REFLECTION CAPSULES: Volume II – Fr Jijo Jose Manjackal’s Daily Guided Gospel Reflections is now available for shipping in India

• The book contains over 250 pages of Reflections
• Dig deeper into the Church’s Sunday Gospel Readings for the 2022 Liturgical Year
• Reflections cover over 100 Themes decorated with anecdotes and unique literary style
• Use as a tool for personal/family/community Bible study
• Aid to preparing for recollections, talks, homilies

The book carries a Message of Appreciation from His Excellency, Archbishop Rino Fisichella


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✝ REFLECTION CAPSULES – June 07, 2023: Wednesday

“With deep faith, hope and love, living in accordance with the Will of God, in our journey towards Eternity!”

(Based on Tob 3:1-11a, 16-17a and Mk 12:18-27 – Wednesday of the 9th Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1)

There was a young Christian woman – resolute and strong in faith – who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been just a few weeks to live.

She had resigned herself to the Will of the Lord…
… and so had also accepted this painful reality.

As part of her preparation for a meaningful departure from this life, she also contacted her parish priest and spoke at length.

Among the many things that she discussed, she also told, with a great sense of excitement:
“I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.”

The priest stood looking at the young woman, not knowing quite what to say, and replying, “Well, to be honest, I’m puzzled by the request!”

The young woman explained:
“My grandmother once told me this story, and from that time on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement.

In all my years of attending socials and dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared…
… someone would inevitably lean over and say, ‘Keep your fork.’
It was my favourite part because I knew that something better was coming…
… like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie.
Something wonderful, and with substance!’

So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder ‘What’s with the fork?’

Then I want you to tell them: ‘Keep your fork… the best is yet to come!”

The eyes of the priest welled up with tears of joy, though with a heavy heart!

He knew that this would be one of the last time he would see her…
… but he also rejoiced that the woman had great faith and hope of the glorious life to come!

At her funeral, people walking by the young woman’s casket were deeply surprised …
… seeing the fork placed in her right hand.

Over and over, the priest heard the question, ‘What’s with the fork?’

And over and over he smiled…
… and replied: “Keep your fork… the best is yet to come!”

And indeed, it’s so true!

How deep is our faith and hope in the eternal promises of the Lord…?

And how passionate are we to live in accordance with the Will of God with our eyes set on eternity…?

Do we live in accordance to this truth of the “glorious life of eternity?”

Or are we a “practical Sadducee?” – failing to be open to the Truth of Eternity and living in casualness and lethargy

The Gospel of the Day presents a group of opponents – characterised by rigidity to accept the truth.

The Sadducees came to Jesus to put forward a hypothetical riddle regarding the question of the Resurrection.

The Sadducees were the top people in the nation, the elite group of aristocrats who owned a lot of land, wealth and rank.

They were the power brokers in Israel’s supreme court, the Sanhedrin.
Even the high priests came from the families of the Sadducees.

They were selective in what they accepted from the Scriptures.

They rejected all the historical books.
They also rejected all the psalms and the other ‘writings’ like Job and Ecclesiastes.
Not one of the books of the prophets would they accept.
They were left with just the first five books of Moses.

Moses was their person of authority.

That is why when they come to Jesus, they characteristically begin, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us…” (Mk 12:19)

They also rejected the resurrection of the dead.

“Men stay dead,” they said; human beings only have this life here and now.
That is what they believed: No judgment; with death, the soul perishes with the body.

We live in a world where we also encounter many of “practical” Sadducees.

People who live as though there is no Resurrection
People who deny giving any significance for life after this life
People who fail to uphold any teachings or thoughts that support a life after death

For such “practical” Sadducees,
… Life consists in basically enjoying the pleasures of this present life to the maximum!
… Life is not to be drowned in “boring” piety and “dull” devotions with a hope for the future!

Perhaps, some of us, may also share such thought-patterns of the Sadducees.

Yet, the Lord addresses us, just as He did to the Sadducees, “Are you not misled because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?” (Mk 12: 24)

The Scriptures clearly testify to the various references that are made to the fact of the “dead” not really being dead…
… rather, alive in the Lord!

The power of God clearly testifies that God as the one who created creation out of nothing…
… also has the power to grant new life to those who are dead!

The Gospel passage ends with the statement by Jesus, “You are greatly misled” (Mk 12: 27b).

Another translation would read, “You are quite wrong”

The Lord was not afraid to clearly and bluntly tell the Sadducees that they were wrong and misled in their understandings.

And perhaps, if we are in the category of being a “modern and practical” Sadducee…
… the Lord uncompromisingly tells us also: “You are greatly misled”

We need to be open to the voice of the Lord, calling us to trust deeper, in the presence of a life after this life.

Let us cease to be a “practical Sadducee” – professing belief in the Resurrection only in lips, but failing to display this belief by a life of holiness!

It is true that we don’t have much awareness of how the “next life” would be…
… We do fall short of words to explain the nature of the life-to-come or rationally describing “how heaven would be!”
… We may even have our own fears and anxieties in thinking of death or in the parting moments of our loved ones!

But we do know for certain one thing: that we would be one with our Lord- the lover of our soul…
… the fullness of joy
… the supremacy of holiness
… the culmination of every desire

With deep faith, hope and love, let us always remember:
“Keep your fork… the best is yet to come!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
The marriage bond

Marriage bond has been established by God himself in such a way that a marriage concluded and consummated between baptized persons can never be dissolved.
This bond, which results from the free human act of the spouses and their consummation of the marriage, is a reality, henceforth irrevocable…
… and gives rise to a covenant guaranteed by God’s fidelity.

The Church does not have the power to contravene this disposition of divine wisdom. (CCC # 1640)

✝ REFLECTION CAPSULES – June 06, 2023: Tuesday

“Being bolstered by the Powerful Personality of Jesus, to be all determined and full of convictions”

(Based on Tob 2:9-14 and Mk 12:13-17 – Tuesday of the 9th Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1)

A little boy was pulling on some weeds with long deep roots…
… trying to get it out of the ground.

He pulled and pulled again…
… then decided to give one last jerk

And when he did…
… it came out – but he went tumbling over backwards!

Someone watching this said: “That was a tough fight, wasn’t it?”

The little boy – recovering himself and trying to get up, feeling a bit exhausted – replied: “Ah yes! It should have been!

After all… the whole world was pulling against me!”

How often does it happen that it seems the entire world is pulling against us…
… against our convictions and principles of life
… against our values and virtues of life

De we remain firm and determined, even it means undergoing some falling back and setbacks…
… or do we yield in to those forces – and quit and give up in life?

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus – who is all determined and full of convictions – boldly encountering the “deadly trap” being laid before him by the leaders of his time…
… and how He remains unscathed and uncompromising in presenting the full force of the Truth!

The Gospel passage begins with the verse: “Then they sent to Jesus some Pharisees and some Herodians to trap him in what he said.” (Mk 12:13)

The “they” in this verse refers to the chief priests, the scribes and the elders (Mk 11: 27b)

This group had already been silenced by the Lord…

In questioning Jesus of His authority, they found themselves facing a tougher question from Jesus. (Mk 11: 27-33)

Jesus also told a parable of the Tenants in the vineyard, which alluded to their closed attitude to accept Him as the Messiah of their lives (Mk 12: 1-12)

This group of chief priests, scribes and the elders, went away…
… with hatred in their against Jesus
… with a mind to plot further against Jesus

So, they got together two opposing parties, in their scheme to oppose Jesus.

These two opposing parties were the Pharisees and the Herodians (Mk 12: 13)

Who are the Pharisees?

The Pharisees were primarily not a political party but a group of scholars and pious people. They enjoyed a large popular following, and in the Gospels, they appear as spokesmen for the majority of the population.

They hated the pagan Roman occupation of Israel.

Their hope was for a new Judas Maccabee who would arise and throw off the Roman empire.
Many of the common people embraced their patriotic message.

Who are the Herodians?

Their name came from King Herod, who was a half Jew and had made a made a political deal with the Romans.

The Herodians held political power, and supported King Herod Antipas, the Roman Empire’s ruler over much of the land of the Jews from 4 B.C. to A.D. 39.

The Herodians favoured submitting to the Herods, and therefore to Rome, for political pragmatism.

The Pharisees were obsessed with their religious traditions…
… while the Herodians had little religion at all.

Yet, when Jesus spoke and opposed both formalism and love of worldliness…
… these two groups came together in their opposition to Him!

And they trap Jesus with a very cunning question, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” (Mk 12: 14c)

If Jesus had said:
No, you should not pay taxes….
… that no true Israelite who loves God should willingly pay the tax as the Roman Coin with the image of Caesar and all of his titles claiming to be divine is blasphemous…

All of the common people would have said, “How godly man is He!”

But Jesus would have been arrested for sedition and treason.

On the other side, if Jesus had said:
Yes, you should pay taxes….
… that it is not bad since the Roman empire brings stability and economic prosperity…

All of the common people would have abandoned Him saying, “He is a betrayer of God’s law!”

Jesus would have been badly persecuted for misleading them from the path of God.

It was trouble either way…

But Jesus, the Lord of all wisdom and knowledge, found His way through the maze of human shrewdness by answering:
“Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Mk 12: 17)

Jesus said that what is most important in life is one’s supreme allegiance to God!

Political demands, social commitments, familial duties, communitarian stipulations all have their place and position…

But above all, what needs to be given the prime importance in one’s life is: Allegiance to God!

We live in times and situations wherein there are many forces, philosophies and thought-patterns…
… that join hands in opposing the teachings of Jesus and the Church.

Jesus is still an enemy to many of the truth-denying realities in the world.

The Church is still opposed by many of the immoral entities of the world.

It is our duty to remain firm in our faith and render absolute allegiance to the Lord…
… in order to oppose and fight against such adverse and opposing factors in the world.

Even when it seems that the entire world is pulling against us…
… against our convictions and principles of life
… against our values and virtues of life

We are called to remain firm and determined, even it means undergoing some apparent falling back and setbacks!

Let us be bolstered by the Powerful Personality of Jesus, to be all determined and full of convictions…
… boldly encountering the “deadly traps” being laid before us by the forces of our times
… and with His Grace, remain, unscathed and uncompromising in presenting the full force of Jesus, the Truth!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
The marriage bond

The consent by which the spouses mutually give and receive one another is sealed by God himself.
From their covenant arises “an institution, confirmed by the divine law, . . . even in the eyes of society.”

The covenant between the spouses is integrated into God’s covenant with man: “Authentic married love is caught up into divine love!” (CCC # 1639)

✝ REFLECTION CAPSULES – June 05, 2023: Monday

“Executing our human responsibilities, by depending on God’s Power and making use of our God-given talents, potentials and wisdom!”

(Based on Tob 1:3; 2:1a-8 and Mk 12:1-12 – Monday of the 9th Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1)

A catechism teacher was explain the story of David and Goliath to the children.

And the end of the teaching, a boy stood up to ask a doubt.

“Why did David,” asked the boy, “take five smooth stones with him? Could he not have taken only one small pebble?

Did he have doubt in the Power of God?”

The teacher, impressed with the student’s doubt… after some thoughtful moments replied:
“Firstly your doubt about the 5 stones…

If you read 2 Sam 21:15-22, you can find that there were at least 4 giants that are mentioned – similar to Goliath!

Perhaps, David thought that if Goliath is attacked, these 4 other giants could also come forth.

And so he probably prepared himself to fight against them as well!

And with respect to the “smooth” stones…


You can shoot much more accurately with the proper ammunition.

He had faith, but he also used sanctified common sense. He didn’t simply say, “The Lord is going to do it anyway, so I’ll just pick up any old jagged rocks.”

No, he recognized human responsibility as well as Divine providence and selected shiny, round stones that would speed straight to the mark!”

… it’s not known, how many of us would accept this explanation of the Catechism teacher.

But one thing is for sure: David not only depended on God’s Power…
… he also made sure, he executed his human responsibilities, by making use of his God-given talents, potentials and wisdom.

It is always “freedom with responsibility” that ensures true success and proper satisfaction.

Human tendency, however, it is, to often want…
… to enjoy, without having worked
… to reap fruits, without having harvested
… to take credit for oneself, even for things/people not belonging to oneself.

The Gospel of the Day is a powerful reminder by Jesus, through the Parable of the Tenants…
… that we are only stewards in this beautiful world of ours, which is owned by God
… that we are to be caretakers of the many duties entrusted to us, by the Almighty

Jesus puts forward the Parable of the Tenants.

The tenants were entrusted with the vineyard by the Master, and were expected to provide the produce in due time.

They were entrusted fully with the taking care of the vineyard.

The Master placed a lot of trust in the servants.

He gave the freedom… a responsible freedom…
…which could be meaningfully used and nurtured
…or which could be woefully misused and manipulated.

However, the tenants, who were trusted immensely…
…. probably lost their focus on the real trust and diminished in their commitment and responsibility to their Master as well as their duty.

Their personal interests gained greater prominence over their entrusted duties.
Their selfish agenda gained the upper hand over the faithfulness to the Master.

This led to them to a total denial of all the emissaries and servants of the Master, who were sent to collect the produce.

This denial was extended even to the Master’s own Son!

This denial of the Son led to the letting loose of the anger and fury of the Just Master!

A squandering away of the responsible freedom, led to the downfall of the tenants!
A failure to give heed to the emissaries and servants caused them to face the Master’s rage!
A denial and rejection of the Master’s own Son, with a cruel intent, caused their destruction!

Are we also, as Christians, as tenants of the Heavenly Master failing in our responsibilities and duties?

The Lord has entrusted us with many responsibilities…

To promote and grow in our faith…
… by a faithful prayer-life, co-operation with the graces of God, keeping away from a life of sin etc.

To be faithful to the vocation and works we are called to do…
… by constantly renewing our resolve in the works we do, remaining focused on our calling etc.

To encourage others to increase in faith and in love of life…
… by being interested In their well-being, supporting them, teaching them etc.

The Lord presents Himself as the cornerstone…
… “the stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone..” (Mk 12: 10)

Jesus is the cornerstone…of Salvation.. of the Church.. of His People!

We need to find strength and support in this Cornerstone…
… the cornerstone to build a wonderful life in God and grow in holiness
… the cornerstone to stand firm and strong in faith to withstand every storm of life

Let us come to understand that in all our works and activities, we not only depend on God’s Power…
… but also execute our human responsibilities, by making use of our God-given talents, potentials and wisdom.

Yes, it is always “freedom with responsibility” that ensures true success and proper satisfaction.

God Bless! Live Jesus!

📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

“From a valid marriage arises a bond between the spouses which by its very nature is perpetual and exclusive…

… furthermore, in a Christian marriage the spouses are strengthened and, as it were, consecrated for the duties and the dignity of their state by a special sacrament. (CCC # 1638)

✝ REFLECTION CAPSULES – June 04, 2023: Sunday

“Joyfully exclaiming the Awesomeness of our Triune God and His Splendour!”

(Based on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity)

A family was visiting an art museum.

As they went around with much amazement, excitement and wonder, they came to a famous painting titled “Wheatfield under the clouded sky”

This painting was by Vincent van Gogh – a Dutch painter – a very influential personality in the history of Western art.

He had created about 2,100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings -of landscapes, still lives, portraits and self-portraits

As the children gazed in admiration at this classical painting, the mother of the family, exclaimed: “If this work of art, that portrays the beauty of nature, makes us acclaim so much…
… how much more is the Beauty, Power and Goodness of the God Who has created all of this nature!”

And with a great sense of gratitude and appreciation to the Awesomeness of God, she went on to say:
“God writes with a pen that never blots…
… speaks with a tongue that never slips
… and acts with a hand that never fails!”

Yes, our God is an awesome God!

And the entire world – all of nature – beautifully sings forth the glory and splendour of God, Who is in total charge!

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity is a beautiful day to dwell on the Awesomeness of God and the Mystery of His Splendour…
… and to live this mystery by doing everything for God’s Glory and being united as one family of God!

At the heart of the Mystery of the Trinity are three fundamental truths:

The Oneness of God: God is One
The Equality of the Three Persons: The Father is God, the Son is God, the Spirit is God
The Distinctiveness of the Three Persons: The Father is not the Son and the Spirit; the Son is not the Father and the Spirit; the Spirit is not the Son and the Father.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life.

It is the mystery of God in himself.
It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the “hierarchy of the truths of faith” (CCC, #234)

This Feast is an invitation to understand that at the core and depth of everything in our life – is the mystery of the Trinity!

The history of the world… salvation history… our personal history…
The Liturgy… the Sacraments…our prayers…
… all of them are encompassed by the life and mystery of the Trinity!

This points to the tremendous fact that our Triune God is in total charge and control of everything in our life
… that God is in perfect sovereignty and power!

We are sometimes prone to a lot of strategies and planning.

When things don’t turn out the way we have planned, we get worried and anxious.
When situations don’t fall in line with what we envisaged, we get tensed and upset!

But, today our Triune God tells: “I am in total control!”

When my life seems to be in a complete mess and nothing is understood by us, God says, “I am in total control”

When circumstances around me go haywire and I lose control of things, God says, “I am in total control”

St Paul tells us: “So we are always of good courage; we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord…
… for we walk by faith, not by sight!” (2 Cor 5:6-7)

This is not to say that we need to be passive or lethargic in life

This is not to say that we need to be casual or lazy in life

It is not even to say that we should not have plans and strategies
But this is a great reminder to know and realise that our Triune God is the Ultimate Master of our lives, and His providence protects us!!

There are no accidents or no “by chance” happenings for a believer!

Everything finds its place, in the Permissive Will of the Lord!

Do I trust in Him to lead me from darkness to light?
Do I believe in Him to lead me from depressing moments to joy?
Do I have faith in Him to lead me from confusing moments to clarity?

The Life of the Trinity is also a call…
… to build our families and communities in love
… to reach out to the other, through self-giving and self-emptying

As we gaze at the “large canvas of miracles” that we experience every day and every moment of our life…
… let us joyfully exclaim the Awesomeness of our Triune God and His Splendour, by confessing: “God writes with a pen that never blots…
… speaks with a tongue that never slips
… and acts with a hand that never fails!”

Yes, in all what we think, in all what we say, and in all what we do…
… let all Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, Amen!

Happy Feast of the Most Blessed Trinity!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

In marriages with disparity of cult, the Catholic spouse has a particular task: “For the unbelieving husband is consecrated through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is consecrated through her husband.”
It is a great joy for the Christian spouse and for the Church if this “consecration” should lead to the free conversion of the other spouse to the Christian faith.

Sincere married love, the humble and patient practice of the family virtues, and perseverance in prayer can prepare the non-believing spouse to accept the grace of conversion. (CCC # 1637)

✝ REFLECTION CAPSULES – June 03, 2023: Saturday

“Rooting out every pessimistic mind-set, by growing in the Wisdom of the Lord and focusing on self-growth in holiness and humility!”

(Based on Sir 51:12 cd-20 and Mk 11:27-33 – Saturday of the 8th Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1)

Once, a preacher was speaking the Word of God to a great crowd.

As was his practice, he was concentrating more on the content of his message and of its effect upon the hearts of people, for transformation…
… rather than the precise literary form of it.

Among his audience, was seated a certain fussy gentleman.

He had been known for making extremely critical remarks and comments.

At the end of the prayer service, this person went up to the preacher and said:
“By the way, I noticed that you made eleven mistakes of grammar in your sermon.”

“Very likely,” replied the preacher, very coolly, “I don’t doubt it for a minute.

My early education was faulty.
I often wished that I had received more schooling.

But I am using all the grammar I know in the service of Christ.

How is it with you?”

Well, we don’t know how did the fussy gentleman react to this bold and true reply of the preacher.
(Hopefully, he went home and read a chapter of the Bible and prayed for a humbler heart rather than just revising his skills of grammar!)

When the heart is closed to God’s spirit, the focus dwells only external and peripheral factors…

The heart gets closed to spiritual appreciation…
The mind remains curious only for rhetorical arguments!

The Gospel of the Day presents such a critically harsh and uncharitably closed attitude of the chief priests and scribes and elders towards the person and ministry of Jesus.

This is expressed in their volatile question to Jesus, “By what authority are you doing these things? Or who gave you this authority to do them?” (Mk 11: 28)

The context of today’s Gospel is the presence of Jesus in the city of Jerusalem.

Chapter 11 of St Mark’s Gospel has a progressive sequence…

The entry into Jerusalem (Mk 11: 1-10)
The entry to Bethany and cursing of the fig tree (Mk 11: 11-14)
The re-entry to Jerusalem and cleansing of the Temple (Mk 11: 15-18)
The re-entry to Bethany, observation of withered tree and teaching on faith (Mk 11: 19-26)
The third entry into Jerusalem and questioning of Jesus’ authority (Mk 11: 27-33)

The popularity of Jesus was on the rise…
… He had a rousing welcome to the city of Jerusalem

The impact of Jesus was also on the rise…
… He had performed a daring cleansing of the Jerusalem Temple

These factors had greatly disturbed the religious leaders.

In Jesus, they perceived a threat.
… a threat to their attitude of subjugating people to their yoke, than to service of God

In Jesus, they sensed a danger.
… a danger to their personal wishes and agenda of having a monopoly over religion

In Jesus, they identified a menace.
… a menace to their comfort-rendering style of spirituality and way of life.

And so, they – the chief priests and scribes and the elders – sought to put Jesus to the task and questioned His authority on doing such deeds and performing such actions.

Their eyes were closed to see the goodness of the Lord

Their hearts become clogged to examine their own maligned conscience

Their lives were rendered blocked to be willing to make necessary changes for the good.

… they only found fault with the Lord
… they only become critical of the ways of the Lord

When the heart is closed to God’s spirit, the focus dwells only external and peripheral factors…

The heart gets closed to spiritual appreciation…
The mind remains curious only for rhetorical arguments!

Is such an attitude prevalent among us also…

A mentality of harshly criticising…?

A tendency to inhumanly condemn…?
… without any consideration to humanness or acceptance or self-examination etc.

The Book of Sirach invites us to seek for Wisdom and to ‘incline our ears” in order to make greater progress in life:
“While I was still young, before I went on my travels, I sought wisdom openly in my prayer. Before the temple I asked for her, and I will search for her until the end.

From my youth I followed her steps.
I inclined my ear a little and received her, and I found for myself much instruction.
I made progress in her; to him who gives wisdom I will give glory.
For I resolved to live according to wisdom” (Cf. Sir 51: 13-18)

May we be able to root out every pessimistic mind-set, by growing in the Wisdom of the Lord…
… and focus instead on self-growth in holiness and humility!

God Bless! Live Jesus

📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

Through ecumenical dialogue Christian communities in many regions have been able to put into effect a common pastoral practice for mixed marriages.
Its task is to help such couples live out their particular situation in the light of faith, overcome the tensions between the couple’s obligations to each other and towards their ecclesial communities…

… and encourage the flowering of what is common to them in faith and respect for what separates them. (CCC # 1636)

✝ REFLECTION CAPSULES – June 02, 2023: Friday

“Giving heed to the warnings and exhortations of the Lord, and building our lives by co-operating with the Grace of God!”

(Based on Sir 44:1, 9-13 and
Mk 11:11-26 – Friday of the 8th Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1)

The Gospel of St Mark has many “sandwich” passages.

“Sandwich” stories are a literary technique in which the narration of one story begins, but is interrupted by another story, before finishing the first one.

Some of the examples of these “sandwich stories” are…

In Mk 3: 20-35, we have…

Mk 3:20-22: Jesus’ family members set out to seize Him
Mk 3: 23-30: Jesus speaks to the Pharisees on their accusation of Him
Mk 3: 31-35: Jesus family comes to meet Him

In Mk 5: 21-43, we have…

Mk 5: 21-24: Jesus is pleaded by Jairus to heal his daughter
Mk 5: 25-34: The woman suffering from haemorrhage is healed
Mk 5: 35-43: Jesus heals the daughter of Jairus

In Mk 6: 7-33, we have…

Mk 6: 7-13: The disciples sent on a mission
Mk 6: 14-29: Herod’s opinion on John the Baptist and the narrative of the beheading.
Mk 6: 30-33: The disciples return from the mission

In Mk 14: 1-11, we have…

Mk 14: 1-2: The Conspiracy against Jesus
Mk 14: 3-9: The anointing of Jesus at Bethany
Mk 14: 10-11: The conspiracy plan by Judas to betray Jesus

Such kind of “sandwich” layers illustrates points for reflection by showing ..
… similarities and contrasts between the outside and the inside layers.
… the first and the last as “the bread”‘ and the centre one as the “filling” of the sandwich!

Today’s Gospel also follows this “sandwich-story” structure: Mk 11: 12-25

Mk 11: 12-14: Jesus cursing the fig tree
Mk 11: 15-19: Jesus cleansing the Temple
Mk 11: 20-24: Jesus’ teaching on the withered fig tree

There are many similarities and contrasts between the “bread” – the outside layers and the “filling” – the inside layers in this ‘sandwich’ passage…

  1. Symbols
    The fig tree represents the people of Israel
    The Temple was the symbol of the worship and faith of the people of Israel
  2. Reaction of Jesus is “at the entry”
    The fig tree was cursed when “Jesus was nearing”… on His way to Jerusalem
    The Temple was cleansed as Jesus “entered” the temple
  3. “Leaves seen, but no fruit”
    The fig tree bore only leaves, but no fruits were found on it
    The Temple had many activities (leaves) but no faith or religiosity was seen (fruits)
  4. Jesus performs an action of fury and rage
    The fig tree is cursed and it withers
    The Temple is cursed and cleansed

Some of the key messages of both these stories invite us to reflect on our own life…

  1. God’s demand to be fruit-bearing
    The fig tree as well as the Temple failed to bear fruits…

As Christians, we are expected and demanded by God to bear fruits and be co-operative to the graces that God has blessed us with

  1. Importance of repentance and cleansing
    The fig tree is judged for its fruitlessness while the Temple is cleansed due to its uncleanness

As Christians, we are to repent and cleanse our hearts of all defilements, lethargy and sluggishness and become relevant and effective people of God

  1. Harsh consequences are in store for the unfaithful and unfruitful
    The fig tree is cursed while the Temple undergoes the wrath of the Zealous Jesus

As Christians, we are to realise that strong consequences are for sure, if we fail in our duties and responsibilities

The Gospel of the Day is a strong exhortation by Jesus…
… to become aware of our Christian duties
… the need to be faithful and ever watchful
… and become zealous in bearing fruits for the Kingdom of God.

Let us give heed to the warnings and exhortations of the Lord, and build our lives by co-operating with the Grace of God…
…so that we become persons of “Faith and Fruitfulness!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

According to the law in force in the Latin Church, a mixed marriage needs for liceity the express permission of ecclesiastical authority.
In case of disparity of cult an express dispensation from this impediment is required for the validity of the marriage.
This permission or dispensation presupposes that both parties know and do not exclude the essential ends and properties of marriage…
… and furthermore that the Catholic party confirms the obligations, which have been made known to the non-Catholic party
… of preserving his or her own faith

… and ensuring the baptism and education of the children in the Catholic Church. (CCC # 1635)

✝ REFLECTION CAPSULES – June 01, 2023: Thursday

“Having a true vision that not only admires the unusual phenomenon of life, but also greatly esteems and appreciates the little beauties that are scattered all around!”

(Based on Sir 42:15-25 and Mk 10:46-52 – Thursday of the 8th Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1)

A man was sharing his experience of life to a group of youngsters:
“One night, a few years ago there was a total eclipse of the moon.
Everybody was talking about it.

Many even stayed up till the early hours…
… in the hope of witnessing it.

And I was asking myself: ‘Why all this interest in the moon, simply because it is disappearing?’

Of course, I don’t deny that is a wonderful phenomenon.

But I am also convinced that most of those people wouldn’t see a full moon in the sky…
… much less stop to admire it!”

And the man went on to say, “It brought to my mind the words of Emerson: ‘The fool wonders at the unusual; the wise person wonders at the usual.”

True vision not only admires at the unusual phenomenon of life…
… but also greatly esteems and appreciates the little beauties that are scattered all around!

Do we have the vision to appreciate the great miracles in and around us…?

Are we passionate and enthusiastic about the wonderful blessings we enjoy everyday…?

This vision to appreciate and be enthusiastic in life has its roots in an experience of the Divine.

It’s this experience that becomes a launching-pad to live a passionate life for the Lord and for His Kingdom!

The contrast is also true…

A lack of experience of the Divine makes the spiritual journey a lethargic one…
… sometimes makes it even non-existent!

The greater the experience that one has of the Divine, the higher will be one’s enthusiasm and interest in spiritual matters.

The Gospel of the Day presents the experience of the Divine by a blind person and his consequent expression of happiness and delight in the Lord.

Blind Bartimaeus experiences the Divine healing power and gives vent to his deep joy in the Lord by ‘following Him on the way’.

Jesus was passing through the land of Jericho.

As he was leaving Jericho, with His disciples, the news reached the ears of Bartimaeus.

He was blind.

We do not know how long was he so.
We do not know what was the reason for being so.

But we know one thing…
… that he would have heard about the wonders and fame of Jesus.

The very mention that “Jesus of Nazareth” was passing that way, made him to spring into pleading for mercy.

Just as the steps of the lover sounds sweet to the Beloved…
Just as the strains of music sound sweet to the singer…

So, the mention of the name, “Jesus” sounded healing and wholeness for Blind Bartimaeus!

With his might and strength, he cried, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy” (Mk 10:47)

The crowd tried to dissuade him.
The people surrounding made efforts to silence him.

But nothing of this could prevent this determined person to cry out to his God!

Even though Bartimaeus was “physically blind,” he had the willingness to have “true vision!”

The people on the other hand, were “physically fine” but lacked the true vision…
… to see the great presence of God’s Power in their midst!

This persevering and passionate pleading of Bartimaeus was amply rewarded.

Jesus called him, and said to him, “Go your way, your faith has saved you!” (Mk 10: 52a)

This tremendous healing experience, fanned to flame the sparks of Divine Love within blind Bartimaeus!

He immediately received his sight and followed Jesus on the way (Mk 10: 52b)

This experience became a launching-pad to nurture a life-long relationship with the Divine!

We too are in need of a deeper experience of the Lord, in order to nurture and strengthen our spiritual life.

We sometimes remain blind to things of the spiritual dimension.
We sometimes feel rejected in our lack of progress in a holy living.

Yet, we are invited to cry out with full intensity, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Surely, this act of faith from our part, would meet with a lot of oppositions…
… we may hear voices telling us that it is useless to cry to God and rely on His power
… we may be told that it is illogical and unreasonable to be banking on Divine assistance

But like Blind Bartimaeus, are we willing to transgress and traverse all such negative voices, and drown them with a wave of mightier faith…
… crying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Unless we undergo such a healing experience, our faith will remain shallow and our spiritual following will remain dispirited.

This healing is not just of the physical nature…
… rather it could be healing of the mind
… healing of the spirit
… or a social healing
… or an emotional healing.

The fact of being healed, would make me more passionate about the Divine Healer!

The fact of being cleansed, would make me more zealous about the Divine Sanctifier!

Yes, true vision not only admires at the unusual phenomenon of life…
… but also greatly esteems and appreciates the little beauties that are scattered all around!

We need to have the vision to appreciate the great miracles in and around us!
We need to be passionate and enthusiastic about the wonderful blessings we enjoy everyday!

May our hearts be opened, in perseverance and passion, to seek the wonderful experience of the Divine.

God Bless! Live Jesus!

📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

Differences about faith and the very notion of marriage, but also different religious mentalities, can become sources of tension in marriage…
… especially as regards the education of children.

The temptation to religious indifference can then arise. (CCC # 1634)

✝ REFLECTION CAPSULES – May 31, 2023: Wednesday

“Allowing the Graces of God in us to not get stagnant or decayed or rusted; instead, to be extended in loving service to God and His people!”

(Based on Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

One of the greatest violinists of all time was Niccolo Paganini.

He had his first performance at the age of 11.

It is said that his great technical ability revolutionized violin techniques across Europe.

When he died in 1840, he had willed his violin to Genoa, Italy – the place of his birth.

But he had it done on a condition: that no artist ever plays his instrument again.

Glad to have the violin come into their possession, the people in the city of Genoa agreed to the request…
… and they put it in a beautiful case for everyone to see.

But, unfortunately, wooden violins have a certain peculiarity:

As long as they are handled, they show no wear…
… But if it remains unused, it begins to decay!

This is what happened to Paganini’s violin.

His once-exquisite instrument became worm-eaten and useless.

Wooden violins of other artists have been handed down from one gifted musician to another…
…. and they continue to bring great music to audiences.

But Paganini’s violin is a crumbling relic of what it once was!

Such will also be the case with a Christian…
… If one does not spend one’s life in service!

A Christian’s “unwillingness to serve” may soon destroy one’s capacity for usefulness!

Today, is the Feast of the Visitation…
… A beautiful incident of how Blessed Mother Mary became a person, who rendered Her life “in service” to God and others – and thus gave full bloom to the graces of God within Her!

This Feast of the Visitation of our Blessed Mother has its origin in the medieval times.

It was observed by the Franciscan Order before 1263, and soon its practice spread throughout the entire Church.

Previously it was celebrated on July 2….
… now it is celebrated on 31st May – between the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord ( Mar 25) and the Birth of St. John the Baptist (Jun 24) , in conformity with the Gospel accounts.

One of the interesting term used by St Luke in his description of this incident (Lk 1: 39-56) is the word “HASTE”.

St Luke says: “In those days, Mary arose and went with HASTE…..” (Lk 1: 39)

Angel Gabriel had appeared to Mary and announced the Good News that She was to be the Mother of the “Son of the Most High” (Lk 1: 31)

Mary was “overshadowed by the Power of the Most High” (Lk 1: 35)
The Angel had also pointed to the mighty work that was done in the life of her cousin Elizabeth (Lk 1: 36)

The Annunciation became the turning point in the life of Mary!

She was no longer the same…
… The simple girl had been exalted and chosen to be the Mother of the Most High God!
… She would no longer be seeking to do her desires; She would seek to God’s Will at all times!
… Her life would no longer be carried by her plans; Her life would be impelled by what God wanted!

The Child in Her, would now make Her to be “always in haste!”
… In haste: to serve others
… In haste: to follow perfectly the Will of God
… In haste: to have Jesus as the centre of Her life

The Holy Spirit completely possessed the Virgin Daughter of Nazareth and impelled her to act.

The beautiful incident of the Visitation of Mother Mary teaches us this beautiful lesson:

When Christ grows inside of us, we will be in HASTE….
… to reach out to others in service
… to spare no efforts to get out of our own comfort zones of pleasure, relaxing and lethargy
… to forget one’s own needs and be totally other-centred and radiate joy and hope to others

Mother Mary becomes the “Woman on the move” – on a continual and constant journey:
… She would embark on an hard trip to Bethlehem, while pregnant (Lk 2:4)
… She would again move – after the birth of the Child – along with Joseph, and flee to Egypt (Mt 2:14)
… She would return back to Nazareth, under the instruction of the Angel of God (Mt 2:23)
… She would further travel to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast and there would go in search of Her Beloved Child, when He was lost (Lk 2: 45)
… She would be travelling with Jesus in His ministry – may not be physically, but Her Heart and Soul completely accompanying Her Son
… She would, finally, even accompany physically, with Her Innocent Child on the Way of the Cross (Jn 19: 25)

Mother Mary lived the words of the poem which centuries later would be formulated by another great Saint – St Francis of Assisi:
“It is in giving that we receive…
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life…”

The Feast of the Visitation is a reminder for us examine some of the important aspects of our life…
… Am I a person allowing the Holy Spirit to fill me and take complete possession of me – my words, my thoughts, my actions?
… Am I a person, having Jesus in me, impelled to reach out to the other in service? As St Paul says: “The love of Christ impels me” (2 Cor 5:14)
… Am I a person, who is daring to be a “person on the move” – moving out of my safe comfortable zones, moving out of conditioned and prejudiced mindsets, moving out to make my life of praise and honour to God?

St Ambrose says: “Delayed efforts are foreign to the grace of the Holy Spirit”

Charity is never idle!

Charity is always on the move …
… Sensitive to the needy
… Seeking to do good

May the Graces of God in us, not get stagnant, or decayed or rusted …
… instead may they be extended in loving service to God and His people…

And thus our life be a beautiful Magnificat: “My Soul magnifies the Lord my God, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour!”

As we thank the Lord for the gift of the month of May – especially with a special focus on the Rosary…
… May we, with Mamma Mary, live in holiness!

Happy Feast of our Blessed Mother Mary – the Mother Who moves us, constantly… towards Jesus!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

Difference of confession between the spouses does not constitute an insurmountable obstacle for marriage…
… when they succeed in placing in common what they have received from their respective communities
… and learn from each other the way in which each lives in fidelity to Christ.
But the difficulties of mixed marriages must not be underestimated.
They arise from the fact that the separation of Christians has not yet been overcome.
The spouses risk experiencing the tragedy of Christian disunity even in the heart of their own home.

Disparity of cult can further aggravate these difficulties. (CCC # 1634)

✝ REFLECTION CAPSULES – May 30, 2023: Tuesday

“Being ready to grow deeper in the awareness that God is always having a hold of me!”

(Based on Sir 35:1-12 and Mk 10:28-31 – Tuesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1)

One day a person who was going through much spiritual and mental perplexity called up his friend.

He knew that his friend was able to remain sturdy and confident, even in the midst of troubles of life.

And so he desired to learn from him this secret to stay calm

“Tell me,” the anxious friend asked over the phone, “how is it that you can trust God so easily? How is it that you always got hold of God?”

For some time, the person was silent.

And then, taking a deep sigh, he replied, “It surely did take me a while to know and learn this.

But let me be honest with you.

Even now I have my moments when I don’t know if I have got hold of God…
… but one thing I have learnt over the years: ‘God always has a hold of me!”

It was this assurance that God was always holding him…
… that allowed this person to remain calm and confident in his journey of life.

Are we ready to grow deeper in this fact: That God is always having a hold of me…
… and this assurance that translates to a life of trust and confidence!

Our lives in the Lord, is a spiritual journey…

The greater assurance we have in the promises of the Lord, the more pleasant will be our journey

The stronger our assurances in the Word of the Lord, the swifter will be our progress in this journey towards the Lord

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus declaring His assured promises to those who follow Him, sincerely and wholeheartedly.

Jesus tells to Peter and the other disciples:
“Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and the sake of the Gospel, who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age…
… and eternal life in the age to come” (Mk 10: 29)

This incident takes place right after the encounter of the rich young man with Jesus (Mk 10: 17-22)

This man was proposed by Jesus to sell all his possessions and then follow Him.

The man, however, found it hard, to let go off his attachments, and instead let go of the Lord.

He went away sad!

Peter, as the leader of the disciples, however, contrasts this “possessive and worldly” tendency of the rich young man by telling Jesus, “We have given up everything and followed you” (Mk 10: 28)

Perhaps, there was a growing concern among the disciples, as to whether their radical decision to commit themselves to the Master would go in vain!

Perhaps, there was an apparent fear within the disciples, as to whether their decisions to leave their professions, their families and their aspirations to follow the Lord would go fruitless!

And so the Lord, with a candid straight-forwardness replies that their sacrifices would surely assure them of rewards…
… of a much higher quality and eminence.

How often do our lives also sometimes sink in hopelessness, thinking whether our expressions of faith would end up in meaninglessness!

Sometimes even fearful thoughts and anxious emotions may cross our mind…
… will the various sacrifices and pains that I take up for the Lord, go in vain?
… will my unshed tears, my unspoken prayers and painful sighs, end up in futility?
… will the efforts I make to grow in love and nourish others in faith, lead to fruitlessness?

But the Lord assures us, that none of these efforts – small or great, noticed or unnoticed, seen or unseen – will escape the penetrating eyes of the Lord and go unrewarded.

All our actions, done in love has an assured reward!

What is however, most essential, is our total focus on the Lord and unflinched commitment to Him.

The Lord most certainly assures us of rewards and gifts.

But, in this pursuit, may we not stray or lose focus of Him!

Our lives ought to be impelled by the love for the God of rewards…
… than merely the rewards of God!
Our lives must be lived in faithfulness to the God of gifts…
… than being fascinated only to the gifts of God!

May the Lord Himself be our greatest reward…
… our finest gift!

When we grow in the assurance that God is always holding us…
… we can remain calm and confident in this journey of life.


Are we ready to grow deeper in this awareness?

God Bless! Live Jesus!

📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

In many countries the situation of a mixed marriage (marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic) often arises.
It requires particular attention on the part of couples and their pastors.

A case of marriage with disparity of cult (between a Catholic and a non-baptized person) requires even greater circumspection. (CCC # 1632)

✝ REFLECTION CAPSULES – May 29, 2023: Monday

“May Mary, the Mother of the Church – our Beloved Mother and the Perfect Disciple – Who followed Her Son wholly, in obedience to the Will of the Father, intercede and inspire us, to use our freedom with responsibility!”

(Based on the Feast of Mary, Mother of the Church)

A lady once remarked to her spiritual guide, “I am very afraid to pray, ‘Thy Will be done'”
“And why is that so?”, asked the guide.

“I am afraid…” continued the lady, “… that God will bring some calamity to my only child or send me a heavy trial in life”

The spiritual guide, having patiently listened to her, replied:
“Suppose if your beloved child comes to you and says, ‘Mummy, here after, I want to always do whatever you say and live as you will…’

Would you say to yourself… Ah! Here is my chance!

I will make my child to do all the harsh things.
I will make use of his willingness to obey me, by cutting off all his pleasures
I will make sure he has a tough time because anyway he will do whatever I say”

“Oh no!” answered back the mother, ” I will give him the best possible things that I can.

I will make sure that he is protected from every danger.
I will do anything to ensure him true happiness!”

“And do you think…,” continued the spiritual guide, “Do you think that God is less loving than you?”

The will of every human parent is to ensure the best for their children, isn’t it?

How much more loving and caring is the Will of the Father!

“God’s Will” is best understood in the set-up of a family…

In a human family…
… Every member wishes that the other is taken care
… Every member seeks for the good of the other

How much more is the love and concern in the Family of God…
… to all those who seek to do the Will of the Father!

The Church is this Communion of those who “bind upon themselves to do the Will of the Father”

Today we celebrate the Feast of Mary, the Mother of the Church.

Mother Mary is the model for all in the Church to “always say YES to God’s Will!”

This feast which has been promulgated in the Year 2018…
… is celebrated every year on the Monday after Pentecost.

We have concluded a journey of fourteen weeks (nearly hundred days) of walking intimately with the Lord in His Passion, Death, Resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit…
… starting with the Ash Wednesday in the season of Lent
… through the Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday
… the Ascension and the Feast of the Holy Spirit – the Pentecost.

As we resume the Ordinary times of the Liturgical year, we are presented today…
… with the beautiful example of Mary, the Mother of the Church, Who is the role model for all of us to “use freedom with responsibility”
… and with a message to make an examination of the “quality of our life of faith”, through the Parable of the Tenants.

One of the primary reasons for the celebration of the Feast of Mary, Mother of the Church is “to foster Marian piety and the Maternal sense of the Church.”

Pope Francis says that, “this celebration will help us to remember that growth in the Christian life must be anchored…
… to the Mystery of the Cross
… to the oblation of Christ in the Eucharistic Banquet
… and to the Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the Redeemed!”

The Marian title of “Mother of the Church,” was given to the Blessed Mother by Pope Paul VI at the Second Vatican Council.

Jesus said, “Whoever does the Will of My Father in Heaven, is my…. Mother!” (Mt 12: 50)

When we scan through the pages of the New Testament, we find, that perhaps no other person fulfilled the Will of the Father as perfectly as Mary

Mary, the Mother of the Church, always said “YES to God’s Will”

Mary was Blessed not just because she gave a physical birth to Jesus…
… but also because She listened and lived the Will of the Father!

She is blessed…
… because She listened to God’s Word and accepted it wholeheartedly.
… because She chose to put Her faith in God, though the path ahead was dim
… because She was obedient to God’s Will, though She did not understand many things”

As St. Irenaeus says: “Being obedient, She became the cause of salvation for Herself and for the whole human race.”

The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience

What Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by Her faith”

Mary used the freedom bestowed on her, with a great sense of responsibility.

We are reminded that it is “freedom with responsibility” that ensures valid enjoyment and proper satisfaction.

Mother Mary is the model for all of us to discharge all our duties with a great sense of responsibility.

She is the first Evangelizer and the first Disciple of Her own Son and Lord, Jesus the Christ!
She is not just the biological Mother of Jesus…
… but, by doing the Will of the Father perfectly, She is also His Spiritual Mother!

Thus Mary is the Mother of the Church!

St Maximilian Kolbe says, “If anyone does not wish to have Mary Immaculate for his Mother, he will not have Christ for his Brother!”

Yes, doing the Will of the Father and using our freedom with responsibility…
… is the DNA that joins all the members of the Family of God.

We may perhaps, have our fears in doing His Will….
But let us realize, that the Will of Father is wrapped with much love and affection…
… there is a tenderness in His Will, that ensures each of us, His children are protected!

Jesus is our Supreme Model and Leader in listening and living the Will of the Father

Mother Mary is our Beloved Mother and Perfect Disciple, Who followed Her Son wholly, in obedience to the Will of the Father!

Many saints and holy people also show us, by their sanctified lives that it is worth, meaningful and salvific to do the Will of the Father!

All of them beckon us:
“Come be part of the Family of God…
Listen always to what God wants of you in your life

Ask Him, at all times, what you should be doing in life
Put your trust in His Power and Providence, when you do His Will!”

Are we willing to be members of this Family of God?
… Then we need to be ready to do the Will of the Father!

Let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary, the Mother of the Church to intercede and pray for all of us…
… to be faithful and witnessing members of the Church.

Happy Feast Day of Mary, the Mother of the Church…
… to all Her Little Children of God!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

The example and teaching given by parents and families remain the special form of this preparation.
The role of pastors and of the Christian community as the “family of God” is indispensable for the transmission of the human and Christian values of marriage and family…
… and much more so in our era when many young people experience broken homes which no longer sufficiently assure this initiation:
It is imperative to give suitable and timely instruction to young people, above all in the heart of their own families, about the dignity of married love, its role and its exercise…

… so that, having learned the value of chastity, they will be able at a suitable age to engage in honorable courtship and enter upon a marriage of their own. (CCC # 1632)