Wednesday, February 27, 2013
1. The description of the rich man makes it very clear that he was living a very luxurious life. He was clothed in purple and fine linen and his robes were expensive costing many times the value of a working man’s daily wage. He was feeding himself on exotic and costly dishes. He broke the law which forbids work on the Sabbath because it also positively tells everyone to work the rest of six days. This rich man does not work for his food.
2. In those days there were no knives, forks or napkins. Food was eaten with the hands and the hands were cleansed by wiping them on hunks of bread which were then thrown away. Lazarus was waiting for it.
3. Lazarus is the only character in any parable given a name by Jesus. The name is the Latinized form of Eleazar and means God is my help. He was a beggar, full of sores and the street dogs were around him.
4. The text give no indication that the rich man was guilty of moral wrong or for that ,matter that Lazarus was morally right. The rich man is condemned for his sin of omission
5. The sin of the rich man was that he did not bother about what was happening around him. He was in his own world comfortable with what he had. He did not reach out to the needy and the poor.
So many things happen around us, like the kiling of Tamils in Sri Lanka, the brutal rape case of young girl in Delhi and other several crimes against women, hanging of Afzal Guru and other political issues, bomb blast in Hyderabad, resignment of our Holy Father and several other incidents. What is my reaction towards all these incidents. If I am least bothered about any of these issues or say to myself ‘what can I do as an individual and remain quiet, or I go on without even having an opinion about these stark realities, we will have to face the same fate of the rich man.
William Barclay the New Daily Study Bible
The New Jerome Biblical Commentary
Monday, February 25, 2013
1. The natural human concern with status and importance is clearly one of the most fundamental instinct which must be unlearned by those who belong to God’s kingdom.
2. Whether the mother herself misguided by pride in her sons, made the request or from the personal ambition of the two disciples, the request was made with the brother’s full consent.
3. This story is also an indication that there were people other than the twelve travelling with the Lord during his ministry. The mother of the sons of Zebedee will be named among the women at the cross) 27: 56), and is presented there as one of ‘many women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and looked after him (27: 55)
4. The place on the king’s right is traditionally that of highest honour and authority, but where two people are concerned that on the left is necessarily also included without any sense of inferiority (2 Kgs 22: 19). But true nature of Jesus’ kingship is such that they are ready to be crucified along with him one on the right and the other on the left.
5. Servant here means to be subservient, dependent on the master, owned, lacking any self-determination, at the mercy of their owner, expected to obey, powerless, with few legal rights, beaten, alienated from any legitimated social existence, without honour, despised by the elite etc.
I remember reading an anecdote from the online sermons of one of my professors. ‘It was in the afternoon, Stephen came running to his friend Mark who was having his lunch in the office and started gasping and panting heavily. ‘What happened to you’ asked Mark. You know after having a plate of Biryani (South Indian delicacy), I was coming out of the shop, a car stopped in front of the shop. A group of men with masks on their faces, started firing on all sides. Many got killed and very soon we were in the pool of blood. By God’s grace I was saved and I am here alive now’ told Stephen without a break. After a brief moment of silence Mark said to Stephen ‘So you went out to eat Biryani without me’ Jesus openly tells His disciples about his fate, which is the sole purpose of going to Jerusalem. There was no one among them who felt bad about what Jesus told them. Several times we are concerned with topics and issues which are very mean. The decision of our Holy Father to step down from the seat of greatest honour is one clear example of practicing humility and counting on things that really matter.
The Gospel of Matthew – R.T France
Matthew and the Margins – Warren Carter
Thursday, February 21, 2013
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Who is St. Peter?What significance does this question have? Today there is a lot of hue and cry over the authority of the Pope. Imagine when you read the morning newspaper you read a headline which says that the General of the Indian Army feels that there is no reason to defend our country. Will we not be surprised and shocked? Same thing happens with regard to the Holy Father and his authority. Many including Catholics and even the Clergymen who are supposed to defend the Pope, do question the authority of the Pope. For all these people, today’s gospel gives a clear answer. We all know this character called Peter. He represents some of us who keep messing up things again and again in our life. Everyone misspeaks occasionally. Peter does so daily. He blurts wrong words like a whale spouts salt water, spraying folly everywhere. He always hurts someone. Oh, Peter and his quick-triggered tongue. This is the kind of person our Lord chooses to lead his Church. He gives him the authority to bind people with laws. He gives him the keys of heaven. Keys are the emblems of authority and this language was addressed to Peter because of the Power that was to be conferred on him. He was to organize, toil, and manage the affairs of kingdom as the Head, of course not absolutely but under Christ the Head. Among the Jews when a scribe was admitted to his office a key was given to him as the symbol of duty he was expected to perform.
Today the whole Church is shocked and surprised with the announcement of his retirement of Pope Benedict XVI the 265th Pope who is known for his intelligence, holiness, strong character and erudition. There are a lot of rumours about his decision. He has made his decision in the light of faith and he gave us all the real and valid reason for his retirement. The moment I heard about his decision, like everybody I was shocked and was utterly disappointed. But as I began to reflect about his decision, I begin to see the real humility this person has in front of God. When everybody including the clergy and religious are craving to go up the ladder in terms of power and position, here is our Pope who just decided to give up a post (secular term) which is the greatest post we can think of in this world. Let us respect and believe that this is the real will of God and continue to pray for him and for the one who is going to lead us after him.
Who do People say I am?
Any Communication gets completed only when there is a feedback. Jesus being a good communicator wanted to get the feedback from his disciples. Feedback can be both positive as well as negative. He just asks his disciples to know what exactly the people think of him. The feedback given by the disciples is quite positive. Some call him Elijah, John the Baptist, Jeremiah. He was considered to be one of the prophets. Surely it is a compliment for Jesus and His mission.
This is an important lesson we need to learn from Jesus. As human beings, and more specifically as Christians we live in communities. We do not live in isolation. Therefore we cannot be too individualistic in our attitude. We should be mindful of what other people think about us and our way of living. Though we do not live for the sake of others, we also do not live only for our sake. If majority of our community members feel that our way of life is not that okay, we need to pay proper attention to that feedback. If many our community members point out to us saying that we seldom attend Sunday mass, we do not live a proper life worthy of a Christian etc., we should not ignore their view totally by shunning them. There could be some traces of truth in that. Jesus was ready to listen to the feedback.
We need not know everything about us. There are certain things which only when somebody points out to us, we will come to know. We see the whole world and the reality around us, using our eyes, we cannot see our own eyes. We need mirror to see our eyes. People with whom we live might serve as mirror at times. Therefore we should also take suggestions of people into consideration.
Who do you say I am?Last year I went along with my friend to watch one of the league matches of IPL. I was longing to see Sachin playing. I was delighted throughout the match and came back home happily. Many asked me about the match and I was happy to share my personal experience with them. I was describing Sachin for quite a long time. Suddenly, someone a critique of cricket asked me, ‘Did you get his mobile number? I gave him a strange look. He continued. Do you have his email id? Do you know his house address? And finally asked me, do you really know him? This made me to reflect deeper. I know Sachin for a long time. I know how many centuries he has made but do I really know him? Is he related to me? Does he know my name?
We come for mass, and sit like spectators in the stadium, sing songs if we know, partly listen to sermons and then go away. We might know how many miracles Jesus did; where he was born; we might know the names of his parents, and so many other minute details. But do we really know him. On your way back home after the mass, if a non-Christian brother/sister asks you why do you go every Sunday to the Church, what answer will you give? Some of us might emphatically say, we go to receive Jesus Christ. But if that person asks you again, ‘who is this Jesus? Do we have an answer for that question? Will that answer come from our personal experience?
Who is Jesus Christ?To the banker, hidden treasure (Mt 13, 44), To the builder, one foundation (Is.26,16), To the carpenter, door (Jn. 10, 7), To the doctor, great physician (Jer.8, 22), To the educator, great teacher (Jn. 3, 2), To the engineer, new and living way (Hb.10, 20), To the farmer, sower and Lord of harvest (Lk, 10, 2), To the florist, rose of Sharon (song of songs (2, 1). This list is endless. But Jesus asks us today, who do you say I am? If we do not have an answer that comes immediately from our heart, probably it is the high time to enter into a personal relationship with Him. Let us move from the level of knowing about Jesus to Knowing Jesus.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
1. Prayer demonstrates how deeply we trust God and how much we love and depend upon Him. A person who really trusts God – who really knows that what he asks is going to be received – will bring more and more to God. He will come to God in prayer more and more. But the person who is not quite sure about receiving, will only occasionally come, usually only in emergencies. God easily sees how much we really love and trust Him by our prayer life.
2. One should seek the kingdom of God and justice in prayer. It is not merely asking what one needs for himself or herself.
3. The Jewish Rabbis had a lot of wonderful concepts on prayers. ‘God is as near to his creatures as the ear to the mouth’. A man is annoyed by the requests of his friends, but with God the more a person requests Him the more He is pleased with him or her.
4. Jesus carefully chooses His examples. The little round limestone on the sea shore were exactly the shape and the colour of the little loaves, the serpent here means the eel which is actually an unclean fish which is forbidden to eat.
5. God will always answer our prayers but in His own time and in His own way. He would never refuse our prayers. We need certain amount of patience and perseverance.
This morning around 5 am there was a knock on my door. I got up half asleep and opened the door and found an elderly man standing outside. I knew the old man who was from one of our sub parishes. He normally comes for prayer requests and some help. I got irritated and asked him, what he wanted. He kept looking at me in silence. I was all the more angry and asked him what he wanted from me. He looked at me gently and told me, ‘Father this is for you, I have brought some ground nuts from my field, please take it and give me back the bag, I am on my way to Vellore’. I emptied the bag, and sent him away. I came back to my room and looked at the ground nuts. I asked him what he wanted but he came to give what I wanted.
William Barclay, the New Daily Study Bible Series
The New Jerome Biblical Commentary
Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
1. Sign: This word does not simply mean miracle, since Jesus had already supplied many of them, it must refer to some assurance or authentication that Jesus is truly from God. Around the year AD 45, man called Theudas arose claiming to be the Messiah. He persuaded the people to follow him out to the Jordan with the promise that he would cleave the river in two and give them a pathway through it to the other side. He failed miserably and was dealt severely by the Romans. People expected Jesus to perform some feats of this sort.
2. Evil and Adulterous generation – the term is used as a metaphor to describe infidelity with respect to God. God’s relationship with his people is that of a marriage covenant (Hos 1-3, Is 57:3, Jer 3:9)
3. Sign of Jonah: According to St. Luke, the sign of Jonah is Jesus’ preaching of repentance to the marginalized as Jonah preached to the Pagan people of Nineveh, with reference to death and resurrection. The point in common is return to life after apparent/real death not so much to do with the number of days (three days and night in the belly of the fish and three days in the tomb).
4. The Pagan Ninevites who repented at Jonah’s preaching will condemn people of Jesus’ generation for their failure to repent in response for Jesus’ preaching. They repented even though they were pagans and had a lesser preacher (Jonah)
5. Queen of South: Queen of Sheba (Saba in South West Arabia) came to hear Wisdom of Solomon from a great distance, People of Jesus’ own generation failed to respond to his preaching to them.
Asking for a proof or a sign is a very normal thing. The world is full of signs and miracles which our Lord Jesus performs every moment but we fail to take notice of it. If something bad happens we blame it on God and if something good happens we think, it is by chance. We are in no way different from people who lived in Jesus milieu. When sometimes we see the people of other religions praying in our Churches with deep reverence, it make us bit uncomfortable and Jesus tell us today that the people who have faith in Him irrespective of their religion will be the first ones to taste salvation. It naturally leaves a warning for us Christians who take salvation for granted!
Sacra Pagina Series
Life Application Commentary
William Barclay’s Commentary
Monday, February 18, 2013
1. There are three ‘you’ petitions and three ‘we’ petitions in this Matthean version of our Lord’s Prayer. Among the three ‘you’ petitions the central petition is “May your kingdom come” which expresses hopes in the coming of God’s kingdom – all creatures will declare the holiness of God!
2. The three we petitions presupposes eschatological expectation a. Sustenance for the day (heavenly banquet), b. Forgiveness of sins (involves judgment) c. Divine protection in eschatological testing (dangerous struggle with Satan).
3. This prayer is considered the shortened version of Eighteen Benediction of Jews which consists of 3 introductory praises, 12 petitions for personal and communal needs and 3 concluding praises.
4. The specific words which Jesus used are not any more sacred than request we might make expressing the same kids of desires to the Father; we should seek to learn to pray like Jesus not merely what Jesus prayed.
5. The pattern of meaningful prayer is to begin by majority on the person and nature of God and His kingdom interests, coming to the personal requests and needs only secondarily.
Our Father : Should be prayed in fellowship with other believers (Communitarian)
Hallowed be thy name: ‘Hallowed’ means to sanctify - make holy; we should come before God with an attitude of reverence for God’s perfection.
Your kingdom come thy will be done: God’s kingdom is not completely fulfilled on the earth – therefore the task of spreading of God’s kingdom around the world is given to the Church and the kingdom servants.
On Earth as in Heaven: There is no sin and rebellion in heaven; hindrances are present only on earth.
Give us today our daily bread: During Jesus’ time most of the people lived ‘hand to mouth existence! This phrase befits all the lowly and the marginalized.
Forgive us our debts: One does not gain forgiveness by forgiving but a person evidences his or her own forgiveness by forgiving others.
Lead us not into Temptation: God does not give us temptation it the work of the Evil one. But here we pray God to give us the strength to stand steadfast in our love for God and win the temptations as did Jesus.
We pray this prayer number of times without realizing that it is the compendium of all the types of prayers like prayer of praise and thanksgiving, prayer of petition and prayer of penance! Tertullian calls it as the summary of the Gospels. Let us pray this simple and profound prayer realizing its worth.
Sacra Pagina Series
Holman New Testament Commentaries
Introduction to New Testament – Raymond Brown
Sunday, February 17, 2013
1. This much loved text presents a practical religion of deeds of loving-kindness, love of neighbor. It has been over interpreted to say that neither faith in Christ nor membership in the Church is necessary for salvation, but we should understand that it is not a denial of faith but the essence of faith.
2. The charity list provides six of the seven corporal works of mercy in the catechetical tradition and the additional one is to bury the dead.
3. The Sheep: the ones who believe in God, the good and the faithful servants, the ones who are persistent in doing good, the ones who seek glory and honour of God and the ones who do good
4. Goat: The worthless servants, who profess faith only in their lips not in their hearts, the one who are self-seeking and the ones who do not obey the truth.
5. Goats are not condemned for what they did, but for what they did not do, their sin was the sin of omission, not commission. How important it is for us to attend to the need of the poor and the suffering.
Today after the Sunday Mass in a substation, a mother whose two sons are staying with us in the boarding invited us for lunch. Our 25 boys and I went to their house to have our lunch. It was a small hut and we realized that all of us could not even enter the house and there was no place. We decided to have our lunch in front of the house under the shades of trees. The mother her four children two boys and two girls started serving us food joyfully. The food was in abundance and some of the boys struggled to finish their lunch. The thought that was running in my mind like motif throughout this day was, they had no place in the house but had a lot of space in the heart. They had little for themselves but gave us in abundance for us. I knew God was pleased with their charity and surely they have reserved huge space in His kingdom. Whatever you did to the least of your brothers you did it to me.
The New Jerome Biblical Commentary
Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible
Friday, February 15, 2013
1. The Spirit which fills Jesus at his Baptism does not lead him to temptation but only helps him to overcome temptation. As we read in James 1: 13, no temptation comes from God. Every temptation comes only from the Evil one.
2. Jesus’ fasting is not a penitential fast but symbolic of fullness of the Spirit and of his helplessness, contingency and humbling of self before the Almighty God who gives and sustains life.
3. The Satan tempts Jesus Christ because He would not find a better opportunity than this to restore his broken kingdom. Jesus Christ being fully human has the possibility of falling and if He does fall, the Devil wins the battle, but Jesus disappoints the Devil and crushes its hopes.
4. Jesus did not use His powers for his own good. For the one who turned water into wine, multiplied loaves, walked on water, raised the dead, to change a stone into bread is not a difficult task. He chose not to do in spite of his hunger to prove to Satan that He came to the world only for the redemption of the others.
5. Our act of penance and mortification has a lot of salvific value. As Archbishop Timothy Dolan would write in his book, ‘Priests for the third millennium’ that when we forgo our legitimate pleasures like eating, drinking, sleeping by way of penance it makes it easy for us to forgo our illegitimate pleasures.
Something that impressed me about Jesus while going through this text was his knowledge on Scriptures. Of course He is the Word incarnate, but in several occasions He uses the Word of God. Even here when He was tempted by the Devil, He uses the Word of God from Deut 8:3, 6:16, 6:13 to overcome the temptation. Such is the power of Word of God. Jesus throughout His journey keeps using the Word of God which gives us a simple clue to overcome our temptation. Supposing a person is tempted very badly to misuse his body, He can use the text from 1 Cor 6:19, ‘Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, within you, which you have from God’ and pray to overcome the temptation. As St. Paul in his letter to Ephesians 6: 17, would say, ‘take the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God’ let us march ahead in our life’s journey taking this sword of the Spirit.
The New Jerome Biblical Commentary
Preachers Outline and Sermon Bible