Monday, 19 February 2018
Tuesday, February 20, 2018 - How will you acknowledge your dependence on God today? Is there someone who you think has hurt you whom you have not yet forgiven? Will you forgive that person today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Isa55:10-11; Mt 6:7-15
The three chapters beginning from 5:1 and ending at 7:29 contain one of the most famous discourses of Matthew known as “The Sermon on the Mount”.
It is important to have a brief background of the Sermon in order to appreciate fully each separate text within it. The first point that we note about the Sermon on the Mount is that it is the first of the five great discourses in the Gospel of Matthew. Each of these five ends with the phrase, “and when Jesus had finished…” (7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1). It begins by showing Jesus as a Rabbi teaching ex-cathedra (5:1) and ends by showing Jesus as the Messianic prophet addressing the crowds (7:28).
The second point that must be kept in mind is that the Sermon is a composition of Matthew. An analysis of similar texts in the Gospels of Mark and Luke indicate that many verses found here in Matthew are found in Mark and Luke in different contexts. This does not mean that Jesus did not say these words. It means that Matthew has put them together in this manner.
The third point is the theme, which will determine how one will interpret the Sermon as a whole. Most are agreed that the theme of the Sermon is found in 5:17-20, in which Jesus speaks about having come not to abolish but to fulfill the Law and Prophets, and issues a challenge to those listening to let their “righteousness” be greater than that of the scribes and Pharisees in order to enter the kingdom.
The mountain is a “theological topos” in the Gospel of Matthew (Luke’s Sermon is from “a level place” see Lk 6:17) and therefore means much more than simply a geographical location. Matthew does not name the mountain, but by choosing it as the place from where Jesus delivers the Sermon, he probably wants to portray Jesus as the New Moses delivering the New Law from a New Mountain. While Jesus in the Gospel of Luke “stands” and delivers the Sermon (Lk 6:17), in Matthew, Jesus sits down. This is the posture that the Jewish Rabbis adopted when communicating a teaching of importance or connected with the Law. In Luke the crowd is addressed from the beginning of the Sermon and addressed directly, “Blessed are you poor…” (Lk 6:20), but in Matthew, it is the “disciples” who come to Jesus and whom he begins to teach.
The section on Prayer begins in 6:5 and Jesus contrasts the prayer of his disciples with the prayer of hypocrites who like to be seen by all and also Gentile prayer which heaps words upon words and may also mean a prayer made to many “gods” to placate them. This kind of prayer is only for self gratification or to receive favours. The prayer of the disciple is to God who is Father and who knows what they need even before they can ask. Thus, prayer is not simply to place the petition before God who is all knowing but primarily to acknowledge dependence on God for everything.
What follows this contrast is the prayer that Jesus teaches his disciples and which is commonly known as the "Our Father". However, a better term for this would be "The Lord's Prayer". The reason for this is because there are two versions of the same prayer. The other is found in Lk. 11:2-4. There, the pronoun "Our" is missing and the prayer begins simply with "Father". In Matthew this prayer is at the very centre of the Sermon and must be read with that fact in mind. It begins with an address and then goes on to make two sets of three petitions. The address of God as “Father” brings out the intimacy of the relationship that disciples and God share. The pronoun “Our” here indicates that God is not merely the father of individual believers but of the community as a whole and therefore all in the believing community are brothers and sisters.
The opening petitions indicate that prayer does not begin with one’s needs, but with the glory and honour due to God. God’s name is and will be honoured by all men and women, since God as revealed by Jesus is primarily a God of mercy, forgiveness and unconditional love. The kingdom of God has come in Jesus and is also in the future when God will be all and in all. This is a situation in which God will show himself to be king as he has done in the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. As Jesus constantly did God’s will, so it will continue to be done both in heaven and on earth. It is only when God’s will is done rather than one’s own that there can be true and lasting peace and harmony.
Despite petitioning God for something as stupendous as the kingdom, the disciple also acknowledges dependence on God for something as regular and ordinary as bread. God’s forgiveness is unconditional and without any merit on the part of the disciples. However, in order to receive this forgiveness which God gives graciously and gratuitously, the disciple will have to remove from his/her heart any unforgiveness, resentment, bitterness or anger that might be present there. The prayer ends with a final petition that God, who always leads the people, will not bring them into a time of testing, when the pressure might be so great as to overcome faith itself, but that he will save them from the ultimate power of evil.
The Lord’s Prayer is not just a prayer; it is also a way of life. The words of the prayer communicate the attitude that one must have toward God and others. While we must acknowledge our dependence on God for everything that we need and regard him always as the primary cause, our attitude to others must be one of acceptance and forgiveness.
Sunday, 18 February 2018
Monday, February 19, 2018 - Lev 19:1-2,11-18; Mt 25:31-46
To read the texts click on the texts: Lev19:1-2,11-18; Mt 25:31-46
The Gospel text of today is a passage about the "kingdom" of God, about all those who are kin to God, and, therefore, who are kin to each other. We are each of us kin to one another. We are all indeed one. The deepest expression of this truth, on this side of life, is a spirituality in which there is no split between our devotion and our deed; no split between mystery and commandment; no split between piety and ethics and no split between being and doing. Like mystery and commandment, interwoven as they are, Jesus is one with the hungry and the thirsty, is one with the stranger and the prisoner, and is one with the naked and the sick. To care for these, is to care for Jesus. To care for them is to reach back into the very essence of life and to touch the God who takes shape in the hungry, in the thirsty, in the naked, in the sick, in the stranger, in the prisoner. "And then the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these, who are members of my family, you did it to me.'" The text, thus, is not so much about the condemnation of God, as it is really about the universal vision of the love of God, about the very scope of God's love in Jesus for the whole world. Jesus remains the model of unconditional and eternal love. This was shown in the most powerful of ways by Jesus himself, when in total obedience to the Father, he dared to spread his arms on the Cross in total surrender of self. Therefore, God raised him.
This understanding is important to avoid any kind of misinterpretation that might arise due to a person thinking that it is his/her deeds that earn merit and reward. The righteous who reached out to the least of their brothers and sisters, did so because of the necessity to help, love, serve, visit and feed. They dared to listen to the promptings of the Spirit and responded to these promptings. They did not do what they did for reward. It was not the condition of their good deeds, but its consequences. They did not earn the kingdom but inherited it. Inheritance is determined by the giver not the receiver. The kingdom remains a free gift of God.
Though the unrighteousness also address Jesus as Lord – a title used in Matthew’s Gospel only by those who at least have some faith - it is not enough. Their address remains at the theoretical level and is not translated into action. They did not act because they did not believe that God could hide himself in the poorest of the poor. They did not believe that God could be present in the scum of society and in those who live on the margins. They believed that God could be present only in a beautiful sunset or in the stimulating fragrance of a rose or in the silence of one’s heart. They did not realize that our God had been made visible in Jesus, who taught all who were willing to listen, that God was primarily a God of the poor, and that though he was king, he came only to serve.
The sufferings borne by the least of our brothers and sisters continue to summon and challenge us as Church today. They continue to ask us to dare to be credible and authentic witnesses of the Gospel. They invite us not merely to preach acts of loving kindness but to do them. However, what we need is not merely more action, more doing for the sake of doing. No! What we need is a universal unity of love and togetherness. It is a togetherness that transcends all of our frontiers, the frontiers of our mind and of our heart, the frontiers of our creeds and doctrines, the frontiers of our ideas and concepts. This is a radical call to transcend all of those externals that keep us apart, that keep us separated and split.
The challenge for us today is to forget our own needs for love and happiness and to reach out in love to make someone else happy who may be in greater need. For whatever we do to the least of these needy children of God, these brothers and sisters of Jesus, we do to Jesus Himself.
Saturday, 17 February 2018
First Sunday in Lent - Gen 9:8-15; 1 Pet 3:18-22;Mk 1:12-15
To read the texts click on the texts: Gen 9:8-15;1 Pet 3:18-22;Mk 1:12-15
Lent is a forty-day period of fast and abstinence before Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday when we go into Easter. Sundays are not counted, since they commemorate the Resurrection of the Lord. While Lent is actually a translation of the Latin term, quadragesima, which means ‘forty days’ or literally the ‘fortieth day’, it also refers to the spring season. The forty-day period is symbolic of the forty days that Jesus spent in the desert, a detail mentioned by all the synoptic gospels. This is why, in all three years, the Gospel reading on the First Sunday in Lent is about the temptations of Jesus in the desert.
While Matthew and Luke narrate the three temptations in the desert and Jesus’ responses, Mark does not do so. His focus is different. Mark’s narrative of the temptations compares Jesus, who is faithful, with unfaithful Israel. Jesus overcame the temptations when tested for forty days, but Israel succumbed to temptations during their forty year period of testing in the desert. The overcoming of the temptations by Jesus leads to the wilderness being transformed into paradise, the desert being transformed into an oasis and humans being no longer subject to Satan or his rule. However, the overcoming of temptation, with angels ministering to Jesus, is only one part of the story.
The second part – the positive overcoming of temptation – is integral to the story and completes it. Soon after overcoming temptation, Jesus comes into Galilee to proclaim his experience of who God really is. Mark prepares for this revolutionary and radical proclamation through four pointers or indicators. The first of these is a time indicator (proclaiming), and a content indicator (the Good News of God). These serve to clarify the proclamation.
The arrest of John serves to remove him from the story, so that he can make way for Jesus, with whom a new time has begun. Galilee is home for Jesus, a place of acceptance, a place of the proclamation of the kingdom. That Jesus comes “proclaiming” instead of “teaching” indicates that this is the message to be heard by all. The good news that Jesus proclaims is not made up by him, but is the good news of God. It is God who has mandated Jesus to speak these words. This indicator is crucial because it speaks of who God is and how he regards humans who are created in his image and likeness.
A glimpse of this good news of God is given to us in the first reading in the covenant or promise that makes to Noah. It is a promise that is made after the destruction of the whole world by the flood. God’s promise here is significant, because it is the first promise in the Bible that is to be fulfilled, not only in the lives of the Israelites but, in the lives of all people. The whole of humanity will never again be threatened with destruction. This covenant marked the start of a whole new world and a whole new way of looking at, and dealing with, God. It was completed when God sent his son, not merely to make a new covenant but also, to be the Covenant or Promise for all times and all ages.
This then is the good news that Jesus proclaims from God that, in him, as never before, all people everywhere have been saved. If in the promise made to Noah, the focus was on non-destruction of the human race, in the proclamation of Jesus, the focus is on salvation through love. The core of the proclamation of Jesus is that God has taken the initiative. He has loved first, he has forgiven first, and he has accepted first. The kingdom has come, not because we are worthy or have done something commendable. It has come because, in Jesus, God loves unconditionally. Peter echoes this idea in the second reading of today, when he explicates that this Covenant or Promise made by God was made even when men and women were sinners.
As humans, we have only to respond to that love, forgiveness, and acceptance. This response is done through repentance which never means being sorry. Rather, it means a change of heart, mind, and vision. It is a call to realize that God’s love is given freely, unconditionally and without measure.
Thus, on the first Sunday of Lent, the call is to leave every negative thing. It means a refusal to walk in the path of frustration, anxiety, or despair and to take instead the road of happiness, peace, and joy. It means that, though the road might get steep and the going difficult, we will continue to carry on walking the path, confident in the knowledge that, in Jesus, we are saved, and that sin is overcome by love. The old has gone, the new has indeed come.
Friday, 16 February 2018
Saturday, February 17, 2018 - Isa 58:9-14; Lk 5:27-32
To read the texts click on the texts: Isa58:9-14; Lk 5:27-32
The call of Levi the toll collector and his response to that call is the text for today. Toll collectors like Levi was were those individuals who paid the Roman authorities in advance for the right to collect tolls. Since they decided the value of the goods being brought in, they could abuse the system and many did. Due to this also because they were seen as colluding with the Romans, they were despised by the people and made targets of scorn and ridicule. The calling of Levi is a revolutionary act on the part of Jesus. When almost everyone else would have seen Levi as a thief and corrupt individual, Jesus was able to see him as a potential disciple. This is an indication not only of the deep insight into people that Jesus had but also of God’s grace which is given without any merit on the part of the individual. It is a gift and not earned but gifted.
Levi on his part accepts this call. He leaves “everything” for the privilege of following Jesus. Luke’s Gospel alone mentions the word “everything” to stress the total sacrifice that Levi was called to and made. It is an indication that he left his old way of life behind to take on a new kind of life that Jesus was calling him to. He then arose and followed Jesus. The sequence of the actions of Levi is interesting. He gets up and follows, only after giving up.
Levi then gives a feast in his own house to celebrate his call. The scribes and Pharisees complain about the scandal of sitting at table with tax collectors and sinners. By doing so those who sat at table with them were making themselves unclean, but they were also showing social acceptance of a group that was considered as outcasts. Jesus’ response is in and through a proverb and a statement. It is obvious that the services of a physician are required by those who are sick not be those who are well. The mission of Jesus is very clearly directly to those who need him: the sinners. Repentance is not the condition for following Jesus; it is his purpose for coming into the world. He has come in order that sinners might be transformed.
The call which Jesus made to his disciples and here to Levi is startling brief: “Follow me”. This is because his call was a call to a personal commitment to him. It was not a call to a set of values or principles. It was not a call to any kind of philosophy or theology. It was not a call to a particular political programme. It was a call that had as its base and origin Jesus himself. The only reward that one could expect from such a following was that others would be drawn to Jesus because of one’s own commitment and perseverance.
The call is made here to Levi, who was considered as an outcast and one who was beyond the bounds of God’s mercy. This indicates that no one is excluded from the Mission of Jesus. Everyone has a place, all are called. Like Levi it is important to give up the former way of life and then to get up and follow. This requires God’s grace surely, but also human response.
Thursday, 15 February 2018
Friday, February 16, 2018 - Do you often do the right thing at the wrong time or the wrong thing at the right time?
To read the texts click on the texts: Isa58:1-9;Mt 9:14-15
The question of fasting is raised by the disciples of John the Baptist. They want to know why they and the Pharisees follow the rule of fasting, but the disciples of Jesus do not.
Jesus’ response is that the guests at a wedding do not fast at the wedding. It would be absurd to do so. Since the coming of the kingdom has often been portrayed as a messianic banquet, Matthew seems to want to insist that Jesus is the messianic bridegroom and with his coming the wedding feast has begun. There will be a time when the bridegroom is taken away and that will be the time to fast. The “taking away” of the bridegroom refers to the death of Jesus.
The book of Ecclesiastes points out wisely that “there is a time for everything”. There is a time for feasting and a time for fasting. But here is the rub: To know which time is for which. Even as we discern about the times for suitable actions, we must keep in mind that rules and regulations can never be ends in themselves. They are only means to an end. All rules are at the service of humans no matter how good or noble they may be. If the rule becomes an end in itself, it loses its relevance and meaning. Also, if following the rule makes one less tolerant of others and leads to pointing out the faults of others, then it may be better to give it up.
Wednesday, 14 February 2018
Thursday, February 15, 2018 - Deut 30:15-20; Lk 9:22-25
Thursday, February 15, 2018 - At the end of today will you consider your life as having been one that has been worthily lived?
To read the texts click on the texts: Deut30:15-20; Lk 9:22-25
On the day following Ash Wednesday, the church makes explicit through the choice of the readings what the overarching theme of the season will be. It has to do with suffering, the cross and death, which here, is not primarily physical death, but death to self and the ego.
This is seen clearly in the first passion and resurrection prediction in the Gospel of Luke which is part of the text for today. Like in the other two synoptic gospels, the prediction in Luke appears immediately after Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ. Immediately following Peter’s confession Jesus sternly commands the disciples not to tell anyone of this. This is because he does not want to be misunderstood as a glorious and triumphant Messiah or as one who will come conquering, but as a Messiah who will suffer and die. This is because God has ordained it and Jesus will always be obedient to God’s commands.
Anyone who wishes to follow Jesus must be of the same mind. The first saying on discipleship which follows emphasizes not so much the readiness to die for Jesus as much as the courage to persevere in following him. This is why Luke adds the word “daily” after the call to take up the cross. It is in spending oneself for the good of others rather than pursuing one’s own selfish ambitions that true joy, peace and fulfilment can be found. Paradoxically, spending one’s life for others results in gaining one’s life. The final saying of the Gospel of today cuts the ground from under our preoccupation with material and temporary wealth. What will we have gained, even if we acquire all the possessions in the world, but lose ourselves in the process? This saying reminds us that there are dimensions of life vital to fulfilment and happiness that are not satisfied by financial security or material wealth.
The impulse to succeed in a given profession, to acquire material possessions, and to prosper is powerful. In a materialistic culture we are easily seduced by the assumption that security and fulfilment are achieved by means of financial prosperity. We strive for things that do not last and in the process of our striving, are not able to see the beauty that life has to offer. We exist without really having lived. The challenge is to seek for that which brings real fulfilment and not illusory happiness.
Tuesday, 13 February 2018
To hear the Audio Reflections of Ash Wednesday, February 14, 2018 click HERE
Lent is a period of repentance. Repentance does not mean being sorry for one’s sins. Nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus tell people they must be sorry for their sins, but he keeps calling people to repentance. Repentance means a change of mind, heart and vision. It is a call to look at everything anew. It is a call to leave the negative behind and take on the positive of God’s newness.
The Monday in the First Week of Lent with the call to act rightly because that is how each of us will be judged sets the tone for the meaning of repentance. The week continues with Jesus teaching his disciples how to pray and also the meaning of prayer and perseverance. He exhorts them to interiorize the law rather than merely observe external observances. This means that the action that one performs must always be an action motivated by love. It also means that even if the action is a holy one namely the offering of sacrifice but is not accompanied by love, then it is not a worthy action. Love must always motivate all actions of the Christian.
The Second Week of Lent begins with the invitation to imitate God who is compassionate. God’s compassion is shown in his reaching out to those in need especially the lowly. This is why the disciples cannot strive for places of honour but must only strive to serve. The greatest in the kingdom is the one who serves. This service is to be shown in action in the care and concern that one expresses towards those who live on the margins of society. Indifference to and ignorance of the needs of others is also rejection of them and will lead to condemnation, just as selfishness shown in wanting to keep all the fruits of the vineyard and not give God and others their due. Yet, God who is Prodigal Father keeps making every attempt to get the wayward to come back to him.
In the Third Week of Lent the teachings of Jesus focus on forgiveness not seven times but as often as is needed. This is how Jesus fulfills the law and invites his disciples to do the same. There is only one commandment, namely the commandment to love God by loving neighbour. If love motivates the actions of a person then prayer will be answered.
In the Fourth and Fifth Weeks, the Gospel readings are all from John and bring out various aspects of the personality of Jesus. Jesus is the one who heals and makes whole, he is one who reaches out to Samaritans and outcasts, who condemns no one including those who condemn others. He is from above and though cannot be fully known will keep revealing himself to those who wish to see and encounter him.
In Holy Week leading to Maundy Thursday, we read about the anointing of Jesus is preparation for his death and burial and also the predictions of his betrayal and denial by his own. Though Jesus knows all that is going to happen to him, he goes to his death willingly so that all of humanity might be saved.
Monday, 12 February 2018
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - What is the leaven (influence) that is affecting your vision of who Jesus really is? Will you cleanse your heart to see rightly today?
To read the texts click on the texts:Jas 1:12-18; Mk 8:14-21
The text of today contains a dialogue between Jesus and his disciples and ends the long sequence, which began with Jesus teaching the crowds from a boat (Mk 4:1-8).
This is the third of the three incidents at sea in which the disciples seem to be at sea in their attempt to discover who Jesus really. The first was in Mk 4:35-41 when Jesus calms the storm so that the disciples have to ask, “Who then is this?” The second in Mk 6:45-51 when Jesus comes walking on the water and Mark comments that “the disciples were utterly astounded for they had not understood about the loaves but their hearts were hardened” (Mk 6:51-52) and here in the third incident in this section they also fail to understand. (Mk 8:21).
The disciples think that Jesus is rebuking them because they had forgotten to carry food, when in fact he is rebuking them for their hardness of heart. When Jesus questions the disciples about the feeding miracles, the focus of his questions are not on the number of people who were fed (this would be asked to indicate the magnanimity and abundance of the miracle) neither are they on the smallness of their resources (which would indicate the stupendous power of Jesus) but on the breaking and gathering. The disciples know the answers, but are not able to perceive that Jesus is able to provide anything his disciples’ need. They are taken up with his power, but do not really understand.
Like the disciples we tend sometimes to focus on things that are not really necessary and so lose sight of the bigger picture. We can get caught up in details and so not see the whole. We might have a narrow view of the world and so lose sight of the fact that we can find God in all things and all things in him.
Jas 1:12-18; Mk 8:14-21
Sunday, 11 February 2018
Monday, February 12, 2018 - What sign are you seeking from the Lord? Will you continue to believe even without this sign?
To read the texts click on the texts:James 1:1-11; Mk 8:11-13
The text of today appears immediately after the second feeding miracle in the Gospel of Mark, in which Jesus has fed 4000 people with seven loaves and a few fish.
Here, the Pharisees demand a sign. The sign they demand is some form of divine authentication. Jesus’ response is to sigh deeply in his spirit, which could be akin to throwing one’s hands up in despair. He refuses to perform a sign. This refusal on the part of Jesus could be interpreted as a sign of Jesus’ rejection of “this generation”. Mark portrays Jesus here as a prophet announcing God’s judgement against this generation.
There are times in our lives when everything seems to go awry. Nothing seems to be going right. At times like these we might keep asking God to give us some sign that he is on our side and cares for us and we might not receive it. It is possible that this might lead us to lose faith and to stop believing. We need to have the courage to believe even without any signs. This is what true faith means.
Jas 1:1-11; Mk 8:11-13
Saturday, 10 February 2018
Lev 13:1-2, 44-46; 1 Cor 10:31-11:1; Mk 1:40-45
To read the texts click on the texts: Lev 13:1-2, 44-46; 1Cor 10:31-11:1; Mk 1:40-45
Satan stood at the foot of the cross and asked Jesus, "What happens now to the work you began?"
And Jesus whispered, "I do not need to worry, I have my disciples to carry it on!"
"Well, what happens if they fail you, Son of Man?" Satan sneered.
"I have no other plan," Jesus sighed, and then he died.
The first reading of today states, in very clear terms, why leprosy was considered such a dreadful disease. The term “leprosy” was used loosely for many kinds of skin ailments. A person with such an ailment was to be brought to the priest, who alone could declare the person clean. The leper was to wear torn clothes, have disheveled hair and cover the lower part of the face. These actions were also signs of mourning for the dead. This state of uncleanness was so serious that it was considered similar to the state of death. The cry of “Unclean, unclean” was, on the one hand, to warn others not to come near and, on the other hand, a lament about one’s condition because it was considered as divine punishment for serious sin. Living outside the camp was considered to be living in the place most removed from the presence of God, a place to which the sinner and the impure were banished.
It is in this context that the Gospel text of today must be read. The leper approaches Jesus as a suppliant and knows that Jesus can heal him. Jesus has only to will it and it will be done. The anger of Jesus means, on the one hand, that Jesus was angry about the fact that evil forces had taken such a hold of the man and so, the anger was directed against these forces. It also means anger against the establishment that ostracized persons and treated them as outcasts. The reaching out to touch the leper means that Jesus cannot be defiled or made unclean by touching someone considered unclean. The reaching out also confirms that the anger of Jesus was primarily against those who would treat humans worse than animals. After the leper is healed, he is told to show himself to the priest, who would declare him clean and so, ready to resume his rightful place in society as a full human being. This indicates that Jesus was concerned with complying with the law. That the man is to do this, as “evidence against them”, seems to be polemical and directed against the unbelieving as incriminating evidence of their unbelief.
The world today is plagued by different kinds of discriminations. We discriminate on the basis of caste, religion, colour, language, social or economic status, and the like. It is to those of us who engage in such discrimination that the texts of today seem to be addressed. The ones who are discriminated against, and often, for no fault of their own, are those who, like the leper, are oppressed and outcasts. They are kept on the margins of society while the rest of us continue to live as if they do not exist. While sometimes there is an active shunning of these, at other times, it is done subtly, through indifference. We pretend as if they do not exist. By his reaching out and touching the leper, Jesus gives a strong message to all of us that no one is to be excluded from the love and mercy of God. No one is to be excluded from the grace of God that flows equally on everyone. No one is to be excluded, or discriminated against, simply because they speak a different language, or call God by another name, or are of a different colour, or social and economic status. Each and every person is a child of God and has the same rights and privileges as other sons and daughters of God.
This is exactly what Paul means when he challenges the Corinthian community to realize that they must do what they do for the glory of God, which, in its barest essence, means that they must not give offence to anyone. In its profound sense, it means that they will never seek their own advantage but always the advantage of others. In this, they are to imitate Christ.
Jesus has no plan other than the one in which he challenges his disciples to carry on his mission of reconciliation, and reaching out, by imitating him. He would want all who are willing to come, to be drawn to his Father, and would want to draw all, without distinction. He would want all, without distinction, to be made whole. He would want all, without distinction, to share in the riches of God’s power and glory and unconditional love. Even as he draws those who are discriminated against, he also draws the discriminators, to make them see the folly of their ways and to realize that, when they make distinctions, they are losing out on the beauty of life itself and are living isolated lives, lives without meaning. These, too, are invited to open themselves to the magnanimity of God’s abundant grace.