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.

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