Friday

Friday Meditations by Fr Thomas Rutashubanyuma

Fr Thomas

Fr. Thomas Rutashubanyuma

 

Advent and Christmas

The Oracle of Hope

Prophet Isaiah proclaims the oracle of hope to the deaf and the blind saying, “On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book; and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.” In the gospel, Jesus performs the miracle of opening the eyes of the two blind men. When the scriptures speak of blindness, they mean both a physical disease and a spiritual condition.

Focusing on spiritual blindness, we may rightly say that some of us have occasionally fallen the victim of this spiritual disease. Whenever we fail to see the truth of the gospel, whenever we fail to see and recognize the face of Jesus in the needy; whenever we fail to see the place of God in our lives, we fall into the category of spiritual blindness. The two blind men in today’s gospel saw the Truth (Jesus) even with their impaired vision. What about you and I?

Isaiah’s message can serve as an invitation to all to open our eyes, see and believe in the Savior who is to come. He says, “But a very little while … the blind shall see.” Obviously at Christmas and even before, you will realize an increase in the number of attendants at Mass. Those who are not regular at Mass and perhaps not committed to their faith will flock to the church. It is a time for them to see the truth (Jesus) and believe. That is when they will be cured of blindness and see the importance of God in their lives. We need to welcome and encourage them lest a proverbial message of 2Peter 2:22 becomes true to them, “A pig that has been washed goes back to roll in the mud.”

 


The Rebellious Generation

It is always difficult for most of us to appreciate God’s deeds of love. During summer you will hear people complain about high temperatures and aridity. In winter, people will equally complain about the cold weather, ponds and floods. In whatever circumstance, people will complain. Jesus is seemingly ‘confused’ by this behavior and that is why He is addressing us in today’s gospel, “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the market place and calling out to others, ‘We played the flute for you and you did not dance, we sang a dirge and you did not mourn.” (Mt.11;16-17) – In other words, we are indifferent.

The children who are mentioned in the gospel as seated in the market place are John the Baptist and Jesus who came to proclaim the good news of salvation, but people were indifferent to this message. Some did not only turn a deaf ear to the gospel message but also were rebellious against the ‘Two Children.’

How do we respond to the gospel message particularly in this season of Advent? Are we really preparing the way for the coming of the Savior through prayer, penance, almsgiving and mutual love?

 

Mvumilivu Hula Mbivu

  • Somo la kwanza, tunamwona mke wa Manoa (Hanna) aliyekuwa tasa, vilevile katika Injili mke wa Zakaria (Elizabeti)alikuwa tasa.
  • Wote walipata aibu, na jamii iliyowazunguka iliwanyanyapaa
  • Lakini wao waliweka matumaini kwa Mungu, wakadumu katika sala.
  • Ndoa hizi mbili: ya Manao na Zakaria zinatufundisha nini?
  1. Nguvu ya sala
  2. Uthabiti wa Imani ya kwamba Mungu anasikiliza sala zetu
  3. Mungu anatujalia kwa wakati wake yeye mwenyewe.
  4. Mvumilivu hula mbivu
  5. Katika maisha yetu tunatakiwa kuheshimu maagano yetu na Mungu, yaani ndoa, nadhiri/utawa na sakramenti mbalimbali. Zakaria ma Manoa ingawa wake zao walikuwa tasa, waliendelea kuishi nao bila kufikiria taraka.

Lent and Easter

Friday after Ash Wednesday

Fasting with a Purpose (Isaiah 58:1-9)

We are still in the beginning of the season of Lent. Today it is the third out of forty days of this season. Among the traditional practices which we are supposed to undertake in this season are: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Today, prophet Isaiah expounds on the element of fasting. Perhaps we should be clear with the term fasting. Christian fasting is abstaining temporarily from food, drink, sleep, sex, etc in order to focus on a period of spiritual growth. Specifically, we humbly deny something of the flesh to glorify God, enhance our spirit, and go deeper in our prayer life. Therefore, fasting is more that abstaining from food.

From the insights given by prophet Isaiah in the first reading, our fasting should be goal focused. First we should aim at mortifying our bodies and disciplining our senses so that our souls can easily be lifted up for supernatural contemplation and avoid evil. Secondly, what we deny ourselves of should be able to benefit the needy. Thus, through our fasting, the naked should be clothed, the hungry should be fed, the oppressed should be set free, and the poor provided for.

May this concept of fasting be not only for the Lenten Season, but our lifestyle. Amen.

First reconcile with your brother, then with God

In the gospel, Jesus links our interpersonal behavior to our relationship to God. It makes no sense, therefore, to come to church and offer sacrifice of praise, petition or supplication to God at the altar while we are – through our own fault – in conflict with a brother or sister.

Here, Jesus insists on early reconciliation with our fellow men/women if only to avoid greater troubles later on. We cannot separate our relationship with God and with that of a brother/sister.  We need to be at peace with our brother/sister as we struggle to be in good relationship with God.

During Eucharistic Celebration, we often repeat the same message. At the beginning of mass we recite: “I confess to Almighty God, and to you my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned …” Also, during the Lord’s prayer which we are always invited to pray with confidence, we say: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us …”

How often do we really think of what we are saying at this time? It is high time we put into practice what we recite. Amen.

 

The Fate of the Envious

(Gen 37:3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28a; Mt21:33-43,45-46)

The readings of today speak about envy and its aftermath.  In the first reading, we are told that Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons. This sparked envy among his brothers. Because of that, Joseph was maltreated by his brothers to the extent of selling him a slave to the Egyptians. As the story unfolds, we learn that the same brothers became beggars to the one they sold.

Earlier on, Cain, driven by envy, had committed the first murder against his brother Abel. Consequently, he was cursed from the ground which opened its mouth to receive his brother’s blood (Gen 3:8-11).

The same sin was escalated to the prophetic times and finally to the time of Jesus. Jesus exemplifies this fact by the parable of the wicked tenants who out of envy dare to kill even the son of their master. By this parable, Jesus was referring to himself. He was sent by the Father to ‘harvest’ us for salvation. He gained popularity and esteem among his hearers and as a result, the chief priests and the elders of the people became envious. They sought to kill him. Envy!!! – This vice is gravely opposed to charity.

Do I grieve at another’s good or repine at another’s happiness. Do I look with hatred upon my superiors who excel me, upon my equals who compete with me, upon my inferiors who strive to equal me? Do I rejoice at the misfortune of others?

Lord, deliver us from the injurious vice of envy, that we may love our fellow men and women with sincere hearts. Amen.

 

The Greatest Commandment (Mark 12:28-34)

As we approach the celebration of Christ’s Passion, hatred toward Jesus is piling up. In yesterday’s gospel, His good works were attributed to the evil one – Beelzebul. In today’s gospel the Scribes and Pharisees do put him in a test to find the reason for his execution. – And much more will be said against Him as we move forward.

Today, however, we have a situation where Jesus is questioned in a far more neutral manner. He is asked about the greatest of the commandments. The Jewish law had about six hundred commandments and perhaps they were confusing. Although the questioner asks with the purpose of challenging Jesus, but Jesus does not rebuke him because the question is of great importance.

In response, Jesus brings the theoretical down to the practical by demonstrating that love for God must manifest itself outwardly in the love of neighbor.

No aspect is greater than the other: you cannot claim to love God if you hate or ignore your neighbor. Jesus reaffirms that to love God with your whole being and love your neighbor as yourself is more important than any monetary or material offering (v.34).  But all the same, to love the neighbor as ourselves is not easy to practice.

May Jesus, our model, who loved us indiscriminately, including even his executioners (Lk 23:34), help us to love God and our neighbor as ourselves. Amen

Let us beset the just one; because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law.”

Such was a discussion among the wicked as we have heard it from the first reading. This discussion sounds very relevant at this time of lent because it will soon be fulfilled in the person of Christ on Good Friday.

Jesus was condemned to execution because His way of life mismatched that of his society. The society would love to live in a crooked and corrupt way but Jesus wants them to live like children of God. For this reason, He makes Himself an enemy to them.

This is what has often happened in our families, in our society, in our governments. A leader who tries to reproach other people for their transgressions has either been disliked, demoted, fired or assassinated.

Do we accept admonitions and warnings with a sincere heart and subsequently made a change? We need to realize that God sometimes warns us through our leaders, our elders, our friends and sometimes our young brothers and sisters. Oh that today you would listen to his voice, harden not your hearts.

We are not stoning you for good work but for blasphemy (Jn 10:31-42)

As we move closer to the celebration of Christ’s Passion, you will realize that the readings oscillate around the theme of crucifixion. In today’s gospel the Jews are again looking for an opportunity to kill Jesus by stoning. He asks them: “I have shown you many good works from my Father, for which of these are you trying to stone me?” They reply: “We are not stoning you for good works but for blasphemy.” However,  Jesus never blasphemed. It is they who were reluctant to open up their eyes and believe in him.

According to them, Jesus was 99% righteous and 1% blasphemous. It is for this 1% that they want to stone Him. They confirm it by saying: “We are not stoning for good works but for blasphemy.” They are completely wrong.

Picking up stones and throwing them at others is something common in life. We are led to blame and punish someone who has committed a single mistake even if his/her past life is marked by the record of righteousness. It is like, as someone put it, focusing on a black spot on white linen and neglecting the entire whiteness that dominates the linen. The Lord never picked up a stone to kill sinners. Instead, he pardoned them.  Let us ask Him for the grace to drop the stones of grudges, anger and bitterness we hold onto and to convert our stony hearts to hearts made of flesh. Amen.

 

IJUMAA KUU

Ndugu zangu katika Kristo,

Nawaalikeni tutafakari kwa ufupi, historia ndefu ya mateso ya Bwana tuliyosikiliza hivi punde. Tafakari hii ituingize katika kutafakari kwa kina zaidi Sadaka ya Msalaba ya Bwana wetu Yesu Kristo ambayo ni kilele cha upendo wa Mwenyezi Mungu kwetu sisi wadhambi.

Bwana Yesu anasulibiwa. Desturi ya Wayahudi ya kuua mhalifu ilikuwa ni kumpiga kwa mawe hadi kifo na kisha hapo ndipo walipomtundika msalabani; lakini kwa warumi, waliwaua kwa kuwatundika msalabani moja kwa moja. Kwa vile wayahudi walikuwa  chini ya utawala wa serikali ya Kirumi, ilibidi basi wafuate desturi ya warumi ya kusulibisha.  Kusulibisha kwenyewe kulifanyika nje ya mji, kwenye sehemu ya makutano ya njia, kusudi watu wengi kwa kadiri inavyowezekana, wamwone msulubiwa na wapate kutishika kwa tukio like. Basi ndivyo ilivyofanyika katika kumsulubisha Yeu kilimani Golgota.

Warumi waliwasulibisha wahalifu kwa kuwapigilia misumari, mikono na miguu, ama kwa kuwafungia kwa kamba mikono na miguu na kishapo kuusimamisha msalaba na kuwamcha mtu afe kwa kushindwa kupumua pale msalabani. Lakini, kwanza kabla ya kusulubishwa msulubiwa alifanyiwa maandalizi ya kuchosha na kumuumiza. Ndipo kwa nia hiyo ya kumuandaa msulubiwa, mhalifu alipigwa kwanza mijeledi.

Pamoja na kumchosha mtu kwa kumpiga mijeledi, mateso mengine aliyopewa mhalifu yalitegemea ubunifu wa askari wenyewe waliopewa jukumu la kumsulubisha mtu. Ndipo kwa upande wa Yesu, askari walibuni mbinu za kumvika taji la miiba, joho jekundu na kumdhihaki, wakampiga kwa mwanzi na kumtemea mate. Awali, Pilato aliamuru atendewe hivyo, kusudi iwe ndiyo adhabu yake na kishapo aachiwe huru. Kumbe baada ya kutendewa hayo, na Yesu kurudishwa tena mahakamani, walipoulizwa wahayudi kama walipenda Yesu aachiwe huru, wao walikataa katakata na badala ya Yesu walichagua Pilato amwachie huru Baraba.

Tayari kwa kwenda kusulibiwa, msulubiwa alipaswa kuchukua mwenyewe boriti la kukingama, kwa vile boriti la wima lilikuwako tayari kwenye sehemu ya kusulibishia mwalifu. Humo njiani, kama msulubiwa alionesha dalili za kuchoka sana kwa kuanguka anguka, askari waliweza kumlazimisha mtu yeyote asaidie kuchukua boriti analoanguka nalo msulibiwa (Mt. 27:32). Msulubiwa aliongezewa mateso  pamoja na aibu kwa kusulibiwa hadharani, ambapo kila mtu atamwona na kumtukana au kufyolea. Zaidi ya hayo, alisulibiwa uchi wa mnyama na mbele ya jamaa na ndugu zake.

Ilkuwa kawadia kwa askari kubaki pale aliposulibiwa mtu mpaka atakapokufa, isije watu wakamwonea huruma msulibiwa wakamwokoa na kumtorosha. Aidha, kwa kumpunguzia maumivu, ilikuwepo kanuni ya kumpa mtu divai iliyochanganywa na dawa ya kumpunguzia maumivu. Lakini Yesu alikataa alipopewa dawa hiyo (Mt. 27:34).

Yote haya, Yesu alifanyiwa na watesi wake kwa ajili yetu sisi wanadamu. Yatupasa kukiri kwamba, Bwana wetu aliteseka sana kwa ajili yetu. Tukikumbuka kuwa  mateso hayo, yalipaswa kwa kweli kila mmoja yamfikie binafsi yake, basi hatuna lingine bali kumiminikwa na shurakni nyingi.

Kila mmoja ajiulize, kama haya yaliyompata Yesu yangekukuta wewe ungefanyaje. Mimi naamini kitu cha kwanza ambacho mtu angefanya baada ya kutendewa haya, ni kufikiria namna ya kulipiza kisasi. Dhana ya msamaha isingepewa nafasi kabisa.

Nasema hivyo kwa sababu kulipiza kisasi ni hulka ya binadamu. Mara nyingi binadamu anapotendewa uovu, kitu cha kwanza anachofikiria ni kulipiza kisasi. Hali hii hujitokeza mara nyingi katika maisha ya kawadia. Anayezabwa kofi hujibu kwa kofi, anayerushiwa matusi hujibu kwa matusi tena mazito zaidi; anayeuguliwa au kufiwa na jamaa yake hutaka kujua ni nani amesababisha ugonjwa au kifo ili hatimaye alipize kisasi; anayeshukiwa kuwa mlozi hukatiwa migomba, huchomewa shamba au kuharibiwa malizake hata bila ushahidi wa uhakika n.k

Binadamu wengi ndivyo tulivyo. Twadhani kwamba kwa kulipiza kisasi ndipo tunatetea hadhi yetu/ heshima yetu au kurejesha amani. Hivyo hujitajidi kwa hali na mali kulipiza kisasi, na kumbe katika kulipiza, twasababisha hasara zaidi ha hata kujiumiza wenyewe. Mtoto akipigwa mbele ya wenzake na asijibu kwa kipigo atadhaniwa kuwa mwoga au dhaifu.

Kulipiza kisasi huwa si suluhu jema la matatizo bali ni chanzo cha machafuko. Familia nyingi zimekuwa uwanja wa fujo kwa sababu ya kiu ya kulipiza kisasi. Mama hataki kuonekana mbele ya watoto kwamba amedhalilishwa na mumewe, hali kadhalika mume; matokeo yake, nyumba haikaliki. Nchi nyingi zimehusishwa katika vita kwa sababu ya ubabe wa kulipiza kisasi. Matokeo yake, raia wengi wasio na hatia wamepoteza maisha, miundombinu kuharibiwa na maendeleo kudunishwa. Viongozi wa nchi wenye busara huchagua njia ya unyenyekevu, maridhiano na mazungumzo ya amani au hata wengine kuachilia maslahi yao makusudi kwa lengo la kuepusha vita na athari zake. Kwa mtazamo wa juu juu huonekana mabwege na waoga lakini kimsingi wanakuwa wamelenga kupata maslahi makubwa zaidi ya maendeleo na amani. Vita/kulipiza, katika  maisha ya kila siku, ni vema ifikiriwe kuwa njia ya mwisho kabisa ya kuleta muamala baada ya njia nyingine zote kutoonesha dalili za tija.

Katika tafakari ya mateso ya Bwana, tumeona jinsi Bwana Yesu alivyochagua  njia kusamehe na si kulipiza kisasi. Alisamehe katika jambo kubwa na baya mno alilotendewa ili kutufundisha na sisi tusishindwe kusamehe katika mambo madogo madogo na hata makubwa ambayo tunatendewa na maadui zetu. Dhana ya kusamehe ndiyo inatawala simulizi la mateso ya Bwana.

  1. Yuda alipokuja kumkamata na kikosi cha askari, Yesu aliwauliza, “Mnamtafuta nani? Wao wakamjibu, Ni Yesu Mnazareti, mara walirudi nyuma wakaanguka chini” (Yn 18:4). Kwa tendo la kuanguka chini kwa sababu ya sauti yake tu, alitaka kuowaonesha kwamba anao uwezo wa kuwaangamiza wote bila kutumia nguvu, lakini hakufanya hivyo, hakulipiza kisasi, alisamehe.
  2. Simoni Petro alikuwa na upanga, akaufuta akamkata askari mmojawapo sikio. Yesu akamwambia, “Rudisha upanga alani mwake, kwa maana aishiye kwa upanga ataangamia kwa upanga”… (Mt 26:52). Hakutaka yeye wala mitume wake walipize kisasi.
  3. Mbaya zaidi, Yesu alipomjibu Pilato kwamba, “Waulize wale waliosikia  ni nini  niliyowaambia,” kijakazi mmoja alimpiga Yesu kofi, akisema, Wamjibu hivyo kuhani Mkuu? (Yn 18:21-23). Kijakazi …!!??? Lakini Yesu alimwacha tu – hakulipiza.
  4. Kilele cha yote, Yesu aliwasamehe watesaji na wauaji wake, “Baba uwasamehe kwa kuwa hawajui walitendalo” (Lk 23:34).

Katika 1Pet 2:21-24, Mtume Petro anatuasa tuufuase mfano wa Yesu kwa maneno mazito akisema, “ Kristo mwenywe aliteseka kwa ajili yenu / akawaachieni mfano ili muufuate mwenendo wake. .. alipotukanwa hakujibu kwa tukano, alipoteseka yeye hakutoa vitisho, bali aliyaweka matumaini yake yote kwa Mungu hakimu mwenye haki.” Kwa kuzingatia mahusia ya Mtume Petro, sisi wakristo hatuna budi kuufuasa mfano wa Kristo, mfano wa kusamehe.

Hata kama Kanisa letu au ukristo wetu utadhulumiwa, tukapigwa vita, tukalipuliwa kwa mabomu, nyumba zetu za ibada zikachomwa moto au hata sisi wenyewe tukauawa, tukumbuke alichofanya Kristo yalipompata makubwa zaidi ya haya; kusamehe. Kwa kusamehe, tutaonekana wajinga na waoga, lakini msamaha wetu, siyo tu kwamba utatufaidia sisi wenyewe, bali pia hao maadui wetu, kwani kama tungelipiza kiasi na vita ikatokea, hata wao wasingeepuka madhara ya vita.

Kusamehe kwetu kutatufaidia utukufu na heshima isiyofifia. Abrahamu Lincoln aliyewahi kuiongoza Marekani kama Rais kati ya March 4, 1861 – April 15, 1865, alipoulizwa kwa nini hawamalizi maadui wake kwa kuwaua, alijibu “Kwani siwamalizi kwa kuwafanya marafiki zangu? Am I not finishing them by making them my friends? Alijibu kwa kuhoji. Hakupenda kulipiza, na kwa ujasiri huo alijinyakulia umaarufu hadi leo.

Aliyekuwa Rais wa Afrika ya Kusini, Tata Madiba, Mandella, licha ya kwamba aliteswa vikali kwa muda wa miaka 27 gerezani, alipoachiwa huru alidiriki kukaa meza moja ya chakula na askari mtesaji wake kwenye hafla ya kumpongeza kuchaguliwa kuwa rais wa kwanza Mwafrika wa Afrika ya kusini. Tena akaunda tume ya maridhiano kuhakikisha kwamba hapatolewi fursa ya kulipia kisasi kwa wazungu waliowanyanyasa waafrika kwa kukumbatia sera ya ubaguzi wa rangi.

Mwenye heri Yohana Paulo II alikuwa jarisi vya kutosha hata kumsamehe Mehmet Al Agca aliyempiga risasi kwa lengo la kumuua mnamo Mei 13, 1981, wakati akisalimiana na umati wa waamini baada ya adhimiso la Ibada ya Jumapili. Hakusema ‘naye auawe’ kama kulipiza kisasi. Alimsamehe na hata kumtembelea gerezani alikokuwa. Sasa ni Mtakatifu mbinguni. Ni utukufu usiofifia ambao wka sehemu fulani unatokana na kusamehe.

Ukisamehe, watu watakudharau na kukuona wewe mwoga na dhaifu, lakini baada ya kitambo kigodo tu watakuona wewe ni mtu wa maana sana na watakuheshimu. Hata baada ya jemedari mmoja kuona yaliyotokea na baada ya kumwuaYesu kikatili, alijilaumu  na kukiri, “Huyu hakika alikuwa mtu mwema, Mwana wa Mungu’ (Lk 23:44).

Katika sala ya Baba yetu, mahali fulani tunasema, “Utusamehe makosa yetu, kama na sisi tunavyowasamehe wanaotukosea…” Basi ndugu zangu, tujifunze kusamehe bila kipimo, ili Mungu atusamehe bila kipimo.

Kristo Tumani Letu!

Easter Octave

Since the beginning of this week, we have been reading about Jesus’ appearance to his disciples in order to strengthen their faith in the resurrection of the Crucified Christ. Some of them seem to have been discouraged by what happened on Good Friday and lost their faith in the Master in whom they had firmly trusted. Today’s gospel gives us the best example.

Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, who had left everything and followed Jesus, now goes back to his previous career – fishing. However, he spends a useless night in the sea without a single catch. Suddenly, Jesus appears to him and by His command, Peter is able to catch a good number of fish – 153. Origen, a priest and theologian interprets Peter’s boat as a church and the catch as a number of those attracted to the church. As Peter attracted numerous fish into the boat, we too are reminded to attract unbelievers to the church of Christ by our good conduct and life of virtue.

There is also a mention of Nathanael among the other disciples who witnessed the miracle of the fish. You will remember that in Jn 1:50, Nathaniel was amazed at Jesus’ simple miracle and Jesus promised him, “… you shall see greater things than this.” Today, the promise is fulfilled. Nathanael witnesses the greater miracle. God is always true to His promises.

As we place our prayers before God, let us always trust that He will grant them, for He promised, “Ask, it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Lk 11:9). And elsewhere, scripture says, “God is not slow about his promises …” (2Pt 3:9).

Risen Jesus, increase our faith in your promises. Amen.

7th Week of Easter

In today’s gospel, the Risen Lord interrogates Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, about his love for Him. “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” The same question is addressed to Peter three times until Peter is grieved. Does it mean that Jesus doubted Peter’s faith? No. Remember, previously, Peter had loudly denied our Lord three times. Now he has to loudly acknowledge Him three times – “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” This triadic acknowledgement of Peter is meant to push him to a deeper meditation on what it means to love Jesus.

Love should be demonstrated in actions. Peter is mandated to demonstrate his love by feeding the sheep of Jesus because Jesus is preparing for his departure, for ascension. Feeding the sheep here means guarding them and teaching them.

Suppose it was you being addressed with the same question in the same fashion, “ So and so, do you love me?” Wouldn’t you be grieved like Peter? Very often Jesus asks us the same question and there is no reason to be enraged. If we examine our life sincerely, we shall realize that there are times when we have turned away from Jesus, yes, when we have denied Him by sinning. Whenever we place worldly things ahead of Jesus, whenever we focus our lives on sex, power or money instead of our relationship with God, we deny Jesus with our whole heart like Peter and turn away from Him. Now, Jesus wants us to replace every denial with a statement of love for Him, not just in words, but also in actions. Love is fulfilled by actions. Love without actions is dead.

Lord, help us with your grace, to love You sincerely in our hearts, in our words and in our actions. Amen.

 

Year I

 

The Healing Miracle: Mark 2: 1-12

A good number of believers today prefer to be associated with the religion that performs healing miracles. Today’s gospel would be ideal for them. But let us examine briefly the purpose of Jesus’ healing miracles in the light of this gospel.

A paralyzed man is being carried on a pallet by for men to Jesus for healing. No wonder he was terminally ill. Finding no way to reach Jesus, they dig out a hole on the roof of the house and let their friend down direct at Jesus’ feet. I guess that when Jesus saw this faith he smiled an understanding smile. He looked at the man, “Child,” he said, “your sins are forgiven.” The sick man raised himself and walked away!

“Your sins are forgiven…” – was he not supposed to say, “You are cured of your physical illness?” To Jesus, the cure of spiritual illness (forgiveness of sins) is more important than the cure of physical illness (diseases). This is how we should understand his message. The spiritual cure from mortal sins restores us to the state of grace with which we are guaranteed eternal life. One may die of a physical disease, but if in a state of grace (spiritual cure), they are assured of eternal life. After all, the cured paralytic died a physical death after some time. What use would be his cure if he was not forgiven of his sins?

As for me, I would choose to call a priest for confession or holy anointing even before I would think of being rushed to hospital! What about you…?

 

Jesus Appoints the Twelve

(Mk 3:13-19)

Today’s gospel presents a brief narrative account about the call of the twelve apostles. For the interest of time and space, I choose to discuss about the personality of their leader – Peter.

St. Peter (Simon) is portrayed in The New Testament as the leader of the apostles, chosen by Jesus to have a special relationship with him. Many signs indicate Christ’s desire to give Peter special prominence within the apostolic college. In Capernaum, Jesus seeing two boats moored there, he chooses Simon’s. On certain occasions, Jesus takes only three disciples with him; Peter is always recorded as the first of the group: as in raising Jairus’ daughter, in the Transfiguration and during the agony in the garden in Gethsemane. Again, it is Peter’s feet that Jesus washes first during the last supper, and for Peter alone He prays that his faith will not fail so that he will be able to strengthen the other brothers in faith. Finally, was the first to witness the appearance of the Risen Lord.

But the same Peter had his own weaknesses, even in the presence of Jesus. He generously gave up all things, yet he can ask in childish self-regard, “What are we going to get for all this?” (see Matthew 19:27). He walks on the water in faith, but sinks in doubt. He refuses to let Jesus wash his feet, then wants his whole body cleansed. He swears at the Last Supper that he will never deny Jesus, and then swears to a servant maid that he has never known the man!

Peter followed Jesus with enthusiasm, but very often he found himself a failure. However, he never gave up and finally; he was proclaimed the prince of the apostles: Feed my sheep. This is what we too can recognize in our own lives. Very often we make up our mind to live a true Christian life; to live up to our baptismal promises. – And after confession, especially, we commit ourselves thus: “… I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to do penance, to sin no more and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.” But all of the sudden, we do fall into sin over and over again. We need to understand that the journey of faith is characteristically an endless battle which we have to fight tirelessly until we breathe our last.

Peter was impulsive in character, strong and weak, courageous and timid at the same time. Jesus knew Peter’s personality very well yet He called him to be a fisher of men – prince of the apostles. It is a reminder to us that our talents and our weaknesses too can become God’s means of helping others, if we allow. We don’t have to be perfect for God to work through us. God can work through us, through our faults and weaknesses, as he did with Peter. Amen.

 

Jesus, Our Example of Suffering”

Hebrews 10: 32-39 Mark 4: 26 – 34

The first reading today gives us a clear description of the persecution of early Christians. Christians were exposed to verbal abuse from families and friends, confiscation of their property and imprisonment. Martyrdom was the culmination of all this. The author of the letter to the Hebrews is encouraging them not to throw away their trust and confidence in God for it will have a greater recompense.

These early Christians were inspired by Jesus who, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, endured suffering in order: first, to win for us a remedy for our sins, and secondly, to be an example on how to act.

Jesus taught, believed and lived that there is no greater love than to lay one’s life for his friends. We too should allow our bodies to suffer and be consumed in service of others.

Jesus endured much on the cross, and did so patiently because when he suffered he did not threaten, he did not open his mouth (1 Peter 2: 23). We too should imitate his example of patience.

Jesus despised earthly things. Upon the cross, he was stripped off his clothes, mocked, spat upon, struck, crowned with thorns, and given only vinegar and gall to drink. We too should not be attached to earthly riches but should store up for ourselves the treasure in heaven (Mt 6:20). – Again, the gospel warns us, “ … for what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Mt 16:26).

Jesus, help us to believe that your Cross and suffering exemplify every virtue. Amen.

 

Be mindful of the suffering”

Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment, and of the ill treated as of yourselves…” (Heb 13:3). These first verses from today’s first reading, tell us why sometimes God allows us to go through painful experiences and perhaps difficult challenges. He undoubtedly wants us to share the misery of those who suffer the same pain so we can learn to sympathize with them, love and help them. It is a call to be sympathetic and have empathy. God desires that we participate in the suffering of others.

If we sympathize with others in good measure, God will sympathize with us without measure, for He says: “ … give and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over… (Lk 6:38).

Let our sympathy be demonstrated in a practical way. Your generous offer to help the naked, the sick, the homeless, the starving, those unable to afford even primary education in our developing world, the refugees from the warring nations… can mean a lot to you, to those assisted, and indeed, to God.

“It is God who heals through medical interventions” 

Once again, the gospel today brings to our attention Jesus’ most tender consideration for the feelings of a man for whom life was very difficult. The man was both deaf and dumb and Jesus, miraculously, restored his sight and speech.

Jesus accomplishes the healing miracle in a symbolic way. He puts his hands in the man’s ears and touches his tongue with spittle. Obviously these gestures are not some form of special magic. It pleased Jesus to act in line with the cultural way of doing things, for in those days, it was believed that spittle had a curative quality.

Before performing the miracle, we are told that Jesus looked up to heaven to show that it was from God that help was to come. This should remind us that God is a true source of all healing. The Psalmist puts an emphasis on this fact: “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Ps 121:2). If we place our trust in God, He will heal our infirmities; not necessarily through a symbolic gesture of spittle but through medical interventions. Amen.

I chose you that you may bear fruits

 

Dear Family of God,

While still in the first week after Easter, we are being set into the ordinary time – our life in the world. Jesus, tells us in the gospel acclamation “I chose you from the world that you may go and bear fruits.” This is our mission in the world.

The story of the fruitless fig-tree appears to be not from Jesus because Jesus would not use his power for his own benefit – to curse the tree because it did not give him fruits when he was hungry. Again, it was unreasonable and unjust to curse expect a tree to do what it was not possible for it to do – to bear fruits while it was not season for figs. Taking is as an enacted parable the story relates to the message from the gospel acclamation. Jesus wanted to condemn two things: promise without fulfillment and professional faith without practice. The green leaves on the fig tree were a promise of good fruits but none was there.

Israel had promised to receive the Messiah when he came but there he is and they do not receive him. Again, Jesus tells us “You will know them by their fruits” (Mt.7:16). Israel then attracted a curse. Sent in the world let us bear fruits, fruits that last.

Jesus told us again, “What comes from inside a man is what defiles him” (Mt 15:18). Therefore, in order for us to bear fruits we need to be clean from within. We need to cleanse our hearts – the temples of the Holy Spirit we received on Pentecost. There is Jesus cleansing the house of his father removing all that is not bearing fruits. Let us also cleanse our hearts of all that makes us seem religious but not spiritual; we are not bearing fruits of love in our families, church, places of work and in our business. Let us also remember that if we do not put effort to bear fruits time will come when we shall be sent outside the temple or be dried up like the fruitless fig-tree.

By Fr Achilles Kiwanuka

The Lord raises those who are bowed down

 

Dear Family of God,

Today, we are reminded that Jesus Christ is the Lord, the Son of God who has come to us to show us the love of God and raise those who are bowed down. What we need is to believe and trust in this love of God and keep his word; live a righteous life; God will not let us down. He will raise us as he raised St. Boniface the martyr who died for his faith.

Jesus is asking “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David.” The title “The Christ” means “The Anointed One” who comes from God. It is a contradiction to say that Christ is just a mere man, the son of David. So, Jesus is teaching us that he is more that a son of David is Son of God who has now come to reveal God’s love to us as we have heard in the Gospel acclamation

“I a man loves me, he will keep my word, says the Lord; an my Father will love him, and will come to him.

The good example is what we have heard in the first reading. Tobit who was blind is having his sight restored and he exclaims “Although he afflicted me he has had mercy on me. May his Holy Name be blessed.” Tobit was righteous and kept the word of God and now look, God has visited him.

This confirms what the psalmist has said in the responsorial psalm “The Lord opens the eyes of the blind and raises those who are bowed down.

Although those who are righteous may seem for a moment to suffer, God will raise them. He is only using them to teach people how he loves them. St. Boniface who was a bishop of Mainz in Germany was a man of strong faith and worked hard to preach and defend the faith. Because of that he met opposition from the pagans who killed him on his way to administer Confirmation. But look, God has exulted him as his saint.

Let us trust in God because he raises those who are bowed down.

The Heart of Jesus a sign of Love

Dear Family of God,

Today we are celebrating the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We actually celebrating the Love of God manifested in Jesus. God so loved the world that he gave us his Son for our salvation. Let us with faith draw water in this well of salvation.

On the Cross Jesus is greatest love as he himself said ‘there is no great love than this that a person should give out his life for his friends.’ He therefore, fulfilled what God promised by Hosea “My heart recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender. I will not come to destroy.”

To leave a sign of his love the providence of God gave it that a soldier open his heart while on the Cross. So that we can enter and draw water in this well of salvation. We continue sharing and enjoying the love of Jesus through the sacraments symbolized by water and blood that flew from his heart.

 Let us love and celebrate the sacraments so that we can meet Jesus seeking us again as he did when we were young “When Israel was a child, I loved him.” However, many times we remain in the cold and we do not want to approach the warmth of his love. If we understood what kind of love Jesus loves us we would not love other things save the Lord.

When we see how Jesus loves us so much, we are drawn to learn from him who is gentle and lowly in heart, how to love God and how to love others. Let us be sensitive to others and their sufferings. When Jesus found us in sin he did not seeking himself but gave up his life for us. If he loved us so much we aught to love each other. Let us not be indifferent to the problems and sufferings of others. Blessed are those who mourn for the suffering of other. We are comforted to comfort; we are blessed to bless.

 

Where your treasure is there your soul will be

This can be understood in two ways:

1.       As a reward at the end of our life

This means that whatever we do is recorded and will earn us either heaven or hell. Whatever we do is either a blessing in the bank or a curse in the fire. Then, at the end of our lives, where we have kept our treasures that is where we shall go. Where will you go? Salvation is today.

 

2. As a Principle of life

It is a true principle of life that where your treasure is there your soul will be. You soul; your attention will always be where your treasure is; where what you value most is. This treasure then is like the eye of our life – the vision. If the vision is in good things then all our life is in the light but if our vision is in bad things, all our life will be in darkness.

 

What does this teach us?

  • We should get right our treasures because our souls and our attention will be where our treasure is. If what we treasure is not good; it is not right, we shall waste ourselves because our souls, our efforts, our attention will be in wrong matters.

 

  • We should set right the goals of lives; otherwise, we shall struggle for things that will not lead us anywhere. Where our goal is there our soul and attention will be.

 

  • In married life for example: If you treasure another one rather than your husband or your wife, you will not hide it because where your treasure is there your soul will be.

 

  • If your goal of life is money, that is where your soul will be: you will not struggle for anything except money and you will do anything for the sake of money because where your treasure is there your soul, your attention will be. You might come to church but if your treasure is business and money you will be in church physically but your soul will be where your treasure is. That is why Cohereth says money without God “ is vanity; it is like chasing the wind.

 

  • When you get married if your treasure is money, your soul will not be with the person you are marrying it will be with money because where your treasure is there your soul will be.

 

  • Young men and women, let us know what things matter in our life otherwise we shall waste our young energy in useless matters. If you go to school but you treasure pleasures, drinking and sexual relations you cannot concentrate in studies because where your treasure is there your soul will be.

May God always help us to put our goals right and give us courage to abandon everything and commit all our efforts to attaining our goal.

 

If I do not touch his side

Feast of St. Thomas Apostle

Dear Family of God,

Today we are celebrating the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle. It is this Tomas that told his fellow disciples “Let us go and die with him.” It is Thomas again who acknowledged Jesus after his resurrection as “My Lord and My God.”

In this week we have seen how the Gospel brings new life. From this we have learnt two things that again appear in today’s readings:

1.       We should touch Jesus so that we can be healed

On Sunday that sick woman said “If I can only touch his garments I can be healed” and truly she touched Jesus garments and she was healed of her hemorrhage. Jesus brought new life to her. Today we meet Thomas saying “If I don’t touch his side I will not believe.” He touched Jesus’ side and believed. Jesus restored new life to Thomas from an unbelieving to believing.

We can meet Jesus by faith through the symbols – The Word of God and the Sacraments. Jesus told Thomas ‘blessed are those who do not see but believe.’ Blessed are we because, though we do not see Jesus physically we believe that he can heal us, console us and give us new life through His Word and the sacraments – Confession, Anointing of the Sick and the Eucharist. Let us touch Jesus through these ways and get healed. When things get tough in our lives let us not hide like Thomas; let us be in the group; let us be in the Church; let us celebrate Mass, hear the Word of God, talk to Jesus,  receive him and be healed.

 2. We are called to participate in spreading the Gospel so that we can bring new life to people who are bowed down

This week we have celebrate three Apostles who were instrumental in spreading the Gospel – St. Peter, St. Paul and St. Thomas. There are many people in the society who refuse to believe that Jesus is alive because of what they are passing through in their lives: If Jesus is alive and loving I could not be passing through all these. We need to prove to them that really Jesus rose from the dead: by giving them the Word of God, encouraging them to touch Jesus in the Sacraments and present ourselves as garments of Jesus so that even if they do not see Jesus physically they can touch us and through us receive Jesus’ healing and new life. So, be a reason for people to laugh in your family, in your office and wherever you are. Do not stress people but give them hope.

 

 

Today, our Lord Jesus Christ gives a clear description on what our Christian life is all about. Christian life is about bearing the cross. “Whoever desires to come to Me” says our Lord, “let him deny himself and follow Me.”

Speaking in this way, Jesus is not asking you to give your life as a ransom – for He has already ransomed you. He only asks you to sacrifice your life for the sake of others. Having been given the free gift of eternal life, you can now lay down your life for the sake of the kingdom, motivated not by self-preservation, but by selfless love.

The Church has many examples of those who bore the cross and laid down their lives in this way. And the Church celebrates one of her own beloved saints today – Sixtus and companions.

St. Sixtus, the bishop of Rome, was beheaded on August 6, 258 because of preaching the Christian faith and refusing to worship the pagan idols. In this way, the pope practiced what he was preaching. He selflessly denied himself and offered his life for the service of the church as a priest, bishop and more so, as a pope. As a climax of his self-denial, he willingly sacrificed his life in defense of his faith and love of his Creator and Redeemer.

As our Lord has reminded us anew: “whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it,” so too does the life and service of St. Sixtus remind us of where the treasure in the Church lies.

When we forego our privileges for the wellbeing of our families, our friends, the poor and our neighbors; when we volunteer to do charitable works at the church through donations, through different associations like Ladies of Solidarity, St. Vincent de Paul, etc we do deny and sacrifice ourselves after the example of our Lord and his holy martyrs.

May St. Sixtus be our inspiration and example in practicing this paradigm of self-denial. Amen.

Memorial of St. Pius X

Today is the memorial of St. Pope Pius X. It has always been spiritually enriching to read and meditate the lives of Saints. Their exemplary life inspire us much as their petitions win for us many favors from above.

Let us cast an eagle’s view on the life St. Pius X.  Pius X was born on June 2, 1835. He became a pope in 1903 after Pope Leo XIII. He focused on fighting modernism within the church. He is known for his unwavering pursuit of peace, through prayer and exhortation. As the WWI was nearing, a representative of Australia asked the pope to bless the Australian armies. The Pope answered, “I bless peace, not war.”

His remarkable work was the collection and publication of the laws of the church in what is now called the Code of Canon Law. However, this project was realized for the first time in 1917.

Pius X was particularly devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He believed that there was no surer or more direct road to heaven than by the Virgin Mary – the conviction that was later adopted by Pope St. John Paul II in his famous, Per Mariam ad Iesuum.

He rejected any kind of favors for his family: his brother remained a postal clerk; his favorite nephew stayed on as village priest, and his three sisters lived together close to poverty in Rome. He often referred to his own humble origins, taking up the causes of poor people. I was born poor, I have lived poor, and I wish to die poor

He was also considered a pastoral Pope, in the sense of encouraging personal holiness, piety and a daily lifestyle reflecting deep Christian values.

Glorious St. Pope Pius X, pray for us that we may walk in the shoes of your virtues, and finally rejoice with you in the eternal kingdom. Amen.

 

 

Yesterday we celebrated the memorial of St. Monica and today we celebrate the memorial of her son St. Augustin. St. Monica gave birth to her twice: first in a natural way, but secondly and more importantly by influencing his conversion to the catholic faith through her prayers.

St. Augustin’s life of early adolescence was one which was punctuated by every kind of immorality. He cared nothing about God and was almost absorbed in the desires of the flesh. Shortly after his conversion, St. Augustin confesses thus: “In my life I looked for creation and not the Creator.”

St. Monica never ceased to pray for the conversion of her son. Finally, after 30 years of vigilance in prayer, the grace of God broke into St. Augustine’s life. He converted to catholic faith, became a fervent preacher, a bishop, a doctor of the church and a great saint. Monica is a good example of responsible and responsive parents who really care about the present and the future of their kids.

In the past, African children used to sit around the fireplace in the evening and get morally instructed by parents. But this tradition is no longer in force. It has been replaced by casual talks, playing cards and watching television programs some of which are not healthy to children’s behavior. We must never cease to educate our children in good morals when they are young.

Furthermore, St. Augustin’s conversion is attributed to the instructions given him by St. Ambrose. We too need to have people who are strong in faith who can explain to us the heavenly mysteries and bring us closer to God. I would rightly say, we who come regularly to church are already strong in faith. We can easily attract to church our fellow brothers and sisters who are non-practicing Catholics; not necessary through preaching but by properly conducting ourselves.

May St. Augustin pray for us so we may live after his example and finally join him in eternal glory. Amen.

 

I Received Mercy

Dear Family of God,

We continue with the theme of this week – tell those who are troubled; take courage, do not be afraid. One reason for our worry should be sin because peace is in God and sin takes us away from God. So, Jesus came to tell sinners, take courage do not be afraid; I am coming with mercy.

Paul says “the grace of our Lord overflowed for me” because I formerly blasphemed and persecuted and inserted the Lord; but now I have received mercy.

Jesus teaches us that if we want to be at peace we need to be true to ourselves and remove the logs in our eyes, that is confess all our sins that might blind us to seek the things of the world while “our portion if the Lord”

The Jews did not see their sins but considered the Gentiles to be sinners. They are removing the speck from the Gentiles leaving the logs in their eyes.

Let pray for the virtue of honest so that we can be true to ourselves; acknowledge our sins like Paul, remove the logs in our eyes so that we can see clear that God is our portion and by our exemplary life we can be able to lead others to the true peace

 

The Love of Money is the Root of all Evils

Dear Family of God,

Throughout this week we have been reminded of our duty to take up our cross and follow Jesus. This requires a spirit of sacrifice and detachment. This is what St. Paul is admonishing Timothy to follow.

There is more gain in godliness and contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world

Let us be content then with the little we have, leave everything, take up our cross and follow Jesus. However much we love this world and its pleasures ‘we cannot take anything out of the world.’

We have sung in the Psalm: “Then do not fear when a man grows rich, he takes nothing with him when he dies.”

Yes, we need money but if it becomes the end of whatever we do such that money becomes our god, we are lost. The love of money is the root of all evils.

Paul tells Timothy: “it is this craving (for money) that some have wandered away from the faith.” Let us put all what we have at the service of others like the women we hear in the Gospel

There were women with them who provided for them out of their means.” Our money should be a means not an end in itself and we are called to provide for others out of our means.

What are you carrying your cross or your money? “As for you, man of God, shun all this; aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness and gentleness

 

YEAR II

FRIDAY: October 3, 2014

Woe to you Chorazin, Woe to you Bethsaida

 

Christ pronounces a severe punishment over the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida because of their impenitent hearts. Prior to this punishment, Jesus himself had preached most frequently and performed miracles for the inhabitants of these cities but yet they persisted in their disbelief. As a result, they were condemned.

It is a time for each of us to examine oneself and see whether I fall in the category of the Biblical cities named above. Perhaps a couple of questions would serve us better: Do I allow the word of God to touch and change my heart? Do I put into practical life what I celebrate daily in the Liturgy of the Word? Do I accept with the sense of docility and humility the admonitions and orders given me by my superiors, teachers or employers? Do I obey my parents as required by the 4th commandment of God? If the answer is No, then I should know that I belong to the category of Chorazin and Bethsaida – for sometimes God speaks to us through different people.

Jesus loves a simple heart, a childlike heart, a heart that does not speculate or question the divine message – yes, a heart that listens, repents and converts at the first hearing of the Gospel Message.

Job, the servant of God whom we have heard in the first reading, gives us a living example. After being rebuked by God, he responds in obedience and humility: “Behold I am of little account: what can I answer you? I put my hand over my mouth” (Job 40:4).

Oh that today you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts . . .” (Ps 95:8).

FRIDAY: October 10, 2014

Today’s readings call us to be people of faith. In the first reading we are told that it is through faith that we shall attain righteousness and justification. It is through faith that we shall be linked to our father Abraham. It is through faith that we shall be blessed like Abraham. It is through faith that we shall be called sons and daughters of Abraham and therefore children of God.

But the type of faith which is implied here is not just one which is manifested in prayerful activities only but evident in one’s practical life. St. James insists on this kind of faith when he says, “Faith apart from works is barren” (Jas 2:20).

In the gospel, Jesus tells those who were trying to find fault with him that whoever believes in him will find protection against the assaults of devil; that they will lead a life marked by peace, justice and love which, in sum, means life in the kingdom of God. This is what Jesus Himself means when He says, If (you believe that) it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you (Lk 11:20).

     

 

FRIDAY: October 17, 2014

When Jesus says, “Even the hairs of your head are numbered” (v.7) He wants to remind us that he takes care of us that much, that he would know how many hairs each one of us has on our heads. He knows our fears, our feelings, our anxieties our trials and joys that each of us experience. And from that fact, he exalts us to put our trust in him and not to fear any human being.

Man’s power over man is strictly limited to this life. A man can destroy another man’s life but not his soul. Fear should be reserved to God only who has the power to cast one’s soul to hell. St. Ignatius of Antioch whose memory we are celebrating today lived up to this truth. He was not afraid of an earthly leader, Trajan, who threatened to kill him if he does not abandon his Christian faith and worship the Roman gods. As a result, he was given food to the lions. His flesh was consumed by lions but his soul was counted among the blessed in heaven. This will be the lot of those who fear God.

Perhaps we will never be asked to give our lives for the faith in a literal sense as were Saint Ignatius and the Christians of his day. However, there probably are times, each day, when we are faced with trials and challenges that would clearly demand us to practice martyrdom. This is precisely what Cardinal Lavigerie, upon commissioning missionaries to Africa, called daily martyrdom. He said, “What lay in store for the majority, however, is the  slow but real martyrdom of everyday, the martyrdom of privations and illness, of insults and gross calumnies… when you have endured all these things in imitation of the Master who sent you … you will experience an immense joy” (Letter to the missionaries on their rules Sept.,1874).

Saint Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians that because we believe, the Holy Spirit seals us with his strength. Therefore, faith in God will enable us to shun any type of fear, and gain courage to fix our gaze on heavenly realities.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2014

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People who live in coastal areas and islands seem to be extremely concerned about weather patterns and daily forecasts. They know exactly which type of wind will bring forth rain, which type of weather is conducive for fishing and which is dangerous, etc. Today, development in technology has even made it better. Man is able to foretell the exact temperature of the day, the amount of rainfall on a particular area, the impending danger due to storm, earthquake etc.

In the gospel today, Jesus makes an observation that people are capable of forecasting weather, but they cannot extend the same effort when dealing with the issues of salvation. When one of us returns to the Creator (dies), how many of us take that as a warning sign from God that we too will one day do the same and so make effort to watch, for we  neither know the day nor the hour? (Mt 25:13). When thousands of people in some parts of this world die of Ebola, do we consider that epidemic as a reminder to examine our lives, draw closer to God and put our trust in Him? Perhaps we think we are fortunate and far better than our brothers and sisters who are succumbing to this deadly disease! Here, we just need to exercise not just common sense but Christian sense so as to understand what certain events mean in our Christian life.

Let us be wise in the ways of God. This wisdom will win us more than money and wealth. It will, indeed, bring us to God’s heavenly Kingdom. Amen.

 

 

FRIDAY: October 31, 2014

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In the first reading, we hear St. Paul addressing the Church in Philippi from prison. He lets them know that he is constantly thinking about them, prays and thanks God on their behalf. Yet he does this while in prison, a place of torture, loneliness, hard labor and the like.

Here St. Paul gives us a lesson of selfless love. He does not think of himself, but takes the needs of others at heart. He is giving us the example of walking in the footstep of Jesus who, apart from being equal to God did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, took a form of a man, and died on the cross to save all mankind.

How many of us would be ready to demonstrate this kind of love? If you were a doctor and the government asks you to go and help out patients in Ebola stricken areas, would you be ready to risk your life? How many of us, if requested, would agree to risk their lives and join the fight in warring nations in view  of  rescuing  the lives of innocent civilians? It has happened that some official have foregone their jobs and sometimes changed to other careers just because they have been assigned to work in remote areas, among poor people – self centered love. Let us learn from St. Paul to love selflessly even if we are in difficult situations.

FRIDAY OF 31 WEEK OF YEAR A

7 November 2014

 

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The parable of a rich man and a wicked steward has always been controversial. The rich man entrusts his property to the steward, but a steward turns out to be a dishonest manager.  At the end of the parable, the rich man praises the wicked tenant because he had acted shrewdly. A rapid interpretation of this parable gives an impression that Jesus baptizes corruption! The fact is that, the wicked steward is praised because of his good foresight. He was well aware that because of his corrupt behavior, he will definitely be dismissed from office. As a result, he makes every effort to make friends who would help him to earn a living after he has lost the job. He is thinking beyond tomorrow. Through this parable, Jesus admonishes us to seize a moment, make an internal monologue, examine our conscience and make provisions for our eternal life, for the kingdom of God is at hand. He wants us to have a foresight. It is possible that we spend most of the time in planning how to survive in this earthly life but we give little attention to the afterlife. St. Paul in the first reading has warned that we should not be like those whose end is destruction, whose god is the belly, who glory in their shame, whose minds are set on earthly things (cf 1Phil 3:17). They never think of anything except that which belongs to this earth. But for our case, let us struggle to keep our treasure in heaven where it will be safe (Mt 6:20).  

FRIDAY OF 32nd  WEEK OF YEAR  A

November 14, 2014

 

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As we move closer to the end of the Liturgical year, you will realize that the readings that are presented to us point to the final judgment and eternal Kingdom. As St. Luke explains, it will be the sudden judgment that brings the ordinary activities of life to an end and nobody will escape it.

The fact that the time of judgment will catch us unaware does not mean that we should be overwhelmed by worry and spend all our time in perpetual prayer only. We should eat, drink, buy sell, plant, build etc as in the time of Lot (Lk 17:27). In fact, we should labor for our physical sustenance of life in a way that pleases God and neighbor. It is important to keep in mind always that such day to day activities are intended to help us attain the life which is eternal. They should not enslave our lives for our treasure is not in them but in heaven.

One who will strive to protect his/her life through material possession and earthly well being will lose it, but one who will set his/her mind on eternal life even at the cost of his physical  life will save it.

FRIDAY, 33rd WEEK – YEAR A

November 21, 2014

  “My Temple will be a house of Prayer”

 

In the gospel, Jesus calls the church The House of Prayer, “My temple will be the house of prayer” (Lk 19:46). He reacts vehemently against those who had turned it into a market place.

When we hear these words, we should see Jesus speaking directly to us for we are the living and true temples of God. Acts 7:48 sharply points out that “God does not dwell only in structures fashioned by human hands, in homes of wood and stone, but rather He dwells principally in soul made according to his own image and fashioned by His own hand.” Saint Paul puts it clearer when he says, “You are God’s building.” (1Cor 3:9). – And elsewhere he adds, “The temple of God is Holy, and you are that temple.” What a blessing, a privilege to be called the dwelling place of God!

We Christians become temples of this type through baptism. We become active temples by gathering each Sunday for the weekly celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection.

But how do we make our temples sacred – houses of prayer; or rather, how do we avoid turning our temples into dens of robbers?  We do this by avoiding anything that can destroy the living temples of God in ourselves by works of evil. Let us shun everything that defiles the temple of God – things which “… come from within, out of the heart: evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness” (Mt 7:20-22). The words of St. Caesarius of Arles sound relevant to conclude with, “Do you wish to find this basilica immaculately clean? Then do not soil your soul with the filth of sins.

FRIDAY OF THE 34TH  WEEK OF YEAR A

November 28, 2014

We are remaining with only one liturgy i.e tomorrow before we close the liturgical year and enter the season of Advent. Today and tomorrow, we hear from the end of the Book of Revelation about our great salvation history and how it will be accomplished. John’s revelation tells us about the earthly restoration of God’s kingdom whereby the devil will be cast into everlasting fire and the just rule with Christ forever. This is what he calls the creation of a new heaven and a new earth.

We have to understand that in order to inherit the kingdom of heaven (new heaven), we need to make effort to belong into the kingdom of God on earth (new earth/new Jerusalem). The kingdom of God on earth should be a foretaste of the kingdom of God in heaven which we shall enjoy eternally. As the gospel today makes it clear, the kingdom of God is not far, it is near. It is in our love for one another. It is in the Christian practices of fasting, prayer, penance, alms-giving; of conversion; of mutual forgiveness; of love of enemies and so forth. As we close the liturgical year, let us continue to bring about the kingdom of God through these practices.

 

 

4 Responses to “Friday”

  • RANIEL:

    It is clear from last week’s reading that we received the Holy Spirit, who gave us the following gifts; wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. With the help of the Holy Spirit in us, we will be able bear fruits including; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. It is very simple, we can bear good fruits if we allow the word of God work through us, we don’t need to give all we have, but sharing what we have with those who have not, visiting the sick and prisoners, orphans, the aged, dressing those naked, feeding the hungry, quenching those who thirst with word of God is a good example of us bearing good fruits.

  • Mildred Shivachi:

    No pollution please my body is the temple of the Lord.

  • Mildred Shivachi:

    Amen. Well said Fr.Thomas.

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