26 March 2016

TRANSFORMED!

EASTER SUNDAY

readings for the easter vigil
genesis 1:1—2:2; genesis 22:1-18; exodus 14:15—15:1; isaiah 54:5-14; isaiah 55:1-11; baruch 3:9-15, 32—4:4; ezekiel 36:16-28
romans 6:3-11; luke 24:1-12
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/032616.cfm

readings for the mass of easter day
acts 10:34a, 37-43; colossians 3:1-4 or 1 corinthians 5:6b-8; john 20:1-9
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/032716.cfm

in one of his lighter moments, benjamin franklin penned his own epitaph: 
the body of b. franklin, printer, like the cover of an old book
its contents torn out, and stripped of its lettering and guilding,
lies here, food for worms.
but the work shall not be wholly lost:
for it will, as he believ’d, appear once more 
in a new & more perfect edition, 
corrected and amended by the author.


franklin’s epitaph is a near-perfect summary of the transformation that the resurrection brings! this transformation happens at two levels: at the level of the physical body and at the «personal» level.
body level: recall the new and perfect edition of JESUS’ body (as a person, since he was GOD, he was already perfect). it was radically different from his earthly body… his own disciples (mary magdalene, the disciples on the road to emmaus) could not recognise him; he was able to move about as he desired, and through closed doors. we will experience this transformation on the last day. our bodies be raised incorruptible, glorious, powerful, and spiritual (read 1 corinthians 15: 36-49).
personal level: recall the transformation in the disciples: from people fearfully behind shut doors to people who testified to the resurrection with great power; from people who fought for position and greatness to people who were of one heart and one soul; thomas who doubted the LORD’s resurrection and wanted a personal experience courageously confessed that JESUS was GOD. they became a «a fresh batch of dough» (cf. easter sunday, second reading)

the radical body-transformation is a future-event. the radical person-transformation is something that must happen now. 
do i live like an easter person… with joy and in solidarity with others? if not, what are my fears and doubts that keep me from witnessing to the resurrection by my life? what must i do to become «a fresh batch of dough»?

19 March 2016

CELEBRATE OUR HUMBLE KING!

PALM SUNDAY
luke 19:28-40; isaiah 50:4-7; philippians 2:6-11; luke 22:14—23:56

in the movie «the lion king,» young simba sings «i just can’t wait to be king.» he wants to be free so that there’s no one saying «do this,» no one saying «be there;» no one saying «stop that,» no one saying «see here.» he wants to be «free to run around all day, free to do it all my way.»


the people of jerusalem were like simba. they just could not wait for JESUS to be king, and for a similar reason – they wanted to be free from foreign rule.
their king comes… 

… but JESUS is not the mighty king they envisioned; he is not the conquering military hero they expected. 
he is the «suffering servant of yahweh,» whose mission is to encourage, console and liberate the weary. 
he, though he was the son of GOD, did not cling to his privileges but humbled himself and became obedient unto a shameful death on a cross. 
despite his suffering [he is deserted by his chosen friends, betrayed with a friend’s kiss, and disowned thrice by his right hand man; he is kicked around like a political football, flogged to pacify a politician’s conscience, and handed to the mob because of political cowardice], JESUS is selflessly merciful: he is worried about the women that follow him to calvary; justifies to the father the ones that are crucifying him, asks forgiveness for them; and promises the repentant thief a place with him in heaven.

today’s liturgy places before me two models of kingship: the people’s vision of seeking power to be able to do one’s will; JESUS’ way of humility, self-emptying and loving service. 
which model of power do i choose?

12 March 2016

DON'T LOOK BACK!

V SUNDAY OF LENT
isaiah 43:16-21; philippians 3:8-14; john 8:1-11

august 7, 1954. vancouver, canada. the venue of one of the greatest track and field events in history: the «miracle mile». only two men had run the mile under four minutes: roger bannister and john landy. this was a face-off.
bannister’s strategy was to set a good pace on the first and second laps, cut pace on the third to save his energy for the fourth and final lap. landy had a different strategy: on the third lap, he sprinted and took a big lead. but by the start of the final lap, bannister had managed to cut the lead to fifty metres… and was gaining all the time. as the runners headed down the home stretch, landy looked back to see where bannister was. bannister launched his attack. landy did not see him until he lost the lead, and bannister won the «miracle mile» by five metres. by looking back, landy lost the race. 

often, looking back is the cause of many of our problems. we need to look at the past and to learn from our mistakes. true! no problem there. the problem is we remain looking back. 


the readings ask us:
to «remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old» [the former things for israel include the exodus from egypt—their glorious liberation, their foundational event!]; 
to «forget what lies behind but strain forward to what lies ahead» because of «the supreme good of knowing CHRIST JESUS»; 
to not condemn ourselves because of our past sins because the LORD tells us: «neither do I condemn you. go, and from now on do not sin any more.»

do i look through the rear-view mirror or through the windshield of life? what are the things of the past that weigh me down and prevent me from enjoying the present? 
let us, with st paul, say: «i forget what lies behind and i strain ahead for what is still to come, for the prize of the call of GOD in CHRIST JESUS.»

05 March 2016

HOME-COMING

IV SUNDAY OF LENT
joshua 5:9a, 10-12; 2 corinthians 5:17-21; luke 15: 1-3, 11-32

my sister (and her family) and i were home for christmas a few years ago. we reached in time for lunch. boy! what a spread there was! the table was groaning… there was almost every animal from the ark and each one’s favourite dish. in the days we were home, mum made «what you don’t get in bombay/pune»! it was a veritable home-coming… signified—among other things—by what we ate! the food was a symbol of our parents’ love and their joy at having us home.


home-coming… this phrase sums up this sunday’s readings.
in the first reading, israel is on the threshold of the promised land, and is about to begin a new life in their homeland. this is signified by what they eat: not the manna they ate in the desert, but «the produce of the land in the form of unleavened cakes and parched grain».
the gospel recounts the return of the prodigal son. his home-coming, too, is signified by what he eats: not what he ate when he was away from home, not the pods on which the swine fed, but a home-cooked family feast. the feast was a sign of the father’s happiness at having his son home.
reconciliation—as paul writes in ii corinthians and JESUS indicates in the parable—is home-coming!

will i—this sunday and this lent—return «home» and partake of the feast the LORD has prepared for me? will i allow the FATHER to forgive me? is there anyone i need to welcome «home»?