Search and you may find…
Late one evening Jerry lost the key of his moneybox and went down on fours looking for it outside. His neighbours joined him in searching under streetlights until all were exhausted. “Where did you lose the key?” asked a concerned friend. “Inside my house,” replied Jerry. “Then why look for it outside?” “Because,” explained Jerry, “there is more light outside than inside my house!” We often look for keys in wrong places and, ironically, the key to understand today’s readings is a key: of the House of David in the first reading and of the kingdom of heaven in the gospel. On April 24, 2005, at his installation as Pontiff, Benedict XVI described himself as “weak servant of God” showing deep awareness of being servant of servant. Likewise, on Oct. 22, 1978, when Pope John Paul II began his ministry he said, “Open wide the doors for Christ!” It is heartening that those who hold the keys are aware of their responsibility to serve and open Church doors for the Spirit’s action. Have we been given the key to the kingdom of God?
Francis Gonsalves in ‘Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds’
In today’s world, we have a glut of opinion polls especially around election times. These opinion polls show the variety and often contradictory views people can have about particular issues or personality. In the gospel we have an example of an early opinion poll conducted by Jesus himself. Though it was a limited one, it concerned a vital question, namely the identity of Jesus. ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ Jesus knew who he was. The question was for the benefit of the disciples. In his time, the question was on everybody’s lips: Who is this man Jesus? The question echoes through the entire gospel. Jesus rejected the inadequate answers of others and demanded that the disciples speak for themselves: “And you, who do you say that I am?” “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter answered. All of us as believers have to give our personal answer to that question. A person cannot be baptized without a profession of faith. The more people we have in the Church who believe out of personal conviction, the more the Church will be founded on rock. The profession of faith is only the beginning. We must live our faith. We must allow our lives to be shaped by our faith. Peter is the centre of today’s gospel, he is the leader but he has his weaknesses and faults. He denied Jesus, He did not fall simply because he was weak. He fell because he felt he was strong. In giving authority to a man who denied him, Jesus showed that he was establishing his Church not on human strength, but on his own love and faithfulness. God does not choose perfect people to do his work. God chooses people who are flawed, but nevertheless have the capacity for greatness and holiness. Peter’s story helps us to understand ourselves and shows us how to develop a close relationship with Jesus.
How to have a God-experience?
A young boy approached an enlightened person and asked him what he must do to have a God-experience. The enlightened one closed his eyes and remained silent for some time. The young man asked again, “What must I do to have a God experience?” The enlightened one opened his eyes smiled at him and closed his eyes again. The young man in his restlessness repeated his question a third time. Now the enlightened one opened his eyes, smiled at the young man and told him, “I told you twice. Seek the Lord in the silence of your heart and you will have a God-experience. The closed eyes help you only to open your inner eyes to see God enthroned in your heart. The atmosphere of external silence is only an attempt to experience inner silence. Once you open the cave of your heart with the keys of inner silence and deeper awareness you stand face to face with God.”
Robert D’Souza in ‘The Sunday Liturgy’
She may not know but I know…
Every day Tim would go to the nursing home and visit her. And each time Tim would explain who he was and why he was visiting. He would tell the story of his children and grandchildren, all the activities and all the news of his family. And while he was feeding her lunch each day, he would gently remind her that he was married for 52 years to the same woman and that woman was her. Then each time she would smile brightly as if told for the first time. That woman was Margaret, and Margaret suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, she moves in and out of reality. Tim tends to her each and every day before he leaves, he caresses her gently, kisses her and tells her that he loves her dearly, knowing well, that tomorrow he will have to repeat the whole routine over and over again. His friends plead with Tim as to why he continues to put himself through this. They tell him, “She does not even know who you are anymore.” And he would always respond in the same way, “But I know who I am.” Do I know Jesus? Do I know who I am?
John Pichappilly in ‘The Table of the Word’
Who is Jesus?
During the Second World War, in his famous BBC Radio talk- ‘Mere Christianity’, C.S. Lewis said, “I am trying to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that people say about Him: “I am ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who is merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic-on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg –or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make a choice. Either this man was, or is the Son of God; or else a man or something worse.” If we accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, then we must necessarily accept Him as god, for great moral teachers do not tell lies. One person who fascinates and baffles everyone –both believers and non-believers, is Jesus Christ. One is surprised by the simple life of Jesus, and the tremendous impact He had on history.
John Rose in ‘John’s Sunday Homilies’
One Solitary Life
Jesus was born in a manger, in a simple carpenter’s family; He never went to school, nor attended college; He never wrote a book. Until the age of thirty he was a village carpenter. At thirty he became a nomadic preacher; but he never travelled more than 200 miles from the place of his birth. When he was thirty-three years old, public opinion turned against him; He was betrayed by his friend and deserted by the others. He was unjustly condemned to death and was nailed as a criminal between two thieves. When he died, they laid him in a borrowed tomb. Twenty centuries have come and gone. Till today he is the central figure of history. No library is complete without his biography. All ages and dates are numbered from His birth; He never led an army, never held a gun; but all the armies that ever marched and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of a man on this earth like that ONE SOLITARY LIFE.
8. "But how did the other ear get burned?":
On Sunday morning, a man showed up at Church with both his ears terribly blistered, so his pastor asked, "WHAT happened to YOU?" "I was lying on the couch watching a ball game on TV while my wife was ironing nearby. I was totally engrossed in the game when she went out, leaving the iron near the phone. The phone rang, and keeping my eyes on the TV, I grabbed the hot iron and put it to my ear." "How dreadful," gasped the pastor. "But how did the other ear get burned?" "Well, you see, I'd no sooner hung up and the guy called back!" He just didn't get it. Lots of folks never get it, never understand how life really works, even at the simplest levels. That's why Jesus is pressing his followers — and us — so insistently in today’s Gospel: "Do you understand who I am," he asks, "and what my being here means for you?" (Msgr. Dennis Clarke)
Three of the clergy—a Lutheran, a Catholic, and an Episcopalian—ended up at the Pearly Gates one day. It was St. Peter’s day off, so Jesus was administering the entrance exam. “The question is simple,” he said. “Who do you say that I am?" The Lutheran stepped forward and began, “The Bible says . . . ” but Jesus interrupted and said, “I know what the Bible says; who do you say that I am?” The Lutheran said, “I don’t know,” and fell through a trap-door to that other place. The Catholic stepped forward and began, “The Pope says . . . ” But Jesus interrupted him and said, “I know what the Pope says; who do you say that I am?” “I’m not sure,” said the Catholic, and promptly fell through the trap-door to that other place. Jesus turned to the Episcopalian and asked, “Who do you say that I am?” The Episcopalian replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!" Then, just as Jesus smiled and gestured for the Pearly Gates to be opened, the Episcopalian continued, “but on the other hand..."
He looked at his disciples and in a moment of reflection said: "Who do men say that I am?" The disciples begin sharing with Jesus what they have heard from the people who have been following Jesus: Some say that you are Elijah; others say John the Baptist, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets. It's always been this way, Jesus as seen by the masses is seen in so many different ways.
You can speak of Jesus as prophet, holy man, teacher, or spiritual leader, and few will object. But speak of Him as Son of God, divine, of the same nature as the Father, and people will line up to express their disapproval.
Who do people say he is? Who do you say he is? And what are we called to do? Let's take a look at the answers to these three questions...
The family decided to help the second butterfly so that it would not have to go through such an excruciating ordeal. So, as it began to emerge, they carefully sliced open the cocoon with a razor blade, doing the equivalent of a Caesarean section. The second butterfly never did sprout wings, and in about ten minutes, instead of flying away, it quietly died.
The family asked a biologist friend to explain what had happened. The scientist said that the difficult struggle to emerge from the small hole actually pushes liquids from deep inside the butterfly's body cavity into tiny capillaries in the wings where they hardened to complete the healthy and beautiful adult butterfly. The lesson? WITHOUT THE STRUGGLE, THERE ARE NO WINGS.
The last competition was the marathon. Greece's entrant was named Louis, a shepherd without competitive background. He'd trained alone in the hills near his flock. When the race started, Louis was far back in the pack of marathoners. But as the miles passed he moved up steadily. One by one the leaders began to falter. The Frenchman fell in agony. The hero from the United States had to quit the race. Soon, word reached the stadium that a lone runner was approaching the arena, and the emblem of Greece was on his chest! As the excitement grew, Prince George of Greece hurried to the stadium entrance where he met Louis and ran with him to the finish line.
In this sports tale we have something of the history of the human race. Most historical figures make their impact, achieve a measure of fame, books are written about them, but as the years go by they begin to fade. Less and less is written or spoken of their lives until they rest in relative obscurity.
With Jesus Christ, however, one finds quite an opposite phenomena! Christ started from way back in the pack. He was born in relative obscurity, never had many followers, commanded no army, erected no edifices, wrote no books. He died young, was buried in a borrowed grave, and you'd think he'd be quickly forgotten.
But, no! His reputation has grown so that today he is worshiped on every continent, has more followers than ever before, sixteen times has his picture been on the cover of Time magazine, and his sayings have been translated into more than 200 languages.
In that same article Steinberg tells about a small disc on the Meades Ranch in north central Kansas where the thirty-ninth parallel from the Atlantic to the Pacific crosses the ninety-eighth meridian running from Canada to the Rio Grande. The National Oceanic Survey, a small federal agency whose business it is to locate the exact positions of every point in the United States, uses the scientifically recognized reference point on the Meades Ranch. So far, no mistakes have been made, and none are expected. All ocean liners and commercial planes come under the survey. The government can build no dams or even launch a missile without this agency to tell it the exact location to the very inch. "Location by approximation," the article goes on to say, "can be costly and dangerous."
That's why there is so much chaos in our society today. Everyone's using their own reference point. What we need is a universal reference point so that we can say, "Here. Here is how the good life is lived."
For Christians there is such a reference point - and that is Jesus. What would Jesus do? That is the question that continually helps us in our quest for right living. Jesus not only revealed the character of God but he also patterned the ideal life for humanity.
It has been pointed out that the Church is always one generation from extinction. If we don't spread the Gospel, it will be just one generation away from disappearing from the face of the earth. It's a compelling idea, isn't it? It enhances our sense of Christian responsibility. We need to get out there and work for the Gospel or the Church could fade into history.
The Messianic hope of those in the Jewish community who held such a belief was that the Chosen One would reestablish the supremacy of Israel among the great nations of the world. The assumption was that this would be accomplished in a violent and vengeful manner, with the forceful overthrow and total destruction of the current ruling powers. But before this happened, the prophet Elijah would return to herald the coming of the Chosen One. As a result of these hopes, Jesus had to somehow communicate to his disciples and others who had such high hopes for him that what he was offering was something completely different from what they expected.
Irom Sharmila of Imphal India fasting last 14 years and force fed through tubes by the Govt fighting for a cause - against extra ordinary powers to the military.
Lata Tare of Baramati, MH, India ran at a marathon beating all experienced and well clad young runners. She was 61, grand mother, wearing a Maharashtrian 9 yard saree, no shoes or sandals. She needed the money for her husband's surgery. She didn't care for the trophy.
Yellavva from Yadgir Dt of Karnataka-400 Km north of Bangalore was 9 nine pregnant with her first child. Her village was totally marooned by flood waters. No ferries, no road connections. She tied pumpkin and other gourd pods on her body for floatation and buoyancy and swam 1 km across 14 feet deep waters and reached a hospital to give birth.
Ramesh Ramanathan is the founder of Bangalore based NGO Janagraha. Studied in US with his wife. Cycling at night from class to pick up his wife working at a McDonald's. They both resigned the jobs to come and work for people.