Tuesday, August 24, 2010

TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME YEAR C




First Reading (Sir 3:19-21, 30-31)

Second Reading (Heb 12:18-19, 22-24a)

Gospel (Luke 14:1, 7-14)



“An honest man does not make himself a dog for the sake of a bone” – Danish proverb



There are some among us who want only to see the Jesus who is praying not sitting at the table, attends feasts, jokes and simply being an ordinary person. The Jesus who appears to be human annoys some people.



Our God is a God who wants to be with us, who eats with us, shares our games, and likes to see us cheerful, serene, and full of joy.



When you are invited for a meal you need to slow your feet when taking your sitting position at table, its good manners to wait for the host to show you where to sit, you don’t take a seat randomly. In Israel hierarchies are to be respected also when taking meal, so places are fixed with great attention. The most important guest is asked to sit at the centre, with the honest next to him, and then all the others according to age. This is a normal rule, but there is always somebody, of course, who likes to come before another and so he tries to sneak past and take somebody else’s place higher up, closer to the centre.



Jesus smiles as he watches these manoeuvres and then decides to tell them the first parable (7-11). “Do not take seats at a place of honour during wedding feast…make your way to the lowest and sit there, so that when your host comes, he may say: my friend, move up higher. Then everyone with you at the table will see you honourerd”



Let there be clarity, the taking of the lowest seats was not said by Jesus and its not him who invented it, it was simply common among the Israelites and it was a common saying got from the book of ( proverb 25:6-7) but is new is the content, the teaching. Jesus has no intention of teaching tricks to his disciples and never manifested any kind of interest for their success.



The question is why does Jesus quote this proverb? To his disciples to take always the last place, but not to be praised by people, obviously but to be acknowledged great in the sight of God. The most important person in the Christian community, family is the last one, the one that serves all the others.



Jesus knows that this cancer is present in most Christian communities and he is telling his disciples very clearly to avoid fights over positions. This is very common in most of our Christian communities especially whenever there is an Episcopal visitation; there is always this debate of who will sit with the bishop? All sorts of drama, bickering and inn house passive fights. Surely how can this happen in a Christian community?



It’s quite rare to find somebody who helps a stranger. Jesus recommends helping those who cannot repay or give anything in exchange. Why? So that we may get the reward from heaven





“It’s a fine thing to be honest but it is also very important to be right” – Winston Churchill

Thursday, August 19, 2010

21st Sunday of Year C: OPEN BUT NARROW



Readings: Isaiah 66:18-21; Heb 12:5-7, 11-13; Luke 13:22-30

Theme: Going to heaven requires deep self-discipline of prayer and self-evaluation (METANNOIA)

“A Christian like a candle, must keep cool and burn at the same time” – M. Rosell

Everyone wants to go to heaven but strangely enough we fear to die. Death is a common factor which each of us have in common, if we knew this at the bottom of our hearts and souls, pride would not be part of our daily vocabulary language, and behavior.

Christ is coming to gather the nations of every of every language (Isaiah 66:18). But who will actually enter, will your tribe be there and which tribe will claim the victory of torch bearer of salvation. The disciples asked Jesus the question and he was not prepared to answer. If it was you which answer would you give to such a question and what do you think Jesus will tell you? (Luke 13:23).

There is no favouritism in the Kingdom of God. It’s not like world cup inauguration or finals where the telescopic lens zooms in on the VIP section. It selects people for reasons of power, prestige, office and privilege, whose prime seats are especially reserved for them, whenever they choose to arrive. Such things my brother and sisters don’t exist in God’s kingdom. “People will enter from the east and west, from the north and south” (Luke 13:29), from the black and the white, from the rich and the poor.

None of us is sure who will enter eternal life, Jesus has given as some guides, of course he is not like the guide who says, “Well, I don’t know for sure, but I have my suspicion”. Jesus is definite about his guidance. He says that the “door to eternal life is narrow” (Luke 13:24); those who struggle and suffer for the sake of truth, justice and love will enter into it; “endure trials as the discipline of God” (Heb 12:11). The word ‘discipline’ frightens away people these days, though out of the word ‘discipline’ comes the word ‘disciple’. Discipline has power to transform trials into triumphs, pains into peace, like the modern personal Air Cooler does with the heat. Unlike the conventional fans, which only redistribute warm air, the personal Air Cooler reduces the temperature of the air and gently blows this cooled refreshing air in your direction. So does discipline.

There are some of us who are good in mathematical formulae will calculate the many masses attended, number of confessions made, number of anointing one has received and many other devotional groups attended and calling themselves the “insiders”, may be disappointed. The poor may step ahead of the rich, the simple surpass the clever and sinners outshine the pious. That is Christ’s warning. Those who heed the warning are safe. Those who do not may face the kind of fate Alison Hargreaves the British mountaineer who was warned against going further than a given point by Pakistani army officer for it would be suicidal, but she did not listen. The result was that she died on the mountain; what appeared to be a safe mountain, suddenly turned, as she had been warned, into a raging holocaust of swirling snow and wind.


“God is not a cosmic bell-boy for whom we can press a button to get things”. Harry Emerson Fosdick

Thursday, August 12, 2010

TWENTIETH SUNDAY YEAR C


First Reading Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10

Second Reading Heb 12:1-4

Gospel Luke 12:49-57



“As regards the will of God, even if some take scandal, we must not let this hamper our freedom of action”. – St. Basil



What is the “fire” that Jesus has come to bring on earth (49)? What “baptism” is he to receive (50)? Why does he say that he has not come to bring peace (51)? What are the “signs of the time” that the hypocrites are unable to interpret (56)? What has all this to do with the parable explaining the need to avoid going to the magistrate (58-59)? We shall divide our gospel this Sunday into four parts, so that we may better understand these images and similes that appear rather harsh.



1. First Part (vv 49-50)



God’s faithfulness is always there “ab initio” (Gen 9:11). This Sunday we would like to pose for a moment and ask ourselves, what fire is Jesus talking about? Is it this fire of hell imaginary fire which our small minds have grown to think about, where the wicked of this world will be burnt to ashes? Relax and now change your attitude, if Jesus had come to bring the fire of condemnation for sinners, then I can’t see how to his message could be called a message of salvation, “gospel”, “good news”. It’s a high time we re-thought and re-read our catechism.



The world is full of injustice, violence, tyranny, people living at the time of Jesus though that it was necessary to have one such purifying “fire” to clear the world of all evil. Today we expect a kind of “flood of fire” to clear away the old world and prepare the birth of new one. The problem is that instead of working on the ideals we are so much focused on persons that we just feel fire should come down on our enemies. No! That is not a Christian thought but a wicked thought.



What exactly the mission of our homes, families and communities? It’s the mission of carrying on the task of the “bushfire” of Christ, so that it can penetrate in every person, family and situation, well aware that all this also for us, as for our Master, will take place through suffering. But that suffering should not come out as a result or consequences of our stupidity in the way we practice our Christianity of “photocopy” type but suffering with Christ and walking with him.



2. Second part (vv 51-53)



We are all longing for that peace but we are all divided into two and our inner peace is absent and we have completely violated our boundaries in that search. How can you search for peace if your family, wife, husband, neighbours are living in fear or you have simply become a terrorist in your own home?



The messiah is supposed to be a prince of peace… and this peace has no end (Isaiah 9:5-6; 1:6-9). He is a peace between us. Never cause fire in your life if you have no water to quench it, don’t raise dust where there is no dust, simple learn to involve people in dialogue. Don’t be a mister or miss fix it all the time, live and learn. At times it takes years for a student to be known as a student to be known as Christian at university (unless he goes around with a rosary beads around his/her neck and with the scent of innocence!) why so?



3. Third part (vv 54-57)



When you are a farmer you realize that weather plays a big role in whatever you what to plant and that will determine the type of yield you want to get, lest you risk to your seeds burnt up by the sun. Most of us have lost truck of even reading the sign of times we completely store nil. We have entered into the world of “everybody says YES why can’t I say YES?” we have become too cheap that today to get someone who can be engaged for five minutes serious discuss is by luck. People have become so emotional that reason remained in their academic transcripts.



4. Fourth (vv 58-59)



The gospel completes with a parable. Many of us have wronged our neighbours to the bone marrow that we have even deleted them from our life. People are moving and we see them walk but they have been killed long ago. Today to get a genuine laughter, smile, and a hand shake is rare, why? Too much worry in the heart. Why should I give you a smile, laughter do you clothe me, pay my rent pay my bus fare? People walk-talk, the mind is running faster than even a computer. Soon people will be knocked down by cars due to colour blindness (traffic lights reversed due to lack of peace of mind-stress, depression, and anxiety).



But there is hope (Matt 11:5), and yet there are people who couldn’t care less. They will be caught unprepared.



Are our communities alert to the sign of times or are they “hypocrites?” what are the signs of a new world that we notice today?





“If God willed it, brooms would shoot” – Jewish proverb

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

19th SUNDAY OF THE YEAR

FAITH ON ALERT
“A faint faith is better than a heresy” – St. Thomas Moore
Readings: Wisdom 18:6-9, Heb 11:1-2, 8-19, Luke 12:32-48
Theme: To be a serious follower of Christ, which requires the reordering of one’s values and relationships, we need the grace of God to aid our human efforts.
A true disciple is not one who wastes his time in trying to investigate about the time or place for the Lord’s coming. But he is one who in prayer and commitment, patiently waits in a sense of responsibility and fidelity. The Lord waits at his appropriate time to bring us salvation. We must be ready to receive him that his coming is not useless.
We have a habit of dividing life into compartments. There is a part in which we remember that God is present; and there is a part in which we never think of him at all.
We tend to draw the line between sacred and secular; but if we really know what Christianity means we will know that there is no part of life where the master is away. We are working and living forever in our great task-master’s eyes.
There more you forget yourself by giving yourself to a cause to serve or another person to love, the more human you are, the more you actualize yourself. So we can discover ourselves in three different ways:
1. By creating a work or doing a deed
2. By experiencing something or encouraging someone
3. By the attitude we take towards unavoidable suffering
For God, success does not consist in producing and producing much as our consumeristic society tends to suggest today, but in readiness to be involved and thus doing our own share.

“Faith sees by the ears” – English saying

IN MEMORY OF DAVID JACOBUS BOSCH

TRANSFORMING MISSION : David Bosch- Some Personal Reflections by Willem Saaymann, Prof. Emeritus in Missiology at Unisa, Pretoria, Sout...