Nov 15 (Lk 17:26-37)

A humorous story is told of a heavy-weight boxer who would greatly brag about his prowess…

… and speak of how he would “he would conquer the world!”

It is said that one day, he came to a big city with two huge suitcases.

As he got down the bus, putting the suitcases down, he looked up to the tall building tower and exclaimed: “I will conquer this city!”

When he looked down, however…

… the suitcases were gone!

Very often, our lives are such…

>> We dream of conquering the entire world…

… but often fail to even have a control on ourselves!

We become “so worldly”, that we fail to give heed “to the world to come!”

>> We become so occupied with the concerns of our earthly existence, that sometimes we “forget about our Heavenly priorities!”

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus highlighting this essential element of Christian living: Being in the world, but living out of the world, with eyes firmly set on heavenly realms.

Jesus says, “Whoever seeks to gain his life, will lose it, but whoever loses his life, will preserve it” (Lk 17:33)

Very often our lives get too attached to material riches and attachments.

>> We fall prey to seeking great honour and fame in being a Christian…

… but are unable to grasp the fact that ‘to be a Christian is to be living a life of simplicity’.

>> We yield to temptations of being obsessed to seek power and positions of futile vanity…

… and fail time and again to live up to the Christian virtues of humility and modesty

>> We often become victims of engaging in dirty politics and authority-grabbing games…

… and become an anti-witness to the Lord who ‘came to serve, rather than be served’

We need to give heed to the words of the Lord who prayed that “we are in the world, but do not belong to this world” (Jn 17: 15)

A Christian life ought to be hallmarked by detachment and separation…

… detachment from too much of worldly distractions and vain glory

… separation from sinful ways and evil tendencies

It ought to be radiated with total focus and complete dedication…

… total focus on the Lord who ‘walked the talk’ by giving up His life in service

… complete dedication to the Kingdom of God which calls for a humble way of life

The world today is being ‘gripped in sin’, “as it was in the days of Noah” (Lk 17:26)

>> We need to open our eyes to realize the warning given by the Lord and be ‘on the watch’… … after the example of the destruction of the sinful city of Sodom.

Perhaps our own life… or our family… or our community… our society…

… is resembling the city of Sodom

>> There is much drunkenness in worldly pleasures!

>> There is much ‘eating and consumption’ of corrupt practices!

>> There is much neglect of honest ways and of truthful conduct!

>> There is much enjoyment of bad, inhuman and cruel behaviours!

Let us deepen…

… our faith in the Lord

… our love for the Kingdom

… and our detachment from riches

We are reminded today that as Christians, we are people…

… who live in the world, yet are called to be out of the world.

… who live amidst possibilities of wealth, yet are called to be detached from them.

… who live with the prospect of gaining immense power, yet are exhorted to not be attached

We may be often tempted “to conquer the world and the city”…

… but let’s get our priorities right, and in humility, seek to first protect “the suitcases of our souls!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “May the favorable wind of celestial inspirations ever fill your vessel’s sails fuller and fuller…

… and make you happily arrive at the port of Holy Eternity!”

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Nov 14 (Lk 17:20-25)

In the 1990s, there came an advertisement in promotion of the fizzy drink: Coca-cola… especially during the thick of some cricketing action.

>> The promotion lines went thus: Eat cricket, sleep cricket, drink only Coca-cola.

The ad was to infuse a greater mood of the game and to promote the use and consumption of the cola drink.

The Gospels, with Jesus as the greatest promoter, would have a promotion line, with a similar phrasing: Eat Kingdom, Sleep Kingdom, Drink Kingdom, Work Kingdom, Live Kingdom!

Are we ready to collaborate with Jesus, to infuse a greater spirit of the Kingdom in the world and to promote the reach and spread of the Kingdom of God?

The Gospel of the Day is a teaching on the Kingdom of God.

The Pharisees ask “when” the kingdom will come (Lk 17:20)…

>> Jesus however explains “how” the Kingdom will come (17:22-35)

Jesus does not give an answer to the question of the Pharisees.

>> Rather, He makes them to realize what should be the proper question.

It’s the style and technique of the Lord to get right the priorities and focus in life!

The people searched for Jesus after the miracle of the multiplication of loaves…

> Jesus sets right their intentions by speaking of the need to hunger for the bread of life (Jn 6)

The disciples of John came to clarify whether Jesus was indeed the Messiah to come…

> Jesus sets right their focus by turning their attention to all His signs and deeds (Lk 7:19ff)

The two disciples, James and John, sought for privileged places in Jesus’ future reign…

> Jesus sets right their priorities by exhorting them to grow rather in humility and service (Mk 10: 35-45)

Nicodemus, in his encounter with Jesus, remained on peripheral questions and doubts…

> Jesus sets right his doubts by calling his attention on living a life in the Spirit and being born anew spiritually (Jn 3: 1-21)

The Lord loves to challenge our doubts, theories & even convictions…

… in order to be in harmony with the priorities of the Kingdom.

>> Am I willing to allow the Lord to work in me to change some of my thinking patterns, that would be in accord to His Will?

>> Am I flexible to let the Lord to mould and shape my lifestyle and thus be in tune with the focus of His Kingdom?

The “Kingdom of God” is an oft-repeated phrase in the New Testament and especially in the Gospels.

What is the Kingdom of God?

A kingdom normally brings to picture a geographical territory, with its clear-cut boundaries and its rulers and citizens.

The Kingdom of God, is however, quite different!

>> The Kingdom of God is not a geographical dominion like worldly kingdoms!

The Kingdom of God is a spiritual reality where God’s Will is done.

It is a person…

>> It is He – Jesus… GOD HIMSELF!

“Jesus leads people to realize the overwhelming fact that in Him, God is present among them and that He is God’s presence… (from the book, “Jesus of Nazareth – Part I” by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI)

The Pharisees who asked Jesus on “when” the Kingdom would come, were probably expecting an external sort of a Kingdom.

>> They probably expected a Kingdom which would overturn and overthrow the Roman Government.

>> They probably expected a Kingdom where perfect peace and harmony would reign all over the world.

But Jesus clarifies the nature of this Kingdom…

He speaks of a Kingdom which is much more internal & spiritual, and whose impact would be felt and experienced in the external world.

One experiences the Kingdom of Heaven first in one’s inner life…

… and this is manifested in one’s external lifestyles…

The Samaritan Woman experienced the power of the Kingdom of God within herself, when she spoke to Jesus, the fountain of life…

>> And this experience of the Kingdom led her to proclaim the name of Jesus to all her villagers & bring many to the saving fold of the Lord.

The Disciples experienced the power of the Kingdom of God within them, when the Holy Spirit descended on them…

>> And this experience of the Kingdom was manifested in their bold and powerful witnessing life!

St Paul experienced the force of the Kingdom of God within him, when he encountered the Risen Lord on the way to Damascus…

>> And this experience of the Kingdom was displayed by him through his passionate life of preaching and missionary works.

In the Prayer, the Our Father, we pray:

“Thy Kingdom Come,

Thy Will be Done…”

>> The Kingdom of God is, where the Will of God is fulfilled.

>> The Kingdom of God reigns, where the Will of God is in control.

The whole ministry of Jesus was centered around this “Kingdom of God” concept.

>> He began His ministry preaching that the Kingdom of God is near.

>> He spoke parables and spoke many teachings of the presence of the Kingdom of God.

>> He performed great signs and wonders to tell that the Kingdom of God is in our midst.

The question arises before us:

Is the Kingdom of God here?

>> Or is the Kingdom yet to come?

This is where we speak of the concept of “Already and not yet”

The Kingdom of God is already here, but not yet!

>> The Kingdom of God already reigns now, but not yet, in its fullness!

As St Paul says in 1 Cor 13: 12, “At present, we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present, I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known”.

Do I experience the Kingdom of God in my life?

The Kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17)

>> I need to experience the joy and the peace of the Lord in my life…

>> I need to place the priorities of God over all else in my life…

>> I need to radiate the precious love of the Lord to all in my life…

That’s the Kingdom of God.

>> That’s the Reign of God.

We are invited today “to radiate heaven on our faces”!

Yes, let us Eat Kingdom, Sleep Kingdom, Drink Kingdom, Work Kingdom, Live Kingdom!

>> May we become a “Kingdom People!

Today, 14th of November, India celebrates Children’s Day

As we pray for children all over the world, on this day…

… let us also seek to “remain childlike” – especially with virtues of deeper trust and dependence…

>> And thus, live joyfully as Children of God’s Kingdom!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “God desires from us more fidelity to the little things that he places in our power than ardor for great things that do not depend upon us.”

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Nov 13 (Lk 17:11-19)

Shopping malls and Super markets have gained a lot of popularity over the last few years.

One of the attractions in most of these places is the decorative tag-board displaying the word: “FREE”!

>> Buy one shirt, get one FREE…

>> Pick up two items of your choice, and get a gift hamper FREE…

>> Choose any one item in the following, and receive a kitchen set absolutely FREE…

People flock where there are FREE things to be offered.

Sometimes, even in our religion and our spirituality, we look for such FREE offers!

Though, there’s nothing wrong in this concept of FREE offers…

… in the spiritual realm, such FREE gifts also places a demand on the receivers to have a spirit of gratefulness and gratitude.

Every FREE gift in the spiritual world, is a call to cultivate greater, the spirit of Thankfulness!

The Gospel of the Day is a reminder to  grow in this dimension of appreciating & acknowledging the great FREE gifts of God in our lives.

The story of the Healing of the Ten Lepers is a very familiar and popular incident.

In the Biblical days, leprosy, was one of the most dreaded diseases. Leprosy finds its mention in the Bible in over 40 places.

One of the reason why leprosy is talked about so much in the Bible is that it is a graphic illustration of sin?s destructive power.

>>  Incurable by man, many believed that God inflicted the curse of leprosy upon people for the sins they committed.

Leprosy became a disease that was so despised and loathed that those afflicted were not allowed to live in any community with their own people (Numbers 5:2).

A leper wasn’t allowed to come within six feet of any other human, including his own family.

>> The disease was considered so revolting that the leper wasn’t permitted to come within 150 feet of anyone when the wind was blowing.

Lepers lived in a community with other lepers until they either got better or died.

This was the only way the people knew to contain the spread of the contagious forms of this dreaded sickness.

When the Lord travelled through the region of Samaria and Galilee, He encountered the group of ten lepers.

In loud exaltation, they cried, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” (Lk 17:13)

The chorus reached the ears of the Divine Choir-Master, Jesus!

>> Their pleading voice, echoed in the ears of the Divine Healer!

“Go, show yourselves to the Priest” (Lk 17: 14) were the words of the Divine Lord.

Lev 14:1-9 states that the priest must authenticate any cure from leprosy.

>> This was to allow the afflicted person to re-enter the society.

But as the lepers are on their way to show to the priest, they are cured!

>> Miracles occur, when one chooses to put one’s trust in God!

>> Wonders happen, when one obeys the words of the Lord, in faith and hope!

But one of them realizes that He had been healed.

And so he returned and glorified God in a loud voice and fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked Him (Lk 17: 15)

Here is a big lesson for us all…

> All the ten lepers sought for a FREE blessing from the Lord.

> All the ten lepers expected a FREE miracle from the Healer.

>> Jesus, in His graciousness, did bless all of them with a FREE miracle.

>> Jesus, in His compassion, did shower all of them with a FREE blessing.

But just one among them, acknowledged the worth and value of that FREE gift

>> The rest of the nine, probably completely forgot the source of that FREE blessing.

Every FREE gift in the spiritual world, is a call to cultivate greater, the spirit of Thankfulness!

But perhaps, this is a reality that we very often forget in our lives.

We take for granted the many many FREE gifts and blessings that are showered upon us.

Like the FREE offers, available at shopping malls and super markets, we gladly receive God’s blessings…

… but unfortunately, often, fail to acknowledge them and be grateful for it.

The one who returned back to thank the Lord, received not just physical healing, but also was doubly blessed with the gift of being saved!

The Lord showers His FREE gifts on us…

>> Do I return back to thank God for His marvelous blessings?

>> Do I reduce my life to being a clatter of complaints or do I adorn my life with a litany of praises and thanksgiving?

>> Do I take all my blessings for granted and merely groan about my duties?

We love to flock where there are FREE things.

>> We also love to receive the FREE blessings from God.

But, in this process, let’s not fail to also acknowledge and thank Him for His FREE offers.

Ten people were healed that day, but only one came back to give thanks.

> The one who returned to give thanks chose not to forget what Jesus had done for him.

Are we living as this grateful one or as the other nine?

Praise is a choice.

> A thankful heart is a choice.

None is forced.

>> None is compelled.

The secret of a thankful heart is a conscious choice not to forget what God has done for us.

Shall we also possess this Secret?

(Psst…once again…this too is a FREE offer…. )

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Learn to see God in the details of your life…

… for He is everywhere!”

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Nov 12 (Lk 17:7-10)

The Pope is the Head of the Universal Church.

He is recognized by many titles… Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles,  Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church etc.

Another prominent title among these is: the Servant of the servants of God.

Servanthood is an important dimension in being a follower of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel of the Day is an invitation and reminder to this great aspect of our Christian Lives: Being a Servant.

The Lord narrates the Parable of the Unprofitable Servant.

In this parable, Jesus tells about a servant who works all day long out in the field, or out taking care of the flock.

>> And after he works all day long, he comes into the house…

Is he expected to sit down and rest and eat his own meal?

No!

Rather, he is required to serve his master by providing him the meal first.

>> And after doing all that work – all day long – there’s no word of thanks, no gratitude.

Jesus closes out this parable by saying that the servant was unprofitable because he only did what he was told to do.

Is it something practical?

>> Is it something easy?

Our modern-day psychology would speak of the concept of a “positive stroke” that is to be given to those working or those who undertake some labour.

>> It’s important that the employers in a company are given a “positive stroke” by appreciating their good works…

>> It’s important that the servants in a house are given a “positive stroke” by encouraging with good words and a cheerful countenance…

>> It’s important that the workers in a firm or factory are given a “positive stroke” by acknowledging their worth and constantly boosting their confidence level…

But the Gospel of the Day seems to be demanding much more from a Servant…

>> A servant who works whole day long ploughing in the field or tending the sheep…

>> A servant who delays his needs and instead prepares and serves meals for his master…

>> A servant, who after all his works, doesn’t expect words of gratitude…

The Parable is surely a tough one!

But, the One who preached this Parable is not a mere preacher, but is a practitioner!

Jesus, the one who preached this Parable, practised perfectly, this life of being a servant.

He is the Servant, who works in the field ploughing…

… sowing the seed of the Word of God, ploughing the Gospel in the hearts of people and toiling in the hot sun of oppositions and mockery

He is the Servant, who tends the sheep in the field…

… providing pasture for His people, protecting them from the wolves of the evil and going after any of the sheep which are lost in the wilderness

He is the Servant, who prepares a meal and serves at table…

… nourishing those at table with His own body, strengthening them with His own blood and constantly reinforcing in the journey of life

How are we to be such a Servant of the Lord?

1. Having a mind of being a Servant of God:

The world of a servant centers not around himself, but around the Master.

>> Whatever pleases the Master, the servant does.

If we truly acknowledge God as our Master, then we too…

…will do the works which please Him

…will think and seek to do His Will

…will speak the words which are worthy of His grace

2. Being Faithful in this task of being His servant

The world of a servant centers around total availability and openness to the needs of the Master.

If we truly accept God as our Master, then we too…

…will give ourselves to Him totally at all times

…will place His priorities over ours

…will avoid anything that blocks my complete service of Him

The Call is to be a Servant…who is dedicated and selfless.

>> Jesus is our model and example in being a Servant.

It’s a demand placed on us.

Servanthood is an important dimension in being a follower of Jesus Christ.

>> Let us seek for this grace of growing in the Service of the Lord.

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “To be a good servant of God means…

… having patience with yourself in your daily failings

… and peacefully tolerating your neighbour with all his or her imperfections!”

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Nov 11 (Lk 17:1-6)

There is a famous incident associated with Thomas Alva Edison, the renowned scientist.

Edison and his team had undertaken the tedious task of inventing the “light bulb”.

>> It took the team 24 hours to put one bulb together.

When it was ready, Edison gave the bulb to a young helper boy, to carry up to the steps.

>> Nervously, this young boy climbed the stairs…

… step by step, with extreme caution and fright – lest the priceless piece of work be dropped!

But the extremely anxious steps of the boy, caused the “unwanted” to happen…

… the bulb fell out of his hands..smashed to pieces!

Naturally, there was great disappointment and even annoyance at the boy.

The entire team worked for another 24 hours to make another bulb.

Finally it was ready… to be taken up the stairs..

Well, no points for guessing, to whom Edison gave this second bulb!

>> Yes, to the same boy, who had dropped and broken it the first time.

That’s true forgiveness, isn’t it?

The Gospel of the Day deals with the aspect of  Forgiveness (Lk 17: 3-4)…

… which is the key for a harmonious living together.

Jesus says: “If your brother wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you, seven times saying, ‘I am sorry’, you should forgive him” (Lk 17: 4)

The example given by the Lord is an experience, which many of us, perhaps, have had in our personal lives….

A person does a wrong to me and I forgive him.

>> The same person hurts me once again and I forgive him

He does it again, causing a deeper wound to me and I forgive him again.

>> He does it again and offends me harder and I forgive him again….but this time I am losing my patience!

Don’t I have a limit for myself to bear?

>> Should I go on bearing hurts?

>> Don’t I have feelings which are sensitive?

So we perhaps ask this question to the Lord:

“Lord, how many times must I forgive the offenses of my brother?”

We are eager to know when to quit turning the other cheek to the one who hits you on one cheek!

The Old Testament Law suggested to forgive three times (Amos 1:3-13).

But the Lord..who loves to keep challenging… throws out a bigger number.

Now is this demand of the Lord something really practical and viable?

>> Or is Jesus turning out to be “one of those many idealistic teachers who love to talk in the air….but nothing which is practical or really feasible and doable!”

The Lord invites us to look into the Aspect of God’s Forgiveness, to obtain a solution and an insight to this perennial question of “how often should I forgive my fellow brother?”…

… If God were to forgive us only a limited number of times, how many days would we have survived?

… If God were to withdraw His Grace after an “x” number of times, how many situations would we have endured?

… If God were to stop granting us pardon after a period of time, how many blessings would we have been denied?

… If God were to keep an account of all our sins and transgressions, how many of us would have been alive today?

Of course, Forgiveness does not mean…

… justifying the bad behaviours of people!

… supporting the evil deeds of our fellow beings!

… encouraging the faults or situations of wrongdoing or hurts!

… not correcting and reproving the misdeeds and carrying out our duties of rectifying!

But Forgiveness does mean…

… liberating the people from guilt and condemnation in our hearts!

… to have no ill feelings and grudging emotions against the ones who have hurt us!

… seeking to love them, praying for them and avoiding occasions of putting them down!

… to refuse to harbor their mistakes deep in our hearts, though we are wounded & hurt!

Life is an opportunity and a challenge….

An Opportunity to become more Divine…to become more forgiving…to become more Loving…!

>> A Challenge to let go of our ego…to cast away our hurtful and wounded feelings…to go beyond our aches!

Let us seek God’s Grace to Live Up to this Challenge and to Grab this opportunity!

The “light bulb” of God’s Grace has often been entrusted to us by the Lord

>> Many are the times when, have “dropped it” and broken it into pieces!

.. Yet, the Lord entrusts it, again and again – forgiving us, and trusting in us.

>> Are we ready to do the same with others?

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Open your heart to your confessor; display to him all the recesses of your soul; take the advice that he will give you with the utmost humility and simplicity.

For God, Who has an infinite love for obedience, frequently renders profitable the counsels we take from others, but especially from those who are the guides of our souls!”

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Nov 10 (Lk 20:27-38)

Question: Who could be the called as the most ‘blessed’ people in the world?

Answer: Christians

The Reason: In Christ we have the possibility to receive great blessings, to have heavenly experiences on earth by living a faith-filled life and to enjoy the most intimate moments with God in the Most Holy Eucharist.

The Biblical Support: John 10:10, “I have come to give life, and life in abundance”

John 6:51, “I am the Living Bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever”

Question: Who could be the called as the most ‘pitied’ people in the world?

Answer: Christians

The Reason: A Christian who fails to believe & be convinced of a life in Christ after this earthly life & lives only for this world.

The Biblical Support: 1 Cor 15:19, “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all”

Am I a Christian who can be called Blessed, because of my faith in Christ which is directed towards Eternal Life ?

>> Or am I a Christian who is to be Pitied, because of my belief in Christ which is only to satisfy my desires of this world?

The Gospel of the Day invites us to dwell on these aspects with the incident of the Question on the Resurrection.

This question on the Resurrection was put forward by the Sadducees.

The Sadducees were the priestly aristocracy among the Jews.

>> They tried to live in close contact with the Roman rulers so that they might as far as possible promote the secular interests of their people.

Consequently they took little interest in religious matters and in many respects clashed with the Pharisees, especially as regards the Pharisees’ attachment to the ‘traditions of the elders’.

Anything which was not taught by ‘the law of Moses’ (the first five books of the Old Testament) was rejected by the Sadducees as forbidden innovations.

Unlike the Pharisees, the Sadducees did not believe in many aspects:

>> They didn’t believe…

… in angels.

… in heaven or hell.

… in life after death.

… in the immortality of the soul.

… in the resurrection of the dead.

Thus, the doubt on the Resurrection exposes the hypocrisy of the Sadducees.

>> They were asking Jesus about something they didn’t believe.

They sought to establish that belief in a resurrection from the dead was unscriptural and impractical by putting forward a highly hypothetical question.

But Jesus, the cleverest and smartest Master outwits their malicious plans.

Jesus establishes that eternal life would not be a mere extension of this presently life.

>> Rather, there would be a great transformation of all that is earthly.

The style and the method of this transformation is known only to God…

>> The manner and the mode of this transformation is known only to God…

But the Lord with logic & reason and a strong scriptural-support champions this Doctrine of the Resurrection from the Dead.

The passage ends with the statement, “And they no longer dared to ask him anything” (Lk 19:40)

The Sadducees who came to trap the Lord with their malicious doubts were put to silence.

>> Maybe a few of those Sadducees…

… would have second thoughts on it.

… got a bit confused between Jesus’ words and their own convictions

… felt angered at the convinced reply of Jesus & their unwillingness to let go of their position.

Maybe most of those Sadducees felt threatened by the confident reply of Jesus and their aversion to give up their opinions.

>> It’s a tragedy when one fails to convert oneself, even after knowing the truth.

>> It’s a pity when one fails to change oneself, even after becoming aware of the reality.

>> It’s a calamity when one fails to alter oneself, even after being conscious of the facts.

Are we a practical Sadducees in our lives?

>> Do I believe in the power of the Resurrection of the Dead? Do I believe that there is a life beyond our earthly existence?

It is not that enough to have a mere verbal belief.

>> This belief ought to be translated in our personal living.

We need to prepare ourselves for a glorious eternity by living a holy life.

>> We need to avoid any blocks and sins which can hamper my progress to eternal life.

The world is becoming more and more materialistic today.

The feeling that “after all we have only one life” and “let us enjoy to the maximum” is widespread.

Certainly, God has blessed us with this life…and we need to enjoy.

>> But enjoy it in the proper manner with a sense of responsibility and decorum.

Let us give up anything that reduces the value of enjoyment to mere sensual and bodily-pleasurable activities.

>> Instead, let us enjoy real freedom and happiness, by living a life of Grace and Love!

We are Christians…

>> Will my life be the most blessed?

… or Will my life be the most pitied?

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Form often this good thought, that we are walking in this world between Paradise and Hell…

… and that our last step will place us in an eternal dwelling.

We do not know which step will be our last.

>> And so, in order to make our last step well…

… we must try to make all the others well!”

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Feast of the Lateran Basilica – Jn 2:13-22)

An interesting story is told by a tourist who was visiting the Basilica of St John Lateran in Rome, Italy.

Just across the street of the Basilica, at a square, is a statue of St Francis of Assisi…

… with his arms outstretched.

This statue commemorates an important moment in Church history:

>> It was at this place – the Lateran Basilica – that the Great Saint went to ask the Pope for permission to start a religious order.

This was in the light of the Great Inspiration that he had received, when he heard the words of the Lord: “Rebuild my Church!”

The tourist says that recollecting this incident, as he stepped back, to have a better look at the statue…

… from a particular angle, he could see the Lateran Basilica between St. Francis’s outstretched arms

>> St Francis appeared to be holding the Church with his hands!

The tourist says:

“That’s a great image!

>> That’s a great lesson!

A church building is brick and mortar, wood and glass.

>> But – ultimately, it is supported by the arms and the labor of those who love it.

>> The Church is held up by the people who are in love with Christ!”

Yes, the Church is indeed “held up by the people who are in love with Christ!”

We, the children of the Church are today invited, to renew our love for the Lord and grow in our duty, “to hold up the Church”…

… on this Feast Day of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

The Gospel of the Day also vividly and dramatically displays the zeal and passion of the Lord, for the House of God through the incident of the Cleansing of the Jerusalem Temple.

Today, Holy Mother the Church celebrates the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

>> This Basilica is the oldest Christian church building in the world.

>> It is the first permanent, public place of worship for Christians in the world.

Christianity, in its infancy, suffered a great deal at the hands of her persecutors.

The Roman Empire sought to extend its domination over the entire world.

>> The power and might of the Roman Empire was determined to utterly destroy the Christian religion.

Christians, with a staunch belief in Jesus Christ, refused to worship the Roman pagan gods.

This led the Christians to be labelled as the enemies of the state and thus were sought to be eliminated.

>> Christians were arrested, imprisoned, tortured, and even cruelly executed!

This wave of violent persecution crashed against the Rock, the Church for three centuries!

It was only in 312, when the Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity that these persecutions ceased.

>> In gratitude to Christ, the new Emperor Constantine sponsored the construction of Christian churches, the first of which was the Church of the Most Holy Saviour, known today as the Basilica of St John Lateran…

… or simply called as the Lateran Basilica.

On this Feast day of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, the call of the Gospel is towards examining our relationship with God in the Church.

In the Old Testament, we read that the Lord had established a covenant with His people, Israel.

This covenant had its physical symbol in the Temple of Jerusalem.

>> The majestic and glorious Jerusalem Temple was an external symbol of God’s love-relationship with His people.

Jesus cleansing this Jerusalem Temple, was a strong message to the people, that He had come to revive and revamp the strained relationship between God and His people.

It was also symbolic of the need of the people to realize that the Jerusalem Temple which was to be destroyed in a few decades, was only a temporary symbol.

>> Jesus, Himself is the real and everlasting Temple…

… the permanent symbol of God’s eternal covenant with His people.

And so, He showcases an tremendous zeal and passion, in cleansing the Temple, of all the corruption and filth and fraud!

The Commemoration of this Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica and the Cleansing of the Jerusalem Temple is a call for each of us, to examine our own lives…

Is my relationship with God corrupted by many evil tendencies and pleasurable sins?

>> My heart needs a cleansing drive by the Lord…

Is my relationship with the other, who is also a Temple of the Holy Spirit, badly tainted with anger, jealousy, calumnious thoughts etc…

>> My relationships needs a cleansing drive by the Lord…

Is my relationship with the Church, strained by negative feelings of her dogmas and teachings, and stained by angry-feelings due to many scandals by her responsible authorities?

>> My mentality towards the Church needs a cleansing drive by the Lord…

This Feast is a call to revive our zeal and passion for the Lord, His Mission and His Church.

The Lord’s ways are sometimes very hard to follow and difficult to tread in this highly materialistic and sensational world.

>> But the Lord promises to be with us, in all our trials and hardships.

The Mission of the Lord to spread His Kingdom is a very challenging one and at times, they seem too very impossible and our efforts meaningless.

>> But the Lord assures His ever-abiding presence and love to those committed and faithful.

The Church of the Lord is very often found to wrench in corrupt practices, discouraging scandals, heart-crushing and shameful incidents.

>> But the Lord assures that His might Spirit will guide the Church through any storms and “He will surely write straight… with crooked lines!”

The invitation is strong…

>> To be filled with a deeper love and zeal for the Lord, His Mission and His Church!

Undoubtedly, the challenges are deep…

… the trials seem too discouraging.

>> Yet, with the Grace of God, let us seek to renew our love for the Lord…

… and grow in our duty, “to hold up the Church!”

Happy Feast Day!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Bloom where you are planted!”

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