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Apr 23-28 Weekday Reflections

From Fr. Tony Kadavil:
 
April 23 Monday: Jn 10:1-10: : 1"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber; 2 but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." 6 This figure Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7 So Jesus again said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. 9 I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.


The context: Both the Old and New Testaments use the image of a Shepherd and His flock to describe the unique relation of God to Israel and of Christ to the Christians. In today’s Gospel, two brief parables about sheep reveal Jesus as our unique means to salvation ("sheep-gate"), and as a selfless, caring “shepherd” who provides protection and life itself. Besides guiding his flock to eternal life as a Good Shepherd, Jesus is himself the gateway to eternal life.

In Palestine the image of the "shepherd" stood for selfless love, sincerity, commitment and sacrificial service.  Hence, Jesus introduces himself as the Good Shepherd. The first parable contrasts Jesus the True Shepherd with fake shepherds, thieves and robbers. In this second parable Jesus compares himself to the Shepherd and to the Gate. The first title represents his ownership because the Shepherd is the true owner of the sheep. The second title represents his leadership. Jesus is the Gate, the only way. He is the one Mediator between God and mankind. All must go through Christ, through his Church, in order to arrive in Heaven.

Life messages: 1) We need to be good shepherds and good leaders:  Everyone to whom the care of others is entrusted is a shepherd, especially parents.   We become good shepherds by loving those entrusted to us, by praying for them, by spending our time, talents and blessings for their welfare, by guarding them from physical and spiritual dangers and by remaining good role models for them. 
2) We need to be good sheep in the fold of Jesus, the Good Shepherd: Our local parish is our sheepfold, and our pastors are our shepherds.    We become good sheep of the parish a) by hearing and following the voice of our pastors through their homilies, Bible classes, counseling and advice; b) by receiving the spiritual Food our pastors provide through the Eucharistic banquet and the banquet of the word of God; and c) by participating in the activities of various councils, ministries and parish associations. (Fr. Tony) L/18

April 24 Tuesday: Jn 10:22-30: Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered round him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." 25 Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness to me; 26 but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; 28 and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one." 

 The context: It was December during the week of the Jewish Feast of the Dedication of the Temple or Hanukkah, a week with the year’s shortest days and longest nights. The feast was also known as the Festival of Lights because during this feast the Jews lighted lamps representing the Mosaic Law and put them in the windows of the houses.  Hanukkah served as a remembrance of the cleansing and rededicating of the Temple and its altar by the Jewish military commander Judas Maccabaeus in the year 165 B.C., after he had liberated Jerusalem from the control of the Seleucid Kings of Syria. The Syrian King Antiochus IV Epiphanes had profaned the Temple and its altar. It was during Hanukkah, when Jesus was teaching in Solomon’s portico, that the Jews plotted   to trap Jesus by asking him to declare whether or not he was the promised Messiah.  

Jesus’ reply: 1) Jesus accuses the Jews of unbelief and challenges them to believe in his Messianic and Divine claims by truthfully assessing his miracles. 2) Then Jesus gives the reason why the Jews cannot believe in him. They are not among his sheep. Faith and eternal life cannot be merited by man's own efforts: they are a gift of God and the Jews are refusing to accept this gift from God. 3) Jesus gives the assurance that his sheep – his followers - will have eternal life and will not perish because they are protected by God his Father who is stronger than the Evil One. 4) Finally Jesus declares that he and God the Father are one. In other words, Jesus reveals that He is one in substance with the Father as far as Divine Essence or Nature is concerned, but He also reveals that the Father and the Son are distinct Persons.
 
 Life messages: 1) When doubts about our Faith haunt us, let us try to read more about our Faith, to consult Catholic experts in our locality or on the Internet and to pray for the light of the Holy Spirit. 2) Let us find protection from the temptations of the Evil One in the sheepfold of the Church by frequenting the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist, by meditative reading of the Bible, by personal prayers, and by works of charity.  (Fr. Tony) L/18 
 
April 25 Wednesday (St. Mark, the Evangelist): St. Mark, the Evangelist: Mark 16:15-20: 15 And he said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover." 19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it. Amen.


Biography of St. Mark: Most of what we know about Mark comes directly from the New Testament. He is usually identified with the Mark of Acts 12:12. (When Peter escaped from prison, he went to the home of Mark's mother). Paul and Barnabas took him along on the first missionary journey, but for some reason Mark returned alone to Jerusalem. It is evident from Paul's refusal to let Mark accompany him on the second journey, despite Barnabas's insistence, that Mark had displeased Paul. Later, Paul asks Mark to visit him in prison, so we may assume the trouble did not last long.

The oldest and the shortest of the four Gospels, the Gospel of Mark emphasizes Jesus' rejection by humanity though he is God's triumphant envoy. Probably written for Gentile converts in Rome—after the deaths of Peter and Paul sometime between A.D. 60 and 70—Mark's Gospel is the gradual manifestation of a "scandal": a crucified Messiah. Evidently a friend of Mark (Peter called him "my son"), Peter is only one of the Gospel sources, others being the Church in Jerusalem (Jewish roots) and the Church at Antioch (largely Gentile).

Life messages: 1) We need to be proclaimers and evangelizers: In today's Gospel Jesus gives his mission to all believers: "Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” This mission is not given to a select few but to all believers. To be a Christian is to be a proclaimer and an evangelizer. There is a difference between preaching and proclaiming. “We preach with words, but we proclaim with our lives.” No one is excluded, and all are welcome. 2) We are also reminded that while the Lord gives the mission to all, he does not expect us to rely only on our own resources to fulfill that mission. The mission is accompanied by the power that is given to all those called upon to fulfill that mission. (Fr. Tony) L/18

April 26 Thursday: Jn 13:16-20: 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of you all; I know whom I have chosen; it is that the scripture may be fulfilled, `He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.' 19 I tell you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives any one whom I send receives me; and he who receives me receives him who sent me."

The context: Today’s Gospel is the second part of the explanation Jesus gave to his disciples after washing their feet before the Last Supper.   He promised his disciples that that whoever listened to them would be listening to him as well, provided his preaching disciples became the humble servants of others.

Gospel lessons: In the first part of today’s Gospel, Jesus emphasizes the fact that the hallmark of his disciples must be their readiness and generosity in offering humble and sacrificial service to others, because that was the model Jesus had given them by his life and especially by washing their feet. It is by serving others that we become great before God. In the second part of today’s Gospel, Jesus shows his apostles how to treat people who are unfaithful and disloyal. Jesus hints at the betrayal of Judas by quoting Psalm 4:9: “He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.” Instead of distancing himself from Judas, Jesus offers him reconciliation, showing him more affection by washing his feet and by giving him a morsel of bread dipped in sauce with his own hand. In the third part, Jesus gives the basis for apostolic succession, stating that one who receives his apostles and messengers receives him, thereby receiving God the Father who sent Jesus.

 Life messages: 1) Let us prove that we are true disciples of Jesus by rendering others humble and loving service today. 2) Let us learn to be reconciled with those who offend us by unconditionally pardoning them, by wishing them the very best and by keeping them in our prayers. (Fr. Tony) L/18

April 27 Friday: Jn 14:1-6: 1 "Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going." 5 Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" 6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.

The context:  Jesus consoles his apostles who are sad and disheartened at the prospect of his arrest and crucifixion by assuring them that he is going to prepare an everlasting accommodation for them in his Father’s house in Heaven. He gives them the assurance that he will come back to take them to their Heavenly abodes. It is then that Thomas asks Jesus where he is going and the way to reach him.  Jesus answers Thomas’ question with, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.”

Jesus the Way, the Truth and the Life: The basic doctrine of Judaism is that Yahweh is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Hence, Jesus is making a revolutionary claim that he is equivalent to Yahweh. Jesus declares that he is the safest and surest way to God, discrediting the notions that all religions are equally sure ways to reach God, or that no organized religion but only living a good life of sharing love is necessary to reach God. But Jesus the Way is narrow, for it is the way of loving, sacrificial service. Jesus is the Truth who revealed truths about God and God’s relation to man in his teaching. Jesus also taught moral truths by demonstrating them in his life. Jesus is the Life because he shares the Eternal Life of God and shares his Divine Life with his disciples through the Word of God and the Sacraments.

 Life messages:  We should share the Divine Life of God by making use of the means Jesus established in his Church: a) by actively participating in the Eucharistic celebration and properly receiving the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion; b) by the worthy reception of the other Sacraments; c) by the meditative and daily reading of the Word of God;  d) by following the guidance of the life-giving Spirit of God, living in the Church and within us; and  e) by communicating with God the Source of Life, in personal and family prayers and f) by going to God to be reconciled with Him daily by repenting of our sins and asking God’s forgiveness. (Fr. Tony) L/18
 
 April 28 Saturday: John 14:7-14: 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him." 8 Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied." 9 Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, `Show us the Father'? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves. 12 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; 14 if you ask anything in my name, I will do it. 

Scripture lesson: In today’s Gospel, answering Philip’s request at the Last Supper, Jesus explains the unity and oneness of the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jesus clarifies the abiding presence of each Person of the Holy Trinity in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Hence, Jesus is the visible expression of the invisible God. In order to see what God looks like, we have to look at Jesus, and in order to hear how God speaks, we have to listen to Jesus. In Jesus we see the perfect love of God – a God Who cares intensely and Who yearns for men and women, loving them to the point of laying down his life for them upon the Cross. Jesus reveals a God Who loves us unconditionally, unselfishly and perfectly.  If we put our trust in Jesus and believe in him, Jesus promises that God the Father will hear our prayers when we pray in Jesus’ Name. That is why Jesus taught his followers to pray with confidence, Our Father who art in heaven ..give us this day our daily bread (Matthew 6:9,11; Luke 11:2-3) 

 Life message: 1) We believe that God dwells within our souls in the form of His Holy Spirit, making us the temple of God where we have the indwelling presence of the Triune God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit living. Hence, it is our duty to live always aware of the real presence of God within us and to adjust our life accordingly, doing good to others and avoiding evil.