Readings: Isaiah 11:1-10 and Luke 10:21-24
The theme of the liturgy of the Word for today is “joy”.
In the first reading, the people of Israel were filled with joy at the announcement about the coming of the promised Messiah. He shall rule his people with the spirit of wisdom and understanding, and the poor shall get their justice heard. “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him”. He shall not deceive the people with promises of “freebies” or invests only in the rich. The establishment of universal brotherhood is symbolically depicted in the wolf dwelling with the lamb, and the calf with the lion.
In the Gospel, Jesus shares in the joy of the seventy-two disciples as they recounted to him their experiences in the mission. Filled with joy, Jesus praises the Father for hiding the mysteries of the Kingdom of God from the wise and the learned and revealing them to mere children, to the simple of hearts. Indeed, “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor 1:27). To be able to share in the joys of the Kingdom of God, we need a childlike simplicity “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Lk 18:17).
We can already have a foretaste of the “joys” of the kingdom of heaven if we learn to share in the “joys and sufferings” of our brothers and sisters. As the song goes, “The time to be happy is now, and the place to be happy is here; and the way to be happy is to make someone happy; and we’ll have a little heaven right here!”
(By Fr. Deli David SDB, a scholar in Rome)
1 Week Advent: Monday, 30 November 2020
St. Andrew, Apostle
Readings: Romans 10:9-18, Mathew 4: 18-22
“I command you for the last time….make your sacrifice to our gods” yelled Aegeas, the pagan judge. “Certainly no!” was the reply back, “I sacrifice daily to The Almighty God, the one and true God. Not the flesh of oxen and the blood of goats do I offer, but the unspotted Lamb upon the altar. All the faithful partake of His flesh, yet the Lamb remains unharmed and living!”
Exceedingly angered by that adamant refusal, the judge commanded the rebel to be thrown into prison. The supporters of the rebel, who stood outside the judging quarters, raised an uproar to free him. But the one who was punished, personally calmed the mob, and earnestly pleaded with them to desist, as he was hastening towards an ardently desired crown of martyrdom.
When he was led to the place of martyrdom, on beholding the cross from far, he cried out: “O Good Cross… so long desired and now set up for my longing soul, I confidently, with rejoicing come to you! Exultingly receive me, a disciple of Him who hung on you.”
Within a few moments, he was tied to the cross – an X-shaped Cross! For two days, he hung there.. alive… unceasingly proclaiming the Teachings of Christ, until he passed on to Him, whose likeness in death, he so ardently desired! This brave martyr of Christ was St Andrew, the Apostle of Jesus, whose feast we celebrate today.
A few years back, this valiant martyr, St Andrew, had received the call of the Lord, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Mt 4: 19) The name “Andrew” in Greek means “manly” or “a person of valour”. St Andrew was from Bethsaida, in Galilee. He was a fisherman, by trade and a former disciple of John the Baptist.
St Andrew is said to have been martyred at Patras in southern Greece on a cross which was in the shape of an “X”. This type of cross has long been known as “St. Andrew’s cross.” This St Andrew’s Cross, is depicted, on the national flag of Scotland.
One of the wonderful things that we learn from St Andrew is his wonderful quality of being a “Introducer to Christ”, as seen in the various instances of the Gospel
1. It was St Andrew who “introduced to Christ”, his brother Peter (Jn 1: 40-42) “We have found the Messiah” (Jn 1:41) were the words with which he introduced Jesus to his brother
2. It was St Andrew who “introduced to Christ”, the little boy with the five loaves and two fish, which would be later, multiplied for five thousand men! (Jn 6: 5-13) “There is a little boy, who has five barley loaves and two fish…” (Jn 6:9) were the words with which he introduced Jesus to the little boy.
3. It was St Andrew who “introduced to Christ” the Greeks who had come up to worship at the feast, at the request of Philip (Jn 12: 20-23) “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (Jn 12: 23) were the words with which Jesus reacted when he was introduced to the Greeks.
Thus, we see that St Andrew became an instrument and an active medium of “Introducing to Christ” many people. As a Christian, this ought to be one great quality and duty that we ought to follow – “Introducing to Christ” many people…like St Andrew.
And this can be one of the beautiful practical resolutions, that we can, do, all the 25 days of this Advent Season, in preparation for the Birth of Christ, into our hearts and life – “Introducing to Christ”
How can I take up this task of “Introducing to Christ”?
Many around us long to hear a word of encouragement in their brokenness, receive a word of consolation in their struggles and encounter a smile of hope in their helplessness
Can I “Introduce them to Christ” – to His love, to His message of hope, to His treasury of providence?
Many around us have immersed themselves into the murky waters of sin, immorality, injustice and insensitivity to people and nature.
Can I “Introduce them to Christ” – to His ocean of mercy, to His fountain of justice and to His abundance of warmth?
Many around us have separated themselves and live in isolation – from people in relationships, from the Church and Her teachings, from the responsibilities and duties of their works and the society.
Can I “Introduce them to Christ” – to His dimension of wholeness in relations, to His Life-giving Sacraments and to His instruction of being faithful?
St Andrew heard the call of the Lord – “to follow Him” He was touched by His love and was filled with a passion for His Master. He was zealous to bring many more to the Love of Jesus.
He was even willing, to lay down his life, in imitation of his Master, for love of Him.
We too, have heard the call of the Lord – “to follow Him”. Are we touched by His love and was filled with a passion for His Master? Are we zealous to bring many more to the Love of Jesus? Are we also, willing, to lay down our life, in imitation of our Master, for love of Him?
May St Andrew intercede for us and inspire us, by his tremendous love for the Master…And may we too, like him, become people who “Introduce many to Christ”!
Happy Feast of St Andrew, the zealous Apostle who “Introduced many to Christ”!
God Bless! Live Jesus!
(By Fr. Lakra Theotimus, a missionary in Arunachal Pradesh)
1 Advent: Sunday, 29 November 2020
WAITING IN HOPE
Isaiah 63:16-17, 19; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37
Waiting is a part of life. Outside schools, parents wait to pick up their children; at bus stops, railway stations, and airports, people wait for their loved ones; in hospitals, patients wait for their families. We are waiting for the pandemic to end. All they/we can do is wait… in hope!
Waiting is a part of life. All of us waited to be born, waited to be nourished, waited to be loved. We learned, soon enough, that not everything is available “instant”. We have to wait.
Advent is a time and a season of a more profound waiting: a waiting for God to reveal himself, to come to us.
The first reading graphically portrays a people waiting for God. The newly-returned exiles hope that God will again adopt them as his children. But Jerusalem is a heap of ruins; there is no sign to confirm their hope. The people remember what God did for them in the past. This memory gives the people hope as they wait.
The gospel and the second reading give us attitudes for this waiting period: be responsible and dutiful servants; stay awake to the signs of the kingdom around us and to the opportunities to serve others; stay firm to the end though God’s grace and gifts.
Like the newly-returned exiles, we are waiting for the Lord to come. We sometimes feel anguish and frustration when God seems absent from our lives. Like the exiles, we would do well to remember the mighty deeds God has done for us. This memory will give us hope as we wait
What attitude characterizes my waiting: optimism or desolation; joy or anguish; hope-filled service or despairing passivity?
What gifts God has given me? How can I use them as a responsible servant for the task he has given me?
On a South Pole expedition, Sir Ernest Shackleton left a few men on Elephant Island, and promised to return. Each time he tried to return, icebergs blocked his way. One day, an avenue opened in the ice, and he got through. His men, ready and waiting, scrambled aboard. No sooner had the ship cleared the island than the ice crashed behind them. Shackleton said: “It was fortunate you were packed and ready to go!” They replied: “We never gave up hope. Whenever the sea was clear of ice, we rolled up our sleeping bags and said, ‘He may come today.’”
Like Shackleton’s men, may we be ready for the coming of the Lord. May we be alert to the signs of his presence everywhere.
(By Dr Fr Vinod Mascarenhas SDB)
34 Week: Saturday, 28 November 2020
Readings: Revelation 22: 1-7 and Luke 21: 34-36
“Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus” is the responsorial psalm of today, ushering us into the season of Advent. And in the Gospel, Jesus advises us to be watchful and be always ready for his coming.
It happened when kings reigned on this earth. A benevolent and caring king sent message to the people of the remotest village in his kingdom, that he would visit them to see for himself the life that they lived. On getting to know that king himself would visit them, the villagers started preparations with full earnestness and great enthusiasm to accord him a fitting welcome. Valleys were filled, bridges constructed on rivulets, hills were leveled to prepare a way for the arrival of their king. Welcome arches were erected and the whole village was decked with decorations to create the festive atmosphere.
On the scheduled arrival date, the king set off towards the village early morning on his chariot, accompanied by his courtiers. Sadly, the sky grew dark and suddenly a thunderstorm made the journey impossible. When the downpour ceased, the king told his courtiers that he would walk all the way to village, as travelling on chariot seemed impossible on the newly laid muddy road. It was a heroic decision and needed perseverance and mental determination. By the time king reached the village, it was mid night and all the people had retired to bed, with the belief that king would not be able to make it to their village on account of the unexpected thunderous downpour.
On reaching the village, the king went to the first house and knocked on the door. From inside, a voice said, “we are tired today, working and expecting the arrival of our king. Now we are in bed, you go to someone else’s house for the night shelter”. The king knocked at the door of each house and invariably was told the same words: “we are tired today, working and expecting the arrival of our king. Now we are in bed, you go to someone else’s house for the night shelter”. Finally, he found a hut which had no door, so he entered. A beggar widow had just gone to bed after having cooked and eaten what she had received during the day, while begging. She welcomed the king and offered him the left over after her dinner. As a mark of gratitude for the hospitality he got, the king offered the widow a bag full of gold and left the village. At dawn, people came to know, through the beggar widow, that king had actually come, not only to their village, but even to their house. All missed him.
It could happen to each one of us, if we do not heed to the words of today’s Gospel. Let not our hearts be “coarsened by debauchery and drunkenness and cares of life”. We know for certainty that Jesus the King will come. Gospel reminds us, “It will come down on all those, living on the face of this earth”. Will we be ready to open the door when he knocks? “Stay awake, praying at all times”, we are told. Let us make the response of the psalm our own “Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus”.
(By Fr. Bimal Lakra SDB, Vice Principal of Don Bosco College, Golaghat)
34 Week: Friday, 27 November 2020
Readings: Rev 20:1-4, 11-21:2; Lk 21: 29-33
Today technology and science have progressed so much that we are able to forecast weather conditions quite accurately. Satellites help us to study natural happenings. Thus, we are able to study nature and interpret natural phenomena. Humans are able to read signs of nature. Nature astonishes us with new life every spring. The Lord invites us to read the signs of time. These signs can help us to derive practical as well as spiritual lessons. Signs of the time tell us what is passing and what is valuable.
Change is one of the main characteristics of nature. Cycle of nature helps us to see these changes. Change of seasons are essential as it helps plants and living beings. In fact, change is considered as the essence of life. Heraclitus famously said, “The only constant in life is change.” But in our human nature, some changes are positive while some changes may be difficult and painful. In the midst of all these changes only one thing remains permanent that is the word of God and teachings of Christ. Jesus says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” This is the assurance that not everything is passing while something is always permanent which is God. Therefore, hope is to be founded on the word of God.
The word of God gives meaning of “discernment”. It is a process of searching for God’s will and deciding how to respond to it. Listening to the word of God helps us to absorb the attitudes and values of Jesus. These then become the criteria by which we can evaluate the situation in which we find ourselves and the particular issue calling for a decision. In a way we are looking for “signs”. These do not refer to great signs in heavens and earth but inner movements of spiritual nature.
Today’s gospel invites us to ask ourselves a few questions:
Do I see the ‘signs of the time’ and respond to them?
Have I learned to put my hope in the word of God?
What are the values that I absorb?
(By Fr. Shilanand Kerkerta, a missionary in Arunachal Pradesh)
34 Week: Thursday, 26 November 2020
Readings: Revelation 18:1-2, 21-23; 19:1-3, 9a, Gospel – Luke 21:20-28
Kasan and Dasan were working in a Johnson multi-national company of mobile production Pvt. Ltd in Kolkata, West Bengal. Both of them were managers in different departments. Dasan was an upright man and God fearing. He was regular to his duty and honest with his dealings while Kasan was cheating with production and dishonest in his dealings with customers and employees. Though Kasan became very rich and powerful within a short period of time and got promotion, his family and children were unhappy and living in a sinful life. Dasan was not happy about his income and was persecuted for his values and just living. Due to his God fearing nature and sincere attitude, God graced him with happiness in life and he lived a life of satisfaction with total commitment. One day when the owner discovered their profiles and their means of running their departments, Kasan was arrested and brought into judgement while Dasan was awarded and got promoted to higher level with high salary during Covid – 19 period.
Today’s both readings describe the blending of what is going to happen to Jerusalem and of the end of times and the day of judgement. In the first part of the readings, it projects warning and their actual cause of their fall is the faithlessness and corruption of so many for which destruction was the inevitable and inescapable outcome. And so Jesus projects them as “days of retribution” or the “time of punishment”, not showing God’s revenge but the natural result of evil and corruption.
The problem of listening constantly to the evil and live with people of corrupt nation for long time is eventually leading to destructive course. For examples, The Bible records many disasters, natural and man-made destructive actions such as Noah’s flood (Genesis 6-8), Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18-19), the Plagues on Egypt in Moses’ time (Exodus 7-11). The Prophets give many examples such as Jeremiah 5:29; Hoseah 9:7; and Isaiah 63:4. All these events are understood as God’s judgement and punishment on human sin, moral failure, and disobedience to God’s will and plan.
But today the message of the Gospel invites all of us to return to the ways of the Lord and to submit to His will. Finally Jesus speaks of various cataclysmic and apocalyptic signs to signal the end of this time and world. The signs are typically biblical phenomena and not to be taken as exact foretelling of the events. The Daniel’s vision of the Son of Man riding on a cloud coming with great power and glory is not intended to fill people with fear and trembling, except for those who have lived and are living in wicked and sinful ways.
The second part of the readings reveal the end of times and the judgement. The end times is also a joyful and redeeming time for those disciples, the loyal followers and the faithful people. It’s a time to “stand up straight and raise your heads, for your redeeming is near at hand”. Persecutions, sufferings and tribulations are part and parcel of our life in Christ. Our radical discipleship, message and vision is a sign of contradiction to this world and to the sinful people.
For true disciples, apostles, and followers of Christ Jesus, who live the values of the gospel and in intimate relationship with Holy Trinity, it is a time of final liberation, inspiration, motivation, love, intimacy, of freedom, of joy and consolation and it is not a time of sorrow, hardships and disappointments.
(By Fr. Anthonysamy Amaladoss SDB, a research scholar in Chennai)
34 Week: Wednesday, 25 November 2020
Readings: Revelation 15: 1-4; Luke 21: 12-19
BE A WITNESS TO CHRIST IN SUFFERING
For the past 2000 years, human beings have found it difficult to comprehend why Jesus told his apostles that Christian discipleship is costly, and it involves much sacrifice and self-denial. Jesus emphasizes this in Luke 9: 22 “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me, for whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.” For Christ’s sake, one must be ready to undergo suffering daily and must be courageous to bear witness to Christ’s suffering. The only condition to partake in the glory of Christ is that a disciple must bear witness to the sufferings of Christ.
Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, known as the “voice of the voiceless,” spoke out courageously in defence of human rights and social justice for the poor and suffering. In El Salvador, the privileged few enjoyed great wealth at the expense of the disadvantaged majority. He witnessed the suffering of landless people and the increasing government violence against priests and Christians. He spoke openly about the persecution of the poor and the killing of innocent people. He knew of his assassination and was willing to accept martyrdom if his blood might contribute to the nations’ problems. On 24 March 1980, a group of unidentified gunmen entered a small chapel in San Salvador while Romero was celebrating mass and shot him to death. What a marvellous example of courageous witness in sharing the sufferings of Christ?
Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, an apostle of St. John, was 86 years old. He was considered a criminal by the Roman state because he was a Christian, a great teacher of faith and a leader. The government arrested him, interrogated and threatened to be thrown to the wild beasts or burned alive or similar dire consequences if he did not renounce his faith. As the security guards took him to the arena, the proconsul tried to persuade him to give up his faith and promised him to set free and have a happy life in the future. But bishop Polycarp told the proconsul, “86 years I have served my God and he had done me no wrong. How can I abandon my faith in God, my king and my Saviour, who has never abandoned me?” He offered himself to be burned and stabbed to death. Powerful indeed, the example of bishop Polycarp. The saying “no cross, no crown” is true.
St. Catherine of Alexandria, whose memory we keep today, was beheaded by Maximinus because she was ready to go to any extent to bear witness to the sufferings of Christ and for the faith in the living God. Jesus tells us today, even if parents, brothers, sisters and relatives abandon you because you are the follower of Christ, do not be disheartened. The disciples of Jesus will be arrested, taken to court and accused falsely for His sake. In those trying moments, the disciple must remember that trying times are the opportunity to bear witness to our faith. “By your endurance, you will gain your souls.”
2Maccabees 7: 1-42 The heroic martyrdom of seven brothers and the mother is a powerful example of witnessing to God (Yahweh) who saves them. He gives eternal reward to those who bear witness to him in their sufferings.
Acts 1: 8, Jesus told his apostles, “You shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.”
1Pet 5: 1 I am aneldermyself, and a witness to the sufferings of Christ, and with you I have a share in the glory that is to be revealed.
(By Fr. Bosco Perianayagam SDB, former Vice Provincial of Dimapur Province)
34 Week: Tuesday, 24 November 2020
Readings: Rev 14: 14-19 and Lk 21: 5-11
Martyrs Andrew Dung-lac and companions
A 200-seater Amphitheatre was built overlooking Sydney Harbour, in Australia, in 1925, for the Second Coming of Christ. Members of ‘The order of the Star of the East,’ led by Hindu mystic Krishnamurti, believed that Christ would soon return to earth in human form and walk across the Pacific Ocean to the amphitheatre. When he did not arrive by 1929, the group dissolved, and a block of flats now occupies the site.
Both the readings of today deal with things to come: vision, prophesy, wars, earthquakes, famines and plagues and other future events. They are full of warnings about the end times. There is lot of tension, fear, anxiety, worry etc. This may be compared to the effects of Corona Virus which we all experienced this year. So, it may be easy for us to understand the readings of today.
For St. John, the author of the Apocalypse ‘the harvest of the earth is ripe’- ripe for the ‘winepress of God’s anger’. A preview of the judgement is in Rev. 14: 14-20 in the dual images of harvest and vintage. The first will be of the elect and the second of those condemned. The one who judges is “one like the Son of Man”, Jesus himself. Those who execute judgement come out of the temple from the altar. “God’s wrath” comes out in the face of so much bloodshed outside the city. All this blood cries out to heaven and draws down the judgement of God’s wrath.
In the course of his ministry, Jesus has mentioned the ‘end’ and the coming of the Son of Man. Jesus refers to the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem in Lk.13: 35 and Lk.19: 42-44. In the eschatological speech at the end of Jesus’ ministry, just before the Passion, both themes converge. St. Luke intends to distinguish the ‘last things’ about Jerusalem from the end of the world. The speech is loaded with all sorts of apocalyptic images. It functions as an answer to the fundamental apocalyptic question: “When will this happen?” The end of Jerusalem and the end of the world will be preceded by apocalyptic and catastrophic signs in humankind and in the universe.
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus is prophesying the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. It was one of the charges brought against him at his trial. The occasion was some people’s admiration for the great beauty of the temple. Almost without mercy, Jesus predicts the end of the sanctuary. No stone will be left on another. For many Jews, the end of the temple was an end of the world, a terminal end. The temple was built to honor God and as a place of prayer. Given the significance of the temple for Jewish Religion and culture, this could be seen as symbolizing the end of their messianic hopes. St. Luke’s description of the destruction of Jerusalem is influenced by the factual siege and capture by the Romans in 70 A D: the military encirclements, the fights, the arrests and the deportation. Jesus’ listeners were anxious to know what signs to look out for when the end times come. But Jesus makes it clear that the timing of such events nobody knows. Specially for Jesus’ disciples, the end is preceded by the sign of persecution for the sake of Jesus’s name. (Lk. 21:12-19) Not only Jewish and Gentile authorities are to be feared, but even one’s own relatives and family members. The disciples will be forced to bear witness. They need not be afraid: Jesus in person will inspire them.
For us who are believers it is important to be sensitive to authentic signs. The answer is a call to continuous vigilance. Jesus tells us to be prepared and to remain firm in faith. Consistent with St. Luke’s emphasis on prayer, Jesus invites us to prayer and vigilance. A Christian does not get absorbed in worldly events and does not escape from its finiteness, but yearns for the coming of the Lord, who will judge the whole world.
Both the readings of today are taken from and are filled with apocalyptic writings. For us the apocalyptic language is strange and confusing. But, for the persecuted Christians of those times, these were the words that they understood. The principal purpose was to animate the faith and hope of the poor and the oppressed. It is the fruit of the witness of faith by these people, who in spite of the persecution, and against all contrary appearances, continued to believe that God was with them and that He continued to be the Lord of history.
(By Fr. Cijichen Jose SDB, a missionary in Arunachal Pradesh)
33 Week: Monday, 23 November 2020
Readings: Revelation: 14: 1- 5, Luke 21 1 – 4
Saint Clement I Pope, Martyr
Saint Columbanus, Abbot and Missionary
Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro. Martyr
An elderly Christian had retired from work who was well-known for his selfless charitable acts, was once asked by a youngster: “We all are aware that you are a very generous person reaching out to help anyone in need. But we have always wondered, how is it, that though you give so much, to so many people you still have so much left!” “Oh!” replied the elderly man, “as I shovel out, He shovels in!” “And the Lord has a Bigger Shovel than me!”
Do I generously use the shovel of giving thus giving space for the Lord to ‘use His Bigger Shovel’ in my life…?
Do we have the joy and the generosity to give ourselves, to the Lord and for His works?
The Gospel of the Day demonstrates the powerful message of True Giving, through the incident of the Offering of the Poor Widow. The passage begins with the verse, “When Jesus looked up and saw…” (Lk 21: 1) Jesus has sharp eyes…
He sees what most people miss to see. He perceives what most people ignore. He observes what most people pass on as ordinary. While all others saw only the corrupt mind of Zacchaeus, Jesus saw deeper… (Lk 19:7). He observed the flame of genuine repentance and earnest desire in him. While all others saw only the filth in the woman caught in adultery, Jesus saw deeper (Jn 8:3). He observed the spark of pleading for mercy and compassion in her.
While all others saw only a disturbance in the blind beggar Bartimaeus, Jesus saw deeper… (Lk 18:39). He observed the flash of true longing and expectant hope in him…
There are many times in our life, when we think or do-little things and we would feel them as insignificant. But the Lord sees deeper. A tiny word of thanks and appreciation…The Lord sees our goodness. A small gesture of timely help and assistance… The Lord sees our nobility. A genuine smile of encouragement and support… The Lord sees our benevolence. The palace of goodness is built by the tiny bricks of genuine actions and loving thoughts. And the Lord sees it all – “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good” (Prov. 15:3)
He doesn’t miss a single gift, small or large. He knows every giver, rich and poor. This is the significance of being engaged in little and small acts of charity. None of them go down the drain. Rather, all of them are recorded by God and translates into a fountain of blessings!
The Lord keenly observed the insignificant action of the Poor Widow dropping in two copper coins into the Temple Treasury. The Temple Treasury was in the Court of the Women, which was on the easternmost part of the Temple. The Court of the Women obtained its name, not from its appropriation to the exclusive use of women, but because they were not allowed to proceed farther, except for sacrificial purposes. Against the walls of this temple area were the thirteen chests, or ‘trumpets,’ for charitable contributions. These thirteen chests were shaped like trumpets, narrow at the mouth and wide at the bottom. Each one had a different Hebrew letter designating separate offerings and causes. Into this Temple Treasury, the poor widow just drops in two small copper coins? (Lk 21:2)
What difference did her two coins make toward meeting the temple budget? Probably nothing! Perhaps the treasurer muttered under his breath as he saw it being dropped: “Why do people throw such small coins into the treasury? They’re more a nuisance to count than they’re worth!” But the Lord has a totally different yardstick of measuring and of judging.
People count the worth of money by what is given. God counts the worth of money by what is left over. People say “wow” over thicker and fatter amounts given, irrespective of the means and intention. God says “Wow” over any amount given, but only when given with the proper means and true intention.
While most people would have sidelined this meager act of giving, the Lord lavishes praise on the poor widow who “gave it all”. The gifts of the rich would have not cost them much. But the widow may have gone hungry that night because she gave all what she had. She gave it all, not for any praise or to show-off, but out of love of God and her religion.
What is our attitude in “giving” to God? Often, we give only “leftovers” to God. If we have some food left, after we have relished nicely, we give it off to some hungry. If we have anything left, after we’ve spent for all our needs, then we drop a bit for charity. If we have something left, after we have used and its now old, we donate it to the church. If we have some “time” left, after engaging in all leisure, then we give the time to God. If we have some goodwill left, after busying with many works, we offer our thanks to the Lord.
The Lord, seriously, is in no need of the offering of our money. But the Lord, very seriously, is on the lookout for an offering of our hearts! Let us make not just peripheral contribution of our lives, but rather engage in sacrificial offerings of our self. As Blessed Mother Teresa would say: “Give, but give until it hurts. It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving”
The Lord has given everything for us. As His disciples, we too are expected to be similar: to give everything to Him. An “all-giving” Master deserves “all-giving” disciples. Doesn’t He?
Let us generously use the “shovel of giving”. Thus, giving space for the Lord to ‘use His Bigger Shovel’ in my life!
God Bless! Live Jesus!
(By Fr. Theotimus Lakra SDB, a missionary in Arunachal Pradesh)
34 Week: Sunday, 22 November 2020
Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17; 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28; Matthew 25:31-46
CHRIST THE KING
REACHING OUT TO AND IDENTIFYING WITH THE LEAST
According to a Jewish legend, a man went to heaven and watched at the gates.
A rabbi came and made his claim to enter: “Day and night I studied the Torah.” The angel at the gate said: “Wait! We will investigate whether your study was for its own sake or for the sake of honours.”
A zaddik approached next: “I fasted much; I underwent many ritual cleansings; I studied the mystical commentary on the Torah day and night.” The angel said: “Wait until we have completed investigating your motives.”
Then a tavern-keeper came and said: “I fed without charge every poor person who came into my inn.” The angel opened the gates for him.
The Jewish legend has the same thrust as the gospel about the final judgment: God judges us not upon our acts of religiosity but upon the acts of mercy we show (or do not show) to the least – the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the ill, and the imprisoned. More important, whenever we serve these least ones, we serve him, who identifies himself with them.
In the first reading, through Ezekiel, God promises that he will reach out to the lost, the strayed, the injured, and the sick, and he will shepherd them. In the gospel, he challenges us – who have experienced his shepherding love – to be the shepherds and to do the reaching out to the least.
We come to the end of the liturgical year. Today’s solemnity invites us to examine how the Lord has loved and cared for us in the past year, and how we have reached out to his “least brothers and sisters”.
Am I aware of the numerous ways in which God has reached out to me and shepherded me? How will I reach out to and identify with the least of my brothers and sisters?
(By Dr. Fr. Vinod Mascarenhas SDB)