Sunday, January 21, 2018

True repentance begins with KNOWLEDGE of sin. It goes on to work SORROW for sin. It leads to CONFESSION of sin before God.

We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin. But mere time does nothing either to the fact or to the guilt of a sin. - C. S. Lewis: (1898 –1963: was a British novelist, poet, & academic)

Scripture Text: (JON 3:1-5, 10)
The word of the LORD came to Jonah, saying:
"Set out for the great city of Nineveh,
and announce to it the message that I will tell you."
So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh,
according to the LORD'S bidding.
Now Nineveh was an enormously large city;
it took three days to go through it.
Jonah began his journey through the city,
and had gone but a single day's walk announcing,
"Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed, "
when the people of Nineveh believed God;
they proclaimed a fast
and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.

When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way,
he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them;
he did not carry it out.

In the first reading from the book of Jonah at today’s Mass, God called Jonah and sent him to Nineveh to announce repentance and faith in God or they would all be destroyed. Jonah did as God said and within a day, the whole city repented, “believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.” V. 5 According to the text, God changes his mind and does not destroy the city or its inhabitants. In the gospel reading Jesus himself is the message, God with us, and the messenger. He announces that the kingdom of God is at hand and he urges us to repent and believe in the good news that his is bringing (Mark 1:14-20). 

It strikes me that these are only two examples among many throughout Scripture where God invites us to repent and change our ways. God invites us towards being like his son every day and the Life that only God can give. This invitation seems to be always open, God is faithful; and at the same time it seems to be continually coming to us and inviting a response from us.

Friday, January 19, 2018

“The call of God is not just for a select few but for everyone. Whether I hear God’s call or not depends on the condition of my ears, and exactly what I hear depends upon my spiritual attitude”

In his essay 'Self-Reliance' Emerson wrote, 'Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.' The Apostle Paul reminds us that whoso would be a Christian must also be a  nonconformist. Any Christian who blindly accepts the opinions of the majority and in fear and timidity follows a path of expediency and social approval is a mental and spiritual slave. - Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 – 1968: was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1954 through 1968.

Gospel Text: (MK 3:13-19)
Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted
and they came to him.
He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles,
that they might be with him
and he might send them forth to preach
and to have authority to drive out demons:
He appointed the Twelve:
Simon, whom he named Peter;
James, son of Zebedee,
and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges,
that is, sons of thunder;
Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew,
Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus;
Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean,
and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

From the third of Mark’s 16 chapters, we hear today of Jesus calling His Twelve. They are meant to be men of action. Jesus names them “Apostles, that they might be with Him and He might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.”

There are two points one might note in this sentence. Given that the word “apostle” literally means “one who is sent”, the evangelist describes the type of mission these twelve will have. But more primary than this being sent forth is the One who sends them. Their “apostleship” is rooted not only in the person of Christ, but in their being “with Him”. In our own manner, each of us as a baptized member of the Church is called to serve, but is called first to be “with Him” each day.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Why do we envy the happiness and the goods of others? Because we are proud……..

Envy shoots at others and wounds itself. (English proverb)

 Scripture Text: (1 SM 18:6-9; 19:1-7)
When David and Saul approached
(on David's return after slaying the Philistine),
women came out from each of the cities of Israel to meet King Saul,
singing and dancing, with tambourines, joyful songs, and sistrums.
The women played and sang:

"Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his ten thousands."

Saul was very angry and resentful of the song, for he thought:
"They give David ten thousands, but only thousands to me.
All that remains for him is the kingship."
And from that day on, Saul was jealous of David.

Saul discussed his intention of killing David
with his son Jonathan and with all his servants.
But Saul's son Jonathan, who was very fond of David, told him:
"My father Saul is trying to kill you.
Therefore, please be on your guard tomorrow morning;
get out of sight and remain in hiding.
I, however, will go out and stand beside my father
in the countryside where you are, and will speak to him about you.
If I learn anything, I will let you know."

Jonathan then spoke well of David to his father Saul, saying to him:
"Let not your majesty sin against his servant David,
for he has committed no offense against you,
but has helped you very much by his deeds.
When he took his life in his hands and slew the Philistine,
and the LORD brought about a great victory
for all Israel through him,
you were glad to see it.
Why, then, should you become guilty of shedding innocent blood
by killing David without cause?"
Saul heeded Jonathan's plea and swore,
"As the LORD lives, he shall not be killed."
So Jonathan summoned David and repeated the whole conversation to him.
Jonathan then brought David to Saul, and David served him as before.

Anger, jealousy and envy are framed in the first reading from today’s Mass with Saul ready to strike and harm David. David is saved from Saul’s threat through the wonderful willingness of Saul’s son to step forward, warn David and provide his father Saul with another ‘lens’ to view David.

The danger of jealousy and envy is that it is as much damaging to others as it is to ourselves. When we are envious, or even ambitious for the purpose of outdoing others, it knocks us off our center and we lose our orientation toward Christ. To his disciples, Jesus presented the model of a child - one who thrives under authority, strives for obedience, and lives in the present.

Envy lives in the past and the future, but God's grace is available now.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

“Legalism says God will love us if we change. The gospel says God will change us because He loves us.”

Moral stupidity comes in two different forms: relativism and legalism. Relativism sees no principles, only people; legalism sees no people, only principles – Peter Kreeft: is a professor of philosophy at Boston College 

Gospel text: (MK 3:1-6)
Jesus entered the synagogue.
There was a man there who had a withered hand.
They watched Jesus closely
to see if he would cure him on the sabbath
so that they might accuse him.
He said to the man with the withered hand,
"Come up here before us."
Then he said to the Pharisees,
"Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?"
But they remained silent.
Looking around at them with anger
and grieved at their hardness of heart,
Jesus said to the man, "Stretch out your hand."
He stretched it out and his hand was restored.
The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel
with the Herodians against him to put him to death.

In today’s Gospel reading Jesus disputes with the Pharisees about their interpretation of the Sabbath law: "What does the Law allow on the sabbath? To do good or to do harm? To save life or to kill?" Despite the opposition of the Pharisees Jesus cures the man with the paralyzed hand on the sabbath: the Pharisees had hardened their hearts and were blind to the real intent of the Sabbath law.

Jesus tried to reach out to the Pharisees and to teach them to be open­
minded to his teaching and actions.

Are we close-minded to what God has revealed to us in the teaching and life of Christ? Or in the many happenings in our lives? Do we rely more on ourselves or do we live our trust in God?