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Category Archives: LENT AND EASTERTIDE

THE CONVERSION OF SAUL

Today’s First Reading:  Acts 9:1-20 – THIRD WEEK OF EASTER: Friday, 20 April 2018 

We can appreciate the hesitation of Ananias in meeting Paul. One would have a quite a few initial questions to ask him first. This conversion of Saul was a critical event in the Church’s expansion. It is reported three times in the New Testament. The difficulty of reaching out to the Gentiles is shown from the fact that a miraculous intervention was required at each step forward.

This event was also important for Paul. He who had persecuted the Church suddenly experienced faith, the Lord’s love and freedom from the Torah Law all flooding in on him at once. And it was all free. This experience gave unity to his later life and theology. How did it change him? There would still be disagreements and bouts with his temper. It would take a while for this experience to sink in.

The same is true for us. We have our religious experiences and afterwards our personal limitations do not completely disappear. There are many little turnings in our life over a lifespan which is called to be an en bloc transformation in Christ. This gradual process gives unity to our life.

Paul’s conversion did not make him an instant saint. He was a saint only at the end of his life. The same is true of us. We become holy by gradual transformation.

Jakarta, 20 April 2018

A Christian Pilgrim

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THE ETHIOPIAN OFFICIAL BELIEVED AND WAS BAPTIZED

Today’s First Reading: Acts 8:26-40 – THIRD WEEK OF EASTER: Thursday, 19 April 2018

In today’s first reading, we see the further movement of the Gospel from Jerusalem to Ethiopia in the person of the eunuch. Just as Jews wanted nothing to do with Samaritans, they wanted even less to do with eunuchs. This official is reading an Old Testament passage that becomes the basis for the deacon Philip’s teaching and baptism.

We have considered how people are drawn to the Lord. We might examine how they drift away from the Lord and from the Church. As in Philip’s time, many today have never really heard the Gospel. There  is a phenomenal religious illiteracy among people. This is  one reason for the growth of a specific apostolate of evangelization – to bring the Gospel to people for the very first time. It has been said that of every hundred Catholics in the territory of  a given parish, fifty will come to Church weekly, twenty-five will come regularly and the rest will not come at all. How then do people come back to the Lord and to the Church?

Jakarta, 19 April 2018

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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THE FIRST GREAT MISSIONARY MOVEMENT IN THE EARLY CHURCH

Today’s First Reading: Acts 8:1-8 – THIRD WEEK OF EASTER: Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Today’s first reading tells us that “a certain day” saw the beginning of a great persecution of the Church in Jerusalem. That day was the day Stephen was murdered or “executed”. But who was persecuting whom? Evidently, the Twelve were safe. It was the Sanhedrin Jews who were persecuting the Greek-speaking Christian Jews.

Our scene switches to Philip the deacon on his way to Samaria. The Samaritans were the half-breeds hated by the orthodox Jews of Jerusalem. Unlike Jerusalem which persecuted the Christians, the Samaritans are receptive to and enthusiastic about the Gospel. The persecution had the ironic effect of helping to spread the Gospel, in its Hellenistic version. Had Christians not been persecuted in Jerusalem, they would never have gone to Samaria – at least so early – to preach the good news about Jesus. 

The contrast between the sophisticated and unbelieving Jerusalem and the uncomplicated Samaritans reminds us that a simple, uncomplicated faith is what saves. Very often, a theoretical, academic approach to faith does not enhance our understanding but distances us from our original saving faith experience of the Lord.

Jakarta, 18 April 2018

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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AS JESUS’ DISCIPLES, WE MUST ALSO GIVE FRESH LIFE TO OLD SYMBOLS

Today’s Gospel Reading: John 6:30-35 – THIRD WEEK OF EASTER: Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Jesus not only gave new life to old symbols, such as the manna in the desert, but He gave a new covenant in which the Bread of Life would be available to every person. This entire intermediary system of Judaistic practices would be gone and the Lord would come to each individual directly as food. And, “The effect of our sharing in the body and blood of Christ is to change us into what we receive” (Pope Saint Leo the Great).

The result of Stephen’s speech was not a personal triumph. He was stoned to death and it signalled the beginning of the break with the synagogue. But standing nearby was Saul. Stephen’s  message took root deep in Saul’s heart. The themes of freedom from Law, Law as ministry of death, the letter of the Law as a killer while its spirit gives life would all reappear in his letters.

The example we give, like that of Stephen, has a rebound effect. We also give fresh life to old symbols. People see the great truths of Christianity in a fresh way in our lives. Each of us is fresh expression of the Gospel message.

Jakarta, 17 April 2018

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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JESUS IS RISEN – LUKE 24:39

Jakarta, 15 April 2018 [Third Week of Easter – Year B]

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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THE CHRIST WOULD SUFFER AND RISE FROM THE DEAD: 3rd Sunday of Easter [Year B] – Luke 24:35-48

Jakarta, 15 April 2018

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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THE DISCIPLES OF JESUS BELIEVED NOT FOR JOY

THE DISCIPLES OF JESUS BELIEVED NOT FOR JOY

 (A biblical refection on THE THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER [YEAR B] – 15 April 2018)

Gospel Reading: Luke 24:35-48 

First Reading: Acts 3:13-15,17-19; Psalms: Psalm 4:2,4,7,9; Second Reading: 1 John 2:1-5 

The Scripture Text

Then they told what had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

As they were saying this, Jesus Himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why to questionings rise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; handle Me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when He had said this He showed them His hands and His feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and He took it and ate before them.

Then He said to them, “These are my words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. (Luke 24:35-48 RSV) 

When Jesus appeared before the disciples after His resurrection, they were terrified; they thought that they had seen a ghost. The death of Jesus of the cross had been too painful and devastating for them. Their investment of time and their destiny in Jesus came crumbling down of Good Friday when Jesus, their Master had been caught and crucified on the cross. They wept more for themselves than for Jesus. A drama in their lives had come to an end. It is when they had reconciled themselves to this tragic fate that a new vision, a new life appeared in the resurrected Jesus. When He appeared before them, they were afraid and dumbfounded. When they recognized Him, their fright gave way to joy, and paradoxically, their joy swallowed up their belief. Now, they believed not for joy.

The works of the Lord are, sometimes, too marvelous for us to believe. The fact that God loves us so much and that He sent His Son to die upon the cross for the forgiveness of our sins is too marvelous for us to believe. How could, God, who is Almighty and Holy, take the human form and die for us on the cross as a malefactor? The holy God died for poor wretched sinners, like me? This is too much to be believed. But it is true that Jesus loves us – poor sinners, and He died and rose from the dead for us. Anyone who believes in Him, and accepts Him as her or his Savior, even though she or he dies, yet shall she or he live (see John 11:25).

The disciples could not believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. He challenged them to touch Him, to look at His hands and feet, and asked them to give Him something to eat, which He consumed in front of them. He showed them several evidences to prove that He had indeed risen from the dead.

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is real; it is not a fancy; it is not a story concocted by the disciples. The disciples saw Jesus risen from the dead, and later, they authenticated it with their own blood. No man dies for what he knows to be wrong. Jesus is, indeed, risen from the dead. Saint Paul wrote, “If Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain” (1Corinthians 15:14).

When the disciples believed not for joy, Jesus opened their minds to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45). When we have doubts about the fact that God loves us, all we need to go to the Bible to know more about Jesus. Saint Jerome said, “Ignorance of the Scripture is the ignorance of Christ”. We must make it our constant endeavor to read the Bible more frequently.

Jesus explained the incredulous disciples about the necessity of His sufferings predicted in the Scriptures. Jesus is the Missing Link in the Old Testament. He explains and makes sense of it. Put Jesus into the Old Testament, all the puzzles get solved, and the mysteries open up. Without Him, the Old Testament is bereft of fulfilment.

As Christians, we believe that the Bible, comprising of the Old and the New Testament, is God’s revelation. We love the Old Testament because in it God shows how He was working all through history to bring His Son into the world to be the Savior, and we love the New Testament because through it God reveals the salvation which He wrought through Jesus Christ. We must read our Bible more often to see the wonders, which God had done for us in the past, and to believe in the wonders which He is going to work for us in the future.

Let us be happy and joyful that Christ, by His death and resurrection, had worked out our salvation. When the disciples talked to one another, Jesus appeared in their midst, and began to talk to them. We, often, gather together and talk one against the other, and therefore, Jesus never appears in our midst. Let us cease talking against one another, and begin, like the disciples, to talk of all the things that happened in Jerusalem, and surely, Jesus who made His divine presence among them, will also make His divine presence among us.

Prayer: May the love of the Lord Jesus draw us to Himself; may the power of the Lord Jesus strengthen us in His service; may the joy of the Lord Jesus fill our souls; may the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be amongst you and remain with you always. Amen. (William Temple)

Source: John Rose, JOHN’S ILLUSTRATED SUNDAY HOMILIES – CYCLE B, Bangalore, India: Asian Trading Corporation, sixth printing 2011, pages 73-76.

Jakarta, 13 April 2018  

A Christian Pilgrim 

 

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