1 Aug (Based on Mt 14:1-12)

The Mammoth Cave National Park, in central Kentucky, is a U.S. National Park.
It encompasses portions of the Mammoth Cave, the longest cave system known in the world.

In these caves, one can see enormous pillars which have been formed by the steady dropping of water from the roof of the cavern.

This masonry – formed of solid rock – made by the slow and silent process of nature, is a true marvel…
• A single drop of water, finds its way from the surface down through the roof of the cave, and deposits its sediment
• Another follows it and still another… each adding its imperceptible contribution, until the icicle of stone begins to grow, ultimately reaching the pillar which likewise has been forming on the bottom of the cave.

These become a massive pillar  – brilliant and classic.

This process is so similar that which occurs in our hearts…

Each thought, that awakens for a moment, sinks into the soul – just as each little drop of water, with its limestone deposit, makes its contribution to the pillar in the cave.

Other thoughts follow and yet others…erecting within our hearts, pillars of purpose that form our character.

 Think nobler, and our character will mould into being noble…
 Think wicked, and our character will decay into being evil…
What is the thought-pattern that we nurture in our lives?

The Gospel of the Day makes a dramatic presentation of two opposing characters – one of them holy and the other evil – John the Baptist and Herod the Tetrarch –  which were formed as a result of the accumulation of contrasting deposits of thoughts and feelings.

The Gospel passage is a sort of a “flashback” passage which recounts the visually-disturbing incident of the ‘beheading of John the Baptist’.

The increasing popularity of Jesus caused Herod the Tetrarch, the ruler of the land, to come face-to-face with his guilty conscience.

Truth is always very powerful!

It can, silently, yet very authoritatively …
… challenge faulty lives
… prick guilty consciences
… confront culpable actions

Herod bore the guilt of having killed John the Baptist, who was the voice of the Truth.
 He knew that he had done something extremely wicked and merciless
 He knew that he had acted in opposition to truth, to honesty and to sincerity.

Therefore, the rising fame of the Lord – whom he misunderstood as John – drove him to despair over that brutal act of the killing of the Baptist.

• The constant exposition to wicked thoughts and evil inclinations had caused his life to become a pillar of guilt-filled feelings!

 Think wicked, and our character will decay into being evil…

On the other hand, was the righteous life of John the Baptist.

He was born with a sense of purpose – of being a voice to the Truth.

He maintained this goal by always living in sincerity – fearless and courageous.
To this end, he even valiantly shed his blood!

• The constant nurturing of holy purposes and sacred acts had caused his life to become a pillar of a purpose-filled existence!

 Think nobler, and our character will mould into being noble…

What is the thought-pattern that we nurture in our lives?

• Is my life a Pillar…
… of guilt-filled feelings – formed by deposits of wickedness, evil and sin?

OR

• Is my life a Pillar…
… of a purpose-filled existence – formed by deposits of holy determination and sanctified lives?

Today we celebrate the Feast of a Great Saintly Doctor of the Church – St Alphonsus Liguori, the Patron Saint of Theologians.
 His life was lived in-purpose
 His being was filled with determination.

May His words…

“The more a person loves God, the more reason he has to hope in Him.
This hope produces in the Saints an unutterable peace, which they preserve even in adversity, because as they love God, and know how beautiful He is to those who love Him, they place all their confidence and find all their repose in Him alone”

… inspire and impel us to also live holy lives – and thus our lives may become a “marvellous edifice” and an “enormous pillar” of God’s graces.

God Bless! Live Jesus!

25 Jul (Based on Feast of St James)

A man who had an experience of conversion and a new life in the Lord describes:

“I never professed to be a Christian or anything like that.

But one morning as I was going about my business, I heard my colleague, in office, reading aloud the passage where Jesus asked Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’

Something within, made me to wish with all my heart that I could also answer them as Peter did.
But, I felt very sad that I could not!

Then this li’l thought came to me, `Well, if I cannot say so much as Peter, perhaps I could turn it around a little and find something easier.’

So I began to think there was one thing I could NOT say…

What was that?
I surely, could not say, ‘Lord, You know that I do NOT love you’!
And I found some comfort in that!

Strange, isn’t it?

At last I grew bold enough to look up and say:
‘Lord, You know all things. You know that I WANT to love you…’

That made me to think of His great love for me…
I thought of His life, of His words, of His Cross…

And almost before I knew what I was doing, I looked up and said:
‘Lord, you know all things, You know, that I DO love you'”

That was the blessed moment of conversion of the man…
.. the moment of consciousness of forgiveness
… the moment of a fresh lease of life that was injected into him

Do I really love the Lord?
This is a question that each one of us need to pose to ourselves and answer honestly.

As humans, surely…
… we have our moments of weaknesses and frailty
… we have our spots of selfishness and pride

But if we are willing to lower down our minds – the vessels of pride and greed – then the Lord promises to raise to our hearts, the cup of joy and glory.

Today we celebrate the Feast of one such Great Person – St James – who willingly lowered his mind – the vessel of pride and greed  – and enjoys today, as per the promises of the Lord, the cup of joy and glory raised to his heart

The Gospel of the Day is the incident of the Mother of James and John – the Sons of Zebedee – seeking for a place of honour for her children when the Lord comes in His glory (Mt 20: 20-28)

She said to Jesus, “Command that these two sons of mine, may sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom” (Mt 20: 21)

This passage might seem quite awkward to be read on the Feast day of St James.

Here is a passage…
… that brings to light the natural desire of many humans to possess honour and to enjoy constant glory
… that calls to our attention the fact that human limitations of greed and appetite for positions, can affect even the close followers of the Lord

In a way, this passage shows the weaker side and the frail dimension that can very much be found in the followers of the Lord.

Yet, the pertinent question of the Lord, “Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” (Mt 20: 22), would have probably sunk deep into the heart of St James, the Apostle.

He would realise the full meaning of that statement gradually…
… as He witnessed more and more the works of Jesus
… as He became a witness to the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord
… as He himself, would, one day, give up his life, in martyrdom for His Beloved Master

This then is what we celebrate on this feast day:
As humans, we have our weakness.
Yet, if we be constantly with the Lord, we would slowly be purged of these frailties and grow more and more, in the Image of Christ.

The more we are in the perfumed presence of the Lord, the more His fragrance would envelop and enfold our lives.

Do we feel weak or full of vulnerability or consider that being a “true” follower of the Lord is just not my cup?

Then, let’s look to St James, the Apostle for greater inspiration and strength.

We all need to have our moments of conversion…
… moments of consciousness of forgiveness
… moments of a fresh lease of life that will be injected into us by the power of the Spirit

This alone can help us, to say, with sincerity and honesty – ‘Lord, you know all things, You know, that I DO love you'”

St James invites us: to lower down our minds – the vessels of pride and greed – and allow the Lord to fulfil His promise, of raising to our hearts, the cup of joy and glory!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

24 Jul (Based on Mt 13:18-23)

One of the most famous persons who had been greatly impressed and influenced by the Holy Bible was Mahatma Gandhi.

He once made a statement, which would make all of us…
… to examine deeply our level of love for the scriptures
… to make relevant changes in order to match our lives with the teachings of the Bible

This statement goes thus:
“You Christians look after a document containing enough dynamite to blow all civilisation to pieces, turn the world upside down and bring peace to a battle-torn planet.
But you treat it as though it is nothing more than a piece of literature!”

Now, that indeed is a mightily powerful statement isn’t it?

That’s an intense statement..
.. of, on one side, our Sacred Scripture being acknowledged…
 as having tremendous power to transform
 as having remarkable force to bring about changes

… and yet, on the other side, We, the caretakers and promoters of the Bible – the Christians – being people…
 who give very minimal respect and reverence
 who fail to find the worth of the treasure that is in possession!

Well, it is left to each one of us.. to examine, in the light of this statement, whether…
… the Holy Bible has become a constant and regular companion of my life
… the Sacred Scriptures have become a catalyst for effecting personal transformation

The Gospel of the Day is the beautiful explanation, by Jesus, of the Parable of the Sower and through it, a reminder for us to revive our delight in and our dedication to, in living the Word of God.

The famous author Mark Twain once said:
“Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture which they cannot understand;
But as for me, I have always noticed that the passages in Scripture which trouble me most, are those which I do understand.”

The passage in consideration – the explanation of the Parable of the Sower ( Mt 13: 18-23) – is surely one which has come very often under our scanner of reflection and meditation.

We almost know each of its elements in detail:
• The Sower sowing the seed
• Some falling on the wayside and birds devouring them
• Some falling on the rock and after a quick sprouting, withering away
• Some falling among the thorns and failing to grow, suffocated by its choke
• Some falling on the good seed and yielding – a thirty, a sixty and a hundred fold

We also have understood its applications in our life

Yet, very often, its implications fail to take root in us and we remain indifferent or casual regarding the Seed – the Precious Word of God!

Today, therefore, the Lord once again seeks to awaken our minds and shake our lethargic minds, in seeking to revive our love and enthusiasm for His Word.

Here are some of the practical pointers for self-introspection, towards this objective…

1. What is my reading habit with respect to the Bible – God’s Word…?

 Have I read the Bible fully, atleast once?

… If YES… why not make efforts to read “the beautiful expressions in God’s love-letters”, once again

… If NO… why not make a bold step to try to read the Bible fully, atleast once.

• One could perhaps, start with some of the easier books/sections of the Bible.. maybe, the New Testament, or the Psalms etc…

• Sometimes we might feel too bored or disinterested to pick up the pages of the Old Testament – some passages might seem even disturbing or distressing.

Yet, when we understand that those were some of the societal manners that existed back then, and Scriptures were written by human authors, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in concrete life-situations, we would be able to appreciate them much better

 Can I set apart, daily, atleast a few minutes to read the Bible?

 Can I make genuine efforts to memorize atleast a few verses from the Bible?
• These verses can be invoked in our moments of prayer, in our moments of needing spiritual strength, in our moments of deepening the faith etc.

2. What is my effort and dedication in putting into practical effect the Bible – God’s Word…?

 Am I a person who only simply reads the Bible – without making efforts to understand it, or one who fails to try to put into practice what I learn from God’s Word?

 Is my love for the Word of God only finding expression in forwarding ‘Daily Bible Verses’ through social media sites/apps, emails or sms’s or do I also try to apply and live those verses in my day-to-day activities?

 These days, we have access to – especially through the internet and many magazines and books – an innumerable amount of Bible Study material, explanations on the Bible, sermons  and reflections etc.
• Do these become a springboard for me to personally learn more and deepen my spiritual bond with the Lord of the Word; or do I only take these, without making any personal reflection and use it for giving sermons, talks etc.

 Has the Word become a personal and intimate life-giver for me and do I have a deep thirst to know and grow more in the Word?

As Christians, we are privileged and prized  – to possess and partake in the Precious Book of God’s Salvific acts – The Holy Bible.

As it is said, “The BIBLE contains B(asic) I(nstructions) B(efore) L(eaving) E(arth)”

The Bible…
… is a treasury of immense love
… is a source of unmatched transformative power
.. is a supplier of unparalleled strength and grace towards salvation

Do I treat it just an ordinary piece of literature, a lifeless object to be just decorated (or in some cases, dusted and dirtied) and a book of sacredness but still untouched and unexplored…

…or Can I discover It to be the mighty source, containing the immensity of God’s Power and encountering the Lord Himself, “Who is the Word – that became flesh and dwells among us”?

God Bless! Live Jesus!

23 Jul (Based on Mt 13:10-17)

Every form of mass media has some kind of an influence on its audience or users.

Some forms of mass media are more powerful and influential…
Some others are lesser…

There is a sense of identification that users have with the content of the Mass Media.

For example:
• A scene in a movie may make its audience to burst out laughing, to shed tears at an emotional scene or even induce anger at seeing a disturbing scene.
• A commentary or a nice song or jingle or a funny comment by the host in a radio program may make the listeners to smile, to be excited or to be just relaxed.
• A meme that is seen on the social networking site or a video or a picture that is shared through mobile social apps like WhatsApp, may make the user to reflect deeper or to feel happier or draw out of ignorance

The Gospels are also a great and effective form of Mass Media…
… sharing the message of God’s love to all
… spreading the news of the Kingdom to all
… reaching out the compassion of the Lord to all

One of the important composition of the Gospel is in the form of “parables”

The Gospel of the Day, presents the dynamics of Jesus using “parables” as an effective method of communication of the message of the Kingdom of God.

The passage begins with an enquiry by the Disciples:
“The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” (Mt 13:10)

The Gospel of St Mathew is generally structured comprising of The Five Discourses…
1. The Sermon on the Mount (Chapters 5-7)
2. The Sermon for the Mission (Chapter 10)
3. The Sermon in Parables (Chapter 13)
4. The Sermon of the Church (Chapter 18)
5. The Sermon on Eschatology (Chapters 23-25)

The Thirteenth chapter of the Gospel of St Matthew is the “Sermon in Parables”

Jesus was a master story-teller.
He presented the mighty mysteries of the Kingdom in plain parables.

The parables, however, had two contrasting aspects to it…

1. On one side, they were simple and revealed many things

 The parables of the Lord were based on everyday experiences of the people and local practices, customs and culture.

This contextualization helped the people to easily connect with the message that Jesus wanted to convey.

2. On the other side, they were complicated and concealed many dimensions

 The parables of the Lord would neatly conceal many of the complicated dimensions of the mysteries of the Kingdom.

This concealing caused many people to misunderstand, misinterpret Jesus as well as the message that He wanted to convey.

This dual aspect in the “parables” of Jesus…
• simple and revealing many things
• yet, complicated and concealing many dimensions

… had a dual effect…
• To many, it generated interest, a sense of wonder and made way for deeper reflection and personal transformation
• Yet, to many others, it failed to make any impact, or even made them to close their hearts in receiving the truth of the Lord

The Parables of Jesus, therefore, also sparked two types of hearers…

… Supporters and Believers
 Those who heard and understood the parables, and had their life transformed – growing closer to the Lord and becoming effective missionaries of the Kingdom!

… Opponents and Skeptics
 Those who heard, but with minds were closed to the message of the Parables, and had their hearts hardened – distancing themselves from the Lord and turning to be adversaries of the Kingdom!

The Parables of the Lord are delivered to each one of us too.

What effect do they have, on our lives…
 Do I remain open to its message and thus grow to be a supporter of the Kingdom and Believer in the Lord….?
 Or do I close my heart to its truths and thus reduce myself to be an opponent to the Lord and a skeptic of the Kingdom of God…?

Jesus used the “parables” as an effective method of communication of the message of the Kingdom of God…
… to share the message of God’s love
… to spread the news of the Kingdom
… to reach out the compassion of the Lord

Do I find a sense of identification with the message of the Parables…
… or do I remain closed and hard-hearted?

May the Gospel – and in particular, the Parables – turn out to be a powerful form of Mass Media, effecting transforming changes in us!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

22 Jul (Based on Feast of St Mary Magdalene)

Today, Holy Mother, the Church celebrates the beautiful life of a person – St Mary Magdalene.

• She had experienced the mighty overflowing of God’s Love
• She had encountered the gracious presence of the Risen Lord

And she, is a wonderful example of a Loving Missionary!

However…

 Perhaps, over the last few years, St Mary Magdalene has become of the most known characters of the Church. 

 Perhaps, she is also one of the most misunderstood and the most maligned figure in Christianity.

Sadly, but evidently seen, she is sometimes portrayed in a very negative light – in literature, in art, in fictitious stories…

However, the Biblical presentation of St Mary of Magdalene is far different from what has been depicted in popular and sometimes even ‘cheap publicity’ art!

St Mary Magdalene…
… is a beautiful model of being a Disciple
… is a wonderful example of being a Divine-Seeker
… is a classic illustration of being a Dispenser of the Good News

The Gospel of the Day is the beautiful account of the encounter of Mary Magdalene with the Risen Lord (Jn 20: 1-2, 11-18)

A closer look at this passage would bring to light a number of characteristics of Mary Magdalene, the Saintly Disciple of our Blessed Lord…

1. She is a Disciple who constantly seeks the Lord

The Lord had been dead for two days.
It was the first day of the week (Jn 20:1)

Mary Magdalene came to the tomb of the Lord, early, while it was still dark.

• The heart remains restless when the lover is away!
• The mind remains disturbed when the precious one is far from sight!

The disciple in Mary Magdalene, comes to the tomb, seeking for the Master.

Jesus died… but she too suffered a living death, by undergoing the pain of grief and mourning

Can I imitate St Mary Magdalene, in faithfully being a Disciple of the Lord…?
… especially in moments when everything seems absent
… especially even in times when the Lord’s presence ‘seems’ to have been taken away from us

2. She is a Divine-Seeker who was willing to make any efforts to find her God

When Mary Magdalene discovered that the body of Her Lord was missing from the tomb, she went into a state of immense perplexity.

Her encounter with the One whom she misunderstood as a gardener, reveals, that she was willing to take up any pains to get back the Lord. Therefore, she says, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away” (Jn 20: 15b)

• She is a Divine-seeker, being seriously disturbed when the Source of her spirituality was unfound!
• She had an ardent longing, that disturbed her inner-being so much, that she was willing to do anything to get back her joy!

Can I imitate St Mary Magdalene, in constantly seeking the Lord…?
… and make every effort to get back any lost ground in our spiritual life
… and be spirited in wanting to restore and be faithful to seeking the God of holiness

3. She is a courageous Dispenser of the Good News of the Lord and His Kingdom

When Mary Magdalene finally recognised, that Jesus, Her Lord was risen, her joy knew no bounds.

Being entrusted with the mission command, she translated her joy into courageous action by going and telling the good news to the other disciples – “I have seen Lord” (Jn 20: 18)

Can I imitate St Mary Magdalene, in being a bold dispenser of the Good News of God…?
… even when we are faced with disbelief or mockery by the people we minister to
… even when there is no other encouragement, except the Love for God and His Mission

History can distort the image and personality of people, down the ages…
 Perhaps, Mary Magdalene is one of them.

But in the eyes of the Lord, they remain precious, who have sought the Lord with purity and passion!
 St Mary Magdalene, is surely, one of them!

We have much to rejoice…. to learn…. and to imitate from this Beautiful Saint – St Mary Magdalene.
• Her Passionate Love for the Lord
• Her Constant Longing for the Divine Master

Do I really love the Lord?

May the life of St Mary Magdalene, be a challenge and an invitation for us, to grow in our love and longing for the Lord!

Happy Feast of St Mary Magdalene – the Disciple, the Divine-Seeker, the Dispenser of the Good News!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

21 Jul (Based on Mt 12:46-50)

We sometimes find advertisements,  in newspapers or magazines, that invite the readers to apply for a job or a task.

These ads…
… attract those who are interested by mentioning the various packages and privileges
… inform regarding  various factors and parameters that makes one eligible for that post or duty.

The Gospel of the Day presents such an open-invitation – in a bid…
…. to attract all, to the Kingdom of God, by mentioning various packages and privileges
…  to inform, regarding  various factors and parameters that makes one eligible for the Kingdom of God

In the Gospel passage, we read that “The family of Jesus come to meet Him, while He was at ministry” (Mt 12: 46)

“Someone told Him, ‘Your Mother and Your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak with you” (Mt 12: 47)

But the Lord makes use of this context to put forward a very important truth:
• Spiritual bonding with God, the Father takes higher precedence over blood bonding.
• Spiritual relations are to be given a higher priority over the generational heritage and legacy.

A new and significant understanding is put forward by Jesus to define “His Family”
“… whoever does the Will of My Heavenly Father is My brother and sister and mother” (Mt 12: 50)

Thus, we see a wonderful ad that Jesus displays…

An ad…
…. to attract all, to the Kingdom of God by mentioning various packages and privileges
…  to inform, regarding  various factors and parameters that makes one eligible for the Kingdom of God

Here are the main aspects of this great ad…

 The Offer: Being a member of the Family of God

Jesus makes a open and loving invitation for all to be part of His Family.

We are given a privilege to be called the brothers and sisters of our Blessed Lord!

• What a great honour!
• What a wonderful favour!

 The Qualification: Seeking and doing the Will of God

The most essential and basic qualification to possess the offer of being a member of the Family of God, is to seek and do the Will of God.

Jn 1:12 says, “..to those who accept Him, He gave power to become children of God”

 The Privileges: Divine Peace and Happiness on the earth and promise of life eternal

The One who is part of the Divine Family, also is privileged to share in the life and happiness of the Divine Family!

Jn 6:40 declares, “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

 Who can apply: Anyone, who is daring to sacrifice one’s personal agenda

The one who can apply for this “offer” of being a member of God’s Will is to possess a dare and courage: to let go of one’s personal desires in life, and seek to embrace what God wants of him/her.

Mt 16: 24 says, ” Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me.

When should it be applied: At the earliest, in the first instance possible

The opportune time to take the initiative to participate in the Divine Family is “now”

In the parable of the ten virgins, in Mt 25: 1-13, the five virgins missed the opportunity to be part of the wedding feast, because of their delay and postponement.

2 Pet 3:9 says, “The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but He is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Our Blessed Lord would be delighted to have us as part of His Divine Family.

For this, He also gives out His ad…
… attracting us to the Kingdom of God
… informing us of the various factors  and parameters

Are we willing to positively respond to this invitation of the Lord?

God Bless! Live Jesus!