Monday, February 22, 2021

ST. JOHN 12:29~36


We have entered the season of Holy Lent, the second such during the pandemic, which in itself provides opportunities for sacrifice: adhering to public health guidelines as an act of charity towards others, and appropriate love of self in doing what we can to protect ourselves from being infected. It is a strain, which we can unite with the extreme stress Jesus endured as He moved ever closer to His Passion and Death.

St. John, in noting the reaction of the crowd who heard the voice of the Father speaking to Jesus and through Jesus to the people, reveals two examples of how human beings witnessing an event can experience the event dramatically differently: Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.” [v.29]

Some commentators see the first group as lacking faith, the other group has having a little faith. Perhaps. It is Jesus Himself who makes things clear: Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for My sake but for yours.” [v.30] Whenever we hear the voice of the Father here or in the Synoptics it is the voice of Love Himself for us, the very voice which speaks in Genesis and throughout the Old Testament, and always when we hear the voice of the Father, the voice of Jesus we also hear the voice of the Holy Spirit for all love, all grace, all mercy lavished upon us, spoken to us, is Trinitarian.

The voice of the Father had come to Him on two other occasions when His mission to the Cross was foremost: at His baptism, when He appeared as the Lamb of God to be sacrificed for sin; at His Transfiguration, when He spoke of his death to Moses and Elijah while bathed in radiant glory……In each of the three manifestations of the Father, Our Lord was in prayer to His Father, and His sufferings were predominantly before Him. On this occasion, it was the effects of His ransoming death that were proclaimed. [1]

This close to His Passion we hear in His words, as Jesus continues to teach, an urgency, the urgency of Love for those to whom He speaks in this moment for each of us, such is the inexhaustible fire of His love for us: “Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to Myself.” He said this indicating the kind of death He would die.” [vs. 31-33]

How is it then that satan, driven out of the world is still active? How is it that Jesus having drawn everyone across the millennia, this very day, and until the end of time, so many still refuse to believe, or have abandoned the faith they once had?

Simply because the Holy Trinity offers love, offers salvation, but never imposes, never takes away our free will, but always offers and offers the grace, as needed, for us to repent and begin again, for it is we humans, by our choices, who invite satan back into the world, we are the persons who, when we sin, turn our backs on Christ.

So the crowd answered Him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. Then how can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man? [v.34]

While Christians, who meditate upon the Holy Gospel, or at least are attentive to the Sacred Scriptures proclaimed during Sunday liturgies, know the answer to the questions posed by the crowd, they had only the Hebrew Scriptures, what we Christians call the Old Testament, to rely upon. Nonetheless it is both interesting and poignant the longing wrapped up in their questions.

Jesus said to them, “The light will be among you only a little while. Walk while you have the light, so that darkness may not overcome you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of the light.” [v.35,36]

People who live in modern cities, towns, villages have little experience of walking in the absence of light, unless perhaps camping in the bush, though even there total darkness is rarely experienced because of the light of the moon and the stars.

Enter a deep cave in a mountain side, turn off any manmade source of light and the darkness is total, so much so even holding our own hands so close to our eyes, perhaps even touching them, the thick darkness prevents our eyes ability to discern palm or fingers.

Jesus’ words point beyond our external experiences of light and darkness.

It is a matter of the heart, soul, mind.

It is therefore a matter of choice, choice to be people of faith or not.

The key is Jesus urging us to believe in the light – and He is LIGHT – or not, to choose to be, as He says, children of the light, not children of darkness.

Before St. John tells us the crowd’s reaction, he ends verse 36 with words that are stark in their brevity: These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.

Note it is not that Jesus goes into hiding, rather than He is hidden from the crowd.

No one can see Jesus, our Light, if we choose not to believe that is to choose a blindness of mind, heart and soul, a more devastating blindness than loss of physical sight.




[1] LIFE OF CHRIST; Fulton Sheen; pp. 268,269; Image Books, 1990 ~italics are mine.


© 2021 Fr. Arthur Joseph


Tuesday, February 16, 2021



 The line in the Little Mandate [1] being reflected upon here is: Do little things exceedingly well for love of Me.

The key words in this line are: little, exceedingly, love.

One example of a ‘little thing’ is our ability to smile, and how we smile at someone: tight lipped, a type of reluctant smile, if it can really be called a smile, or a broader smile, obvious in its movement, radiating joy and love. A little thing when it is a real smile is done, gifted, exceedingly well for love of Jesus within the other.

We live in a time in history when doing big seems to occupy many of our brothers and sisters.

Everyone’s definition of a big thing or a big deal is personal, likewise for what is considered a little thing.

It would be audacious here to codify what constitutes either big or little for someone else.

That said, little things we might do are things most people would not notice we have done, or perhaps not even notice they need doing. To do little things is, since in a sense they are hidden, a wonderful way to love Jesus sort of in secret.

There are countless, and important ways and things to do witnessing to our love for Jesus that are by necessity not hidden, or barely hidden, such as giving what we can to a homeless person begging or volunteering in a soup kitchen or a hospice, participating in Sunday Mass and other aspects of the life of the parish, and in these days of the pandemic and lockdown isolation, particularly stressful on the elderly and people who live alone, a phone call is both a little thing and a big deal for the person comforted by the sound of a human voice that cares.

Each of us, and if we are not sure then we can ask Our Lady to show us, can discern the little things that need doing within our homes, for example.

Often, we don’t do them because we believe they are someone else’s job!

The neat thing about doing little things, in particular when perhaps they are indeed someone else’s job, is they bring us joy, when done exceedingly well for love of others, which is love for Jesus, that joy intensifies!



© 2021 Fr. Arthur Joseph


Thursday, February 11, 2021



The ambient temperature this morning in this city was minus 32 and the windchill was minus 40. The cause is the polar vortex, and it has lingered for days, is forecast to linger days more, with things dropping during the night between minus 40 to minus 50 and this vortex is reaching deep into the United States as well.

Being homeless is difficult in the warmer weather of late spring to early fall, in winter being homeless is brutal, dangerous and at times our homeless brothers and sisters risk freezing to death. No matter the weather in these days of mask wearing, social distancing, lockdowns, the homeless do not have the means to do any of that. Shelters are not designed for social distancing, or any of the other rules put in place in most of the world’s countries, besides vulnerability to the vagaries of weather our homeless brothers and sisters are vulnerable to this pernicious virus.

Every homeless person, whatever their age right now, however they came to be homeless, each was a child, born into this time in human history. Some may well have grown up in a loving family, others not. Most, until whatever happened, quickly or by degrees that they are now homeless, had dreams, plans, ideas, hopes, as children, as teenagers, about where their own path in life would lead.

To be homeless is a word painful in its very utterance for it means to be without. Without a home. Note we never say of our brothers and sisters they are ‘house-less’! Home implies more than shelter in the physical structure of a house. Home is the reality of love dwelling within: spousal love, parental love, sibling love, meant to flow from the previous generations to the current generation, to generations yet to be born.

It is family which makes ‘home’ the normative reality. It matters not if the structure is a palace, a mansion, ordinary house, a shack, even a tent in a refugee camp. What matters is the love dwelling within, the love which places spouse, parent, child, sibling before self, as Christ does for us for He dwells within us, transforming our bodies from structure into the home wherein He, the Father, the Holy Spirit delight to dwell.

Without getting into the raging debates about this pandemic, pro and con, how governments are responding to it all, rightly or wrongly, it is critical we be aware of the impact in these continuing days of the fog and shadows of the pandemic, on the family and family life.

Family is the foundational bedrock of civilization: first school of love, faith, hope, trust, and all that is authentically human, from art to zoology and everything in between, originates in the heart of the family.

No family is perfect or without conflict, hurt, disappointment, grief, for we all know that as human beings we have weaknesses and inner struggles which impact all familial relationships, sometimes even rupturing the cohesion of the family.

It is perhaps a harsh reality to accept that ever since Cain slew his brother the human family, individual families, the entire human family, the family of nations – except for the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph – has been dysfunctional. Even the most cursory glance any day of the week at international, national, local news reveals this dysfunction, often times on a horrific scale when it comes to violence and hatreds within the human family and, tragically, within individual families. The political, economic, lockdowns and other aspects of this pandemic means both international, national and individual families are under extreme stress.

Often times, because we as individuals cannot control world events of any type, there is a very real danger of turning this frustration inward and taking it out upon members of our own immediate family.

Satan is active in the swamp of frustration, the desire we have to be in control, if not of the world or our own government then of some individual in, or our entire, family. Satan’s goal in all that is to disrupt, destroy, authentic love at every level and in ever aspect of human life, individual, familial, global.

In 1994 St. John Paul wrote a letter to families in which, towards the end, he teaches: I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every fatherhood and motherhood is named, "that he may grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man" (Eph 3:16). I willingly return to these words of the Apostle, which I mentioned in the first part of this Letter. In a certain sense they are pivotal words. The family, fatherhood and motherhood all go together. The family is the first human setting in which is formed that "inner man" of which the Apostle speaks. The growth of the inner man in strength and vigour is a gift of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. [1]

For the above to come about, by grace ardently asked for, the “I am third” [God first, my neighbour second, I am third] principle applies, for our proximate neighbour is right before us in our own family: Grandparents place their children, their children’s spouses and their children, the grandchildren, in that second place, spouses likewise for each other, for their own parents, now elderly and very much needing family still, and the children for their parents, siblings, grandparents, must also love likewise.

The hope for our nations, for all the nations of the world, lies in this familial communion of love. Yes, it demands humility, selflessness, loving and forgiving hearts. Given that we are weak human beings we may well have to begin to build this familial communion of love anew each morning, which is why it is critical we never go to sleep with anger in our hearts towards anyone, not even towards self or God.

The following wisdom applies to each of us, to our ‘I am third’ baptismal vocation within our individual families and as persons within the human family: Many around us, in fact the whole of humanity, are struggling to find their way through a terrible mist. We must dedicate our lives to building bridges of hope which will lead them to God, who is their supreme goal, everlasting love, and total fulfillment. In Him, no one is estranged from one another, and we are all brothers and sisters. [2a] The secret to understanding events in our world is very simple. Use the Gospel to nourish your soul. Once you are united with Christ, you will share in His Spirit which leads you to ask, “How does God look at the world?” The answer is at the center of our faith: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16) [2]

Each of us needs to look deeply into our hearts in front of the members of our own family and the entire human family and ask: Am I loving them as the Holy Trinity loves me?


1]   para. 23

2a & 2b] THE ROAD TO HOPE, a gospel from prison; Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan; pp. 161/162 & 166; Wellspring 2018

© 2021 Fr. Arthur Joseph




Friday, February 05, 2021

ST. JOHN 12:26-28



Whoever serves Me must follow Me, and where I am, there also will My servant be. The Father will honour whoever serves Me. [v.26]

One of the striking things about Jesus’ love for us is how often He includes in His teaching fidelity to Him encapsulates promise: promise of intimacy with He the Divine Lover, thus through Him with our Beloved Abba and the Beloved Holy Spirit: And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to Myself, so that where I am you also may be. [14:3]; Father, they are Your gift to Me. I wish that where I am they also may be with Me, that they may see My glory that you gave Me, because You loved Me before the foundation of the world. [17:24] [see also: Mt. 16:24; Mk. 8:34; Lk. 9:23]

Love has created us to be beloved and to love the Holy Trinity in return through loving one another and ourselves, that is to rejoice that we are, others are, human beings in the image and likeness of God who is Love.

Suddenly, as if wrenched from His Heart, so filled with love for us, with such divine fire of love that fire makes the core of the sun cold as ice in comparison, Jesus states: “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.” [v.27]

No longer the expression: “My hour has not yet come.”, now it IS this hour. In St. John, the Synoptics and in Hebrews we see both Jesus’ love for and obedience to the Father and the absolute agony in His Heart, and in His body: the price of our redemption is His suffering and death. [cf. Jn. 6:38; 18:11; Mt. 26: 38,39; Mk. 14: 34-36; Lk. 22:43; Heb. 5:7-8] While we may, should, have empathy for anyone we see suffering, and Jesus sees all of our suffering, the weight of our sins and the way they wound us, compounding our sufferings, He sees us – you and me and everyone – not as an amorphous collective but as the beloved individuals we are: His, the Father’s, the Holy Spirit’s Beloved and He sees too that not every human being, from Adam to the last person to be given breath of life, accepts this love, nor accepts redemption.

This latter, the rejection of love and redemption, makes His suffering acute for the very purpose of His Passion and Death, is to redeem, heal, for He is Divine Mercy.

All of us have experienced at some point in our lives the rejection of our pro-offered love, an offer to help someone we love. It hurts that rejection; it burns and gashes the heart.

Every sin is just such rejection, of Christ Himself in the other and gashes the Heart of Jesus, whose infinite of infinite redeeming love for us is greater than out capacity for sin. He pays the price, through His Passion and death for our redemption from sin, renewed in the gift of the Sacrament of Confession/Reconciliation, that we might be converted again and need not be lost in our sin nor cut off from His love, if we repent and try anew to live lives that are loving, peaceful and without sin.

“Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” [v. 28]

The Father glorified His Name through Christ’s Incarnation, Nativity, Passion, Death and Resurrection, for Jesus is the face of God in the flesh. This is made manifest powerfully at Jesus’ baptism, a Trinitarian moment when Jesus, taking all our sin upon Himself, emerges from the water and: After Jesus was baptized, He came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove coming upon Him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” [Mt. 3:16,17] On coming up out of the water He saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon Him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are My beloved Son; with You I am well pleased.” [Mk. 1:10,11] After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son; with You I am well pleased.” [Lk. 3:21,22] and St. John notes about the wedding feast at Cana and the changing by Jesus of water into wine: Jesus did this as the beginning of His signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed His glory, and His disciples began to believe in Him. [Jn.2:11]

Jesus himself is the presence of the living God. God and man, God and the world, touch one another in him………In his self-offering on the Cross, Jesus, as it were, brings all the sin of the world deep within the love of God, and wipes it away. Accepting the Cross, entering into fellowship with Christ, means entering the realm of transformation and expiation. [1]

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 Cor. 1:18]

Discipleship is to be one with Christ in the Garden, on the Cross, in the Tomb that when the day comes, and through the portal of death we are taken up into the heart of the Trinity, this is to be one with Christ in His Glorious Resurrection.



[1] JESUS of Nazareth; HOLY WEEK: from the entrance to Jerusalem to the Resurrection; p.40; Joseph Ratzinger Pope Benedict XVI; Ignatius Press 2012

© 2021 Fr. Arthur Joseph