Thursday, April 17, 2014

Maundy Thursday, Year A, 17.04.2014

We are gathered here this evening as Church and in union with the whole Church, to commemorate the Institution of the Lord’s Supper, which is also called the Holy Eucharist.

All three readings talk about a remembrance. In the 1st reading, the Lord instructed Moses and Aaron on the preparations of the Passover meal.

And the Lord also said, “This day is to be a day of remembrance for you, and you must celebrate it as a feast in the Lord’s honour. 

For all generations, you are to declare it a day of festival forever.

Similarly in the 2nd reading, St Paul recalled that night of the Last Supper when Jesus took bread and wine and consecrated it into His Body and Blood.

Jesus gave it to His disciples and told them to do it in memorial of Him.

And so we are here this evening to recall how with the first Passover meal, Israel gained their freedom from slavery in Egypt.

And more so we are here this evening to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ as we follow His mandate to celebrate this in memory of Him.

The gospel also talks about the Last Supper. Jesus was at the table with His disciples.

The gospel began by saying that Jesus had always loved those who were His in the world, but now He showed how perfect His love was.

They were at supper, and then Jesus got up from table, removed His outer garment, and then taking a towel, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet and wipe them with the towel.

That action stunned the disciples, so much so that they couldn’t react, nor make sense out of it.

And could we make any sense out of it? What has the Eucharist got to do with the washing of feet?

Jesus was Master and Lord and High Priest at the Last Supper. He had already given His Body and Blood to His disciples. Why would He also want to wash their feet?

The meaning may be found in what He told Simon Peter: If I do not wash you, you can have nothing in common with me.

Jesus washed His disciples’ feet so that they will follow in His footsteps. Not just His disciples but we as well.

He washes away not just the dust of the feet; He also washes away the dirt of slavery and the weariness of the burden of sin that makes us drag our feet.

He washes our feet clean so that we can be free to follow Him.

From here, Jesus will walk on to face the cross and offer up His Body for us and pour out His Blood to save us.

Do we understand what He has done for us?

Will we follow in His footsteps? 

We let Jesus wash us first, and partake of His Body and Blood.

And then may we do for others what Jesus has done for us.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Wednesday of Holy Week, 16-04-14

Isaiah 50:4-9 / Matthew 26:14-25

Babies are a joy to behold. Besides the fact that they are cute and chubby, they can also make us talk baby language to them.

Somehow when we are with babies, we end up talking like them. But of course the difference is that we know why we are talking that way to them, often gurgling as they do, and not making much sense, either to them or to ourselves.

But normally speaking, we know what we are talking about. Also we have enough of intelligence and rational to know what we are doing and why we are doing it.

We can also presume that Judas Iscariot knew what he was doing. Why he wanted to hand Jesus over to the chief priests and subsequently to look for an opportunity to betray Him, there are many theories for his motive.

We cannot know for sure what his real motive was. The gospel did not tell us nor did Jesus point it out.

But Jesus did try to awaken and enlighten Judas by saying that the Son of Man is going to His fate, but alas for that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. Better for that man if he had never been born.

Those are strong jolting words, and the one who was guilty would know it was meant for him.

But those words of Jesus were meant for Judas to recall who he was and the purpose of his life. He was born into this world for a good purpose. And now he was destroying all that.

Jesus came to show us how to fulfill our life's destiny by doing the will of God. We came into this world for God's purpose. May it be fulfilled as we come to the end of our lives.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Tuesday of Holy Week, 15-04-14

Isaiah 49:1-6 / John 13:21-33, 36-38

Whenever we talk about change, we are certainly implying and hoping that the change will be for the better.

But very often the main obstacle to a change for the better is sin.

And that sin is expressed in many ways - pride, arrogance, selfishness, obstinacy, greed.

In fact, we might as well include all the seven capital sins that would be obstacles to a change for the better.

But our faith and hope in God also tells us that He would not let these sinful obstacles remain there always.

In the gospel, we heard that while at supper with His disciples, Jesus was troubled in spirit and He declared that one of His disciples would betray Him.

He knew who it was and in the setting of the sacred meal, He had hoped that Judas would change his direction and not carry out his sinister deed.

Although it was of no avail, yet it also awoken in the disciples that they were not of one heart and mind and that sin was lurking in the midst of one of them.

Jesus spoke out against that sin of betrayal. He was not going to let sin remain hidden and lurking around and make victims out of His disciples.

And Jesus is not going to let sin make us its victims too. But it is for us to expose the sin. And Jesus will help us handle the rest. Then there can be change for the better.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Monday of Holy Week, 14-04-14

Isaiah 42:1-7 / John 12:1-11

The drama of life can be so complex that even two seemingly mutually exclusive and nothing-to-do-with-each-other experiences can exist side by side.

If we are wondering whether this is possible, we just have to think about a formula for a box-office success movie, and that is to combine war with a romance story.

Logically it doesn't seem to make a good combination; it's more like a contradiction. But surprisingly love in the midst of violence seems to appeal to our emotions.

The gospel also seems to have  two events that doesn't seem to fit into the same passage.

It began with a very tender and intimate act of love by Mary for Jesus - anointing His feet with a very costly ointment and wiping them with her hair.

But it was immediately followed by a criticism from Judas, and we were also told that there were ulterior motives behind it.

And following that was another more evil and sinister intention - to kill Jesus, as well as Lazarus whom He had raised from the dead.

So in just a short gospel passage, there were enough of drama to make a box-office hit.

Yet, that kind of drama also happens in our lives. In the midst of suffering there is compassion; in the midst of hate, there is love; in the midst of difficulties, there is help; in the midst of despair, there is hope.

Yes, even in the midst of sin, there is grace. For where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more (Rom 5:20).

So no matter how complex or complicated life is, God is always there. Holy Week tells us that. May we stand by Jesus in His suffering and death, so that we can share in His resurrection.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Palm Sunday, Year A, 13.04.2014

Isaiah 50:4-7/ Philippians/ Matthew 26:14-27:66

Life is like a cycle of ups and downs.

And as it is always said, what goes up must come down, and what goes down must come up.

Hence, we can say that nothing stays up always, and nothing stays down always.

Today’s liturgy has two opposite and contrasting moods.

We began the liturgy with the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.

The crowds spread their garments on the road and shouted: Hosanna in the highest!  (Praise God and his Messiah, we are saved) 

As we recalled that gospel scene, we too waved the palm branches in remembrance of that glorious moment when Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem.

But as we move on into the liturgy, the mood begins to swing drastically.

From “Hosanna in the highest”, we hear of human drama in the darkest and lowest.

We hear of betrayal, desertion, abandonment and crucifixion.

Within a span of an hour, we hear of glory tumbling down into agony.

The scripture readings have compressed for us that week in the life of Jesus in which we see a cycle of a high plunging down to a low, an up plummeting straight down.

And in that cycle of glory and agony, we are invited to see our lives in that one week of the life of Jesus.

We too had our days of glory when we walk with sunshine confidence and everything seems to be going right and under control.

But within a week, or even a day, or even in a matter of hours, things start crumbling and tumbling down.

And this is where we are invited to share in that moment of glory-to-agony experience of Jesus.

The readings prepare us for what is to come on Good Friday. 

At the same time, the readings also prepare us for our own Good Fridays when we feel the agony of a sudden serious illness, the death of a loved one, the loss of a friendship, failure and disappointment, heartaches and distress.

Yes, in a short time and maybe even overnight, we plunge from glory to agony, and fall into the darkness of the tomb.

The gospel also ended with Jesus buried in the tomb. But with Jesus we wait. 

Because what goes down must come up.

Agony will be turned into glory. But we must wait.

With faith and hope in the power and love of God, we wait till the agony of darkness will give way to the glory of light.

Friday, April 11, 2014

5th Week of Lent, Saturday, 12-04-14

Ezekiel 37:21-28 / John 11:45-56

Today's gospel ends with questions, and those questions will be answered in the coming days as the liturgy unfolds.

It was also a questioning time for Jesus as His hour of reckoning approaches.

So as He retreated to the countryside with His disciples, He could have decided to remain there.

He could have gone on with His work of healing and teaching in a quiet way.

Many people would have supported Him and kept Him safe.

But Jesus knew that that was not the Father's will, so He moved out of His safety zone, a move that will cost Him His life.

Hence whenever we talk about doing God's will, we have to remember that it involves risk.

It involves moving out of our safety zone and moving out of our comfort zone.

But it is only in moving out that God moves in.

It is only when we move out of our pride, our resentment, our selfishness that God can move in to strengthen us with His love and to face the questions of life.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

5th Week of Lent, Friday, 11-04-14

Jeremiah 20:10-13 / John 10:31-42

At times it can be quite difficult to do a good deed or a charitable act in the name of the Church or when we identify ourselves as Christians.

Take for example, when the late Mother Teresa started her home for the destitute in India.

Among the opposition that she faced, one was the accusation that she wanted to convert the destitute into Christians and using the home and charity as a cover.

This negative notion of Christianity stemmed from the period of colonial rule in India when Christianity developed a bad name due to the counter-witnessing of Christians there.

But of course, they eventually saw the real purpose and good intention of Mother Teresa.

This brings us to the reflection of our identity and our deeds.

Jesus said to the people in the gospel, that even if they don't believe in Him, then at least they should believe in the good that He was doing.

Then they will eventually see who He really was.

Similarly for us, our identity and our deeds must have a connection and in fact be intertwined.

Only then can people see the God who is working in us and through us.