Gospel Reflections


 What kind of faith does the Lord expect of us, especially when we meet challenges and difficulties? Inevitably there will be times when each of us cause disappointment to others. In this gospel incident the disciples of Jesus brought disappointment to a pleading father because they failed to heal his epileptic son. Jesus’ response seemed stern; but it was really tempered with love and compassion. We see at once both Jesus’ dismay with the disciples’ lack of faith and his concern to meet the need of this troubled boy and his anguished father. Jesus recognized the weakness of the father’s faith and at the same time challenged him to pray boldly with expectant faith: “All things are possible to him who believes!”

God promises us freedom from oppression, especially the oppression of sinful habits and the work of the evil one who tries to rob us of faith, joy, and peace with God. The Lord invites us, as he did this boy’s father, to pray with expectant faith. Do you trust in God’s unfailing love and mercy?

 The mighty works and signs which Jesus did demonstrate that the kingdom of God is present in Him. These signs attest that the Father has sent Him as the promised Messiah. They invite belief in Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of the world. The coming of God’s kingdom means defeat of Satan’s kingdom. Jesus’ exorcisms anticipate His great victory over “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31). While Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and His kingdom in Christ Jesus, and may cause grave injuries of a spiritual nature, and indirectly even of a physical nature, his power is nonetheless limited and permitted by divine providence .  Jesus offers freedom from bondage to sin and Satan. There is no affliction He cannot deliver us from.  Do you make full use of the protection and help He offers to those who seek Him with faith and trust in His mercy?

“Lord Jesus, help my unbelief! Increase my faith and trust in Your saving power. Give me confidence and perseverance, especially in prayer. And help me to bring Your healing love and truth to those I meet”.



What is the most important investment you can make with your life? Jesus poses some probing questions to  challenge our assumptions about what is most profitable and worthwhile. In every decision of life we are making ourselves a certain kind of person.   The kind of person we are, our character, determines to a large extent the kind of future we will face and live.  It is possible that some can gain all the things they set their heart on, only to wake up suddenly and discover that they missed the most important things of all. Of what value are material things if they don’t help you gain what truly lasts in eternity. Neither money nor possessions can buy heaven, mend a broken heart, or cheer a lonely person. Jesus asks the question: What will a person give in exchange for his life?  Everything we have is an out-right gift from God.  We owe him everything, including our very lives.  It’s possible to give God our money, but not ourselves, or to give him lip-service, but not our hearts.  A true disciple gladly gives up all that he has in exchange for an unending life of joy and happiness with God.  God gives without measure. The joy He offers no sadness or loss can diminish.  The cross of Christ leads to victory and freedom from sin and death. 

What is the cross which Jesus Christ commands me to take up each day?  When my will crosses with his will, then his will must be done.  Are you ready to lose all for Jesus Christ in order to gain all with Jesus Christ?



Do you know the healing power of forgiveness? Jesus’ treatment of sinners upset the religious teachers of the day.  When a cripple was brought to Jesus because of the faith of his friends, Jesus did the unthinkable.  He first forgave the man his sins.  The scribes regarded this as blasphemy because they understood that only God had authority to forgive sins and to unbind a man from his burden of guilt.  Jesus claimed an authority which only God could rightfully give.  Jesus not only proved that His authority came from God, He showed the great power of God’s redeeming love and mercy by healing the cripple of his physical ailment. This man had been crippled not only physically, but spiritually as well.

Jesus freed him from his burden of guilt and restored his body as well.


The Lord is every ready to bring us healing of soul, body, and mind.   Do you allow anything to keep you from Jesus?


Lord Jesus, through your merciful love and forgiveness you bring healing and restoration to body, soul, and mind. May your healing power and love touch every area of my life — my innermost thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and memories. Pardon my offences and transform me in the power of your Holy Spirit that I may walk confidently in your truth and righteousness.”



Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jn.1:47-49

How is it that Jesus simply told Nathanael that He saw him sitting under the fig tree and that was enough for Nathanael to reply, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.”  It’s easy to be confused about how Nathanael could jump to such a conclusion from the words Jesus spoke about him.  But notice how Jesus described Nathanael.  He was one with “no duplicity.”  Other translations say he had “no guile.”  So what does that mean? 

If one has duplicity or guile it means they are two-faced and cunning.  They are skilled in the art of deception.  This is a dangerous and deadly quality to have.  But to say the opposite, that one has “no duplicity” or “no guile” is a way of saying that they are honest, straightforward, sincere, transparent and real. 

As for Nathanael, he was one who spoke freely about what he thought.  In this case, it was not so much that Jesus put forth some form of convincing intellectual argument about His divinity, He said nothing about it.  Instead, what happened was that this good virtue of Nathanael, of being without duplicity, enabled him to look at Jesus and realize that He is “the real deal.”  Nathanael’s good habit of being honest, sincere and transparent enabled him to not only reveal who Jesus is, but it also allowed Nathanael to see others more clearly and honestly.  And this quality benefited him greatly as he saw Jesus for the first time and was able to immediately comprehend the greatness of who He is.



Why did Jesus single out prayer, fasting, and almsgiving for His disciples

The Jews considered these three as the cardinal works of the religious life.  These were seen as the key signs of a pious person, the three great pillars on which the good life was based.  Jesus pointed to the heart of the matter.  Why do you pray, fast, and give alms? To draw attention to yourself so that others may notice and think highly of you?  Or to give glory to God?  The Lord warns his disciples of self-seeking glory — the preoccupation with looking good and seeking praise from others.


Do you pray with joy and confidence? The Jews were noted for their devotion to prayer.  Formal prayer was prescribed for three set times a day.  And the rabbis had a prayer for every occasion.  Jesus warns his disciples against formalism, making prayer something mechanical and devoid of meaning, with little thought for God.  When Jesus taught his disciples to pray he gave them the disciple’s prayer, what we call the Our Father or Lord’s Prayer.  This prayer dares to call God “our Father” and boldly asks for the things we need to live as his sons and daughters. We can approach God our Father with confidence and boldness because Jesus Christ has opened the way to heaven for us through his death and resurrection.  When we ask God for help, he fortunately does not give us what we deserve.  Instead, he responds with grace and mercy.  He is kind and forgiving towards us and he expects us to treat our neighbor the same.  Do you treat others as they deserve, or do you treat them as the Lord would with grace and mercy?  Jesus’ prayer includes an injunction that we must ask God to forgive us in proportion as we forgive those who have wronged us.  Ask the Lord to fill you with the fire of his love and mercy.


What is the sure reward which Jesus points out to His disciples?  It is communion with God our Father.  In Him alone we find the fullness of life and happiness, and truth and love. The Lord rewards those who seek Him earnestly with humble and repentant hearts. He renews us each day and He gives us new hearts of love and compassion that we may serve Him and our neighbor with glad and generous hearts.  Do you want to grow in your love for God and for your neighbor?  Seek Him expectantly in prayer, with fasting, and in generous giving to those in need.



Do you allow the love of God to rule in your heart? 

Do you allow God’s love to purify your heart, thoughts, and actions?


Jesus’ story about the separation of goats and sheep must have unsettled His audience.  In arid lands goats and sheep often grazed together during the day because green pasture was sparse. They were separated at night because goats needed shelter.  Goats were also less docile and more restless than sheep. They came to symbolize evil and the expression scape-goat has become a common expression for someone bearing blame for others.  (See Leviticus 26:20-22 for a description of the ritual expulsion of sin-bearing goat on the Day of Atonement.)  Separation is an inevitable consequence of judgement.  The Day of Judgement will reveal who showed true compassion and mercy toward their neighbor. As much as we might like to judge the parables, the parables, nonetheless, judge us.  Jesus teaches us a very important lesson about loving our neighbor and taking responsibility for others. 


God will judge us not only for the wrong we have done but also for what we have failed to do.  Now is the time of God’s mercy for seeking His help and grace to turn away from sin and to walk in His way of love.  Ask the Lord to purify your heart that you may love as He loves and live charitably with all. 

God is gracious and merciful; His love compels us to treat others with mercy and kindness. When we do something for one of Christ’s little ones, we do it for Christ.  Do you treat your neighbor with mercy and love as Christ has treated you?



Coming to his senses he thought, “How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger.  I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.’”  Luke 15:17–19 

Why do we cling to our sins?  This passage comes from the story of the Prodigal Son.  We should know that story well.  The son decided to leave his father and take his future inheritance, spending it on a life of sin.  When the money he had ran out, he was in desperate need.  So what did he do?  He came to his senses!

This line alone is worth our meditation.  First, it reveals what happens to a person who falls into a life of sin.  In this case, the son eventually reaped the fruit of his sin.  He found that his sin left him destitute and alone.  He didn’t know where to turn.  And though our sins may not be to the extent of this son, we will all experience the empty effects of the sins we commit, just as this son did.

The profound insight we can gain from this son is that he did come around.  Specifically, by “coming to his senses” he recognized two important things.  First, he realized that he is worth more than a life of destitution.  No one should have to live an impoverished and empty life.  Therefore, by seeing his own dignity he came to realize that he was made for more.

Secondly, he knew he could turn to his father.  What a blessing it was for him to know this.  The reason he knew he could turn to his father was that his father clearly loved him with unconditional love.  The mercy in the heart of the father was so strong that the son was aware of it and this awareness gave him confidence to turn to him. 



Scripture warns us that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6; Prov. 3:34). Jesus paints a vivid story of two men at prayer. What’s the point or lesson He wants us to learn?  Luke gives us a hint: Jesus warns us about the danger of despising others.  Contempt is more than being mean-minded.  It springs from the assumption that one is qualified to sit in the seat of judgment and to ascertain who is good and just.  Jesus’ story caused offense for those who regarded “tax collectors” as unworthy of God’s grace and favor.  How could Jesus put down a “religious leader” and raise up a “public sinner”?   Jesus’ parable speaks about the nature of prayer and our relationship with God.  It does this by contrasting two very different attitudes towards prayer.  The Pharisee, who represented those who take pride in their religious practices, exalted himself at the expense of others.  Absorbed with his own sense of self-satisfaction,  he mainly prayed with himself. His prayer consisted of prideful boasts of what he did and of disdain for those he despised. The Pharisee tried to justify himself; but only God can justify. The tax collector, who represented those despised by religious people, humbled himself before God and begged for mercy.  His prayer was heard by God because he had remorse for his sins. He sought God with humility rather than with pride. This parable presents both an opportunity and a warning. Pride leads to illusion and self- deception. Humility helps us to see ourselves as we really are and it inclines us to God’s grace and mercy.  God dwells with the humble of heart who recognize their own sinfulness and who acknowledge God’s mercy and saving grace.  God cannot hear us if we despise others. Do you humbly seek God’s mercy and do you show mercy to others, especially those you find difficult to love and to forgive?