Aug 24 (Feast of St Bartholomew – Jn 1:45-51)

An elderly person sat under a mango tree in his garden in the noonday heat.

As he sat, he looked at the pumpkin vines that were growing nearby, and said to himself:

“How foolish God is!

>> Here he puts a big heavy pumpkin on to a weak vine branch and so can’t do anything, but simply lie on the ground!

>> And then He hangs these small little mangoes on a huge tree which can actually hold very heavy objects!

If I were God, I think I could do better than that!”

Just then, a bit of breeze came up…

… and knocked a loose mango off the tree.

It fell right on the man’s head…

… causing a little bump on his head!

This made him sadder… but wiser, and he quipped:

“Oh! Suppose if that had been a pumpkin!

Gosh!!”

And he went on to say:

“Never again will I try to plan the world for God.

>> Instead I shall be thankful to Him, for He has done so well…

… He knows what’s best for me, every time!”

The knowledge and wisdom of God is indeed incomprehensible…

… In His Wisdom, He has created all things good

… By His Knowledge, He has fashioned all things for the best use

Are we ready to let go our life into the Hands of this Wise and Knowing God…

… the One who is aware of every moment of our life – our past, our present and our future?

Today we celebrate the Feast of St Bartholomew…

… who experienced this great Knowledge and Wisdom of the Lord in his encounter with Jesus

>>> And surrendered his life, to follow the Master, till the end – faithfully!

When we compare the Gospels, we notice something interesting…

1. Bartholomew is not mentioned in the Gospel of John – but Nathanael is!

>> Nathanael is not mentioned in the Synoptic Gospels (Mathew, Mark and Luke) – but Bartholomew is!

2. In the Gospel of John, Nathanael is mentioned in connection with Philip

>> In the Synoptic Gospels, Bartholomew is mentioned in connection with Philip

Thus, based on these aspects along with the ancient tradition of the Church, Bartholomew and Nathanael are identified as the same person.

The Gospel of the Day on this Feast Day is the call of Nathanael from the Gospel of St John.

The Gospel says that when Jesus saw Nathanael coming, He said of him:

“Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him” (Jn 1: 47)

On hearing this, Nathanael said to Jesus: “How do You know me?” (Jn 1: 48a)

This question – How do You know me?” – is indeed worth reflecting on.

>> From a peripheral look, we observe…

… This was probably the first time Jesus was meeting him, so Nathanael naturally was wondering how he was known.

… Nathanael also did not have a very high opinion regarding Nazareth, the place where Jesus came from and so would have wondered how a Person from there, knew him.

>> On a deeper level, we also observe…

… Nathanael was probably feeling within himself, “Does He really know who I am and what are the thoughts and desires of my heart?”

… He perhaps, was also wondering, “Would He also be knowing my past and perhaps even have an idea about my future?”

“How do You know me?” – the question by Nathanael to Jesus is a query asked by us too…

… perhaps in various forms..

1. “How do you know my past?”

>> Do you really know, O Lord, my past…

… the struggling times that I have gone through?

… the bad childhood, perhaps, or the disturbing experiences as I grew up in life?

… the hurts and the wounds and the injuries that I still carry in my heart and causes me pain?

2. “How do you know my present?”

>> Do you really know, O Lord, my present…

… the manner in which I am not accepted by others?

… the ways in which success evades me, despite the hard efforts I put in?

… the daily grinds of life to which I often have no solution and thus totally discouraged?

3. “How do you know my future?”

>> Do you really know, O Lord, my future…

… the anxieties of my unclear future and the fear of which direction I need to go ahead?

… the feeling of “I am lost” while taking decisions and unsure if I am walking the right path?

… the tension I go through on what will happen to me and my loved ones in the days to come?

But the Lord, Who answered Nathanael…

… had the knowledge of his past… his present… and his future

>> The Present: “Here IS a true Israelite. There IS no duplicity in him” (Jn 1: 47)

>> The Past: “Before Philip called you, I SAW you under the fig tree” (Jn 1: 48b)

>> The Future: “Amen, Amen, I say to you, you WILL see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (Jn 1: 51)

Turning His gaze on each one of us…

… with tenderness and love, the Lord tells us:

” I know you, My Child!

I know your past…your present… and your future”

Psalm 139 very beautifully speaks of how…

… the Lord intimately knows us!

… the Lord is clearly aware of all our thoughts and movements!

… the Lord is very personally with us in every situation of our life!

This Lord, Who knows our everything – beyond the borders of time – invites us…

… to trust in Him more

… to be aware of His Providence guiding us always!

… to give ourselves entirely to Him in love and obedience!

Many times, we might feel things are not okay with us…

… we might even complain against God and have an attitude: ” If I were God, I think I could do better than that!”

But those could be moments, when we are given a gentle reminder by the Lord…

… through perhaps, some difficulties or troubles in life…

>> Which ought to make us realize:

“Never again will I try to plan the world for God.

Instead I shall be thankful to Him, for He has done so well…

… He knows what’s best for me, every time!”

May St Bartholomew (St Nathanael) intercede and inspire us:

>> To let go our life into the Hands of this Wise and Knowing God…

… the One who is aware of every moment of our life – our past, our present and our future!

Happy Feast Day to you!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “A person who is in God’s Hands ought never to disquiet himself about his reputation.

>> Let God do what He will with our life and our character and our honour, since it is all His own.

If our humiliation serves for His glory, ought we not to glory in being despised!”

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Aug 23 (Mt 22:34-40)

There once was a farmer who grew award-winning ‘corn’ (maize).

>> Each year he entered his corn in the fair-competition conducted at the state-level, where it won a prize.

One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him.

Among the many great practices that this farmer had adopted, the reporter also learned something highly interesting about how this farmer grew corn…

…and which made him to win a prize every year.

The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn… his best variety seed…

… with his neighbouring farmers!

“How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbours…

… when they are also entering into competition with you?” enquired the bewildered reporter.

“Why sir,” replied back the farmer, “didn’t you know one of the important realities of life?

The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field.

>> If my neighbours grow inferior variety of corn, the cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn as well.

If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn.

This is the reality of life that I have realized: In order to get the best out of life, I need to give my best to the other!”

Yes, the farmer was very much aware of the relatedness of life.

>> His corn could not improve unless his neighbor’s corn also improved.

Have we realized this reality of our lives?

>> In order to get the best out of life, I need to give my best to the other!”

Those who choose to live well, must help others to live well too.

The value of a life is measured by the lives it touches.

>> And those who choose to be happy must help others to find happiness…

… for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all!

The lesson for each of us is this: if we are to grow good corn, we must help our neighbours grow good corn.

Let us all Love those that cross our paths.

Yes, Love is the starting point, the end and the essence of a Christian Life.

The Gospel of the Day emphasizes and affirms this aspect of Love: Love of God and Love of neighbour.

The Pharisees come together to trap Jesus with a question from the Law: “Teacher, which is the most important commandment of the Law?” (Mt 22: 36).

The Lord of Love is sought to be trapped in a web of malice!

>> This was a complicated question that was put forward to Jesus.

The Jewish Law of the Torah comprised 613 precepts.

>> It was certainly a challenge to condense these codes into a single commandment.

Probably Jesus would’ve looked into the eyes of the one who asked this question and thought, “Why do you seek to put me to the test?”

There was malice and a corrupt intention in the one who questioned.

>> But the greatness of the Lord overwhelms the evil designs of humans.

Jesus answers the question which had an evil bent, with an answer filled with goodness…

… “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind….

>> Love your neighbour as yourself”! (Mt 22: 37)

Bingo..!

>> Two birds with one shot!

He not just answered His interrogators but He also proclaimed the summary of the Gospel.

>> He not just silenced His critics but He also won many followers for the Good News.

The Pharisee came asking which is “the” greatest commandment (Mt 22: 36)

He expected just one commandment.

>> But Jesus answers with two…and showed that those two commandments are nothing but one!

The Love of God and the Love of neighbour…

>> They were two dimensions of the same Love.

And this One Love, with two facets, formed the basis of all the other commandments of the Law!

The tragedy of our world and our spirituality very often, is the separation of these two dimensions…

One loves God….but fails to love one’s neighbour!

>> Another loves the neighbour…but fails to love God!

One loves to read and hear and understand God’s Word…but fails to apply it in real life.

>> Another loves to have a lot of social relations…but fails to build a strong spiritual basis.

One loves to preach deeply over virtues of the Gospel…but fails to live them in actuality.

>> Another loves to be in friendship with all…but fails in closeness with God, the source of Love.

One loves the Church and her teachings…but falls short to serve the society and its peoples.

>> Another serves people…but vehemently hates the Church, the ark of the Sacraments of Love!

Christian love is not just about emotions.

>> Christian love is not just about feelings.

Christian love, is…

… making a decision to serve, even if one does not feel so.

… being faithful, even if one is rejected or even shown indifference.

… being committed, even if one feels an aversion towards the other.

Easier said, than done….right?

This is where, we need to…

… depend on God, the Source of Love itself!

… draw strength from the Sacraments that the Church offers!

… display a Passionate love of God in order to share it with others!

Unless we are in Communion with the Lord, all this reflection remains merely a theory.

>> Unless we are joined to God, the Source of Love, all our meditations remain superficial.

We need to pray as the Psalmist says: “I love you, Lord, my strength” (Ps 18: 2).

He is the strength for us to love our neighbour.

>> He is the source for us to share our lives with our neighbour.

>> He is the supplier of hope for us to sustain in our difficulties to love.

As the famous signboard reads…

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centred….

>> LOVE THEM ANYWAY

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives…

>> DO GOOD ANYWAY

The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow…

>> DO HELP ANYWAY

What you spent years building, may be destroyed overnight…

>> BUILD ANYWAY

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth…

>> GIVE THE WORLD THE BEST YOU’VE GOT ANYWAY

The world is thirsting for Love…

>> Each one of us is called to radiate this Love: Love of God and Love of Neighbour.

Yes, let us deepen our realization: In order to get the best out of life, I need to give my best to the other!”

>> Let us become an Apostle and Agent and Ambassador of Love!

Let us seek the intercession of St Rose of Lima, whose feast we celebrate today.

>> She is the patroness of gardeners, florists and all the people who are ridiculed/misunderstood for their piety!

May her words inspire us: “Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “To love our neighbour in charity is to love God in man…

… and man in God!

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Aug 22 (Feast of Queenship of Mother Mary)

Last week, we had sung a beautiful Anthem…

… praising God for His Wonderful Providence, as we thanked the Lord, for sharing “His Glory with Mother Mary”

>> It was the chorus we sang in unison and love – The Holy Trinity, the Holy Angels and all people of faith on the earth –

… Just seven days back.. on the Feast of the Assumption of our Blessed Mother Mary!

Today we are back to chanting the same chorus and the same refrain with a deeper enthusiasm and stronger gusto…

… as we celebrate with heaven, the Coronation of our Blessed Mamma as the Queen of Heaven and Earth!

This Feast of the Queenship of Mary was instituted by Pope Pius XII at the conclusion of the Marian Year in 1954.

>> It was not a new doctrine or a new teaching.

>> It was not a new policy or a new understanding!

The declaration was merely an affirmation of the age old faith that has been celebrated down through the ages!

>> St. Ephrem referred to Mother Mary as the “Majestic and Heavenly Maid, Lady, Queen.”

>> St. Gregory Nazianzen called her, “the Mother of the King of the Universe.”

On this Feast Day of the Queenship of Mary… we are presented with the Reading on the Annunciation.

Let us travel with Mary, our Mamma and Queen…

… through this Life Transforming Event of Her life.

>> This incident highlights the journey of Grace and Mercy that God worked, to raise Her to a Glorious State!

1. The Simple Mary

She was the simple and unnoticed girl of the unpopular town of Nazareth. She was an ordinary person betrothed to a man named Joseph.

>> She had her dreams…

>> She had her wishes for a family life…

>> She had her desires for a peaceful life!

But…

>> God had bigger dreams for Her…

… a dream which would make Her the Blessed among all

>> God had higher wishes for Her…

… a wish which would make the Nazareth Family a model for all

>> God had bigger desires for Her…

… a desire which would fill her with Peace amidst every pain

2. The Troubled Mary

She was deeply troubled when she encountered Angel Gabriel.

>> The greeting of the Divine Being made Her simple heart to be filled with feelings of concern and disturbance.

She had her concerns…

>> She had her share of uneasy feelings…

>> She had her moments of worry!

But…

>>  God had greater cares for Her…

… a care which would make her a Mother to all those who have concerns…

>> God had finer feelings for Her…

… a feeling which would help her to Feel for those who go through life’s pains…

>> God had greater comforts for Her…

… a comfort which will lead Her to be a Comforter to the Uncomforted…

3. The confused Mary

It was a moment of great confusion and perhaps even total puzzlement as to how could the words of Angel Gabriel be believed.

>> There was great uncertainty as to how could a conception of this sort take place and what made Heaven to grant Her this choice of being the Mother of the Son of God!

She had Her confusions.

>> She had Her perplexity.

>> She had Her moments of Inner Turmoil.

But…

>> God had a deeper solution to Her confusions…

… He assured Her of the Presence of His Mighty Spirit…

>> God had an enhanced way out of Her perplexity…

… He calmed Her by opening Her eyes to His great works…

>> God had a deeper answer to Her turmoil…

… He relieved Her by reminding Her that all things are possible for Him

4. The willing Mary

The Fiat Moment – the time when Mary said the Big Yes to God’s Plan of Salvation!

>> It was a sacred time when Mary consented and became willing to allow God’s Script to work in Her unadorned Life!

She had Her mysterious moment.

>> She had Her ‘what-next’ moment.

>> She had her moments of indefiniteness!

But…

>> God had His superior light beyond all mysteries…

… She was to be the Woman of the Mystery of God’s Salvation

>> God had His clear plan beyond all doubts…

… She was to be the Perfect Executor of Heaven’s Plans for humanity

>> God had his superior design across all indefiniteness…

…She was to be the Refuge of all in Uncertainty

Today,  Is My Life…

… just too simple and ordinary?

… just too troubled?

… just too confused?

… just too complex to be Willing to God?

>> Then Mother Mary is a model to us… a perfect example… a shining witness…a great challenge to us!

In all our ordinariness, troubles, confusions and unwillingness to God’s Will…

… let us trust and have faith in God… just like Mother Mary

>> And seek to always say to God, ” Fiat – Yes, Be it done to me according to Your Will!”

Let us raise an Anthem of Thanksgiving, Love and Affection to our Beloved Mamma – the Queen of the Heavens and the Earth…

… and with deep joy and trust, pray that we too may always seek His Will, and one day, come to share in His Glory, like our Blessed Mother!

Happy Feast of the Beloved Queen Mamma united with Her son, King Jesus…

… to all Her little princes!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “… And just as there was never such an abundance of perfumes seen in the city of Jerusalem as the Queen of Sheba carried with her when she went to visit the great King Solomon…

… who in exchange made her presents according to his greatness and royal magnificence [1 Kings 10:1-2, 10]…

>> Likewise, I say, never were there seen so many merits and so much love carried to Heaven by any pure creature…

… as the most holy Virgin brought there at her glorious Assumption.

In reward for this, the Eternal and Great King, the Almighty God, gave Her a degree of glory worthy of Her greatness…

… and also power to distribute to Her clients, graces worthy of Her liberality and magnificence, Amen!”

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Aug 21 (Mt 20:1-16)

Grrrrr…….

Does that expression sound familiar?!!

>> Children create facial expressions and imitate some wild animals…

… and make that noise….grrrrr…!

>> Our tummies growl when we are starving and when we are hungry…

… and makes that noise…grrrrr…!

But in our day to day experience, has Grrrrr…. also become part of our frequent vocabulary?

>> Do we grrrrr…

… when we get irritated seeing our plans not fulfilled the way we expect?

>> Do we grrrrr…

… when we get upset observing other people thriving in life at our own expense?

>> Do we grrrrr…

… when we get mad in not receiving and acquiring benefits as per the big efforts we put into?

>> Do we grrrr…

… when we get disturbed in being unable to accept some surprising aspects of life, which hurt us?

Grrrr…refers to the aspect of Grumbling…

… of being Irritated…of being Complaining!

Am I a person tending towards Frequent Grumbling?

>> Am I person leaning towards Easy Irritation?

>> Am I person who easily gets grumpy with events in life and fail to view life from a Higher Perspective?

The Gospel of the Day presents to us the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (Mt 20:1-16)

And we come across a group of people…

… who are in a grumbling mode!

The word “grumble” can be described as…

… “to make complaining remarks or noises under one’s breath”

… or “to murmur or mutter in discontent”

… or “to show one’s unhappiness or critical attitude”.

The Bible is very familiar with persons who have been logged into a grumbling mode…

>> Adam…

… when he blamed Eve for disobedience, in eating the forbidden fruit! (Gen 3:12)

>> Israelites…

… when they accused Moses, in making them to starve in the desert (Num 14:2)

>> Job’s wife…

… when she enticed Job, to curse God for his misfortunes and calamities (Job 2:9)

>> Elijah…

… when he felt hurt in being persecuted despite his deep zeal for the Lord (1Kg 19:10)

>> Disciples…

… when Jesus invited them to provide food for the massive hungry crowd (Mk 6:37)

In the Parable of the Workers…the workers who came first, got into being grrrr…the ‘grumbling mode’…

… in dissatisfaction! (Mt 20: 11)

The Parable proceeds progressively…

… with a landowner who seeks to hire labourers… (Mt 20: 1) and finds different groups of working people at different hours of the day… (Mt 20: 2-7)

To the first group, he struck a deal…

… they agreed for a denarius – the daily wage – which is fair enough! (Mt 20: 2)

>> Their dealings with the Master was on a Contract-level!

To the Second, Third and Fourth Group…

… he promised to pay what was just – they agreed for a reasonable wage – which is fair enough! (Mt 20: 3-5)

>> Their dealings with the Master was on a Justice-level!

To the fifth group, he spoke of no payment…

… they probably agreed for a fair-wage – which is fair enough! (Mt 20: 6)

>> Their dealings with the Master was on a Faith-level!

But when it is payment time, there are surprises galore…

The ones who came last, got paid a denarius – the whole day’s wage!

>> Amazing pay for just an hour’s work!

He perhaps, pays the last group first, in order to reveal the hidden motives of those hired earlier in the day!

Those who came in the 1st hour, probably, got their calculators to work…

>> 1 hr work = 1 denarius; 12 hrs work = 12 denarii!!

But then comes the “GRRRR moment”…

… a moment of grumbling & complaint

>> And they felt rightly so to do it!

The ones who worked the most also are paid the same – just 1 denarius!

The crux of the matter was simple: “You have made them equal to us!” (Mt 20:12)

But the Lord raises our heart to see the root cause behind this grumbling and complaint:

>> We often overestimate our own importance…

… and we often underestimate the Grace of God!

>> We seek for the best in our lives…

… but fail to digest the Providence of God’s Goodness in other’s lives!

>> We expect great things for ourselves…

… but fail to understand the Benevolence of God’s Mercy for others!

We want the choicest things for us…

… but fail to accept the Intervention of God’s Power in the life of the other!

How do we go beyond this Grumbling Mode?

Let us take to heart three aspects which can help us to overcome the Grumbling Mode:

1. Thanking God for His Immense Blessings:

>> Let’s open our eyes to see them…and thank the Lord in Gratitude!

2. Avoid judging God’s working in others:

>> Let’s open our minds to accept..and praise God in Goodness!

3. Seeking for faithfulness than success:

>> Let’s open our hearts to be faithful….and love God in Graciousness!

God’s ways of looking at us is different…

>> He looks at us being faithful and committed….not productive!

Yes….God is so just…that no one will be underpaid!

>> God is so generous…that everyone will be surprised!

Let us switch our mode: From a “Grrrr” mode to a “Hmmm” mode…

>> From a Grumbling Mode to an Appreciative mode!

>> From a Irritable Attitude to a Grateful Attitude!

>> From a Prickly Approach to an Admiring Approach!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “It is not those who commit the least faults who are the most holy, but those who have…

… the greatest courage, the greatest generosity, the greatest love…

… who make the boldest efforts to overcome themselves, and are not immediately apprehensive about tripping.

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Aug 20 (Mt 19:23-30)

A distinguished man was lying on his death-bed.

As he lay, some of his precious ornaments, priceless stones and his fine collection of exquisite watches were brought to him.

Turning a cold glance on the treasure, which he would once have clutched with an eager grasp…

… he said with a sigh:

“Alas! this is a very fine thing in this country…

… but I am going to a country where it will be of no use to me!”

The man, at his death-bed realized the worthlessness of clinging on to riches and wealth!

If only, he had realized it, when he had years to live…

… life would have been much peaceful and contented

… life would have been better utilized to prepare for eternal life

Well…

… all of us, do have time to realize – the worthlessness of clinging on to riches and wealthy..

Do we seek to make Christ as the greatest possession and treasure of our lives?

>> Do we mend our lives accordingly, and live in pursuit of heaven?

Jesus, in the Gospel of the Day gives a triple perspective on the aspect of riches (Mt 19:23-30).

1. The difficulties that attachments to riches pose, in entering the Kingdom of God

2. The power of God that alone can assist and help one to attain eternity

3. The promise of reward to those who live a life of detachment

1. The difficulties that attachments to riches pose in entering the Kingdom of God

Jesus says, “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven” (Mt 19: 23)

The reason why riches are given such a strong reprimand by the Lord is because:

>> Attachment to riches can easily take away one’s heart from the Lord…

… The Lord, Who stripped Himself of all glory and became poor is often given less priority!

>> Being obsessed with riches leaves us with little time and thought for things of eternity

… Our plannings, aspirations and projects often end up being only earthly in nature!

>> Having too many riches can pose a danger to feel proud and independent

… A sense of “I can manage all by myself” creeps in; in the process, keeping aside God from our lives!

Venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen says:

“It is ever true that the richer the soul is on the inside, the less need it has of luxuries on the outside;

Excessive adornments and an inordinate love of comforts are proof of our inner nakedness!”

2. The power of God that alone can assist and help one to attain eternity

On hearing of the difficulty of the rich to enter the Kingdom of God, the disciples asked Jesus, “Who then can be saved?” (Mt 19:25)

>> Jesus replied, “For human beings, this is impossible; but for God all things are possible” (Mt 19: 26)

The demands of Christianity to live a life of detachment from riches, can sometimes cause undue anxieties.

>> And we begin to ask…

… Is it really possible for us to live as Jesus expected of us?

… Is it not beyond my capabilities to achieve what the Lord wishes of us?

Such kind of anxieties and worries, can often cause weariness our soul!

St Francis de Sales says:

“Anxiety is the greatest evil that can befall a soul, except sin!

Have patience with all things, but first of all with yourself!”

The Lord tells us that even in our efforts to be detached…

… we need to depend on Him

… we need to know that His Grace will take us through

Therefore, to have detachment…

… we ought to come to the Lord in prayer, surrendering our lives

… we need to thank the Lord continually for all His blessings, acknowledging Him as the source

… we need to reach out to the Lord in the poor, the weak and the needy (Mt 25:40)

3. The promise of reward to those who live a life of detachment

Jesus says: “Everyone who has given up”…will receive a hundred times more and will inherit eternal life” (Mt 19:29)

A question of despair or hopelessness sometimes nags a Christian…

… What is the use of living an honest and virtuous life?

… Why is my life unrewarded, whereas many others thrive even by unjust means?

The Lord however, gives an answer…

… that none of such sacrifices will go unrewarded

He does promise His rewards – temporal as well as spiritual…

… but these are to be received in accordance to the Will of God.

Many times, the Will of God, is not taken into consideration…

… when we look for rewards in having made a sacrifice.

… when we seek for answers to our prayers

… when we expect fruits for our efforts

The Lord therefore invites and challenges us…

… to purify our motives when we make sacrifices

… to align our interests to God’s Will when we work for Him

That’s why Jesus would say: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…and all other things shall be added unto you” (Mt 6:33)

The words of Mother Angelica, the founder of EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) are a reminder to us:

“Have we lost sight of this world being a pilgrimage?

>> It’s a journey! You’re not home yet!

A Christian must never lose sight of this passing reality of life”

Yes, let us come to this realization about attachments to riches:

“Alas! this is a very fine thing in this country…

… but I am going to a country where it will be of no use to me!”

God bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “There is a wide difference between having poison and being poisoned.

All apothecaries have poisons ready for special uses, but they are not consequently poisoned…

…because the poison is only in their shop, not in themselves.

>> And so you many possess riches without being poisoned by them, so long as they are in your house or purse only, and not in your heart.

It is the Christian’s privilege to be rich in material things, and poor in attachment to them!”

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Aug 19 (Mt 19:16-22)

A river wanted to flow to the sea, through a vast desert.

>> But seeing the vast dry sand, it got afraid.

Fearful thoughts crept into its mind:

“The desert may gulp up all my water…

… the hot breath of the sun will surely dry me up…

… and I will be reduced to a mere stinking swamp!”

Then it heard a mysterious voice, “Trust the Desert”

But the river retorted, “But then, will I ever be the same?

>> Will I not lose my identity?”

The voice once again thundered, “There is no way to remain the same!”

So the river, with trust in the desert, began to flow through it.

>> The simmering heat of the sun turned her into vapour.

>> The wind carried her over, as clouds, over the hot expanse of the desert.

>> She was formed into rain!

And out of the clouds, came down a newer, fresher and much more splendid river, on the other side of the desert.

The river was delighted and exclaimed, “Now, I am truly my Real Self!”

Immense trust and making the radical decision to pass through the desert, helped the river to experience newness in life and to enjoy the delight of a transformed and renewed life!

Is life calling us to have a deeper trust and cross through deserts, in order to experience freshness in life?

>> Or are we afraid to take that risk of losing many of the ‘things’ we hold precious to ourselves?

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus exhorting us to trust in Him, and to cross the deserts of life, “letting go of riches, in order to experience true joy in Him and eternal life with Him!

The incident of the person asking Jesus, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (Mt 19:16) finds resonance with many of our inner desires and longings.

We too have a lot of questions, like the man who asked, “What must I do to have eternal life…”

>> How can I really have peace of mind and happiness at home and in my life…?

>> How is it that I may be able to experience joy in life, despite the many poundings and grindings that life renders me…?

>> How is it that I can be assured of the treasures of heaven and the bliss of life eternity…?

The man who enquired Jesus presented Him with a list of many activities and deeds that he engaged himself, towards this purpose.

“All of these (following the commandments) I have observed”, (Mt 19: 20a) said the man to Jesus

We too have something similar to say…

>> I keep on working hard, putting in constant efforts in my daily duties and the various responsibilities entrusted to me…

>> I toil very much in meeting life’s ends and gathering together my resources in making sure that things go on well in life…

But like that man, we too get lost with this one basic question, “What do I still lack?” (Mt 19:20b)

>> What do I still lack…

… that my life fails to be soaked in happiness and my heart misses the train of joy and peace?

… that my relationships fail to have the required fervour of love and affection?

… that my spiritual life fails to have the flavour of passion, zeal and enthusiasm?

This is where the Lord will tell us, “to let go of things that keep us attached”

Jesus says, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell, what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven. Then follow Me” (Mt 19:21)

• The man was attached to his possessions, even though he performed many acts of God’s commandments.

• The man found it hard to leave his riches, and his following of the laws of God made little impact on him, to make renunciations.

Therefore, the Lord diagnosed his problem as his inability to “let go” of his attachments.

“Unnecessary accessories” of life can be a burden in our smooth travelling on the path of eternity!

Are we also faced with the same diagnosis?

Do I find it hard to “let go”…

… of my selfish lifestyle and my own personal comforts… even though I seek to render service or engage in different works?

… of my egoistic tendencies and self-centred inclinations… in my relationships and in interacting with the people in my life?

… of my individual agenda and self-interested plans… and fail to base my life as per the Plan of God and walk according to His Will in my life?

As Christians, we are called to perfection (Mt 5:48)

This ‘challenge to perfection’ demands that we have to pass through the “deserts”…

… deserts of renunciation

… deserts of seeking only God’s Will

… deserts of altering our personal choices and prioritizing the values of the Lord

>> This will help us to experience newness in life and to enjoy the delight of a transformed and renewed life!

May we heed to the call of the Lord today…

… to make such radical choices and decisions in life, so that we can truly experience the joy of heaven in our day-to-day lives and one day, be blessed, with the fullness of life eternal!

When faced with the deserts of life…

… let us, with confidence, give heed to the words of the Lord assuring us: “Trust the desert”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Remember to retire at times…

… into the desert of your own heart!”

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Aug 18 (Lk 12: 49-53)

St Ignatius of Loyola is the founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits)

There is an interesting incident narrated about a couple of tourists who visited the Jesuit headquarters in Rome.

There is a large statue of the St Ignatius majestically displayed in this house.

>> Underneath are also inscribed the words of the Saint to his friend St. Francis Xavier, when the latter was commissioned to spread the Gospel across the globe:

“Ite, Inflammate Omnia!”

When translated, the motto reads: “Go and set the world on fire!”

As, the two tourist friends admired at the words of the wonderful saint and were speaking about the greatness of the saint…

… One of them noticed a fire-extinguisher that was placed on the adjacent wall

(The red-coloured fire-extinguisher was of course, placed, in case of any emergency)

But seeing the motto of the Saint and this fire-extinguisher from the same view, the tourist made an interesting comment:

“Well! The Saint asked us to go and set the world on fire…

… but we Christians, probably seem more to be going around with a fire-extinguisher and putting it off!”

Every Christian is expected to set the world on fire…

But are we people “on fire”?

>> Or is the “fire” dying out, and failing to have its intended effects?

Our Blessed Lord was greatly filled with zeal to “set the earth on fire”…

… and desires all His followers to share in this passion for the Kingdom of God.

The Gospel of the Day begins with Jesus exclaiming:

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing” (Lk 12: 49)

“Fire” in the Bible is an imagery of many aspects…

>> God’s judgment (Jdt 16:17; Is 66:16; Am 7:4; 2 Pt 3:7)

>> God’s protective presence (Ex 13: 21, 2 Kgs 6:17)

>> Purification (Nm 31:23; Ez 22:19-22, Zec 13: 9),

>> The Holy Spirit (Mt 3:11, Acts 2:3).

>> God’s Holiness (Dt 4:24)

>> God’s glory (Ez 1:4, 13)

Fire also has many characteristics:

>> It warms… refines… transforms… burns!

The Lord who was greatly zealous to “set the earth on fire”, invites us to examine:

>> Am I filled with zeal, to blaze the world “on fire”…

… the fire of God’s love?

… the fire of God’s purging mercy?

… the fire of God’s judgment with respect to sin and evil?

The following two verses of today’s Gospel passage comes in as a shock!

>> “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, division!” (Lk 12:51)

The Gospel of St. Mathew’s version of the same verse reads:

“Do not think I have come to bring peace. I have to come not to bring peace, but a sword… (Mt 10: 34)

These verses become more surprising in the context of…

>>The Sermon of the Mount where in Mt 5:9, it says, “Blessed are the peacemakers”

>> The description of the Messiah where in Is 9: 6 it says, “He (Messiah) will be called “Prince of Peace”

Why does St Mathew use the words “peace and sword”?

>> Why does St Luke use the words “peace and division”?

This could be a technique called “Juxtaposing”.

Juxtaposing simply means to place two things side-by-side or next to each other…

… especially to compare or to emphasize on the contrast.

This technique is used extensively in the Bible…

>> “Unless a grain of wheat dies, it will not give life” (Jn 12: 24)

>> “Light shines in the darkness” ( Jn 1:5)

>> “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit” (Mt 7:18)

Thus we see…

… life and death

… light and darkness

… good and bad

This “juxtaposition” we also observe in our daily life.

>> Any artist or a person with some aesthetic sense will vouch for the fact that, in order a highlight some light-coloured flowers in a bouquet…

… a darker background is preferred.

>> Even in our style of dressing, we prefer to wear dark-coloured trousers…

… along with light-coloured shirts.

The logic is simple: Juxtaposing two contrasting stuff emphasizes the meaning.

Peace, is generally defined as a situation where there is no violence or war.

>> Sword, on the other hand, signifies conflict, struggle and death.

Peace, is normally understood as a situation of calm and absence of conflicts

>> Division, on the other hand, points to disturbances, instability and turmoil.

What is the meaning of this usage of “juxtaposition” in today’s Gospel passage?

The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy (Rom 14: 17)

To establish this peace or this Kingdom of God…

… sword is an inevitable reality!

… division is an inescapable consequence!

>> Disturbances, instability, turmoil, conflict, struggle and even death is a real possibility!

That’s why Jesus would go on to say:

“From now on a household of five will be divided… three against two and two against three…” (Lk 12: 52)

>> These verses are an import from Mic 7:6 which speaks of “division in the household”.

In the Jewish Society…

… the household was one of the strongest units of loyalty and binding.

However, Jesus shatters all these pre-conceived notions and demands:

“Loyalty of a disciple to Jesus is to be much higher than even to his own household!”

All intimate relations, even that within the family, are to be given subordinate status in our Love for Jesus.

It is also interesting to note the order of people mentioned in Lk 12: 53:

… Father v/s Son, Daughter v/s Mother, Daughter-in- law v/s Mother in Law.

It is always the young v/s the old.

What could be the meaning?

The Kingdom of God will cause a sword of division…

… It will be a division of the Young v/s Old!

Young and Old are not to be considered in the physical sense… but in the spiritual sense!

Young as being people who are “new”… those by giving up a life of sin, choosing to be part of the Kingdom of God.

>> Old as being those people who are “unrepentant”… those who cling on to sinful ways and oppose the Kingdom.

The Kingdom of God is always characterized by people who are willing to be “new” in the Spirit…

… young at heart and mind, full of dynamism and full of enthusiasm.

What are the implications of all what we have said today?

1. The establishment of peace in the Kingdom of God is always accompanied by the sword of division

>> Are we ready to face the struggles and difficulties that surely will come on our way, as we work for the Kingdom?

2. In this our mission of establishing the Kingdom, we are demanded to have a loyalty to Jesus that is higher than all other relationships.

>> Are we ready to sacrifice? Perhaps our relationships or our way of thinking or even our lifestyle – all for the sake of loyalty to Christ?

3. The Kingdom of God demands that we always be young – dynamic, enthusiastic, cheerful and energetic.

>> Are we ready to always remain Young at heart and in mind, for the sake of the Kingdom of God?

Jesus, Who was greatly filled with zeal to “set the earth on fire”…

… desires all His followers to also share in this passion for the Kingdom of God.

Yes, let us become Christians “who set the world on fire!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Examine from time to time what are the dominant passions of your soul, and having ascertained this, mould your life…

… so that in thought, word, and deed you may as far as possible counteract them!”

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