30 August, 2013
Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time ©
1 September 2013
WITHOUT EXCLUDING ANYONE
Jesus attends a banquet invited by “one of the leading Pharisees” of the region. It is a special Sabbath day meal prepared on the eve with great care. As usual, the guests are friends of the host, prestigious Pharisees, experts in the law, models of religious life for all the people.
Apparently Jesus doesn’t feel at ease. He is missing his friends, the poor – people he finds begging on the roadsides, those never invited by anyone, those who don’t matter: excluded from social life, forgotten by religion; despised by almost everyone. They are the ones who usually sit at table with him.
Before leaving, Jesus addresses the one who invited him. It is not to thank him for the banquet, but to stir his conscience and invite him to live a less conventional and more humane life:
“Do not invite your friends, your brothers or your relatives or your rich neighbours, because they will correspond by inviting you… Invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind; happy are you because they cannot pay you back; they will repay you when the righteous rise again.”
Once again Jesus tries to humanize life by breaking if necessary set ways of behaving and thinking which seem to be very appropriate but which basically indicate our resistance to building a more humane and fraternal world willed by God.
Ordinarily, we live in a closed circle of family, social, political or religious relationships by which we mutually help each other to look after our interests leaving out those who can do nothing for us. We invite into our lives those who in turn can invite us. That’s all.
Slaves to self-satisfying relationships, we are not aware that our wellbeing is maintained by excluding those who most need our freely given solidarity, simply to be able to survive. We have to listen to the evangelical pleas of Pope Francis in the small island of Lampedusa: “The culture of prosperity makes us insensitive to the cries of others.” “We have fallen into the globalization of indifference. We have lost our sense of responsibility.”
We followers of Jesus must remember that opening paths to the Kingdom of God does not consist in building a more religious society or in promoting an alternative political system, but, above all, in creating and developing more humane relationships which make possible dignified conditions of life for all, beginning with the least of us.
27 August, 2013
14 August, 2013
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time ©
18 August 2013
Luke 12, 49-53
“I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three; the father divided against the son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, daughter-in=law against mother-in-law.”
It’s not possible without fire
In a clearly prophetic style, Jesus sums up his whole life with a few unusual words: “ I have come to cast fire in the world, and how I wish it were already burning!” What is Jesus talking about? The mysterious character of his language leads exegetes to find various answers. In any case, his symbol of fire invites us to approach the mystery of his being as to something more ardent and passionate.
The fire that burns within him, is the passion for God and compassion for those who suffer. The unfathomable love that animates his entire life will never be uncovered. His mystery will never remain enclosed in dogmatic formulas nor in books of learned men. No one will ever write a definitive book on him. Jesus attracts and sets on fire, troubles and purifies. No one can follow him with a cold heart or dulled by piety.
His word sets hearts on fire. He offers himself in friendship to the most excluded, raises hope in prostitutes and trust in the most despised sinners, he fights against everything that harms a human being. He fights formalism in religion, inhuman religious practices, and strict interpretations of the law. Nothing and no one can chain down his freedom to do good. We will never be able to follow him while routinely following a religious path, We will never be able to follow him by living a religious routine or the conventions of what’s right and proper.
Jesus stirs up conflicts , he does not stop them. He has not come to bring a false peace, but tensions, confrontations and divisions. In fact, he brings conflict in our own hearts. It is not possible to protect oneself against his call behind the shield of religious rites and social practices. No religion will protect us from his gaze. No agnosticism will free us from his challenge. Jesus calls us to live in the truth and to love without egoism.
His fire has not been quenched on his being submerged in the deep waters of death. Having been raised to a new life, his spirit still burns through history. The first followers feel him burn in their hearts when they hear his words while he journeyed with them.Where is it possible today to feel that fire of Jesus? Where can we experience the power of his creative freedom? When do our hearts burn as we read his Gospel? Where do we passionately live following his footsteps? Even though Christian faith seems to be dying out among us, the fire Jesus brought in the world continues to burn under the embers. We must not let it die out. Without hearts afire it is not possible to follow Jesus.
Pagola/Vally D'Souza sj
10 August, 2013
09 August, 2013
08 August, 2013
*Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time ©
Luke 12, 32-48
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Living as a minority
José Antonio Pagola
Translation by Vally D'Souza sj
Luke has compiled in his gospel some words full of love and affection Jesus spoke to his followers, both men and women. They frequently remain unnoticed. However, read carefully today by our parishes and Christian communities, they acquire a surprising contemporary significance. It’s what we need to hear from Jesus in these not so untroubled times for the faith.
“My little flock”. Jesus regards his small group of followers with immense tenderness. They are few. They are called to remain a minority. They are not to dream of great accomplishments. This is how Jesus always thinks of them: a bit of “yeast” hidden in the dough, a small “light” shining in the darkness, a pinch of “salt” to add flavor to life.
After centuries of “Christian “imperialism”, we disciples of Christ have to learn to live as a minority. It is a mistake to long for a powerful and strong Church. It is a delusion to seek worldly power or to want to dominate society. The Gospel is not imposed by force. It spreads like a contagion from those who live like Jesus making life more humane for those around them.
“Do not be afraid”. It’s the great concern of Jesus. He does not want to see his followers paralyzed by fear or overwhelmed by discouragement. They must never lose faith or their peace. Even today, we are a small flock, but we can remain very close to Jesus, the Pastor who guides and protects us. He is able to have us live through these times with peace.
“Your Father has willed to give you the kingdom.” Jesus reminds them once again. They must not feel themselves orphaned. They have God for Father. He has entrusted them his project of the Kingdom. It is his great gift to them. It’s the best thing we have in our communities: the task of making life more humane and the hope of directing history to its ultimate salvation.
“Sell your possessions and give the proceeds away in charity.”- The followers of Jesus are a small flock, but they must never become a sect locked in their own concerns. They will not live oblivious to the needs of others. They will be communities that have their doors open to all. They will share their belongings with those who need help and solidarity. They will give alms, that is, “mercy”. This is the original meaning of the Greek word.
We Christians will still need some time to learn to live as a minority in the midst of a secular and plural society. But there is something we can and must do without waiting for anything: to change the environment that exists in our communities and make them more evangelical. Pope Francis is showing us the way with his actions and his life style.
05 August, 2013
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