From SFS Bible Diary
Click on the day for the readings
Saints John and Paul were brothers who were martyred at Rome. They are commemorated in the first Eucharistic Prayer and honoured by a basilica on the Caelian Hill of Rome. Their cults are confined to their titular church.
Reflection: Let’s think about three principles to answer the question: “Should we be the judge?” Judgment that is improper: Not all judgment is wrong, and a very simple formula to distinguish between right and wrong judgement is that you can judge what a person does, and let him suffer the consequences of his actions, but you cannot necessarily judge why a person does it. Judgment that is inexcusable: That is ex¬actly what Jesus meant when He spoke of removing the plank before you look for the speck. Do you know why a lot of people can always see the speck in their brother’s eye, but not the plank in their own. Because they are looking for the speck. People love to find fault with others
Judgment that is imperative: You see, what Jesus was saying was this: We ought to judge ourselves before we can judge others, but we are to judge ourselves so we can judge others.
St Cyril of Alexandria was the Patriarch of Alexandria from 412 to 444. Cyril wrote extensively and was a leading protagonist in the Christological controversies. (Nestorinism) He was a central figure in the First Council of Ephesus in 431, which led to the deposition of Nestorius as Patriarch of Constantinople.
Reflection: Jesus advices his followers to be prudent. Our Christian life is a precious pearl and we are not to throw it rashly to those who do not understand it. Christian life is a relationship with Jesus. it is a commitment to him. Only the committed can walk the path. Jesus invites his followers to a close communion with him, to walk the narrow way of the cross with him. The path to mediocrity is easy to follow but the narrow lane that leads to the summit is rocky and steep. Jesus Gives his Followers the Golden Rule. In everything do to others what you would want them to do to you. This is the golden rule. If this rule is followed positively, we will be in for limitless Joy. Christian Joy is a consequence of commitment to Jesus, of walking the narrow way and always following the golden rule.
Irenaeus (– 202) was Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul. He was an early Church Father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology. Irenaeus’ best-known book, ‘Against Heresies’, is a detailed attack on Gnosticism, which was then a serious threat to the Church.
Reflection: Jesus warns people against false prophets. False prophets are very deceptive. Externally they put on a garb of sound morals and doctrine while in reality they are destructive wolves. They can play a game with sweet talk yet may tear apart the peace of a community or family with falsity. The question is how do we recognize these false prophets? Jesus gives us a clue.
You recognize them by their fruits: Jesus is very practical and down to earth. He tells us to “See how they behave.” The real value of a person is revealed by his deeds. Good deeds come from a genuinely good person just as good fruit comes from a good tree. A healthy and good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.
Do our words and deeds match so as to exhibit a genuine human being filled with the spirit of God?
The Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul is held in honour of their martyrdom in Rome. The celebration is of ancient origin. On this feast, newly created metropolitan archbishops receive from the pope the primary symbol of their office, the pallium.
Reflection: 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: Jesus had asked, who do people say that I am? The people thought Jesus was a great prophet. They thought Jesus was here to herald the coming of the Messiah. These were compliments of the highest order.
Jesus turns to his disciples and he asks Who do you say that I am? Jesus is more concerned what your answer is than what their answer is. Peter responded: You are the Christ the Son of the living God. Jesus, at that point, gave him a new name. You are no longer Cephas, he said, you are Petros, the rock. In truth, nothing was ever to be the same for Peter again.
What then is the church to do with this information? Jesus gives Peter the keys to the Kingdom.
Who do you say that I am? Discover the answer to that and you will discover the answer to life.
The First Martyrs of Rome were Christians martyred in the city of Rome during Nero’s persecution in 64. The event is recorded by both Tacitus and Pope Clement I. According to the historian Tacitus, many Christians were put to death “not so much for the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.”
Reflection: Jesus touched the lepers and healed them.
The touch of His hand cures sickness: The touch of His hand still cures us. Some¬times it is a physical illness, sometimes it is an illness in relationships. Life is dangerous for all of us. And because it is, we still need the touch of His hand to cure our illnesses, t We still need the touch of His hand to cure what is wrong with us.
The touch of His hand gives us identity: When Jesus cured the lepers, he gave them their identity. Jesus gives us our identity. That brings us simply to this.
The touch of His hand gave them a mission: The touch of Jesus sent them on a mission to proclaim the good news. They were healed now they are to go and heal.
Would you open your life to the touch of the Master’s hand so that He would be able to use your hands?
Oliver Plunkett (1625-1681) was born in Loughcrew, County Meath, Ireland, to well-to-do parents. He was the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland who was the last victim of the Popish Plot. (A fictitious conspiracy concocted by Titus Oates in anti-Catholic hysteria.)
Reflection: Strangers came into the life of Jesus and left behind their specific mark. We have the examples of the Syro-Pheonician woman, the Woman with hemorrhage, the Samaritan leper, the Poor widow and many others whose expressions of faith and activities became a point of reference to the person of Jesus. In today’s gospel, we have one of such example, namely the faith of the Centurion. He is a gentile Roman official expected to be stern with his servants. On the contrary, we see him concerned about the well being of his slave. He is gentle in behaviour yet firm in expressing his faith in the power of Jesus. His request comes in the form of information: “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible distress.” He does not ask Jesus to cure him. Yet, seeing the goodness of his heart, Jesus volunteers to heal the servant. We must do good things when it is within our power. God sees our heart and will reward us even before we ask him.
Reflection: God does not demand from us that which we cannot do. If there are certain demands from him, it is because he knows that we are able to do. In today’s gospel, we see that Jesus points to the higher claim of discipleship. He insists on giving pri¬mary consideration to discipleship than to one’s own family. There is no compromise in commitment. Our affection to the family should not be at the cost of our discipleship. Discipleship demands Christ-likeness in our commitment. There we learn to receive Christ, to identify the prophets and to feed, clothe and shelter the needy. When these works of evangelization become primary, family ties will take the back seat. After adopting the slums of Kolkota as her home, Mother Theresa never went to visit her family. In fact when her brother died, she wrote in her diary, “Today, my mother will be very happy to see her son in heaven after so many years.” Renunciation is indeed enriching. Prophet Elisha rewarded the Shunamite woman with a son, for she was willing to let go her much comforts to let him enjoy her hospitality. St. Paul explains about renunciation in terms of death. Unless we die to our attachments, we can never be alive to God’s mission.
Thomas the Apostle (called Didymus which means “the twin”) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ. According to tradition, the Apostle reached Kodungallur, Tamilakam (modern-day Indian state of Kerala) in AD 52 and baptized several people, founding seven Churches. He was martyred at Mylapore near Chennai./
Reflection: Reflections on St. Thomas normally highlight him as the doubter. By saying ‘I will not believe,’ he does not doubt the person of Jesus, instead he doubted the disciples who often contradicted themselves. After eight days, when Thomas was given the appearance by Jesus, he exclaims “My Lord and my God” which was not only an expression of recognition but also of adoration. Thomas did not merely identify Jesus as the one who lived, taught and worked miracles but as the divinity personified ‘Lord and God.’ The means we take to come to believe in Jesus is not so important as to what we do once we get to that realization. The exclamation of Thomas was not a momentary oral adoration of Jesus, but it became a burning passion for him to speak of this Lord and God to the whole world for the rest of his life. The capacity for passionate commitment releases a potent energy. This energy effects change in one’s life and in the other. May the deep passion of Apostle Thomas that burst forth into the call, “Let us also go and die with him,” stir our hearts and urge us to commit our lives for Christ.