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.