28, మార్చి 2023, మంగళవారం

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95
John 8:31-42

Faith & Freedom

The readings of the day speak about the steadfastness in faith and its effects.

We see Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon had built a golden statue and ordered all of his subjects in his kingdom to bow down in adoration and show their loyalty. However three young officials in his court who are of jewish origin refuse to comply. This has enraged the King. they would rather accept death than bow down in adoration to a statue of babylonian god.

One thing stands out in their disposition is, either God will save or they will happily accept death, having steadfast faith to the end of their lives. There is no turning back nor compromising when it comes to faith.

Effect: Though they were thrown into the furnace, God protected them by sending his Angel. Thus they were uninjured, unscathed by fire happily singing the praises of God. even the king admires their God and their unflinching faith in him.

Gospel

In the Gospel of the day Jesus makes a beautiful statement "If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

That is to experience freedom, a fundamental requirement is to have an honest relationship with the Truth, and this Truth is and is contained entirely in his Word. so being aware of Christ’s words, message and understanding is a way to Truth and Freedom.

In addition, It Also, serves us with a warning that what we would consider as freedom, our illusory freedom which is superficial and one-sided freedom that fails to see the Truth about God, Man and World.

The Jews said that they have not been slaves but history speaks the opposite. We all are in slavery of our falsity (false freedom) and sins. There are today many of us objecting to the message of Christ as some feel it is against one’s freedom and is suffocating them but when we reflect and understand they are led by false promises of freedom of life. Following Christ does not mean we are sacrificing freedom but gaining Truth of life and thereby Freedom to have a noble and honourable life.

St. Thomas Aquinas reflecting on these words states in the following way:

First, the truth of his teaching will free us from the error of untruth;
Second, the truth of grace will liberate us from the slavery of sin: ‘the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death’ (Rom 8:2);
Third, the truth of eternity in Christ Jesus will free us from decay.
We can understand by this if our faith is strong and profound like this can save us from the impending dangers, and it also can move others to experience the presence of God through our life witness.

Also, faith in his words, the Truth can set us free because it shows us the right path to walk on and avoid the illusory path (which does not exist)

Therefore let us be steadfast in faith (necessarily on his words) and experience True freedom.

For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

Faith is the realisation of what is hoped for and evidence* of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely; In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Fr. Jayaraju Manthena OCD

Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Numbers 21:4-9
John 8:21-30

Look and Live

Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ Jesus, the readings of the day present to us two important points for our reflection. 1) uncertainty of People of Israel & Pharisees 2) God's greater Love on the Cross.

First Reading:

The people of Israel were on the verge of reaching the promised land after a long desert journey. However in today’s reading we find they are expressing a kind of disappointment and depression that as if they are finding it hard in their lives and the days in Egypt in slavery are far better than the present days.

They became impatient and even went to the extremity of complaining against Moses and God. They are now complaining about the heavenly food (Manna). God has provided the food so that they may not starve to death yet they rejected and showed aversion towards it and were ungrateful to greater God.

God punishes them by sending poisonous serpents to kill them all. The people when they realise it’s punishment from God for their ingratitude, blasphemy and grumbling, they acknowledge before Moses and God “ we have sinned by speaking against God”. Moses intercedes and God saves them only if they manifest their faith, and gratitude to God by looking at the bronze image(serpent). A point to be noted here is that it is not the serpent but faith in God that saved them. They looked at it and God let them live.

This in fact, foreshadows clearly of Christ on the cross. Jesus said in the Gospel “ and as moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, even so must the son of man be lifted up, that those who believe in him may not perish, but may have life everlasting”

In the gospel the Pharisees failed to understand him clearly, his identity, his words and his destination ( where he came from or where he is going) he was talking about his relationship with father but they failed to understand it. They are in a confused state.

Jesus then says, they will understand only when he is lifted up on the cross and to the glory after the cross. ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing of myself’. Only in light of Jesus' mission on the cross, and resurrection one is able to understand Him.

And it is in this regard one can be saved by looking at the cross. A person who looks at the cross with faith will live, this is what Easter is all about, God raising Jesus to new life, we believe that it’s also a reference to our lives that we will be raised to new life

And in the image of the cross, we are opening up to God’s unconditional, life giving, and sacrificial love poured unto us for all humanity.

The people of Israel failed to understand unconditional love and providential love of God - they were punished
Later when they acknowledged and accepted their sins - they were saved
The Pharisees failed to understand - they received their prize
We are today called to reflect to understand with faith the Unconditional love and providence of God shed on the Cross of Christ.
Let us Look at IT and Let us Live with IT

A note here : during the time of king Hezekiah, the statue of the bronze serpent was destroyed because it has become a form of idolatry over the years. Some came to believe that it was a serpent who healed but in fact faith in God gave the healing. So when the intention was distorted it had to be destroyed.

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.(1 Corinthians 1:18)

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8)

I led you for forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes did not fall from you in tatters nor your sandals from your feet (Deuteronomy 2:5)

Fr. Jayaraju Manthena OCD

11వ సామాన్య ఆదివారం

11వ సామాన్య ఆదివారం  యెహెజ్కేలు17:22-24, 1 కొరింతి 5:6-10, మార్కు 4:26-34 ఈనాటి పరిశుద్ధ గ్రంధ పఠణములు దేవుని యొక్క రాజ్య విస్తరణ గురించి బో...