Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Audio Reflections of Thursday, April 26, 2018

To hear the Audio Reflections of Thursday, April 26, 2018 click HERE

Thursday, April 26, 2018 - How do you as a Christian show that you are part of community?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts13:13-25; Jn 13:16-20

These verses contain the second part of the discourse spoken by Jesus after he washes the feet of his disciples. In the first part (13:12-15), Jesus teaches his disciples about the meaning of his washing their feet, and the implications that this action has for their lives as his disciples.

In the second part of this discourse (13:16-20), Jesus teaches about discipleship in general and the relationship that the disciples share with him. The double Amen at 13:16, and at 13:20, forms an inclusion and so brackets and highlights what Jesus says in between. The disciples must remember that their role, in their relationship with Jesus, is that of servants to their master. If they understand this and act on it, then they will be blessed. They must, at every stage, know where their authority ends. The sayings which are highlighted by the inclusion are in 13:18-19 and contain a prediction of betrayal. Jesus is aware of who the betrayer is and also knows that it is not an outsider, but one who has eaten at table with him. Ps 41:9 is quoted here to accentuate the intimacy of the betrayal. The betrayer is someone whose feet he has washed, one with whom he has broken bread and one whom Jesus has loved to the very end. This foreknowledge of the betrayer also means that Jesus is in control of the events that lead to his death and is not taken by surprise. Another reason for informing his disciples about his betrayal, in advance, is so that they may realize who Jesus is: Son of God. Even as he is betrayed, he will reveal himself as God for us.

Since Jesus has been sent by God, he has God’s stamp and authority. The disciples, who are in turn sent by Jesus, have the authority and stamp of Jesus. Thus, if anyone accepts the disciples, they are in effect accepting Jesus. Just as Jesus shares fully in God’s work, so the disciples share fully in Jesus’ work of giving life to all and giving it in abundance.

Jesus’ act toward us, in love, manifested symbolically in the washing of the feet and sharing of bread, presents everyone who sits at his table with a choice: One can embrace Jesus’ gift to us and embody one’s embrace of that gift through one’s own acts of love or, one can turn one’s back on Jesus’ gift of love. This means that merely sitting at Jesus’ table, and even eating the bread that he gives, is not the full story. It has to be continued in the giving of self to others and is only completed when this is done. We then enter into community with Jesus and with one another.

Thursday, April 26, 2018 - Acts 13:13-25; Jn 13:16-20

Thursday, April 26, 2018 - Acts 13:13-25; Jn 13:16-20

  1. How many nations did the Lord destroy in the land of Canaan?

  2. Seven

  3. Until the time of which prophet did the Lord give the Israelites Judges?

  4. Isaiah

  5. For how many years did the Lord put up with/care for the Israelites in the wilderness?

  6. Fifty

  7. To which place in Pamphylia did Paul and his companions come?

  8. Perga

  9. For how many years did Saul reign?

  10. Thirty-six

  11. Whose son was Saul?

  12. Kish

  13. What did God give the Israelites as their inheritance?

  14. Gold

  15. Which Psalm does John quote in the text of today?

  16. Forty-one

  17. Who succeeded Saul as King?

  18. Jesse

  19. What is the message of the readings of today?

  20. We are ambassadors of Christ
    Our Lord forgives us even when are are ungrateful
    God in Jesus continues to be love

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Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Audio reflections of Wednesday, March 25, 2018 the feast of St. Mark, Evangelist

To hear the Audio reflections of Wednesday, March 25, 2018 the feast of St. Mark, Evangelist click HERE

Wednesday, April 25, 2018 - St. Mark, Evangelist - Mark wrote a Gospel to share his experience of Jesus. What will you do to share your experience of Jesus?

To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Peter 5:5-14; Mk 16:15-20

The second Gospel was written by St. Mark, who, in the New Testament, is sometimes identified with John Mark. Both he and his mother, Mary, were highly esteemed in the early Church, and his mother's house in Jerusalem served as a meeting place for Christians there.

St. Mark was associated with St. Paul and St. Barnabas (who was Mark's cousin) on their missionary journey through the island of Cyprus. Later he accompanied St. Barnabas alone. We know also that he was in Rome with St. Peter and St. Paul. Tradition ascribes to him the founding of the Church in Alexandria.

St. Mark wrote the second Gospel, probably in Rome sometime before the year 65 C.E..; and possibly for Gentile converts to Christianity. Tradition has it that Mark was the interpreter of Peter. This seems to be confirmed by the position which St. Peter has in the Gospel of Mark.

The Gospel reading for the feast is from Mk16:15-20. Most scholars today regard Mk 16:9-20 as an addition to the original ending of Mark at 16:8. A number of reasons are put forward for this view. The first is that Mary Magdalene is introduced in 16:9 as if she is being mentioned for the first time.  However, Mark has mentioned her before (15:47; 16:1). Second, there is no mention of a Galilean apparition in these verses, though one is explicitly promised in 16:7. Third, these verses are a combination, in summary form, of the post resurrection appearances of Jesus in the other Synoptic Gospels, in John, and in the Acts of the Apostles.
The text of today begins with the command of the Risen Lord to the disciples to proclaim the Good News to all nations. The disciples are challenged to go beyond their fear and with confidence trusting in the power of the Lord. The Lord will accompany them everywhere and their wtiness will draw all peoples to the Lord.

The enemy of faith is fear. However imperfect our faith, and however many times we remain silent when we should testify to the gospel, we can always return to the Lord. None of us can get so far away from Jesus that we cannot be touched by God’s healing presence. Jesus continues to use each of us even in our weakness to be his messengers of the good news that, in him, God loves everyone.

Let the feast of St. Mark be for each one of us an opportunity to live out our faith and inspire others and draw them to the Lord.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018 - St. Mark Evangelist

Wednesday, April 25, 2018 - St. Mark - 1 Peter 5:5-14; Mk 16:15-20

  1. Through whom did Peter write this letter?

  2. Silvanus

  3. How many New Testament letters are attributed to Peter?

  4. Two

  5. With what clothing must believers clothe themselves?

  6. Humility
    Camel's hair
    Leather garments

  7. Which other letter writer quotes the Proverb,

  8. Paul

  9. On which hand of God did Jesus sit after ascending into heaven?

  10. Right
    Not sure

  11. To whom did Jesus command his disciples to preach the Gospel?

  12. A select few
    The whole of creation
    The chosen ones

  13. How many Chapters does the Gospel of Mark contain?

  14. Sixteen

  15. Which other Church is mentioned in the first reading?

  16. The Church in Corinth
    The Church in Babylon
    The Church in Collosae

  17. What is the message of the readings of today?

  18. Like Mark we too are called to proclaim the Lord
    We are privileged to be disciples of Jesus
    Humility is a funny thing. Once you think you've got it, you've lost it

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Monday, 23 April 2018

Tuesday, April 24, 2018 - Acts 11:19-26; Jn 10:22-30

Tuesday, April 24, 2018 - Acts 11:19-26; Jn 10:22-30

  1. In which place were the disciples of Jesus first called Christians?

  2. Joppa

  3. Which festival is mentioned in The Gospel of today?

  4. Passover

  5. How many chapters does the Gospel of John contain?

  6. Twenty
    Twenty one
    Twenty two

  7. Whom did the Church leaders send to Antioch?

  8. Barabbas

  9. Where was Jesus walking in the temple?

  10. In the area reserved for Gentiles
    In the portico of Solomon
    In the holy of holies

  11. Whom did Barnabas look for in Tarsus?

  12. Saul

  13. What season was it when Jesus went up for the feast?

  14. Winter

  15. To whom did the apostles speak the word in Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch?

  16. The Jews
    The Gentiles
    To all who wanted to hear it

  17. What is the message of the readings of today?

  18. Jesus is the anointed one of God
    Jesus is the shepherd whose voice the sheep hear
    We must bear witness like the first Christians through our actions.

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Audio Reflections of Tuesday, April 24, 2018

To hear the Audio Reflections of Tuesday, April 24, 2018 click HERE

Tuesday, April 24, 2018 - Do you believe that God always wants what is best for you? How will you respond if things do not go the way you wish them to go today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts11:19-26; Jn 10:22-30

The verses that begin today’s reading inform us that Jesus is in Jerusalem at the Feast of Dedication which was celebrated in December each year. This feast is the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. It celebrated the liberation of Jerusalem from the reign of the Syrian (Seleucid) king Antiochus Epiphanes. Antiochus had defiled the Jerusalem Temple in 167 BCE by building an altar to his own gods within the Temple sanctuary.  In 165 BCE, Judas Maccabeus and his brothers regained control of the Temple and rededicated it to the God of Israel. The eight-day feast took place in the month December and was marked by the lighting of lamps and rejoicing.

The Jewish religious authorities begin the dialogue by asking Jesus whether he is the Messiah. They are annoyed that Jesus is not being explicit. This is the only place in the Gospel of John where Jesus is asked explicitly whether he is the Messiah. Jesus responds that he has been explicit and that he has told them, in no uncertain terms, the truth about himself and yet, they do not believe. Jesus then points to his ‘works” as indicators of this claim. “Works” here does not refer to miracles alone, but to the broader scope of Jesus’ ministry and includes the revelation of himself as having been sent by God.

Belief in Jesus determines whether one belongs to the fold of Jesus. Since the Jewish leaders do not believe, they cannot and do not belong to the fold. Those who belong to the fold hear the voice of the Shepherd and follow trustingly. Following Jesus leads to eternal life which he alone can give. The reason why Jesus can do this is because he has received this gift directly from the Father. What is more is that Jesus and the Father are one. This means that Jesus and God are united in their work of salvation and Jesus shares completely in God’s work.

We are privileged, as Christians, to have as our God one who is Good Shepherd, one whose primary interest and concern is to care for the good of the sheep. Our God is a God who wants to lead us to safety and to places where there is abundance. He wants what is best for us at all times and will do anything to protect us from any kind of harm. Though this is the case, we do not always listen to his voice and we prefer to go our own way. The only result that we can expect, after such a choice, is destruction and death.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Audio Reflections of Monday, April 23, 2018

To hear the Audio Reflections of Monday, April 23, 2018 click HERE

Monday, April 23, 2018 - What is the shepherd calling you to do today? Will you listen to his voice?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts11:1-18; Jn 10:1-10

These verses contain part of the Discourse on Jesus, the Good Shepherd. This Discourse appears in the Gospel of John after Jesus has healed a blind man on the Sabbath, because of which, the Jews are upset (9:1-41). It is the last full discourse of the public ministry of Jesus. The Farewell Discourse from 14:1-16:33 is exclusively given to the disciples and not to the public. 

The focus in the first part of the Discourse (10:1-5) is on the shepherd and his relation to the flock. A contrast is made between the authorized shepherd and the bandit. The authorized shepherd enters by the gate, but the bandit climbs in another way. The reason for this is because the gate keeper opens the gate for the authorized shepherd but not for the bandit. Since he is the authorized shepherd, the sheep hear and recognize his voice. When he calls, they answer. There is an intimate bond between the shepherd and his sheep. They recognize and know each other. The shepherd walks ahead of the sheep and leads them out. The sheep are confident in his leadership and thus, follow him trustingly. They will not follow a stranger but will rather run away from him. The comment of the evangelist serves two purposes. The first is that the reader must understand that Jesus is using a “figure of speech” and thus, not take the metaphor literally. The reader must realize that many meanings are possible and therefore, must go below the surface, to the deeper meaning. The second point is that the listeners did not understand this figure of speech. If seen in the context of the miracle, and the healing of the blind man on the Sabbath, and the Pharisees objection because the healing took place on the Sabbath, then it seems clear that the authorized shepherd is Jesus and the bandits are the objectors.  Jesus has the good of the sheep at heart and the bandits do not.

In the second part (10:7-16), while pastoral imagery is still used, the Discourse moves in a new direction. Jesus is also the “Gate” for the sheep. The gate has two functions: one is to give access to those who are legitimate and have a right to enter, and the other is to prevent those whose intention is to cause destruction. Rightful entry into the fold is only through Jesus, who is the gate.

The text of today concludes with one of the most beautiful and comprehensive statements of the mission of Jesus. Jesus is the Good Shepherd and Gate. He has come to give life and give it to the full. All who listen to his voice will receive this life in abundance.

As the gate, Jesus is the way to life, but he is not merely that.  He also leads the way and so, is the Good Shepherd. Jesus is the way to life because he is himself life and he leads the way to life because he lays down his own life. These are non-transferable attributes; they derive from the heart of Jesus’ identity as one sent by God.

Monday, April 23, 2018 - Acts 11:1-18; Jn 10:1-10

Monday, April 23, 2018 - Acts 11:1-18; Jn 10:1-10

  1. Who else besides the Jews accepted the word of God?

  2. The Gentiles
    The Pharisees
    The chief priests

  3. How many men were sent from Caesarea?

  4. Three

  5. In which city was Peter when he went into a trance?

  6. Jeppa

  7. What is the one who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate?

  8. The Good Shepherd
    The owner of the sheep
    A thief and a bandit

  9. What does the thief come to do?

  10. To lead the sheep
    To steal and kill and destroy
    To guide the sheep

  11. Who is the shepherd of the sheep?

  12. The one who climbs in by another way
    The one who enters by the gate
    The one who runs away when the wolf approaches

  13. What does the shepherd do when he has brought out all the sheep?

  14. He follows them
    He goes ahead of them
    He lets them go where they want

  15. What is the message of the readings text of today?

  16. Christianity is inclusive and not exclusive
    Jesus is the true and good shepherd
    In Jesus we have life in abundance

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Saturday, 21 April 2018

Sunday, April 22, 2018 Fourth Sunday of Easter - Good Shepherd Sunday - Live as a united community!

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 4:8-12; 1 Jn3:1-2; Jn 10:11-18

The fourth Sunday of Easter is traditionally known as Good Shepherd Sunday and it is easy to see why. In the eight verses of today’s Gospel, Jesus twice describes himself as the Good Shepherd. This clearly indicates that the thrust of these verses is on meaning of this term and also on the relationship of the shepherd and his sheep. Even as he describes himself as the Good Shepherd, he contrasts himself with the hired hand and through this emphasizes the qualities of the Good Shepherd.

Those of us who live in cities or towns may not be able to fully appreciate this allegory. Our experience of sheep leads us to see them as dumb creatures who are good only for their wool and as food on our tables. However, if we go beyond this superficial understanding and attempt to understand instead the deeper meaning then we will be able to appreciate more fully what Jesus means.
The adjective ‘good’ used here can also be read as “model” or “true” and so Jesus is saying that he is the model of true shepherd. This is a reference to the image of God as the good shepherd in the prophet Ezekiel. There God is described as the shepherd who cares for the sheep, rescuing them from danger, feeding them, tending to the weak sheep, healing the wounds of those who are injured and going after those who are lost.

Jesus as the model or true shepherd does all this and more. He even willingly, and of his own accord, lays down his life for his sheep. He does this not to earn a reward, but as an expression of the love that he has for the sheep which is an expression of love for the Father. This is why he in control of even his own death. No one can take his life, because he gives it up freely and without reserve. However, his death is linked inextricably with his resurrection and ascension, and it is through all these three events that he completes his work as good and true shepherd.

In contrast, the hired hand is the bad shepherd or untrue shepherd. This one is concerned only about his own welfare and not the welfare of the sheep. When such a one takes charge, the sheep are scattered and neglected, and go astray.

The good shepherd on the other hand gathers the sheep and keeps them together. He is concerned not only with the sheep that belong to his fold and so is not exclusive. There are other sheep also, who though not of the fold will listen to the shepherd’s voice because they will recognize it as a voice of unconditional love. They will know that their salvation lies in listening to this voice.

Some may find being compared with sheep derogatory. However, if we understand the metaphor for what it is and capture its essence, we will find that this need not be so. The challenge to the sheep is to listen to the voice of the true shepherd and not the hired hand. This means that in a world in which we hear so many voices, to discern the voice of the true shepherd is not easy. The voice of the shepherd calls first to unity. This unity is manifested in community living, in which each is concerned about the other much like the shepherd who is concerned about each and all. It is also manifested in imitating the true shepherd’s qualities of self giving and self sacrificing love. Such imitation of the shepherd will draw all sheep into one fold, in which differences in individuals will not be points of contention, but will be celebrated instead. In the fold of the true shepherd there will be a unity even in diversity, because the mission of the true shepherd is an inclusive one.

This is why Peter can invite the rulers of the people and elders whom he addresses in the first reading of today to join this community of love. It is a community that has one head, one true shepherd, Jesus Christ in whose name and through whose power wholeness occurs. Though he was rejected, crucified, died and was buried, he continues to draw all peoples to him through his resurrection and ascension and being present always.

This gift of being drawn to him is, however, only a foretaste of what is to come. In the second reading John tells his community that they are to receive the grace to see God as he is and will always be: unconditional love.

The readings of today therefore call each one of us to live out our lives according to the model of community envisioned here by Jesus. It is a model of mutual self giving, of self sacrifice and of living as a community. It is a model where the needs of the other take precedence over my own. It is a model in which differences are not frowned upon but celebrated. It is a model in which there is a profound unity even in diversity. It is a model grounded in the mutuality of love embodied in the relationship of Jesus and God.

Sunday, April 22, 2018 - Acts 4:8-12; 1 Jn3:1-2; Jn 10:11-18

Sunday, April 22, 2018 - Acts 4:8-12; 1 Jn 3:1-2; Jn 10:11-18

  1. What does the hired hand do when he sees the wolf coming?

  2. He protects the sheep
    He leaves the sheep and runs away
    He fights against the wolf

  3. Which Psalm does Peter quote in the first reading of today?

  4. Ps 119
    Ps 118
    Ps 120

  5. How has God shown his love for us according to John?

  6. We can do whatever we like
    We are called children of God
    We are free

  7. Who does not own the sheep?

  8. The Shepherd
    The hired hand
    The wolf

  9. What does the good shepherd do for the sheep?

  10. He lays down his life for them
    He sits idle while they graze
    He goes wandering

  11. Who takes the life of the good shepherd?

  12. His enemies
    He lays it down of his own accord
    The wolf

  13. Whom does Peter address in the first reading of today?

  14. The Scribes and Pharisees
    The rulers of the people and the elders
    The high priest and chief priests

  15. How does the good shepherd know the sheep?

  16. Just as the father knows him
    By branding them
    By putting a mark on them

  17. What is the message of the readings of today?

  18. Jesus is the Good Shepherd
    We are blessed that in Jesus we are sons and daughters of God
    By our example we must draw other sheep to the fold of Jesus

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Friday, 20 April 2018

Audio Reflections of Saturday, April 21, 2018

To hear the Audio Reflections of Saturday, April 21, 2018 click HERE

Saturday, April 21, 2018 - Will you opt for Jesus today? How will you show this in your actions?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts9:31-42; Jn 6:60-69

The text of today begins with the disciples grumbling after hearing what Jesus has said. The sayings are too difficult for them to accept. Jesus responds to their grumbling by issuing a challenge to them. If this affects them, they will be even more affected when they experience the death, resurrection, and ascension of the Son of Man. Jesus takes the disciples beyond the specific event of becoming and giving bread.  He takes them to the whole of the Christ event and its mystery.  Jesus, as Bread of Life, must be seen in the larger context of God’s plan of salvation through his Son.

The flesh, as flesh, and without the Spirit, is nothing. It cannot give live, nor does it have life. It is the Spirit that gives life and makes the flesh what it is. This means that simply eating the flesh of Jesus, without the right disposition, will not lead to life. Thus, those who eat and drink are not merely eating Jesus’ flesh and blood but the Spirit filled flesh and blood of Jesus. Even as Jesus offers the gift of life, through becoming bread, the gift is rejected because most prefer death. There are still those who will not believe. They have made their choice. God offers the gift of his Son to all, but not all will accept him. This is why many disciples drew back and no longer went with Jesus. This rejection leads Jesus to turn to the Twelve and ask them about their stand. They must choose whether they will accept or reject the offer of life that God makes in Jesus.

Simon Peter responds on behalf of the Twelve and at least verbally accepts that offer of life. He acknowledges that Jesus has the words of eternal life and that he is the Holy One of God, the one set aside by God.

Life always offers us choices. The choices that we are sometimes faced with might not always be what we desire, but the fact remains that we are free to choose. We can choose to be miserable or to be happy, we can choose to fear or to love, and we can choose to say No or to say Yes. Every choice that we make has its own consequences and we must be prepared to face them since it is we who have made the choice.

Saturday, April 21, 2018 - Acts 9:31-42; Jn 6:60-69

Saturday, April 21, 2018 - Acts 9:31-42; Jn 6:60-69

  1. Who answered Jesus when he asked the Twelve if they too wanted to go away?

  2. Simon Peter
    James and John

  3. What miracle did Peter perform on Dorcas?

  4. He healed her paralysis
    He resuscitated her from the dead
    He gave her back her hearing

  5. Besides the residents of Lydda which others turned to the Lord?

  6. The residents of Joppa
    The residents of Sharon
    The residents of Samaria

  7. What according to Jesus gives life?

  8. The flesh
    The spirit
    The mind

  9. In which place did Peter find Aeneas?

  10. Lydda

  11. What was the name of the woman disciple in Joppa?

  12. Talitha

  13. In whose name was Aeneas healed?

  14. Peter's
    Jesus Christ's

  15. For how many years was Aeneas bedridden?

  16. Seven

  17. What is the message of the readings of today?

  18. Following Jesus is a conscious decision
    Following Jesus is not easy
    Jesus does not force us to follow but always invites

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Thursday, 19 April 2018

Friday, April 20, 2018 - When someone places a new idea in front of you, is your first reaction one of rejection?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts9:1-20; Jn 6:52-59

The first verse of today’s text, which contains the question that the “Jews” ask, is occasioned by the statement that Jesus makes in the previous verse. The agitation in their hearts is because Jesus has identified himself with the bread of life. Jesus replaces the manna that their ancestors ate.

Jesus addresses this protest in the verses that follow. The bread that is to be eaten is the flesh and blood of the Son of Man. Refusal to do this means death or non-life. Eating the flesh and drinking the blood results in life and resurrection on the last day. By not mentioning bread and wine and thus, not equating them with the flesh and blood of Jesus, John focuses on the corporeal and not only on the sacramental representations. He also wants to stress that Jesus gives his whole life to all who are willing to receive him. The flesh that Jesus gives is life giving and so is his blood. It is real food and drink that will end all hunger and thirst.

Eating of the flesh and blood of Jesus leads to a mutual indwelling. The one who eats and drinks abides in Jesus and Jesus abides in that person. This relationship is an extension of the relationship between Jesus and the Father. Just as Jesus lives the Father’s life, so all who eat and drink will live Jesus’ life. The penultimate verse concludes the Bread of Life Discourse and repeats a theme that has been prevalent throughout. The bread which Jesus gives has indeed come from heaven and will give life forever and give it permanently, unlike the manna which could offer only temporary life.

The reference to the synagogue in Capernaum is to highlight the difference between Jesus’ teaching and that of the Jewish teachers and the difference between the manna eaten by their forefathers and the Bread of Life that Jesus gives.

It is not always easy to accept ideas which challenge our old way of thinking. Often our first reaction is rejection of that idea. We refuse to think outside the box, and are content with stereotypes with which we are comfortable. We are comfortable with them because they do not threaten us or call on us to change. We prefer that our boats not be rocked. However, Jesus continues to rock the boat and challenge our ways of thinking and being. He continues to wake us from our stupor and keeps inviting us to see more and be more.

Friday, April 20, 2018 - Acts 9:1-20; Jn 6:52-59

Friday, April 20, 2018 - Acts 9:1-20; Jn 6:52-59

  1. To whose house was Ananias sent to meet Saul?

  2. Peter's

  3. For how many days was Saul without sight?

  4. Three

  5. Where did Jesus give the discourse on the Bread of Life?

  6. In the synagogue at Damascus
    In the synagogue at Capernaum
    In the synagogue at Jerusalem

  7. From which city was Saul?

  8. Tarsus

  9. When the light from heaven flashed around him what happened to Saul?

  10. He was frightened
    He fell to the ground
    He ran away

  11. What was the name of the disciple in Damascus?

  12. Barnabbas

  13. From whom did Saul seek letters to the synagogues at Damascus?

  14. The Chief Priest
    The High Priest
    The Pharisees

  15. What is the message of the readings text of today?

  16. When a new idea is placed in front of us we must be open to it
    We must not be content with stereotypes
    We must learn to think outside the box

  17. What was the name of the street to which Ananias was sent?

  18. Bond

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Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Thursday, April 19, 2018 - How will you show that you have accepted the gift that God gives in Jesus?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 8:26-40; Jn 6:41-51

The symbol of “bread” is misunderstood by the people. They respond with unbelief. They grumble at Jesus’ claim that he is the bread of life and has come down from heaven. They protest that they “know” where Jesus comes from, they are aware of his antecedents. Even as they make such a statement, they are unaware of its error. They “think” they know, but in reality do not know.

Jesus addresses the crowd and asks them to stop their grumbling and then repeats the promise made earlier of resurrection on the last day for the ones who will believe. To reiterate the point that he makes, Jesus appeals to scripture and specifically to the prophets. “And they shall all be taught by God” refers to the initiative that God takes. The emphasis is on God who does the teaching. This means that Jesus’ commission is divinely ordained and not from humans. If the ones who hear realize this, then they will come to Jesus and they will have learnt correctly. This means that, while God does take the initiative, humans are responsible for responding accurately.

Jesus shares a unique relationship with the Father and is the only one who has seen Him. Those who learn have to learn to see the Father in Jesus. They have to learn that it is in Jesus that they have eternal life and that he is indeed the Bread of Life.
By using the distancing “your ancestors”, Jesus makes a contrast between the manna that they ate and the bread of life that he gives. The manna their ancestors consumed could not result in saving them from death, but the bread that Jesus gives results in a person living forever. This is because the bread that Jesus gives is living bread, a life giving bread. The bread that he gives for the life of the world is his flesh. This can mean, on one hand, the incarnation, where the Word became flesh, but on the other, can refer to his death on the cross, when he will give his life for the life of the world.

The purpose of Jesus’ coming into the world was to reveal the Father as God who wanted to save all people. This results in God taking the initiative in the tangible way of sending his son to become flesh for all. Even as God takes the initiative, he leaves humans free to respond to his act of love. Humans always have a choice when it comes to the gifts that God gives. They can accept them or reject them. Acceptance means life, rejection means death. There is no middle way.

Thursday, April 19, 2018 - Acts 8:26-40; Jn 6:41-51

Thursday, April 19, 2018 - Acts 8:26-40; Jn 6:41-51

  1. What was the court official whom Philip encountered in charge of?

  2. The soldiers of the queen
    The entire treasury of the queen
    The court of the queen

  3. What did the ancestors of the Jews eat in the desert?

  4. Barley loaves
    Bread from heaven

  5. Whom did Philip encounter in Jerusalem?

  6. The Queen of Ethiopia
    An Ethiopian Eunuch
    An official of the Church

  7. In which prophet do we find the phrase “And they shall all be taught by God.”

  8. Amos

  9. From which prophet was the person reading when Philip met him?

  10. Ezekile

  11. Whose son did the Jews say Jesus was?

  12. Joseph's
    They did not know

  13. Why did the Jews complain against Jesus?

  14. Because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’
    Because he wanted to convert them
    Because he did not give them any bread

  15. Where did Philip find himself after baptising the Eunuch?

  16. In Jerusalem
    At Azotus
    In Galilee

  17. What is the message of the readings of today?

  18. We are witness to Christ by what we say and do
    Jesus is indeed the bread of life
    Jesus alone can satisfy all hunger and thirst

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Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Wednesday, April 18, 2018 - What is preventing you from receiving the gifts that Jesus gives?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts8:1-8; Jn 6:35-40

Today’s text begins with the last verse that was read yesterday in order to place what follows in context. Jesus has stated that he is the Bread of Life and he invites all who are willing to come to him to be fully satisfied. The words “seeing’ and “believing”, which appear at 6:36 and again at 6:40 form an inclusion. The crowd has seen and yet has not perceived. They have not seen rightly and thus, cannot come to faith. This lack of proper vision is surprising when one realizes that Jesus’ primary purpose is not to hide but to reveal. He will welcome all who come to him. They will not be driven away. The purpose of his coming down from heaven is for the sake of revelation. This is the Father’s will and Jesus will do only what the Father commissions him to do. The Father’s will is inclusive and no one is to be excluded unless they want to exclude themselves. If one sees rightly and thus believes, what is gained is eternal life and resurrection on the last day. This promise combines both the present and the future.

These verses bring out powerfully the balance between divine initiative and human response. God takes the first step and remains open to anyone who is willing to come and receive the gifts that he wants to pour out. However, there will not be any coercion or pressure on the part of God. Those who come to receive from him must come freely and without reservation. The gift is ever available and free.  It is not for a select few but for all.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018 - Acts 8:1-8; Jn 6:35-40

Wednesday, April 18, 2018 - Acts 8:1-8; Jn 6:35-40

  1. Who was ravaging the Church be entering houses of believers?

  2. The Jews
    The Chief priests

  3. In which city did Philip preach?

  4. Galilee

  5. Who buried Stephen?

  6. His mother
    Devout men
    His sister

  7. Which apostle went down to the city to proclaim the Messiah?

  8. Peter

  9. Whose will has Jesus come to do?

  10. His own
    The will of those who are important
    His father's will

  11. What was God's will for Jesus?

  12. That no one should be lost
    That only a select few should be saved
    The he must die

  13. Besides Jerusalem where else did the persecution begin?

  14. Judea and Galilee
    Judea and Samaria
    Judea and Capernaum

  15. Besides those with unclean spirits who were those whom Philip cured?

  16. Paralysed and lame
    Paralysed and blind
    Paralysed and dumb

  17. Where did Saul put believers after dragging them from their homes?

  18. In a hotel
    In prison
    He took them to his home

  19. What is the message of the readings of today?

  20. The fact that Christianity continues besides persecution must give us hope
    Jesus continues to lead his Church and we must listen to his voice
    The will of God is that all peoples be saved

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Monday, 16 April 2018

Audio Reflections of Tuesday, April 17, 2018

To hear the Audio Reflections of Tuesday, April 17, 2018 click HERE

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 - Will you dare to become bread for at least one person today?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts7:51-8:1; Jn 6:30-35

The invitation that Jesus issues to the crowd, to believe in him who was sent by God, results in the crowd asking for a sign. This demand is a clear indication that they have not grasped the meaning of Jesus’ words. They have been fed at the miraculous feeding but were not able to see it for the sign that it was meant to be. The crowd goes further in this demand by looking back at what happened in the desert during the Exodus and how their ancestors were fed. This seems strange, and even absurd, because they have been fed even more abundantly than their ancestors. This also points to how ignorant and even closed the crowd is to the revelation that Jesus continues to make.

Jesus does not remind them that he had already given them bread, but first corrects their misunderstanding. It was not Moses who gave their ancestors bread but his Father. This bread is not merely bread that was given in the past but it continues to be given in the present. It, and not the manna, is the true bread from heaven. It is true bread because it gives life to all who eat it.

Like Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman before them, the crowd does not fully understand what Jesus is really offering and so, make a request for this bread. They are convinced that this bread is better than the bread their ancestors ate, but do not understand how or why. Jesus is available to them and yet, they cannot see. He gives the bread once for all and, in doing so, gives the bread always. This is why Jesus can assert that He is the bread of life. This is the first time in the Gospel of John that the “I am’ saying is followed by a predicate nominative “the bread of life”. John’s Gospel often uses this distinctive way of revealing who Jesus is. The symbols that are used by Jesus in these sayings come from human and Near Eastern religious experience. The use of these common, everyday symbols results in conveying to all who will hear that Jesus can satisfy both the base and higher needs of people everywhere. These symbols indicate that the mystery of Jesus cannot be captured by any one symbol and that Jesus cannot be put into a well defined category.

The saying also contains an invitation to come to him and be sated. Though, on the one hand, the invitation refers to a physical eating and drinking and so satisfying human hunger and thirst, on a deeper level, the invitation is to listen to Jesus’ teaching and see in him the revelation of God and so, the fulfillment of all human needs.

Bread is the staple of many people all over the world and is used to represent the basic needs of people. By use of this symbol, Jesus reveals that his mission is to be available to all and for all. He does not belong exclusively to any one group and no group can ever capture him fully. He is available to all who are open to the revelation that he continues to make. The primary form that this revelation will always take is the form of love.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 - Acts7:51-8:1; Jn 6:30-35

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 - Acts7:51-8:1; Jn 6:30-35

  1. Where did persecution begin after the death of Stephen?

  2. Jerusalem

  3. Whom did Stephen ask to receive his spirit?

  4. God
    The Holy Spirit

  5. What did the people ask of Jesus?

  6. A sign or work
    More bread
    Manna from heaven

  7. On which side of God did Stephen see the Son of Man standing?

  8. Left side
    Right side

  9. Who approved of the stoning of Stephen?

  10. Saul
    The apostles

  11. When his opponents were called a stiff necked people besides other things what did they do?

  12. They became enraged and ground their teeth
    They got frightened
    They were happy

  13. How did his opponents kill Stephen?

  14. They crucified him
    They stoned him
    They drowned him in the sea

  15. Who called his opponents a stiff necked people?

  16. Peter

  17. What is the message of the readings of today?

  18. Jesus is the bread of life
    Like Stephen we also must learn to forgive
    Truth will ultimately prevail

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Sunday, 15 April 2018

Audio Reflections of Monday, April 16, 2018

To hear the Audio Reflections of Monday, April 16, 2018 click HERE

Monday, April 16, 2018 - Will you express your faith in Jesus through one loving action today?

To read the texts click on the textsActs6:8-15; Jn 6:22-29

The first three verses of today’s text, which appear immediately after the miracle of walking on the water, serve as transition verses for the dialogue with the people and the discourse on the bread of life that follow. They also serve to bring the crowd, which had eaten at the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, back into the story and so, link Jesus’ words that follow with the feeding miracle and the miracle of walking on the water.

Since the crowd has not been privy to the miracle of Jesus walking on the water, they wonder how he got to the other side. Jesus does not answer their question but draws attention to their reason for seeking him. Though they have seen the sign that Jesus gave at the miraculous feeding, they were not able to perceive it because their attention was directed to the earthly and temporary, not to the heavenly and permanent. Even as they seek him for temporary food, Jesus invites them to a higher seeking. He asks them to seek for the food that only he can give, the food that endures forever. Jesus is competent to give this food because the Father himself has approved and set his seal on Jesus. In response to Jesus’ statement to not work for food that perishes, the crowd interprets the word “work” to mean certain actions that they must perform to acquire this food. Jesus corrects this misunderstanding by explaining what is meant by “work”. They must believe in Jesus who has been sent by God.

Believing in Jesus does not only mean a verbal profession of faith. In the Gospel of John, the term believing is, most often, used to describe faith that shows itself in action. This is why believing is akin to work. Jesus does not provide merely physical nourishment, but also nourishment of the mind, heart, and spirit. To know and believe in Jesus is to be sated in every aspect of life. It is to never lack or want anything, because all things are provided in him.

Monday, April 16, 2018 - Acts 6:8-15; Jn 6:22-29

Monday, April 16, 2018 - Acts 6:8-15; Jn 6:22-29

  1. Besides the people whom did those who belonged to the synagogue stir against Stephen?

  2. The elders and scribes
    The chief priests and scribes
    The elders and Pharisees

  3. How did Stephen's face appear when he was brought before the Council?

  4. Frightened
    Like an angel

  5. Who argued with Stephen?

  6. The Pharisees
    Those who belonged to the synagogue of freedmen
    The Scribes

  7. What is the message of the readings of today?

  8. To believe in Jesus is to see God
    Sometimes we have to bravely stand up for what is right
    To truly believe in Jesus is not easy

  9. Against whom was Stephen alleged to have spoken blasphemies?

  10. Jesus and God
    Moses and God
    Abraham and God

  11. How many loaves has Jesus used in the feeding which he speaks about in today's reading?

  12. Five

  13. Where did the crowds go looking for Jesus?

  14. Capernaum

  15. Who has set his seal on the Son of Man?

  16. The Holy Spirit
    God the Father
    The High Priest

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Saturday, 14 April 2018

Sunday, April 15, 2018 - Third Sunday of Easter - Preach and practice forgiveness!

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 3:13-15, 17-19;1 Jn 2:1-5; Lk 24:35-48

The last verse of today’s Gospel “You are witnesses of these things”, sets not only the theme for the readings of today, but also summarizes both the privilege and responsibility of being witnesses.

The question, however, is to what are the disciples to witness? To whom must they witness? They are called to witness clearly to the person of Christ – specifically to his death and resurrection and also to the fact that in his name forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed to all.

Jesus shows this to them in two ways. The first is in the manifestation of himself. Even as he stands in their midst, he greets them with the greeting of peace. This greeting coming from the risen Lord is more than merely a greeting. It is a gift, a surety, a tangible thing. It refers to wholeness and embraces every aspect of life. It is a gift that will sustain them in all their endeavors and encourage them in mission. After the gift of peace, Jesus responds to their shock and amazement by convincing them that he is not a spirit, but flesh and blood. He is the same Jesus who died and was buried who is now raised. The second way in which Jesus reveals the content of their witness is in the instructions he gives them concerning mission.

Their Mission is not different from his. It is at one with and continues the Mission that Jesus himself inaugurated. The disciples are called to proclaim not merely Jesus’ death and resurrection but also that precisely because of this Christ-event all people everywhere have been forgiven, accepted and loved. The disciples are called to proclaim that the name Jesus means that God saves from sin.

Peter understood this message clearly as is evident in his address to the people gathered in the Temple. Though Jesus was rejected, despised and killed for no fault of his, yet, the God who raised him forgives all those involved in their heinous act. Because they have received this unconditional forgiveness in Jesus’ name, they are called to a metanoia, a change of mind, heart and vision. The acceptance of God’s forgiveness must result in a transformation.

This idea is reiterated by John in the second reading of today in which he exhorts the community to realize that because Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, the response to such a death must be a life well lived. This is shown by obedience to the command that Jesus taught, that all love one another as brothers and sisters. This is how love for God and Jesus is shown.

“You are witnesses of these things”, is a declaration that Jesus continues to make even today. We who have experienced God’s unconditional love in Jesus are called to proclaim – like the first disciples – both the Christ event and that in Jesus’ name, God continues to forgive, accept and love. However, this forgiveness cannot be proclaimed if we have not first experienced it ourselves. It is strange but true that the only way we can experience forgiveness is, if we first forgive. The Lord’s Prayer which is one of the most common and well-known prayers makes the same point. We ask the Lord to forgive us only as we forgive. In other words, we will not be in a position to receive God’s forgiveness if our hearts are filled with unforgiveness. In the creed of the Catholic Church, belief in the forgiveness of sins stands besides belief in the Holy Catholic Church and the communion of saints which indicates how central this aspect is to being Christian.

Psychologists and doctors today tell us that the larger majority of our illnesses today are psychosomatic. This means that when the “inside” (psuchç) of a person is affected then the “outside” (sōma) will also be affected. One of the main reasons why the “inside” gets affected is because of lack of forgiveness and holding on to hurts and resentments.
The hands and feet that Jesus showed his disciples are visible today in each of us who claim to be his disciples. These are shown to the world as “proof” not only of the fact that Jesus is alive, but that in his name, forgiveness is even now being preached. It is significant that the content of the preaching, even after the resurrection of Jesus, is to be forgiveness, because that is why Jesus came into the world; to save people from their sins. This forgiveness can be preached and made real only if we bear witness to it through our lives.

“Forgive”, I am fond of saying, “it is good for your health”.

Sunday, April 15, 2018 - Acts 3:13-15, 17-19;1 Jn 2:1-5; Lk 24:35-48

Sunday, April 15, 2018 - Acts 3:13-15, 17-19;1 Jn 2:1-5; Lk 24:35-48

  1. Who does John say is our advocate when we sin?

  2. Jesus Christ
    The Father
    The Holy Spirit

  3. Whom did the disciples think they were seeing when they saw Jesus?

  4. The Holy Spirit
    A ghost
    The Messiah

  5. What did the disciples give Jesus to eat?

  6. A piece of broiled fish
    A piece of fish
    A piece of fried fish

  7. How many ancestors are named in the first reading of today? Who are they?

  8. Three. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
    Four. Abraham, Moses, Isaac and Jacob
    Three. Abraham, Isaac and Moses

  9. Which parts of his body did Jesus show his disciples?

  10. His hands and his side
    His hands and his feet
    His hands and head

  11. Whose words does Jesus say were fulfilled in him?

  12. The law of Moses and the prophets
    The law of Moses, the prophets and the psalms
    The law of Moses and the psalms

  13. What did Jesus gift his disciples when he appeared?

  14. Peace

  15. How many letters of John are in the Bible?

  16. One

  17. From where would the proclamation of forgiveness begin?

  18. Galilee

  19. What is the message of the readings of today?

  20. That if we believe in Jesus, our faith must show in action
    That Jesus is forgiveness and love
    That Jesus died to give us life

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