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Friday, 27 February 2015

“If you are not more righteous than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:20)

“If you are not more righteous than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:20) 

Today’s Passages: Mt 5:20-26; Ez 18:21-28
Meditation: Today’s meditation passages help us to renew ourselves and lead a fruitful Christian life during this Lenten season. It is easy to blame on others every now and then for our sins and problems in life and find justification for them. It is heard that many Christians in these days find themselves justified and satisfied by putting blame on their forefathers for their difficulties and problems in life and begin doing penances for them. This is not in any way appropriate for an authentic Christian life.

The first reading clearly exhorts us that each one is primarily responsible for one’s own life. God’s does not want the death of a sinner, rather his life. Therefore, each one has to decide on his own accord whether he should choose good or not. If he chooses good, he naturally lives; whereas if he chooses evil, he will die. He puts before us good and evil, life and death, it is we who decide the either. The punishment is not above all something from outside, rather it is from inside.

The word of the Lord says, “This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For whoever does wrong hates the light and does not come to the light for fear that his deeds will be shown as evil.” (Jn 3:19, 20) Here the judgment is not something imposed upon but it is the result of my free choice. Hence, it is the right time to take a decision as to salvation and live. For God promises, “He will live and not die, because he has opened his eyes and turned away from the sins he had committed.” (Ez 18:28)

Here the norm is not the other and his doing rather God himself. You will not be justified even if you have followed the teachings of the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. In the gospel reading, Lord Jesus says, “If you are not more righteous than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:20) Therefore, God alone has to be our norm of our life; no one or nothing else.

As the word of the Lord says, “Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the sake of the joy reserved for him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:2) The lives concentrated on Jesus and his words will not be left to peril. In that way, may this Lenten season be a fruitful and blessed one to all of us.
 
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 the letters of the law, not to its spirit. 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 Lenten Friday!

Thursday, 26 February 2015

“Do for others what you want them to do for you: this is the meaning of the Law of Moses...” (Mt 7:12)

“Do for others what you want them to do for you: this is the meaning of the Law of Moses and of the teachings of the prophets.” (Mt 7:12) 

Today’s Passages: Mt 7:7-12; Est 14:1, 3-5, 12-14
Meditation: Today’s meditation passages precisely remind us of what God wants from us to be reconciled unto him and unto our brethren. In a sense we can see that the whole salvation history is making humanity aware of this principle of divine-human relationship. This can also be understood from the point of view of covenantal relationship between God and man: “If you listen to me and keep my covenant, you shall be my very own possession among all the peoples.” (Ex 19:5)

As the Israelite heard this message of God through Moses they all agreed: “all that the Lord has said, we will do.” (Ex 19:8) However, we know from Israel’s history that despite the fact that God was steadfast in his love and faithfulness, the people of Israel always has proved unfaithful to this covenantal relationship. Therefore, many a time they were put under various punishments. You cannot enjoy and experience the real love and faithfulness of God unless you love and obey God
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The more you love God the greater your experience of the love of God will be. Even if we don’t love him, God loves us but that experience of love may be more in the form of mercy and forgiveness. That is why we are asked to return to the first love and works (Rev 2:4-5). This is the pure love God and Adam experienced; this is the love Adam and Eve experienced in the beginning: “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” (Gen 2:23)

It is in this purity of mind only, one can trust in and desire for others’ good, and love them. However, is it possible today in our society? Where do begin from? Who will make the first step? The experiences we have already from the society pulls us back; no more fidelity possible! God showed us the way: “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 Jn 4:10) In the gospel reading we hear Jesus saying, “Do for others what you want them to do for you: this is the meaning of the Law of Moses and of the teachings of the prophets.” (Mt 7:12)

Yes, in this Lenten season, let us therefore, desire for the good of others and be good to others, and fulfill the law and the prophets. Whenever you do something good to others, even if they do not do something good in return to you, God will reward you abundantly. The narrative of the last judgment in the Mathew’s gospel chapter 25 makes it clearer. The word of God says, “Do not turn away your face from anyone who is poor so that God may not turn away his face from you.” (Tob 4:7) 
                         
 Prayer: Lord God, we thank you and praise you for your daily eternal bread. Lord, give us the courage and readiness to do good to others and be children of God. This doing good to others may always be led by the intention of your reward not human appreciation and glory. We ask for this grace through Christ our Lord. Amen!


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

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

“This is an evil generation. They ask for a sign, but no sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah.” (Lk 3:29)

“This is an evil generation. They ask for a sign, but no sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah.” (Lk 3:29) 

Today’s Passages: Lk 11:29-32; Jon 3:1-10
Meditation: Today’s meditation passages speak of the right attitude we all should cherish during this holy Lenten season. Jesus Christ is reproaching those people who do not pay due attention to their religious faith and life. Those who believe in God often find enough signs in and around them to believe and love God. However, those who do not have real faith in God seek for miracles and wonders because they do not want to believe in him. Asking for miracles itself is a sign of disbelief and at times contempt.

Therefore, in the second reading we find Jesus grieving to his heart says, “This is an evil generation. They ask for a sign, but no sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah.” (Lk 3:29) The reason why he calls them evil generation is clear that they repeatedly ask for a sign. They are no more able to know who God is and what he has already done for them in the past years. If you are not able to experience and acknowledge the miracles he has already done in your lives, then it will be useless to search for new miracles in your lives.

It is said that without appreciation there can be no appropriation. In order to have this appreciation for God and spiritual realities, first we have to remember and acknowledge God’s showering of graces in our lives. Psalm 118 is a beautiful thanksgiving psalm that praises God from the bottom of Israelite’s heart. Whenever we are tempted for asking fresh signs from God reading this psalm will give us right guidance. Satan will never be interested in guiding you to all other trees and its fruits in the garden, but the forbidden tree and its fruit. This is an evil generation indeed! They ask for a sign.

The only sign waiting for them is the sign of Jonah; the sign of repentance. We have to acknowledge first our ungratefulness toward God and repent on our sins. When the people of Nineveh repented on their sins, God showered graces upon them abundantly: “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened upon them.” (Jon 3:10) This Lenten season, then, should not be an occasion of asking for signs from God rather it is the time of our repentance, renewal, and return to the Lord.
                  
 Prayer: Lord God, we thank you and praise you for your daily eternal bread. How true it is that man often gets, gets, and forgets; and God gives, gives, and forgives. Lord Jesus Christ, give us a genuine and humble heart to acknowledge and appreciate your graces and forgiveness we received in our lives, and live an ever-grateful life. We ask for this grace through Christ our Lord. Amen!

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

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

“Do not be like them. Your father knows what you need, even before you ask him.” (Mt 6:8)

“Do not be like them. Your father knows what you need, even before you ask him.” (Mt 6:8) 

Today’s Passages: Mt 6:7-15; Is 55:10-11
Meditation: Today’s meditation passages rightly instruct us of the real way of Christian life. It is real and effective for it is given by God himself. The first reading speaks of the effectiveness of the word of God: “So is my word that goes forth out of my mouth: it will not return to me fruitless, but it will accomplish my will, and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Is 55:11) Therefore, let us receive this divine instruction for a different life style and put it into practice.

The idea of a separate people in a sense is not original of Christianity. It was there with the concept of the people of God; the Israel. God chose and set them apart from all other people on earth. They were given leaders to guide them and particular laws to be obeyed. This strong covenantal relationship between God and his people made Israel feel that they are different from others. However, as centuries passed, the warmth of the relationship lost its spirit and limited to its keeping of the letters of the law. So, God became man and began forming new people of Israel; Christianity.

Christian life is quite different from any other way of life. Be it any aspect of life, it has got its own specific way centered on Jesus Christ. Hence, in the second reading we find Jesus warning his disciples “Do not be like them,” (Mt 6:8) that is, like the Pharisees. For example, they had their own way of praying and fasting that did attract the attention of others (Mt 6:16-18). Sometimes, these prayers had the face of even self-righteousness (Lk 18:9-14: the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector). That means their concentration was no more on God and his will rather on themselves.

Therefore, Jesus instructs us the new Israel to regain the spirit of the law and put all our trust on God; concentrate on God and his will rather than on ourselves. He assures us, “Your father knows what you need, even before you ask him.” (Mt 6:8) Thus the prayer Jesus taught is more than a prayer; it is the summary of the way of Christian life. It guides each and every one to lead a genuine Christian life centered on the will of God the father.

This prayer rightly teaches us the meaning of the Lent and puts before us an action plan for this season. There in the prayer we find a total surrender to the will of God, hope in the promise of God’s salvation, trust in the mercy and providence of God, resolution to go reconciled with one’s brethren, keeping alert over evil and Satan etc. Actually, this is not only of the Lenten season but of the whole Christian life. Let us love praying and living this prayer, a real gift from our Lord Jesus Christ.

 Prayer: Lord God, we thank you and praise you for your daily eternal bread. O God, we thank you and praise for the great prayer you taught us. It is the quintessence of Jesus’ life we rightly understand it today. Help us to live this perfect prayer in our daily life, especially in this season of Lent. We ask for this grace through Christ our Lord. Amen!

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


Monday, 23 February 2015

“I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did it for me!” (Mt 25:40)

“I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did it for me!” (Mt 25:40) 

Today’s Passages: Mt 25:31-46; Lev 19:1-2, 11-18
Meditation: Today’s meditation passages rightly remind us of keeping the real motive of the Lenten season. As we enter the second week of the season, we should not lose the spirit we had on Ash Wednesday. Sometimes, it may lead us to mere keeping some abstinence or fasting. Though these are not bad in themselves, these alone cannot keep us united to Jesus Christ and his people. Therefore, let us pay due attention to today’s passages and their message.

In the first reading, we hear the Lord God saying, “Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.” (Lev 19:2) This, of course, is the purpose of the Lenten season we observe. However, how do we obtain this holiness? In the OT tradition everything that is connected to God is holy and therefore, there was a strong inclination to keep away from everyone and everything that is not holy and divine. In this way they thought that they were on the path of becoming holy people.

This way of understanding holiness is also found emphasized in the formulation of the laws of the people of God. In the first reading, from verses 11 to 18, we find “nine times” as a refrain, “you shall not.” I do believe that because of this mind set up the people were naturally inclined to be alert on what all things they should not do or observe. This type of observing the laws or rituals will not make us indeed holy rather may make us “satisfied” in our religious life.

But Jesus was against this “religious satisfaction” and therefore, he touched the untouchables, made friendship with the marginalized, and ate with the sinners and tax collectors. He even summarized the Ten Commandments into two; two simple positive laws: love your God and love your neighbor. It is not only your attempts to keep yourselves away from sins that matters, but also your attempts to possess holiness; Lenten season is not of a mere passive attitude, rather it is of more active heart and mind. This is apparently evident from today’s gospel reading.

Jesus rewards all those who had this positive mind and attitude: “I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did it for me!” (Mt 25:40)  Of course, this does not mean that your Lenten season is merely doing some social or charitable activities. In other words, this may lead to the temptation of some showy business like that of the Pharisees. Therefore, today’s passages remind you and me that becoming holy is not only a process of driving out evils from us but also filling us with the Holy Spirit; not only abstaining from something but doing good for others.

 Prayer: Lord God, we thank you and praise you for your daily eternal bread. O Lord God, help us to be genuine in our religious practices. Let us learn the meaning of real abstinence and fasting; it is also keeping ourselves away from anything and anyone that blocks our going closer to God and his little ones. We ask for this grace through Christ our Lord. Amen!


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