Thursday, December 16, 2010

GENEALOGY OF JESUS – DECEMBER 17TH – FRIDAY (Mt 1: 1-17)


1. A genealogy is the account or record of the descent of a person, group, or tribe from an ancestor. A genealogy may be segmented (taking account of several figures within a single generation) or linear (moving from one generation to the next by means of a single figure in each generation.) Genealogies are more statements about relationships in recent times than records motivated by historical curiosity. The interpreter must look to the present function of genealogy in the domestic, political – legal or religious sphere.


2. In the oral stage especially, genealogies are flexible and fluid. They may change to reflect a change in circumstances; It is possible for a person, group, or a tribe to have more than one genealogy. These may even appear side-by-side without sense of contradiction. When it is committed to writing or becomes part of a written document, it tends to lose fluidity and be taken more seriously as historical document.


3. The genealogy has a pragmatic function. It is the story of the family. It begins with Abraham since he serves as the beginning of salvation history and of God’s election of a people. The first break in the regular rhythm of the genealogy, and his brothers points to the twelve tribes of Israel. The goal of the list is Jesus Christ, who is the culmination of the aspiration of whole Israel v 17.


4. The function of this Genealogy is to trace Jesus’ descent back to David and Abraham. That Jesus the Christ came at the right time is suggested by the threefold sequence of 14 generations.

  • From Abraham to David
  • From David to Babylonian captivity
  • From the Babylonian exile to Jesus the Christ.

5. We have genealogy in Luke also. The major cleavage in the two genealogies is caused by the fact, that whereas Luke traces the lineage of Jesus through David’s son, Nathan, Matthew chooses to follow the royal lineage from David through Solomon. Luke traces Mary’s ancestry while Matthew traces Joseph’s. Both refer to Joseph, but Luke traces actual biological descent, while the other traces legal descent.


When we go through the genealogy, we come across the names of women like Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mother Mary. The common element found in all these women is the irregularity of their marriage. We cannot place Mary along with the other women. We should not also forget that God chooses not the best, but simple and humble persons to reveal Himself. It is not our efficiency that counts before the Lord but our availability and fidelity.


Courtesy

Class notes of St. Matthew

The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

WHO IS GREATER THAN JOHN THE BAPTIST? - DECEMBER 16TH – THURSDAY (Lk 7: 24-30)


1. As soon as the disciples of John were gone, Jesus turned His attention to the crowd. This was necessary, for the people had heard all that had happened. Some thought John had wavered in his faith. This brought in a lot of confusion amidst the people. If this kind of questioning got started, it would affect not only the crowd but also those who had already believed. Thus Jesus begins to address the issue.

2. John was praised not merely because, he arrived in fulfillment of prophecy, but also of the marvelous manner in which this forerunner had fulfilled his task.

· He clearly mentioned or announced the arrival of Messiah directing the people’s attention to that Great one ‘Look the lamb of God who is taking away the sin of the world (Jn 1: 29)

· He emphasized ‘repentance’ as the only way to enter the Messiah’s kingdom.

· It is the duty of the herald to recede to the background when one whom he has introduced comes fully in to the scene-playing the second fiddle.

3. The least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist – This cannot mean that he was not a saved man. John in his prison was not in such close touch with Jesus as was these ones. He was not an immediate participant or even direct witness. Also he was not to see Calvary or to experience Pentecost.

4. All the prophets and the law – indicates the entire Old Testament as far as the prophets that wrote books are concerned ending with Malachi, in whose book the coming of Christ and his herald was predicted. There upon prophecy was silent for 400 years. It was John who tied together the old and the new dispensation. Like Elijah he too was a preacher of repentance. The two resembled each other also in their appearance, incisiveness of their message and simplicity of life.

5. God expects us to use the faculties we have in order to receive His message: we have eyes to see His work; ears to hear His message; minds to reason the truth; hands to work His works; feet to go where He wishes. We are to be as committed to the Messiah as John was.

All of us are privileged to have been born in this world after the incarnation. It does not mean that Jesus’ presence was not there before the incarnation. As Christians we are all the more privileged to be the followers of Christ. We are given this privilege which many of the Prophets longed to have. We are living in the Messianic times. Every day we meet this Messiah in the Eucharist. We are not only seeing Him, not only hearing Him but also eating Him. Thus we are bestowed with too many privileges. This naturally calls for greater responsibility on our part in being true and faithful disciples of the Lord.


Courtesy

New Testament Commentary the Gospel of Matthew – William Hendrickson

The Preacher’s Outline and the Sermon Bible

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

JOHN THE BAPTIST’S DOUBT – DECEMBER 15TH – WEDNESDAY (Lk 7: 19-23)


So John summoned two of his disciples 19 and sent them to the Lord to ask, "Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?" 20 When the men had come to him, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, 'Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?'" 21 Jesus had just then cured many people of diseases, plagues, and evil spirits, and had given sight to many who were blind. 22 And he answered them, "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them. 23 And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me."


1. The fact that John sends messengers to Jesus proves John’s faith in Jesus. This answers those who think that John had lost confidence in Jesus and doubted as our modern doubt with disbelief. John’s doubt was of an altogether different kind; it was induced by a difficulty that his faith met. It was a doubt that was due to faith.

2. Jesus was to do all the great Messianic works, first those of grace (3: 3-6) and then those of judgement (3:9). Thus John believed, preached and expected the Messiah. But as Jesus went on with his work, this seemed to be nothing but grace without one single act of judgement.

3. The mastery of the answer lies in the fact that it takes John right back into the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah, which had caused his perplexity. The reference to the blind, the deaf and the lame is adapted from Is 35: 5,6. Jesus does works of grace that are even greater than those that were promised by the prophet.

4. Wounds and evil spirits: wounds can also mean plagues, but Luke joins both physical and spiritual healing. Luke uses the word (charizo – to gift) for the healing of the blind.

5. There must have been many thus afflicted. These were days when knowledge of the cause of blindness was about at the zero level, when the importance of sanitary conditions was not as yet appreciated, and when preventive measures had not as yet been discovered. All this indicates how great a Saviour was, and is Jesus. We cannot give any other scientific explanation but accept it by faith.

When things do not go according to our expectation it naturally gives rise to doubt. John the Baptist who rightly acknowledged the Messiah and His mission, has a little doubt now. The doubt does not weaken his faith but only strengthens it. He goes in for clarification through his disciples. Our faith should not be a blind faith. We need to be educated in our faith. We should ask several questions and try to understand the mystery of God. Of course when our reason fails, the faith takes over. Doubts unsolved or not-clarified can strain our relationship with God as well with our fellow human beings.

Courtesy
Interpretation of Matthew’s gospel - Lenski
The Pulpit Commentary
Sacra Pagina Series

Monday, December 13, 2010

THE PARABLE OF TWO SONS – DECEMBER 14th – TUESDAY (Mt 21: 28-32)


28 "What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' 29 He answered, 'I will not'; but later he changed his mind and went. 30 The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, 'I go, sir'; but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.


1. It is a polemical parable which is allegorically interpreted. The Father represents God. The first son represents the tax collectors and prostitutes, those who were lax in the law but came to obey God through John’s ministry; the second son represents the chief priests and the elders, those who despite their religious profession disobeyed God, by not believing John.


2. The Father addresses each one as child. The Greek word used here is ‘teknon’ pointing to affection not merely son in legal terms. Fatherly and filial love is the bond between them and this involves the most tender obligation on their part. Whatever it is called upon, a child of God should show its relation to God by its works of faith.


3. The reply of the first child comes as a shock; it is blunt and rude reply without a trace of respect. ‘I will not.’ He has dismissed even the hypocrisies with which others cloak their sins; but later this child regretted his refusal. Everything he knew about the Father and about his obligation towards that Father and about his unnatural and wicked action in treating his Father as he had done, led him to regret his shameful action.


4. The Father talks to the second son in the same way he talked to the first. The call is no stronger in the case of the one than in the case of the other, so that neither may excuse himself by saying, “I would have come if the Father had asked me as he asked my brother.’ The response was emphatic ‘I’ with the implication to be sure. His readiness takes away our breath. But the action that follows reflects most of our character.


5. Jesus does not add a third child, one that said ‘yes’ and then worked as it should. He leaves it to us to supply the third child. None of the two sons actually manifested the ideal attitude though the first son was appreciated for his action. We are called to be saying ‘yes’ emphatically and do the work of the Lord immediately.


In our day today lives we see people who are rude in their outward behavior but actually have a kind heart and the vice-versa. I remember, one of my friends who is hot tempered but has a very kind heart. He once compared himself to a Jackfruit which is hard outside but very sweet inside. There are also people who speak sweet words externally but can be extremely harmful. Therefore we should not form our perceptions and opinions about people basing on the externals. It is true that the externals are sometimes the pointers of the real individual but need not be always. Let us ask the Lord to give us the grace to live a life which is not hypocritical.


Courtesy

The International Critical Commentary

Interpretation of Matthew’s gospel - Lenski

Sunday, December 12, 2010

THE QUESTIONING OF THE MESSIAH’S POWER – DECEMBER 13TH – MONDAY (Mt 21: 23-27)


1. A quick reading of this section is an eye-opener into the great tragedy and problem with self-righteousness and unbelief. Christ was forceful, very forceful in attacking self-righteousness and unbelief. He delivered a sustained attack. Leaving no doubt that a person who continues in self-righteousness, is unworthy of God’s kingdom.


2. Is John’s ministry from heaven or from men? The very same question is applicable to our day. The question forces confession or denial, and denial is totally absurd and ridiculous.


3. The Sanhedrin (chief priests. Elders and Scribes) were the leaders of the nation and the chief priests were the guardians and rulers of the temple. They wanted to know who gave Christ the right to do what He was doing. He was interfering with their management and had no right to interfere.


4. The Lord’s questioners immediately knew their predicament. If they replied that John’s ministry was of God, then Christ would ask them why they did not believe John’s testimony about the Messiah. If they replied that John’s ministry was from men, they would arouse the people against themselves, for the people believed strongly that John was a true prophet.


5. The unbelievers would not be convinced of the truth. It is not that they could not be convinced, but they would not. Such obstinate unbelief seldom, if ever, sees the truth of Christ. Even if Christ openly revealed the truth to them, they would reject.


The disciples of Christ need to be also prudent and shrewd. They should know what to talk, when to talk and where to talk. When people who are not in favour of you, enter into dialogue with you, the disciples should be very sharp in understanding their motive. Innocence is a virtue but not ignorance.


Courtesy

The Preacher’s Outline and the Sermon Bible

Friday, December 10, 2010

IS JOHN THE BAPTIST ELIJAH? DECEMBER 11th – SATURDAY (Mt 17: 9-13)


1. The Jews still expect the Messiah and in their synagogues they keep a chair of Elijah, the prophet who is to come and to announce the Messiah. They place newly circumcised male babies into the chair in hopes that Elijah will announce this child as the Messiah.

2. The Jews believed that Elijah would return as forerunner of the Messianic age (Mal 4:5; Lk 1:17) There was a debate in the early Church around the question. If Jesus is the Messiah why has Elijah not come?

· Jesus is here represented as saying that Elijah has come, not in reincarnation, but in striking likeness of the flesh and in verity of the spirit.

· John dressed like Elijah, lived in the desert as Elijah had lived, and defied Herod and Herodias as Elijah has defied Ahab and Elijah.

3. Why did Elijah not restore all things according to promise? Why had the golden age not come?

Men did not see in John the prophet of God, and in heedlessness they slew him. Mankind has a certain freedom, and darkly abuses it. The golden age cannot be forced upon them, for then it would not be fold but only a gilded coercion. The golden age comes only through golden souls. Elijah awakens and Christ renews; Elijah arouses penitence and Christ forgives if the people see and believe but they will not see.

4. Jesus accepts what the Scribes believe. Their expectation of the return of Elijah is very scriptural. But they were making a mistake for it was literal Elijah whose return they expected, the Tishbite in person. Malachi’s prophecy had actually been fulfilled not literally but figuratively in the person of John the Baptist.

5. Did John the Baptist bring restoration?

The emphasis should not be placed on the number or quantity of people affected but on the thorough going character or quality of the change which John as God’s servant, demanded and was instrumental in bringing about, a turnabout of heart, mind and whole life.

All of us do have expectations and when the expectation is not fulfilled we are disappointed. It is good to have expectations but we should not expect things to happen in the exact way we expect. We should be ready to expect the unexpected. People of Israel rightly expected the Messiah and the forerunner but the way they expected the coming of these two was not the way God intended. This happens to all of us even today. There is nothing wrong to have expectations but to expect something in the way we want may lead to discouragement and disappointed.

Courtesy

The Interpreter’s Bible

New Testament Commentary the Gospel of Matthew – William Hendrickson

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

WHO IS GREATER THAN JOHN THE BAPTIST? - DECEMBER 9TH – THURSDAY (Mt 11: 11-15)


1. John was praised not merely because, he arrived in fulfillment of prophecy, but also of the marvelous manner in which this forerunner had fulfilled his task.

  • · He clearly mentioned or announced the arrival of Messiah directing the people’s attention to that Great one ‘Look the lamb of God who is taking away the sin of the world (Jn 1: 29)
  • · He emphasized ‘repentance’ as the only way to enter the Messiah’s kingdom.
  • · It is the duty of the herald to recede to the background when one whom he has introduced comes fully in to the scene-playing the second fiddle.

2. The least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist – This cannot mean that he was not a saved man. John in his prison was not in such close touch with Jesus as was these ones. He was not an immediate participant or even direct witness. Also he was not to see Calvary or to experience Pentecost.

3. All the prophets and the law – indicates the entire Old Testament as far as the prophets that wrote books are concerned ending with Malachi, in whose book the coming of Christ and his herald was predicted. There upon prophecy was silent for 400 years. It was John who tied together the old and the new dispensation. Like Elijah he too was a preacher of repentance. The two resembled each other also in their appearance, incisiveness of their message and simplicity of life.

4. He who has ears let him hear: In all of Christ’s teaching both on earth and from heaven, it would be difficult to discover any exhortation that he repeated more often, in one form or another, than the one verse 15 (13: 9, 43; Mk 4:9, 23; Lk 8:8; 14:35; Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 13:9; 8:18 in both Mk and Lk)

5. God expects us to use the faculties we have in order to receive His message: We have eyes to see His work; ears to hear His message; minds to reason the truth; hands to work His works; feet to go where He wishes. We are to be as committed to the Messiah as John was.

All of us are privileged to have been born in this world after the incarnation. It does not mean that Jesus’ presence was not there before the incarnation. As Christians we are all the more privileged to be the followers of Christ. We are given the privilege which many of the Prophets longed to have. We are living in the Messianic times. Every day we meet this Messiah in the Eucharist. We are not only seeing Him, not only hearing Him but also eating Him. Thus we are bestowed with too many privileges. This naturally calls for greater responsibility on our part in being true and faithful disciples of the Lord.

Courtesy

New Testament Commentary the Gospel of Matthew – William Hendrickson

The Preacher’s Outline and the Sermon Bible

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

THE FEAST OF IMMACULATE CONCEPTION – DECEMBER 8TH – WEDNESDAY (Lk 1: 26-38)


Ineffabilis Deus - The Immaculate Conception - Apostolic Constitution issued by Pope Pius IX on 8 December 1854

"We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."

1. The first reference to Mary in Luke occurs when the angel Gabriel is sent to Nazareth ‘to a virgin betrothed to a man of the house of David, whose name was Joseph; and the virgin name was Mary’ (1: 26-27). Gabriel’s annunciation is concerned with the future greatness of Jesus, and its primary emphasis is Christological. We should not forget this Christology even though there has been more Marian reflection based on this scene than on any other in the NT.

2. All are aware with how much diligence this doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God has been handed down, proposed and defended by the most outstanding religious orders, by the more celebrated theological academies, and by very eminent doctors in the sciences of theology. All know, likewise, how eager the bishops have been to profess openly and publicly, even in ecclesiastical assemblies, that Mary, the most holy Mother of God, by virtue of the foreseen merits of Christ, our Lord and Redeemer, was never subject to original sin, but was completely preserved from the original taint, and hence she was redeemed in a manner more sublime.

3. To the Fathers of the Church, Mary is an almost infinite treasury, an inexhaustible abyss of these gifts, to such an extent that she was never subject to the curse and was, together with her Son, the only partaker of perpetual benediction. Hence she was worthy to hear Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Spirit, exclaim: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb."

4. Many Popes approved confraternities, congregations and religious communities founded in honor of the Immaculate Conception, monasteries, hospitals, altars, or churches; they praised persons who vowed to uphold with all their ability the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. Besides, it afforded the greatest joy to our predecessors to ordain that the Feast of the Conception should be celebrated in every church with the very same honor as the Feast of the Nativity; that it should be celebrated with an octave by the whole Church; that it should be reverently and generally observed as a holy day of obligation.

5. Christian holiness is embodied in Mary and must be realized in the Church. It is God’s transforming presence which must become fruitful in life and work. The scanty biblical data would not be sufficient as a basis for systematic ethics and spirituality but Mary is transparent, filled with the mystery of God. When people pray before her image they enter into God’s presence.

The feast of Immaculate Conception is one of the greatest solemnities in the Church. Mary’s holiness is the hope and model for all of us. Let us surrender totally to our Mother by seeking protection under her powerful mantle. Let us ask our Blessed mother to intercede for us to keep ourselves pure and holy.

Courtesy

INEFFABILIS DEUS (The Immaculate Conception) Pope Pius IX - Apostolic Constitution issued on December 8, 1854.

Mary in the New Testament – Raymond Brown

Mary Mother of the Savior – J. Neuner, SJ

Monday, December 6, 2010

THE LOST SHEEP – DECEMBER 7TH THURSDAY (Mt 18: 12-14)



1. It is worth a moment’s time to note that the sheep referred to here and elsewhere are not the fat-tailed, generally lazy sheep often represented in romantic Bible illustrations. The sheep intended by the Gospel reference were not of the Arabian fat-tailed type but perhaps of an intermediate breed with small fat tails. The sheep of that time were probably more active than their modern Palestinian counterparts.


2. The Son of man came to save that which was lost. His great love was not merely a general love for sinful humanity as a mass, it was an individual love for each perishing soul. The love of God is all- embracing in its extent and fullness, perfect and complete in its individual affection.


3. In Ezekiel 34, the Shepherds of Israel are criticized ‘the strayed you have not brought back (34:6) God promises to secure as the shepherd. ‘I will seek the lost and I will bring back the strayed (34: 15-16)


4. The sheep is attracted by something out ‘in the wilderness. What the sheep sees is more attractive and appealing. It tempts and seduces it. It is aimless. The sheep does not know it is losing its way. It refuses to heed the warnings of the shepherd and the example of the other sheep. It is not attached enough to the shepherd or to other sheep. It does not think the shepherd will take care and see that there is satisfying food.


5. The lost sheep was sought. The shepherd left ninety-nine to seek the one lost sheep. It was the one that needed to be sought. It was this sheep that needed the attention of the shepherd and was to occupy the time, energy and effort of the shepherd. When he found the sheep, he embraced the sheep and carried it over his shoulders.


The experience of being lost is a terrible thing that could happen to anyone. Nobody loses one’s way purposely but it could happen due to our lack of prudence and carelessness. We can take risks in certain places where there are no dangers even if we get lost, but certain places could be very dangerous not merely to body but also to our souls. It is better to be with the fold than to take unhealthy risks. If we feel that we are lost totally, we can always shout out Lord’s name. The Lord who desperately searches his lost sheep will surely come for rescue and will restore our lost hope.


Courtesy

The Anchor Bible Series

The Pulpit Commentary

The Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible

THE LOST SHEEP – DECEMBER 7TH THURSDAY (Mt 18: 12-14)




1. It is worth a moment’s time to note that the sheep referred to here and elsewhere are not the fat-tailed, generally lazy sheep often represented in romantic Bible illustrations. The sheep intended by the Gospel reference were not of the Arabian fat-tailed type but perhaps of an intermediate breed with small fat tails. The sheep of that time were probably more active than their modern Palestinian counterparts.

2. The Son of man came to save that which was lost. His great love was not merely a general love for sinful humanity as a mass, it was an individual love for each perishing soul. The love of God is all- embracing in its extent and fullness, perfect and complete in its individual affection.

3. In Ezekiel 34, the Shepherds of Israel are criticized ‘the strayed you have not brought back (34:6) God promises to secure as the shepherd. ‘I will seek the lost and I will bring back the strayed (34: 15-16)

4. The sheep is attracted by something out ‘in the wilderness. What the sheep sees is more attractive and appealing. It tempts and seduces it. It is aimless. The sheep does not know it is losing its way. It refuses to heed the warnings of the shepherd and the example of the other sheep. It is not attached enough to the shepherd or to other sheep. It does not think the shepherd will take care and see that there is satisfying food.

5. The lost sheep was sought. The shepherd left ninety-nine to seek the one lost sheep. It was the one that needed to be sought. It was this sheep that needed the attention of the shepherd and was to occupy the time, energy and effort of the shepherd. When he found the sheep, he embraced the sheep and carried it over his shoulders.

The experience of being lost is a terrible thing that could happen to anyone. Nobody loses one’s way purposely but it could happen due to our lack of prudence and carelessness. We can take risks in certain places where there are no dangers even if we get lost, but certain places could be very dangerous not merely to body but also to our souls. It is better to be with the fold than to take unhealthy risks. If we feel that we are lost totally, we can always shout out the Lord’s name. The Lord who desperately searches his lost sheep will surely come for rescue and will restore our lost hope.


Courtesy

The Anchor Bible Series

The Pulpit Commentary

The Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible

Sunday, December 5, 2010

THE HEIGHT OF FAITH – DECEMBER 6TH – MONDAY (Lk 5: 17-26)


1. They sought help: The paralytic man had sought the help of his friends, and they were all seeking the help of Jesus. The man was unable to help himself, to secure forgiveness and wholeness by himself. The same was true of all the friends of the man. They were unable to provide forgiveness and wholeness to the sick man. They too knew that they needed the help of Jesus and of one another.

2. They believed and had confidence in Jesus’ power to forgive sins and to heal. They believed that if they came Jesus had the power to help and that He loved and cared enough to help. They had to face a series of inconveniences, the man was bedridden, they had to carry him along with his bed through the streets, and the huge crowd gathered around Jesus made it impossible to take the man in. What desperation!

3. They persisted enormous difficulty. They did not give up. They went around to the side or back of the house and climbed up to the roof with the bed of the man. They removed some of the roof and used ropes to lower the man’s bed below, right before the feet of Jesus. They were desperate, their need was great and they were helpless without Jesus. Such a spirit touched the Lord and it still touches Him today.

4. The man was definitely seeking the forgiveness of sins as well as healing of body. It was a common belief of that day that suffering was due to sin. The man’s mind was upon his sin as the cause of his problem. Thus Jesus both forgives and heals him.

5. House: Many houses of Jesus’ day had an outside stairway that climbed up to a second floor. The roof was easily reached from the stairway. The roof was flat and made of tile-like rocks matted together with a straw and clay-like substance. The roofs were sturdy enough for people to sit upon and carry on conversations and other activities. These men dug and scooped out an opening through the roof. Nothing was going to stop them from reaching Jesus.

When a group of people manifest their profound faith by their perseverance we see another group of people who were keen on finding fault with Jesus. The attitude of the Pharisees clearly shows that human beings have the capacity to find fault even in the most perfect Being, the Son of God. We sometimes form part of the first group and several other times we form part of the second group. It is rather easy to find fault, (after all they were sitting comfortably inside the house) but difficult to find the Messiah in faith (they had to literally break open the roof to enter the house). To which group do we all belong to?

Courtesy
The Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible
William Barclay the New Daily Study Bible

Friday, December 3, 2010

THE MISSION DISCOURSE – DECEMBER 4TH - SATURDAY – (Mt 9: 35 – 10: 1, 6-8)

1. The very first verse is one of the two majestic summaries of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus hands over the three important ministries to the apostles namely teaching (didactic), preaching (kerygmatic) and healing (therapeutic).


2. Like sheep not having a shepherd: The image of Israel as lost sheep is rooted in many Old Testament texts (Num 27:17, 1 Kgs 22: 17, 2 Chr 18:16, Ezek 34: 5, Zech 13:7). Jesus shows compassion towards his people and wishes to serve as their shepherd. The need of the flock is stressed by the addition of two participles ‘harassed and torn apart’


3. Jesus calls the Twelve and gives them authority over demons and diseases. Matthew does not have a separate account of the call of the Twelve unlike Mark and Luke. So far Matthew has given us only the names of five disciples. This is the only place where he uses the term apostles. He prefers to use the term disciples and they are to the nucleus of the future Church the new Israel.


4. The sermon begins with the warning not to go to the gentiles and the Samaritans but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He will expand the area of mission to the ends of the earth towards the end of the gospel. He demands austerity in the provisions and clothing of the itinerant preachers. There is a sense of urgency to their proclamation so they are simply to go without first procuring money and supplies.


5. The Lord’s ministers must try by His gracious help to visit as He visited, to preach as He preached. His sheep are very dear to him; He should care for his people. All Christians must pray for their pastors and ministers.


It was the compassion of Jesus which moved him to call his disciples. Compassion literally means bowels/intestine. Therefore in all the ministries we Christians undertake, we should have this compassion. If we fail to be compassionate towards the people there is no meaning in our ministry. The strict rules are meant for the disciples but unfortunately we are too strict with our flock but are very compassionate with ourselves. Today’s gospel calls us to understand the significance of our call as a Christian. ‘A Christian without compassion is like a body without soul’


Courtesy

Sacra Pagina Series

Anchor Bible Commenatary

Class Notes on Matthew

TWO BLIND MEN HEALED – DECEMBER 3RD – FRIDAY (Mt 9: 27-31)


1. These two men were blind but they had the inner vision of faith. Faith is more precious than sight; it perceives the things unseen, the eternal verities of the spiritual world.

2. Jesus passed on in silence, absorbed, it seemed in holy meditation. He seemed not to hear them. He entered the house. Blind though they were, they found the way, they came to him into the house. Their perseverance is a lesson for all of us.

3. He touched their eyes and healed them, the touch was to heal them only if their faith was real; ‘according to your faith be it unto you’.

4. Jesus does not want them to publicize the cure. Although his compassion led him to cure the disabled he preached fundamentally to cure souls and offer spiritual healing. He wanted people to be impressed with spiritual healing not merely awestruck by wonders and miracles.

5. Remember the child who was scared at night? The mother comforts the child by saying ‘Don’t worry God is with you’. We like to shake hands; we like to hug and kiss, to fondle babies, to get a backrub, simply to be held when we are in grief. The touch of skin on skin can be degrading and sinful or it can be elevating and chaste, uplifting and affirming. Jesus’ touch is elevating, chaste, uplifting and affirming.

We often see people flocking to the Churches, Temples, Mosques to receive some favours from the Almighty. The faith with which some of the people who are in need come to the Churches is quite impressive. People are ready to do any amount of penance to obtain favour from God. But what happens once their prayers are heard. Quite a few times people become ungrateful to the Lord. As long as the blind men wanted favour from Jesus they did not mind any obstacle, they displayed a splendid faith. But after receiving the favour, they clearly disobey the Lord. Jesus asks them to keep everything as a secret but the contrary takes place. Does it not resonate with our attitude as well? ‘Obedience is better than Sacrifice’

Courtesy

Introduction to New Testament – Raymond Brown

The Anchor Bible Commentary

Sacra Pagina Series

The Pulpit Commentary

A Walk in the Advent

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

THE WISE BUILDER – DECEMBER 2ND – THURSDAY (Mt 7: 21, 24-27)


1. The wise builder builds upon a rock. Christ is the only Rock, the only foundation upon which we can build and structure our lives. ‘For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ’

2. The Lord is not a lifeless rock, but the living stone. We are ‘built into a spiritual house’ 1 Pt 2: 2-5)
• We are to thirst after His Word: we are to crave for pure spiritual milk (1 Pt 2: 2)
• We grow through His word (1 Pt 2: 3)
• We come to the Lord as to a living stone through His word (1 Pt 2:4)
• We are built up a spiritual house by Him through His Word (1 Pt 2: 5)

3. The wise builder faces a storm. There have always been storms in life, and there always will be. The wise man is not exempt from the storms because he builds an excellent house. In fact, the major reason for building a solid house is to assure that he will be able to weather all storms. It rains ‘on the righteous and the unrighteous’.

4. Jesus demanded that people should listen. One of the great difficulties which face us today is the simple fact that people often do not know what Jesus said or what the Church teaches. People often have a quite mistaken notion of what Jesus said and of what the Church teaches. The first step to Christian life is simply to give Jesus Christ to be heard.

5. Knowledge becomes relevant only when it is translated into action. It would be perfectly possible to pass an examination in Christian ethics with the highest distinction, and yet not to be Christian. Knowledge must become action. There are people who know the teachings of Jesus quite well but hardly put them into practice.

Gone are those days when people were ignorant of things. We are living in an information revolutionary age. Knowing is not an issue but the real issue is doing. We all know what is to be done and what is to be avoided. We all know how we would be judged on the final day and criterion for the judgment is also known to us. We all know where God likes to dwell when it is a choice between the rich and the poor. In spite of knowing everything we live as if we are ignorant of things. We even know what it means to put all these teaching into practice. It demands discipline and that is what we lack today. Let us ask the Lord to make us disciplined in all the aspects.

Courtesy
The Preacher’s Outline and the Sermon Bible
William Barclay’s Commentary

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

FEEDING THE MULTITUDE – DECEMBER 1ST – WEDNESDAY – (Mt 15: 29-37)


1. The miracle of feeding the thousands was a prediction and foreshadowing of the Eucharist to come. It was so important an event that the story was undoubtedly repeated many times by the faithful until different versions surfaced. Today’s reading show four thousand men and their families being fed, but earlier in chapter 14, Matthew records five thousand men, not counting women and children. This duplication is called a doublet. It stresses the importance of the lesson involved.

2. We read that the large crowd was with Jesus for three days in a relatively deserted area. The food supply was scarce and no doubt individual families had consumed what they had brought. Jesus was moved to pity. Mothers were worried about their children. Youngsters were restless and cranky. The men folk felt obliged to provide for their families.

3. This is the only gift miracle of multiplication in the four gospels as opposed to the first Cana miracle, which is the only gift miracle of transformation. The only one recounted in all four gospels and only one recounted twice. We do have a parallel in the Old Testament. Elisha multiplying the bread (2 Kgs 4: 42-44)

4. Some scholars downplay this scene and claim that there was no miracle, only charitable sharing inspired by the example of Jesus and his disciples. But it is believed to be a genuine miracle.

5. In the feeding of the 4000, the basket that was used was called as sphurides and it was only used by Gentiles. The wonder of this story is that in these healings and in this feeding of the hungry, we see the mercy and the compassion of Jesus going out to the Gentiles. Here is a kind of symbol and foretaste that the bread of God was not to be confined to the Jews; that the Gentiles were also to have their share of him who is the living bread.

Jesus was moved with compassion. Compassion is the highest form of love. It is not merely giving food for the hungry but a display of God’s sensitivity. Jesus becomes a mother and feeds all his children. In all the cultures we have this custom of sharing food with poor and needy on some special occasions. But sometimes we do it for the sake of doing without any manifestation of love. We go out for dinner to some big restaurants paying hundreds of rupees for a single dish, but find it difficult to give some food for the needy. Jesus is teaching us a great lesson on compassion. It is good now and then to think also with our hearts.

Courtesy

A Marginal Jew Series

William Barclays Commentary

Friday, November 12, 2010

HOW MUCH DOES A PRAYER WEIGH? NOVEMBER 13TH


Louise Redden, a poorly dressed lady with a look of defeat on her face, walked into a grocery store. She approached the owner of the store in a most humble manner and asked if he would let her charge a few groceries. She softly explained that her husband was very ill and unable to work, they had seven children and they needed food. John Longhouse, the grocer, scoffed at her and requested that she leave his store.

Visualizing the family needs, she said: 'Please, sir! I will bring you the money just as soon as I can." John told her he could not give her credit, as she did not have a charge account at his store. Standing beside the counter was a customer who overheard the
conversation between the two. The customer walked forward and told the grocer that he would stand good for whatever she needed for her family. The grocer said in a very reluctant voice, "Do you have a grocery list?” Louise replied "Yes sir" "O.K." he said, "put your grocery list on the scales and whatever your grocery list weighs, I will give you that amount in groceries."

Louise, hesitated a moment with a bowed head, then she reached into her purse and took out a piece of paper and scribbled something on it. She then laid the piece of paper on the scale carefully with her head still bowed. The eyes of the grocer and the customer showed amazement when the scales went down and stayed down. The grocer staring at the scales, turned slowly to the customer and said begrudgingly, "I can't believe it."
The customer smiled and the grocer started putting the groceries on the other side of the scales. The scale did not balance so he continued to put more and more groceries on them until the scales would hold no more.

The grocer stood there in utter disgust. Finally, he grabbed the piece of paper from the scales and looked at it with greater amazement. It was not a grocery list, it was a prayer which said: "Dear Lord, you know my needs and I am leaving this in your hands."
The grocer gave her the groceries that he had gathered and placed on the scales and stood in stunned silence. Louise thanked him and left the store. The customer handed a fifty-dollar bill to John as he said, "It was worth every penny of it." It was sometime later that John Longhouse discovered the scales were broken; therefore, only God knows how much a prayer weighs.

1. There was the silence of the judge. The judge did not move to help her. His heart was hard and harsh; he had not interest in helping anyone would not benefit his career or fill his pockets.

2. He could not get rid of her. She would not accept silence nor take no for an answer. She kept coming and coming. The judge gave in lest he has to give up this rest.

3. The Old Testament clearly tells us that we ought to be extremely charitable towards three categories of people namely the Orphans, Widows and Strangers. The Judge had the every obligation to grant justice to the widow but he kept ignoring her.

4. God does not always answer the cry of a believer immediately. He knows the right time and He decides when to answer our prayer. We need to persevere in our prayer and need to trust the Lord totally.

5. We should pray for our needs not for our wants. God will always give us our needs. Most of the times we pray for our ‘wants’ and that is the reason we do not get the desired answer from the Lord.

We pray the good Lord to enlighten our hearts and minds to make prayer as an integral part of our lives.

Courtesy
The Preacher’s Outline and the Sermon Bible

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

THY KINGDOM COME – NOVEMBER 11TH - THURSDAY (Lk 17: 20-25)


1. The Kingdom of God does not come with an outward, dramatic, thunderous show. It does not come in such a way that people say, “Here it is! Or there it is!” It comes with a silent, pervasive influence. It is coming and its coming will permeate the whole world, but its coming is to be silent, not showy.

2. The kingdom of God is within us and works in human hearts. It is to produce not new things, but new people. It is not a revolution in material things that we are to look for, but a revolution in the hearts of men and women.

3. The kingdom of God is among us. That would refer to Jesus himself. He was the very embodiment of the kingdom, and they did not recognize him. It was as if he said, ‘the whole offer and secret of God are here and you will not accept them.’

4. It is the closeness of His presence through the great trials and troubles of life that causes the believer to ache for heaven. God does infuse a deep desire for heaven into the heart of the genuine believer, and He does it often. Such a consciousness of God’s presence causes the genuine believer to long and ache for God’s presence all the time.

5. The day cannot come until some things happen first. This was, of course a reference to the Lord’s death. Before the kingdom of God could ever come to earth, He had to suffer and die. It was His death that would make it possible for His kingdom to come to earth.

We are living in God’s kingdom. Every kingdom is built at the cost of huge bloodshed. The kingdom of God is also is realized only when Jesus Christ the son of God shed his blood for the sake of all of us. But we do not get a default membership in this kingdom. Everyone who wants to be part of this kingdom should take an oath to live with heart and mind of Christ the King. Our King Jesus is the model and we become members when we try to imitate our King who manifested his power and glory in humility, service and love.


Courtesy
The Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible
William Barclay the New Daily Study Bible

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

GRATITUDE – NOVEMBER 10TH – WEDNESDAY – (Lk 17: 11-19)


I’ve heard of hearts unkind
Kind deeds with coldness still returning
Alas, the gratitude of men
Hath left me oftener mourning
William Wordsworth

1. Jesus does nothing but bids them go, as if already cleansed. Could they trust Him sufficiently to make the venture to obey when obedience seemed irrational at the moment in firm persuasion that it would be justified by the event? It was in the act of obedience that they obtained the blessing; it was by assuming that our Lord could not fail that they found Him faithful.


2. Those who frankly believe are not all ready to praise. Those who diligently pray do not all praise. These ten men that were lepers all prayed. Poor and feeble as their voices had become through disease, yet they lifted them up in prayer and united in crying. They all joined in the litany, “Lord have mercy on us” But when they came to the Te Deum, Magnifying and praising God, only one of them took up the note.


3. A prayer is recognition of our dependence upon God amid the darkness and uncertainties of the future, so thankfulness is recognition of our indebtedness to Him for the blessings of the past. Gratitude can work, can suffer and can persevere; but one thing gratitude cannot do, it cannot bring in a person a feeling that it has done enough. It cannot in this world lie down with a sense that it has really paid off its debt to the Redeemer.


4. Leprosy was the most terrible disease in the day of Jesus; it was greatly feared. It was disfiguring and sometimes fatal. In the Bible, leprosy is a type of sin. The leper himself was considered utterly unclean- physically and spiritually. He could not approach within six feet of any person including family members. The person with such an infectious disease must wear torn clothes, let his hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of his face and cry out, Unclean, Unclean!


5. We are not told, but one crucial factor is known. This man, the grateful and thankful leper, was the man who received assurance of being cleansed and of having his sins forgiven. The others did not. Gratitude and praise bring assurance to the heart. They stir Christ to speak to the human heart, giving assurance of acceptance and cleansing.


We are dependent on so many people for our day today living. From the time we begin the day, till we retire to bed, several people come into our lives. But unfortunately we take things for granted. The early breakfast our mothers prepare, the fees or fathers pay in the schools and colleges, the drivers who drive the buses, the people who smile at us, the office boys who serve coffee for us, the teachers who slog the whole day to teach are taken for granted. Most of us are fast in acknowledging the big favours we receive but hundreds of small favours go unnoticed and unrecognized. This is also because of the utilitarian attitude we have. We tend to make use of people for our own good. Do we not often resemble the other nine lepers? Jesus gives us a chance to change.

Courtesy
Great texts of the Bible
The Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible

Monday, November 8, 2010

CLEANSING THE TEMPLE – NOVEMBER 9TH – TUESDAY (Jn 2: 13-22)



1. This is the first Passover since Jesus assumed his ministry. The festival lasted seven days. Its crowning glory was the eating of the roasted lamb by a party numerous enough to consume it together with the bitter herbs. Every Jew of 12 years was supposed to attend this festival. The hour has come for Jesus to step forth publicly before his nation. His first great public act would take place in the capital, in the Temple itself.


2. There were four courts in the temple, about the sanctuary proper, that the priests, that of the men towards east, that of the women and around these three, there was an exterior court called the court of the Gentiles, since Gentiles were permitted to enter in. It was here the business was in full swing. There were flocks and cattle and the whole place was filled with stench and filth. There eyes of the money lenders were twinkling with lust and greed for gain. This was the state of God’s house.


3. The Son cleanses his Father’s house with the lash of the scourge. No halfway measures, no gradual and gentle correction will do in a matter as flagrant as this. Tender souls have imagined that Jesus only menaced with the scourge, al least that he struck only the animals. But there is no reason to believe this. Jesus only manifests the right anger.


4. During the entire procedure, Jesus never lost his self-control, if he had, he would have sinned. Even in circumstances like this the Messiah exhibits his perfect control over his actions.


5. If the object of Jesus’ zeal was only these merchants and these bankers, Jesus would sink to the level of our modern reformers who try to mend the leaking ship by repairing the rigging. The temple was the very heart of Jewish people. On the score of the law alone he corrects the open abuse, so that the gospel with its loftier motive may follow.


When God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, he warned him to remove his sandals because the place was holy. Holy people, holy places and holy objects should not be treated without respect. Due to too much of rationalization we are slowly losing the sense of the sacred. Very few of us enter the Churches without sandals, and now we have so many reasons to justify it too. In the name of convenience there are many other practices which have become irrelevant today. Jesus is telling us to retain this sense of sacred and asks us all to have a proper disposition towards objects, places and persons set apart for God.


Courtesy
An Interpretation on St Luke’s Gospel
The Pulpit Commentary

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

FOLLOWING JESUS – NOVEMBER 3RD – WEDNESDAY (Lk 14: 25-33)


1. When Jesus said this he was on the road to Jerusalem. He knew that he was on his way to the cross; the crowds who were with him thought that he was on his way to an empire. That’s why he spoke to them like this. In the most vivid way possible he told them that those who followed him were not on the way to worldly power and glory but must be ready for loyalty which would sacrifice the dearest things in life.


2. We must not take his words with cold and unimaginative literalness. The language of the Middle East is always as vivid as the human mind can make it. When Jesus tells us to hate our nearest and dearest, he does not mean that literally. He means that no love in life can compare with the love we must bear to him.


3. Before a person begins to follow Christ, Christ wants that person to think about it. He wants the person to be sure, absolutely sure. Can he afford to follow through; does he have what it takes to build the tower (life)? We should not take up a false profession.
The world will mock and charge true believers as hypocrites
Prospective believers will turn sour
Believer themselves will get discouraged


4. The second parable is about the king at war. The defending king had to sit down and think long and hard about his resources and the consequences. He has to take into account the loss of life and property even if he did win. The king has to decide whether to fight against or to surrender.


5. The cost of discipleship.
Discipleship costs
One’s heart: total devotion and commitment.
One’s mind: being permeated and controlled by Christ.
One’s eyes: watching what he looks at.
One’s ears: watching what he listens to.
One’s hands: watching what he touches and picks up.
One’s feet: watching where he goes.
One’s mouth: watching what he eats, drinks and says.
One’s desires: watching, controlling and changing his urges and desires.
One’s energy: committing his strength, initiative and will to Christ
Ones effort and work: dedicating and centering all in Christ, using his efforts and work in the cause of Christ.


All of us are called to follow Jesus according to the vocation given to us by our Lord. Some are more specifically called to follow Him by becoming Priests and Religious. Jesus tells us clearly to discern well before we say our final yes to the Lord. Discernment is not choosing what we like, or what we feel attracted to but to do the will of God. We can do the will of God, only when we spend time with the Lord in prayer and listen to Him. If the discernment is done properly, we will find happiness and fulfillment in our vocation.


Courtesy
The Preacher’s Outline and the Sermon Bible
William Barclay the New Bible Series