Saturday, August 27, 2011


Fr. Tom, a newly ordained priest, came out of his room a bit disappointed after having received a call from his Provincial. Immediately Fr. Stephen a close friend of Fr. Tom asked him: “Where is he sending you?” “To that God-forsaken place! I knew he would send me there. He knows my caliber and intellectual capacity and yet he wants to send me there,” said Fr. Tom.  Fr. Stephen immediately whispered in his ear saying: ‘Hey! you are an asset to the Church and our congregation, just tell him a simple ‘no’, let him find somebody else.

God does not speak to us directly. He speaks to us through several people like our parents, teachers, religious superiors etc. and even through several circumstances. There are times we tend to bend the will of God in order to make it palatable to us or at times force our will on God’s will. This is what St. Peter does in today’s gospel. He tries to teach God a lesson. When we try to be like God we become Satan. Let us remind ourselves of the fate of the most beautiful angel Lucifer. Thus Jesus rightly calls St. Peter the rock a ‘Satan’ who dared to be like God or even go one step higher than God Himself. Here Peter tries to redeem the Redeemer and save the Saviour.

Rita and James were deeply in love with each other. During one of their intimate conversation, Rita asked James, ‘What will you do if I die all a sudden?’ Even before she uttered the last syllable, she received a slap from James.

When we love someone very much, we tend to treasure the presence of that person. We do not want to lose them. This is a sign of love. I am sure in this circumstance, even the act of slapping was a manifestation of love. This is what St. Peter does to Jesus. He rebukes Him. Why should the Lord talk about death on the cross at this point of time? The one who has come to give life abundantly speaks about lifelessness. Was the act of Peter lacking in signs of love? He genuinely loved the Lord and he did not want to lose Him. Then why should he be rebuked? Our love should not be a mere expression of our impulses. Even our emotions have to be educated. Not all that we feel is okay, there is an ethics even for our feelings. Our love should not be a cause of hindrance in doing God’s work. Every mother who prevents her son/ daughter from joining a religious congregation in order to have him/her close to her is in a way act like the agent of evil. Our love should foster the will of God not the other way.

When we love God and try to do His will, we find meaning in our life. Last week, after giving a short talk on Our Lady to the Legion of Mary, I was talking to a mother about the devotion to Our lady. In the course of our conversation, she told me that she is willing to give up everything and just dedicate her life for the Lord. She is from a fairly well-off family with a son and daughter of marriageable age. Her husband works in a big company. God has blessed her with everything she needs. But still she felt, God is above everything. I told her jokingly, that she should have thought about it, before the marriage. The simple words of that mother struck me. She did not talk from her head. They were the words from her heart. At the end of everything, what counts is how much of wealth we have inherited in the Kingdom of God. People, who love God and do His will, will be ready to lose everything for the sake of God.

Last year when I was attending the funeral of my friend’s mother, something touched me very much. Just before burying the body, people noticed the small ring on her finger. People around there wanted to remove it. But  they could not remove it. Many of them took turns and tried to remove it but the effort was in vain. Then someone suggested to cut off the finger in order to remove the ring. Some were for the suggestion and some did not agree. My friend told them to leave the ring in her finger. But the others did not listen and nearly after half an hour, they managed to pull out the ring. I was thinking, ‘even if we want to carry something after our death with us, our fellow human beings will not allow it. They will make sure that we go with empty hand.

Is it not right when the Lord tell us ‘What if you gain the whole world and lose the soul?

The simple way to save our soul and reach God is to love him sincerely and do God’s will even at the cost of our life.


  1. This parable was understood specifically about the reception of the gospel. The man departing was viewed by the Church as Christ ascending to heaven. First servant represented the Jews who accepted Christianity, the second servant represented the Gentiles who got converted to Christianity and the third servant represents the unconverted.
  2. Some interpreters do not focus on any eschatological themes, but relate this parable in terms of stewardship. Reward is given to the ones who make effort and remain faithful to the entrusted cause.
  3. The traditional view of the parable is that it depicts the time from Jesus’ death and resurrection to the parousia. The disciples ought to encourage kingdom living.
  4. There is a Chinese parable which says, ‘Success: Heaven’s will, human effort.’ In the Scriptures we encounter God who grants success through the miraculous collapse of Jericho’s wall or by making the sun standstill, but usually grants success through the means of shrewd strategy and hard work. Sound stewardship is what is required.
  5. Quality work, importance of education, saving and deferring gratification and family commitment are all the values of good and faithful servant. In this context let me quote Richard Baxter “Waste of time…loss of time through sociability, idle talking, luxury, more sleep than necessary…is worth of absolute moral condemnation. Every hour lost is lost to labour for God…Work hard in your calling.”
We cannot question why the Lord is partial with His gifts and talents that He gives us. He gives talents to each one according to his/her ability and therefore He does not expect more than one’s capacity. Sometimes while regretting the fact that we are given less, we fail to value and develop the single talent we are entrusted with. We have several examples of people who were thought to be useless rose up to greater heights by means of sheer hard work and commitment. Parable of talents gives us yet another chance to make the best use of time and resources available at our disposal.

Parable of the Talents in Missionary Perspective by John B. Carpenter, in Missiology, v 25, Issue 2, 1997
Stories with Intent – Klyne. R. Snodgrass

Friday, August 26, 2011

TEN VIRGINS – AUGUST 26TH - FRIDAY – (Mt 25: 1-13)

1.      The bridegroom is Christ, the virgins are those who have accepted Christianity in faith, the oil is good works or love and the sleep is death. The number ten is interpreted in several ways therefore no consensus on that. We should not forget that the intention of the parable is to say that the kingdom is like the whole process narrated in the story and so we should avoid dwelling on the individual details of the description.

2.      The aspect of delay is more important, without which the parable has no significance. It was due to delay the lamps went out, the virgins went to sleep. The delay might be due to the banquet in the bride’s house. In any case, it was delay that distinguishes the wise ones from the foolish.

3.      There is no reason to think that sleep is given a negative connotation. Both foolish as well as the wise virgins went to sleep. It was their preparedness and alertness which was commended.

4.      Are the wise ethically culpable for not sharing? Some start arguing that the attitude of the wise is ungracious. They were accused for being selfish. The point is this, if they share the oil with the others eventually all the lamps will go out before reaching their destiny and all would be in darkness. A parable should be understood in context. The parable and reality are not connected with equal signs.

5.      The parable urges one to be ready and be prepared in view of the kingdom. Wisdom here means understanding the eschatological outlook of Jesus’ teaching. This parable is used by Jesus to instruct his disciples to live with such wisdom.

The worst thing we experience when we go to some government offices is the delay in the proceedings of the work. We tend to lose our patience when something gets delayed. Travelers usually experience the delay of the trains and buses. After waiting for a considerable amount of time, we usually decide and find alternatives and only at that time the thing or the person whom we waited for will arrive. There are several times we feel, ‘I should have waited for some more time’. God is teaching us a lesson on the importance of patience using this parable of ten virgins.

Stories with Intent – Klyne. R. Snodgrass

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


1.      We are probably dealing with a slave, although the word is used for servants as well. That a slave is placed in charge is not unusual. The best biblical example and with similar wording to the parable is the account of Joseph being given authority both in the home of Potiphar and by Pharaoh. The slave literally controlled the health and welfare of the other slaves.

2.      Drunkenness and beating slaves are both traditional description of an uncontrolled life. This can be applied to the husbands who do the same to their wives.

3.      Often the parable is viewed as the Jesus’ instruction to his disciples to remain faithful in his absence before the coming of the final kingdom or of the Son of Man, both of which would entail judgment.

4.      Failing to be watchful even occasionally can bring in a lot of disaster. Thieves are the people who give surprise to the owner, because they come at the unpredictable time.

5.      We need to have urgency in our evangelization. The attitude of procrastination brings in a lot of danger. Before we could even start a project the end time would come. We would be taken for a task.

Many of us think that we have plenty of time left for us to live. We tend to postpone things with the hope of completing the task even at the last minute. We are more confident about our future. Are we prepared to go peacefully if death knocks at our door any time of the day? Our life is uncertain. It is better to complete the given tasks in time. Tasks do not strictly mean only our office works or house chores, but it primarily means the condition of our soul, condition of our spiritual life, condition of our moral life. We are not called to live in a constant fear of death but to live a life of preparedness and diligence.

The New Daily Study Bible – William Barclay
Stories with Intent – Klyne. R. Snodgrass

Monday, August 22, 2011


1.    Etymology: Hypocrisy – judgment, sentence or power of distinguishing or a decider, judge or behind. The common usage in antiquity was ‘an actor on stage’. In popular understanding the term denotes metaphorically persons who pretend to be someone they are not.

2.      There is no equivalent word in OT – The author of 2 Maccabees used some other form of the same word to describe Apollonius as one pretended to be a person of peace after entering Jerusalem, when Sabbath day arrived he ordered the he ordered the troops to attack the Jews (2 Macc 5: 25), The agents of Antiochus tried convincing Eleazar to pretend as if he were eating the flesh of sacrificial meat (2 Macc 6: 21).

3.      In the N.T this word is used only in negative sense. Hypocrisy occurs in the Gospels (Mt 23:38; Mk 12: 15, Lk 12: 1) and in three other places in NT (Gal 2:13, 1 Time 4:2; 1 Pet 2:1). In synoptic the term appears mostly in Matthew. In Mark it is mentioned once, in Luke it is thrice and in Matthew it is 14 times. Paul charges Barnabas and other Jewish Christians with hypocrisy for joining Peter in their table fellowship practices excluding Gentiles.

4.      Today’s passage is the part of the seven woes Jesus pronounces against the Pharisees. Today’s gospel deals with fourth and fifth woe. Fourth woe concerns rulings about ‘trifles’. Deut 14: 22-23 prescribes tithes of grain, wine and oil. The Rabbis in building up the law added vegetables, fruits and nuts in the command. Jesus thinks it is absurd to spend in the tithing of trifles.

5.      The fifth woe concerns the ruling about cleanliness. God looks at the heart. How can one clean the inside of the cup? Through confession, slaying of human pride and a turning from our evil ways takes place. By trust in the mercy of God made we are made clean in Christ.

All of us are hypocrites in one way of other. The persons who crave for freedom and rights are the ones who persecute their subjects when they are in power. Most of the strict teachers who punish the students very badly are the ones who were naughty themselves when they were students. We are liberal with regard to the issues concerning us and our interest but when it comes to the issues of others we become extremely strict and start talking about laws and rules. Let us become little more considerate towards people who are under our power and authority.

The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible- Emerson B. Powery
The Interpreter’s Bible

Sunday, August 21, 2011


1.      The encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam proclaiming the Queenship of Mary was promulgated by Pope Pius XII on Oct 11, 1954, near the close of Marian year observed in connection with the centenary celebration of the proclamation of the dogma – Immaculate Conception (1854)

2.      Mary is queen in relation to the King the Messiah. Her maternal authority over her royal Son and her care for all Christians give ground and meaning to her own royal title.

3.      Jesus the Son of God who humbled Himself to the extent of dying on the cross as a criminal was exalted by God the Father as the King and Kings and Prince of Peace. Likewise Mary humbled herself by saying ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord’ and thus becomes the Mother of the King and thus the Queen.

4.      Christ’s royalty has strong evidence in Scripture. Luke 1:32, He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. Isaiah 9:6, For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Revelation 19:16, On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, "King of kings and Lord of lords. Thus the Mother of Christ the King, logically becomes the Queen Mother. There are many Church Fathers like John Damascene, Gregory Nazianzen, Jerome who addressed Mary as the Queen.

5.      She had her place under the cross because it was God’s will. He wished her to share in her son’s sufferings. He might have spared her; there is no reason why Mary had to live to see her son’s death. If God willed that Mary share her son’s sufferings are we not to conclude that she, the handmaid accepted and fulfilled God’s will perfectly.

‘Because the virgin Mary was raised to such a lofty dignity as to be the mother of the king of kings, it is deservedly and by every right that the Church has honoured her with the title of Queen’ St. Alphonsus Liguori

From the article, ‘Queenship of Mary’ by Aver Johannes in Theology Digest (1955)
Encyclopedia of Mary – Monica and Bill Dodds

Friday, August 19, 2011


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."

I have divided my homily into three parts by asking three pertaining questions. Q1. Who is St. Peter? Q2. Who do people say I am? And Q3. Who do you say I am?

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 we have Benedict XVI the 265th Pope who is known for his intelligence and erudition. When the Pope teaches from the chair of St. Peter on issues concerning faith and morals, it binds the whole Church. He is also called the Bishop of Rome, which means anyone who is the Bishop of Rome is also the Pope. Why Rome? What is so very special? It is simply because tomb of St. Peter is in Rome. We as Christians have the responsibility not only to pray for our Holy Father but also to defend Him when he is attacked by enemies of the Church.

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.


Matthew 23:12 ‘All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.’
1.      For the Pharisees the laws have become as important to them as God’s law itself. Their laws were not all bad, some were beneficial, but they exaggerated the practice of these laws.

2.      What was the problem?
·        They gave the man made rules more importance than God’s laws
·        They obeyed the laws not to honour God but to make themselves look good.
·        They told the people to obey but did not do themselves.

3.       ‘Phylacteries’ – little leather boxes containing Scripture verses. Very religious people wear these boxes in their forehead and arms in order to obey Deut 6: 8, Ex 13: 9.

4.      People desire positions of leadership not only in business but also in the Church. It is dangerous when love for position grows stronger than loyalty to God.

5.      Sitting on Moses’ chair would mean, authority and power. Though we do not have any special reference to a special kind of chair, it can be compared to the ‘Chair of St. Peter’.

We see this reality of craving for power not only in political scenario, but also in religious scenario. People do long for power and authority. For those who are not well focused or those who are not rooted in prayer life, power can be a real temptation. There is a danger of losing their head and senses. They may even forget the fact that after a few years they had to lay down their office. We need not think of only higher authorities. All of us are given this power and authority to a certain extent. Parents do have power over their children; the elder child has certain authority over the younger child. Let us not forget that power and authority should always make us more humble and moderate instead of making us haughty and arrogant.

Life Application Bible

Thursday, August 18, 2011


God gave us the beautiful commandment to love Him and our neighbours. Commandment is not something optional, it is an obligation. It is like rules for a game without which a game is not possible. God, the author of creation, gives commandments to his creation to ensure peace and harmony. Jesus beautifully summarizes all the commandments into two without which our existence on this earth will lose meaning.

The Pharisees and Sadducees, wanted to trap Jesus by asking him to cull out the greatest commandment from 600 rules and regulations. Jesus silences them by picking out the significant two commandments. He quotes Deut 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. Jesus may be an itinerant preacher but was surely not an ignorant preacher.

What is the problem of world today? It is not so much the Globalization, terrorism, violence, Caste system etc. These are only the symptoms of a serious problem or a killer disease. The virus that causes this disease is the culture of ‘Lack of Love’ If we love someone sincerely we will not exploit them, we tend to be gentle and caring with them, we will not discriminate our beloved. We live in a world which is promoting anti-love culture. Slowly we are becoming narcissistic in our approach. This is only reflected in our day today life.

God created us not because he had nothing to do. He created us because He loves us. Every love creates love. His love created us but we as usual betrayed his love and fallen away. It surely hurt God but he still keeps loving us. He went on to make the greatest covenant in the human history in Mount Sinai. We broke the covenant and kept hurting him. When we had gone too far from his love, God understood the danger and he wanted to save us and so he sent the prophets. What did we do? We killed the prophets and insulted God. God did not stop with that, He did not get frustrated with our attitude. As we read in Jn 3: 14, He so loved the world that he sent his only son to save us. His incarnation was the decisive manifestation of God’s love. Did we respond to him? No! We kept rejecting his love. We went to the height of insensitivity by crucifying our savior on the other hand God went on to show his love on the cross. There is no doubt he saved us! But what is our response? We as cruel sons and daughters keep rejecting God’s love. One can even ask what is the need for this God of love, to love us. It is not his need to love us, He loves us simply because He loves us.  Such is our God of love. Very few of us respond to his love. Every time we commit sin, we reject His love. Every time we fail to see God in the poor, orphans, widows and the marginalized we fail to accept this God of love. We have lost that childlike innocence.

Karl Rahner speaks about Radical the unity of love of God and love of neighbour. It is true that we cannot equate these two. If we say that love of neighbour is equal to love of God we are actually committing the greatest sin of idolatry. At the same time we need to realize that love of God without love of neighbour would be an incomplete love. It is incomplete because the love of God is expressed through love of neighbour. There are persons who would love to spend a good deal of time in prayer but cannot spend a little time with the needy. This would be an incomplete love of God. On the other hand there are some who think that only by loving neighbours we can reach God which is equal to idolatry. Our love for our neighbour should eventually lead us to God in faith.

Today’s world needs love both of God and neighbour. Love of God is always there but many are blind to this supreme love. We need to make them realize that God loves them with all their sinfulness. This love of God should be concretely manifested in our love for the world at large. On the judgment day when Christ asks us whether we gave food to him, whether we clothed him, whether we visited when he was sick, whether we welcomed him, we should not be asking a foolish question, Lord when were you in need and when did I neglect you? It is not for the sake of judgment we should love him rather it is our Christian call to love the neighbours. Christ again defines a neighbour through the famous parable Good Samaritan. We should be proud to call ourselves as Christians because it is the only religion where God has lived a life of a human being and showed us the path to live a fruitful life. We are supposed to be enlightened people, we cannot give excuses saying that we were ignorant about God’s expectation from us. Let us be the carriers of love which is possible only when we are nested in Christ’s love which is nested in Father’s love through the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


1.      Great Church writer Origen understood the king as God, the marriage as the restoration of Christ’s Church to him, the servants as the rejected prophets, the banquet as the spiritual food of God’s mysteries, ‘all things ready’ as discourses concerning ultimate realities, the destruction of the city as the Jewish war, the command to invite all as the turning to the Gentiles, and the missing garment as ethical qualities like mercy and kindness. He also took the parable as referring to the marriage of the Logos and the individual.
2.      The kingdom is still and will be like a banquet at which those who were supposed to attend were too preoccupied to come and others not expected to attend come and enjoy the feast. The expected are absent and the unexpected are present.
3.      No one should take attendance at the Messianic banquet for granted. Unfortunately many people do: they have made a decision, they belong to the right group, they have the right schooling, and they have participated in numerous services and charitable efforts, so they can now get on with their lives.
4.      The Church should manifest the sense of joy and urgency in inviting people to participate in the banquet of the Lord. This invitation should not be forced upon. The preachers should preach with a sense of urgency only then people will understand the worth of the Great banquet.
5.      Jesus has been attacking the Pharisees through quite a few parables. In this parable he is focusing on the ones who are given an entry in spite of their unworthiness. But the moment they enter, they should try their level best to change their way of life and become worthy by following the rules and regulations of the banquet.

The concept of strict attire for the party is not something new. Many of us are aware of certain parties in which we cannot enter without wearing formals. Imagine a person who cannot afford to go for a party of this sort, gets a free entry pass with the generosity of his/her friend. If he/she is keen on attending the party at least he/she should find ways and means to get himself/herself a formal dress. Getting free pass alone does not ensure your entry. From our part we should also do something to enjoy a privilege.

Stories with Intent – A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus – Klyne R. Snodgrass

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


You know what happened on the second day? After receiving their wages, those who came early on the first day, were still angry with the Landlord. “That was too bad on his part. He tells us that we are envious because he was generous. Was he really generous? If yes, why didn’t he give us more? Anyway we shall go late tomorrow”. They came very late the following day, but they were surprised to see those people who came late on the first day were already at work. They were impressed with the landowner who gave them job opportunity and who was very kind to them. They wanted to pay him back with their hard work. The late comers joined them worked till the close of the day. The landowner told the manager, ‘Call the labourers and give them their pay beginning with the first one and then going to the last.’ When those who came early, he gave them the usual wage and some bonus money appreciating their work.  Then when the late comers came, the owner calculated their duration of work and gave money accordingly which was lesser than the daily wage. When they received it they grumbled against the landowner saying, ‘Yesterday when we worked from early morning, you never gave us any bonus and now, you are giving them the bonus and cut short our money. Again the owner told them, I am not doing anything wrong. You are again envious because I am generous with them. I have paid what you deserve. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?

This second day is only my imagination, but still it tells us, what Jesus wanted to tell us today. I used to think, why did the landowner treat everyone equally? He should have been bit more generous with those who came early.

During exam days, there are students who prepare their time table bit early and start studying for their exams. We also see others who seem to have good time and just study the previous day. When the results come, the latter may score same marks and sometimes even more marks than the former. It is not the duration that matters but the result. These workers who were idle in the market might have felt hurt. They were regarded useless by the landowners and were not hired for the work. When our protagonist gives them a chance to work, they prove their worth. They would have done the same amount of work as did the others.  The possibility could be, the owner being a far sighted man wanted to attract his workers right at the beginning itself so that these workers may contribute more in the future. Therefore we have no right to question the landowner because he has not done injustice.

But somehow his action seems to be not okay. We feel that something is wrong in his approach. What is that makes us to grumble against the landowner? It is the attitude of comparison. Sadly we are brought up in an atmosphere, where we are either compared with others or we keep comparing ourselves with the other. We are not comfortable with ourselves.

I remember in our earlier seminary days, when there is Bible Quiz or Marian Quiz, there will be some people who study so well and answer. At the end of the quiz, the team that gets first place is awarded with nice prize. Now, all the members of the winning team get the same prize. There will be also a few of us, who get the prize without knowing one single answer. This could easily irritate the ones who study well. ‘We study and answer and these get the benefit of it.’ This argument sounds justifiable. But who are we to question the Lord and His generosity. He can do whatever He wants. He has not done injustice to any. But our attitude of comparison makes us feel bad.

There are several ways of understanding this parable. There are 5 batches of workers coming to work in the field which is compared to the five different stages in the history of salvation namely Adam to Noah, Noah to Abraham, Abraham to Moses, Moses to Christ and Christ to present day. Some are of the opinion that Jesus attacked the Pharisees by comparing them with the workers who came early to work as against the tax collectors and Gentiles who came at the close of the day. But it is more fitting to understand this parable as an occasion for Jesus to teach his disciples to overcome the sin of comparison. The disciples were fighting for the prominent place, there was envy, jealousy among them. God’s standards are different. We do should not teach God lessons on justice.

‘Why do we find it so difficult to rejoice over the good that enters other people’s lives, and why do we spend our time calculating how we have been cheated?’
‘For most of us injustice is what happens to our disadvantage, while what happens to our advantage is good luck’

We can imitate others and we can follow the footsteps of great people, these are the positive ways of learning from others but comparing ourselves with others will not help us in anyway. Let us not make our life miserable by comparing ourselves constantly with others. God is the author of our life and He has every right to do whatever He wants.

St. Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians (10: 12) beautifully summarizes this message by saying "But when they measure themselves by one another, and compare themselves with one another, they do not show good sense."

Monday, August 15, 2011


1. The dangers that face the rich are real and terrible, so the warning must be real and truthful.

· The fact: wealth pulls a person from the kingdom of heaven (v.23)
· The great difficulty illustrated: it is easy for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. (v.24)
· The Shock: who is saved if wealth is not God’s blessing and a blessing of righteousness (v.25)
· The only hope for the rich (v.26)

2. Who are rich? The rich are any of us who have anything beyond what we need. What Christ demands is that we give all that we are and have to meet the needs of those in such desperate need, holding back nothing. We do not take the message of Christ seriously. The evidence of our unbelief is seen in Christ’s insistence that we give all we have to feed the hungry and meet the desperate needs of the world and yet we do not do it.

3. Riches- Camel- Needle: There are various interpretations given to understand this analogy.

Some have said that the ‘needle’ was a small gate in the wall surrounding Jerusalem, a small gate which sat right beside the large gate. At night the large gate was closed to prevent the enemies from entering the city and the small gate was used by the travelling public. The small gate is said to have been called ‘the Needle’s eye’ because it was so small that it was difficult for even a single person to pass through.

· Others have said that the Greek word Christ used was kamilos (a ship’s rope or cable) not kamelos(camel)
· It is evident that Jesus uses a proverbial saying for an impossibility of some things. The camel was the largest animal among the Jews, so Christ either used a well known proverb or created a new one.

4. There are examples of rich persons who did turn to Christ. They serve as excellent examples for the rich to follow in turning to God
· James and John (Mk 1:20)
· Matthew (Mt 9:9-13)
· Zacchaeus (Lk 19:1-10)
· Joseph of Arimathea (Mt 27: 57)
· Nicodemus (Jn 20: 39)
· Lydia (Acts 16: 14-15)
· Manaen, a foster brother of Herod, who was probably wealthy (Acts 13:1)

5. Peter’s question: It would have been very easy for Jesus to dismiss Peter’s question with an impatient rebuke. It was a wrong question. To but it bluntly, Peter was asking: What do we get out of following you? Jesus answers Peter by laying down three great laws of Christian life

· It is always true that those who share Christ’s campaign will share Christ’s victory (positions do not matter but the attitude)

· It is always true that Christians, will receive far more that they ever have to give up; but what they receive is not material possession, but a new fellowship, human and divine.

· God’s standards of judgment are not according human standards.

We might often enter into the illusion thinking that this passage is not for us just because we might be undergoing some financial crisis or difficulties. One might be struggling hard to buy a car to keep up the standard and still can claim that he/she is not rich because of the struggle involved. The term rich is a relative term. If we have all the basic needs fulfilled we are already rich and we have the obligation to reach out the poor and those who are in need. In a sense Christ’s warning is for all of us, and it calls for generosity of heart and willingness to share. This will not easily come to us unless we have the real love for Christ and for our neighbours.


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

Sunday, August 14, 2011


It is a happy coincidence that we celebrate the feast of the Assumption of our Blessed Mother and the independence of our beloved motherland India on the same day. Both the feasts have ‘liberation’ as their common motif. We all know that there are four officially defined Marian dogmas in the Church beginning with the Mother of God (431 AD), Perpetual Virginity (553 AD), Immaculate Conception (1854) and the Assumption of Blessed Mother (1950). In strict sense there have been scarcely any Mariological heresies that have led to the dogmas, but there have been Christological disputes in which Mary appeared as a figure who sanctioned Orthodox pronouncements.  The first two dogmas emerged during the period of the Christological heresies and the latter ones were not in the context of heresies.

Before discussing in detail the significance of this great feast of our Blessed Mother, it is fitting that we reflect on Mary’s role in our country. We all know that Christians are less than 2% of the total population in India. We are a minority and if we were to we exclusively take the Catholics, it would be even less in number. Although we often encounter situations in which the Catholics are ridiculed by the other Christian denominations for our Marian devotions (of course not by the other religions) Mary had played and still plays a key role in making Christianity an acceptable religion in our country. In most of our shrines and holy places the people of other faiths outnumber the Catholics in honouring and venerating our Blessed mother. It would not be an exaggeration to say that many in India associate the Catholic Church with Mary. In Tamil Nadu, people identify the Catholic Church by calling it ‘Madha Kovil’ (The Church of our Lady).

Unfortunately even some of the Catholics dismiss belief and piety towards Mary as remnants of religious ignorance or superstition. This is due to the increasing atheistic western culture. There is also a danger of becoming the new atheists who hold that only people of less intelligence and culture continue to believe in supernatural realities. It does not mean that we should start believing every other apparition of Mary which people claim took place without making a proper enquiry but at the same time, if we obstinately deny all these supernatural events trusting solely on our own reason and intelligence we can also be called as new atheists. If Mary can appear in Fatima and Lourdes she can also appear in our neighbourhood, and the possibility is left open. It is true that our faith should not depend solely on miracles but let us not forget that miracles are part and parcel of our faith.

Mary had the singular privilege and was specially chosen by God. Any privilege entails responsibility. Mary makes God proud by fulfilling her responsibilities with diligence and love. She goes through the most agonizing experience of her puzzling pregnancy, gives birth to her son in a barn, wraps the child and flees to Egypt, keeps pondering at the mysteries of God, is puzzled by her son’s questions and activities, stays close to her son, when everybody else desert him, sees her son being executed as a criminal. The shame which she had to carry from the time of the Annunciation, finds its culmination in the crucifixion when her son was raised on the cross as a public criminal. Can we really call it a privilege? I wonder. But she remained faithful to God’s call till the end. Mary remains vitally united with Jesus wholly and entirely in body and soul beyond the boundaries of death which becomes the reason for her Assumption.

Mary’s fidelity to God also extended to her fellow human beings. People who are genuinely united with God will naturally extend their solidarity with their fellow human beings. It was she who subtly forced Jesus to perform his first miracle even before his appointed time. She has such an influence, that God was even willing to reschedule the appointed time. What did she say? She said, ‘Son they have no wine.’ This is the concern she showed for the poor family who hosted the wedding party. She did not want others to suffer shame which she herself suffered several times. Today she keeps telling Jesus, ‘Son they have no food, shelter, security, medicine, drinking water, employment, rights and freedom and dignity.’ This is how a person extends himself/herself to the society if he/she is really rooted in God.

As a consequence, God gave her this great privilege. The fact that she was assumed into heaven does not exclude the possibility that she died, but as Karl Rahner beautifully says ‘It is possible to speak of a special privilege in so far as the temporal interval between death and bodily glorification in Mary’s case must clearly be thought of being shorter than in the case of the saints.’ Like Jesus she also reached heaven with body and soul but we are incapable of forming an idea of the new and conditions of resurrected body’. We see how disciples saw Jesus with His same body but glorified. Rahner continues to say that she is the first to enjoy the fruit of the promise of the Resurrection of the Body.

The social context in which this dogma was proclaimed by Pius XII in Munificentissimus Deus was the period immediately following World War II, which had seen human life destroyed in an unprecedented scale. The value to be attached to life and especially to the human body at that time was negligible that this dogma starts giving renewed hope to the suffering humanity.

The Assumption was an outcome of Mary’s deep relationship with God and her solidarity with the poor and marginalized. If we are contented on this day with a Solemn Eucharistic celebration followed by sumptuous meal without showing any solidarity with the suffering humanity the twin feasts will have no meaning. Sadly we will only be the spectators of our Lady’s Assumption but will never partake in that great privilege which God would give all of us if we are faithful to Him and show solidarity to the poor and the marginalized.