Thursday, March 7, 2013

FRIDAY, MARCH 08, 2013 - LENTEN WEEKDAY - MARK 12: 28 - 34


1. Christ silences everyone through his mind-blowing answers. All the attempts to discredit Him had failed. Now the Pharisees and Sadducees were threatened and felt insecure at the growing popularity of Jesus. They somehow want to trap Him.

2. One such final attempt is made by the one who was most brilliant and well versed in the law, a lawyer or a scribe. However there was something brilliant about this lawyer that the others did not know. Apparently his heart had been touched by Christ. There are two indications for this.

·         First Mark tells us that the man was present when Christ was debating with the Sadducees (Mk 12:28) and he noticed that Jesus had given them a good answer.

·         Secondly at the conclusion of his own discussion Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God” Mk.12:34). This indicates that the lawyer had been in deep thought about Christ and was under conviction.

3. The Pharisees were trying to turn the people against Jesus. People differed as to what the greatest commandment was. Some believed that it had to do with circumcision, others with sacrifices, and still others with the Sabbath. The Pharisees hoped that by stating His opinion, Christ would disturb the people who held a position different from His. He would thereby lose their following.

4. Love is human beings’ chief duty. Every human being is responsible to maintain a loving relationship with God. Very practically, loving God involves the very same factors that loving a person involves.

5. Love with all your ‘Heart, Soul and Mind’

· Heart: the seat of people’s affection and will. The heart attaches and focuses our will and devotion. The heart causes us to devote ourselves to either good or bad things. Christ says we are to love God “with all our heart” We are to focus our heart, our affection and our will upon God.

· Soul: (psuche): the seat of peoples’ breath and life or consciousness which distinguishes human from other beings. We are to love God with all the breath and consciousness all the life and awareness, we have.

· Mind: the seat of reasoning and understanding. God has given intellectual powers to human beings. He/she thinks, reasons, and understands. Christ says that our minds and thoughts are to be centered upon God.

As many of us would agree, the most used and misused word is love. The beautiful phrase ‘I love you’ is used by people for both nobler purpose and for one’s selfish motives. It is always good to take inspiration from Thomas Aquinas who defined love as ‘wanting the good of the others’. · A loving relationship involves commitment and loyalty. True love does not allow lustful behavior with others. A loving relationship involves trust and respect for the person loved. One should love the other person, just for who he/she is. A loving relationship involves the giving and surrendering of oneself. The drive is to give oneself to surrender oneself to the other not to conquer others. A loving relationship involves knowing and sharing. The desire is to know and to share, learning, growing, working, and serving ever so closely together.

 

Courtesy

The Preacher’s Outline and the Sermon Bible

William Barclay – The New Daily Study Bible

Monday, March 4, 2013

TUESDAY, MARCH 05, 2013 - LENTEN WEEKDAY- MATTHEW 18: 21 - 35


 
1. The Rabbis taught that people should forgive those who offered them – but only 3 times. Peter trying to be especially generous, asked Jesus if seven, the perfect numbers was enough times to forgive someone. But Jesus answered ‘seventy seven times’ meaning that we should not even keep track of how many times we forgive someone. We should always forgive those who are truly repentant, no matter how many times they ask.

2. Old Testament references of number 7

With Peter’s offer to forgive seven times may compare the following.

Gen 4: 15 – sevenfold vengeance upon Cain’s murder

Lev 16 – there is sevenfold sprinkling of blood for the sins of the people

Lev 26: 18 – I will chastise you again sevenfold for your sins

Prov 24: 16 – a righteousness man talks 7 times and rises again.

3. 10,000 Talents: Ten thousand talents: A talent was a very high measure of money, worth between six thousand and ten thousand denarii, when on denarius was a day’s pay (20:2), so ten thousand talents is an astronomical sum (like a billion dollar for us), a debt so large that the servant could never repay it. (See 18:26) This huge sum must represent the total revenues of the province and the debtor must have been a high and trusted official.

4. A hundred denarii: Compared to the debt of ten thousand talents, this was a small sum that could easily be paid back if the servant had showed patience. His treatment of the fellow servant is contrasted with King’s merciful treatment.

5. At the cruel treatment of the servant, the fellow servants were very sorry. They go and ask for justice to the king. The sins of the others will cause real sorrow to the true Christian; he/she will grieve over the hard-hearted and impenitent as the Lord wept over Jerusalem.

Forgiveness is a virtue nice to talk about but difficult to practice. We are talking about forgiving 70 times and odd, but we generally find difficult to forgive even once. With one experience of betrayal we turn bitter and condemn even our close friends for life time. Jesus did not only preach on forgiveness but practiced the virtue throughout his life and the climax of his forgiveness was when he forgave his executioners from the cross. Let us slowly start forgiving those who have hurt us, be it our family members, relatives, friends or enemies. If God is ready to forgive all our sins unconditionally, are we not obliged to forgive the little offences our friends commit?

 

References

International Critical Commentary

Anchor Bible Series

Life Application Bible

Sacra Pagina Series

The Pulpit Commentary

Sunday, March 3, 2013

MONDAY, MARCH 04, 2013 -LENTEN WEEKDAYLUKE 4: 24 - 30


 

1.      The passage reveals God’s boundless compassion as he continues to send prophets to a rebellious people. We see this pattern throughout the Scripture, a) rebellion and killing of the prophets b) punishment c) mercy through sending of new prophets d) sin and rejection of prophets.

2.      Jesus highlights God’s mercy for non chosen, needy people through the prophets Elijah (1 Kings 18:1) and Elisha (1 Kings 17:9). We see how God is universal in His approach also in showing mercy to men and women equally.

3.      Jews were angry mainly because Jesus favoured Gentiles.  The Jews were so sure that they were God’s people and believed that Gentiles were created to be fuel for the fires of hell. They could not tolerate Gentiles being praised by Jesus.

4.      In the past God had not given His mercy to people who just thought they were ‘God’s people, but God had given His mercy to those whose hearts were turned toward Him and who accepted Him.

5.      Familiarity with Jesus became a liability; since he was forced into a preconceived framework. Always outsiders have the advantage. For it is just this kind of familiarity and set of pre-conceptions that have been responsible for Jewish unbelief in the gospel and it made the Gentiles more objective in their understanding.

‘Unbelief is a sin that locks up the heart of a sinner and binds up the hand of the savior’ (Flavel) ‘Unbelief is an impediment to the performance of miracles. People did not believe in Jesus Christ because he was a carpenter’s son but this carpenter was of the house and lineage of David – His mother Mary by descent a princess of the great house of David. People do change but our mentality does not. We never change our first impression of things, this leads to a lot of problems when it comes to living together. Families break, communities shatter because of the prejudice we carry. We are in no way different from the people of Nazareth. We will continue to lock the hands of Jesus from working miracles as long as we lack deeper faith and trust in God.


Courtesy
The Pulpit Commentary
The Word Biblical Commentary
Sacra Pagina Series

Saturday, March 2, 2013

SUNDAY, MARCH 03, 2013 - THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT Lk 13: 1-9


 
1. Some shared with Jesus the latest news of a horrible massacre. Pilate had attacked some Galileans in the midst of their worship in the temple and slaughtered them. The crowd was being harsh and making a very harsh judgment on these Galileans. They thought that their fate was due to their sins. They saw everything as the fulfillment of what Jesus was preaching all these days.

2. Jesus clearly refuted their thoughts. He warned them of the same fate and did not really approve their understanding of the tragedy. Jesus did not connect suffering with sin. He narrated another story to make them understand that sin alone is not the cause for the suffering. If that is the case, all of us should be constantly suffering due to our sins.

3. People must bear fruit or else they shall perish. Jesus wanted to drive home the need for repentance by sharing the parable of a man’s seeking fruit. The man represents God; the vineyard keeper represents Christ; the vineyard represents either the world or Israel.

4. The fig tree was greatly privileged. It was planted in the vineyard. It had the same soil, nourishment, rain and sun from heaven. This is true of all persons who are born in nations where the gospel is freely preached. But there is a great responsibility on the part of these privileged ones. 

5. Who were the Galileans slaughtered by Pilate? Two suggestions are made about the Galileans. First they were followers of Judas of Galilee who opposed taxation imposed by the Romans (Acts 5:37). Pilate either knew that some of Judas’ followers were in the temple worshipping or mistook some group of Galileans as his followers and slaughtered them. This is much known. Pilate set out to build a new water system in Jerusalem. He need money for that and so insisted that money be taken from temple finances. Galileans were an inflammable people and therefore their protest might have caused this tragedy.

We cannot think of buying a piece of land today as the prices have gone very high and today owning a piece of land means a lot to an individual. Everywhere we see flats and apartments. Why is this demand? People want to occupy more and more space for themselves. The basic question we need to ask ourselves is ‘what is the purpose of my living’? If I do not contribute positively for the welfare of my fellow human beings we would be just occupying space like the fig tree wasting the soil. Our life here on earth is not to occupy space only for ourselves but to create space for others to live. If my whole world is ‘I, Me, Myself and Mine’ we would be wasting the space we have occupied and leave the world doing nothing   

Courtesy

Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible

William Barclay’s New Daily Study Bible

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2013 - LENTEN WEEKDAY-LUKE 16: 19 - 31



1. The description of the rich man makes it very clear that he was living a very luxurious life. He was clothed in purple and fine linen and his robes were expensive costing many times the value of a working man’s daily wage. He was feeding himself on exotic and costly dishes. He broke the law which forbids work on the Sabbath because it also positively tells everyone to work the rest of six days. This rich man does not work for his food.

2. In those days there were no knives, forks or napkins. Food was eaten with the hands and the hands were cleansed by wiping them on hunks of bread which were then thrown away. Lazarus was waiting for it.

3. Lazarus is the only character in any parable given a name by Jesus. The name is the Latinized form of Eleazar and means God is my help. He was a beggar, full of sores and the street dogs were around him.

4. The text give no indication that the rich man was guilty of moral wrong or for that ,matter that Lazarus was morally right. The rich man is condemned for his sin of omission

5. The sin of the rich man was that he did not bother about what was happening around him. He was in his own world comfortable with what he had. He did not reach out to the needy and the poor.

So many things happen around us, like the kiling of Tamils in Sri Lanka, the brutal rape case of young girl in Delhi and other several crimes against women, hanging of Afzal Guru and other political issues, bomb blast in Hyderabad, resignment of our Holy Father and several other incidents. What is my reaction towards all these incidents. If I am least bothered about any of these issues or say to myself ‘what can I do as an individual and remain quiet, or I go on without even having an opinion about these stark realities, we will have to face the same fate of the rich man.

Courtesy

William Barclay the New Daily Study Bible

The New Jerome Biblical Commentary



Monday, February 25, 2013

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2013 - LENTEN WEEKDAY MATTHEW 20: 17 – 28


 
1.      The natural human concern with status and importance is clearly one of the most fundamental instinct which must be unlearned by those who belong to God’s kingdom.

2.      Whether the mother herself misguided by pride in her sons, made the request or from the personal ambition of the two disciples, the request was made with the brother’s full consent.

3.      This story is also an indication that there were people other than the twelve travelling with the Lord during his ministry. The mother of the sons of Zebedee will be named among the women at the cross) 27: 56), and is presented there as one of ‘many women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and looked after him (27: 55)

4.      The place on the king’s right is traditionally that of highest honour and authority, but where two people are concerned that on the left is necessarily also included without any sense of inferiority (2 Kgs 22: 19). But true nature of Jesus’ kingship is such that they are ready to be crucified along with him one on the right and the other on the left.

5.      Servant here means to be subservient, dependent on the master, owned, lacking any self-determination, at the mercy of their owner, expected to obey, powerless, with few legal rights, beaten, alienated from any legitimated social existence, without honour, despised by the elite etc.

I remember reading an anecdote from the online sermons of one of my professors. ‘It was in the afternoon, Stephen came running to his friend Mark who was having his lunch in the office and started gasping and panting heavily. ‘What happened to you’ asked Mark. You know after having a plate of Biryani (South Indian delicacy), I was coming out of the shop, a car stopped in front of the shop. A group of men with masks on their faces, started firing on all sides. Many got killed and very soon we were in the pool of blood. By God’s grace I was saved and I am here alive now’ told Stephen without a break. After a brief moment of silence Mark said to Stephen ‘So you went out to eat Biryani without me’ Jesus openly tells His disciples about his fate, which is the sole purpose of going to Jerusalem. There was no one among them who felt bad about what Jesus told them. Several times we are concerned with topics and issues which are very mean. The decision of our Holy Father to step down from the seat of greatest honour is one clear example of practicing humility and counting on things that really matter.

 

Reference

The Gospel of Matthew – R.T France

Matthew and the Margins – Warren Carter

Thursday, February 21, 2013

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2013 - THE CHAIR OF ST. PETER, APOSTLE (FEAST) MATTHEW 16: 13 - 19


 
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Who is St. Peter?
What significance does this question have? Today there is a lot of hue and cry over the authority of the Pope. Imagine when you read the morning newspaper you read a headline which says that the General of the Indian Army feels that there is no reason to defend our country. Will we not be surprised and shocked? Same thing happens with regard to the Holy Father and his authority. Many including Catholics and even the Clergymen who are supposed to defend the Pope, do question the authority of the Pope. For all these people, today’s gospel gives a clear answer. We all know this character called Peter. He represents some of us who keep messing up things again and again in our life. Everyone misspeaks occasionally. Peter does so daily. He blurts wrong words like a whale spouts salt water, spraying folly everywhere. He always hurts someone. Oh, Peter and his quick-triggered tongue. This is the kind of person our Lord chooses to lead his Church. He gives him the authority to bind people with laws. He gives him the keys of heaven. Keys are the emblems of authority and this language was addressed to Peter because of the Power that was to be conferred on him. He was to organize, toil, and manage the affairs of kingdom as the Head, of course not absolutely but under Christ the Head. Among the Jews when a scribe was admitted to his office a key was given to him as the symbol of duty he was expected to perform.

Today the whole Church is shocked and surprised with the announcement of his retirement of Pope Benedict XVI the 265th Pope who is known for his intelligence, holiness, strong character and erudition. There are a lot of rumours about his decision. He has made his decision in the light of faith and he gave us all the real and valid reason for his retirement. The moment I heard about his decision, like everybody I was shocked and was utterly disappointed. But as I began to reflect about his decision, I begin to see the real humility this person has in front of God. When everybody including the clergy and religious are craving to go up the ladder in terms of power and position, here is our Pope who just decided to give up a post (secular term) which is the greatest post we can think of in this world. Let us respect and believe that this is the real will of God and continue to pray for him and for the one who is going to lead us after him.

Who do People say I am?

Any Communication gets completed only when there is a feedback. Jesus being a good communicator wanted to get the feedback from his disciples. Feedback can be both positive as well as negative. He just asks his disciples to know what exactly the people think of him. The feedback given by the disciples is quite positive. Some call him Elijah, John the Baptist, Jeremiah. He was considered to be one of the prophets. Surely it is a compliment for Jesus and His mission.

This is an important lesson we need to learn from Jesus. As human beings, and more specifically as Christians we live in communities. We do not live in isolation. Therefore we cannot be too individualistic in our attitude. We should be mindful of what other people think about us and our way of living. Though we do not live for the sake of others, we also do not live only for our sake. If majority of our community members feel that our way of life is not that okay, we need to pay proper attention to that feedback. If many our community members point out to us saying that we seldom attend Sunday mass, we do not live a proper life worthy of a Christian etc., we should not ignore their view totally by shunning them. There could be some traces of truth in that. Jesus was ready to listen to the feedback.

We need not know everything about us. There are certain things which only when somebody points out to us, we will come to know. We see the whole world and the reality around us, using our eyes, we cannot see our own eyes. We need mirror to see our eyes. People with whom we live might serve as mirror at times. Therefore we should also take suggestions of people into consideration.

Who do you say I am?
Last year I went along with my friend to watch one of the league matches of IPL. I was longing to see Sachin playing. I was delighted throughout the match and came back home happily. Many asked me about the match and I was happy to share my personal experience with them. I was describing Sachin for quite a long time. Suddenly, someone a critique of cricket asked me, ‘Did you get his mobile number? I gave him a strange look. He continued. Do you have his email id? Do you know his house address? And finally asked me, do you really know him? This made me to reflect deeper. I know Sachin for a long time. I know how many centuries he has made but do I really know him? Is he related to me? Does he know my name?

We come for mass, and sit like spectators in the stadium, sing songs if we know, partly listen to sermons and then go away. We might know how many miracles Jesus did; where he was born; we might know the names of his parents, and so many other minute details. But do we really know him. On your way back home after the mass, if a non-Christian brother/sister asks you why do you go every Sunday to the Church, what answer will you give? Some of us might emphatically say, we go to receive Jesus Christ. But if that person asks you again, ‘who is this Jesus? Do we have an answer for that question? Will that answer come from our personal experience?

Who is Jesus Christ?
To the banker, hidden treasure (Mt 13, 44), To the builder, one foundation (Is.26,16), To the carpenter, door (Jn. 10, 7), To the doctor, great physician (Jer.8, 22), To the educator, great teacher (Jn. 3, 2), To the engineer, new and living way (Hb.10, 20), To the farmer, sower and Lord of harvest (Lk, 10, 2), To the florist, rose of Sharon (song of songs (2, 1). This list is endless. But Jesus asks us today, who do you say I am? If we do not have an answer that comes immediately from our heart, probably it is the high time to enter into a personal relationship with Him. Let us move from the level of knowing about Jesus to Knowing Jesus.