domenica 26 ottobre 2008
Assisted by God's Grace I will be going to MALAWI for The Pastoral and Fraternal visit to SFO fraternities there together with Lucy. It will be from 26 October to 4th November, 2008. I request you all to pray for the success of our visit. During this time I will not be able to share my reflections. May God bless you all.
The Pharisees prided themselves in the knowledge of the law and the ritual requirements contained in the five Books of Moses (Genesis through Deuteronomy). They made it a life-time practice to study the 613 precepts of the Law of Moses along with the numerous commentaries written by various rabbis. They tested Jesus to see if he correctly understood the law and its requirements as they did. Jesus startled them with his profound simplicity and mastery of the law of God and its purpose. What does God require of us? Simply that we love as he loves! God is love and everything he does flows from his love for us. God's love tempers everything he does – including his justice, mercy, kindness, and goodness and the way he treats both friend and enemy. God loved us first and our love for him is a response to his exceeding grace and kindness towards us. The love of God comes first and the love of neighbour is firmly grounded in the love of God.
sabato 25 ottobre 2008
Jesus' parable of the barren fig trees illustrated his warning about the consequences of allowing sin and corruption to take root in our hearts and minds. Fig trees were a common and important source of food for the people of Palestine. A fig tree normally matured within three years, producing plentiful fruit. If it failed, it was cut down to make room for more healthy trees. A decaying fig tree and its bad fruit came to symbolize for the Jews the consequence of spiritual corruption caused by evil deeds and unrepentant sin. The unfruitful fig tree symbolized the outcome of Israel's unresponsiveness to the word of God. The prophets depicted the desolation and calamity of Israel, due to her unfaithfulness to God, as a languishing fig tree (see Joel 1:7,12; Habakuk 3:17; and Jeremiah 8:13). Jeremiah likened good and evil rulers and members of Israel with figs that were good for eating and figs that were rotten and useless (Jeremiah 24:2-8). Jesus' parable depicts the patience of God, but it also contains a warning that we should not presume upon patience and mercy. God's judgment will come – sooner or later – in due course.
venerdì 24 ottobre 2008
Jesus expects his disciples to accurately read the signs of the times! Farmers and seafarers know the importance of spotting weather conditions for safe travel and planting. A lot of effort is made today, with the help of science and technology, to discern potential natural dangers, such as tropical storms, hurricanes, floods, tornados, earth quakes, and erupting volcanoes, so that people can be warned to take shelter before disaster hits. Our need for accurately discerning spiritual danger is even more necessary if we want to avoid a spiritual crisis or a moral disaster. Jesus used a vivid illustration to point out the urgency of getting right with God before it is too late. If you got into serious trouble with your neighbour and did something that could get you severely penalized (like being thrown into jail and loosing everything you owned), would you not try to settle the case out-of-court to avoid the worst consequences?
giovedì 23 ottobre 2008
Jesus shocked his disciples when he declared that he would cast fire and cause division rather than peace upon the earth. What kind of fire did Jesus have in mind here? Fire in biblical times was associated with God and with his action in the world and in the lives of his people.Jesus’ sharp statement that he would cause division rather than peace within families must have shocked his disciples.Was he exaggerating? Jesus used a typical Hebrew (Semetic) hyperbole to drive home an important lesson. We often do the same when we want to emphasize something very strongly. Jesus’ hyperbole, however, did contain a real warning that the gospel message does have consequences for our lives. It has the power to heal, restore, and unite those who believe its message. But the consequence of ignoring or rejecting the gospel can lead to many hurtful desires and seduction by the world.
mercoledì 22 ottobre 2008
The Lord loves faithfulness and richly rewards those who are faithful to him. What is faithfulness? It's keeping one's word, promise, and commitments no matter how tough or difficult it gets. Faithfulness is a key character trait of God and one that he expects of us. Fortunately God gives the grace and strength to remain faithful. He also rewards faithfulness. The joy and privilege of being a son or daughter of God carries with it an awesome responsibility. The Lord expects us to make good use of the gifts and graces he gives to us. The more he gives, the more he requires. The temptation while the Master is away is to put off for tomorrow what we know the Master expects us to do today. How can we grow in faithfulness? God's grace shows us the way. When we are faithful in the little tasks and promises we make, we learn to be faithful in the bigger and more important responsibilities and tasks entrusted to us.
martedì 21 ottobre 2008
This parable contains a lesson in faithfulness and a warning against sloth.Why is faithfulness so important to God? For one, it's the foundation for any lasting and meaningful relationship. Faithfulness or fidelity allows us to persevere in living out an unswerving commitment. The Lord is committed to us in a bond of unbreakable love and fidelity. That is what covenant means – keeping one's word, promise, and commitment no matter how tough or difficult it gets. Faithfulness is a key character trait of God and one that he expects of us. Fortunately God gives the grace and strength to be faithful. He also rewards faithfulness. Why is fidelity, commitment, and faithfulness so difficult today? Many today in western society extol freedom over fidelity and don't want to be bound to an unknown or uncertain future. It's regarded as inconvenient and a burden to the pursuit of the individual's interests. We badly need to recover this virtue, not only for our own sake, but for the sake of future generations as well. If we want to pass on the faith then we need to first be faithful models for our young people.
lunedì 20 ottobre 2008
Jesus reinforces his point with a parable about a foolish rich man. Why does Jesus call this wealthy landowner a fool? Jesus does not fault the rich man for his industriousness and skill in acquiring wealth, but rather for his egoism and selfishness – it's mine, all mine, and no one else's. This parable is similar to the parable of the rich man who refused to give any help to the beggar Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). The rich fool had lost the capacity to be concerned for others. His life was consumed with his possessions and his only interests were in himself. His death was the final loss of his soul! In this little parable Jesus probes our heart – where is your treasure? Treasure has a special connection to the heart, the place of desire and longing, the place of will and focus. The thing we most set our heart on is our highest treasure.
domenica 19 ottobre 2008
Scripture tells us to give to everyone whatever is their due and to "owe no one anything, except to love one another" (Romans 13:6-8). The Jewish authorities sought to trap Jesus in a religious-state issue. The Jews resented their foreign rulers and despised paying taxes to Caesar. They posed a dilemma to test Jesus to see if he was loyal to them and to their understanding of religion. Jesus explained that what belonged to Caesar must be given to Caesar. This story has another deeper meaning as well. We, too, have been stamped with God’s image since we are created in his own likeness – "God created man in his own image ..male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:26-27). We rightfully belong not to ourselves, but to God who created us and redeemed us in the precious blood of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Paul the Apostle says that we are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1).
sabato 18 ottobre 2008
Luke the Evangelist dedicated his life to telling others of the good news of Jesus Christ. Luke's account in his Gospel and in the Acts of the Apostles emphasizes the mission of Jesus to bring the kingdom of God to every corner of the world. When Jesus commissioned seventy of his disciples to go on mission, he gave them a vision of a great harvest for the kingdom of God. Jesus frequently used the image of a harvest to convey the coming of God’s reign on earth. The harvest is the fruition of labor and growth – beginning with the sowing of seeds, then growth, and finally fruit for the harvest. In like manner, the word of God is sown in the hearts of receptive men and women who submit to God and honor him as their Lord and King. The harvest Jesus had in mind was not only for the people of Israel, but for all the peoples (or nations)of the world. God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
venerdì 17 ottobre 2008
The Pharisees wanted everyone to recognize that they were pious and good Jews because they meticulously and scrupulously performed their religious duties. Jesus turned the table on them by declaring that outward appearace doesn't always match the inward intentions of the heart. Anyone can display outward signs of goodness while inwardly harboring evil thoughts and intentions. The word hypocrite means actor – someone who pretends to be what he or she is not. But who can truly be good, but God alone? Hypocrisy thrives on making a good appearance and masking what they don't want others to see. The good news is that God's light transforms our hearts and minds and enables us to overcome hatred with love, pride with humility, and pretense with integrity and truthfulness. God gives grace to the humble and contrite of heart to enable us to overcome the leaven of insincerity and hypocrisy in our lives.
giovedì 16 ottobre 2008
What does Jesus mean when he says they have taken away the key of knowledge? The religious lawyers and scribes held the "office of the keys" since they were the official interpreters of the scriptures. Unfortunately their interpretation of the scriptures became so distorted and difficult to understand that others were "shut off" to the scriptures. They not only shut themselves to heaven; they also hindered others from understanding God's word. Through pride and envy, they rejected not only the prophets of old, but God's final prophet, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the "key of David" (see Isaiah 22:22; Revelations 3:7) who opens heaven to those who accept him as Lord and Savior. He is the "Wisdom of God" and source of everlasting life. Only the humble of heart – those who thirst for God and acknowledge his word as true – can truly understand this wisdom.
mercoledì 15 ottobre 2008
Why does Jesus single out the teachers and lawyers for some rather strong words of rebuke?They divided the ten commandments and precepts into thousands of tiny rules and regulations. They were so exacting in their interpretations and in trying to live them out, that they had little time for anything else. By the time they finished compiling their interpretations it took no less than fifty volumes to contain them! In their misguided zeal, they required unnecessary and burdensome rules which obscured the more important matters of religion, such as love of God and love of neighbor. They were leading people to Pharisaism rather than to God. What was the point of Jesus' lesson? The essence of God's commandments is love – love of the supreme good – God himself and love of our neighbour who is made in the image and likeness of God. God is love (1 John 4:8) and everything he does flows from his love for us. God's love is unconditional and is wholly directed towards the good of others. True love both embraces and lifts the burdens of others. Paul the Apostle reminds us that "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given us" (1 Corinthians 5:5). Do you help your neighbours carry their burdens? God gives each of us sufficient grace for each day to love as he loves and to lift the burdens of others that they, too, may experience the grace and love of Jesus Christ.
martedì 14 ottobre 2008
A Pharisee, after hearing Jesus preach, invited him to dinner, no doubt, because he wanted to hear more from this extraordinary man who spoke the word of God as no one else had done before. It was not unusual for a rabbi to give a teaching over dinner. Jesus, however, did something which offended his host. He did not perform the ceremonial washing of hands before beginning the meal. Did Jesus forget or was he deliberately performing a sign to reveal something to his host? Jesus turned the table on his host by chiding him for uncleanness of heart. Which is more important to God – clean hands or a clean mind and heart? Jesus chided the Pharisees for harbouring evil thoughts that make us unclean spiritually – such as greed, pride, bitterness, envy, arrogance, and the like. Why does he urge them, and us, to give alms? When we give freely and generously to those in need we express love, compassion, kindness, and mercy. And if the heart is full of love and compassion, then there is no room for envy, greed, bitterness, and the like.
lunedì 13 ottobre 2008
When the religious leaders pressed Jesus to give proof for his claims he says in so many words that he is God's sign and that they need no further evidence from heaven than his own person. The Ninevites recognized God's warning when Jonah spoke to them, and they repented. And the Queen of Sheba recognized God's wisdom in Solomon. Jonah was God's sign and his message was the message of God for the people of Nineveh. Unfortunately the religious leaders were not content to accept the signs right before their eyes. They had rejected the message of John the Baptist and now they reject Jesus as God's Anointed One (Messiah) and they fail to heed his message. Simeon had prophesied at Jesus' birth that he was "destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that inner thoughts of many will be revealed" (Luke 2:34- 35). Jesus confirmed his message with many miracles in preparation for the greatest sign of all – his resurrection on the third day.
domenica 12 ottobre 2008
Jesus' parable contains two stories. The first has to do with the original guests invited to the marriage feast. The king had sent out invitations well in advance to his subjects, so they would have plenty of time to prepare for coming to the feast. How insulting for the invited guests to then refuse when the time for celebrating came! They made light of the King's request because they put their own interests above his. They not only insulted the King but the heir to the throne as well. The king's anger is justified because they openly refused to give the king the honor he was due. Jesus directed this warning to the Jews of his day, both to convey how much God wanted them to share in the joy of his kingdom, but also to give a warning about the consequences of refusing his Son, their Messiah and Savior. The second part of the story focuses on those who had no claim on the king and who would never have considered getting such an invitation. The "good and the bad" along the highways certainly referred to the Gentiles and to sinners. This is certainly an invitation of grace – undeserved, unmerited favor and kindness! But this invitation also contains a warning for those who refuse it or who approach the wedding feast unworthily. Grace is a free gift, but it is also an awesome responsibility.
sabato 11 ottobre 2008
When an admirer wished to compliment Jesus by praising his mother, Jesus did not deny the truth of the blessing she pronounced. Her beatitude (which means "blessedness" or "happiness") recalls Mary's canticle: All generations will call me blessed (Luke 1:48). Jesus adds to her words by pointing to the source of all true blessedness or happiness – union with God in heart, mind, and will. Mary humbly submitted herself to the miraculous plan of God for the incarnation of his only begotten Son – the Word of God made flesh in her womb, by declaring: I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word (Luke 1:38). Mary heard the word spoken to her by the angel and she believed it.
venerdì 10 ottobre 2008
Some of the Jewish leaders reacted vehemently to Jesus' healings and exorcisms and they opposed him with malicious slander. How could Jesus get the power and authority to release individuals from Satan's influence and control? They assumed that he had to be in league with Satan. They attributed his power to Satan rather than to God. Jesus answers their charge with two arguments. There were many exorcists in Palestine in Jesus' time. So Jesus retorted by saying that they also incriminate their own kin who cast out demons. If they condemn Jesus they also condemn themselves.In his second argument Jesus asserts that no kingdom divided against itself cannot survive for long. We have witnessed enough civil wars in our own time to prove the destructive force at work here for the annihilation of whole peoples and their land. If Satan lends his power against his own forces then he is finished. How can a strong person be defeated except by someone who is stronger? Jesus asserted his power and authority to cast out demons as a clear demonstration of the reign of God. Jesus' reference to the 'finger of God' points back to Moses' confrontation with Pharoah and his magicians who represented Satan and the kingdom of darkness (see Exodus 8:19). Jesus claims to be carrying on the tradition of Moses whose miracles freed the Israelites from bondage by the finger of God. God's power is clearly at work in the exorcisms which Jesus performed and they give evidence that God's kingdom has come.
giovedì 9 ottobre 2008
Jesus used the illustration of a late-night traveller to teach his listeners an important lesson about how God treats us in contrast to the kind of treatment we might expect from good neighbors. The rule of hospitality in biblical times required the cooperation of the entire community in entertaining an unexpected or late-night guest. Whether the guest was hungry or not, a meal would be served. In a small village it would be easy to know who had baked bread that day. Bread was essential for a meal because it served as a utensil for dipping and eating from the common dishes. Asking for bread from one's neighbor was both a common occurrence and an expected favour. To refuse to give bread would bring shame because it was a sign of inhospitality. In conclusion Jesus makes a startling claim: How much more will the heavenly Father give! The Lord is ever ready to give us not only what we need, but more than we can expect. He gives freely of his Holy Spirit that we may share in his life and joy.
mercoledì 8 ottobre 2008
The Jews were noted for their devotion to prayer. Formal prayer was prescribed for three set times a day. And the rabbis had a prayer for every occasion. It was also a custom for rabbis to teach their disciples a simple prayer they might use on a regular basis. Jesus' disciples ask him for such a prayer. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray he gave them the disciple's prayer, what we call the Our Father or Lord's Prayer. What does Jesus' prayer tell us about God and about ourselves? First, it tells us that God is both Father in being the Creator and Author of all that he has made, the first origin of everything and transcendent authority, and he is eternally Father by his relationship to his only Son who, reciprocally is Son only in relation to his Father (Matthew 11:27). All fatherhood and motherhood is derived from him (Ephesians 3:14-15). Jesus' prayer includes an injunction that we must ask God to forgive us in proportion as we forgive those who have wronged us. God's grace frees us from every form of anger, spite, resentment, and hatred.
martedì 7 ottobre 2008
I wish A VERY HAPPY FEAST TO SR.JOANNA MARY AND SR.ROSARY. May God bless YOU
Jesus loved to visit the home of Martha and Mary and enjoyed their gracious hospitality. In this brief encounter we see two very different temperaments in Martha and Mary. Martha loved to serve, but in her anxious manner of waiting on Jesus, she caused unrest. Mary, in her simple and trusting manner, waited on Jesus by sitting attentively at his feet. She instinctively knew that what the Lord and Teacher most wanted at that moment was her attentive presence. Anxiety and preoccupation keep us from listening and from giving the Lord our undivided attention. The Lord bids us to give him our concerns and anxieties because he is trustworthy and able to meet any need we have. His grace frees us from needless concerns and preoccupation.
lunedì 6 ottobre 2008
Jesus told a parable to show how wide God's love and mercy is towards every fellow human being. Jesus's story of a brutal highway robbery was all too familiar to his audience. why did the religious leaders refuse to give any help when they saw a half-dead victim lying by the roadside? Didn't they recognize that this victim was their neighbour? And why did a Samaritan, an outsider who was despised by the Jews, treat this victim with special care at his own expense as he would care for his own family? Who was the real neighbour who showed brotherly compassion and mercy? Jesus makes the supposed villain, the despised Samaritan, the merciful one as an example for the status conscious Jews. Why didn't the priest and Levite stop to help? The priest probably didn't want to risk the possibility of ritual impurity. His piety got in the way of charity. The Levite approached close to the victim, but stopped short of actually helping him. Perhaps he feared that bandits were using a decoy to ambush him. The Levite put personal safety ahead of saving his neighbour. What does Jesus' story tell us about true love for one's neighbor? First, we must be willing to help even if others brought trouble on themselves through their own fault or negligence. Second, our love and concern to help others in need must be practical. Good intentions and showing pity, or empathizing with others, are not enough.
domenica 5 ottobre 2008
What does Jesus' parable tell us about God and the way he deals with his people? First, it tells us of God's generosity and trust. The vineyard is well equipped with everything the tenants need. The owner went away and left the vineyard in the hands of the tenants. God, likewise trusts us enough to give us freedom to run life as we choose. This parable also tells us of God's patience and justice. Not once, but many times he forgives the tenants their debts. But while the tenants take advantage of the owner's patience, his judgement and justice prevail in the end.
Jesus foretold both his death and his ultimate triumph. He knew he would be rejected by his own people and be killed, but he also knew that would not be the end. After rejection would come glory – the glory of resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the Father. The Lord continues to bless his people today with the gift of his kingdom. And he promises that we will bear much fruit if we abide in him and remain faithful to him (see John 15:1-11). He entrusts each of us with his gifts and grace and he gives each of us a particular work to do in his vineyard – the body of Christ. He promises that our labor, especially what we do for him, will not be in vain if we persevere with faith to the end (see 1 Corinthians 15:58). We can expect trials and difficulties as we labor for the Lord, and even persecution from those who oppose God's kingdom. But in the end we will see triumph.
sabato 4 ottobre 2008
Dearest brothers and sisters, May the Good Lord grant you His Peace!
Peace Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is discord, harmony;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
With this prayer of St.Francis I wish you
“A VERY HAPPY FEAST OF OUR FATHER ST.FRANCIS”
venerdì 3 ottobre 2008
Wherever Jesus went he did mighty works to show the people how much God had for them. Chorazin and Bethsaida had been blessed with the visitation of God. They heard the good news and experienced the wonderful works which Jesus did for them. Why was Jesus upset with these communities? The word woe is also translated as alas. It is as much as an expression of sorrowful pity as it is of anger. Why does Jesus lament and issue a stern warning? The people who heard the gospel here very likely responded with indifference. Jesus upbraids them for doing nothing! Repentance demands change – a change of heart and way of life. God's word is life-giving and it saves us from destruction – the destruction of soul as well as body. Jesus' anger is directed toward sin and everything which hinders us from doing the will of God and receiving his blessing. In love he calls us to walk in his way of truth and freedom, grace and mercy, justice and holiness.
giovedì 2 ottobre 2008
Scripture: Matthew 18:1-5, 10 (alternate reading: Luke 10:1-12)
Jesus warned his disciples to "not despise the little ones." God dwells with the lowly and regards them with compassion. His angels watch over them as guardians. "For he will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways" (Psalm 91:11). God has not left us alone in our struggle "to refuse evil and to choose good" (Isaiah 7:15). The angels are his "ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation" (Heb. 1:14). Scripture is full of examples of how the angels serve as messengers and protectors. When Peter was chained in prison and kept under guard, an angel woke him in middle of the night, released his chains, and brought him safely out of prison, past several guards and through locked gates. When Peter realized he wasn't dreaming, he exclaimed: "Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me" (Acts 12:11). When Daniel was thrown into a den of hungry lions, an angel protected him from harm.
mercoledì 1 ottobre 2008
With the call the Lord gives the grace to respond and the strength to follow all the way to the end. Why does Jesus issue a challenge with the call? Jesus was utterly honest in telling people what it would cost to follow him. When a would-be disciple approached Jesus and said he was ready to follow, Jesus told him it would require sacrifice – the sacrifice of certain creaturely comforts. Jesus appealed to this man's heart and told him to detach himself from whatever might hold him back. Spiritual detachment is a necessary step for following the Lord. It frees us to give ourselves without reserve to the Lord and his service. While many of us may not need to give up the comfort of our own home and bed to follow Jesus, we, nonetheless, must be willing to part with anything that might stand in the way of doing God's will. Another would-be disciple said he would follow as soon as he had buried his father. What he meant by this expression was that he felt the need to return to his home to take care of his father through old age until he died. The third had no obligation to return home, but simply wanted to go back and say good-bye. Jesus surprised these would-be disciples with the stark truth that nothing should hinder us from following the Lord. Was Jesus being harsh and rude to his would-be followers? Not really. We are free to decide whether we will take the path which Jesus offers. But if we choose to go, then the Lord wants us to count the cost and choose for it freely.