Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

Sunday readings in brief: 14th Sunday Year C

Is 66:10-14; Ps 65(66); Gal 6:14-18; Lk 10:1-12,17-20

Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

Dear friends, today is the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Next Sunday will be the 15th Sunday. I want first to remind us that we are in the season of learning about the Kingdom of God and our teacher is Christ himself. We are required by our baptismal consecration, to live what we learn from Jesus in our day-to-day life and teach those around us as well.

In the first reading today, Prophet Isaiah preaches the message of hope for abundant peace to the people who were in great depression and suffering. The people had lost hope of ever returning to their land and building their lives back, after so many years under the oppression of a foreign rule. The message of hope for peace and freedom is the most important for someone who is experiencing oppression. All of us have experienced at one time or are at this very moment experiencing suffering almost too much to bear. Maybe you are on the brink of losing hope in holding on a few more days. The message for you today is God has heard your cry and if you only hold on in faith, he is sending peace flowing like a river to you.

Losing hope too soon because we have no one to encourage or walk with us in our sufferings can cause us great depression and sometimes even lives. St Paul is encouraging us to boast in the cross of Jesus Christ, and the marks of his suffering and death that won us everlasting salvation. Our hope of rising from any form of oppression is guaranteed in our faith in Jesus Christ. Faith is the mother of hope because in it we are convinced of the help of Christ suffered death for our sake. Faith helps us to push on or to hold on even when the situation is almost overwhelming to us.

The consequence of faith and hope is joy in what awaits us. We have many examples of people who were able to rejoice even when experiencing so much suffering. Their joy was anchored in their conviction of the cause for which they were suffering. It is suffering for something and not for nothing.

Jesus puts this in a different way when he sends the disciples to the towns and villages to proclaim the Good News. He warns them that while they will be welcome in some towns and villages, they will be rejected in others. Their duty was to proclaim peace to those who received them and leave the hurt feelings back in those places where they were not received. The wiping off of the dust clinging to their feet as they left those villages where they were not welcome symbolically means not carrying any hurt feelings with them.

In our different assignments, sometimes we go to places where we are received well and our mission becomes a success. However, in some other places, we face rejection that even makes difficult our mission. On one hand, Jesus is urging us not to take things too personally and carry with us the hurt feelings when people do not receive or accept us as we carry out our mission. On the other hand, Jesus also cautions his disciples not to rejoice because people accept them and in the miracles, they were able to perform but rather rejoice because their names are written in heaven. The ultimate goal for every disciple is to do the will of his or her master, and the ultimate reward is to be where his or her master is in heaven. Sometimes we get lost in the pomp of the great things we experience during the successful episodes of our career and forget the ultimate goal.

Dear friends, suffering is part of our existence though many of us spend a lot of energy and resources trying to avoid it in all its forms. However, today’s readings are giving us the medicine for suffering which is the peace that comes from God. If we experience suffering for a good cause, then we can be peaceful and the reward will be joy. However, if we are suffering because of the wrong choices, let us not stay there lamenting but seek help and grace to get out of those sufferings. The people of Israel suffered captivity because of rejecting God’s words through the prophets but they cried to him in repentance and he saved them.

Have a blessed Sunday.

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

14th Sunday Year C

Sunday readings in brief 13 C 2022
1Kg 19:16,19-21; Ps 15(16), Gal 5:1,13-18; Lk 9:51-62
How to be a disciple
Dear friends, today is the thirteenth Sunday in ordinary time C. However, due to pastoral reasons, some episcopal conferences direct that the Feast of The Sacred Heart of Jesus that occurred last Friday, be marked today to give it more significance among the faithful. In this reflection, I will dwell on the Ordinary Time readings that focuses on the requisites for being a true disciple.
Discipleship means to be a follower of a person or an ideology. In our Christian context, discipleship means being a follower of our Lord Jesus Christ. To be a true follower of someone or of an ideal, one needs to make certain adjustment in his or her life such as, abandoning the previous dedications in order to concentrate on the new one. One cannot be a true disciple of more than one ideology. In one occasion Jesus said to his disciples that no one can serve two masters (Mt 6:24).
The urge to follow is aroused by an attraction towards what someone want to follow, or by invitation to follow. In the first reading, we hear how Elijah passed near Elisha and threw his clock to him. Suddenly, Elisha was full of the urge to follow him and he acted swiftly. In order to be free to dedicate his life to following Elijah, Elisha slaughtered the oxen that he used to plough the land and used the plough itself for firewood. This means that he was ready to abandon his previous trade and dedicate himself entirely to Elijah and his mission.
In the Gospel reading, we have three instances of people confronted by the reality of following Jesus. The first one request to be a follower of Jesus but immediately Jesus spells out to him the nature of his mission: “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head”. The second one is invited by Jesus to follow him but he asks first to go to bury his father. We do not know if his father was dead at that moment but Jesus tells him to let the dead burry their own dead. This could also mean that he was willing to follow Jesus after the death of his father. The third one wants to follow Jesus but asks first to go and say goodbyes.
The question of true discipleship is determined by our priorities of life. Whatever comes first in the order of my priorities is my master, the rest are just but side businesses. We can apply this parameter to ourselves today in our dedication to following Christ. For instance, today is on Sunday and all those Baptized in Christ Jesus are obliged to go to worship in the Church with other faithful. However, many pews will be empty because many “baptized” are busy taking care of other things.
No matter what excuses and justifications we may give for not attending Church service on some or all the Sundays and other days of obligation, the truth remains that whatever it is we do on Sunday other that going to Church is our priority. This could be voluntary or imposed. Some people have to work on Sunday or else they risk losing their jobs. In this case, keeping the job is their priority. Nevertheless, some will only use this as an excuse because in many places, there are many Sunday services from very early in the morning to late in the evening. A true disciple will make efforts to attend one of those or even ask permission from the work place to worship and go to work. Instead of taking such opportunities to worship, other excuses like washing, cleaning and others takes priority.
St. Paul in the second reading is also warning those who have become followers about the quality of their discipleship. It is not enough to fulfill the minimum of a disciple such as ‘attending’ Church services on Sunday. It is paramount to adhere to all the terms and conditions of following Christ. The life of a follower must be conformed to that of the master. St. Paul is against double standard kind of discipleship whereby someone want to follow Christ and remain in former way of life at the same time. This is the greatest temptation of our discipleship today. Paul calls it self-indulgence; the dictionary defines it as “excessive or unrestrained gratification of one’s own appetites, desires, or whims”.
Dear friends, there is no discipleship without sacrifices. It is either following Christ of being worldly; we cannot be both at the same time. This applies to all those consecrated to serve as religious and those consecrated to serve as lay people. I therefore invite us to reflect of the quality of our discipleship to Christ.
Have a blessed Sunday.
Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

The Feast of Corpus Christi

Sunday readings in brief: Corpus Christi
Gen 14:18-20; Ps 109(110); 1 Cor 11:23-26; Lk 9:11-17
Understanding the Eucharist
Dear friends, today we celebrate the Solemnity of Corpus Christ (the Body and Blood of Christ), which is the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the Centre of Christian life. It is the food for our faith journey established by Jesus himself, to keep us nourished until the heavenly banquet with him. This feast emphasizes the REAL PRESENCE of Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. To understand this feast, let us first explain what a Sacrament is. A sacrament is the visible sign of the invisible reality (CCC). This means that what we perceive by our physical senses is a sign and symbol of that ultimate reality that we can only perceive through faith.
Jesus established seven Sacraments that either impart or increase grace in our lives. In the first place, Jesus himself is the Sacrament of God the father in the world. “Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (Jn 14:9). Jesus came to manifest the true face of God the Father that the prophet was not able.
During his life and ministry, Jesus established the Sacrament of Baptism – Being born again by water and Spirit” (Jn 3:5, Mt 28:19), the Sacrament of Confirmation – the gift of the Holy Spirit who strengthens us to be witnesses of the resurrection (Acts 1:8). The sacrament of Reconciliation – reconciles us with God and neighbour (Jn 20:22-23). The Sacrament of Holy Auction heals and encourages the sick to hope in God (Mk 16:17-18).The Sacrament of Matrimony – that unites a man and a woman making them one (Mt 19:5-6) and the Sacrament of Holy Orders – that makes those elected to partake of the Holy Priesthood of Christ for the service of humanity (Mk 3:14-15).
The Sacrament of the Eucharist is the center of all the other sacraments. The establishment of this Sacrament was not a single event but rather was a continuous process that Jesus undertook from the very beginning of his ministry. His first miracle in Cana of Galilee was feeding people by transforming water into wine (Jh 2:7-9), in many occasions Jesus fed the people with physical bread but tried to explain to them about the everlasting bread that he was to give them (Mt 14:13-21; Mt 15:29-39; Jn 6). Finally, when his time came, Jesus called his disciples together and as they ate he gave them the Eucharist that will be his presence to them after he had been physically removed from them (Matthew 26:26–28; Mark 14:22–24; and Luke 22:17–20, 1 Cor 11:23-25), He then commanded them to do this always in his memory.
Dear friends, Jesus established the Eucharist so that he may remain with us always as our food for the Journey to heaven. We believe that Christ is truly present in the species of bread and wine that we offer, after the consecration prayer by the priest, who does it not in his capacity but with the priesthood of Christ that he has received through ordination. Christ himself transforms bread and wine into his own body and blood.
Our Christian faith is adorned with so much symbolism that helps us to perceive the realities that are not physical. Jesus explained to Nicodemus that the Spirit is like the wind and that he can only see his work. Just as Jesus came to reveal the Father to us, in the same way, he has left us the Sacraments that bring his graces to those who believe. “No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him” (Jn 1:18). Though in the Scriptures and the catechisms we can learn a lot about the sacraments, we cannot attain a full understanding of how they work. It is through faith that all becomes palpable to us. In the first reading, Melchizedek was a priest of God who offered sacrifices and blessings to Abraham.
Just the way our bodies need physical food to get stronger every day, our souls also need daily nourishment to remain strong. If we do not feed our souls they become weak and not able to produce spiritual fruits. Just as it is easy to notice someone who is physically starved, we also can easily tell someone whose soul has not been fed.
Dear friends, as we celebrate the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, I invite us to make efforts to keep our souls and spirits well fed just as we do all in our power to avoid starving our bodies.
Have a blessed feast.
Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

The Feast of the Holy Trinity

Sunday readings in brief: Holy Trinity Feast
Prov 8:22-31; Ps 8:4-9; Rom 5:1-5; Jn 16:12-15

The Nature of God

Dear friends, today is the Feast of the Holy Trinity, which occurs on the Sunday after the Pentecost. Next Sunday will be the feast of Corpus Christi (Body and Blood of Christ). Trinity from the Latin word “Trinitas” means threefold. As Christians, through the revelation in the Holy Scriptures, we experience God in threefold manifestations, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The feast of Trinity celebrate the closeness of God to us.

In the First reading, The Spirit of God is presented to us as the ‘Wisdom’ that was always with God before everything was created. He is presented as the architect and craftsman of all that is and who continues even today to make God present to us. St. Paul says that the love of God is poured to us through the Holy Spirit who enables us to be patient in suffering, which brings perseverance and hope to look forward to God’s glory.

In our creed, each of the three persons of the Holy Trinity is defined and his role stated. “I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible”. Through the Old Testament, God reveals himself as the Creator and sustainer of all things visible and invisible.

“I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him, all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven”. Christ is the visible manifestation of God who came to dwell with us in order to bring the Trinity closer to us.

“I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets”. The Holy Spirit is the fabric that unites the Holy Trinity.

Every time God acts, he acts as one because he is one. However, we experience him in this mysterious threefold manner. During Creation God said, “let us create man in our own image and likeness” (Gen 1:26). We read that the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface before anything was created. God also created heaven and earth through is Word, God the Son. In Mt. 3:16-17, at the baptism of Jesus, The Spirit of God descended upon him in the image of a dove and the voice of the Father confirmed to that he was the beloved Son of God. The time of the Church is the time of the Holy Spirit who inspires Christians to imitate Christ in their lives and bringing God’s love on earth. “But when th Spirit of truth comes, he will lead you to complete truth” (Jn 16:13).

What God means by revealing himself to us as Trinity? I believe that God intended us to share in his overflowing love between himself. It is such an intense love that enables Him to manifest himself in threefold manner yet remain one. God created man and woman and blessed them to be productive and bring children on earth as the fruits of the love and unity between them. God wanted human beings to continue the work of creation and experience and share in his love. Love cannot be introverted but always outgoing. Love manifests itself by overflowing outside its source and in the process creating.

Our communities are supposed to be united in love, and bring forth positive development to those its members and the world around them. Love leaves no gap or space for evils that bring division such as hatred, selfishness, corruption and others. Love heals all brokenness and reconciles all conflicts. In the world today, the institution of the Family is disintegrating. Religious communities have been invaded by selfishness and individualism. It is very urgent for us Christians and everyone else to start salvaging what is left of the human community.

Dear friends, as we reflect on the mystery of the Holy Trinity, let us learn unity in diversity and build families and communities overflowing with love and positive energy.

Happy Feast.

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD
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