Tuesday, 13 March 2018

I Reading: 2 Sam 7:4-5.12-14.16
II Reading: Rom 4:13.16-18.22
Gospel: Matthew 1:16.18-21.24

We celebrate today the feast of Saint Joseph under the title “husband of Mary”. It is a recent feast; though extended to the whole Church some five hundred years ago, it was only during the last hundred and fifty years that it gradually acquired importance it has today. On this feast we praise God for having led Joseph to the totally faithful to Jesus and Mary, thus contributing wonderfully to God’s plans in saving the world. The Gospel speaks so little about Joseph when narrating the flight of the Holy Family to Egypt. His name appears twice in the Gospel of John, but only to identify Jesus as “son of Joseph” (Jn 1:45; 6:42).
The readings of today discover where the true greatness of Saint Joseph lies:
1.    A prophecy of Natan about a descendant from David.
2.    Faith in God, expressed n humble obedience, made Joseph truly great.
a.    He was a just man, an upright, straight forward person, honest with God and with his neighbour.
b.    He accepted Mary and loved her and took care of her as God’s command.
c.     Whereas people thought he was an ordinary worker or carpenter but in the eyes of God he was a humble and obedient and a just person.
d.    He obeyed always God’s plan and listened to God’s commands.
3.    The Matthew Gospel narrates two sentences worth remarking:
I.               First the words of the angel: “Do not be afraid...”
II.            Secondly, the concluding words of today’s Gospel: “Joseph did as the angel had told him to do; he took his wife to his home (Mt 1:24).
Thought: Because of this humble submission to God’s plans, he was chosen from among all Israelites. The lesson of Joseph should not be lost to us: neither education, nor wealth, power nor position makes a person really great but we are great when we strive to discover God’s plans for us and try to realize them inspite of human weakness.

I Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34: I will make a new covenant and never call their sin to mind.
II Reading: Hebrews 5:7-9: He learnt to obey and became the source of eternal salvation.
Gospel: John 12: 20-30: If a grain of wheat falls on the ground and dies, it yields a rich harvest.
Jesus Approached as King: The Misunderstood Messiah, Jn 12:20-36
Jesus experienced suffering, anguish, rejection and death on the cross and saved the humankind. We have every reason to go through suffering courageously and joyfully.
Jesus prayed to his Father to give us the strength we need to endure suffering. Jesus associated us both with his suffering and with his glory.
An early Christian hymn started with the words: “If we have died with Christ, then we shall live with him.” (2Tim 2:12). With so many assurances on God’s part, we should not feel reluctant to suffer or even to die.
In the first reading, prophet Isaiah sees the day of new life when God will make another covenant with his people, written not on the tablets of stone, but on their hearts. God will forgive; God will rebuild.
The second reading sets out some of the qualities of the High Priest. He learnt obedience through his suffering and this is a source of power to save.
The Gospel teaches that the Greeks want to see Jesus. Within a short time the Gospel would be received into the Greek world. Their language was to become the first medium of Christian expression. The death-life cycle of a grain of wheat becomes the basis of Our Lord’s teaching about the higher life. we note, too, the third occasion in his life when the voice was from heaven.
Now let us analyse the Gospel passage:
People misunderstand the Messiah. There are four misunderstandings in particular.
1.    Some Greeks representing the world, sought Jesus (v.20-22; cp.12:19)
a.    Jesus was accepted as king, 12:12f
b.    Some Greeks requested to see the king
2.    Misunderstanding one 1: His glory (23-26)
a.    His hour had come
1)    He had to die first
2)    He could then bear fruit or produce many seeds
b.    Man’s hour is come
1)    Man must lose his life to bear eternal life
2)    Man must serve and follow Jesus to be assured of Jesus’ presence and God’s honour
3.    Misunderstanding 2: His cause (27-30)
a.    His troubled heart
b.    His great cause
c.     His prayer
d.    The people’s conclusion
e.     God’s purpose: To His approval of Christ
4.    Misunderstanding 3: The world (31-33)
a.    It has to be judged
b.    It is ruled by an alien prince
c.     It is conquered by the cross
5.    Misunderstanding 4: The Messiah (the Light) 34-36)
a.    The people misunderstood the Messiah
b.    The claim: He is the Light (/the Messiah) the light is to be extinguished
c.     The need
1)    To walk in the light
2)    To believe in the light
Thought: The glory of Christ is the glory of the cross (Rom 14:9; Phil 2:8-11; Col 1:14, 18; Heb 1:8-9; 2:9; 1Pet 2:24-25; 3:18, 22; Is 53:12).
Suffering was for Jesus as painful as it is for us; the only way to endure it, is to put our trust in God our Father, as Jesus did.

I Reading: Jeremiah 11:18-20: I was like a trustful lamb being led to the slaughter-house.
Gospel: John 7:40-52: Would Christ be from Galilee?
The Great Claim of Jesus and Divided Opinions about Him, Jn 7:37-53
This is a picture of the great claim of Jesus and the divided opinions about him. It is a picture that should cause every person to search his/her own response to Jesus.
1.    The feast day (v.37)
2.    The claims of Jesus (v.37-39)
a.    He is the source of life
b.    He is the source of abundant life
c.     He is the source of the Holy Spirit
3.    The people’s divided response (v.40-44)
a.    Many: the prophet
b.    Others: the Christ
c.     Some: questioned his birthplace and misinterpreted Scripture. They were wrong on two accounts:
1.    Jonah came from Galilee
2.    God is able to raise up prophets from anywhere He chooses
d.    Some: would take and do away with him
4.    The rulers’ response (v.45-53)
a.    Wished to remove him
1)    The officers were sent to arrest Jesus
2)    The officers’ response: he is a great Teacher
b.    Claimed he was a deceiver: charged the people with being mistaken and accursed
c.     Rejected him
1)    Nicodemus spoke up for him
2)    They rejected Nicodemus’ questions, misinterpreting Scripture
d.    Went to their own homes: lived as always
Thought: God does not force any person to subject himself to His Son. Every person has the freedom to live as he/she wishes, either for God or for self. The leaders chose to live for self. (Jn 3:36; 8:24; 3:1-15)

I Reading: Wisdom 2:1. 12-22: Let us condemn him to a shameful death.
Gospel: John 7: 1-2. 10. 25-30: They would have arrested him, but his time had not yet come.
The response of the People:
A Charge of Insanity, Yet Still Questioning, 7:20-31.
The third reaction or response to Jesus came from all the people- the pilgrims and the local residents of Jerusalem. The charges against Jesus ranged all the way from being demon-possessed to being a mere man. Jesus’ answer to all charges against Him was inclusive.
1.    The pilgrim’s response (v.20-24)
a.    Their response: Jesus was possessed by a demon, that is, insane
b.    Jesus’ reply: Doing good proves a man
1)    Circumcision is doing good: meets a religious and a ceremonial need of man
2)    Healing doing good: meets a personal and a bodily need of a man
3)    A principle: judge not superficially, think and consider
2.    The local residents’ response (25-31)
a.    Their response was questioning: Is this not He?
1)    Their questioning: Could He be the Messiah?
2)    Their conclusion: Unbelief-they knew him earthly origin
b.    Jesus’ reply: A pivotal claim
1)    He is a man
2)    He also came from God
3)    He knows God: Is from God-God sent Him- Consubstantial with God the Father (we profess in the Creed)
c.     The local people’s reaction
1)    Some disbelieve and reject
2)    Some believe

Thought: A person’s choice, his decision, must be made for Jesus Christ and not for religion and religious leaders. Christ is the Truth, not religion and its leaders. Religion and religious leaders are to follow Christ just as all other people are to follow Christ. Christ is the Lord and Master and the Messiah, not religion and its leaders.

I Reading: Exodus 32:7-14: Do not bring this disaster on your people.
Gospel: John 5:31-47: You place your in Moses; Moses will be your accuser.
The Five Witnesses to Jesus’ Authority and Power, Jn 5:31-39.
There are five witnesses to Jesus’ authority.
1.    One’s own testimony is unacceptable (v.31)
2.    The witness within: the Spirit (v.32)
3.    The witness of John the Baptist (v.33-35)
4.    The witness of miraculous works (v.36)
5.    The witness of God Himself (v.37-38)
6.    The witness of the Scriptures (v.39)

The Rejection of Jesus’ Claim, Jn 5:40-47.
People reject Jesus’ claim to be “equal with God” (Jn 5:18). Jesus gave six reasons for their rejection.
1.    People refuse to Christ (v.40-41)
2.    People do not love God (v.42)
3.    People accept false messiahs (v.43)
4.    People seek the approval and honour of mere people (v.44)
5.    People do not believe prophecy- do not believe Moses’ writings (v.45-46)
6.    People do not believe the words of the Messiah (v.47)
Thought: How many acknowledge Christ as a great and honourable man yet treats Him as a liar, a man whose testimony and claims are totally untrustworthy?  (Jn 12:48; 14:24; 1Tim 6:3-4; Jn 8:51; 14:15; 1Jn 2:3)

I Reading: Isaiah 49:8-15: I have appointed you as covenant of the people to restore the land.
Gospel: John 5:17-30: As the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son gives life to anyone he chooses.
The Astounding Authority: Equality with God
All people have to face this earth shaking, shattering claim of Christ. He made the astounding claim that the authority belonged to him. How could he make such an astounding claim? Because he proclaimed that he possessed authority with God and then he proceeded to give proof after proof which unequivocally verified his claim.
1.    Jesus proclaimed equality with God (v.17-18)
a.    His claim: My Father
b.    His claim clearly understood
2.    Proof 1: His obedience (v.19)
a.    He did not act alone
b.    He did exactly what he saw the Father do
3.    Proof 2: His great works (v.20)
a.    God loves his Son
b.    God shows Him what to do
4.    Proof 3: His power to quicken, to give life, to raise up the dead (v.21)
5.    Proof 4: His control over the whole judicial process (v.22-23)
a.    Purpose: that all may honour the Son
b.    Fact: If Christ is not honoured, God is not honoured
6.    Proof 5: His power over man’s destiny, to save man from death to life (v.24-25)
a.    How men are saved
1.    Hearing His Word
2.    Believing that God sent His Son, Jesus
b.    Result: Eternal life
c.     Facts
1.    The spiritually dead can hear the voice of God’s Son –now
2.    The spiritually dead can live – now
7.    Proof 6: His energy of life, His self-existence
8.    Proof 7: His authority to execute judgement
9.    Proof 8: His claim to be the Son of Man (v.27)
10.  Proof 9: His power to resurrect all men from the grave (v.28-30)
a.    people who have done good: Resurrected to life
b.    people who have done evil: Resurrected to condemnation
c.      the judgement: will be a just judgement
Thought: Two critical facts about the resurrection:
1.    There is to be a resurrection of all who have believed and obeyed the Lord Jesus (Jn 5:25; 6:40; 11:25; 1Cor 15:22; Ps 49:15; Hosea 13:14).
2.    There is to be not only a resurrection of believers but also a resurrection of all those who have rejected and disobeyed the Lord Jesus Christ (Jn 5:28-29; Acts 24:15; Dan12:2).