What is it:
The Theme of the Extraordinary Missionary Month October 2019
“Baptised and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World” is the theme chosen by Pope Francis for the Extraordinary Mission Month. Awakening the awareness of the missio ad gentes, and reinvigorating the sense of responsibility for proclaiming the Gospel with new enthusiasm, are themes that combine the pastoral concern of Pope Benedict XV in his Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud, published 100 years ago, with the missionary vitality expressed by Pope Francis in his recent Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium: “Missionary action is the paradigm of every work of the Church.” (EG 15)
How to live:
There are four dimensions, specified by the Pope, to live more intensely the journey of preparation for the Extraordinary Missionary Month October 2019:
- A personal encounter with Jesus Christ alive in His Church through the Eucharist, the Word of God, personal and communal prayer;
- Testimony: missionary saints, martyrs and confessors of the faith, as an expression of the Church scattered throughout the world;
- Missionary formation: biblical, catechetical, spiritual and theological;
- Missionary charity.
Congregation for the Propagation:
In 1622, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith – Propaganda Fide – was created by Pope Gregory XV for promoting and directing the work of evangelization and of the missionary efforts of the Church. In 1967, Pope St. Paul VI reaffirmed the validity of its apostolic service and gave the Dicastery a new name: The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (CEP). All of the baptized, through the real efficacy of the Christian Faith expressed in active charity, are responsible for the mission of the Church, supporting the Holy Father in his mission as Universal Shepherd.
Pontifical Mission Societies:
The Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) are committed to promoting and supporting the missionary efforts of the Church through prayer, self-sacrifice, and missionary vocations. They were born from a deep concern for the missions of both laity and clergy in the19th and 20th centuries. The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (CEP) together with the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) are currently reinforcing their “efforts to collect and distribute material aid in the light of [their] mission and the formation that this requires, so that missionary integrity, awareness, and responsibility can once again be part of the ordinary life of the entire holy and faithful People of God.” (Address of his Holiness Pope Francis to the National Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies, June 1st, 2018).
The Logo of the Extraordinary Missionary Month October 2019
The logo of the Extraordinary Missionary Month October 2019 is a missionary cross where the primary colours refer to the five continents. The Cross is the instrument and direct sign of communion between God and man for the universality of our mission, and through its vibrant colours, a sign of victory and resurrection. The world is transparent because the action of evangelization has no barriers or boundaries; it is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Christian charity and the world transfigured in the Spirit overcome distances and open the horizon of our minds and hearts. The words Baptised and Sent next to the image indicate the two characteristics of every Christian: baptism and proclamation.
The Colours of the Logo of the Extraordinary Missionary Month October 2019
The primary colours of the Cross referred to the five continents: red for America, green for Africa, white for Europe, yellow for Asia and blue for Oceania. The red recalls the blood of the American martyrs, seeds for a new life in the Christian faith. Green is the colour of life and symbolizes growth, fruitfulness, youth and vitality. It is also the colour of hope, one of the three theological virtues. White is the symbol of joy, the beginning of a new life in Christ: this is the challenge that the old Europe is facing, so that it may be able to regain the evangelising strength from which it was generated thanks to so many churches and saints. Yellow is the colour of light, which nourishes itself with light by invoking the true Light. Blue is the colour symbolizing the water of life that quenches our thirst and restores us along the path to God. It is the colour of heaven, a sign of God’s dwelling with us.
Reflection for 31st of October, 2019. Thursday.
30th Week in Ordinary Time. Romans 8:31-39.Psalm 109:21-22. 26-27. 30-31.
Since the beginning of this month, we have been promoting the Marian devotion alongside our participation in the extraordinary Missionary month. This indeed create a good feeling that we are baptised and sent. Hence we are called to be involved and be engaged in the mission of the Church to our world.
We pray in line with Saint Paul’s teaching that nothing hinders our resolve in union of love with God. AMEN
Reflection for 30th of October, 2019 Wednesday.
30th Week in Ordinary Time. Romans 8:26-30. Psalm 13:4-7. Luke 13:22-30
Psalm 13 focuses on trusting in God’s Mercy.
When we ask God’s Mercy, we are essentially asking him to relieve us of a heart that is in misery and our hearts can be in a state of misery not just from sin, but from the deep hurt caused by a broken relationship with a family member or from the pains of a physical or mental illness, from losing a job, from being abandoned or betrayed etc In whichever the case, may we apply to our thoughts and actions the love of God in offering us his mercy and so we extend same mercy to others in our daily living
Reflection for 29th of October, 2019 Tuesday.
30th Week in Ordinary Time. Romans 8:18-25.
Psalm 126:1-6. Luke 13:18-21
We are not just waiting with eager longing but we desire more intimately to see and meet the Lord, but we must be hopeful and not to give up in our expectations. This is the core message of Saint Paul in our reading today. Also Jesus in the Gospel of Luke compares the Kingdom of God like a mustard seed in a process of becoming a tree. At its maturity, it offers the birds shelter to spread nests on its branches. The period of growth takes time and this is how it is when we remain waiting in hope.
We pray that our hope will not fail us as we patiently endure throughout our waiting season. AMEN
Reflection for 28th of October, 2019. Monday.
30th Week in Ordinary Time. Feast of Sts. Simon and Jude (Apostles). Ephesians 2:19-22.
Psalm 19:2-5. Luke 6:12-19.
We celebrate today the feast of Saints Simon and Jude. Very little is known about these two apostles, traditionally celebrated together in the West, though they have separate feast days in the East.
St. Simon is surnamed the Canaanean (or Canaanite) in the list of apostles’ names in Matthew 10:4 and Mark 3:18. In Luke’s corresponding list (Luke 6:15) he “was called zealot”: both terms could mean that he was a member of the sect that later rose up against the Romans, leading to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. He is also referred to as “Simon the Less” to distinguish him from Simon Peter. Apart from being named as one of the twelve Apostles, he plays no special part in the New Testament. It is supposed that he suffered martyrdom in Persia.
St. Jude is usually taken to be Thaddeus in the lists given by Matthew and Mark, and a relative of Jesus. His name can also be Judas, and he is differentiated from Judas Iscariot, “who became a traitor,” by Luke, who calls him “Judas son of James” (some translations have “Judas of James,” which could indicate a brother). John calls him “Judas (not Iscariot)” (John 14:22) in his account of Jesus’ discourse after the Last Supper.
Ancient writers tell us that he preached the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Idumea, Syria, Mesopotamia and Libya. According to Eusebius, he returned to Jerusalem in 62 A.D. and assisted in the election of his brother St. Simeon as Bishop of Jerusalem. He is said to have suffer martyrdom in Armenia, which was then subject to Persia.
Today’s Gospel tells us: “Jesus went out into the hills to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles” (Luke 6:12-13).
He spent the whole night in prayer. For he was to take a momentous step in his life. He was going to choose those who would continue his work on earth. They lived with him, learnt from him and experienced his love. They were filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and from that moment, they were completely transformed and went to preach the Gospel of Christ boldly and bore witness to him. Finally they laid their lives for him in their supreme act of love and sacrifice.
St. Paul tells us in the First Reading: “So you are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Eph. 2:20).
It is in loyal conformity to the Apostles’ teaching that the Church is built. The Apostles were the founding fathers of the Church. Apostolic authority assumes a genuine link with the teaching of Jesus Christ. The apostles are a firm link with Christ the Founder of the Church. The apostolic authority was indeed great.
In order to be loyal to the Church we have to be loyal to the teaching of the Apostles. The apostles’ teaching is summarized in the “Apostles’ Creed) which we recite at Mass.
The feast of Sts. Simon and Jude reminds us that we are part of the body of Christ and that we have a duty to bear witness to Christ who is our head and our cornerstone, no matter what our state of life is.
Through the intercession of Sts. Simon and Jude may God grant us the grace to bear witness to the Gospel through Christ our Lord. Amen. Happy feast day.
Reflection for 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year C. 27th of October, 2019. Sirach 35:12-14,16-18 Psalm 34:2-3,17-19.23. 2 Timothy 4:6-8,16-18. Luke 18:9-14.
Last Sunday, Jesus taught us the importance of the power of trusting and persevering in prayer. Today, he continues on the same prayer but with another theme. Today’s topic on prayer is on true and honest prayer, the prayer of a humble person. This is the type of prayer pleasing to God.
Today’s Gospel has the parable of the Pharisees and the publican. The parable says: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector” (Luke 18:10). We have to enter the temple to pray. We must enter the temple to be reconciled with God. We must leave the temple “justified” (Luke 18:14) with God.
The purpose of the parable in today’s Gospel is to teach us the difference between true piety and false piety. As we hear in the First Reading: “The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds, and he will not be consoled until it reaches the Lord” (Sir. 35:17). It always reaches God and attains its end.
The Pharisee who entered the temple to pray did not pray. He did not ask God for anything. He only praised himself. He was present in the material temple. But God was not present in the temple of his heart.
The publican went away justified because he humbly recognized the need of being justified. He did not judge others. He judged himself.
The tax collector stands far off. Yet he is closer than ever to the Lord, because as the Responsorial Psalm of today’s liturgy says: “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted” (Psalm 34:19), that is, to the one whose heart is repentant, one who trusts in divine mercy.
The tax collector beat his breast and said: “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Luke 18:13). He does not make his boast in himself, but in the Lord (cf. Psalm 34:3). He does not exalt himself. He does not put himself in the first place. He recognizes God’s majesty, his transcendence. He knows that God is great and full of mercy, that he yields to the cry of the poor and humble.
Jesus reminds us that humility has to be the foundation of our dealings with God. He wants us to pray like needy children desirous of his mercy. St. Alphonsus Liguori advises us: God wants us to go to him with confidence. Bring to him your work, your projects, your fears and whatever interests you. Act with a trusting and open heart. For God does not speak to those who never speak to him.” Let us flee from the prayer of self-sufficiency, which is evidenced by complacency in our apostolate and pride in our interior struggle. Let us also avoid negative attitudes which reflect a lack of trust in God’s grace. Pessimism may be a manifestation of hidden pride. The time spent in true prayer should always be a time of joy, confidence and peace.
The tax collector trusts in the Lord. This is the correct attitude before God – to feel oneself unworthy before God because of one’s sins, and to trust in his mercy, precisely because God loves the repentant sinner.
We must be humble before God. If we are in authority, we must not reproach others quickly; we must not find fault over little things as though we ourselves were perfect. We must not be domineering over those under our charge but be examples to them (cf. 1 Pet. 5:3). We must imitate our Lord who “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28).
Jesus in telling this parable also teaches us that prayer is absolutely necessary if we are to follow him. At the beginning of his Pontificate, Pope St. John Paul II declared: “For me, prayer is the first priority. Prayer is the basic prerequisite to service of the Church and the world … Every believer should always think of prayer as an essential and indispensable component of one’s vocation. It is the ‘opus divinum’ which precedes and overshadows every work. We well know that faithfulness to prayer, or its neglect, is a test of the vitality of religious life, apostolate and Christian fidelity” (John Paul II, Address, 7 October 1979). Without prayer, we cannot hope to follow Christ in the middle of the world. We need prayer as much as we need food to eat and air to breathe. This explains why the devil endeavours to keep Christians from praying with superficial excuses.
Some days before giving this address, the Pope had reminded a gathering of clergy and religious: A constant danger with priests, even zealous priests, is that they become so immersed in the work of the Lord that they neglect the Lord of the work (idem. Address in Maynooth, 1 October, 1979). This is certainly a danger that faces every Christian. For of what good is the most energetic apostolate at the cost of one’s friendship without the Lord? The achievement would end up worthless. This would have been a human endeavour where we sought only ourselves. The remedy for this malady is clear: We must find time, we must make time, to be with the Lord in prayer (ibid). Prayer is indispensable for you, today as yesterday (idem. Address in Guadalupe, 27 January 1979).
Let us look and see whether our prayer, our friendship with Jesus really influences our life of work, our family life, our friendships, our apostolate … We know that everything is different once we have talked it over with Jesus. It is in our prayer that the Lord gives light to understand his truths. Without the help of this light all would be darkness. This divine light will permit us to penetrate the mystery of God and of existence.
For our prayer to be justified it must be done in humility like the tax collector in today’s Gospel “for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14).
As a model, what both Jesus and Sirach talked about has to be the prayer life and active life as we have in the Second Reading. It presents a picture of St. Paul in prison and he was aware that death is imminent. He could face death with calmness and serenity. He expressed it in the image of athletic games of his time saying: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:7-8).
May God make us humble and generous with our prayers through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Reflection for 26th of October, 2019. Saturday.
29th Week in Ordinary Time. Romans 8:1-11.
Psalm 24:1-6. Luke 13:1-9.
St. Paul tells us in today’s First Reading: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom.8:1). This is one of the most encouraging and precious statements in the whole of Scripture. What is most important, then, for us is that we are in Christ Jesus, not so much whether we are in Europe or America, Asia or Africa,….
“If Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness” (Rom. 8:10). If we are in Christ, we have the Spirit of God which is the Spirit of righteousness, holiness, wisdom, grace, life. The Spirit is “the giver of life” (Nicene Constantinopolitan Creed).
The ultimate question, then, is: “Are we in Christ Jesus?” If so, the determining element of our life is new; all things are new. If not, we abide in death!
Today’s Gospel narrates two incidents that happened at the time of Jesus. The first is that Pilate sent Roman soldiers and killed some Galileans offering their sacrifices in the temple of Jerusalem (cf. Luke 13:1). The second incident was the collapse of the tower in Siloam causing the death of eighteen people (cf. Luke 13:4). Death is something always for which we mourn. But for Jesus there is a greater catastrophe. It is eternal death, eternal punishment, spiritual death. So Jesus says repeatedly: “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3,5).
In the parable of the fig tree we see how God gives us yet one more chance. This is to enable us to bear fruit through pruning and manuring. God is patient. He warns us of the impending punishment as the parable of the barren fig tree teaches us.
Jesus always gives us time for repentance. This is peculiar to the clemency of God towards us that he does not bring in punishment silently and secretly but by his threatening, first proclaims them to be at hand, thus inviting sinners to repentance.
A useless tree will be cut down (cf. Luke 13:9). The fig tree that does not bear fruit is useless. We have to bear fruit.
Let us repent and we shall never perish, but have eternal life.
May God grant us the grace never to take his patience for granted through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Reflection for 25th of October, 2019. Friday.
29th Week in Ordinary Time. Romans 7:18-25
Psalm 119:66. 68, 76-77, 93-94. Luke 12:54-59.
In the First Reading St. Paul shares the tension within him. He wills to do right but does wrong. Life can be so pressing at times that, even after much commitment to do good, one ends up doing evil.
In each one of us there are seeds of evil. We have inherited a split personality. We are pulled in two different directions: one good, the other evil. We are a walking civil war. We are haunted by feelings of frustration and we are often able to see what is good but unable to do it.
There are therefore, two principles in us that try to gain mastery, one higher, the other lower. St. Paul exclaims: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom.7:24-25).
God made us. Only he can put us alright. When we were hopeless, God came down to save.
For us it is not enough that we know that we are unable to help ourselves. We have to ask the help of our Lord Jesus Christ. God’s grace alone can prevent the seeds of evil in us from sprouting and growing.
Jesus in today’s Gospel told the multitudes: “You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” (Luke 12:56). Jesus came to usher in the messianic era. Men who were able to interpret the weather conditions of the earth were unable to interpret the messianic times. Jesus’ contemporaries missed the unique opportunity offered them of knowing Jesus.
The question is still more relevant today. Today’s man certainly knows the whole of the universe well. However, at the same time we often do not know how to interpret God’s time.
We must discover our human mystery. The human mystery cannot be explained any other way, by any other method except by Jesus Christ. The main thing in this mystery the interior “ego”, the personal existence as Christians whom Christ has recreated in the power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, when the time of the Church began.
Finally, in today’s Gospel Jesus tells us: “As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison” (Luke 12:58). Jesus seems to tell us that we must be reconciled with God while still on earth. The heavenly Father will be glad to welcome his penitent child back to his loving heart.
May God grant us the grace to see him at work in every event of our world through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Reflection for 24th of October, 2019. Thursday.
29th Week in Ordinary Time. Romans 6:19-23. Psalm 1:1-4,6. Luke 12:49-53.
St. Paul tells us in the First Reading that: “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). One who yields his body to impurity finds that he is involved in greater and greater impurity. This will lead to death. It leads to the stifling of our higher instincts, the blinding of our truer insights. All this will take us away from the true sources of life and we end in death.
A drug addict has the following to say: “Let’s make no bones about it, the feelings you get off these drugs are nice, really nice. That’s the danger, the bait in the trip.
By the time it’s stopped being nice, you’re physically hooked and on the very rapid downward spiral to insanity and death.
Your work suffers and you’re finally sacked. Your relationships with friends and family become one long battle.
They can see what’s happening, but you refuse to admit it, and kid yourself you can stop whenever you want. Your habit increases as you find you have to take more and more to reach the breath of ‘ nirvana’ you will never reach.
It becomes so expensive, you have to steal, hustle or prostitute your body to make the money. Eventually you, if lucky, end up in a prison. It cures your physical addiction, but your mind’s already poisoned.
You are just waiting for that magic first injection and then back to the treadmill till you’re no better than an animal and finally, like a sick, lonely, frightened animal, you’ll crawl into a squalid corner or toilet and die with a syringe and needle hanging out of your arm.
That’s the real story of drugs – no glamour, nothing to feel big about.
It’s just a nice weapon the devil uses. He hasn’t even got to work hard; we, poor self-deluding fools do all the work for him.
I’ve spent nine years locked behind doors. I’ve been an addict since I was fourteen years of age. I’ve done the most base and degrading things for a fix.
I was lucky, I found Jesus and he had the power to cleanse my mind of the chemical cancer I’d given myself. The best way of avoiding (a life similar to) my life is, don’t take drugs. If you do, then I pray God will help you.” (Cf. The Catholic Herald, Calcutta, 10 April 1981, p.6.).
What is said of drug addiction can be applied to alcoholism, sins of impurity, etc.
Goethe (1749 – 1832), one of the giants of world literature, was asked in his old age to what conclusion he had come after a lifetime spent in thinking. He replied: “That the world exists for spiritual ends.”
“All that gives us material pleasure is but for a moment. All that troubles us is for a moment. That only is important which is eternal.”
We must not let the world and its pleasures keep us from Christ.
Jesus in the Gospel said to his disciples: “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49). The image of fire is a sign of God’s glory and holiness as manifested in Exodus with Moses. Jesus, according to John the Baptist, will baptize with fire and the Holy Spirit. Fire is also a sign of God’s righteous judgment and his holy wrath against sin. Fire communicates the presence of the Power of the Holy Spirit, seen at Pentecost. It is a purifier too. The fire that Jesus casts will purify our human intentions.
Jesus came to kindle in us the fire of God’s love. Fire only stays lit if it is spread. Otherwise, it consumes itself, and goes out. We must spread the fire of God’s love. We must love all.
Jesus continues to tell us in the Gospel: “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division” (Luke 12:51). The division Jesus speaks of is that which happens within a household, drawing all who believe in him to himself while those who do not believe do not belong to God. Jesus is talking about loyalty to him, this loyalty will bring division among unbelievers. Love of God compels us to always choose God first. To place anything above God is a firm of idolatry. Family ties should not take precedence before our ties with God.
May God grant us the grace to keep away from sin and love him above all that exist through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Reflection for 23rd of October, 2019. Wednesday. 29th Week in Ordinary Time. Romans 6:12-18. Psalm 124:1-8. Luke 12:39-48.
St. Paul tells us in today’s First Reading that Christ had freed us from slavery of sin, therefore: “Let not sin reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wickedness” (Rom. 6:12-13). Getting used to sin, makes one slave of sin. One redeemed and set free should no longer be a slave. He must serve his new master Christ. Christ has paid for our redemption with his life.” For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor.6:20).
To the extent to which we obey God’s commandments we become free, because the commandments of God have no other purpose than to free us from slavery. The observance of God’s commandments freed us from the slavery of sin, immorality, licentiousness.
After Jesus in the Gospel had warned his disciples of the need to be vigilant, Peter asked if this teaching applied to them as his closest followers or to everyone. Jesus then answered: “Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing” (Luke 12:42-43). The answer of Jesus to Peter’s question makes it clear that his teaching applies to all without exception.
We must be good stewards. “Think of us this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy” (1 Cor. 4:1-2). We must not be mere “eye servants”. We must have a sense of responsibility. We must show interest in our work. A lazy servant will not work if he can avoid it.
The talents with which God has endowed us must be used, the time given us must be redeemed, and opportunities must be utilized. No one has the right to be lazy. Also no one has the right to live for himself alone.
Each of us has a mission to fulfil on this earth. We have to be faithful to this vocation to the end of our lives. We will be judged according to the fruits our efforts have borne. St. Paul explained this idea to the early Christians in this way: “For we must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body” (2 Cor. 5:10).
Jesus conclude his teaching with these consideration: “Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more” (Luke12:48).
May God grant us the grace to always be ready for the coming of the Son of Man through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Reflection for 22nd of October, 2019. Tuesday.
29th Week in Ordinary Time.
Romans 5:12,15, 17-21. Psalm 40:7-10,17.
St. Paul in today’s First Reading brings a comparison between Adam and Jesus Christ. “If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who have receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17).
Sin of Adam was serious in its nature, universal in its extension and disastrous in its results. Because of Adam’s sin, we were marching towards the grave of spiritual death. We are confronted with the profound mystery, the existence of moral evil, with its widespread, deep-rooted effects.
From Adam came sin and death for his descendants. From Jesus Christ comes righteousness and life for all who believe in him. One man brought ruin to all. Jesus Christ brought blessing to them. The sin of Adam caused condemnation. Redemption has brought justification. The stream of grace and righteousness is deeper and broader than the stream of guilt.
The Gospel tells us that we must be prepared for the return of Christ. He has gone up to heaven. “He will come again” (The Apostles’ Creed). “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes” (Luke 12:37). To stay awake means to be alert, to watch, and be conscious of one’s environment and the events happening around one. Staying awake is the duty of every Christian. It means that we must cultivate a true conscience, not stifle our conscience, and not distort it. We must call good and evil by name and not confuse them. We must increase the good that is in us and correct the bad. This is a fundamental problem and cannot be relegated to secondary importance.
A Christian that stay awake bears the fruit expected of him in all seasons. These fruits are manifested in good works through good human relationships. A Christian that is awake does not swim in sin. A Christian that is awake is fruitful, honest, committed, and faithful. A Christian that is awake does not glory in the misfortune of others but rather, feels pity for them and, if possible, does something to help.
If we are always awake to welcome him Jesus tells us that “he will put on his apron and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them” (Luke 12:37). Jesus himself will serve us. It seems incredible, yet Jesus himself tells us.
Grant us the grace to live every moment of our lives as if it is the very last moment through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Reflection for 21st of October, 2019. Monday.
29th Week in Ordinary Time. Romans 4:20-25.
Luke 1:69-70,71-72,73-75. Luke 12:13-21.
St. Paul tells us of the faith of Abraham saying: “he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was ‘reckoned to him as righteousness’” (Rom. 4:21-22). Abraham perseveres in faith amidst delay in fulfilment of God’s promise to him of a son, which is seen by God as righteousness. His faith makes him live at rights with God. He pays attention to and focuses on God’s promise to him. He never gives up.
The promises given to mankind through Christ are no less explicit and are far more precious and far-reaching. We must believe in the promises of Christ.
Often we hesitate to do God’s will because we do not trust in him. Our faith should tell us that God can bring us safely through difficulties and to crown our labours with everlasting life.
In today’s Gospel, a man approached Jesus and asked him to settle the question of a disputed inheritance. Judging from the reaction of Jesus it seems that this man was more concerned about his financial problem than he was about the preaching of Jesus. Jesus takes the opportunity to teach a parable which he narrated thus: “The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones;….. And I will say to my soul, Soul, … take your ease, eat, drink, be merry’” (Luke 12:16-19). Jesus in this parable never condemned riches. It is not a crime to be rich. In the parable there is no hint that the rich man got his goods unlawfully. His land produced the goods! He is also not pictured as an extortioner, an oppressor of the poor. He appears on the contrary to be honest, a man of high standing in the society.
We are told that he live for earthly riches and for himself alone. His wealth and himself alone filled his life and soul. He does not think and glorify God for his riches. It is obvious that this rich man is an atheist. He only says: “you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry” (Luke 12:19).
What Jesus condemns in this parable is the vice which threatens the rich, the tendency to identify life with their possessions. Jesus warns: “Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).
The rich man thinks no other use of his riches than to eat, drink, and be merry. He had no thought of doing good to his brothers and sisters.
Today the rich must ask themselves whether they are doing all they can for the hungry and poverty-stricken. In certain regions of the earth, there are hundreds of thousands of children with bloated abdomens, toothpick arms, and bulging eyes! Indeed the outline of their ribs is visible in their chests. They need the help of the rich. They need technical assistance, better seed, sufficient number of doctors, irrigation, etc. Above all they need Christ.
Love should be the binding force of any community in which none are so poor that they have nothing to give, and none are so rich that they have nothing to receive. Love of God and love for every human being, especially the poor and defenceless, is the motivating force of the evangelical mission of the Church.
May we be sensitive to the needs of others especially the poverty-stricken and hungry and the love of God at heart through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
(World Mission Sunday Isaiah 60:1-6. Psalm 19:2-5. Revelation 1:3-8. Luke 17:11-19) OR
Reflection for 20th of October, 2019.
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year C.
Exodus 17:8-13. Psalm 121:1-2,3-4,5-6,7-8.
2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:2. Luke 18:1-8.
Today’s liturgy focus our attention on the power of trusting and persevering prayer to reach the mind of God.
The First Reading from the book of Exodus presents us with the scene of the Israelites in battle with the Amalekites at Rephidim. Moses decides to pray to God on a hilltop while Joshua and his forces take on the enemy assault. As long as Moses kept his arms raised, Israel had the advantage; when his arms fall, the advantage went to Amalek. To keep Moses praying, Aaron and Hur supported his arms, one on each side. They were thus able to keep Moses praying until sunset. With the edge of the sword Joshua cut down Amalek and his people.
We are marching towards our promised land, heaven. Powerful enemies like the Amalekites in the First Reading are trying to prevent us from reaching our goal. We need a very powerful weapon to overcome our enemies and that weapon is prayer. Prayer must last as long as the battle lasts, till the sunset of our life, that is, till the end of our life. The victory over our enemies must be a combination of action and prayer. We must combine Moses and Joshua, our efforts and God’s help.
The Gospel tells of a widow who kept coming to a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man. He was very unscrupulous. The widow had an enemy who did some injustice to her. She requested the judge; “Vindicate me against my adversary” (Luke18:3). He puts her off until her importunity makes him listen and respond in order to save himself from annoyance. Arguing, Jesus contends that God, the righteous judge, will most certainly grant to his own people the request they make to him. For we do not come to an unprincipled judge but to God who bids us to come to him boldly and asks us to call him “Our Father” (Matt. 6:9). The widow had no friend to plead her case. “We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). The importunity of the widow was annoying the judge. Our importunity is pleasing to God.
The widow’s case was hopeless because the judge was unjust and there was an enemy and for a long time she was not able to obtain justice. Yet she never gave up. Her mere persistence obtained for her what she desired. With greater reason we can be sure that if we persevere in asking God to vindicate us against our enemies he will answer our request.
We must pray: “Do not bring us to time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one” (Matt. 6:13). Jesus’ insistent command to pray without ceasing is a serious appeal, because only in and through prayer is it possible to keep the faith in moments of trial and temptation. Only the experience of prayer gives us greater trust in God’s protection and help.
Prayer should not only be a part of our life, but all of our life. We should not pray once a while, even regularly or often, but pray always, that is, constantly, unceasingly, without interruption. Praying should be like breathing. “Always to pray” does not mean evidently saying prayers uninterruptedly day and night. It means communication with God through a heightened sense of awareness and presence of God who is present to us in each moment. In peak moments of awareness this communication will be more intense. At other times, it will be low key. Through a prayerful attitude, every activity can and should become prayer.
By prayer, of course, we do not change God’s will. Prayer changes us. It opens us up to the action of God in our lives.
Prayer also reminds us of our need for God. How easy it is to forget that need especially when the sun shines on us and things go well. Then we start thinking: we can make it on our own, by our cleverness, by luck, by pulling strings, etc.
God wants us to pray even when God does not seem to answer our prayer. Perseverance in prayer strengthens our desire and deepens our faith, in very much the same way that sustained physical exercise strengthens the muscles, heart and lungs.
We pray in the Responsorial Psalm: “I lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall come my help? My help shall come from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2).
God is always faithful in answering our prayers, although the answers may not be quite what we expect. Whatever delay there may be form part of our training. The Second Reading points to one of the great sources of strength for our prayer life as St. Paul admonishes St. Timothy: “Continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learn it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the Sacred Writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:14-16).
The Gospel concludes with Jesus saying: “When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8). Will Christ find faith as unswerving and unshakable as that of the widow of the Gospel today? This is the faith of the children of God who believe in the Gospel and in the power of their Father in heaven. God will never answer our prayer if we are shopping Christians. By shopping Christians we mean those who go from Church to Church seeking for miracles. This is because they are never sure of God’s power.
May God grant us increase in faith to stand firm in our prayers. May He grant us perseverance through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Reflection for 19th of October, 2019. Saturday.
28th Week in Ordinary Time. Romans 4:13,16-18. Psalm 105:6-7, 42-43. Luke 12:8-12.
St. Paul in today’s First Reading gives the faith of Abraham as the model of Christian faith. He tells us that: “In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations; as he had been told. ‘So shall your descendants be’” (Rom. 4:18). Abraham was told at a very old age: “Your own very issue shall be your heir” (Gen.15:4). At the time of the promise Isaac was not yet conceived by Sarah, Abraham’s wife. But Abraham “believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). Sarah also “was barren” (Heb.11:11). All the arguments of sense, and reason and experience which in such cases usually beget and support hope, were against Abraham. But Abraham believed. “To believe a person” means “to trust a person”. It is the conviction that the person is telling the truth. Therefore to believe a person is to believe what the person is saying.
Faith concerns an invisible reality which is beyond sense experience, and surpasses the limits of the human intellect itself, “the conviction of things not seen” (Heb.11:1). It refers to “What no eye has seen, nor hear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor.2:9).
Faith is essentially taking God at his word. Faith is obedience. We must have Abraham like obedience, in the face of all odds to the God who reveals himself to us. Now since God has revealed himself to us decisively in Christ, Christian faith is faith in Christ.
We must commit ourselves entirely to God. This is what Abraham did when he believed God and this is always what faith means in the Bible. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb.11:6).
Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel: “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; but he who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8-9). Our eternal destiny is determined by our attitude to Jesus. If we are loyal to Christ, Christ will be loyal to us. If we are disloyal to Christ, Christ will be disloyal to us. Loyalty on the part of Christ is certain. Our loyalty depends on us. Christ will never abandon us unless we abandon Christ.
Jesus continues to tell us: “And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven” (Luke 12:10). The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit does not consist in offending the Holy Spirit in words. It consists rather in the refusal to accept the salvation which God offers us through the Holy Spirit, working through the power of the cross of Christ. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven either in this world or in the next because of lack of repentance. In other words, the radical refusal to be converted is the cause of non-forgiveness of sin. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, then, is the sin committed by the person who claims to have a right to persist in evil, in any sin at all, and who thus rejects redemption brought by Christ. One who closes oneself up in sin and who does not repent, thus making impossible one’s conversion, and consequently the remission of sins, is sinning against the Holy Spirit.
Let us never reject the very source of life and holiness. Let us never exclude ourselves deliberately from the sphere of God’s saving action. Let us on the contrary ask the Holy Spirit to guide, strengthen and console us. Let us ask him to tell us what we should do and let us submit to whatever he desires of us and accept everything he allows to happen to us.
May the Holy Spirit direct our thoughts and actions along the path pleasing to God through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Reflection for 18th of October, 2019. Friday.
28th Week in Ordinary Time. Feast of St. Luke (Evangelist). 2Timothy 4:10-17
Psalm 145:10-13, 17-18. Luke 10:1-9.
Luke is a worthy companion of St. Paul, the Apostle, which St. Paul testified to in the First Reading saying: “Luke alone is with me” (2 Tim. 4:11). Even when others desert him, St. Luke stays with St. Paul as a companion in his mission. He must have encountered St. Paul for the first time in Troas during his second missionary journey. That encounter made a great change in him. He became St. Paul’s life-long companion. We read from the “we” sections in the Acts of the Apostles, one can conclude that St. Luke accompanied St. Paul to Jerusalem (cf. Acts 21:1-18) and later to Rome (cf. Acts 27:1-28; 28:1-16) and remained with him during his imprisonment in Rome.
St. Luke must have been a Greek speaking convert of Gentile origin (cf. Col. 4:11; 4:14). He is a medical doctor. St. Paul calls him “the beloved physician” (Col.4:14).
St. Luke has left us two works that are very precious. He is the author of the third Gospel i.e. St. Luke’s Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. His Gospel is an orderly account of the Good News of salvation wrought by Christ. He must have taken pains to put down in an orderly way this account. He must have consulted many sources for his account. As a matter of fact almost half of the third Gospel is proper to St. Luke alone. Almost one third of the miracles and three quarters of the parables of Christ are exclusively found in St. Luke alone.
He stresses the universality of the redemption of our Lord Jesus Christ. “All flesh shall see the salvation of God” (Luke 3:6). “Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God” (Luke 13:29). His genealogy goes back from Jesus to Adam (Luke 3:23-38)).
According to a pious tradition, St. Luke is thought to have painted the image of Mary, the Virgin Mother.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus appoints the seventy and sends them out on a mission two by two. A companion is necessary in preaching the Gospel. Company helps because it gives confidence that one is not alone. It brings about some sharing before going to preach and it makes for better evangelization.
Preachers of the word should learn how to live in company as it helps in evangelization. Communion with one another make us share in communion with God.
Each one of us is called to write a Gospel of Jesus with our life. The ingenuity of the Gospel we write depends on the kind of life we live. Let us remember that we may be the only Gospel people read.
May God through the intercession of St. Luke grant us the grace to live a life worthy of the Gospel we preach through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Reflection for the 17th of October, 2019. Thursday. 28th Week in Ordinary Time. Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch (Bishop and Martyr).
Romans 3:21-30. Psalm 130:1-6.
The central theme of today’s First Reading is: “Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Rom. 3:23-25). St. Paul gives two pictures of man: one fallen in sin and the other a justified man, an heir of everlasting life. There is no difference as to the fact of universal sin. “All have sinned” (Rom. 3:23). There is no difference as to the fact of universal justification. There is no difference in the way of salvation. Christ is the Saviour of all who come to him in faith. If St. Paul speaks of man as sinful it is in terms of compassion and salvation. St. Paul speaks of man as he is, not to depreciate him but to elevate him. God looks upon man with infinite compassion, with redeeming love. And as he looks he stretches out the hand of mercy to save forever.
It is on account of the death and resurrection of Christ that the sinner is accepted in God’s sight. Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. Man was helpless. God comes down to rescue him. God’s sovereign power delivers man from sin, gives him a new status, empowers him to lead a new life and kindles in his heart an immortal hope.
Jesus told the lawyer in today’s Gospel: “Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering” (Luke 11:52). The lawyers took away the keys of knowledge, charge high fees and thwart justice.
The utterance of Jesus against the Pharisees and the lawyers shows that they did not do well. The Pharisees join in the persecution of the prophets, adopting the same attitude as their fathers. Just as their fathers did to the prophet of old, they reject the message of Jesus.
Jesus comes to liberate humanity from oppression. He has to address these ills because they suppress and oppress people.
Let us keep in mind that when oppressed by anyone, that Jesus is here to liberate us. He will give us the heart and the will to pull through when negative events come our way and we on our part, should not oppress or make life unbearable for anyone.
We celebrate today the memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, a Bishop and a martyr. He was converted to Christianity and was a disciple of St. John the Evangelist. St. John Chrysostom says that St. Peter appointed him as the Bishop of Antioch, which See he governed for forty years. St. Ignatius longed to shed his blood for Christ, but the opportunity was not granted him until during the persecution under Domitian.
While the short reign of Nerva lasted the Church was at peace, but under Trajan persecution broke out anew. In the year 107 the Emperor came to Antioch. St. Ignatius was seized and brought before him. Having confessed Christ, he was condemned to be taken in chains to Rome, there to be exposed to the wild beasts. During this last journey he was welcomed by the faithful of Smyrna, Troas and other places along the way.
He arrived in Rome just as the public spectacles in the amphitheatre were drawing to a close. The faithful of the city came out to meet him. He was at once hurried to the amphitheatre, where two fierce lions immediately devoured him. He ended his saintly life by a glorious death, exclaiming, “May I become agreeable bread to the Lord.” His remains were carried to Antioch, where they were interred.
May God through the intercession of St. Ignatius grant us the grace not to lead people away from him but through living uprightly lead people to him through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Reflection for 16th of October, 2019. Wednesday. 28th Week in Ordinary Time. Romans 2:1-11.
Psalm 62:2-3,6-7,9. Luke 11:42-46.
St. Paul addresses the Jews in today’s First Reading saying: “You have no excuse, O man, whoever you are, when you judge another; for in passing judgment upon him you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things” (Rom. 2:1). We must be slow to condemn others because the measure in which we judge is the same measure we shall be judged.
With regard to punishment and reward, St. Paul says: “There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek” (Rom. 2:9).
Today we can say: The Christians first and then the others. Or, the priests and religious first and then others. For we have the light of the Gospel the light of the Cross of Christ, to reveal to us our hope and safety and peace. And then how much God has done for each of us personally. How merciful God has dealt with us!
“God shows no partiality” (Rom. 2:11). All of us have received the gift of salvation. All of us have known the love of Christ for each one of us. What could God have done for us that he has not done? “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believe in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John3:16).
Jesus told the Pharisees in the Gospel Reading: “Woe to you! For you are like graves which are not seen, and men walk over them without knowing it” (Luke 11:44). Graves used to be whitewashed so that they night be clearly visible and no one would defile himself by walking over a grave. But at times graves were inadvertently left not whitewashed.
Jesus is saying that the Pharisees were like these unmarked graves. But they were really graves that enclose the rotten dead bodies. All those who came into contact with the Pharisees, not knowing that they were like graves, were made unclean! The Pharisees contaminated all who approached them. They exerted evil influence on people. May it never happen to us that we are like the Pharisees who exert evil influence on others.
Jesus then told the lawyers: “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers” (Luke 11:46). We must not load people with burdens other than what is prescribed by a just law.
Let us avoid deviations into which the Pharisees and the lawyers fell.
May God grant us the grace to be authentic and be slow to condemn others through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Reflection for 15th of October, 2019. Tuesday. 28th Week in Ordinary Time. Memorial of St. Theresa of Avila. Romans 1:16-25. Psalm 19:2-3,4-5.
St. Paul tells us in today’s First Reading: “I am not ashamed of the gospel” (Rom. 1:16). When St. Paul wrote this, Christianity did not occupy in the then world the position it does now. In the mind of the ordinary Roman, the Jew was regarded almost with contempt. And when the Christian was at all distinguished from the Jew, it was only to be the subject of more reproachable terms. Some of the eminent and well-informed of the Roman writers speak of the Christian religion as a pernicious and detestable superstition. The story of the Cross could not fail to excite ridicule when the Romans heard that the Jewish Messiah had been rejected by his own countrymen and handed over to an ignominious death and that his disciples seriously believed that he had risen again from the dead! Moreover the humble origin of the Apostles and first Christians was not calculated to impress favourably the worldly mind.
For St. Paul, however, the gospel was good news. Gospel actually means good news. It is first of all news. There are different kinds of news. Some news is dull; some other news is entertaining; still other news important; some news pleasant; some news exciting. The gospel is good news. News has to come from someone else. It has to come from others. It has to be announced, preached, communicated. Christianity is good news. It is something which a man left to himself would not be likely to think of.
Since the gospel is good news, let us not be ashamed of the gospel. Let us proclaim it “to the utmost bounds of the world” (Psalm18:5).
The Gospel tells us that a Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him. While dining, “the Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner” (Luke 11:38). Jesus deliberately neglected the usual preliminary ablutions. This was through no untidiness in his personal habits. Cleanliness is next to godliness. But we cannot put cleanliness in place of godliness. We must not be scrupulous about outward cleanliness and careless about the heart.
The Pharisees had supreme regard for appearances. Jesus saw their hearts. He pointed out the exaggerated importance they attached to the outward, the bodily. The Pharisees believed that a man was pure in God’s eyes when he observed the rule of ritual purity, by cleansing the outside of the cup or dish. However, God is interested especially in moral cleanliness, about which the Pharisees thought so little. A man is clean in God’s sight when his conscience has been purified of all injustice and immoral behaviour. God demands a clean conscience. Conscience is the measure of man.
We should not be like certain fruits that are outwardly very good but inside all rotten!
What is important is the fundamental option for God. What we are is more important than what we do. We should become more attentive to what happens deep down in ourselves.
We celebrate today the memorial of St. Theresa of Avila, a Spanish Discalced Carmelite nun, who was a mistress of prayer. She was born on March 28, 1515 and made her profession in November, 1534.
Though for many years in the convent she led a good religious life, certain faults still adhered to her; but the moment of grace came at last and the noble heart of St. Theresa began to soar upward to perfection. Inspired by the Holy Spirit and acting under the direction of enlightened men, among whom was St. Peter of Alcantara, she undertook the superhuman task of reforming her Order and restoring its primitive observance.
Assisted by St. John of the Cross, she succeeded in establishing the Reform of the Discalced Carmelites, for both the brethren and the sisters of her Order.
She is renowned for her prayer life. She teaches us how to pray and be in close relationship with God. It is taking time to be with the One who loves us. With her definition of prayer as a friendly relationship, a frequent solitary conversation with him who we know loves, she shares her mystical experiences of God.
Before her death in 1582, thirty-two monasteries of the Reformed Rule had been established, among which seventeen were convents of nuns. She was canonized in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV.
St. Theresa received great gifts from God. She also wrote many books on Mystical Theology considered by Popes Gregory XV and Urban VII to be equal to those of a Doctor of the Church. Accordingly, on September 27, 1970, Pope St. Paul VI added her to the roll of the Doctors of the Church.
May God through the intercession of St. Theresa of Avila grant us the grace to purify our hearts and be pleasing to God through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Reflection for 14th of October, 2019. Monday.
28th Week in Ordinary Time. Romans 1:1-7.
Psalm 98:1–4. Luke 11:29-32.
St. Paul begins today’s First Reading with: “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1) “to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ” (Rom. 1:5-6). St. Paul indeed was a servant of Christ and this can be seen in his commitment to the Gospel of Christ. His ambition in life was to win souls for Christ.
Like St. Paul, as Christians, we must be committed to Christ by doing his will and also win souls for Christ by our way of living. Our lives must testify to our faith.
Towards the end of the First Reading, he also writes: “To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints” (Rom. 1:7). We are called to be saints before being called to anything else. The main business of a Christian is to cultivate holiness. Anything short of holiness will be a waste of time and resources.
The Catholic priesthood is a vocation in which one is “set apart for the gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1). A Catholic priest, therefore, cannot allow secular involvement to compromise his position as a father to all. He stands above differing points of view in temporal affairs. His duty is to preach the message of Christ in such a way that the light of the Gospel will shine on all the activities of the faithful.
The words of St. Paul, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1) should be applied to every baptized Christian.
Jesus told the Jews in today’s Gospel: “The men of Nineveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here” (Luke 11:32).
The prophet Jonah preached repentance to the people of Nineveh and they believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth” (Jon. 3:5) as a sign of their repentance.
Jesus preached repentance and the Jews instead of repenting were looking for signs and wonders despite all the miracles performed by Jesus.
Only a heart soaked in unbelief will depend on extraordinary manifestations in order to believe in God. Belief comes before faith; it is the ability to accept an article of faith that has been presented. Faith then becomes a free, conscious acceptance of God’s plans and ways before they come to fulfilment. When we believe, we will surely experience God close to us in the most difficult events. To ask for a sign us to doubt God.
In our age and time, are we better than the Jews seeking for signs and wonders? On judgment day will not many non-Christians who in spite of having so few means of salvation will be saved, condemn the Christians who having an abundant means of salvation will not be saved because they do not want to be saved?
May God grant us an increase of faith through Christ Our Lord. Amen
Reflection for 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year C. 13th of October, 2019. 2 Kings 5:14-17.
Psalm 98:1,2-3ab,3cd-4. 2 Timothy 2:8-13.
The theme of today’s liturgy is gratitude. The First Reading tells us that the prophet Elisha cured Naaman of his leprosy and he was very grateful for it. He offered a present to the prophet. But the prophet did not accept it. Acknowledging the cure as coming from Yahweh, Naaman began to worship the God of Israel (cf. 2 Kings 5:19).
The Gospel tells us that Jesus cured ten lepers. “One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks” (Luke 17:15-16). Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. This man is not silent. He cannot restrain his voice. He cannot bear that his thankfulness is felt only within himself. He must utter it and utter it aloud. All should know how he rejoices for the mercy bestowed on him. All should hear him thank God for what he has done for him. He felt that there was a God in the world and that God was good. What greater joy can be imparted to the heart of man than that which this truth, thoroughly embraced, imparts?
While Jesus was happy by the gratitude shown by this man, he complained about the ingratitude of the other nine saying: “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17-18). How many times has Jesus asked this about us? Certainly our lives have been full of divine cures, invitations and encounters. St. John Chrysostom wrote that the gifts we receive from God greatly exceed the grains of sand on the seashore.
It is only human that we should have a clearer sense of what we need over and above what we have received. Perhaps this would go some way to explaining why we typically do not appreciate what we have, and why our gratitude can be insufficient. Maybe we think that we are somehow owed a pleasant existence. We need to forget the message St. Augustine drew from today’s Gospel narrative: What is our own but the sins which we have committed? (St. Augustine, Sermon 176,6). “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7).
Gratitude is the memory of the heart joined to the desire of repaying in some way the favour received. It is unfortunately true that we take for granted God’s gift as though we have a natural right to them. Man seems to look upon all good things which God gives as his birth right. He claims to have natural, inalienable claim to them. He only complains if he does not receive them.
If a man has a hair’s breadth escape from drowning, or comes safe out of a disastrous railway accident, he kneels down and thanks God for such a signal mercy. Or if some long-desired but long-denied things comes into his life, he will say, “What a cause for thankfulness!” But the daily bread that nourishes him, the daily health that makes life a joy to him, the friendships that cheer him, the love of so many that fills him with brightness and comfort, are, or become, so much a matter of course that it hardly occurs to him that they should be received with thanksgiving.
We must do our utmost to realize the truths which have so long been uttered in our hearing. How many blessings we all have received from God for which we have not returned thanks at all!
“Where does the corn come from?” “From the ground” says materialist. “From God”, says the Christian. And there is a whole world of difference between these points of view.
Our lives should be a continual act of thanksgiving. We should frequently bring to mind the many natural gifts and graces the Lord has granted us. We should not lose our joy when we are in need. This experience of poverty, when things are going badly, may be a preparation for our receiving some greater good. The Psalmist reminds us: “Remember the wonderful works he has done” (Psalm 104:5). Let us not forget that the Samaritan came to know Jesus by means of his dreadful disease. Because of his gratitude the Samaritan won Christ’s friendship and the priceless gift of faith: “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well” (Luke 17:19). The other nine who were cured deprived themselves of the best part of the generosity of Jesus. St. Bernard teaches that he who humbly acknowledges his indebtedness will naturally be promised even more. Whoever is faithful in a few things will justly be entrusted with many things. Conversely, he who is ungrateful for present favours has probably been ungrateful for past ones (St. Bernard, Commentary on Psalm 50,4,1.
Today’s Responsorial Psalm proclaims: “I sing a new song to the Lord, for he has worked wonders (Psalm 97:1).
Thankfulness for redemption was the motive power of a life like that of St. Paul in the Second Reading: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, as preached in my Gospel, the Gospel for which I am suffering and wearing chains like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which in Christ Jesus goes with eternal glory” (2 Tim.2:8-10).
Our gratitude, like love, must be expressed not merely in words, but in deed. We must do all the good we can, by all means we can, in all the ways we can, in all the places we can, at all times we can, to all the people we can and as long as we can.
Lord grant us a grateful heart to show appreciation for your numerous gifts in our lives through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Reflection for 12th of October, 2019. Saturday.
27th Week in Ordinary Time. Joel 3:12-21.
Psalm 97:1-2,5-6,11-12. Luke 11:27-28.
In the First Reading, the prophet Joel says: “Let the nations bestir themselves, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the nations round about” (Joel 3:12). “Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:14). All will be summoned before the Lord. People have to stand face to face before the Lord. There will be a final encounter with God, when all the truth will be told and all accounts settled.
In today’s Gospel we have a little incident recorded only by St. Luke. A woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to Jesus, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked” (Luke 11:27). She desired to show her admiration for all that Jesus was doing and teaching. In the woman’s words, her admiration of the Son is transferred to his Mother.
Perhaps the woman in the crowd does not know that in pronouncing these words, she is even fulfilling Mary’s prophetic statement in the “Magnificat”: “From now on all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48). This woman belongs to the first generation of those who have called Mary “Blessed”. From that day many generations have passed, all with the same blessing on their lips and in their hearts. The “Hail Mary” is rooted in the angel’s greeting at the Annunciation together with Elizabeth’s greeting at the Visitation: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Luke 1:42). This prayer, the most Marian of all prayers we say at the same time profoundly Christocentric. Mary is blessed because of her Son.
Jesus replied to the woman saying: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28). By these words did Jesus perhaps wish to turn attention away from his mother? It may appear so, but in substance Jesus explains even more clearly the reason why Mary is blessed. The words, “those who hear the word of God and keep it” refer especially to Mary. Is it not her very motherhood the fruit of hearing the Word of God? Is it not her perfect assent the fruit of hearing the Word of God?
In the reply to the woman Jesus wished to divert attention from motherhood understood only as freshly bond, in order to direct it towards those mysterious bonds of the Spirit which develop from hearing and obeying the Word of God.
As human beings we know two births, one into this world and the other into the other world, that is, spiritually into heaven. God effects this second birth of his Word in us, if we give up our will and accept God’s will, as Mary did. For as soon as she gave up her will, she became at once the true Mother of the eternal Word and conceived God. He became her Son by nature.
Giving up our will is not an act of self-annihilation. Rather, we realize our true self by accepting God in love. Then God is born in us as the Word, the revealer of love.
May God grant us the grace that as we hear His Word, we may put them into action through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Reflection for 11th of October, 2019. Friday.
27th Week in Ordinary Time. Joel 1:13-15; 2:1-2.
Psalm 9:2-3,6; 16:8-9. Luke 11:15-26.
The context of today’s First Reading is an invasion of locusts. It has devastated the land. God sent this pest in order that people may turn to him. The withdrawal of earthly blessings always tends to bring us closer to God. Losses and troubles of every kind may bring a man to repentance, to prayer. So prophet Joel writes: “Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the Lord your God” (Joel 1:14).
Man must pray. We must fast. Renunciation of pleasures and even food or drink is not an end in itself. It prepares the way for nourishing interior life. It serves to create in man conditions to be able to live the superior values for which he hungers.
Fast naturally includes not only abstinence from food and drink but also mortification in rest and sleep, abstention from entertainment, suffering patiently diseases, trials difficulties, etc.
As a pest devastates crops, so we human beings have an extraordinary capacity to devastate the world. Sometimes this devastation is greater than which is brought about by locusts, earthquake, volcano, floods, tempest, etc. We have already penetrated in our own century actions of near apostolic character. It is in our power to avert all this!
We must ask pardon for our sins. We must love one another.
In today’s Gospel, the popularity of Jesus brings about jealousy in some of his listeners. They accused him of healing with the help of Beelzebub, the prince of demons.
Not to acknowledge God’s work is a sin and indeed a greater sin when denying God’s work and ascribing it to demons. God desires to bring wholeness to broken humanity tormented by demons. The children of light always rejoice in God’s marvels in the midst of his people while the children of darkness are unhappy.
We sin too when we forget to see good things in others and when we fail to rejoice with those who rejoice.
May God grant us the grace to appreciate the good in others and above all the good we receive from God through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Reflection for 10th of October, 2019. Thursday. 27th Week in Ordinary Time. Malachi 3:13-4:2a.
Psalm 1:1-2,3,4,6. Luke 11:5-13.
Today’s First Reading addresses the problem of evil. Just men suffer in this world while the unjust prosper! Henceforth we deem the arrogant blessed; evildoers not only prosper but when they put God to the test they escape” (Mal. 3:15). But the Lord says: “They (the just) shall be mine says the Lord of hosts, my special possession on the day when I act” (Mal. 3:17).
The just are God’s jewels. They are highly esteemed by him. He looks upon them as his own, as his treasure.
The Lord will say to the just on the day of judgment: “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink ….” (Matt. 25:34-35).
The unjust are without life, without beauty, utterly useless like dry branches of a tree, although in this world they are wealthy, influential, learned. They will be burned up. “Behold, the day comes, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 4:1).
For the just the Lord says: “But for you who fear my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings” (Mal. 4:2).
God’s judgment is inevitable. This life is to be seen in the light of God’s judgment.
Today’s Gospel present to us the parable of the importunate friend. In this parable, the friend in bed sees plainly that the only chance of rest that night for himself and his children is to give in as soon as possible, and let the importunate petitioner have his way.
The parable teaches us on the need to come to God with boldness and confidence. With holy boldness we must approach the throne of grace and pray for all those things that we require for the body and soul.
If importunity could prevail with a man who was angry, it would be much more effective with a God who is infinitely more kind and ready to do good to us than we are to do to one another. God is not angry at our importunity but accepts it, especially when it is for spiritual mercies that we are asking for.
Jesus teaches us that God, our Father, may not answer our prayer at once. He may delay long to respond to our petitions. He may know that if we receive immediately everything we desire of him, it will not be good for us. Things long desired are more sweet in their attainment and we appreciate them better.
“His help is always sure. His methods seldom guessed; Delay will make our pleasure pure, surprise will give it zest.”
But sooner or later, in one way or another, in his own good time, God will reward our persevering prayer.
We need the Holy Spirit more than any other gift to guide us in our prayers.
May the Holy Spirit teach us what to ask from God always what is good through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Reflection for 9th of October, 2019. Wednesday. 27th Week in Ordinary Time. Jonah 4:1-11.
Psalm 86:3-4,5-6,9-10. Luke 11:1-4.
In today’s First Reading prophet Jonah is grieved as a result of God’s mercy towards the people of Nineveh. After the preaching of Jonah, all the inhabitants of Nineveh fasted, repented and prayed and averted the threatened disaster. “It displeased Jonah exceedingly that God did not do the evil which he had said he would do to Nineveh and he was angry” (Jon.4:1).
Jonah is angry because God spared the city. He preached doom and no doom befell the city. Nothing would have gladdened more the heart of Jonah, a Jew, than to hear the news that Nineveh had been destroyed.
Jonah knew that God loved Israel. He desired that this love should not be extended to the Gentiles. He was jealous of God’s love. God’s love is for Israel alone. Now it looks as if God loved the Ninevites as well! Having tasted God’s love he would not think of it being extended to others. Blinded by jealousy he wanted to restrict God’s compassion to himself and to the people of Israel.
Jonah was sorry for the death of the plant that gave him shade but he would have been happy over the death of all the inhabitants of Nineveh, over a hundred and twenty thousand people (cf.Jn. 4:1).
There is a bit of Jonah in each one of us which must be eliminated.
The Book of Jonah is about the universal love of God. It shows the universal salvific will of God. The Lord is “a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy and ready to relent from punishing” (Jon.4:2). God is a loving Father.
This Jesus taught us in the “Our Father” when He addresses God as Father in the Gospel Reading. As we read in today’s Gospel, one of the disciples approached Jesus when he had finished his prayer and asked him with all simplicity: “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1).
Jesus’ disciples observed him deep in prayer and felt the strong desire to his prayer life. His example awoke in his disciples the need to pray.
Like Jesus, we must be men and women of prayer.
If we did not think of a thing, it is almost as if it did not exist for us. “Out of sight, out of mind.” If we do not pray to God, God becomes out of sight for us.
Prayerless life is powerless life. Prayerful life is powerful life. We can do everything with the help of God. “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).
Let us ask the Lord like his disciples to teach us how to pray. Lord, show us the effectiveness of prayer. Lord, we want to follow your example.
“By prayer we can discern ‘what is the will of God’ and obtain the endurance to do it. Jesus teaches us that one enters the kingdom of heaven not by speaking words, but by doing ‘the will of my Father in heaven’ (Matt.7:21)” (CCC 2826).
May God grant us the grace to be prayerful and teach us how to pray through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Reflection for 8th of October, 2019. Tuesday. 27th Week in Ordinary Time. Jonah 3:1-10.
Psalm 130:1-2,3-4,7-8. Luke 10:38-42.
In today’s First Reading is contained the truth that God is merciful. God’s interest and mercy extend far beyond the Jews, to the whole human race. Hearing the preaching of the prophet Jonah the Ninevites repented and turned away from their evil ways (cf. Jon.3:8). They did penance. “And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them” (Jon.3:5). “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God repented of the evil which he had said he would do to them; and he did not do it” (Jon. 3:10).
Indeed “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom.10:13). God “desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1Tim. 2:4). God is God not only of the Jews but also of the Gentiles (cf.Rom.3:29).
Today’s First Reading tells us that God is willing to receive and bless all who turn to him in humble repentance no matter what their race or condition in life.
In today’s Gospel St. Luke relates that while Jesus was making his way to Jerusalem He took time out to rest with friends at Bethany. His friends were Lazarus, Martha and Mary, a brother and two sisters; they enjoyed a wonderful friendship with Jesus as is evident from various references in the Gospels. Martha busied herself with preparing some refreshment for Jesus and his disciples, just arrived from their dusty and demanding travels. Martha was distracted with much serving. Meanwhile, Mary sat at the feet of Jesus listening to his teaching.
Martha was distracted with much serving (Luke 10:40). She was “anxious and troubled about many things” (Luke10:41). Speaking of Mary Jesus says that she has chosen the good portion (Luke 10:42).
Martha was doing many good things. However the good things which Martha did, are distinguished from the good thing. The good things will disappear like health, home comforts, worldly position, literary pursuits, etc. They do not really satisfy us and they will not last. Sooner or later they break down and leave us hopeless.
There is the better part, the intrinsically precious, the invaluable thing, of which no figures can indicate the worth. It is the better part which cannot be lost. For there is no power on earth that can touch it to harm it. Disease will not waste it. Fire will not consume it. Force will not crush it. Death will not destroy it. The grave will not hold it. It lives forever and outlives everything which the bodily eyes can see, on which the hand can rest. This is the one thing which is above the high water mark. What is this better part? It is the Word of God. It is Jesus himself. It is the salvation of our souls.
In all our activities do we really please the Lord? Are all our activities pleasing to the Lord? What is the ultimate aim of all our activities? Salvation of souls?
Let us welcome Jesus into our house, into our hearts. Let us listen to him, to his teaching, to his Word.
May we hear the words from Jesus: “You have chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from you” through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Reflection for 7th of October, 2019. Monday. 27th Week in Ordinary Time. Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary. Jonah 1:1-17; 2:1,10. Jonah 2:2,3,4,7.
The First Reading tells us the story of prophet Jonah sent on a mission by God to preach to the people of Nineveh saying: “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.” (Jonah 1:1-2). But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
Jonah ran away from the Lord because Nineveh was the capital of Assyria and the Assyrians were enemies of the Jews. In Old Testament times God is pictured as primarily concerned with Israel. But here we notice God’s concern for the Gentiles. We notice that the evil of Nineveh and hence its possibilities of survival were no less of concern to God.
But Jonah did not share this concern of God. He represents the narrow minded people who refuse to do anything with those who do not speak the same language, who do not belong to the same group or who are not of the same region, etc.
But God’s concern knows no bounds. Jonah was sent on a mission. He was told to go one way. He goes the opposite way. The fate of the distant foreign citizens of Nineveh as a consequence of their sins had never crossed his mind. He had enough to do in life as a citizen of his own nation, without being concerned with other nations.
The story of Jonah tells us that God’s love cannot be measured by us. Like God we must be concerned about all our brothers and sisters.
It is the concern for our brothers and sisters that made Jesus to teach a beautiful lesson with the parable of the good Samaritan concerning one’s neighbour.
A lawyer stood up to put Jesus to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25). This is the most fundamental of all questions. Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” (Luke 10:26). That answer is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself” (Luke 10:27). This answer implies that the very essence of all true religion is love and this love must have both God and the neighbour as its objects. The lawyer, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?” (Luke 10:29). Jesus replied by telling the parable of the good Samaritan. In this parable, Jesus compares the failure of the ministers of God with the unselfishness of the hated Samaritan. Samaritans were considered by the Jews as heretics and aliens (cf. John 4:9; 8:48). One would have expected a Jew to be more sensitive to the needs of the wounded man who most probably was a Jew.
In the parable Jesus wanted to stress the unlimited nature of the duty of love.
The parable says: “But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him” (Luke 10:33-34). First, the Samaritan applied first aid. Then the Samaritan did not say: “My responsibility end here. I have already spent much time on this man. Now let the innkeeper do the rest.” Instead the Samaritan waited on him perhaps the whole day and night. Only on “the next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper” (Luke 10:35). Two denarii meant two days’ wages for the average worker. The sum according to the prices charged at the inn at that time for “food and lodging” would amply suffice for several days. Even after giving two denarii the Samaritan did not think that his duty was discharged. Before departing he tells the innkeeper: “Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back” (Luke 10:35).
Here is love that is unselfish, generous and self-sacrificing. Jesus says: “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37).
We celebrate today the memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary. This title came about as a result of Mary’s maternal intercession in Cyprus.
On October 7, the first Sunday of October in 1571, Don Juan of Austria gained his famous naval victory over the Turks at Lepanto.
Pope St. Pius V organised a coalition of forces comprising soldiers from Spain, Christian Knights and military orders to rescue the Christian outpost in Cyprus from a Muslim invasion. The Pope called on Christians in Europe to pray the Rosary procession in Rome. After a fierce battle the Pope’s coalition was able to stop the invading Muslims and the victory was ascribed to Our Lady.
In thanksgiving for this event attributed to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary through the recitation of the Holy Rosary, Pope St. Pius V instituted an annual feast under the title of Our Lady of Victory. His immediate successor Pope Gregory XIII, changed the title to that of Our Lady of the Rosary.
May God through the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary grant us the grace to be good Samaritans through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Reflection for 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year C. 6th of October, 2019. Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4.
Psalm 95:1-2,6-7abc,7d-9. 2 Timothy 1:6-8,13-14.
The three Readings of today’s Mass centres on faith. From the time of the prophecy of prophet Habakkuk through the time of St. Paul’s letter to St. Timothy around 100 A.D. right up to the present moment, there have been problems with faith and faithfulness.
Jesus said to his disciples in today’s Gospel: “If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, ‘Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you’” (Luke 17:6). This is of course is a figure of speech. It means that even if our faith is small like the grain of mustard seed, it can remove mountains of difficulties, mountains of perplexities, mountains of sin. It means that faith can accomplish stupendous achievements.
Faith working by prayer has removed mountains of difficulties in the spread of the Gospel. In the Acts of Apostles 12:1-11, we see how prayer with faith rescued Peter from the hand of Herod who intended to kill Peter. As a result of the prayer of faith by the early Christians, on the very night Herod wanted to carry out his evil deed, an angel of the Lord came to rescue Peter who led him safely out of prison. It was like a dream to Peter until he came to himself and said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hands of Herod and from all the Jewish people were expecting” (Acts 12:11).
Only a faith which is a living and growing power like the mustard seed in the soil, will triumph over difficulties. A man of faith is a man of action, for he has within him a fountain of energy. Faith is given to enable us to do great things which otherwise we would not be able to accomplish. “For God all things are possible” (Matt.19:26). If we have faith nothing will be impossible to us” (cf. Matt. 17:20).
Today’s First Reading tells us: “The righteous shall live by his faith” (Hab. 2:4). The words were spoken by the prophet Habakkuk to the people who were discouraged by the injustice done by the Babylonians who “carried off all the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house; he cut in pieces all the vessels of gold in the temple of the Lord, which King Solomon had made, all this as the Lord had foretold. He carried away all Jerusalem, all the officials, all the warriors, ten thousand captives, all the artisans and the smiths; no one remained, except the poorest people of the land” (2 Kings 24:13-14). Prophet Habakkuk asked the people to be faithful to God even though they did suffer much from their enemies.
We must have faith in God. We must pray with faith. There was once a drought in the valleys of North Italy which threatened to ruin the harvest. The pastor of one of the little congregations arranged to hold a special prayer- meeting to pray for rain to save the crops, and on the day of the meeting groups of people were seen coming. As the pastor was nearing the Church a little girl passed by him. He was struck by the size of the umbrella she was carrying, and laughingly said to the girl: “I fear you will not have much need of your umbrella in this weather.” “Oh, Father,” she replied, “I brought it because we were going to ask God for rain today, and I will be sure to need it before getting home.” The pastor pondered the words, and rebuked himself for his lack of faith. He had been going to pray for rain, but without any expectation that his prayer would be answered. The faith of the little girl put new life and power into the prayer-meeting. Before the close there was an abundance of rain, and the priest was glad to share the shelter of the big umbrella on his way home.
A rich man without faith is poor. A poor man with faith is rich.
Again in today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us: “Will anyone of you, who has a servant ploughing or keeping sheep, say to him when he has come in from the field. ‘Come at once and sit down at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and put on your apron and serve me, till I eat and drink; and afterward you shall eat and drink’? …. So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy servant, we have only done what was our duty.’” (Luke 17:7-10).
Here Jesus does not intend at all to picture God as a hard task master, indifferent to the labour and weariness of his servants, accepting service without sign of appreciation. Rather he wants to tell us that just as a servant after his return from his day’s laborious duties, prepare his master’s meal and attend on him, so we are not mere slaves, but God’s children should be always ready to serve him, to the uttermost capacity and when we have done everything we can, we must be prepared to say: “We are unworthy servants ; we have only done what was our duty.” (Luke 17:10). We should serve God to our uttermost capacity.
Whatever we do in God’s service must be done in humility. We should not think that we have the right to reward and that God is our debtor. God will surely reward us. But even that reward will come as a surprise.
When we have done all that we were ordered to do, say “We are unworthy servants.” What if we have done all that we were ordered to do?
Don Bosco had faith. He achieved much because of his faith. Still, at the end of his life he confessed that if he had greater faith, he would have achieved more. We must all pray: “Lord, increase our faith.”
In the Second Reading, St. Paul exhorts St. Timothy to remain firm in his vocation, no matter what. He urged him to preach the truth without being inhibited by human respect, rank or dignity saying: “I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Tim.1:6). This applies to the Holy Order which St. Timothy received. It can be applied to the sacrament of Confirmation which many of us have received. We must rekindle the gifts which we have received in the sacrament of Confirmation, the gifts of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, piety, fear of God and fortitude. We must exercise these gifts.
May God grant us an increase of faith in the midst of many tribulations in our lives through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Reflection for 5th of October, 2019. Saturday. 26th Week in Ordinary Time. Baruch 4:5-12,27-29.
Psalm 69:33-35,36-37. Luke 10:17-24.
The prophet Baruch in today’s First Reading presents to the Jews in exile Jerusalem as their mother, who nurtured her children and now mourns because of their distress. Jerusalem therefore is a grief-stricken mother. She lost not only her husband, God, but also her children. Her cry is pathetic.
Mother Jerusalem weeps but without bitterness and hopelessness. Her children are justly punished. They were punished because of their sins. God’s punishments are medicinal; they are corrective; they are not vindictive. Therefore mother Jerusalem tells them: “Take courage, my children, and cry to God, for you will be remembered by him who brought this upon you. For just as you planned to go astray from God return with tenfold zeal to seek him” (Bar. 4:27-28).
Today’s Gospel records the joy of the seventy disciples after they had preached the Kingdom of God throughout the countryside. With complete simplicity they exclaim to Jesus: “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name” (Luke 10:17). Jesus joins in their delight: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven …. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:18-20)
“I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18). With these words Jesus affirms that the proclamation of the kingdom of God is always a victory over Satan. At the same time he also reveals that the building of the kingdom is continually exposed to the attacks of the spirit of evil. We have to prepare ourselves for the struggle which characterises the life of the Church to the end of times.
Jesus also told the seventy disciples: “Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20). We must rejoice not because we are superiors, we are bishops, priests, headmasters, … The only reason for rejoicing is that we belong to the kingdom of God, that our names are written in heaven.
If we have charity, our names are written in heaven. This should be a matter of great joy, greater than anything else we do in this world, greater than casting out devils. Power to become children of God is to be valued than even the power of working miracles.
Then turning to his disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (Luke 10:23-24). Not only the disciples of Jesus who had the privilege of seeing him and hear him speak were blessed. All of us who are Christians, especially Catholics are also blessed. “Blessed are those who have not yet seen and yet have come to believe” (John 20:29).
For we have the Word of God, Jesus present in the Holy Eucharist, Mary, our Mother and all the thoughts of wise Christian thinkers during many centuries, all the recorded experience of multitudes of holy men and women, the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church throughout the centuries.
May God grant us the grace never to lose sight of heaven our ultimate end through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Reflection for 4th of October, 2019. Friday. 26tg Week in Ordinary Time. Bar 1:15-21.
Psalm 79:1-5.8-9. Luke 10:13-16
The Church celebrates the life of Saint Francis of Assisi today
An Italian Catholic Friar Deacon and preacher who constantly urges us to distance ourselves from worldliness for such leads to vanity, arrogance and pride
Saint Francis lived a model life of humility, compassion and love while consistently striving to follow the example of Jesus Christ
In our prayers we remember and we pray for Holy Father Pope Francis and all other devotees all over the world. Saint Francis, pray for us and teach us to live authentic Christian lives. AMEN
Reflection for 3rd of October, 2019. Thursday. 26th Week in Ordinary Time. Nehemiah 8:1-4a,5-6,7b-12. Psalm 19:8,9,10,11. Luke 10:1-12.
We have a solemn celebration of the Word of God in today’s First Reading. “And Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding … He read it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law” (Neh.8:2-3). People listened attentively to God’s Word for six hours – from early morning until midday! There was a concern to understand the Word of God.
And God’s Word effected a change in the people. “For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law” (Neh. 8:9). There was conversion. There was a change of heart. And there was also joy.
God’s Word “is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword piercing until it divides soul and spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb.4:12).
God’s Word must be at work in us (cf. 1 Thess.2:13). St. Peter writes: “You have been born anew, not of perishable but imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God. For ‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever’” (1 Pet.1:23-25).
In today’s Gospel Jesus sent out, two by two, seventy of his disciples out on His mission. He said to them: “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2). The harvest is indeed plentiful in our age more than we can ever imagine. Whole countries and nations where religion and the Christian life were formerly flourishing and capable of fostering a viable and working community of faith are now put to a hard test, and in some cases are even undergoing a radical transformation as a result of a constant spreading of an indifference to religion, of secularism and atheism. Now is the time to spread the divine seed and to harvest as well. There are places where it is difficult to sow the seed for lack of means. There are harvests which are being lost because there are not enough labourers. The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few.
The world is in need of many things. But there is no doubt that it is in great need of apostles who are holy, cheerful, loyal to the Church and eager to make Christ known. The Lord is calling us to work in his vineyards: Pray, therefore, the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. Prayer is the most effective means of winning new apostles. Our apostolic zeal has to be manifested, first of all, in a continuous prayer of petition for new apostles. Prayer always comes first.
Jesus also told his disciples whom he sent on His mission saying: “I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves” (Luke10:3). God loves those lambs, that is, persons who are inconspicuous and humble. He loves to choose lowly instruments in order to show that he is the principal agent of evangelization. The evangelizer must be a lamb, that is, he must be humble and docile in God ‘s hands. In fact, only a docile instrument is a useful one.
May God sustain the “labourers in the harvest” and grant that their efforts may bear much spiritual fruit, may He make our hearts completely open and pure, and help to follow Jesus more fully through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Reflection for 2nd of October, 2019. Wednesday. 26th Week in Ordinary Time. Memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels. Exodus 23:20-23.
Psalm 91:1-2,3-4,5-6,10-11. Matthew 18:1-5,10.
The Angels are pure spirits endowed with a natural intelligence, will power, and beauty far surpassing the nature, faculties, and powers of man. They offer continuous praise to God and serve Him as messengers and ministers and as guardians of men on earth. They are divided into three hierarchies: Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones; Dominations, Principalities and Powers; Virtues, Archangels and Angels.
Those blessed spirits who are appointed by God to be protectors and defenders of men are called Guardian Angels. Faith teaches us that each individual has a Guardian Angel who watched over him during the whole course of his life. It is also a generally accepted teaching that communities, the Church, dioceses and nations also have their tutelary Angels.
The Guardian Angels defend those of whom they have charge against the assaults of the demons, endeavouring to preserve them from all evils of soul or body, particularly from sin and occasions of sin. They strive to keep us in the right path: if we fall they help us to rise again, encourage us to become more and more virtuous, suggest good thoughts and holy desires, offer our prayers and good actions to God and above all, assist us at the hour of death.
A modern author had said: “If one wishes to get rid of the angels, one must radically revise Sacred Scripture itself, and with it the whole history of salvation.”
“As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will; they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendour of their glory bears witness” (CCC 330).
Angels do God’s word. To the angels in particular is entrusted a special care and solicitude for people whose requests and prayers they present to God. In today’s Responsorial Psalm we say: “For you has he commanded his angels to keep you in all your ways. They shall bear you upon their hands lest you strike your foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:11-12).
In today’s First Reading we have it that: “Behold, I send an angel before you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place which I have prepared” (Exo.23:20).
The Angels appear to the Apostles after Christ’s ascension to tell them: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). St. Peter writes: “He has gone into heaven and is at right hand of God, with angels, authorities and powers made subject to him” (1 Pet. 3:22).
According to St. Basil every one of the faithful has beside him an angel, as tutor and pastor to lead him to life. Following the Book of Daniel it can be said that the tasks of angels as ambassadors of the living God extend not only to individual human beings but also to entire nations (cf. Dan.10:13-21).
In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt.18:10). Through their angels the little ones are already present to God. The faith of the little ones already partakes in the beatific vision, through the instrumentality of the angels. Earthly life and heavenly life are one, though enjoyed differently. The Father looks upon the angels with the same love which embraces those whom the angels represent. When the little ones have such value in the eyes of God, how can we dare to despise any one of them?
The angels see the face of God (cf.Matt.18:10). All of us walk in faith towards that same vision. And we walk in hope. We draw the strength of this hope from prayer, from the Holy Eucharist.
May God grant us the grace one day to share the company of the angels forever through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Reflection for 1st of October, 2019. Tuesday. 26th Week in Ordinary Time. Memorial of St. Theresa of Lisieux. Virgin and Doctor of the Church.
Zechariah 8:1-23. Luke 9:41-56
Today’s First Reading deals with the Messianic age. It contains the prophecy of the Messianic salvation. When God is present there is safety and peace. “Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of their great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets” (Zech.8:4-5). What happier sight on this earth than to see plenty of children in their innocence, in their energies, with sweet faces and smiles their graceful figures and movements, and untold wealth of tender love and delighted looks! God rejoices when he sees a beaming mankind with plenty of children at play.
The measure of civilisation of a nation depends on how we treat old people and children. Today we are inclined to consider old people as a burden to society. But a community without its senior members is not a full community. It lacks the experience and wisdom, the sense of tradition, which only the old can contribute.
An essential ingredient of Zechariah’s vision of a restored community is the presence of old people and children.
The basis of a glorious future for Jerusalem will be the presence of the Lord of hosts dwelling in the midst of his people “in faithfulness and in righteousness” (Zech.8:8). No community can enjoy real blessing apart from the presence of the Lord.
Today’s Gospel presents to us a small incident that occurred to Jesus’ disciples. John said to Jesus: “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to stop him because he does not follow with us” (Luke 9:49). This exorcist, though not a follower of Jesus must have been a believer in Jesus.
This incident also shows that Jesus was recognised among people as one who was able to save them from the power of demons. For the exorcisms which were performed by those exorcists other than the disciples of Jesus who also performed in Jesus’ name. It also shows that Jesus’ message and his work were destined to break all barriers and take everyone to his service.
In our case it seems even the attempt on the part of the disciples to stop the man casting out demons had not succeeded. Therefore Jesus said to John: “Do not stop him, for whoever is not against you is for you” (Luke 9:50). Here you can’t be neutral. Either you are for Jesus or you are against Jesus.
Jesus condemns intolerance, narrow exclusivism, a kind of mental state that was especially prevalent in the Old Testament.
We must be tolerant of people. We must respect all people. Abraham Lincoln was very tolerant towards his enemies. He was criticized for it by his friends. They told him to destroy his enemies. He replied, “Do I not destroy them when I make them my friends?”
Even if a man be utterly mistaken we must never regard him as an enemy to be destroyed but a friend to be won over by love.
We celebrate the memorial of St. Theresa of Lisieux popularly known as St. Theresa of the Child Jesus. She was born in Normandy, France in 1873, entered the Carmel of Lisieux in 1889, at the age of fifteen years, and died on September 30, 1897. She was canonised in 1925 by Pope Pius XI, and made the third woman Doctor of the Church by Pope St. John Paul II.
She took for her motto the well-known words of the great Carmelite mystic St. John of the Cross: “Love is repaid by love alone.” With these thoughts ever present in her mind, her heart found courage to endure hours and days of bitterness that few saints have been privileged to undergo.
Love of God as a Father, expressed in childlike simplicity and trust, and a deep understanding of the mystery of the Cross were the basic principles of her “little way.”
There is just one other doctrine that needs to be mentioned to complete the picture of her soul’s surrender – her vivid realisation of the spiritual Motherhood of Mary. She had learned the meaning of the strong phrase of St. Augustine that we were all begotten with Jesus in the womb of Mary as our Mother.
May God through the intercession of St. St. Theresa of the Child Jesus grant us the grace to be tolerant with everyone through Christ Our Lord. Amen. Wishing you a happy new month.