Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Reflections,20.11.2011 - Christ the King

We will be judged by how we treat our neighbor

Today is the last Sunday in the Catholic calendar for the year is also the feast of Christ the King. The gospel reading for the Sunday was taken from Mathew 25:31-46, in which Jesus talks about the final judgment. He clearly described in no uncertain terms how we will be judged at the end of our lives – not by the great things we have achieved or the many rituals we have carried faithfully to worship God but by what we do to our neighbor.

He said that God will judge us by:

When he was hungry did we give him food?

When he was thirsty did we give him drink?

When he was a stranger did we made him welcome?

When he was naked did we clothe him?

When he was in prison did we go to see him?

When he sick did we visit him?

We would be wondering when was Jesus ever in any of the above situations that we neglected him. However his words were clear that we should see him in all those in such deplorable situations, “In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me."

What should these words of Jesus mean to us? To me it means that I should not go all over the world searching for him. He is with us in those in need in our midst. How can we serve him if we fail to recognize him in disguise in the poor, the hungry, the naked and the sick?

The person in recent times who identified Jesus in the poorest of the poor on the streets of Calcutta was Mother Teresa. She was convinced that Jesus lived in the poor and downtrodden and in serving them would be serving God. She was absolutely convinced that, “At the end of our lives we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made or how many great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was naked and you clothed me, I was homeless and you took me in’

It is time that we stop wasting our time, money and energy looking Jesus in the wrong places; in majestic buildings, elaborate man-made rituals and among the rich and powerful. Jesus had told us where to find Him and Mother Teresa found Him in her ‘poorest of the poor’ and she showed us the way to serve Jesus in them.

Have we found Jesus yet? If yes then let us serve in the way he wants as shown by Mother Teresa. If we haven’t then it is time we look around us for the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the sick and the naked and I am sure we too will find him there waiting for us to feed, clothe, visit and welcome him into our hearts.

Gospel, Mt 25:31-46

'When the Son of man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory.

All nations will be assembled before him and he will separate people one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats.

He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right hand, "Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take as your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome,

lacking clothes and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me."

Then the upright will say to him in reply, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?

When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome, lacking clothes and clothe you?

When did we find you sick or in prison and go to see you?"

And the King will answer, "In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me."

Then he will say to those on his left hand, "Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

For I was hungry and you never gave me food, I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink,

I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, lacking clothes and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me."

Then it will be their turn to ask, "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or lacking clothes, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help?"

Then he will answer, "In truth I tell you, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me."

And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the upright to eternal life.'

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Sunday Reflections (6 November 2011)

The bridegroom and the wedding attendants

Today’s Gospel reading touches on something, which we all hate to discuss and consider it a taboo – death. It is the story about the bridegroom and the ten wedding attendants.(Refer to the reading below Mathew 23:1-13)

The moral of the story is that we must be all prepared for death as it can come anytime without any warning whatsoever. If we are not prepared then the door to eternal life as we know will be closed to us.

A good friend of mine who is very well versed with the bible tells me that the end of the world is near and Jesus will return in glory soon for the final judgment. Many laugh and some even ridicule him. There even some who say he is mad.

Well I do not know whether the world will end soon and I am not so interested to know either. On thing I know for certain is that death can come to us anytime and when it comes it will be the end of the world for us. We may be alive now but dead the next minute.

When death come is not important. What is important is, as Jesus said, is to be prepared for that So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.”

History has shown that all great men and women have accepted death in the right spirit as they were prepared at all times by doing good. They accepted humbly their weaknesses and always tried their utmost to overcome them.

It may be timely for us today to reflect whether we are prepared to meet death if it were to come suddenly. Many of us may be prepared financially and legally to transfer our wealth and possessions but are we prepared to meet God to give an account of how we spent our life on earth? Can we justify all our thoughts and deeds during our short stint here?

Being believers of life after death, I would like to share the words of Steve Jobs the late CEO of Apple Cooperation, who died at the prime of his life at 56 after a long battle with cancer.

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.”

We do not know for sure what is there for us after death but what we know for certain is Jesus was real and His teachings were real and as His followers we must try to live the way he wanted us to. Are we doing that?

Gospel, Mt 25:1-13

'Then the kingdom of Heaven will be like this: Ten wedding attendants took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.

Five of them were foolish and five were sensible:

The foolish ones, though they took their lamps, took no oil with them,whereas the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps.

The bridegroom was late, and they all grew drowsy and fell asleep.

But at midnight there was a cry, "Look! The bridegroom! Go out and meet him."

Then all those wedding attendants woke up and trimmed their lamps,and the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, "Give us some of your oil: our lamps are going out."

But they replied, "There may not be enough for us and for you; you had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves."

They had gone off to buy it when the bridegroom arrived. Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed.

The other attendants arrived later. "Lord, Lord," they said, "open the door for us."

But he replied, "In truth I tell you, I do not know you."

So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.