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Friday, 1 May 2015

“A prophet is respected everywhere except in his home town and by his own family.” (Mt 13:57)

“A prophet is respected everywhere except in his home town and by his own family.” (Mt 13:57)

Today’s Passages: Mt 13:54-58; Col 3:14-15, 17, 23-24
Meditation: Today’s meditation verse can be understood from different perspectives. Some may say that it serves as warning or counsel for today’s preachers; others say that it manifests Jesus’ desperation regarding his mission in his home town; still few say that it reveals Jesus’ condemnation against his home town. Regarding the last two opinions, there are some reservations for the words following do not support them.

The first one could be interpreted in the way that St. Paul puts before us, “Christ’s message in all its richness must live in your hearts.” (Col 3:17) In other words, we have to keep always the word of God in our hearts and minds and be prepared to proclaim the word of God in every situation. See the words of St. Paul through which he admonishes Timothy, “I solemnly urge you to preach the word of God, to insist upon proclaiming it whether time is right or not.” (2Tim 4:2)

The second reading says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for men.” (Col 3:23) Therefore, it is not that we are rejected or not, rather whatever we have done was for the glory of God. Even in our rejections let us not be dejected but assert like St. Paul, “I want you to know my brothers that the things that have happened to me have really helped the progress of the gospel.” (Phil 1:12)

Because, “we know that in all things God works for good with those who love, those whom he has called according to his purpose. Those whom God had already chosen he also set apart to become like his Son, so that the Son would be the first among many brothers.” (Rom 8:28-29) Further Paul says, “Who then can separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble do it, or hardship, or persecution, or hunger, or poverty, or danger, or death?” (Rom 8:35)This is also true of St. Joseph whose feast we celebrate today. He was the man who walked in the path of the Lord amidst sufferings and agonies and was justified.
        
Though he could not do anymore miracles there because of their unbelief, Jesus did not condemn them. “For, he did not come to condemn the world rather to save it.” (Jn 12:20) If lose the blessings from God we have to review ourselves and come to real faith. “This is how judgment works: the light has come into the world, but the people love the darkness than the light, because their deeds are evil.” (Jn 3:19) Let us be more concerned about our duties as his faithful servant than the unbelief or the rejection of the people of Nazareth.
          
 Prayer: Lord God, we thank you and praise you for your daily eternal bread. Lord, give us the courage and readiness to preach the message of your kingdom even in the midst of difficulties, do good to others and thereby become your faithful servants. This proclamation of the gospel and doing good to others may never be affected by the rejection we face in our lives. We ask for this grace through Christ our Lord. Amen!

Greetings: God is with you! Wish you a blessed and fruitful Easter Friday!


Thursday, 30 April 2015

“Whoever receives anyone I send receives me also; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.” (Jn 13:20)

“Whoever receives anyone I send receives me also; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.” (Jn 13:20)

Today’s Passages: Jn 13:16-20; Act 13:13-25
Meditation: Let us thank God for today’s meditation verse for it adds new life and vigor to our ministry. Jesus says, “Whoever receives anyone I send receives me also; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.” (Jn 13:20) How beautiful and meaning this verse is! However, we fail to put into practice often in our lives. Jesus himself exclaims, “Now that you know the truth, how happy you will be if you put it into practice!” (Jn 13:17)

Nowadays people are very selective as well as selfish. They are concerned only about those which affect or profit them or in short, what is related to them. ‘If you want something, have it! It doesn’t matter at all, whether it affects someone or not’ is the motto of today. Somewhere or somehow man loses the sense of correlations in the modern society. In due course, relationships become peripheral and artificial. Though gloomy and dissatisfied, everyone tries to keep a mask of business smile on his/her face. How dangerous and deceiving it is!

However, the word of the Lord always speaks of the co-relatedness; the revelation of the Holy Trinity itself tells about it more powerfully. Elizabeth speaks in a loud voice, “You are the most blessed of all women, and blessed is the child you will bear!” (Lk 1:43) A woman from the crowd speaks, “How happy is the woman who bore you and nursed you!” (Lk 11:27) Jesus himself says, “Father and I are one.” (Jn 10:30) Again, “You can be sure that whoever gives even a drink of cold water to one of the least of these my followers because he is my follower, will certainly receive a reward.” (Mt 10:42)
 
Once we lose this correlation, then, we may love and adore Jesus but keep away from the church; or we may love the church and may not give respect to the priests and religious. This looks funny and ridiculous indeed! St. Paul says, “Christ is like a single body’ which has many parts; it is still one body, even though it is made up of different parts.” (1 Cor 12:12) The question of the risen Lord to Saul at his conversion also conveys the same meaning, “Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?” “I am Jesus whom you persecute.” (Acts 9:4-5)

It is because of this same sense of co-relatedness, we find in the second reading, the officials of the synagogue sending a message to Paul and his companions, “Brothers we want you to speak to the people if you have a message of encouragement for them.” (Acts 13:15) Therefore, let us be more aware of this co-relatedness in our relation to Jesus, church, family and society.
                             
 Prayer: Lord God, we thank you and praise you for your daily eternal bread. Lord, give us the divine light to understand the real nature of the relation between you and the church. St. Paul clearly understood it and said, “Now I am happy about my sufferings for you, for by means of my physical sufferings I am helping to complete what still remains of Christ’s sufferings on behalf of his body, the church.” Lord, give us your light! We ask for this grace through Christ our Lord. Amen!


Greetings: God is with you! Wish you a blessed and fruitful Easter Thursday!

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

“I came, not to judge the world, but to save it.” (Jn 12:20)

“I came, not to judge the world, but to save it.” (Jn 12:20)

Today’s Passages: Jn 12:44-50; Act 12:24-13:5a
Meditation: Today’s meditation verse clearly directs us to the purpose and nature of our ministry. If we follow this method without fail we will surely be effective in our ministries. In the gospel of John many a time we find Jesus speaking about judgment and condemnation. In all these places he makes it plain that he is to save the world rather to judge it. Elsewhere he says, “God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to its savior.” (Jn 3:17)

Several times in our lives, we have failed to save others only because we did not understand the real meaning of this word of the Lord: “I came, not to judge the world, but to save it.” (Jn 12:20) With good intention we all go for mission but end up in big failure because we continue to judge. In this connection it is good to remember the words of Mother Theresa: “If you continue to judge others, you will not get time to love them.” How true and meaningful it is!

Therefore, let us keep this winning ‘mantra’ in our lives; wherever we go and whatever we do. We may be working with the good ones or the bad ones, the educated or the uneducated, and the rich or the poor. There are of course several possibilities of judging either of them. However, the purpose of mission and ministry is to save others, not to judge them. Would there be anyone righteous, if the Lord God had decided to judge the world? Surely no one! Remember that it is not our merit that we live but his loving mercy.

Jesus didn’t like the Pharisaic attitude of false righteousness. Several times we find Jesus criticizing them because of their ‘righteous attitude.’ The evangelist Luke notes, “Jesus also told this parable to people who were sure of their own goodness and despised everybody else.” In the parable of the prodigal son, unlike the elder son, we see the loving father finding no time to judge his son rather received him into his own.

In order to do this, we need surely the help of the Holy Spirit. We should continually pray for this divine gift and he will guide each one of us. The word of the Lord says, “Bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more then, will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Lk 11:13) Today’s second reading gives a beautiful description of it: “While they were serving the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said to them, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul, to do the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2)
 
Prayer: Lord God, we thank you and praise you for your daily eternal bread. O Lord, send your Spirit upon us so that we may be properly led by him and inherit the kingdom of God. Sometimes we are attracted to the false teachers and prophets who guide us only to judge others, not to save them. Make us surrender to the word of God and live an authentic Christian life. We ask for this grace through Christ our Lord. Amen!


Greetings: God is with you! Wish you a blessed and fruitful Easter Wednesday!

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

“My sheep listens to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (Jn 10:27)

“My sheep listens to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (Jn 10:27)

Today’s Passages: Jn 10:22-30; Act 11:19-26
Meditation: Today’s meditation verse is quite interesting and meaningful. Jesus the good shepherd is so confident to pronounce, “My sheep listens to my voice; I know them, they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never die. No one can snatch them away from me.” (Jn 10:27-28) “My sheep listens to my voice… they follow me.” How can he say like this? Contemporary experiences, however, urge us not to believe this; be it in the family or in the society. 

Where does this coolness of Jesus come from? I do believe that this is from his unique, eternal, and salvific love for the sheep. Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd, who is willing to die for his sheep.” (Jn 10:11) This love is indeed exemplary for he himself elsewhere says, “The greatest love a person can have for his friends is to give his life for them.” (Jn 10:13) Even today, therefore, two thousand years since his sacrificial death on the cross for the whole humankind, thousands of thousands flock unto him and believe in him. Yes, they listen to his voice and follow him.

This naturally urges me to rethink of my commitment to my duties and entrusted ones. Usually we ask the questions like: why do the people disregard our voice? Or why do they rush to keep away from us? Or why are we so much anxious and afraid of others snatching our dear ones away from us? These questions are right to be sure, however, our selfless love and dedication to our ministries as in the life of good shepherd too matter.

Is it not true, then, that I am working for my family and children, day and night? Is it not true that I am working extra time to afford the burdens of my dear ones? Is it not true that I am taking extra classes to my intellectually poor students? May be true, no one denies them. However, there are instances where people dedicate themselves for their own sake; for the sake of their name and fame. There the other becomes only a means to accomplish their selfish ambitions.

Eventually, children run away from their families, spouses get separated, and employer-employee relationship is broken. Indeed, no one is sure now a days that the other will listen to him or follow him. Here stands in a unique manner our good shepherd Jesus at our side, like friend, to lay down his life for me. This is not for him but for me, for me only. Let me listen to him gratefully to his divine, “I have come in order that you might have life – life in all its fullness.” (Jn 10:10)

Prayer: Lord God, we thank you and praise you for your daily eternal bread. Like St. Peter we too confess that you only have the words of eternal life. Give us your Holy Spirit to listen to your word at moment of your life and have eternal life. Together with the Psalmist I too pray and proclaim, “The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need.” (Ps 23:1) We ask for this grace through Christ our Lord. Amen!


Greetings: God is with you! Wish you a blessed and fruitful Easter Tuesday!

Monday, 27 April 2015

“I have come in order that you might have life – life in all its fullness.” (Jn 10:10)

“I have come in order that you might have life – life in all its fullness.” (Jn 10:10) 
Today’s Passages: Jn 10:1-10; Act 11:1-18

Meditation: Today’s mediation verse is really a gift from God our loving father and calls you and me personally for a particular mission. It is apparently connected with the salvific mission of our Lord Jesus Christ. In order to understand this we have to go back to the first chapters of the Book of Genesis. There we read that the Garden of Eden was given to Adam with a specific mission as “to cultivate and guard it.” (Gen 2:15) Of course, he was not simply given a zero balance account as we read in the second chapter.

The narrative goes like this: “God made all kinds of beautiful trees grow there and produce good fruit. In the middle of the garden stood the tree that gives life and the tree that gives knowledge of what is good and what is bad.” (Gen 2:9) How beautiful and worth-living the Garden of Eden is! In the second instance we find that God is giving to Adam a fitting and perfect life-partner: Eve. As the narrative progress we find Satan the intruder comes to the life of man in the form of a serpent.

Serpent the tempter deceived man through eternal lies. Man lost appreciation for God the creator and his commandments and promises. As a result, he failed to respond to God’s love faithfully and was thrown out of the Garden. “The thief comes only in order to steal, kill, and destroy.” (Jn 10:10) From there on what we find is God’s continuous and loving chase after man as to redeem him from the clutches of sin.

In the fourth gospel we read, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16) In his letter John will explain it more clearly and say, “This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven.” (1 Jn 4:10) From this we know for sure that out of his love only God created, promised, provided and redeemed everything and everyone.

It is against this background we can read and reflect on today’s meditation verse, “I have come in order that you might have life – life in all its fullness.” (Jn 10:10) It is God’s will that we might have life in its abundance. However, Satan doesn’t want the same and moreover, tries to misguide man through eternal lies. Eventually, man becomes slave of Satan and sin. St. Paul says, “For sin pays its wage – death; but God’s free gift is eternal life in union with Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 6:23)

In the second reading we find that the Gentiles too are given abundantly the gift of the Holy Spirit and the church rejoices over this gratuitous gift: “God gave those Gentiles the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 11:17) Let us also proclaim this abundance of love and life in and through our lives. Let us not become robbers but the good shepherds in the life of our brethren. 

The word of the Lord says, “Today I am giving you a choice between good and evil; between life and death. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I give you today, if you love him, obey him, and keep all his laws, then you will prosper and become a nation of many people.” (Dt 30:15) It is to me, after knowing God and Satan, the Good Shepherd and the robber; to decide whom should I follow.
                 
 Prayer: Lord God, we thank you and praise you for your daily eternal bread. How true it is that man is often cheated and destroyed by robber, the Satan. However, he is not coming to Jesus the good shepherd who lays down his life for him and be saved. Lord, have mercy on us sinners. Let us pray in a special way today for all those who are under the influence of sin and Satan the liar. We ask for this grace through Christ our Lord. Amen!


Greetings: God is with you! Wish you a blessed and fruitful Easter Monday!