17 July (Based on Mt 12:1-8)

The dial of a clock is a beautiful illustration of the way God deals with human life.

The hands on the dial of the clock are God’s Hands – passing over and over again…
• the short hand, being the Hand of God’s Discipline
• the long hand, being the Hand of God’s Mercy

• The short hand – the hand of Discipline…
…. passes slowly, but surely
… strikes at each hour too

• But the long hand – the hand of Mercy…
… passes much faster and surely too
… showers down sixtyfold of blessing for each strike of discipline

And another interesting aspect….?

Both the hands are fastened to one firm and secure point  – the Beautiful Heart of the God of Love!

God’s discipline in the form of trials is a surety in life…
• But much more abundant in life, are His mercies that are scattered regularly all through…
And both these dimensions – Discipline & Mercies – stem forth from the Immense Love of God!

The Gospel of the Day is a beautiful presentation of Jesus as the God of Love who, though is a Disciplining God, displays His Heart of abundant mercy and invites His followers to become People of Merciful Love!

The Gospel passage begins the incident of the Disciples being caught by the Pharisees plucking the heads of grain and eating them, on the Sabbath Day.

The Pharisees who were the strict proponents and protectors of the Law, found it a great offence when they found the disciples were doing an “illegal and unlawful” act, as per their Sabbath prescriptions.

Therefore they accuse, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath” (Mt 12:2)

But Jesus is quick to point out the folly that the Pharisees were falling into…
 The folly of being crime-finders than being mercy-givers!
 The folly of becoming petty-accusers than being generous-forgivers!

Jesus brings out two practical examples to show the “duplicity” and the “unkind” attitude of the Pharisees:

1.  David’s ‘grave’ violation of the Sabbath was acceptable whereas the Disciples ‘minor’ act was condemned!

 David unlawfully ate of the tabernacle showbread which was reserved only for the priests.
But this “not lawful” act of David was not condemned

 The Disciples on the other, actually did not break the Law…
The Hebrew law had made provision for those in need to eat when they passed through a field of grain (Dt. 23:25; cf. Ruth 2:2-3)

But over the years, the tradition had evolved a series of ‘violations’ that were considered violations of the Sabbath Law.

One of these ‘violations’ was ‘ plucking and eating’ the grain – that the disciples did.
However, this act was most certainly not for commercial gain, as envisaged by the Law

Therefore, in reality, the Disciples had not really done anything “unlawful”
Yet, they were condemned!

2. The daily duty of the priests on the Sabbath was considered as being “normal” whereas the ‘exceptional’ act of the disciples to satisfy the basic human need of hunger was considered ‘aberrant’!

The work done by the Priests who served on the Sabbath Day, was acceptable.
However, the action done by the Disciples was considered violation of the Law!

Jesus makes another statement here, “I tell you, something greater than the Temple is here” (Mt 12: 6)

What was Jesus, in fact, also saying?

“You permit the priests of human-made temples to work, but you do not allow the Disciples of the Living Temple to work?

Is that not showing your duplicity on one side, and your lack of knowledge of the Messiah on the other?!”

And therefore, Jesus makes that bold and firm statement, echoing the prophet Hosea (6:6):
“I desire mercy, not sacrifice!” (Mt 12: 7)

Jesus passed through a field where condemnation was scattered; but He sows the seeds of mercy all around!

Today, you and me, are invited to do the same…
To become people who show mercy and compassion, rather than being “judgmental” and “overly-critical” people!

We are invited to be like the Lord, as illustrated in the ‘dial of a clock’:
 Having a hand of discipline that passes only slowly…
 But also having a hand of Mercy that traverses more often…
But both, being fastened tightly to a Heart, full of compassion and love!

We may live, passing through the fields of unjust condemnation and outright critics.
But like the Lord, may we become persons, who sow the seeds of Mercy and Compassion!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

16 July (Mt 11:28-30)

A missionary once arrived on a forlorn islands in the South Pacific Ocean.

After having acquainted himself with some aspects of the local culture, in a bid to start his evangelization work, he wanted to translate the Gospel of John into the native language.

However as he started his translation work, he realised that there was not a single word – atleast to his knowledge  –  which meant “believe” in the native language.

Now the word “believe” is a very much occurring word in the Gospel of John (it occurs around 90 times!) .

Therefore not to have an equivalent word in the native language, was a big blow to the translation process!
So he laid the manuscript aside….

A few days later however, one of the native workers who had been out, over the hills, in some Christian service, came in to this missionary’s office.

Sitting in one chair and putting his feet up on another, that man used a native word which meant, “I am resting my whole weight on these two chairs.”

And there was one native word which meant all this – “I am resting my whole weight upon”

That ‘word’ hit the missionary like a lightening!
He got the word that he was searching for – equivalent for “believe”!

He translated the Gospel of John, and every time he needed a word for “believe,” he put in that word which meant, “I am resting my whole weight upon”

Well, how would that look like…

Lets see, for example…
• John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whosoever “rests his whole weight upon Him” should not perish, but have everlasting life”!
• John 1: 12: But to those who did accept Him, he gave power to become children of God, to those who “rested their whole weight upon him”

The Gospel of the Day is this invitation of the Lord to “rest our whole weight on Him”
Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened; and I will give you rest” (Mt 11: 28)

The two words that are used in this verse “labour” and “burdened” and worth considering…
• The Greek word used for “labour” is “kopiao”
 Kopiao refers to the one who is labouring to the point of exhaustion

• The Greek word used for “burdened” is ” phortizo”
 Phortizo refers to the one who is carrying a burden for a long time.

Therefore the invitation of Jesus is to those who are…
… labouring to the point of exhaustion
… carrying the burden for a long time

Do not many of us, if not all of us, qualify ourselves for this invitation of the Lord?

• Are we not people who often labour to the point of exhaustion?
…. the duties of life gets too cumbersome and we feel “when will all this just cease!”
… the strains in relationships or workplaces gets so bad that we feel like “calling it quits!”
… the problems of life block our visions so much so that we wish to just “end everything”!

• Are we not people, who have been carrying burdens for a long time?
… the works that we do, never seems to have an end and we just get fed up
… the daily anxieties we go through take a deep toll on us and makes it hard to continue
… the lack of encouragements sometimes makes the road ahead too bleak and seem miserable

In all such conditions, our Blessed Lord makes this wonderful invitation: “Come to Me!”
He invites us to “rest our whole weight on Him” and experience serenity and calm in Him!

The focus of the Lord is surely more on the spiritual aspect than on just our physical tiredness or exhaustion; though, of course, physical weariness and worldly worries also leads to spiritual anxieties.

Today we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

On July 16th, 1251, Blessed Mother Mary appeared to St Simon Stock, who was the Superior-General of a Carmelite Order in London.
She gave him a brown scapular, with the words, “Receive, my beloved son, this scapular of thy order; it is the special sign of my favour, which I have obtained for thee and for thy children of Mount Carmel. He who dies clothed with this habit shall be preserved from eternal fire. It is the badge of salvation, a shield in time of danger, and a pledge of special peace and protection.”

This Feast is a reminder for us that just as on Mount Carmel, Prophet Elijah had called the people of Israel to abandon the worship of false gods…
… we too need to do away with all false sources of comfort, relaxation, pleasure and enjoyment
… and instead come to the realisation that the Lord alone can give us true comfort and rest!

May our Blessed Mother of Carmel intercede for us and with Her, may we always “rest in the Heart of our Blessed Lord”

May we “rest our whole weight on Him” and live our lives in joy and happiness!

Happy Feast of our Blessed Mother of Carmel!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

15 Jul 2015 (Based on Mt 11:25-27)

A little girl child was to undergo a risky surgery.

She was placed upon the table and the surgeon was about to render her a dose of anaesthesia.
“Before we can make you well, dear, we must put you to sleep”, said the surgeon to the li’l girl.

With a cute smile, she said sweetly, “Oh, if you are going to put me to sleep, I must say my prayers first.”

So she got on her knees and said the child’s prayer.

“Now I can go to sleep”, said the sweet child.

The surgeon, later, testified that this action of the child moved his heart greatly…. and he himself, prayed, that night, for the first time, in thirty years!

The power of the little child to influence was amazing…even on a person who was much older to her!

 There is great sincerity and openness in the actions of little children.
 There is immense authenticity and truthfulness in the deeds of little ones.

It is this childlike faith and simplicity that finds an expression of appreciation from our Blessed Lord in today’s Gospel.

Jesus says, ” I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes” (Mt 11:25)

When we go back to the first book of the Bible –  Genesis – and to the Garden of Eden, we encounter the first temptation scene – between the serpent and Eve.

It is interesting to note the words, when the serpent tempts Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit, and Eve puts forth the reason for not eating:

• The serpent says, “… God knows well that the moment you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad” (Gen 3:6)
• The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes and desirable for “gaining wisdom” (Gen 3:7)

This then was the first temptation: To Know – seeking for wisdom; seeking for knowledge.

However the Lord says that wisdom is hidden from the wise and the understanding, and instead revealed to the babes, to those childlike.

What makes the Divine Wisdom to hide from the wise and reveal to the childlike instead?

We could consider a couple of reasons….

1. The wise depend on their own strength; the childlike have a sense of dependency

One of the qualities or rather a condition of little children is their “helplessness”!

Little children are helpless…
… to be taking care of even their basic needs
… to be able to meet their basic emotions

They therefore have a sense of dependency!

2. The wise have over-confidence in themselves; the childlike trust on others

Another of the quality of children is their basic sense of “trust”

They tend to easily trust the others…
… in meeting their needs and in having what they desire
… in being protected and being taken care safely

These two great qualities of the childlike are what helps the Divine wisdom to be revealed to them:

• A sense of dependency: Depending on God, the Father in every moment of life
• A sense of trust: Trusting in the Lord for every need and believing in His providence

The Gospel of the Day makes us to examine our own lives and check the level of childlike qualities that we possess…

 Do I possess a sense of Dependency on the Lord…
… or is my reliance only on my own self-worth and abilities?

 Do I possess a sense of Trust in the Lord…
… or do I fall into constant anxieties and apprehensions?

May we seek to depend and trust more in the Lord, with a childlike faith, so that the Lord may rejoice in us and He – the Wisdom – may reveal Himself more and more to us!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

14 Jul 2015 (Based on Mt 11:20-24)

There is an incident in the life of Queen Victoria.

As a queen, she enjoyed many luxuries and comforts.

She too, however, had to go through many family problems, especially, concerns as a grandmother.

One of her grandson was highly reckless in the usage and spending of money.

Once, as his birthday was approaching, the grandson wrote to his grandmother, Queen Victoria, reminding her of his approaching birthday.
He cleverly suggested that “money would be the best and the most acceptable birthday gift”.

In reply, the Queen grandmother wrote back a “letter of advice”- in her own hand – sternly reproving the young boy for his life of extravagance and urging him on the practise of economy.

However, the young boy’s reply to this letter, staggered her:
“Dear Grandma,” said the letter, “thank you for your kind letter of advice. I have just sold the same letter for five pounds!”

The young grandson spared no efforts to even “auction and sell” the prized ‘letter of advice’ of the Queen, and got for himself some extra money!!

The young fellow wasted away every chance that was offered to him, to live a good life.
Instead, the privileges that were offered to him were converted to opportunities for indulging in more and more occasions of sin!

The Gospel of the day presents Jesus condemning such an “unrepentant” and “arrogant” attitude of some cities, in amending their ways and in turning back to the Lord.

Jesus raises a cry of sigh, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done to you, had been in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long back” (Mt 11:21)
“And you, Capernaum! Will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades” (Mt 11: 23)

These three towns – Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum – had a unique common feature.
These three were called as the “Orthodox Triangle”.

These towns consisted of “traditional” Jews – Jews who took the Law of Moses very seriously!

• They had a benefit of a “faith that was traditional and deep-rooted”

These towns also consisted of “privileged” people – people who had the great privilege of being witnesses to many miracles, events, preaching and deeds of the Lord Jesus.

• They had the privilege of a “faith that was encouraged and boosted by the wonderful deeds of Jesus”

In spite of these great opportunities and advantages that were offered to them, the people in these towns “failed” to live a life of repentance!
And this is what the Lord condemns them for…
 They had the benefit of a traditional faith…. but it did not move their lives to be lived in holiness!
 They had the privilege of a faith that was nourished and encouraged… but it did not make them to purge their lives of sin and seek to live worthily in the presence of God!
The people of these towns wasted away every chance that was offered to them, to live a good life.
Instead, the privileges that were offered to them were converted to occasions for indulging in more and more opportunities for sin!

Is my life also resembling these three towns?

 I may be a “traditional” Christian…
… having ‘inherited’ my faith in the Lord from my family and my background
… having heard and even practising many acts of faith and devotion

 I may also be an “encouraged” Christian…
… having got many opportunities to hear and witness the powerful works of the Lord through many talks, retreats, miracles, sacraments etc
… having the privilege of constantly encountering the living presence of the Lord in the lives of many people.

But do these factors get “personalized” and make me “to live a life of holiness and repentance”?

• I may boast that I am a Christian by birth
• I may claim that I am doing many great works in the ministry of the Lord
• I may assert that I have experienced many miraculous Divine interventions in life

But do all these make me to “repent” of my sins and help me seek to “live a life of sanctity”?

The message of the Gospel is clear: “Repent, and believe, in the Lord!”

The faith-inputs that I receive, ought to, first and foremost, cause a transformation in my life – seeking God’s Will at all times and remaining firm to avoid any occasions of sin.

The Lord through today’s Gospel is a writing a “letter of advice to us” – to examine our lives and to make the necessary changes, in order to live a holier life.

• Are we going to take serious heed to this “letter of advice” and make suitable changes?
 Or are we going to “auction and sell off” this “letter of advice” and nullify the loving message of the Gospel?

God bless! Live Jesus!

13 Jul 2015 (Based on Mt 20:34-11:1)

There is an interesting word in Japanese.
It is called “Dokkiri”!

“Dokkiri” comes from “doki” which means a heartbeat or pounding of the heart.

Thus, “Dokkiri” is a word which means “something like a surprise that makes one’s heart pound, usually like a scary surprise”.

“Dokkiri Camera Show” was something quite popular as a street prank for surprising people on the street by doing something scary to make them scream or react in a heart-stopping manner.

Well, the Gospel of the Day begins with a statement that seems something like a “Dokkiri” – surprising enough to make one’s heart, skip a beat!
Jesus says, “Do not think I have come to bring peace on the earth…!” (Mt 10: 34)

Now that is indeed, quite a surprising statement, isn’t it?

Come to think of it:
 Jesus is the Prince of Peace…
 He is the Lord of all consolation…
 He is the mighty source of serenity…

But now we hear something strange…
It’s something like a “Dokkiri” effect that Jesus renders – “Do not think I have come to bring peace on the earth…!”

We usually bracket Jesus in a framework which is very sweet, gentle and lovable…
• Sweet to forgive others…
• Gentle in accepting the rejected of the society…
• Lovable in healing in sick and feeding the hungry…

But the image that we now get of Jesus is pretty different and straight-forward…
• He speaks of being a cause of division
• He speaks of bringing not peace, but a sword

The Messianic understanding of the Jews was very much earthly and restricted to this-world.

The Scriptures spoke greatly regarding the coming of the Messiah:
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and His Name will be called Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”  (Is 9:6)

The Jews had a notion of great external peace and prosperity when the Messiah comes.
Probably, the disciples of the Lord also had the same understanding.

But Jesus goes on to say that His coming would also result in “a divisive experience”…

This is the “sword” that the Lord speaks of…
• A “sword” that would divide the people of God from the people of the worldly ways
• A “sword” that would separate the values of the Gospel from the standards of the world
• A “sword” that would cause oppositions & persecutions  to rise against the Kingdom of God

Every follower of Christ will have to undergo this “sword” experience.

 When we remain firm in the teachings of Christ, there will rise many voices against us
 When we hold fast to practising the virtues of Christ, there will be many who desert us
 When we be steadfast to the Will of God, there will arise many opposing satanic powers

There are many Christians who, perhaps, may not like this “demanding” Christ.

But, Jesus is not afraid to cause a “Dokkiri” effect in our lives – surprising us with a challenge that causes us to make radical changes!

May we submit ourselves to this “Demanding” Christ and make suitable changes in our lives, so that we may truly experience the “real” peace and harmony that comes from the Lord alone!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

12 Jul 2015 (Based on Mk 6:7-13)

Ella Gunderson is an eleven-year-old Catholic girl from Seattle, USA

In 2004, she went into a Nordstrom’s ( an American fashion retailer) store to buy a pair of jeans.

However, none of the jeans were pleasing to her taste, lifestyle and liking…

Every style of jeans was either very loose that they would fall down, or so tight that she would have to wear them low and thus they would become provocative.

As a Christian, she knew that her body was the temple of the Holy Spirit and that God meant beauty to be pure, inspiring, and tasteful and not degrading and objectifying!

Instead of just whining about the situation, Ella decided to act…

She wrote a public letter of complaint to Nordstrom’s…
“Dear Nordstrom, I am an eleven-year-old girl who has tried shopping at your store for clothes (in particular jeans), but all of them ride way under my hips and the next size up, is too big and falls down.”

This experience of Ella Gunderson resonated with unvoiced concern of many teenagers and women across the country, who also believed it was possible to be ‘pretty, without being provocative’.

The letter caused a huge rage to be raised by the world of media…

The media firestorm motivated Nordstrom’s to create a new category of fashion wears for juniors called “Modern and Modest.”

A great Christian endevour was pursued and achieved – all because of the convictions of a Christian girl, who believed in being “pretty, without being provocative!”

To be a Christian in today’s world is a great task, a challenge and a responsibility.

The Gospel of the Day is a mighty invitation for each one of us to live as a True Christian, a True Missionary – just as the Twelve Apostles were sent by Jesus on the mission journey.

Jesus had become very popular by various deeds in His ministry…
… powerfully teaching the Word of God and authoritatively interpreting the Law
… mightily healing many of the sick and boldly accepting those rejected by the peoples
… intensely performing many wondrous actions and effectively transforming the society

A great band of people had also begun to follow Him…
…some from far, some closely
…. some with ulterior motives, some with genuine intentions.

In the midst of this rising popularity and increasing crowd-following, the Lord chose the Twelve – whom He named as Apostles ( Mk 3:13)
• These Twelve were to be with Him and to be sent out
• These Twelve were to be an extension of His mission on the earth

To them, the Lord entrusts the great task of spreading His mission of the Kingdom of God.
“And He called to Him the Twelve, and began to send them out, two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits” (Mk 6:7)

One of the key issues that the Lord addresses when He sends out His disciples is to be aware of the fact that there will be great possibilities that they would be “rejected”.

However, the Apostles were not to get disheartened by it; rather to be bold and firm to stand against anything that would oppose their mission.

Jesus says to them: “Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet….” (Mk 6: 11)

Jesus warns them that their life as His follower and as a missionary of the Kingdom, would surely meet a lot of opposition…
… many would reject their teachings
… many would even, perhaps persecute them
… many would seek to make them compromise their values

However, in all this, the Apostles were to remain bold, firm and courageous.

They had to fill their hearts with two basic virtues: Dependence on God’s Providence and Firm Perseverance in His ways.

The message of the Gospel is always opposed to the ways and values of the world!
 It was so… in the time of Jesus
 It was so… also in the time of the Apostles
 And it is so… in our own times and situations

To be a Christian, a Missionary in today’s world is indeed a great task, a challenge and a responsibility.
• There are many aspects in the world that go against Christian values…
• There are umpteen situations that challenge our Christian faith…

Christian virtues today are “rejected”, “trampled upon”, “compromised” and even “diluted”!

We can either…
…. give in to them
… or just complain about them
… or make efforts to change them

By virtue of our Baptism, we share…
… in the privilege of being called a follower of Christ
… also, in the responsibility and duty of being firm and faithful to our Christian values

Are we going to dilute, compromise, be lukewarm or adopt an ‘all-is-adjustable’ policy with respect to our Christian values?
• Or are we ready to grow and stand firm in our convictions and make efforts to live a True Christian life?

Is the world transforming me?
• Or am I, as a Christian, transforming the world?

God Bless! Live Jesus!

11 Jul 2015 (Based on Mt 10:24-33)

Five-year old Jack was in the kitchen as his mother made supper.

She asked him to go into the store-room (the place where much of the provisions were stored) and get her a can of tomato soup.

But li’l Jack didn’t want to go in alone there.

“It’s dark in there and I’m scared, Mamma”

She asked again, and he persisted in his refusal.

Finally she said, “Jack, look.. there is nothing to fear in going to that store-room. Jesus will be in there, with you…”

The constant request and this assurance made Jack to walk hesitantly to the door and slowly open it.

He peeked inside, saw it was dark, got all frightened and started to leave when all at once an idea came, and he said: “Jesus, if you’re in there, would you, please, hand me that can of tomato soup?!”

Well, this little anecdote highlights a common trend that is evident in many of our lives:
 Fear takes an upper hand in many of our activities and renders us fragile…
 Fear has a strong grip over our minds and hearts in many situations and makes us weak…

The Gospel of the Day is a clarion call by the Lord to ward off anxiety-causing fears and instead to be courageous in our life as a Christian.

Our Blessed Lord continues His instructions to His Apostles as they are being commissioned for the mission journey.

Today He touches upon one of the core emotions that can affect the Disciples in their mission endeavour: the emotion of Fear.

Jesus says, “Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Mt 10:30)

Jesus seeks to cast off fear from His followers by showing them the preciousness and value of their lives… and how much of importance they are to Him.

For this, he presents the example of a sparrow.

Though quite strange, Jesus probably had a very pertinent reason for this choice of the common sparrow.

During the time of Jesus (unlike in many of our modern developed cities), sparrows were so common that they were practically worthless.

Two sparrows were sold for a ‘cent’

The word “cent” is the Greek word ‘assarion’.
• An assarion was worth only 1/16 of a denarius.
One denarius was the day’s wage for a rural worker.

So, by simple math, a single sparrow was worth only 1/32 of a day’s wage of a rural worker.

Another aspect to be noted is…

• In Mt, Jesus says, ” Are not two sparrows sold for a cent?” (Mt 10: 29)
• In Lk, Jesus says, “Are not five sparrows sold for a two cents?” (Lk 12: 6)

If two sparrows could be purchased for a cent, then a person should get only four sparrows for two cents.
Then why the ‘fifth’ sparrow?

Probably the fifth sparrow must have been an incentive offered by merchants to get people to buy more sparrows.

The fifth sparrow was given, just merely to sweeten the deal!

Our Blessed Lord used this practice of buy-four-get-one-free sparrows to illustrate how much God values life.

He emphasizes that said that not even one sparrow is forgotten before God.
Even a nearly worthless free sparrow is not overlooked by God.

He takes immense interest even in an unappreciated bird!

Therefore, Jesus says, “Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Mt 10:30)

 When we have a firm conviction of precious we are to the Lord – who is all-powerful and all-mighty – our every fear will be banished away!
 When we grow in our awareness that I am really very much worth to God – who is all-knowing and all-good – our every apprehension will be relaxed!

Fear is one of the core emotions that can affect our life as a Christian:
• Fear takes an upper hand in many of our activities and renders us fragile…
• Fear has a strong grip over our minds and hearts in many situations and makes us weak…

But the deeper we are convinced that I am precious and prized to the Lord, the lesser will be our fears!

“What need I fear, when thou art near, O King of night and day” is a refrain from a Christian hymn!

Yes…

 Fear can either prevent or propel
… Prevent from moving forward, being afraid of what will happen
… Propel to have a stronger determination and rouse the enthusiasm levels

 Fear can either be a barrier or a boost:
… Barrier that does not allow any initiative to be taken or any thought-process to progress
… Boost that accelerates the resolve and willpower and helps march towards the goal

Are we going to let “fear” to PREVENT and act as a BARRIER in our lives?
Or can we, convinced of the Lord’s mighty presence in our lives and our preciousness to Him, let “fear” to PROPEL AND BOOST our Christian Missionary lives….!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

10 Jul 2015 (Based on Mt 10:16-23)

A sunny day…
As the sun was casting its bright rays on the earth, a loud voice thundered – with might and power:
“Who gives a man speech and makes another deaf and dumb?
Or who gives sight to one and makes another blind?
Is it not, I….?

Go, then….
It is I who will assist you in speaking and will teach you what you are to say…”

Another sunny day…
As the sun was shining bright, the same loud voice thundered – yet again, with might and power:
“Say not, “I am too young…
To whomever I send, you shall go…
Whatever I command, you shall speak!
Have no fear… because I am with you, to deliver you!”

These two dialogues record two instances of “Great Assurances” that were offered to two Great People – Moses and Jeremiah – as seen in Ex 4: 11-12 and Jer 1: 7-8 – by the Great Yahweh!

These two persons – Moses and Jeremiah – one, the law-giver and the other a prophet – had some similarities…
..They were entrusted with great tasks…
… They both expressed their inability in speech…
… They both were, however, given assurances of strength and courage!

A task that is entrusted by the Lord is always blessed by Him, with His assurance of courage and strength!
 The larger the responsibility… the greater would be the grace
 The tougher the task.. the bigger would be the blessing

The Gospel of the Day is a beautiful expression of this same assurance that Jesus offered to His Apostles and to each one of us, who are called to be a Missionaries and Proclaimers of the Kingdom of God.

The Lord sends His Apostles on the mission journey and gives them various instructions in this participation of the Divine Activity.

Jesus was a very practical and realistic person.

When He sends the Apostles on the mission journey…
… He doesn’t promise a comfortable and cosy time
… He doesn’t make fanciful securities and spectacular guarantees.

Instead…
… He presents the ground reality and the actual facts of the task.

He says that, “Behold I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves” (Mt 10:16)

This imagery of the “sheep and the wolves” that the Lord used for the Apostles would have probably filled them with panic and fright.

They were well aware what was the condition of the sheep, when they encountered the wolves…

The wolf – the predator is an expert in stealth and is rarely noticed by the sheep.
As the sheep graze, predator’s strategy is simple -it attacks the young or weak that are on the outer-edge of the flock.
This causes a sudden panic in the whole flock!

The sheep would cry… but their cry would hardly be heard!

Their voices after a loud shriek, would begin to choke!

The Apostles, who were well-familiar and had witnessed the sheep-grazing patterns in their land, were aware of this aspect, when the Lord said, “I send you as sheep among wolves…”

And perhaps, a jolt of fear would have run down their spine….

Just like Moses had felt a sense of difficulty in taking up the task that Yahweh had entrusted…
Just like Jeremiah had experienced a wave of fear when Yahweh appointed him as a prophet…
So the disciples could have also felt a sense of worry or even apprehension…

But just like Yahweh had assured them of His strength and grace, the Lord also assures His apostles in this state of fear: ” When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Mt 10: 19-20)

How often do we also find ourselves in situations of hardships and difficulties, in our task of being a True Christian…
• We feel fearful to open our mouths when we witness incidents of corruption..
• We fear to let ourselves be heard when values of Christ are compromised…
• We find ourselves shut to speak when we encounter acts of injustice…

But in all such situations, the Lord assures us that we need to bank on His strength and grace for courage!

What is needed from our part…
… is a total dependence and trust in His power
… is a communion with His Spirit and faith in His Father
… is a willingness to act according the Plans and Will of the Lord

The world today is growing to be menacingly fierce…
And as Christians, we are sometimes like “sheep among the wolves”

May we learn to be, with the grace of the Lord, “to be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves” (Mt 10:16)

May we grow in our understanding that a task that is entrusted by the Lord is always blessed by Him, with His assurance of courage and strength!
 The larger the responsibility… the greater would be the grace!
 The tougher the task.. the bigger would be the blessing!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

9 Jul 2015 (Based on Mt 10:7-15)

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/070915.cfm

A story is told of a blind boy who was flying a kite.

He enjoyed this pastime along with others of his own age.

A passer-by, knowing him and wanting to mildly tease the blind-fellow, said:
‘Hey, boy! Do you know where is your kite?
You don’t know whether it is on the ground or up in the sky, do you?’

‘Oh yes,’ said the blind lad, ‘I do know! It is now quite a fair height up in the air.’

How do you know that?’ asked the passer-by, ‘you surely can’t see it.’

The boy replied, ‘I can’t see it, it is true, but I can feel the tug of the string!’

The ‘tug’ of the string help the boy to realise the presence of the kite and to sense its height in the air!

The awareness of the presence of the Divine power in our lives, is such…
One may not be able to always see the presence of the Divine, but the believer can surely experience its power and strength!

This experience of “the Divine tug of the string” keeps the life of the believer moving forward and helps to depend on the Divine Presence for strength in life.

The Gospel of the Day is an invitation by Jesus to grow deeper in this “awareness and dependence” on Jesus in our life as a missionary of the Kingdom of God.

After having summoned, authorized  and named His Twelve Apostles, Jesus sends them ahead of Him, to the places of mission.

The Gospel of the day begins with the phrase, “Preach, as you go…” ( Mt 10:7)

Some other translations would read as “As you go, make a proclamation…”

This is such wonderfully practical, and yet at the same time, a phrase that is often overlooked: “Preach, as you go….” / “As you go… make a proclamation”

Preaching or Proclamation in our times, is often picturised with a limited understanding…

Preaching or proclamation that takes place…
… only from the pulpit or during a service in Church
… only in the form of speaking and explaining the Word of God

But the words of the Lord are worth noting:
“Preach, as you go….” / “As you go… make a proclamation”

• Preach, as you go about doing your daily duties and activities
 As you go about your responsibilities and works, make a proclamation

• Preach as you go around meeting different people by sharing His love and joy to all
 As you go about engaging in numerous actions, make a proclamation by sharing His presence

The act of preaching and proclamation of the Kingdom of God is to be reflected in our every action and movement…
• Whatever we do, may it become an act of proclaiming God’s abundant blessings!
• Whatever work we take up, may it become a moment of preaching God’s amazing providence!

Such an act of Preaching and Proclamation makes it mandatory that one grows deeper in the “awareness and dependence” on Jesus in the life as a missionary of the Kingdom of God.

 The act of proclamation needs the “awareness” that I am continuing the Great Mission work that has Jesus as the “Initiator”, the “Sustainer” and the “Finale”!
 The act of preaching needs the “dependency” on the Lord to realise that the Lord alone can provide all the graces, strength and courage for the mission!

One needs to feel the “tug and the pull of the Divine Lord”…when one goes through
… hardships and difficulties in being a missionary of the Kingdom,  in hostile situations
… problems and challenges as we seek to live a true Christian life in the modern world
… meaninglessness or emptiness as we go through the ‘deserts’ and ‘darkness’ in life

Yes, it is an experience of “the Divine tug of the string” that keeps the life of the believer moving forward and to depend on the Divine Presence for strength in life!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

8 Jul 2015 (Based on Mt 10:1-6)

It seems that in the Alpine mountains of Switzerland there is a particular spot on the top, where…

… one may throw an object in one direction, and it will roll on, by way of the River Danube to the Black Sea.

…  if thrown in another direction, the object  will travel down the River Rhine to the North Sea.

… if casted in another direction, it will go by way of the River Rhone into the Mediterranean Sea.

Although these three seas  – the Black Sea, the North Sea and the Mediterranean Sea –
…. are so far apart
…. and the three objects thrown from the same point have such widely separated destinations

…. the ultimate destiny of each object is determined, in the first instance, by the direction in which it is thrown!

How true is this of life too….

The choice of direction that we make in life, determines the destiny towards which we head into!

What is the choice of direction that we make in our spiritual life?

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus summoning His Twelve Disciples, naming them and giving them authoritative power and sending on the mission.

This act of the Lord was the acceptance and confirmation of the choice that these disciples had made…
… a choice to follow the Lord closer
… a choice to dedicate their lives for the Kingdom

These disciples would have been following the Lord for a while now…
• They had seen the great works and deeds that He had been performing
• They had listened to His wonderful teachings and instructions
• They had witnessed His life of compassion and love

Now, the Lord chooses His special Twelve from among the many disciples who had followed Him.

This choosing was done with a triple action…

1. Summoning

The Twelve were “summoned”…
… To “summon” or to “call to oneself” was as an officer would issue an order, or a master his servant
It assumes that there is an acceptance by the subject of the Lordship of the one who summons!

Jesus was accepted by the Twelve as the Master and Lord of their lives!

 Do I feel that I have been “summoned” by the Lord as a Christian?
 … Do I, then, give total allegiance and adherence to Jesus as the only Lord and ultimate Master of my life?

2. Authorizing

The Twelve were “authorized”…

Jesus, “gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness”

As a government officer who delegates and empowers with power, so the disciples are empowered by the Lord in their mission work.

• They are to be the extension of the person of Jesus
• They are to be extension of the ministry and work of Jesus.

 Do I put into effect, the authority that has been granted to me, by virtue of my consecration as a Baptized person, and be an instrument of bringing the healing strengthening power of Jesus into the lives of the needy and suffering people?

 Do I seek to live a holier life in order to preserve the power and to be worthy of the authority that I have been vested with ?

3. Naming
Biblically, naming is an external sign of a person called to “adopt” a new way of life, and “choosing” to walk in a path of closer union with the Lord.

The naming of the Twelve was also such an exterior symbol… of the disciples being called to “adopt” the “Jesus Way of Life and “choosing” to walk in the Way of the Cross that Jesus is to tread.

 Do I realize that I too have been “named” by the Lord – as He says in Is 43:1, “I have called you by name, You are Mine!” – and am called to “adopt” the “Jesus Way of Life”?
 Am I ready to constantly “choose” to walk in the path of closer union with the Lord  – even if it is the hard and suffering path of the Way of the Cross?

The choice of direction that we make in life, determines the destiny towards which we head into!

The Lord is waiting for our choice in life for Him…

May we pick Him as the “choice of our life” so that in Him may be our life and destiny!

God Bless! Live Jesus!