others around us “see the light” is when we are shining examples of the light of Christ for them. This reveals our duty to be the light of Christ to a world in need. When we enkindle the flame of Christ in our hearts, the effect is that Christ shines forth through us for others to see. If we are not shining with the light of Christ, it’s not because we are hiding Him, it’s because He is not burning in our soul. When He is burning in our soul, the light cannot be contained. This basic truth is a great source of discernment for us in regard to our relationship with Christ. Basically, if Jesus is alive in our lives, if we are living a true relationship of love with Him, then we will be able to see the effect in the lives of those around us. We will be able to see that light shining forth on others. The effect of Christ shining through us will be like a mirror to our own souls. Consider. If others are drawn into a love of Christ through you? If not, look within your own heart and seek to rekindle the fire of God’s love. Let us be proud that we are the bearers of the great light - JESUS. The dim, pessimistic world, needs to see the light of Christ.
Gospel Matthew 20:1-16
Jesus told this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner going out at daybreak to hire workers for his vineyard. He made an agreement with the workers for one denarius a day, and sent them to his vineyard. Going out at about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place and said to them, “You go to my vineyard too and I will give you a fair wage.” So they went. At about the sixth hour and again at about the ninth hour, he went out and did the same. Then at about the eleventh hour he went out and found more men standing round, and he said to them, “Why have you been standing here idle all day?” “Because no one has hired us” they answered. He said to them, “You go into my vineyard too.” In the evening, the owner of the vineyard said to his bailiff, “Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last arrivals and ending with the first.” So those who were hired at about the eleventh hour came forward and received one denarius each. When the first came, they expected to get more, but they too received one denarius each. They took it, but grumbled at the landowner. “The men who came last” they said “have done only one hour, and you have treated them the same as us, though we have done a heavy day’s work in all the heat.” He answered one of them and said, “My friend, I am not being unjust to you; did we not agree on one denarius? Take your earnings and go. I choose to pay the last comer as much as I pay you. Have I no right to do what I like with my own? Why be envious because I am generous?” Thus the last will be first, and the first, last.’
Daily Reflections Saturday, 23rd September 2017. Twenty fourth Week in Ordinary Time Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina 1 Tim 6: 13-16; Ps 99: 1-5; Lk 8: 4-15
LISTENING TO GOD!
The Gospel today tells us the Parable of the Sower and follows with its allegory. The seed is viewed as the word of God, those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe.
This story identifies four possible ways in which we hear the Word of God. Some are like a trodden path, some like rocky ground, others like a bed of thorns and some are like rich soil. In each one of these images, there is a possibility of growth with the Word of God. The rich soil is when the Word is received and bears fruit. The seed among thorns is when the Word grows but the fruit is choked off by daily troubles and temptations. The seed sown in the rocky ground results in the Word growing, but ultimately dies off when life gets hard. The first image of seed falling on the path, however, is the least desirable of all. In this case, the seed does not even grow. The earth is so hardened that it can’t sink in. The path itself provides no nourishment whatsoever and, as the passage reveals above, the Devil steals the Word away before it can grow.
Reflect, today, on the many ways that the Devil can come and steal the Word of God away from you. It may be as simple as keeping you so occupied that you are too distracted to soak it in. Or it may be that you allow the constant noise of the world to contradict what you hear before it sinks in. Whatever the case may be, it is essential that you seek to take, at very least, the first step of listening and understanding. Once that first step is accomplished, you can then work to remove the “rocks” and “thorns” from the soil of your soul. Daily Reflections Friday, 22nd September 2017, Twenty fourth Week in Ordinary Time 1 Tim 6: 2-12; Ps 48: 6-10, 17-20; Lk 8: 1-3 ACCOMPANYING JESUS! Luke informs us about the vital role which a large number of women played in supporting the ministry of our Lord and his disciples. Regardless of the diversity among the women, they all seemed to have in common that: Jesus had miraculously delivered (healed) them of conditions for which there was no human solution. In one sense, the group which accompanied Jesus was a testimony to the identity of Jesus Christ as Messiah. These women were not mere ‘clingers-on’, they were active contributors to the proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom. When Jesus sent out the 12 (Lk 9: 1-6) and the 72 (Lk 10: 1-12), He told them to take nothing. That was because they were to be ministering to those to whom they came, among whom they lived and served. They loved Christ so much, they served him and his followers out of their whole being.
The desire to follow Jesus was not only an emotional one. Certainly there were emotions involved. There was incredible gratitude and, as a result, a deep emotional bond. But the bond went so much deeper. It was a bond created by the gift of grace and salvation. These followers of Jesus experienced a greater level of freedom from sin than they had ever experienced before. Grace changed their lives and, as a result, they were ready and willing to make Jesus the center of their lives following Him wherever He went.
Have you allowed Jesus to pour forth an abundance of grace into your life? Have you allowed Him to touch you, change you, forgive you and heal you? If so, have you then repaid this grace by making the absolute choice to follow Him? Following Jesus, wherever He goes, is not just something these Apostles and holy women did long ago. It’s something that we are all called to do daily.
Daily Reflections Thursday, 21st September 2017. Twenty fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
Eph 4:1-7, 11-13; Ps 19:1-4; Mt 9: 9-13
GOD DOES NOT CALL THE QUALIFIED, HE QUALIFIES THE CALLED
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Mathew, one of the twelve apostles. He was a tax collector and was known as Levi. Here, he is called Matthew, which means gift of God or given by God. Matthew, leaves his table, his profession, his everything and follows Jesus. Jesus in contradiction to other Rabbi, who rejected publicans and tax collectors, calls Matthew. This is the new revolutionary step Jesus takes to build the new family of God.
Though, the Gospel of Mark was written earlier than the Gospel of Matthew, due to its larger use in the early Church, it was placed before Mark in the Bible. The Jesus of the Gospel of Matthew is sent “only to the lost sheep of Israel” and the same Jesus tells Israel “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it”. In Matthew, 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.
There are two things that we need to learn from Mathew. Firstly, he willingly accepted the call of Jesus. When God speaks, one may be tempted to reply, "Tomorrow; I'm not ready yet”. But Mathew immediately responded to the call of Jesus. Secondly, St. Matthew is called in the midst of the ordinary circumstances of his life, when he was busy with his profession. Jesus also called the first apostles, Peter and Andrew, James and John when they were busy with fishing.
Every day God is calling us. Every day He calls us to serve Him radically and completely in one way or another. And every day we have an opportunity to respond just as Matthew did. At these moments, we must recognize the voice of Jesus clearly and unmistakably. We must be certain that whatever Jesus calls or inspires us to do is worth it. We can then be in a position to imitate the quick and total response of St. Matthew. If you see a lacking, recommit yourself to a more radical following of Christ. You will not regret it.
Daily Reflections Wednesday, 20th September 2017. Twenty fourth Week in Ordinary Time Memorial of Sts. Andrew Kim, Paul Chong and Companions, Martyrs 1 Tim 3: 14-16; Ps 110: 1-6; Lk 7: 31-35.
OPENING OUR HEART TO JESUS
“To what shall I compare the men of this generation?” If Jesus were to ask the same question today. How would he describe us? Are we like the spoilt children, who wouldn’t dance at the music, or who wouldn’t cry at a funeral song? The readings of today demand us to be in tune with the call of the Lord, to evaluate and fine-tune ourselves and our activities, in order to be truly members of God’s Kingdom.
Paul in his letter advices on “how to behave in the household of God.” He reminds the believers, that they are members of the household of the living God, manifested by Jesus, and proclaimed to the world. He presents the small and beautiful creed, which was the symbol of early Christians. This creed succinctly and comprehensively revealed the qualities and deeds of Jesus, and the plan of God for mankind through Jesus.
In the Gospel, the self-righteous Pharisees are compared to spoilt children. Just like one cannot enter a room which has its door locked. So also, Jesus could not enter the hearts of the Pharisees, as they had decided not to believe. Both Jesus and John were rejected by the Pharisees. The Gospel ends with the words: "Whoever has ears ought to hear," invoking a response from us to listen ardently to the call of Jesus.
“Children who sit in the marketplace” evoke images of people busy at Malls, Coffee Shops on their electronic devices, tapping away, oblivious to all that is going on around them. Our life too is full of shallow distractions. We no more awaken to the birds chirping, no more enjoy an evening breeze, and no more are able to sit in quiet prayer, since we are busy with things which are not priorities. Self-complacency blocks us from seeking the transcendent.
Let us reflect, if our lives have been attentive to listen to Jesus. Have I been attentive to myself? Am I aware of God’s working in my life? If not, consider to bring changes that will make us worthy and active in working for the Kingdom of God.
Prayer: Lord, May I open my hear to receive You. May I open my eyes to see You. May I open my hears to listen to your voice calling me. Jesus, I trust in You. Amen.
Daily Reflections Tuesday, 19th September 2017, Twenty fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Col 2: 6-15; Ps 144: 1-2, 8-11; Lk 7: 11-17 I TELL YOU, ARISE! The miracle of the raising the widow’s son at Nain is a miracle that is found only in the Gospel of Luke. Yesterday we saw the healing of the Centurion’s servant who was ill and at the point of death. Today, the son of the widow is already dead. Jesus raises the boy quite simply with an authoritative command. The crowd responds by regarding Jesus as a prophet and by affirming that God has been favourable to his people through the deed that Jesus had just done.
Luke succeeds to paint a very beautiful picture on the encounter of the two processions: the first procession of death which is going out of the city, accompanying the widow’s only son towards the cemetery; the second procession of life enters the city and accompanies Jesus. It is compassion which moves Jesus to speak and to act. Jesus sees a mother's tears, realizes that this widow has lost her only son, and Jesus is moved with compassion, and intervenes. Imagine the joy of the widow, as she saw her dead son came back to life. It would have been a moment that she would never forget and for which she would be eternally grateful.
Jesus spoke and what He spoke came to be. The dead came back to life at His command. But these words also reveal a deep spiritual truth. Jesus may not bring our loved ones back to life, in a literal way, but He does speak powerful words to us in many other ways. When our faith is strong and we turn to Him with hope, trust and surrender, He will speak to us words that lift us out of our misery and pain. There is great power in the words of our Lord. Offer Him, this day, your sins and all that weighs you down and listen for Him to speak to you. Let Him say to you, “I tell you, arise!” Arise from your sin, hurt, anger and pain. Let His words sink in and transform your life bringing what seems to be dead back to life.
Prayer: Lord, I surrender to You all that I am and all that weighs me down in life. I entrust to You my sin, hurt, anger and all that appears to be an obstacle to the newness of life to which You are calling me. May I surrender all to You, dear Lord, and hear You call me from my despair to newness of life. Jesus, I trust in You. Amen.