28th November 2020

Saturday, Thirty Fourth Week in Ordinary Time


Rev 22:1-7;  Ps 95:1-7; Lk 21:34-36


BE ALERT, AND PRAY AT ALL TIMES

On the last day of the liturgical year, we are brought to reflect on the end. What does Jesus tell us about this ‘last day’? It’s coming is sure but unknown. Therefore, he asks…

That we be alert… The end is not important it will be as we live. We are called to live a fully human life, to live for God and others. Jesus warns us, “Be alert, for those who live for themselves selfishly indulging in sensual pleasures will live and die miserably.” To live full lives, Jesus offers us life in abundance; he is the vine, we the branches. The more attached we are to him the more his life will flow into us. How?

By praying… Prayer is a simple heartfelt conversation with a very dear friend/father/brother. Our God loves us so much that he is with us at all times waiting to pour his love into us that we may live fully. Prayer is simply to be with the one who, we know, loves us.

At all times… It is as between lovers; though oceans may separate them, they are always with each other – in mind and heart, no matter what they may be doing; and during those special set-aside moments, they lovingly converse. This is the meaning of praying at all times; setting aside a special time for God, whilst having him in mind and heart at every moment.

The COVID19 pandemic has affected the whole world, and more importantly, our life of Christian worship. Can we see here a God-given opportunity? The Israelites in exile had a similar feeling of spiritual deprivation when there was no Temple to go to, or priest to offer sacrifices for them. It was time for them to worship God in spirit and in truth, and to purify their worship. Is God asking the same from us – to relate with him as his children in the confines of our homes and our hearts, so that post-COVID19 our worship will be more sincere and true?


Responsorial Psalm: Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!


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27th November 2020

Friday, Thirty Fourth Week in Ordinary Time


Rev 20:1-4,11–21:2; Ps 84:3-6,8; Lk 21:29-33


AMEN: SO BE IT!

The parable of the fig tree is the last parable in the Gospel of Luke. The fig tree in the Old Testament was used as a metaphor for the peace and prosperity of Israel. Therefore, the use of the phrase ‘fig tree and all the other trees’ refers to Israel and all the other nations of the world. Jesus is foretelling about the coming redemption. His words, ‘to see and know’, followed by ‘near’ are very significant. Just as when one sees the leaves sprouting one knows that the summer is near, so also when people would see the armies surrounding Jerusalem they would know that the destruction of Jerusalem was close at hand.

Jesus emphatically states by using the word ‘Amen’, that the world will end and the Son of Man will come to judge it. Hence, knowing to recognize the signs, we can decipher what they point to. But along with the warning also comes the assurance to the faithful, that heaven and earth will pass away but his words will never pass away.

In our modern context, we use the word ‘Amen’ at the end of a prayer, a petition or a thanksgiving. It only means that we are in agreement to the prayer or the idea that has been expressed. The meaning of the word ‘Amen’ is ‘So be it’. Hence, it is an expression of complete and total agreement. This word appears 143 times in the New Testament and about 100 times in the four gospel narrations.

However, there is a difference between our use of the word ‘Amen’ and the way Jesus uses it. Jesus always used it at the beginning of his statements, to emphatically state that he is speaking the truth, and that he is the giver of the truth. It means that Jesus is revealing an important teaching when he uses the term ‘Amen’. Jesus will certainly come with his power and glory to judge the world. Can I, with a sincere heart and an unwavering faith, say ‘Amen’ to this truth?


Responsorial Psalm: Behold, the dwelling of God is with men.


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26th November 2020

Thursday, Thirty Fourth Week in Ordinary Time


Rev 18:1-2,21-23; 19:1-3,9; Ps 100:1-5;  Lk 21:20-28


A CONSTANT STATE OF SPIRITUAL VIGILANCE

In a month’s time, we will be celebrating the event of Jesus’ birth. The liturgy of the last few weeks has been focusing on the commandment of love – love for God and for one another. These are all connected – the expression of God’s love for us in the birth of his son, the evidence of those who loved him and gave their lives for him (the first reading), and the command to love. This helps us understand the words of Jesus in today’s gospel reading – they are more than a warning; they are a directive to live this commandant of love so that we may ‘stand erect and raise our heads.’ It is the grace of God that redeems us and the gift of Jesus that makes it possible.

Jesus speaks about the end times, lest we be carried away with the petty concerns of the day, and are caught unawares at the coming of the Lord. He wants us to be vigilant, and to pray fervently for strength of faith, so as to whether the tribulations which precede the Day of Judgement. The message is clear: We must be prepared. Part of that preparation is vigilance.

What does this vigilance entail? It does not mean being physically alert 24/7. That is impossible. The vigilance that Jesus is talking of is being spiritually ready in faith. It includes regular prayer, deep faith, being a peacemaker, exercising forgiveness, rendering charity, and all other Christian actions. It is hoping that when the Lord comes, he will see us as his own, worthy to enter into glory. It is adopting the mind of Christ, the life of the gospel.

The Lord is coming. This is the truth. The vigilant Christian is oriented towards this truth, this destiny, this end, this encounter with the risen Lord. He is coming as he had once come on that silent and holy night – unexpectedly and without warning. Our vigilance will not be in vain.


Responsorial Psalm: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.


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25th November 2020

Wednesday, Thirty Fourth Week in Ordinary Time


Rev 15:1-4; Ps 98:1-3,7-9 Lk 21:12-19


DISCIPLESHIP – BEARING TESTIMONY NO MATTER WHAT

While there was an enthusiastic crowd to greet Jesus as he entered Jerusalem a week before his passion, he knew that this was not the day of his coronation. There would be a cross before there was to be a crown, as he had already told his disciples on a number of occasions. Jesus wept over this city, for he knew that as a result of its rejection of him as Messiah, a day of judgment was coming upon it. Though the disciples wished to know ‘the day and the hour’, he was more concerned with them knowing and trusting him, rather than knowing when that final day would come.

Jesus’ words to his disciples today pertain to the persecution of those who committed their life to him. He told them what they would need to know so that they could bear testimony to him and his gospel – that they will be brought before the religious and political rulers and be persecuted, and many of them would be put into prison because of their belief in him. This would be their time to bear testimony, to proclaim what they believed. But even in the face of such persecution, he exhorts them, “Make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourself. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.” And he encourages them to endure to the end.

What Jesus told his disciples then, holds true for us today, because we are also to do the same – bear testimony to him and his gospel no matter what. Many of us might not face such direct persecution, but nonetheless, we have all experienced at some point that talking about Jesus is often unpopular and can feel like a persecution. Thus, undoubtedly, we will have our time to bear testimony, to tell others what we believe. Will we step up to the occasion? Will we courageously be his disciples?


Responsorial Psalm: Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God Almighty!


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24th November 2020

Tuesday, Thirty Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Memorial of St Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions, Martyrs


Rev 14:14-19;  Ps 96:10-13; Lk 21:5-11


LIVING AS GOD’S HOLY TEMPLE

Jesus evicted the corrupt money changers from the Temple. He questioned and confounded the hypocritical religious leaders at the Temple. He praised the generosity of a woman who had made a small but meaningful donation to the Temple. Jesus loved the Temple. Human eyes wonder at material glory. Our attention roams around the exterior. But God’s eyes rest upon the interior. He looks into what is going on inside. The externally-beautiful grand structure of the Temple contained in itself the hypocrisies of the priestly class. The greed, the political manoeuvres, the power struggles and the luxurious life led by the Temple class at the expense of the poor were abominable in the eyes of the Lord. When the sacred structure loses its sacredness, it becomes nothing but a monument.

The people were shocked when Jesus predicted the Temple’s destruction. How could that be? How could the dwelling place of God, the very centre of the Jewish religion, be destroyed? As Jesus predicted, the Temple was destroyed. It happened in 70 A.D., when the Roman army moved in to put down a Jewish uprising. It was seen as a complete catastrophe. But God was able to take this tragedy and bring great good out of it. With the Temple gone, the early Christians could grasp even more deeply the central truth that God now lived in them by the power of the Holy Spirit.

We too are created for sacred purposes. As St Paul says, we are the temple of God. Our body is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. We must, each day, take a moment to examine what is really going on within this “holy temple” of ours. Is it serving the sacred purposes for which it is created? If we do not serve the purpose for which this temple of ours is built, the same tragedy will take place in us as well – the loss of sacredness, turning us into “monumental” Christians, that have no ‘eternal’ worth, and only deserve to be razed to the ground.


Responsorial Psalm: The Lord comes to judge the earth.


Copyright ©2020 ©Springs of Living Water

23rd November 2020

Monday, Thirty Fourth Week in Ordinary Time


Rev 14:1-5; Ps 24:1-6; Lk 21:1-4


THE PARADOX OF CHARITY

In today’s gospel incident of the widow’s offering, we see the blessing of poverty. The poor widow truly loves God, for she gives him all that she has. But the rich Pharisees, tossing in a part of their surplus, have no understanding of love. Any person dealing with voluntary offerings to charitable causes can confirm this paradox. It is not the rich who give the most to the Church or to other charitable causes. The poor carry a much greater share of the burden. There are exceptions to this, but anyone with experience can tell you that the poor and the needy are the ones who give generously. This has not changed since the day Christ observed the generosity of the poor widow in the Temple.

Is not this the obvious reason for the great inequalities between the rich and the poor? If the rich had a sense of charity in proportion to the generosity of so many of their poor brethren, how much of human suffering would be alleviated.

No wonder, then, that Jesus spoke so often and in such strong words about the danger of riches. And no wonder that he always showed a preference for the poor. Throughout the Old Testament, God showed his special love for the poor, the abandoned, the suffering and the needy. The book of Psalms is a ringing testimony to God’s love for the poor, the forsaken, the man whom no one else cares for.

The liturgy of the word invites us to give to the needy. Especially during this time of the pandemic, when many are without basic needs, let us be a little more generous. Each time we give to the Lord, he is watching. He does not miss a single offering, small or large. He knows every giver, rich and poor. People may give anonymously, not noticed by men. But let us not forget the Lord’s promise that he who sees what is done in secret, will grant the just reward.


Responsorial Psalm: These are the people who seek your face, O Lord.


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22nd November 2020

CHRIST, OUR KING AND WE, HIS LOYAL SUBJECTS


SUNDAY, THIRTY FOURTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

SOLEMNITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, KING OF THE UNIVERSE

Reading 1: Ez 34:11-12,15-17 God is portrayed, not so much as a judge of his people, but as someone who cares for them as a good shepherd cares for his sheep.

Reading 2: 1 Cor 15:20-26,28 At the end of the world Christ will reign as universal King, having overcome all hostile forces, including death.

Gospel: Mt 25:31-46 This contains Matthew’s great scene of the Last Judgement.


Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. On the feast of Christ the King, we celebrate and commemorate a few things, the first one being the resurrection of the worthy Lamb, the one who, by his death and resurrection, brings life to all those who believe. We also commemorate Jesus as the one and only eternal king.

In the second reading, Paul tells the Corinthians in his first letter, that when the end comes, Christ will hand over the kingdom to his Father after having destroyed every rule and authority and power, because there is only one true king, Jesus, and everything will be subject to him. Everyone who believes in Jesus the king, will not perish but have eternal life (Jn 3:16). This is what we see Jesus explaining to his disciples in the gospel, that he will take his rightful place on his glorious throne before all the angels of heaven and nations of the earth.

We also commemorate Jesus as the judge of the world and as the Good Shepherd who knows his sheep and who lays down his life for his sheep (Jn 10:14-15). In the gospel passage, Jesus speaks about the judgment of the nations, where he will separate the sheep from the goats. The sheep who know his voice and have heard him and lived according to the way he has directed them, will be on his right and will inherit the kingdom of heaven which is prepared for them. The goats who have not recognized the voice of the shepherd and king will be sent away into eternal separation from Jesus. They will not enter into eternal life in the kingdom of God.

We, who have not lived during the reign of a king, might not clearly understand how important loyalty to the king is. But let us try to understand this. Jesus said to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jn 18:36). But we live in this world, which is under the rule of Satan, and Jesus says that a time will come when the ruler of this world will be cast out (Jn 12:31-32). We live in a world which is ruled by Satan, and are being instructed by Jesus to live in the world but not belong to it or submit to it. This is scary, because the ruler of this world is not going to be happy about it. Our true king though, is pleased with us. He desires to see us live faithfully for him. Even if we physically live in a different kingdom, we are called to be one in spirit, and keep our allegiance to our true king, Jesus Christ, all through our life. We are his subjects who are separated from him physically for some time and are in living in a different kingdom, but we are not to forget our true identity as children of God and servants of the Most High King. He promises us that we will enter into the kingdom of heaven if we hear his voice and abide in him.

Jesus Christ is fully man, fully God, the true Lamb, the Judge of the world, the Good Shepherd and the true King. This feast of Christ the King is meant to help us see clearly who Christ is, in all his fullness, but is also meant to remind us of our place as his ever-faithful servants. Will we live our life in obedience and surrender to our true king every day until the day he returns? Will we serve him with loyalty even when we cannot see him clearly with our human eyes? Will we live in this world with our sight set on heaven and the glory of Jesus our king?


Responsorial Psalm: Ps 23:1-3,5-6 The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.


Copyright ©2020 ©Springs of Living Water

21st November 2020

Saturday, Thirty Third Week in Ordinary Time,

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Rev 11:4-12;  Ps 144:1-2,9-10; Lk 20:27-40

or Zec 2: 14-17;  Lk 1: 46-55; Mt 12: 46-50


DO I SEEK TO RECTIFY, OR JUSTIFY?

The way we live and the philosophy (of life) that we believe in are closely connected. In order to justify that our way of living is the right and only way, we build beautiful arguments and justification. In the Gospel passage today, we have the Sadducees, most of whom were part of the governing class, trying to trap Jesus through a concocted story, to reassert their belief that there cannot be life after death. However, Jesus beautifully exposes the basic flaw in their argument.

Our beliefs and manner of living are inseparable. Our life bears testimony to our beliefs. The tongue might lie, but the life or character cannot, or at least not consistently. Human psychology is such that when we reap success, we do not want anyone else to share the spotlight; whereas, when we fail or are enslaved to a particular weakness, we want everyone to be like us. The Sadducees were sold to worldly values. They read the Scripture with the sole purpose of finding within it some justification or approval for their beliefs and their way of life. Hence, they criticised anyone who held belief in the resurrection.

Sometimes, Scripture, religion, and even God, are used as instruments to justify one’s misdeeds. Most often it is done by the powerful, the influential, and those in authority. As a result, not only are the simple people misled or disillusioned, even religion is corrupted and the concept and the knowledge of God takes on a negative connotation. Let us learn to accept our mistakes and unhealthy attachments instead of finding justification for them. That is the only way of overcoming them. Let us not become the reason for ridicule towards God and religion. After the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who remained constant in her dedication to the Lord, may we, who were also presented to the Lord on the day of our Baptism, strive to keep alive our dedication.


Responsorial Psalm: Blest be the Lord, my rock!


Copyright ©2020 ©Springs of Living Water

20th November 2020

Friday, Thirty Third Week in Ordinary Time


Rev 10:8-11;  Ps 119:14,24,72,103,111,131; Lk 19:45-48


THE TEMPLE: A HOUSE OF PRAYER

In the Gospel passage of today, Jesus enters the Jerusalem Temple and drives out those who were selling things in the Temple courtyard. Jesus sees the situation of Jeremiah’s time repeating itself and refers to the words of God recorded by the prophet (Jeremiah 7:11): “You have made my house into a den of robbers”. In John’s Gospel, after cleansing the Temple, Jesus responds to the demand for a sign to demonstrate his authority for his actions. His sign is the cross and the resurrection.

Pope Benedict XVI writes in the second volume of his work Jesus of Nazareth: “The cross and resurrection give him authority as the one who ushers in true worship. The rejection and crucifixion of Jesus means the end of this Temple. The era of the Temple is over. A new worship is being introduced, in a Temple not built by human hands. This Temple is his body, the Risen One, who gathers the peoples and unites them in the sacrament of his body and blood. He himself is the new Temple of humanity. The crucifixion of Jesus is at the same time the destruction of the old Temple. With his Resurrection, a new way of worshiping God begins, no long on this or that mountain, but ‘in spirit and truth.’”

St Paul tells us that we are temples of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit dwells in us. He goes further to exhort us not to make the Holy Spirit sad, by making the temple within us a ‘den of robbers’. We also need to be continually purified through prayer, penance, and through the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. And therefore, what should be the right attitude? In these two temples, i.e. the physical temple which is a place of adoration, and the spiritual temple within where the Holy Spirit dwells, our disposition should be one of true piety that adores and listens, that prays and asks pardon, that praises the Lord.


Responsorial Psalm: How sweet is your promise to my tongue, O Lord!


Copyright ©2020 ©Springs of Living Water

19th November 2020

Thursday, Thirty Third Week in Ordinary Time


Rev 5:1-10; Ps 149:1-6,9; Lk 19:41-44


JESUS WEEPS FOR US

Why did Jesus weep over Jerusalem?

Because of his desire for its peace: Jesus was expressing his sorrow for Jerusalem because it had rejected him and therefore missed its opportunity for peace. The words used here are ‘thy peace,’ as if peace rightfully belonged to Jerusalem. Historically, it was the case, for Jerusalem was meant to be a city of peace. When King David made this city the capital of Israel, he chose it because it was located right on the border between the tribal territories of Benjamin and Judah. But history has shown that Jerusalem has not been a city of peace even upto recent times. In its turbulent history spanning 3,500 years, Jerusalem has therefore become a city of weeping. As the Prince of peace, he desired peace for Jerusalem.

Because of his knowledge of its impending punishment: Jesus could see not only its present state but also its destruction 40 years later. In the year AD 70, a Jewish rebellion, Titus, the Roman General and son of Vespasian the Emperor, captured the city of Jerusalem and razed it to the ground. The destruction by the Roman armies was so complete that all that remained of the glorious Temple was just a wall.

Because of his unbounded love for its people: Jesus longed to gather Jerusalem like a mother hen under its wings, so that they would find rest (cf. Mt 11:28) and life in him (cf. Jn 10:10). The tears that Jesus shed for Jerusalem truly reveal his great unbounded love for his own, a love that never ceases to seek earnestly after their welfare and salvation.

Jesus longs and weeps for our salvation. He knows our heart and knows what our end will be like, if we do not repent. He is much grieved at our continued rejection of him, and our indifference toward him. The love that Christ has for us is just like the love that he had for the people of Jerusalem.


Responsorial Psalm: You have made us a kingdom and priests to our God.


Copyright ©2020 ©Springs of Living Water