Thursday, 24 May 2018

Friday, May 25, 2018 - Am I faithful to the commitment that I have made in my state of life?

To read the texts click on the texts: James 5:9-12; Mk 10:1-12

The school of Hillel (60 BCE – 20 CE), permitted divorce literally for any cause – even if the wife spoiled a dish or if her husband found another fairer than his wife. However the school of Shammai (50 BCE – 30 CE) permitted it only for adultery.

In Deut 24:1-4 the institution of divorce is taken for granted, & concerns only the procedure to be followed and that after the woman has married a second time, the first husband cannot remarry her. The Law of divorce was a concession not a commandment.

The question of the Pharisees is asked by them in order to test Jesus. This attitude becomes clear when in their response to Jesus’ question about what the law says on divorce, they seem to know it quite clearly. 
In his response to them, Jesus quotes Gen 1:27 and 2:24 as arguments for a permanent state of unity created by marriage. Jesus goes beyond the Law and to Creation. Divorce according to the law of creation would be like trying to divide one person into two. Mark’s formula is a near total prohibition of divorce. 
Mt 19:9 contains the exception contained in 5:32 – unchastity (Porneia, Hebrew-Zenût = prostitution) understood in the sense of an incestuous union due to marriage in their forbidden degrees of kinship (Lev 18:6-18). Such a union would not be true marriage at all and would not require a divorce but annulment.

Many families today are breaking up and there are various reasons why this is happening. However, it seems that one of the important reasons why marriages and families break up is because of selfishness. Due to this there is unwillingness on the part of the members to adjust with each other or the inability to understand. Each wants to go his/her own way and do his/her own thing. Concern for the others needs and feelings seem to be on the wane. Psychologists today are quite convinced that a healthy family background is an absolute requirement for the healthy growth of a child and a happy child is the result of a happy family.

Friday, May 25, 2018 - James 5:9-12; Mk 10:1-12

Friday, May 25, 2018 - James 5:9-12; Mk 10:1-12

  1. Which group came to test Jesus?

  2. The Sadducees
    The Pharisees
    The chief priests

  3. Who allowed the Jews to write a certificate of dismissal and divorce?

  4. Aaron

  5. Who does James say is standing at the door?

  6. A stranger
    A guest
    The judge

  7. What does James ask his readers not to do by heaven or earth?

  8. Gamble

  9. Who asked Jesus about the question of divorce in the house?

  10. His disciples
    The crowds
    Simon Peter

  11. Whom does James point to as an example of suffering and patience?

  12. The kings
    The prophets
    The saints

  13. Whose specific endurance does James point to?

  14. Abraham

  15. When the crowds gathered what did Jesus do?

  16. He fed them
    He taught them
    He cured those who were sick

  17. Which old testament book does Jesus quote to support his argument against divorce?

  18. Leviticus

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

  20. Each of us must be faithful to the choice we have made in life
    Divorce destroys the family
    Fidelity is one of the keys to a happy marriage

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Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Thursday, May 24, 2018 - Our Lady of the way - Will you like Mary, let it done ‘in and through you’ by God?

To read the texts click on the texts: Prov 4:10-18; Lk 2:15-19

In 1537 St. Ignatius hired a small house near a small church on a narrow street in Rome. The Church was named as Our Lady of the Way, because of a picture of Our Lady in the church and its proximity to the narrow street. Here St. Ignatius celebrated Mass and prayed with his companions.

For many years ‘La Strada’ (the wayside) was the ‘heart of the Society’. It witnessed the long hours of prayer of St. Ignatius, his discussions, meditations, and reflections with his companions. The Constitutions were written here. The first novices were trained by St. Ignatius here. Hundreds of letters went from here to St. Ignatius’ companions round the world. Fr. Cordacio, a wealthy and influential diocesan priest who became a Jesuit used all his money and influence to buy the rented house and secure the Church through Pope Paul III for the Society. In course of years the ‘Gesu’ Church and other buildings came up. All this through the powerful intercession of Mary, Queen and Mother of the Society whose same picture is venerated in a special chapel in the ‘Gesu’ and who is honoured with today’s feast, granted to the Society of Jesus by Pope Leo XIII in 1900.

The Gospel text chosen for the memorial of the feast concerns the response of the Shepherds to the revelation that they have received. It also concerns the response of Mary. While all are amazed at the Shepherds’ report of the things that have taken place, Mary “treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart” (2:19). Mary is unable to make logical sense of all the events that have taken place in her life. The annunciation, the pregnancy of Elizabeth, the birth of John the Baptist and the birth of her son are all mysteries to her. Her response to these mysterious events is to ‘wonder’. She tries to make as much sense as she can of these events. Even as she does so, she remains the servant of the Lord, his handmaid, who let it be done in and through her.

There are times in our lives when we cannot understand the meaning of events that take place. At times like these we respond in a variety of ways. If the event that occurs is not what we expected, we might lose faith in God, respond with anger or simply give up and give in. The Response of Mary is a challenge to us of how we also can respond. We might not always receive logical answers to the questions that we ask, but if we remain God’s servants and let it be done in and through us, we will find that peace which only the Lord can give.

Thursday, May 24, 2018 - Am I a part time Christian? Am I a fair weather Christian?

To read the texts click on the texts: James 5:1-6; Mk 9:41-50

This pericope contains a series of sayings against those who cause scandal and other to sin. Anyone who scandalises or causes someone else to stumble is a danger to those who believe. 

Jesus’ language here seems harsh, but he is not asking individuals to maim parts of their body. Rather he is using these striking metaphors to drive home powerfully the point he wants to make, namely: that no one and nothing must be allowed to compromise the kingdom. The metaphors reflect how important striving for the kingdom is. A disciple of Jesus must be prepared to forego anything for the sake of the kingdom.

Our behaviour in public sometimes results in leading others away from God and Jesus. Those who see our behaviour and know that we are disciples of Jesus are not inspired to follow him. Christ today is made visible and tangible through the words and actions of those of us who believe in him and so we have an enormous responsibility to make him known and draw others to him. People must be able to see him in us.

Thursday, May 24, 2018 - Our Lady of the way - Prov 4:10-18; Lk 2:15-19

Thursday, May 24, 2018 - Our Lady of the Way -Prov 4:10-18; Lk 2:15-19

  1. Where did the shepherds after the angel left them?

  2. To heaven
    To Bethlehem
    To Jerusalem

  3. Whom did the shepherds find with the child?

  4. The wise men
    Mary and Joseph

  5. From which book is the first reading of today taken?

  6. Psalms

  7. Where did the shepherds find the child lying?

  8. On a soft bed
    In a manger
    On a cushion

  9. Where did the angels go after leaving the shepherds?

  10. To see Jesus
    To heaven
    To other shepherds

  11. Who cannot sleep unless they have done wrong?

  12. Evildoers

  13. What bread do the evildoers eat?

  14. Brown bread
    While bread
    The bread of wickedness

  15. What wine doe the evildoers drink?

  16. Red wine
    The wine of violence
    White wine

  17. How many chapters does the book of Proverbs contain?

  18. Thirty two
    Thirty one

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

  20. Like Mary we must be able to say "Let it be done to me"
    Mary is a model of faith
    Mary is a powerful intercessor

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Thursday, May 24, 2018 - James 5:1-6; Mk 9:41-50

Thursday, May 24, 2018 - James 5:1-6; Mk 9:41-50

  1. What is the action for those who are stumbling blocks?

  2. They will be punished
    A millstone will be hung around their necks
    They will be parised

  3. Which parts of the body are mentioned in the Gospel of today?

  4. Hand, foot and eye
    Hand, foot and ear
    Hand, foot and tongue

  5. Whom does James address in the first verse today?

  6. Rich persons
    The righteous

  7. How will everyone be tested?

  8. They will be tempted three times
    They will be salted with fire
    They will be possessed

  9. What has happened to the clothes of the rich?

  10. They have become old
    They are moth eaten
    They are too luxurious

  11. Who have the rich condemned and murdered?

  12. Their enemies
    The righteous one
    Their friends

  13. What has happened to the riches of the rich?

  14. They have doubled
    They have rotted
    They have remained the same

  15. Whose cries have reached the ears of the Lord?

  16. The ungodly
    Labourers and harvesters
    The rich

  17. What has happened to the gold and silver of the rich?

  18. It has been stolen
    It has rusted
    It has been used wisely by them

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

  20. Our God is a God of justice
    We must give each his/her due
    To be a Christian means to be just

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Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - Do I feel threatened by people whom I think are more talented than I am? Will I rest secure in my selfhood? Will I glory in my selfhood?

To read the texts click on the texts: James 4:13-17; Mk 9:38-40

John comes to Jesus hoping to be commended for stopping an exorcist who was using the name of Jesus to exorcise. In his response Jesus advocates openness and allows anyone who wants to exorcise in his name to be free to do so. Since the man is using Jesus name, it is clear that he is not against Jesus and so will not speak ill of Jesus. Since he is not against, he is for Jesus.

One of the many qualities of Jesus that stood out in his life and mission was the quality of openness. He was willing to accommodate and believe even in those whom others had given up on. This is shown in his call of Levi/Matthew the tax collector, and his reaching out to sinners and outcasts. 

In our understanding of Jesus we sometimes do him a disservice when we become too parochial and narrow-minded and imagine that he is the exclusive property of those of us who are baptised. We communicate this attitude to others when we reject their symbols of God and worse treat them as idol worshippers. We are being called through the attitude of Jesus in the text of today to make him available to all with our openness and acceptance of others and of their way of relating to God.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - James 4:13-17; Mk 9:38-40

Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - James 4:13-17; Mk 9:38-40

  1. What is anyone who know the right to do and does not do it guilty of?

  2. Procrastination

  3. Why was the attempt to stop the unnamed exorcist made?

  4. Because he was not following Jesus
    Because he was taking advantage of Jesus
    Because he was talking ill of Jesus

  5. With what does James compare those who make plans for tomorrow?

  6. Mountains

  7. Who came to Jesus to complain about the unnamed exorcist?

  8. Peter

  9. How long does the person who makes plans for tomorrow expect to be in that town?

  10. A few days
    A few months
    A year

  11. What was the unnamed exorcist doing?

  12. Abusing the disciples
    Casting out demons in the name of Jesus
    Making money for himself

  13. How many Chapters does the letter of James contain?

  14. Five

  15. What is Jesus' response to the unnamed exorcist who was casting out demons in his name?

  16. Acceptance and openness
    He was upset
    He tries to stop him

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

  18. Inclusiveness
    Jesus is not narrow minded or parochial
    We must be as open as Jesus is

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Monday, 21 May 2018

Audio Reflections of Tuesday, May 22, 2018

To hear the Audio Reflections of Tuesday, May 22, 2018 click HERE

Tuesday, May 22, 2018 - The world seems to be saying, “If you are not No. 1, you are NO ONE. Jesus, however, is clear in what he says: If you want to be No. 1, be NO ONE.

To read the texts click on the texts: James 4:1-10; Mk 9:30-37

The text of today contains the second Passion, death and resurrection prediction that Jesus makes on the way to Jerusalem and Jesus’ explanation of his way of life to his disciples after they misunderstand what his kingdom is all about. 

In this second passion and resurrection prediction, there is a change in the verb from the first where the verb was the passive “be killed” (8,31) to the active “they will kill him” (9,31).
If after the first passion and resurrection prediction it is Peter who misunderstands, here, it is the disciples as a whole that misunderstand because "on the way" they are discussing who the greatest among them is, when Jesus is speaking about service and being the least. 

Before his teaching on what discipleship means, Jesus sits down thereby assuming the formal position of a teacher. He speaks first of a reversal of positions and status in the kingdom, and then places before them the example of a child. In the oriental world of Jesus' time, the child was a non-person, and so by this example, Jesus derives home the point that they will have to lose their identity, become non-persons if they want to gain entry into the kingdom.

Authority as understood in Christianity can never be for domination but is always for service. Management experts today are advocating more and more the advantages of using authority for service and leading by example. In this manner the leader can get more out of the ones he/she leads than if he/she tries to dominate.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018 - James 4:1-10; Mk 9:30-37

Tuesday, May 22, 2018 - James 4:1-10; Mk 9:30-37

  1. What according to James is the consequence of resisting the devil?

  2. The devil roars
    The devil flees
    The devil tempts

  3. What is the last exhortation that James makes in today's reading?

  4. Grace

  5. To which city does Jesus come with his disciples?

  6. Galilee

  7. Why does James say believers do not have?

  8. Because they do not want
    Because they do not ask
    Because they are not worthy

  9. Which chapter and verse of Proverbs does James quote?

  10. Proverbs 3:35
    Proverbs 3:34
    Proverbs 3:36

  11. After sitting down whom did Jesus call to him?

  12. His disciples
    His apostles
    The Twelve

  13. Through whom did Jesus teach his disciples about humility?

  14. His father
    His mother
    A child

  15. How many letters did James write which are included in the New Testament?

  16. Two

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

  18. Sixteen

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

  20. A disciple of Jesus must always be humble
    In Jesus' scheme those who wish to rule must serve
    In Christianity Authority means service

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Sunday, 20 May 2018

Audio Reflections of Monday, May 21, 2018

To hear the Audio Reflections of Monday, May 21, 2018 click HERE

Monday, May 21, 2018 - Is there something that you have been struggling to achieve but have not? Will you pray about it today?

To read the texts click on the texts: James 3:13-18; Mk 9:14-29

The text of today deals with an exorcism after Jesus has come down from the mountain of transfiguration. It is the only exorcism story in the second half of Mark’s Gospel. 

The disciples are engaged in attempting to cast out a demon, but are unable to cure the boy and the father of the boy pleads with Jesus for the cure. However, the father's request expresses doubt and lack of faith. Jesus responds to the father's request by first chiding him for his lack of faith. The father responds in what may be words that each of us can connect with, "I believe, help my unbelief." The father of the boy includes himself in the unbelieving generation whom Jesus has chided, but insists that even in his unbelief, he believes. Even this inadequate faith is enough for Jesus to work the miracle. The cure takes place in two stages. After the command to leave the boy and never enter him again, the demon does come out but leaves the boy “like a corpse” (9,26). Jesus then takes the boy by the hand and lifts him up, which seems to be an indirect allusion to the resurrection.

When asked by his disciples why they were not able to cure the boy, Jesus points out to prayer as the instrument that must be used when we need something from God. Prayer is to acknowledge one’s dependence on God.

We sometimes think that we are acting independently and all that we have accomplished is the result of our own efforts, forgetting that God is always in the background guiding our way and lighting our path. If we ask for God’s assistance before we start a task or even become aware of his presence in the midst of our “doing”, what we do will become more efficacious and even effective.

Monday, May 21, 2018 - James 3:13-18; Mk 9:14-29

Monday, May 21, 2018 - James 3:13-18; Mk 9:14-29

  1. How many letters of James are in the New Testament?

  2. One

  3. How did the unclean spirit affect the boy?

  4. It makes him unable to speak
    It makes him unable to hear
    It makes him unable to feel

  5. Who was arguing with the disciples when Jesus came down from the mountain?

  6. Some Scribes
    Some Pharisees
    Some Herodians

  7. Why is the letter of James numbered among the Catholic letters?

  8. Because it was not addressed to any particular church and so is Universal
    Because it contains the teachings of Jesus
    Because it was written by a Catholic

  9. For how long was the boy suffering from the unclean spirit?

  10. From birth
    From childhood
    From the age of three

  11. How did the unclean spirit leave the boy after it came out?

  12. Fully clothed and in his senses
    Like a corpse
    In his right mind

  13. What was the first reaction of the crowd when they saw Jesus?

  14. They were overcome with awe
    They were terrified
    They were hopeful

  15. Why could the disciples not cast out the unclean spirit?

  16. Because they did not use the right words
    Because it could come out only through prayer
    Because they were proud

  17. When one is boastful what kind of wisdom does one possess?

  18. That which is from above
    That which is earthly
    That which is spiritual

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

  20. Perseverance in prayer is the need of the hour
    The evil spirit of selfishness possesses many of us even today
    To be wise is to be humble

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Saturday, 19 May 2018

Sunday, May 20, 2018 – Pentecost Sunday – Jesus is leaving only so that he can come back

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 2:1--11; 1 Cor12:3b-7, 12-13; Jn 20:19-23

The little boy was taken to the nursery school by his mother. Aware of his anxiety being abandoned, the boy’s mother leaned down, kissed her son, and said, “Good bye, my love. No one is leaving.” Each day, his mother would bid him farewell with those same words. The boy was too young to recognize the paradox, and embraced his new existence and quickly adjusted to new and frightening surroundings. Day after day, and week after week, his mother bid the same farewell: “Good bye, my love. No one is leaving.”

The boy grew into adulthood, and there came a day when he was confronted with the reality of having to place his mother in a nursing home. She – now elderly and frail, with advanced Alzheimer’s disease – barely recognized him, often forgot to eat, and simply could no longer care for herself. As he departed from her, leaving her in her new and frightening surroundings, he remembered her words. He leaned down, kissed his mother, and said, “Good bye, my love. No one is leaving” – words his mother recognized even though she no longer recognized him. A tear appeared in her eye, as she clasped his hand and repeated, ”Good bye, my love. No one is leaving.”

This is Jesus’ message to his disciples on his departure to the Father: “Good bye, my love. No one is leaving”.

Jesus is departing from us, out of our sight. We find ourselves in the new and frightening surroundings of this life, in a place where we are uncomfortable and often feel ill-equipped to carry on. And yet, Jesus continues to assure us of his continued presence through his gift of the Holy Spirit. This is why, though he said good bye, he is not leaving. This is shown in the Gospel text of today when he comes to the frightened disciples after his Resurrection, with a twofold greeting of peace. These disciples, who fled in fear at Jesus’ arrest, are now themselves forgiven and told to continue his mission from the Father. Though they abandoned Jesus, he will not abandon them though they failed him; God’s love will not fail them. Then, reminiscent of God’s action at creation, Jesus breathes on them, and gifts them the gift of the Spirit and with it the gift of new life. They have become a new creation.

Along with the gift of the Spirit is also a commission to forgive or retain sin.”Retaining sin” is not a juridical act. It is not just the eleven but the “disciples” who are gathered in the room. John uses the term ‘disciples’ for a much larger group than the twelve or eleven. This group could also have included women and so the commission has to do with something that is more than juridical. So this means that through the gift of the Spirit, the disciples are given power to take away the sin of the world and unmask and control the power of evil as Jesus himself did. Through their just and loving actions in imitation of the Lord, they are to communicate the unconditional love of the Father.

At Pentecost, as the Acts of the Apostles narrates, the Spirit of God – and through the Spirit, God’s unconditional love – comes down upon the disciples, resting on each of them and thereby bringing them and us together once again. The disciples get a crash course as it were in the language of God. After Pentecost the days of Babel and confusion are over. The great differences among us, in culture and background, wealth and poverty, are scattered in “the rush of a violent wind”. They are burned away by tongues of fire. Their nationality or culture does not really matter. Each one hears the same message in his/her native tongue simply because it is a language of forgiveness and love, and the language of love is one.

The unity which this love brings is summarized by Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians. The Spirit is at work in each of us, always fresh and always new, waiting to be translated into the language of our own lives, into the language of love.

Our world, however, is still tongue-tied. Babel, the parable of our first clash of cultures and failure to communicate, is more than a mythic explanation of the differences among nations and languages. It is an description of the human condition itself. We often do not understand one another even when we speak the same language. We remain stymied by our fundamental inability to accept the differences among us.

It is only to a extent that we make an effort to accept the other, no matter how different or foreign, that we come to understand the language of God. Only then is Babel turned to Pentecost.

Sunday, May 20, 2018 - Pentecost Sunday - Acts 2:1--11; 1 Cor12:3b-7, 12-13; Jn 20:19-23

Sunday, May 20, 2018 - Acts 2:1--11; 1 Cor12:3-7, 12-13; Jn 20:19-23

  1. What does one say when speaking by the spirit?

  2. Jesus is cursed
    Jesus is Lord
    Jesus died and did not rise

  3. How did Jesus communicate the Holy Spirit to the disciples?

  4. he opened the doors
    He asked the Father to give it to them
    He breathed on them

  5. At what part of the day did Jesus appear to his disciples on the first day of the week?

  6. Afternoon

  7. Besides showing his hands what other part of his body did Jesus show the disciples?

  8. His feet
    His side
    His head

  9. Why were the doors locked where the disciples were?

  10. Because they did not want to let anyone in
    Because they were afraid of the Jews
    Because there were robbers around

  11. How did the Holy Spirit fall on the disciples according to the first reading?

  12. Like a dove
    In divided tongues as of fire
    Through the breath of Jesus

  13. What was the response of the disciples when they saw the Lord?

  14. They were frightened
    They rejoiced
    They were awestruck

  15. Because there a variety of gifts, how many Spirits does Paul say are there?

  16. Many
    A variety

  17. How many letters did Paul write to the community at Corinth?

  18. Two

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

  20. The Spirit is given by Jesus without measure
    The Spirit that Jesus gives is a Spirit of freedom
    Jesus left so that he could be present in the Spirit

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Friday, 18 May 2018

Audio Reflections of Saturday, May 19, 2018

To hear the Audio Reflections of Saturday, May 19, 2018 click HERE

Saturday, May 19, 2018 -Would Jesus point to you as a beloved disciple today? Why?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts28:16-20, 30-31; Jn 21:20-25

The first two verses of today’s text shift the focus from Peter to the Beloved disciple. Like he does elsewhere, with other characters in his Gospel, John reminds the reader of when the beloved disciple first appeared in his narrative. The question of Jesus to Peter in 21:22: “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” has caused consternation. John already provides a correction of the misunderstanding that this disciple would not die and so, this is not what Jesus meant. By using a favorite word of his, “remain”, John points out what he means by Jesus’ seeming enigmatic words. This disciple will indeed remain through the words that he has written in his Gospel. Though he will die a physical death, he will continue to live in the witness that he has given to Jesus in his Gospel. Just as Peter will give witness to Jesus by dying a martyr’s death, the beloved disciple will give witness to Jesus by his Gospel.

The Gospel ends with a hyperbolic statement which also serves as a warning of how the Gospel and all of scripture must be interpreted. The Gospel is only a pointer and must be seen in that light. The person of Jesus is bigger than any writing or Gospel can ever contain and, no matter how much is said of Jesus, in the final analysis, it will always be inadequate. This does not mean that we must not say what we know. Rather, it means that, even as we say what we know, we must realize that there is much more that we do not know and so cannot say.

There is an obsession with so many today with prolonging life. These use all kinds of artificial means to try to look younger. They dye their hair black; get tummy tucks, nose jobs, and even plastic surgery to remove wrinkles. They imagine that they can cheat death and live forever. They hardly realize that what is important is not the length of time one lives, but how one lives in the time given to us. It is quality, not quantity, that is important. Jesus’ words about the beloved disciple are not about his living forever, or not dying, they are about the witness that endures even after he dies. This means that each of us, like the beloved disciple, has the ability to leave a legacy even after we are gone from this world. It is up to us to decide what kind of legacy it is going to be.

Saturday,, May 19, 2018 - Acts 28:16-20, 30-31; Jn 21:20-25

Saturday, May 19, 2018 - Acts 28:16-20, 30-31; Jn 21:20-25

  1. For how long did Paul live in Rome at his own expense?

  2. Three years
    Two years
    Two years and six months

  3. How did Paul respond to those who came to him?

  4. He ignored them
    He welcomed them
    He blessed them

  5. To whom did Paul have to appeal because the Jews objected?

  6. The High Priest
    The Emperor
    His conscience

  7. Whom did Peter see when he turned?

  8. James
    The beloved disciple

  9. After how many days in Rome did Paul call the local leaders of the Jews?

  10. Six days
    Three days
    Five days

  11. Why did Paul say he was bound with the chain of imprisonment?

  12. For the sins he committed
    For the sake of the hope of Israel
    For the sins of his forefathers

  13. Where did Paul say he was arrested?

  14. Galilee

  15. What did the Romans want to do after examining Paul?

  16. They wanted to crucify him
    They wanted to release him
    They wanted to scourge him

  17. If all that Jesus said and did had to be written what does the author say would happen?

  18. He would run out of paper
    The world itself could not contain the books that would be written
    It would be unreadable

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

  20. If we profess to be friends of Jesus we must live for him
    To follow Jesus is not easy but exhilarating
    Once we put our hands to the plough there is no turning back

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Thursday, 17 May 2018

Audio reflections of Friday, May 18, 2018

To hear the Audio reflections of Friday, May 18, 2018 click HERE

Friday, May 18, 2018 - Be careful of saying you are a friend of Jesus, he will call you to live and love for him.

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts25:13-21; Jn 21:15-19

The first verse of today’s text links this section with the previous one (21:4-14) through the words, “When they had finished breakfast”. It is a continuation of the appearance of Jesus to the disciples at Lake Tiberius where, because they obey his instructions, they are able to haul in 153 fish.

The verses of today’s text narrate the conversation that Jesus has with Simon Peter. Some are of the opinion that the reason why Jesus asks Peter three questions is because Peter denied him three times. While this may be so, it is also important to realize that the questions are all different. The first question which Jesus asks is inclusive. It includes the other disciples, the boat, the nets, and the fish. Jesus is asking Peter whether Peter loves him more than he loves the other disciples and/or his livelihood. The second question is direct and involves only Jesus and Peter. Everything else recedes into the background. The spotlight shifts only to the two. Does Peter love Jesus? Though the third question seems similar to the second, it is really different because in it, Jesus asks Peter about friendship. It reads: “Simon, son of John, are you my friend?” This is a crucial change from the earlier question because, in 15:13, Jesus had explained the true meaning of friendship when he said: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” By affirming that Peter is, indeed, a friend of Jesus, he is affirming his willingness to die for Jesus.

This interpretation is confirmed by the fact that as soon as Peter affirms his friendship, Jesus invites him to lay down his life. This invitation begins with the double Amen in 21:18, and so marks the introduction of a solemn pronouncement. The saying of Jesus that follows explains how, when Peter was young, he fastened his own belt and went wherever he wished to go. This is an indication of the freedom that Peter experienced earlier. However, soon he will have to stretch out his hands and someone else will fasten his belt for him, and take him where he does not wish to go. This is seen as a specific reference to Peter’s death by crucifixion, and is confirmed by the explanation that John gives in parenthesis in 21:19: “(He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.)”

The text ends with Jesus inviting Peter to follow him. Though this command of Jesus may be seen as a general invitation to discipleship, here it means a specific command to martyrdom and even death.

It is significant that the call to martyrdom to Peter is given only after his threefold confession of his love of Jesus, and he is given charge of the sheep only after he has confessed this love. It is thus clear that there is no coercion on the part of Jesus, but a call that Peter has accepted freely. Peter knows, even as he answers, that trials and difficulties are part and parcel of his commitment. He is aware that following Jesus is not going to be easy and that he will be called to make great sacrifices. He is ready, willing, and able.

The call to follow Jesus today is a call that will continue to be heard as long as there are people who dare to open their hearts to this call. While it will not always be a call to martyrdom by death, like it was in the case of Peter, it will always be a call to be a martyr or witness. This is because the voice of Jesus can only be heard today in his disciples and he can be seen and experienced only when those who profess to follow him reach out in love. 

Friday, May 18, 2018 - Acts 25:13-21; Jn 21:15-19

Friday, May 18, 2018 - Acts 25:13-21; Jn 21:15-19

  1. Where did Festus suggest to Paul that he go to be tried?

  2. Rome

  3. After Peter answers the first time the question of Jesus what does Jesus ask him to do?

  4. Feed my lambs
    Feed my sheep
    Follow me

  5. Whom did King Agrippa and Bernice welcome at Caesarea?

  6. Augustus

  7. How does Jesus address Peter each time he asks him a question?

  8. Peter
    Simon son of John
    Simon Peter

  9. Who did Festus say had left Paul in prison?

  10. Herod

  11. With what crime did the accusers of Paul accuse him?

  12. Adultery
    About religion and Jesus

  13. For whose decision did Paul tell Festus he wanted to wait?

  14. God's
    The Emperor's

  15. What did Peter feel after the Lord asked him a third time whether he loved him?

  16. Happy

  17. How many times does the Lord ask Peter to tend the sheep?

  18. Once

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

  20. Following Jesus is challenging
    Our decision to opt for Jesus must show in action
    If we love Jesus we have to also love others

Thanks for taking the Quiz. I hope it makes the word of God more relevant. Let me know on Suggestions are always welcome.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Thursday, May 17, 2018 - Are the troubles and difficulties of your neighbour as real to you as your own? Or do you regard their problems as of no consequence to you?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts22:30-23:6-11; Jn 17:20-26

In these last verses of the prayer, Jesus expands the circle of those for whom he prays to include believers of the future. Since Jesus did not come to make a limited revelation, but one that was meant to embrace the whole world, it is only appropriate that he pray also for those who will believe because of the disciples’ word and witness. The primary invocation that Jesus makes here is the all be one. It is a petition for unity. The reason for this petition is that Jesus wants all those who will believe in him to share in the same relationship that he shares with his Father. Just as Jesus and the Father are one, so, he prays, that all believers will also share in this mutual indwelling. When this unity is seen by those who do not yet believe, they, too, will be inspired to know and believe that Jesus was indeed sent by God. Unity of the community, which has as its source the unity of the Son and Father, will be the drawing force that will lead others to Jesus. By the unity that is shown in community, those who believe in Jesus will also be able to complete God’s work in the same way in which Jesus did.

In the last three verses of the prayer (17:24-26), there is a greater intensity. Petition changes to want. This is not to be interpreted as selfishness but rather, as audacity or confidence. Jesus is confident that his Father will give him what he wants and also, that this is his Father’s will for him and all believers. What Jesus wants is that God, he, and the believers, share in a mutual indwelling. What he wants is that all be one. This oneness and unity is expressed in the tangible reality of love.

Christianity was never meant to be, and can never be, a private religion. Everything about Christianity is both individual and communitarian. The seven Sacraments are beautiful examples of the communal dimension of Christianity. This is because Jesus did not come to make a private or esoteric revelation to only a small group of individuals but to make a revelation to the whole world. Thus, the community of believers today is faced with this challenge of showing the communal dimension or unity of the community and so, drawing others to believe. It is a tremendous privilege and responsibility. It is a privilege because we are called to continue the work of Jesus himself and so share in the mission entrusted to him by his Father. It is a responsibility because, as believers, we cannot be complacent and content with our private devotions or individual faith.  We must manifest it to everyone we meet. It is a faith that is to be shown in action, a faith that is to be shown in tangible love.

Thursday, May 17, 2018 - Acts 22:30; 23:6-11; Jn 17:20-26

Thursday, May 17, 2018 - Acts 22:30; 23:6-11; Jn 17:20-26

  1. Besides bearing witness to the Lord in Jerusalem where else would bear witness?

  2. Athens

  3. Before whom did the Tribune place Paul?

  4. The Scribes and Pharisees
    The chief priests and the entire council
    The Pharisees and Herodians

  5. What was the allegation against Paul?

  6. He stole some goods
    The hope of the resurrection
    He lied on oath

  7. What does Jesus pray for at the start of today's Gospel?

  8. Peace

  9. Besides Pharisees which other group did Paul notice in the council?

  10. Chief priests

  11. Which group found nothing wrong with Paul's teaching?

  12. Pharisees

  13. From when did the Father love Jesus?

  14. From the Incarnation
    Before the foundation of the world
    From the time he rose

  15. Which group of Jews do not believe in the resurrection?

  16. Sadducees

  17. How many Chapters does the Gospel of Luke contain?

  18. Twenty five
    Twenty four
    Twenty eight

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

  20. The Lord comes to our aid whenever we need him
    The troubles and difficulties of our neighbour must be as real to us as our own
    We must not give up when faced with challenges

Thanks for taking the Quiz. I hope it makes the word of God more relevant. Let me know on Suggestions are always welcome.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Audio Reflections of Wednesday, May 16, 2018

To hear the Audio Reflections of Wednesday, May 16, 2018 click HERE

Wednesday, May 16, 2018 - St. Andrew Babola SJ - How often has fear ruled your actions? Will you dare to act from love today? Have you received Jesus’ gift of unconditional love? Does this show in your sharing of that love?

To rad the texts click on the texts: Wis 10:10-14; Jn 15:9-17

Andrew Babola was born in 1591 in Poland. He joined the Society of Jesus when he was 20 years old in 1611.

The most successful and outstanding mission lead by Baobla was in the eastern part of Lithuania (present Belarus). There was a unique situation at that time, because of the Union of Brest, which gave the opportunity for the Orthodox Church in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to retain the old liturgy and to join the Roman Catholic Church. To begin with, it was a fruitful process of reunification of the two Christian Churches. But after a few decades the rebellion of unsatisfied Orthodox clergy started to grow. Finally it broke into a war of neighbouring Russia against the Commonwealth.

Bobola did not only work in the cities, but he would go frequently into the villages, and towns, which were situated in areas that were difficult to visit. It is said that just before his death two entire villages returned to the Catholic faith through his preaching. His opponents called him “the soul-hunter”.

In 1657, he was caught in Peredil, and threatened with the purpose of making him deny the catholic faith. He refused. His refusal enraged his tormentors and “they tore his skin from his hands and head and in imitation of chasuble that the priest wears at Mass, they tore the skin from his chest and back. Then in imitation of Jesus’ wounds, they cut holes in the palms of his hands. After two hours of his torture, during which he continually prayed for his tormentors, they jabbed a butcher’s awl into his chest near the heart. They then strung him up by his feet and finally gave him a blow with a sabre that mercifully brought an end to his passion.”

He was beatified in 1853 and canonized in 1938. He is known as the patron of Poland.

The Gospel text chosen for the feast is part of the Discourse on “The Vine and the branches”. The love which the Father has for Jesus is the same love that Jesus has expressed and shown for his disciples. It is a love that is unconditional, a love without end. It is not merely a verbal expression, or an emotion, but a love that is shown tangibly and in every action that Jesus performs. The disciples have to act in the same manner as Jesus in order to make this love visible. There is only one commandment and that is the commandment to love. If the disciples keep this commandment, it will result in their being like Jesus, their master, who before them, revealed God’s love for the world.

This love is expressed in the most perfect of ways in the willingness to go to one’s death for the sake of a friend. The disciples are indeed friends of Jesus, as has been manifested in their keeping his command to love. It is important to note that Jesus is not placing a condition for friendship here (you can be my friends only if…); rather he is stating what and who the disciples are (because you are my friends, you do what I command).

The friendship that the disciples share with Jesus is grounded in love. This means that Jesus keeps back nothing from his disciples and reveals to them all that they need to know. His primary revelation to them has been of God as a loving and compassionate Father.

It is Jesus who has taken the initiative in calling and choosing the disciples and this fact reinforces the idea of grace. It is not one’s effort that can earn discipleship but the grace of God which, when received, results in one living out the call to discipleship. The living out of the call is not merely a once for all act, but something that is done constantly and with perseverance. This will ensure that the effects of their love are abiding and lasting. The last verse of today, with its reminder to “love one another”, forms an inclusion with the first.

Keeping the commandment of Jesus is thus not a chore or burden but done willingly because one has experienced this love first. The outcome of this sharing and manifestation of love is unbounded joy.

The word “love” has been a word that is used so often that it has been abused. We speak of our love for the good things of life, and of our love for the members of our family, and of our love for God in the same breath. “I love mixed vegetables” we might tell our spouse and, in the next breath, say “I love you”. Love is not primarily an emotion; it is not even a feeling, but reality. As a matter of fact, the only reality is love. Fear, which is regarded as the opposite of love, is not real, it is only an illusion. If there is fear, there cannot be love, and where there is love, there is no fear (1 Jn 4:18). While Paul gives a beautiful definition of love in 1 Cor 13:1-9, my own definition of love is simple, but not simplistic. “In love, there is no “I””.

The relationship that we share with God because of Jesus is one of sons and daughters. We are Jesus’ brothers and sisters, even friends. This is because he has given us everything in all its fullness. He held nothing back, not even his own self. The manifestation of this self-giving, which began with the incarnation, was completed and continued on the cross, and through his resurrection and ascension. He continues to give, even today. However, the giving is only one side of the story. Without a receiver, the gift has no value. This is why, while the grace of God given as a gift in Jesus is first, our reception of that gift is as important if the act of giving is to be completed. We show that we have received this gift when we, like Jesus, also dare to reach out in love. When we speak an enhancing word, perform a loving action, behave a little less selfishly, and a little more selflessly, then the gift is given and received, again and again.

Babola was able to receive and share this love with others and was willing to lay down his life for this love.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018 - How do I measure my own success? Is my striving to “have more” or to “be more”?

To read the texts click on the texts: Acts20:28-38; Jn 17:11-19

The prayer of Jesus continues with a prayer for the disciples. In the first verse today, Jesus prays for God’s protection for the disciples and the oneness that they must share. This unity must be like the unity that the Son, Jesus, shares with God, his Father. 

While Jesus was on earth, he was able to instruct his disciples on this unity and show it in his own words and actions.  Now that he is going to the Father, he entrusts this teaching to God. The “world”, with its own set of values and way of proceeding, will try to draw the disciples away from the teaching of Jesus, much like it drew Judas Iscariot. Yet, he was the one who decided that he wanted to break away from the community and align with the “world” and so, made his choice. The disciples need to be given the same strength that Jesus had and be sanctified in the truth.

It is so easy to be sucked in by all that the “world” has to offer. The lure of money, riches, and the desire to have more, are tempting and inviting. Success is often measured by how much a person has rather than by how much he/she is. This results in a striving to possess more and more even, if at times, it is at the cost of someone else having less than is their due. 

The prayer of Jesus for his disciples must be read today in this context and we need to constantly ask ourselves if, as his disciples, the prayer that he made is having its desired effect on us.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018 - St. Andrew Babola SJ - Wis 10:10-14; Jn 15:9-17

Wednesday, May 16, 2018 - St. Andrew Babola SJ - Wis 10:10-14; Jn 15:9-17

  1. How has Jesus loved the disciples?

  2. Without counting the cost
    As the Father has loved him

  3. What is the commandment that Jesus gave?

  4. To love only those who return the love
    To love conditionally
    To love as he loved

  5. What did Wisdom give the righteous man in his arduous contest?

  6. Victory

  7. Where did Wisdom descend with the righteous man?

  8. Into the netherworld
    Into the dungeon
    Into the unholy places

  9. What did Wisdom show the righteous man?

  10. Riches and wealth
    The Kingdom of God
    The luxuries of life

  11. What did Wisdom do when the oppressors of the righteous man were covetous?

  12. She deserted him
    She stood by him and made him rich
    She remained with him temporarily

  13. From whose wrath did the righteous man flee?

  14. His enemy's
    His brother's
    His father's

  15. Why does Jesus keep the Father's commandments?

  16. Because he wants to earn the Father's love
    Because he abides in the Father's love
    Because he wants to placate the Father

  17. Why did Jesus appoint the disciples?

  18. To bear fruit that will last
    Because he was going to die
    Because he wanted to leave a legacy

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

  20. Fear must not rule our actions. We must always act from love
    Jesus' love is unconditional
    We love BECAUSE we have been loved

Thanks for taking the Quiz. I hope it makes the word of God more relevant. Let me know on Suggestions are always welcome.