Sunday, August 28, 2016

01-04 September

01 September, Thursday
Readings: 1 Cor 3:18-23; Lk 5:1-11

In today’s gospel passage, we hear that Jesus calling the first disciples. Luke introduces the call narrative after a period of the ministry of Jesus to give the explanation for why such simple and ordinary fishermen would abandon their fishing nets, their livelihood and follow Jesus. Luke 5:11 concludes that “when they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.” The nature of following is rooted in Jesus’ own initiative and invitation, “Follow me.”
When Jesus calls them, a transformation, a radical change takes place in their lives. Jesus says to them, “from now on you will be catching people;” it is a transition from life on human measure to a life in the measure of God; it is from the horizon of human to divine. One is called not simply to learn facts or even truths but to continue the mission of Jesus in reality; it is to witness Jesus Himself through their lives. Am I ready to be a disciple of Jesus to live according to the gospel values and demands to witness and to continue the mission and vision of Jesus in today’s society where I live with all the challenges?

02 September, Friday
Readings: 1 Cor 4:1-5; Lk 5:33-39

Today’s gospel reading, for which Mk 2:18-22 is the source, is about the question of Fasting. Fasting is avoiding something good voluntarily. The Pharisees and the Scribes always find fault with others regarding the spiritual matters and this time they try to find fault with Jesus and his disciples about fasting. They used to fast twice in a week voluntarily. They question Jesus why he and his disciples do not fast? Jesus tells them that there is time for everything; there is time to feast and there is time to fast. The time of Jesus is the time of Messiah and the time of Salvation; it is like the marriage feast, and the banquet, where Jesus is the bridegroom, for which no one keeps the fast. It is the time of the Kingdom of God initiated in and through Jesus. At the same time Jesus gives emphasis on the intentions behind these actions and they should come from one’s pure heart.

Promise: Let us fast from bitterness and feast on forgiveness; fast from selfishness and feast on compassion for others; fast from discouragement and feast on seeing the good; fast from apathy and feast on enthusiasm; fast from suspicion and feast on truth; fast from talking and feast on listening; fast from anger and feast on patience; fast from idle worship and feast on purposeful silence.

03 September, Saturday
Readings: 1 Cor 4:6-15; Lk 6:1-5
Memoria: St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church

The Son of man is the Lord of the Sabbath. Some of the Pharisees question Jesus and his disciples, ‘why are you doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?’ As Jesus and the disciples were going through grain fields the disciples plucked some heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands and ate them. On the Sabbath no work is to be done. Jesus answers referring to David who approached the priest Ahimelech for some bread for he was hungry, and since there was no ordinary bread, the priest gives him the holy bread offered in the Temple. The holy bread represents the twelve tribes of Israel and the priest keeps the bread before the altar for seven days and only the priest and his family can eat them (1 Sam 21:1-7). Thus charity always wins the ritual. Human need has precedence over ritual custom.

To understand the law of the Sabbath, we have to know the heart of the Father. Why the Lord has given the law of the Sabbath? It is to remind man that he remembers the supernatural celestial origin of God. It is a day of renewal of humanity. It is a day to recognize the wonders of God and praise him. Sometimes we lose the very essence of worship by concentrating the meticulous actions. The best way of celebrating the Sabbath is by paying attention to the needs of our neighbours. How do you celebrate the Sabbath?

04 September, Sunday
Readings: Wis 9:13-18; Philem 9-10, 12-17; Lk 14:25-33
XXIII Sunday in Ordinary Time

To be a disciple means to be with him, to know him and to become his friends. To be a disciple of Christ means to have chosen Jesus and decided to follow Him; it means choosing Christ as the only reference point in our lives. Nothing should take precedence or first place in our lives over God. We follow him because we love him, we are founded upon him, and only in him the plan of our life depends. We need to love Jesus above all our relations in the world and bring our cross and follow him.

We are weak human beings and limited and make many errors in our daily life; this should not block us to continue to be disciples of Jesus. We follow him as we are with all our limitations, errors, and sins. We take up these as our daily cross and follow him. The way of the cross is the way to the glory and victory over sin and death. We must count the cost and follow Jesus in the way of the Cross. Jesus purifies us.

Today church continues to live because it is built upon the faith and courage of so many people who have gone ahead of us. We are invited to live this faith and be faithful in our relationship with Jesus and continue to follow him. We follow him without any compromise. Let us examine ourselves, is God or Jesus is our first priority?

Daily Reflections: 29-31 August

29 August, Monday
Readings: 1 Cor 2:1-5; Mk 6:17-29
Memoria: The Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

We often forget and ignore the reality that sin causes death. The death of John the Baptist is the result of the sins of many people. If sin is allowed to live and grow with all its power of destruction and spiritual devastation, the death continues to reign in the world becoming more and more powerful with its harmful effects. Today, we make many laws to hinder death but we do not attempt to make laws to prevent sin from the world.

John the Baptist points out the sins of the rulers without fear. The rulers and the leaders are called to set an example for others. This pointing of sin of Herod by John remained as a hate and vengeance in the heart of a woman; as a result she wished the death and elimination of God’s prophet. John sacrificed his life for the truth. His life teaches us today to be faithful and truthful in our lives. There are many among us who are killed for the sake of the Gospel. Am I ready to stand for the truth and Gospel even to the point of sacrificing life?

30 August, Tuesday
Readings: 1 Cor 2:10-16; Lk 4:31-37

Before beginning his mission, Jesus was led by the spirit in the wilderness where he had fight with Satan, the tempter, who wanted his spiritual destruction. Satan does not tolerate that a single man lives by the word of God and lives the will of God. Jesus was tempted by the Satan but did not fall into it. After this fight, he comes to Galilee and to a synagogue in Capernaum, a town near the lake of Galilee, where he had another fight against Satan who had taken possession of a man. Satan tries to obstruct the mission of Jesus, but Jesus refuses to be controlled by Satan. Jesus orders the Satan to be silent and come out of the man. Jesus can cast away the Satan imprisoned in our bodies, but the Satan in our thoughts and wills, then it is upto us to overcome, of course with the strength and the power of the Word of God. The word of Jesus is powerful; with his strong word, he can cast out the unclean spirit. This incident fulfils the mission of Jesus that he proclaimed: set free those who are oppressed of any kind, those who are in bondage of Satan.

If Jesus was tempted, so also we as his disciples; the whole church is at the risk of temptation. Jesus first proclaims the Word of God and then brings healing. Let us trust and believe in the powerful word of Jesus.

31 August, Wednesday
Readings: 1 Cor 3:1-9; Lk 4:38-44

‘After Jesus left the synagogue, he entered Simon’s house; Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from high fever. Jesus stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. Immediately she got up and began to serve them’. We do not find any physical contact with that woman, but it is again the power of the Word of Jesus that heals her. It is interesting note here that the woman did not ask Jesus for help, but the others on behalf of her. We need to intercede and pray for others. And the woman’s response is to be noted! She immediately responder to serve Jesus and others; the greatest motivation of Christian service is gratitude.

Jesus gave his time and energy for others; each and every single person is important for him and he was meeting their needs. The presence of Jesus is not limited to the Churches alone. He is present everywhere and comes anywhere to heal us. Let us trust Him! Do I give time for others, especially those sick? Do I pray for others?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Daily Reflections, 22-28 August 2016

22 August, Monday
Readings: 2 Thes 1:1-5, 11-12; Mt 23:13-22
Memoria: Queenship of Blessed Virgin Mary

The celebration of the Queenship of Mary was established by Pope Pius XII in 1954. The purpose of the feast is that everyone may recognize the merciful and motherly sovereignty of her who brought Jesus into the world. On the day of her assumption, she was solemnly crowned and received into heaven as queen.

Her Queenship is a share in Jesus’ kingship. She deserves the title because she is Mother of God and she is closely associated with Jesus’ redemptive work. Messiah or Christ was the hope for which the people were looking for and hoping in him as the future king. Having given birth and brought this hope made flesh Mary is honoured as Queen of Heaven. St. Gregory Nazianzen says that Mary is the ‘mother of the king of the universe and the virgin mother who brought forth the king of the whole world’.

Jesus was not the king that people expected or imagined, but he dedicated himself to the people, he taught wisdom and proclaimed peace which the world cannot give. Today let us honour mother Mary as the Queen and seek her powerful intercessions for the peace of the world.

23 August, Tuesday
Readings: 2 Thes 2:1-3, 14-17; Mt 23:23-26

Jesus denounces scribes and Pharisees. They feel themselves ‘right’ before God because of their purely external gestures, neglecting the important matters of the law, namely, justice, mercy and faith. Let us not forget the key phrase in the passage, “It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others.” Sometimes, we too fall into this attitude of the scribes and the Pharisees. Let us not be lost in the ritual formalities, and at the same time, let us not forget the necessity of following the rites.

Hypocrisy is something very bad and even worse not making any effort either in gesture or in heart to reach closer to God’s law. There is also the danger in completely forgetting the ritual practices. Therefore, we need both an interior disposition to piety, docility and obedience expressing through outward gestures and rituals.

24 August, Wednesday
Readings: Rev 21:9-14; Jn 1:45-51
Feast: St. Bartholomew, Apostle

Philip and Nathaniel are the two new disciples of Jesus. First, Jesus found Philip and said to him “Follow me.” Having received the call to discipleship and having known Jesus, Philip reaches to others to bring to Jesus. He finds Nathaniel and gives witness to Jesus. He invites Nathaniel to Jesus saying, “Come and see.”
Nathaniel appears only in the Johannine tradition (1:43-51; 21:2). He represents the true Israelite who comes to faith in Jesus. He is identified by Jesus as an “Israelite in whom is no guile” (1:47). He responds to the call with a personal faith and calls Jesus the “Son of God” and “King of Israel” (1:49). Nathaniel represents faithful followers of the traditions of Israel who seen in Jesus their fulfilment.

‘Coming’ to Jesus and ‘Seeing’ Jesus describe faith; it is a means of perceiving faith. Jesus promises eternal life to those who come to him. At a deeper level, ‘seeing Jesus’ provides an insight into the identity of Jesus. And ‘come and see’ is an invitation to intimate relationship with Jesus; it refers to mutuality of relationship between Jesus and the disciples.

25 August, Thursday
Readings: 1 Cor 1:1-9; Mt 24: 42-51
Memoria: St. Louis IX

“You do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” It is true. No one knows the hour of death or the end of the world. We have to be vigilant and be ready, and lead saintly life, because, at the moment of our death, our soul is present before God for judgement. It will have to account for every action done while living on earth, whether good or bad.

We must be ready, also for the son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour. We need to live righteously in constant readiness for the coming of the Son of Man. At the end of the age, there will be a sudden and final separation of the righteous from the unrighteous. So, constant readiness is essential. The parable of the faithful or the unfaithful slave invites to be faithful to one’s participation in the kingdom, representing the Father in showing care and compassion to others. The Son of Man may come earlier than expected, but the faithful, living as the children of the heavenly Father, will always be ready.

26 August, Friday
Readings: 1 Cor 1:17-25; Mt 25:1-13

“Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” The context of the parable of the Ten Bridesmaids is that the disciples came to Jesus privately and asked, ‘What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ (Mt 24:3). So, Jesus speaks to them about the last days or coming of the end of the age. In this context, Jesus tells the parable of the Ten Virgins. This parable describes how the kingdom of heaven is going to be at the second coming.

The marriage feast is the celebration of the kingdom of God. The bridegroom represents the Son of Man. The lamps symbolize people giving light to others. The foolish virgins were not prepared to receive when the bridegroom came and so they missed out to enter into the kingdom and the door was shut.

Am I committed and faithful in the community I live? Am I prepared to receive Jesus? “Keep awake” is a warning to remain constantly faithful and committed to one’s relationship with the Father in the kingdom.

27 August, Saturday
Readings: 1 Cor 12:6-31; Mt 25:14-30
Memoria: St. Monica

Today we remember St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine. Her tears of faithful prayer brought spiritual transformation of her son. In his book, “Confessions”, St. Augustine pointed out the figure of his Christian mother, who is contemplative and attentive to the needs of the poor and the needy. The conversation between Augustine and Monica opens us the depth of his spirit completely directed towards the heavenly homeland.

The parable of the Talents teaches us that being prepared means making good use of what God has given. Each one is given responsibility according to ability; the greater the ability, the greater the responsibility. All are given sufficient time to make good use of the resources entrusted to them. The responsibility leads to the loving presence of the Lord.

The parable reveals that human life is a gift of God and filled with many talents to produce fruits. The Lord wants that we become the instruments of his grace, truth, light, justice, mercy and compassion. Along with the talents, God gives us also his wisdom. If our intelligence is not enlightened by divine wisdom, it is more dangerous than darkness. We need to take risks to exhibit the talents and produce the fruits.

28 August, Sunday
Readings: Sir 3:17-20, 28, 29; Heb 2:18-19, 22-24; Lk 14:1, 7-14
XXII Sunday in Ordinary Time

“All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Humility is essentially to turn and look outside oneself to others, to Jesus and to the great truths of faith; it is recognizing the greatness of God and smallness of humanity. To become humble, we must begin to love. That is what exactly Jesus did. The merciful love was sent down from heaven and Love pushed him on to the roads of Palestine. Love led him to look for the sick, the sinners, the orphan, widows, the oppressed and the suffering. The same Love brought him without any delay to the destination of ‘Calvary’ where he “humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8).

Humility is the outward form of the divine love and its external guide. Humility was a proper attitude of Holy Mother who, for its purity, was pleasing to God and, for her humility, God drew her, because God ‘resists the proud; the humble He gives grace’ (James 4:6). Mary was humble because she loved God’s will and the people who were around her.

“Whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” How can we put into practice this phrase of the Gospel? We should take as its objective the primordial love of the Gospel and try to serve everyone we meet. Each person is our Lord, and in each of them we have the privilege of serving Jesus.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Reflections for 15-21 August 2016

Reflections for 15-21 August 2016

15 August, Monday
Readings: Rev 11:19; 12:1-6, 10; 1 Cor 15:20-26; Lk 1:39-56
Solemnity: The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today we celebrate the mystery of Mother Mary’s Assumption. After the end of her journey on this earth, who was preserved from sin and corruption, was taken upto heaven body and soul close to her son Jesus Christ, in heaven. The Assumption of Mary is yet another proof that God has control over death and life; it is a total victory of God of life over death. It is our hope that at the end of the world, God will raise us up into everlasting life from bodily death and will unite with Christ.

The mystery says that Mary is assumed into heaven, body and soul. I recall the words of Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 that ‘for the body has a place in God’. The heaven is no longer for us a very remote sphere unknown. In the heaven we have a mother. And the Mother of God, the Mother of the Son of God, who is our Mother too. Jesus himself made her our Mother when he said to the disciple and to all of us: “Behold, your mother!” The book of revelation shows a great sign of the heaven: “A woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” (Rev 12:1).

Mary awaits us all in heaven to live and sing with her our gratitude to the grace of God as she expressed in ‘Magnificat’.

16 August, Tuesday
Readings: Ezek 28:1-10; Mt 19:23-30

Today’s gospel is part of the story of the Rich Young Man, who preferred to the slavery of matter to the freedom of the Gospel. Jesus says, “It will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” A Jewish proverb says that even in dreams you can see an elephant passing through the eye of a needle. Jesus rephrases the saying. Then, who can be saved? Jesus tells the disciples that their needs are really beyond human efforts, but nothing is impossible for God, that He sent his Son “to preach the good news to the poor (Lk 4:18).

Peter wants to know what will be the reward for the apostles. He asks Jesus, “Look we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus then speaks of a world renewed described according to the vision of Daniel about the coming of the Son of Man (Dan 7:9). The apostles will be granted the authority that Jesus had with the Father. Jesus assures a hundred times more in this world and in addition to the kingdom of God. This is not a hundredfold material but spiritual. God of peace and joy enters into our hearts and brings us eternal happiness. Virgin Mary, the Angels and Saints help us to choose the kingdom.

17 August, Wednesday
Readings: Ezek 34:1-11; Mt 20:1-16

The parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard is told only by Mathew. This parable develops the theme that ‘the last will be first and the first will be last’. The vineyard is the Israel, the beloved of God (Isa 5:1). The master wishes so much to find the workers to work for his vineyard; he does not send those of his workers, but he goes to the streets to look for and returns and even during the day and evening, to find the others.  Here we see the ‘first’ and the ‘last’, the Israelites and the Gentiles. The important things to understand here is that no one is excluded from the mercy of God. The merciful love of God, with its urgency, also reaches to the poorest of the poor and welcomes everyone, even at the eleventh hour. There is no reason to complain of the generosity of God.
No one has the right to murmur against God; the call and the commitment are gifts of God. We should always thank the Lord and bless him instead of thinking about the reward that is equal for all. We always compare with others and are envious at times. Let us praise the Lord for every gift we have received from him.
Promise: Let us overcome our jealousy and envy.

18 August, Thursday
Readings: Ezek 36:23-28; Mt 22:1-14

“Many are called, but few are chosen.” The parable of the Wedding banquet teaches us the truth that is often forgotten by us: the rules of the kingdom are established by God; it is God who decides whom to call and when to call. It is the responsibility of man to accept or refuse God’s call. We are asked to make ourselves free and available to accept the invitation and be present in the banquet hall. Even the laws to be observed in the banquet hall are also established by God and never by man. The servant without the wedding garment is taken off and thrown into darkness. Eternal life is welcoming the Word of God and the doors of the kingdom are closed where the Word of God is not welcome. One who refuses to live the Gospel law or truth will not enter the kingdom. One is excluded from the kingdom if he or she does not live according to the charity that the new law of Christ came to announce. Therefore, the Gospel must be lived and the Word of God is to be observed.

God’s gracious invitation comes to us every day through Jesus Christ to follow him more closely day by day. We need to wear the garment of salvation and the robe of righteousness (Isa 61:10). Let us live the Gospel message in our daily lives that leads us to eternal banquet that awaits us.

19 August, Friday
Readings: Ezek 37:1-14; Mt 22:34-40
Memoria: St. John Eudes

In the context of the dispute between Sadducees and Pharisees, Mathew inserts the text regarding the greatest commandment. One of the Pharisees, a lawyer, asks Jesus a question to test him. In his reply Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 saying, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind; and you shall love your neighbour as yourself.” No one could find fault with the orthodox answer of Jesus. What was surprising was that Jesus had given the equal importance to the two commandments, namely, love of God and love of neighbour. The two commandments are two sides of the same coin and they complement each other. The Constitution of the Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium (LG 42) is very clear on this point: “The true disciple of Christ is characterized by charity both to God and to others.”

God must be loved because he is our Father, Creator, Redeemer, Saviour, and Giver of every gift. We love God by listening to his voice and living every word that comes from his mouth. We love God if we do his will and obey his every command, for without this obedience there is no love. We love our neighbour wishing the same spiritual wealth we want for ourselves to the neighbour. For justice, we must give to others what their due not causing any harm either morally, spiritually, physically and materially. This happens only when we give ourselves to others. One who leaves the neighbour in poverty does not love him/her. To love is to elevate and enrich, raising the other from the misery and littleness both spiritually and materially. To love is to bring others to our own life condition.

20 August, Saturday
Readings: Ezek 43:1-7; Mt 23:1-12
Memoria: St. Bernard, Abbot and Doctor

“All who exalt themselves will be humbled and all who humble themselves will be exalted.” The Christian community is a well-structured body. St. Paul sees the Church as the body of Christ. “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the Church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way (1 Cor 12:27-31). It is the highest form of vision and a pure service. The same also is explained by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians 4:1-13.

What Paul teaches is only a development and expansion of the truth that Jesus the Lord Jesus proclaims in the Gospel. Rule of the community is the pure service in the greatest humility which keeps us always part from the last place, the place of the servants of the Gospel and the love of God and will be exalted by the Lord. Jesus wants every disciple to be the perfect models of truth, justice, charity and moral correctness. They need not be the preachers of the Word, but should live an exemplary life in everything and always. They have to say and do and perfect in saying and perfect in doing.

21 August, Sunday
Readings: Isa 66:18-21; Heb 12:5-7, 11-13; Lk 13:22-30
XXI Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last.” Jesus refuses to answer the question regarding the number of those who will be saved. The question of salvation does not arise in fact in general terms, but arises “for me” as an individual. It depends on my acceptance or refusal that Jesus offers me. Salvation of God is open for all and not reserved for few. In the first reading, we see in the vision of Isaiah, who imagines the pilgrimage of all the people, Jews and Gentiles to Jerusalem to receive peace and salvation. Thus, salvation is universal.

Jesus tells us to strive to enter through the narrow door. The way to salvation is to follow Jesus Christ, for He is the way. The effort to enter through the ‘narrow door’ is the effort to follow the path taken by Jesus that is, the way to Jerusalem, the way to Calvary. Calvary was only a stage in the journey to the final destination, a stage of great suffering, darkness and loneliness, but that ended up directly to a world of light and joy, lit by the rising of the Easter sun, living in the joy of the resurrection. There Jesus ‘stretched out his arms between heaven and earth, as a sign of everlasting covenant’ and extended his offer of love and salvation of God to all men, to the east and west, north and south, inviting each man and every woman, of every age and of every race, of every color and of every language, to participate in the banquet of the kingdom of God.

The narrow door is the means to exit from the anxieties of a world without love; it is the opening to the boundless love, toward forgiveness and mercy.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

14 August, Sunday
Readings: Jer 38:4-6, 8-10; Heb 12:1-4; Lk 12:49-53
XX Sunday in Ordinary Time

We are bound with our human relationships and family ties. We feel that we are tied down to these relations with love and we have great duties to those close to us, especially the family. In these relations, we feel that we are bound with responsibility and freedom and so often, it is hard to give up these relations. Today’s gospel is hard to hear and understand: Jesus says, “I came to bring fire on earth…Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!” (Lk 12:49-51). And he says that the same family members will be divided (Lk 12:52-53). How do we understand?

We often forget our relationship with God, the Father and the whole creation and humanity created by Him is just one and the same family; and we do not realize that no one is more valuable than the heavenly Father. So, Jesus invites us that all our close and intimate relationships are to be purified. All our relations are to be measured in relation to God the Father, who is the source of all our relations, family ties, friendships, love and so on. Our human bonding is sometimes so strong and attached that we are not able to give away completely to the Lord for the purification. We are tempted to say, ‘Lord take away everything except this and that…” We refuse to live according to God’s ways.

Jesus also assures that once we leave all our relations to the Lord, we receive the foundation of true peace, which is not the peace that this world gives. The peace that the Lord gives is the peace made of forgiveness, justice, love and friendship. Peace is not just the absence of conflict. True peace is to be with others in the presence of God, the Father, purified and liberated by the truth and mercy of God’s judgement.

Promise: Let us pray and work for the peace of God in this world, which needs most in this hour!
13 August, Saturday
Readings: Ezek 18:1-10, 13, 30-32; Mt 19:13-15

“Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs” (Mt 19:14). Jesus tells us today to take care of children, for the kingdom is theirs. The love of Jesus for children must help us to reflect how we take care of them and what is our attitude towards them; we today often neglect them; abuse them, misuse them and refuse them in many ways. It requires a great generosity from the part of parents and also from all of us to take care of them, to accept them as they are, to teach and educate them, make them grow in the gospel values and the doctrines of the Church.

Jesus “laid his hands on them and blessed them” implies that children can receive baptism and that they are prepared early in their lives to take the advantage of Confession and especially Holy Eucharist! This is the concern and to be clearly understood not only by the mothers (or parents) but by all the faithful, priests and laity. In this, becoming like children is becoming more like Christ. Jesus says, “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it” (Mk 1015).
Promise: Respect Children!

Friday, August 5, 2016

12 August, Friday
Readings: Ezek 16:1-15, 50, 60, 63; Mt 19:3-12

Jesus appreciates the dignity of Christian marriage, which demands fidelity and unity! Jesus raised marriage into a holy sacrament in the new Law. An intimate union of marriage is understood as a mutual gift of two persons (spouses); it requires a total fidelity on the part of the spouses and unity among them.

Today we are witnessing to so many divorces and broken families, and some of us may be part of these, on the principle that lack of fidelity and unity. God created male and female and untied them in the sacrament of marriage; what unites two human beings of opposite sex, male and female is exclusive and indissoluble. The unity of them is the wish of the Creator and is destined to fertility and mutual help. After the humanity’s fall (sin), human instincts take over and try to divert the love towards the satisfaction of the lowest instincts. That is why Jesus instituted the sacrament of marriage. The grace of the sacrament of marriage is love, fidelity, unity, self-giving and sacrifice. The saddest thing today in our times is that man separates what God unites. Union in marriage is the source of happiness, opportunity for mutual help, and school of love for the children. Let us pray for our families to strengthen the bond of love, fidelity, unity and mutual help.

Promise: Let us not separate any relation that is united by God, either be marriage, friendship, family ties…etc.
11 August, Thursday
Readings: Ezek 12:1-12; Mt 18:21-19:1
Feast: St. Clare, Virgin

“How often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus says, “Not seven times, seventy seven times.” It means many, many times. Forgiveness cannot and should not be denied to anyone. “Forgiveness is man’s deepest need and highest achievement” (Horace Bushnell). The ‘parable of the unforgiving servant’ enlightens and teaches us a great lesson. It provokes outrage and condemnation of the servant who was forgiven a large debt and he himself could not forgive a small debt of his neighbour. We ourselves assume the same kind of attitude and behaviour. We receive unending and infinite mercy and compassion of God and we often fail to be merciful and compassionate to our neighbours. We deny forgiveness to them, where we ourselves received forgiveness of the Lord.
When we deny love and forgiveness, we are creating a hell here in this world and create a space for the evil to establish its kingdom of hatred, division and violence. Why there is so much violence in the world? Am I part of it in any way? The cause of all this is lack of love and forgiveness. Let us earnestly pray for the strength to forgive one another and thus taste the joy of forgiveness to reconcile ourselves with God and with one another.            

Promise: Let us learn to forgive our brother and sister from our heart (cf. Mt 18:35).
10 August, Wednesday
Readings: 2 Cor 9:6-10; Ps 111:1-2, 5-6, 7-8, 9; Jn 12: 24-26
Feast: St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr

Death leads to life; a seed sprouts and bears fruit only when it is sown in the ground and dies. This refers first of all to Jesus’ death and his resurrection; His death on the Cross brought life to the entire humanity through the Resurrection. He obtained new life for us in the Holy Spirit. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are invited to bear much fruit in our lives. Jesus calls us to die to our self and to ‘hate our life’ in order to gain life in Jesus Christ. Jesus says that we have to hate our life in this world that is, giving up everything that is contrary to the will of God for Jesus. We have to die to our selfishness and selfish ways. Christ is our life and everything contrary to Christ is death. It is also giving preference to God and to God alone. If we do so, Jesus assures us the eternal life.

“The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christianity” (Tertullian). Martyrs followed the path shown by Jesus and such one example is St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr whom the Church remembers today; sown in faith, sacrificed his life for his faith and the gospel values and thus produced much fruit for Jesus and Christianity. He gave up all money to the poor and as a consequence, he had to pay the price of his life in the hands of a greedy pagan in Rome; and Lawrence won eternal life.

Promise: Let us today die to our selfishness and everything that is contrary to Jesus, the life and who promises us the eternal life.
09 August, Tuesday
Readings: Ezek 2:8-3:4; Ps 118: 14, 24, 72, 103, 111, 131; Mt 18:1-5, 10, 12-14

Today’s first reading from the book of prophet Ezekiel is part of the ‘Vision of the Scroll’ (2:1-3:11) in which he is called to be God’s prophet.  Yahweh invites the prophet to eat the Scroll, that is ‘written front and back’ signifying the fullness of God’s message; it means to assimilate God’s word before it is spoken to the people. God tells the prophet not to be rebellious; that is not to be angry with the people who are in exile because of their sinful ways, but be patient with them. We as baptized children, as prophets of the Word need to be merciful and compassionate to our ‘Neighbour’; let us remember that we are only mere instruments of God’s Word; it is God who judges, punishes and saves. We are servants and ministers of God and His Word. Let us assimilate the Word of God, which is as sweet as honey (Ezek 3:3) into our hearts and teach others through the example of our lives.

We have two pericopes for the Gospel reading; ‘True greatness’ (Mt 18:1-5) and ‘the parable of the Lost Sheep’ (Mt 18:10, 12-14). ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ All are equal in heaven in the sight of God. Yet, the true greatness lies in repentance or change of heart and having the attitude of children, who are completely dependent on, who totally trust, innocent, sinless and righteous; humility that of children is the one that makes us great in the kingdom. “It is being born from above” (Jn 3:3). Children are our models; it is not the riches, power, prestige that make us great, but total dependence (prayer) on God and our humility before God and men. Humility of God who helps the poor, humility of Jesus in the manger and on the cross and his service to the humanity is our example; humility is submission before God; it is the fear of the Lord. The parable of the lost sheep teaches us that God takes care of everyone, especially who are lost, for He is merciful and compassionate.

Promise: Let us be merciful and compassionate to our neighbours as God the Father is merciful to you and me.
08 August, Monday
Readings: Ezek 1:2-5, 24-28; Psalm 148:1-2, 11-14; Mt 17:22-27
Feast: St. Dominic, Priest

Ezekiel (means ‘God strengthens’) is the major prophet and the priest (son of the priest Buzi) of the O.T. from whose book we have the first reading. Ezekiel is one of the captives taken to Babylon. “The hand of the Lord was on him” (1:3) means he was moved by the power of God to be the messenger for His people in exile. Ezekiel begins his book with the vision, in which he sees the ‘glory of God’. Ezekiel experiences the personal presence of God through a stormy wind, a great cloud with brightness fire flashing forth and the four living creatures, a symbol of totality (1:4-5). God of Israel reveals the divine self or manifests himself to Ezekiel in Babylon. When Ezekiel sees the glory of God, he falls on his face, which is the right attitude before we enter into any active work of God, and he hears the voice of God speaking to him, in which God reveals his plans for his people. Thus, the glory of God commissions Ezekiel his mission to the captives in Babylon.

Today’s gospel has two reflections: the first, Jesus predicts his suffering through betrayal and his death, but with the great assurance of hope that “on the third day he will be raised.” This is the glory of God revealed by Jesus himself. Let us thank God that through His son Jesus, He made atonement for our sins; Jesus paid the price for our redemption with his blood and freed us from the slavery of sin. The second, regarding the paying of taxes; we do not want to pay the taxes when it is unjust demanding; but Jesus says to the disciples to pay the tax as not to cause the bad example.

Promise: Let us be prophets called by God to be the voice to the people who are in exiles of discrimination, poverty, domination, injustice, sexual harassment, broken family…etc.