How did his own people regard Jesus ? This is a question which has intrigued many. In today’s reading we are presented with an example of such a regard. Jesus challenges the rather narrow view that his townspeople of Nazareth had of God. By showing them about a couple of passages in the Scriptures where God seemed to favour the pagans over the Jewish people they did not like it, and in response they forcibly ejected Jesus out of Nazareth. His rejection in Nazareth anticipated his even more brutal rejection in Jerusalem. The people of Nazareth’s God was too small and Jesus was seeking to broaden their understanding of God. He wanted them to realize, in the words of Peter in the Acts of the Apostles, that “God has no favourites.”
In today’s first reading we are presented with Moses, who sees the burning bush which isn’t consumed by such a fire. From this reading we see various signs. First, Moses removes his sandels when he sees God’s sign. In the face of the Almighty and all Powerful God, we are speechless and in front of Him all that we have left to do is to humble ourselves and listen attentively to what God has to say. Second, the bush is burning but is not consumed. God is present to it in the most powerful way, but nothing of the bush has to give in order for God to work with it and through it. When the true God comes close, things are not destroyed; in fact, they become radiant and beautiful. Thirdly, Moses asks a key question: “Who am I?” In face of God’s call in our life, be it an experience, a friendship or an event, we are often puzzled and unsure, as to how we ought to respond or answer the challenges we face. Afraid as he was in the Garden of Olives, Christ asked his Father to give him the courage and determination to accomplish the Mission. Prayer and reflection is key. Not only to gain the necessary courage to face life but also to see more clearly where we’re going. Fourth, Moses answers the call. After prayer and reflection, we have to roll our slieves, as they say, and start to work on the task at hand. Like Moses we have to be determined to face the challenges, and in the process fight evil which hopes to hinder our mission.
“…we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.” In today’s reading from the Gospel according to St Luke, we are reminded that Mercy and Forgiveness are at the very heart of our relationship with the Father. The parabble of the Prodigal Son, has 3 main characters the youngest son who leaves his father’s home and “squandered his property in dissolute living” , the father and the eldest son. In the end the parable challenges us to embody in our own ways of relating to others the life-giving presence of the father’s compassion rather than the deadening presence of the elder son’s anger. As we read from the book of Micah: “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of your possession?” God is willing to forgive us, show us mercy and embrace us once more….if only we show humility and ask for forgiveness.
” They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.” In today’s first reading, Prophet Jeremiah speaks of trust in the Lord. Our trust in the Lord might not always be present, especially during hard and difficult times…even one who trusts in the Lord must deal with the heat of the desert and the hardships of the weather. As humans we have to face various moments of trial, where our belief is tested and our character woven carefully and delicately by all challenges and moments we face. A perfect example of such hard and difficult moment can be found in Lasarus’s parable, where a poor begger eats the crumbs from underneath the rich man’s table. Though it may be desirable to be rich in this life and the next, that’s not the point of Jesus’ story. Remember that the beggar can be nearer to God than the banker, the cardinal, the CEO or the government minister. The true measure of a person’s worth is the spiritual goodness of the heart.
Can your love of God and others be so complete and total that you are a martyr in the truest sense of the word? The word martyr caught my eyes when I read this question. The literal sense of the word martyrdom is ‘to bear witness’. In our life we are are called to be bearer of Christ’s love to humanity. When we see Christ’s figure on the cross, we must never forget the fact that he didn’t die because he was a criminal, he died because of his love for each and everyone of us, whoever we may be. Finally Christ himself calls us to accept the call and follow him: “If a man wishes to come after me, he must deny his very self, take up his cross, and begin to follow in my footsteps. Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25).
“Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed.” A mosaic has different bits and pieces, and if one or more pieces are empty the art piece wouldn’t be completed. The same can be said to these two virtues: Charity and Integrity. In practicing these virtues, Isaiah tells us: “…though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” But what do we mean by Charity? It is the common defintion that Charity is the act of doing charitable acts. Such acts vary from helping the poor to listening to one’s difficulties or problems, in doing so we can truly be called children of God. Integrity is the virtue of practicing what one preaches, thus for example if we say that a person befriends some one that means that one ought to stand next to his friend always not only in the beautiful of times but also in the darkest of moments. This is hard and challenging. This is precisely the idea behind Lent that we are presented with challenging tasks, which when tried and taken seriously, one can be the very best version of oneself.
A sinner like us, who at a crucial point in his life was asked whether he knew Jesus as we know he wasn’t asked this question once but three times, on the night of Christ’s arrest. Each time Peter betrayed Christ. Many of you might ask:”Why did Christ choose such people?” To this question my response is because he wanted a human church, made up of men and women, who at times are good and loving. But as humans we very well know that at times we are far from good, our words and actions might not always be of love and kindness. In today’s reading, a letter by St Peter, we are reminded of love, love between the faithful. As Peter writes:”be examples”. That’s right in our own human and gentle way, we are asked to love and respect each other. Today we are asked to pray for divine guidance on Pope Francis, so that we may be led into a new era of hopeful, life affirming Catholicism, mirroring the beautiful ideal expressed by St Peter himself.