Monday, July 15, 2024

15th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 16-07-2024

Isaiah 7:1-9 / Matthew 11:20-24   

In the history of humanity, we can see a certainty.

Kingdoms rise and fade, personalities want to make a name for themselves and the legacy they leave behind is only a memory.

In other words, all things will pass, whether it is kingdoms or persons.

The cities that Jesus mentioned in the gospel were great and famous during their time.

But as it is now, those cities are in ruins and that is the only proof that once upon a time, they existed.

For all their glory, wealth and prosperity, all that has passed and what remain are lifeless monuments.

In the 1st reading, the enemies of God’s people joined forces and wanted to conquer them.

God announced through the prophet Isaiah that it would not happen.

But Judah, and the House of David, can only survive if they believe and do what God says and it is this:
If you do not stand by me, you will not stand at all.

As it was with Judah and the House of David then, so it is now for us.

Let us stand by God and be faithful and trust in Him and in His ways.

Because all glory and power belongs to God alone, and in God we will stand firm and have a future.

Sunday, July 14, 2024

15th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 15-07-2024

Isaiah 1:10-17 / Matthew 10:34 - 11:1  

We believe that God hears our prayers and will answer them.

At times, our prayers are answered immediately.

At other times, our prayers are answered in God’s time.

Yet at other times, God answers our prayers in His way and not in a way that we expect.

But can it ever be that God does not respond to our prayers.

And if that is ever the case, could it ever be that a no response is also a sort of response.

When we think that God is not hearing our prayers or not responding to our prayers, maybe we should do some thinking.

In the 1st reading, God made it clear to His people that He has heard their prayers and seen their holocausts.

But He is not responding to their prayers nor accepting their holocaust.

Because as much as they pray and offer holocausts, at the same time they commit injustice and sin, and then expect God to answer their prayers.

Hence God tells them: Take your wrong-doing out of my sight. Cease to do evil. Learn to do good, search for justice, help the oppressed, be just to the orphan, plead for the widow.

So, if we ask God to hear and answer our prayers, then on our part let us do what God wants of us, which is essentially doing what is good, right and just.

Saturday, July 13, 2024

15th Ordinary Sunday, Year B, 14.07.2024

Amos 7:12-15 / Ephesians 1:3-14 / Mark 6:7-18

When there is some work to be done, we would look for people who would be able to do the job well. 

So, if we want to renovate our homes, we would look for interior designers and contractors who have a good reputation. 

But of course, we would need to pay for their services. 

But, let's say, if we have a friend who has an interest in interior designing and DIY renovations. 

And he offers to help us with the design and the renovation of our home, would we take up his offer? 

The question is whether our preference is for the work to be done by professionals, or to be handled by amateurs. 

With professionals, we can expect and demand for a job well done. 

As for amateurs, there is certainly an obvious risk. And certainly, we can't entrust an important work or project to amateurs. 

At best, they will be able to deliver a “can-do” or “okay” job.

At worst, they will stumble and fumble, and may even end up creating more problems. 

But that word “amateur” has an interesting origin. The root word is “amare,” which in Latin means love. 

So, it means that amateurs have an interest and an attitude of love in what they do. 

In the gospel Jesus summoned the Twelve, and sent them out in pairs, giving them authority over unclean spirits. 

And He also instructed them to take nothing with them, except a staff, which is the symbol of the authority of Jesus. 

They are to preach repentance, cast out devils, and anoint sick people with oil to cure them. 

So, the Twelve had no instruction manual, no prayer book and no tried-and-trusted medicine. And by Human Resource standards, the Twelve are unqualified and unsuitable for the mission entrusted to them. 

By human expectations and standards, the Twelve look like some odd leftover rag-tag group of amateurs, who won't be able to achieve anything important, or get anything important done. 

We would wonder, why would Jesus choose those kinds of people as His disciples and for such a mission. 

He should have chosen the talented and gifted, the qualified and the certified, for such an important mission. 

But, that is the way of God isn’t it, so unexpected and so mysterious, and yet so enlightening and so unconforming. 

God chooses the lowly and humble, God chooses the amateurs, to show His power and His might. 

God wants to tell us that He will do the best, and we just do the rest. Yes, God will do the best, and we just do the rest.

     There is a story of a conversation between Jesus and an angel, which is purely fictional, but illustrates a good point.

     After Jesus ascended to heaven, an angel approached Him and said, "Master, You must have suffered terribly for men down there." "I did," He said. "And," continued the angel, "do they know all about how You loved them and what You did for them?"

     "Oh, no," said Jesus, "not yet. Right now only a handful of people know." The angel was perplexed. "Then, what have you done to let everyone know about Your love for them?"

     Jesus said, "I've asked Peter, James, John, and the rest of the Twelve apostles to tell other people about Me. Those who are told will in turn tell other people about Me, and My story will be spread to the furthest ends of the world. Ultimately, all of mankind will have heard about My life and what I have done for them."

     The angel frowned and looked rather skeptical. He knew well how weak and poor human beings are. 

"But what if Peter and James and John grow weary? What if the people who come after them forget? What if way down in the  21st century, people just don't tell others about You? Haven't you made any other plans?"

And Jesus answered, "I haven't made any other plans. I'm counting on them”

Well, twenty centuries later...Jesus still has no other plan!

There is no "plan B". Jesus counted on His Apostles and early disciples, and they somehow delivered.

Jesus is calling us and counting on us, even though we feel that we are unworthy, unqualified, unsuitable amateurs. 

But Jesus is telling us that He will do the best and we just need to pray and do the rest. 

Yes, we just need to pray, and as we do the rest, Jesus will show us the marvels and the wonders that He will work through us, His beloved amateurs.

Friday, July 12, 2024

14th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 13-07-2024

Isaiah 6:1-8 / Matthew 10:24-33  

We do not know what heaven is really like, although we may have an idea from what we have read or heard.

We know that God is in heaven, together with the angels and saints.

But what really happens in heaven is for us to imagine.

In the 1st reading, we get an idea of what heaven is like from the description of the vision of the prophet Isaiah.

There were angels all around and they were singing this hymn:
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. His glory fills the whole earth.

So, in heaven, God is the focus and the centre of all that is happening, and the angels are constantly praising Him.

That hymn of the angels also reminds us that we sing a similar hymn at Mass, which is just before the Eucharistic Prayer.

In that hymn, the angels from heaven joins us to praise God in the Mass.

Let us be aware of this when we sing that hymn at Mass.

And we will know what heaven is like when we sing that hymn with all our hearts.

Thursday, July 11, 2024

14th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 12-07-2024

Hosea 14:2-10 / Matthew 10:16-23  

The world may not say it aloud, but the world needs to see virtues.

Virtues are what make the world more human and more caring.

Virtuous people are like flowers in the sand.

They struggle to be virtuous and to be faithful to God.

But when they continue to grow in the sand, the world will be amazed and even inspired.

In the gospel, Jesus gave an image of virtuous people.

They are like sheep among wolves.

But they will still stand firm in their faith and keep holding on to their virtues.

To be faithful to God and to live virtuous lives are like flowers growing in the sand and like sheep among wolves.

But let us hold on to the faith and keep living virtuous lives.

Because the world needs to see the power of faith and the beauty of virtue.

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

14th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 11-07-2024

Hosea 11:1-4, 8-9 / Matthew 10:7-15  

Human beings have their limitations and that is quite understandable.

Physically and emotionally, we are not that strong and good always.

At times we can be at the top of things and be our best.

But at other times, we can fall flat on the ground and can’t get up even if we want to.

So when it comes to love and forgiveness, we fluctuate from moment to moment, and from situation to situation.

In the 1st reading, we hear of how God loved His people, and yet they were always unfaithful to Him.

God was disappointed, and could also be angry with His people.

Still, God loved His people and kept forgiving them for their unfaithfulness and sinfulness.

As God Himself said: I am God, not man. I am the Holy One and have no wish to destroy.

God also loves us and will keep loving and He will keep forgiving us.

Yes, we received God’s love and forgiveness without charge and unconditionally.

Let us also give love and forgiveness to the best of our human ability.

And when we fail and fall, God will raise us and keep us going and giving.

That is the power of God’s love and forgiveness for us.

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

14th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 10-07-2024

Hosea 8:4-7, 11-13 / Matthew 9:32-38  

We can’t deny that we desire for a comfortable life.

We may not be looking for luxuries or the pleasures of life.

But we do want to sleep peacefully, eat well and be happy.

And if we do prosper and become wealthy, then that would be a bonus.

In short, we hope for a better life.

But would a better life also help us to be better persons?

In the 1st reading, Israel become wealthy and prosperous. 

They were having a good life, better than before.

But that good and better life didn’t help them become a good and better people of God.

On the contrary, wealth and prosperity made them forget about God and they even turned to worship idols.

We hope for a better life, and God would certainly want to bless us with a better life.

And when we get to have a better life, let us also be a better people of God.

Let us not forget that all good things come from God, and let us give thanks to God for His blessings.