1 Nov (Solemnity of All Saints)

Who is your favourite hero/heroine?

This is a question invariably most of us have either asked others and we ourselves have been asked.

Heroism is a much overblown idea in our society .
>> We live in a world surrounded by super heroes!

Hollywood and Bollywood and “other woods” give us movies about superheroes who can leap tall buildings at a single bounce, vanquish their enemies with a solitary gaze and reign supreme with their out-of-the-world capabilities!

Heroism, in our world, has been quite associated with power, fame, popularity etc…

> They are super-exciting.
>> They are breathtaking.
>>> They give an “ooh…wow” feeling!

Today, the Holy Mother the Church is geared up to celebrate Her Heroes!

Of course, Heroes with a difference….
>> Heroes, who really, made a difference!
>> Heroes who have achieved great heights of perfection, in God’s sight!

Today is a day of immense celebration of these superheroes of God… The Solemnity of All Saints!

One catchword that dominates today’s celebration is JOY.
>> There is much JOY in belonging to God.
>> There is much JOY is being saved in Christ.
>> There is much JOY in suffering for the Lord.

Being joyful does not mean, that all is perfect and without any faults.
>> Being joyful means, one has learned to look beyond those imperfections.

And this is Christian Holiness!

Christian Holiness is wholeness…
… a wholeness that’s experienced in one’s being, as a result of living life in perfect union with the Will of God.

Today the Church invites us to lift our gaze to heaven, and thank and praise God for the innumerable people who not only persevered in their faith while they lived on earth, but actually lived their lives in such a way that they built up Christ’s Kingdom in the world.

The saints are not superheroes in the worldly sense…
>> What sets them apart is not their miraculous power!
>> What sets them apart is not their popularity and fame!

Rather, what makes them saints, is their faith and their discipleship and their service to others.

The word..SAINT…sometimes strikes an odd chord in our minds…

>> Saints are considered to be people beyond our reach and too holy for our lives
>> Saints are considered to be people for whom the path to sanctity was made easy and cosy.
>> Saints are considered to be people who are given a special boon from God to live a holy life.

But the truth perhaps, is quite contrary…

>> Saints are people who are truly very close to us and lived in simple and ordinary life situations like us.

>> Saints are people who had to struggle through many hardships and trials in the path to holiness.

>> Saints are people who co-operated with the grace of God and remained faithful to their commitment and call

Every Christian is called to a life of Holiness and to be a Saint…

How is this possible in our lives…?
The Beatitudes proclaimed by Jesus, in today’s Gospel shows us the path… (Mt 5: 1-10)

Being a saint…

…by depending on God in all dimensions of our life and seeking His Kingdom above all

…by mourning over our sins and seeking to live a life in repentance.

…by living a life of firm gentleness and trusting patience in the midst of injustice and pain

…by becoming agents of justice and seekers of establishing truth

…by giving mercy and compassion to the needy and even to those who we feel, don’t deserve

…by preserving purity in our thoughts, words and deeds

…by striving for establishing peace and harmony even in conflicting situations

…by accepting suffering and becoming stronger in our struggle to establish God’s Kingdom

This Feast day is a chance for us to sneak into the personal diary of the saints… & to “steal” some tips for us to admire and imitate them…

The Saints’ Favourite Food: The Holy Eucharist

The Saints’ Favourite Dress: The Armour of Faith

The Saints’ Favourite Pastime: Doing anything with immense love of God

The Saints’ Favourite Symbol: The Holy Cross

The Saints’ Favourite Moments: Every time they discovered more the depth of God’s Love

The forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs, Fra Angelico, 1423-24

The Church has a marvellous number of saints who are canonized.

>> On this special day, we also take our time, to raise our hearts in gratitude, for the many other holy men and women, who sparkle with sanctity, but have not been officially declared so.

A few may be known to us, in our family or friends circle…
>> But most of them, will remain unknown and unfamiliar and unheard.
>> But in the Lord’s presence, they dazzle and shine, in holiness and purity.

This galaxy of Saints beckon and encourage each one of us today to tread this path of holiness.

As St Augustine says, ” Do you aspire to do great things? Begin with the little ones”
…Doing our simple works with much love of God.
…Living our Christian life with much faithfulness
….Seeing the deep presence of God in all areas of our life.

> Let us live a life of self-sacrifice, renunciation and trust in God….
>> Let us live a life seeking to do God’s will at all times
>>> Let us live a life laced with the tender Love of God in all our activities.

All the saints, the Superheroes of God, are looking deep into our eyes…and inviting us…”Come, dear Child…Be a Saint…”

What is our response?

> Happy Feast to all the Saints in Heaven…the Church Triumphant!
>> Happy Feast to all of us, striving to be saints…the Church Militant!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

31 Oct (Based on Lk 14:1,7-11)

The Greek mythology has a character named Narcissus who was renowned for his beauty.

He was exceptionally proud; so much that he even disdained those who loved him!

One day, Narcissus was attracted to a pool of water.

He saw his own reflection in the water and fell in love with it. He failed to realize that it was only an image!

Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, he drowned in the waters!

An obsessive love of his own-self drowned him!

Narcissus, by Caravaggio,1594-96

No doubt that true appreciation, real honoring and genuine love of oneself is highly important & needed…
… but when this self-directed love crosses the boundary, it can lead to obsession and fixation!

Are we in anyway getting drowned, knowingly or unknowingly, as a result of an excessive love for our self?

The Gospel of the Day challenges us to ponder over this aspect by inviting us to examine our life with respect to the virtue of humility.

Jesus says, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 14:11)

One of the most supreme and vital messages that we learn from the life and teachings of Jesus is that of Humility – a virtue in direct contrast to the dangerous vice of Pride!

There are two kinds of pride: good and bad.

>> ‘Good pride’ is our dignity & self-respect
>> ‘Bad pride’ is the deadly sin of superiority that reeks of conceit and arrogance.

What is pride, as a vice?
>> In simple words, it could defined as “wanting our own way!”

Therefore, what is humility as a virtue?
>> In simple words, it could be defined as “wanting God’s Will!”

This is what Jesus teaches through the parable of “how a person sought the highest place, but got humiliated in accepting the lowest place!” (Lk 14: 7-9)

In our life, it is easy for us to lose our focus from the Lord and have a “narcisstic” style of preferences for our own selves…

>> Many times in our works, we forget the blessings that the Lord has showered on us…
… and instead attribute all successes to our own talents and abilities.

>> Many times in our ministry, we lose sight of the Lord, the real purposes of our vocation and the mission…
… and instead seek to fulfill our personal agenda and motives.

> It is easy to bask in the glory of popularity and fame.
> It is satisfying to enjoy the sunshine of reputations and recognitions.
… But let them never lead us to have a “narcisstic” approach of just “looking into” ourselves.

>> Let us have the humility to acknowledge that it is God’s power being manifested in our works.
>> Let us have the acceptance that it is God’s graces that has lifted us to a high position.

St Augustine says:
“It was pride that changed angels into devils;
It is humility that makes men as angels”

Yes, we need to take care not to “drown” in the murky waters of pride, egoism and selfishness…
… Instead, we need to “sail” together with the Lord through the clean waters of humility and meekness!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

30 Oct (Based on Lk 14:1-6)

For our reflection today, we shall make a verse by verse analysis of the Gospel Passage…

The passage under consideration is the Healing of the man with dropsy on the Sabbath Day.

Let us carefully reflect on this amazingly dramatic incident…

The passage begins with the statement, “On a Sabbath, Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees…” (Lk 14:1a)

Here was an invitation of a high and elite nature…

A leading Pharisee of the Jewish society had called Jesus to his home.
> He was joined by many other scholars of the Law and the Pharisees.

>> Maybe it was a show of one’s status and pride and dignity as a great Pharisee…
>> Maybe it was another chance for the critics of Jesus to find something to crib about him…

“…and the people there were observing Him carefully…” (Lk 14:1b)

To be invited for a dinner was something nice and pleasant…
>> But to be invited to become an object of observation and scanning was bad enough.

“The people were observing  Him carefully” suggested a suspicious action…
> It was as if, some thieves were waiting eagerly to strike on their target…
> It was as if, some fierce lions, were stealthily preparing to pounce upon their prey…

And then comes the bait…”In front of him, there was a man suffering from dropsy” (Lk 14:2)

What’s dropsy?
>> Dropsy was a condition in which there was an unnatural collection of serous (pale yellow and transparent) fluid in any cavity of the body.

Dropsy was water retention in the body. 
>> Dropsy itself was not a disease, but a symptom of a disease.

It could be a number of things – complications of the liver or kidney or the heart or all three!

In the Jewish understanding, someone who had this condition of dropsy, was seen as a great sinner, even related to being a sexual sinner.

This sickness was a pointer to the man’s condition of being highly unclean!

But to bring back our attention to the Gospel…
Was this not a setting of a dinner?

Was not Jesus called for a meal… and that too, a dinner with the elite and leading religious people… …and that too, on a Sabbath day?!

Then what was a man with dropsy, a serious condition of uncleanness, doing there?

The plot of the drama seems to be thickening…

The setup was clear…
>> The Pharisees have invited Jesus for a meal, yes…but with a hidden and a mean agenda…

Drop a man with dropsy in front of Jesus…and observe what he does!

>> They know Jesus has the power to heal…but they also know that it will lead to violation of the Sabbath!
>> They know Jesus would feel compassion on the man…but they also know that it will give them a chance to go up in arms!

They wanted Jesus to violate the Sabbath to give proof that He was not from God!

The Rabbanical rule was that one could only be doctored if one was going to die immediately on the Sabbath.
>> But if death is not imminent, wait till the Sabbath is over.

But Jesus had time & again proved, that he had no regard for that silliness or for that lack of compassion or for the folly of that legalism.

>> In Lk 6:6-11, Jesus healed a withered man, on the Sabbath…
>> In Lk 13: 10-17, Jesus healed a woman, crippled for eighteen years, on the Sabbath…

So, He asks the guests gathered around, “Is it lawful to cure on the Sabbath or not?” (Lk 14:3)

>> Jesus knew their answer.
>> Jesus knew their perspective of things.
Yet He wanted them to tell.

“..but they kept silent” (Lk 14:4a)…
>> They knew the answer too.
>> They knew it was unlawful.
Still they did not tell Him.

>> Sheer hypocrisy!
>> Absolute malicious trapping!
>> Horrifying trick of deception!

And then Jesus does something astonishing…
“..he took the man, and after he had healed him, dismissed him” (Lk 14:4b)

The Greek word used for “took” is a very very strong verb….”Epilombano”

Epilombano literally means to lay hold of or to seize upon anything with the hands

It is the same word used in…
… Lk 23:26, when the soldiers seized Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross
…  Acts 16:19 to say that Paul and Silas were seized and dragged by their persecutors..)

The cruel silence of the crowd provokes Jesus, to strongly seize the afflicted man!

He doesn’t work the miracle in hiding or quietly or from a distance!

Rather, with much force, He just grabs the man, seizes him, crushes him in His arms as if to squeeze the fluid out and give him a new heart, a new liver, and a new self and creates in the man a whole new set of internal organs.

And finally Jesus justifies His action with another thundering question, “Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern, would not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath?” (Lk 14:6)

A beautiful picture indeed…

Jesus asks them, “None of you would have allowed your son or ox to drown in the waters, isn’t it?

>> Then why don’t you see, that I have also saved from drowning… this man with dropsy, drowning in his own fluid!”

Another total silence by the onlookers!

Am I also silent now?

There is much to learn from this dramatic incident, isn’t it?

May this dramatic Gospel incident, become…

… a wonderful inspiration, for us… who need the touch of the Lord, from being drowned in the troubled waters of life!

… a hard warning, for us… who malign other’s lives by seeking to find ways and means to trap them in the works of goodness!

… a tremendous booster, for us.. who often get bogged down by troubles of life & instead to be bold to the hard & gritty challenges of life!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

29 Oct (Based on Lk 13:31-35)

As children, we have often heard short stories…
One of the famous stories we have heard is about the Fox and the Hen.

The Fox tries his level best to kill the hen & it almost succeeds, until, the hen, by its cleverness, escapes through the clutches of the fox!

The fox is described with dominative and oppressive characters.
>> The hen is described with a defenseless and subjugated character.

Yet, the hen with its cleverness and adeptness manages to escape through its grasp.

The Gospel of the day presents such similar images of the Hen and the Fox to deliver a powerful message for our spiritual lives.

The passage begins with some Pharisees giving a warning to Jesus to leave that place since Herod wanted to kill Him.

Firstly, we encounter an unusual image of the Pharisees…

Usually, they are a group who present a very opposing and critical attitude.

The thought of a Pharisee, usually, brings an image of people who are knowledgeable, yet judgemental & disapproving in their behaviour.

But here is a welcome distinction…
>> These Pharisees display a concern towards Jesus and warn Him of the dangers posed by King Herod.

Why did these Pharisees do so ?
… Was it in malice – to further trap Jesus?
…Was it out of jealousy – to keep Jesus away from the crowds?
…Was it out of concern – to help in His mission?

>We can’t say for sure.
>> We can’t ascertain what really was their motive behind warning Jesus.

But it does allows us space to think that all people cannot be judged as wrong all the time!

Atleast an inkling of goodness exists in all, even in the midst of thick evil!

The answer of the Lord to the warning is a strong one…”Go and tell that fox…!” (Lk 13:32)

The image of the fox appears….King Herod.

Why does Jesus call King Herod as a fox?

The fox was an unclean animal for a Jew.
>> More than the slyness of the animal, Jesus was perhaps referring more to its uncleanness.

Herod always had issues with respect to being a clean and credible Jew…

After the death of his father, King Herod the Great (the one who had killed the many innocent male children at the birth of Jesus), this Herod Antipas had been put in power by Caesar Augustus, the Roman Emperor, in 4 BC.

History tells that in 17 AD, to honour his Roman rulers, he build a grand new capital city named Tiberius, after the current emperor, only to discover that it was built on top of an old Jewish cemetery.

No pious Jew ever entered it, & was occupied exclusively by the pagans.

Herod also had his moral issues…

He divorced his first wife, in order to marry Herodias, the wife of his brother, Philip.

John the Baptist had been a persistent critic of Herod for this dubious marriage.
>> Herod had John killed because he had promised his daughter anything she wanted if she danced for him, and John’s head on a platter is what she wanted.

True, that King Herod Antipas was a powerful man and a person of great influence.
>> But Jesus, the King of Kings and the God of all, does not fear him and instead calls him “a fox”!

>> When one is filled with the mighty Spirit of God, no earthly forces can cause fright or scare!

>> When one fully trusts in the strength of God, no worldly might can cause anxiety or dread!

>> When one is committed to one’s convictions and missions, no power can deter away from it!

This leads Jesus to give another image…
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how many times, I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings…“

The image of a mother Hen appears…Jesus Christ

It is one of the most overtly feminine references to God in all of scripture.
>> Jesus will be the mother hen who stands between the chicks and those who mean to harm.

She has no pointed fangs or rippling muscles.
>> But all she has, is her willingness to shield her babies with her own body.

If the fox wants them, he will have to kill Her first.

This is the image that Jesus for Himself… a Hen.
>> It lays bare God’s vulnerability.  

Here is the contrast…
> King Herod, presented as a Fox…powerful, rude, forceful.
>> Jesus, presented as a mother Hen…protective, sacrificial, shielding.

This mother Hen, Jesus, invites each of us, His chicks, to find shelter under His wings.
>> Am I willing to take shelter under the wings of Jesus, the mother Hen?

The Gospel  has a sad note : When the mother hen tried to gather her chicks underneath her wings, “they were unwilling” (Lk 13:34b)

The chicks are unwilling to remain under the shade of the hen’s wings…
>> Maybe they wanted more freedom…
>> Maybe they just wanted to have their own way of living life…
>> Maybe they did not find the mother hen too exciting, whereas the active fox attracted them…

We too are sometimes so…
>> We fail to come under the shade of God’s wings…
>> We become unwilling.

The story of the fox and the hen continues even today…

Do I get attracted more to the energetic and tempting fox…
>> Or do I find rest, shelter and protection under the wings of the Mother Hen?

The choice is before us…

God Bless! Live Jesus!

28 Oct (Based on Feast of Sts Jude & Simon)

A garden of flowers delights most people!

A garden consists of a variety of flowers, with varied colours, sizes, shapes.

Some flowers tend to capture our attention more…some escape the gaze of our eyes.
>> However, this in no way, reduces or increases their relevance and importance.

>>> Each flower has its own specialty.
>>> Each flower has its own attraction.

Jesus in His garden of ministry, chose twelve apostles.
>> Some apostles tend to capture our attention more…some escape the gaze of our eyes.

However, this in no way, reduces or increases their relevance and importance.
>> Each apostle has his own specialty
>> Each apostle has his own attraction.

Today Holy Mother the Church celebrates the feast of two apostles: St Jude and St Simon.

These are apostles, who in most probability escape the gaze of our eyes.
>> These two saints are usually known as the “unknown apostles”.

Yet, they have their own greatness before God and their own importance to inspire us in our lives!

The scarcity of their appearance in the New Testament is so vivid that except in the list of the names of the apostles, the name of Simon never appears elsewhere whereas the name of  Jude makes only a single appearance in the discourse of Jesus after the last supper (Jn 14: 22).

In the Gospel of Matthew & Mark, the apostle Simon is given the title of a Canaanaean, while Luke mentions him as “Zealot”.

This apostle Simon must have belonged to the Zealot Party.
>> The Zealot Party was a first-century political movement among Judean Jews who sought to overthrow the occupying Roman government.

According to the Jewish historian Josephus, four main Jewish groups existed at the time of Christ—the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes and the Zealots.

The Zealots were known for their aggression and violent behaviour.
>> They advocated that no one, but Yahweh alone should rule over Israel and hence, obedience to the Roman government should be refused.

•       The selection of Simon, the Zealot  as an Apostle, is a great insight into the workings of Jesus, in His Kingdom Ministry…

The Lord accepts us with our hard instincts.
>> The Lord takes into account our various mentalities and mindsets.

In His Divine Love, He squashes all such factors and patterns us into people fit for His Kingdom.

>> He doesn’t reject us in our over-zeal.
>> He doesn’t cast us away because of our impulses.

All that He expects is an openness to follow Him fully and allow ourselves to be moulded!

The Apostle Jude is given another title by St Matthew and St Mark: Thaddeus.
>> Thaddeus means “the courageous heart”

St Jude is one of the most popular saints in our world today, considering the fact that he is called as “The Miraculous Saint”. 
>> St Jude is the one whose aid is often sought when all hope is lost, especially in grave illness & life-&-death situations.

There is a story that since his name is identical with Judas Iscariot, who had betrayed Jesus, St Jude would hardly be interceded too, except in the most desperate situations!
>>  And hence, perhaps, he got identified as the Patron in Helpless Causes!

St Bridget of Sweden & St Bernard had visions from God asking each to accept St Jude as ‘Patron Saint of the Impossible’.

•       The Apostle Jude teaches us a few insights for our spiritual growth:

>>  Like the name – Jude Thaddeus – we are invited too, to have a “heart full of courage”.

The Kingdom of God requires brave soldiers and people of immense valour.

The Lord needs followers who are imbued with the might of His Holy Spirit and who boldly proclaim the Gospel and witness its values by their lives.

No situation of discouragement or setbacks will hinder the march of a “Courageous Heart”!

>>  St Jude, as the Patron of Desperate Cases, inspires us to have a deeper faith and trust in the Providence and Mercy of God.

The Lord is all-knowing.
> He wills what is best for us.

However, in our human frailty, we often tend to lose our hope and become highly desperate.

But this Saint teaches to grow deeper in our faith & know that “behind every dark cloud is a silver lining of the sun…(Son!)”!

>> St Jude also teaches the powerful role of Intercessory Prayer.

We are all created in the Image and Likeness of God, and each of us have a bounden duty to the other…to take care, to love each other and to pray for one another.

When we pray for others and bring others to the presence of God, we help them in their difficulties and join with them in solidarity and compassion.

There are many hidden flowers in a garden.
>> Yet, each one has its own beauty and fragrance and value.

These two apostles – St Simon and St Jude – are fairly hidden in the Gospels, and yet we can learn and be inspired much by them.

May the life and intercession of these two hidden, yet Great Apostles of the Lord…
… impel us further, to love God and His people…
… and spread the Gospel of God to many more!

Happy Feast of the Apostles St Jude and St Simon.

God Bless! Live Jesus!

27 Oct (Based on Mt 13:18-21)

“Little Is Much When God is in It!”

Jesus in the Gospels loves to use simple, tiny and insignificant objects, to project His message of the Kingdom!

Today He uses the example of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven in describing the Might of the Kingdom!

The mustard seed & leaven would’ve hardly received any attention in the normal sense.
>> But Jesus, the Master Artist paints these li’l objects into the Mighty Canvas of the Kingdom & delivers a powerful message…

>> The Kingdom of God has its humble beginnings….but it develops into a Powerful Force!
>> The Kingdom of God often starts very insignificantly…but it expands into a Huge Reality!
>> The Kingdom of God initiates in an unnoticed manner….but it enlarges into an Influential Entity!

Little Is Much when God is in It!

The mustard seed develops into a Tree, which renders shelter to the birds of the air…..

•The sinners find a solace in this Tree….
•The sick encounter support in this Tree..
•The rejected have a remedy in this Tree…
•The cast-outs meet consolation in this Tree….
•The prostitutes experience peace in this Tree…

The leaven which is little, makes the whole mass of dough to rise…

•The rod in Moses’ hand…a shepherds’ ordinary crook…became a mighty symbol of God’s Power
•The jawbone with Samson…. a decaying useless bone…became an instrument of killings thousands of enemies!
•The stone in David’s hand….an unnoticed stone… became the  means of conquering the gigantic Goliath!

Little Is Much When God is in It!

>>  We live in times when many things are explained or rejected in terms of science, psychology,  post-modern modern philosophies and assorted spiritualities
>> We live in times when material values and worldly attitudes are corroding our lives.
>> We live in times when ethical principles and traditional virtues often get kicked into the backyard!

>> Times are bad. Times are worsening. Times are sickening…
>> Times, are even, sometimes seen to be hopeless, scary and terrifying!

But we also ought to realize that…many things, which cannot be discovered and understood through the microscope of science and modern theories can be discovered by looking through the eyes of faith!

Yes, massive things can be seen and achieved by looking through the miniscule eye of Faith!

Our efforts and attempts to spread God’s Kingdom may be just minor and appearing to be insignificant…
  … like the Mustard Seed and the Leaven.

But, Little Is Much When God is in It!!

May we seek the grace to realise the power of “little things” and “little efforts” in building up the “Great Kingdom of God” and to spread the “Immense Love of the Lord” to all!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

26 Oct (Based on Lk 13:19-17)

One of the major topics that is dealt in psychology is that of Personality.

One of the personality that is often encountered is what is known as a Split Personality.
>> A person with a split personality has two or more distinct identity and alternates from one character to another.

But there is perhaps another personality which is not analyzed or studied much…but is often stumbled upon…

It could be called as a “SPIT” personality!

(Yes, you read it right.  Its spelt S-P-I-T….not SPLIT!)

This SPIT personality is a subtle yet very common phenomenon that is observed, including perhaps, in many of us…

(Of course, this term “Spit personality” derives from the bad habit of people spitting on the
streets…and making the whole surrounding quite ugly and filthy! )

The Spit Personality, that we are talking of, refers…
…to the habit of spitting out unpleasant words at others, without the least concern.
…to the practise of spitting out harsh and judgmental words, with minimal mercy.
…to the tendency to spitting out critical words to put down people in humiliation.

The Gospel of the Day brings a classical example of a person having this SPIT Personality.

The context is that of Jesus healing a woman who had been crippled for eighteen on a Sabbath Day.

However, after the healing, the leader of the synagogue was indignant that Jesus had cured on a Sabbath.
>> He told, “There are six days when work should be done. Come on those days to be cured, not on the Sabbath day” (Lk 13:14)

This leader of the synagogue, displays the SPIT Personality.

Here was something noble and good being done…
>> But he fails to see the goodness and instead shouts at the people for not keeping the laws.

Here was something miraculous and godly being performed…
>> But he closes himself to the Kingdom of God and focuses on the need to obey human rules.

His Spit Personality was badly unleashed!

Jesus, the Lord of healing and restoration, encountered the woman who had been crippled for many years…
> She was bent.
> She was in pain probably.
> She was also very much dispirited too.

Jesus saw her need…
… but the leader of the synagogue saw her as a nuisance.

Jesus understood her pain…
… but the leader of the synagogue chose to inflict shame on the people.

This is the trouble with a Spit Personality: One concentrates only on the negative aspects of persons and situations!

Jesus lashes out at such an attitude!

He calls the leader of the synagogue a hypocrite, and draws his attention to the greater and important dimensions of life!

“This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years, ought she not have been set free on this Sabbath day from this bondage?” (Lk 13:16)

The man focused on the rule of Sabbath…
… Jesus focused on the rule of love and liberation.

The man saw the commandment violated..
… Jesus saw a life been violated and in need of renewal.

The man burst out in anger and pride…
… Jesus blossomed out in compassion and humanness.

The Spit personality can be highly dreadful and inhuman.

Do I display any such characteristics?

If I fail to see the goodness in people…and instead speak only of their faults and mistakes…
… I may be having a Spit Personality!

If I fail to trust in God in hard situations…and instead only criticize and blame God…
… I may be having a Spit Personality!

If I get wild with people for tiny faults without considering their background & context…
… I may be having a Spit Personality!

If I spread calumny and gossiping rumours about the misdeeds of others…
… I may be having a Spit Personality!

If I fail to go beyond simple regulations in order to promote well-being and goodness… I may be having a Spit Personality!

The Lord of all Liberation and Wholeness today invites us to experience His Healing Touch.

Many of us are crippled and infirmed with this Spit Personality….
> We need a healing.
> We need a touch of the Lord.

The Spit Personality in us, can cause much damage to the people around us.
>> It can make our life unclean and miserable and cause people to avoid us.
>> It can make our families, our communities and our societies to be unliveable and unpleasant.

A strong decision needs to be made…
…to stop spitting bad words
…to stop spitting defamatory news
…to stop spitting harmful statements
…to stop spitting uncharitable remarks
…to stop spitting cruel and heartless comments!

May we let go of the Spit Personality and adopt…
…  a Spirit-filled Personality instead!
… a Service-minded Personality instead!
… a Strength-giving Personality instead!

May we seek to be cleansed…May we seek to be pure!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

25 Oct (Based on Mk 10:46-52)

Hurdles race in athletics is one of the exciting contests in the track and field events.

In hurdling, a runner has to race over a series of obstacles called hurdles, which are set at a fixed distance apart.

Life, sometimes, represents a hurdles race.
>> Many obstacles are placed in this track of life.

One needs to jump over these barriers in order to find meaning and success in life.

The Gospel of the Day is a story of one such person, who jumped over the hurdles in his life and found victory – Bartimaeus!

The story of the Blind Beggar, healed by Jesus is an incident recorded in all the three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke).

If we look at this incident in each of their accounts, we find that it is as if, this story has been filmed from three different cameras.

>> It could be like the same news story, but carried out on channel A, channel B and channel C.

The camera of each channel has picked up the story at a different angle.

The meaning and message of the life of Jesus is inexhaustible and the Holy Spirit allows the Gospel writers to present it from different perspectives and angles.

>> St Luke’s camera shows us that Jesus is entering Jericho when the blind beggar begins to call out (Lk 18: 35)
>> But St Mark’s camera shows us that the healing took place, not as Jesus was entering Jericho, but as Jesus was leaving the place (Mk 10:46)

>> Mark names him as Bartimaeus.
>> Luke doesn’t name him.

How could we reconcile this geographical fact of “apparent” difference?
>> Was Jesus coming out of or going into Jericho?

There could be one way of understanding this…

Jericho was one of the oldest cities in the world and it has been continuously occupied for thousands of years.

During the time of Christ, however, King Herod ordered a new business and administration centre to be set up, a few miles away from the original city.
>> This would be called as the New Jericho.

Eventually, the old and the new Jericho would merge.

An ideal spot for begging was to be on the road between the old and new city, where there would be a frequent passage of travelers especially the business people.

So, in that sense, Jesus was both leaving Jericho and going to Jericho: He was leaving the old site and going to the new one.

Then comes along St Matthew’s camera which shows us that there were two blind beggars that were healed (Mt 20:30), whereas the camera of St Mark and St Luke had only done a close shot of the one.

How could we reconcile this numerical fact of “apparent” difference?

There could be one way of understanding this…

For Mark and Luke, Bartimaeus was the main character in the story and was therefore the sole focus.
>> Perhaps Bartimaeus was known to them but the other man was a stranger to them.

The fact that only one man is recorded as speaking doesn’t mean there was only one man.
>>  It simply means Mark & Luke identified only one man, Bartimaeus speaking.

Matthew refers to both of them calling out to Jesus, clearly indicating there were two men.

In any case, to focus on these minor details to the exclusion of all else would be to miss the point of the story.

Christ healing the blind, El Greco, 1570

The star recipient in the story – the Blind Beggar, Bartimaeus – is the one who overcomes many hurdles and obstacles in his life to obtain the glorious healing from the Lord.

What were some of these hurdles?

1. He had to overcome the hurdle of “being blamed”

Bartimaeus lived at a time when sicknesses were traced to a life of sinfulness.

This blind man lived constantly under the shadow of this hurdle of “being blamed”.

>> He was blamed that he was blind because he or his ancestors had sinned greatly and was being “punished”.

>> He was blamed that it was he alone responsible for his pitiable state of being blind and having been reduced to being a beggar.

But Bartimaeus overcomes this “hurdle of being blamed” and finds the light of Jesus.

>> Am I in need of overcoming this guilt and shame of “being blamed”?

2. He had to overcome the hurdle of ” being depressed and hopeless“

It is a pitiful fact to being a beggar, lying pathetically, sitting in his filthy, dirty rags on the side of the road. The fact of his being blind made things even more worse. Life was highly cruel on him and the darkness of hopelessness clouded him.

But Bartimaeus overcomes this “hurdle of being depressed and hopeless” and encounters the glow of Jesus.

>> Am I in need of overcoming this pain and sadness of being depressed and hopeless”?

3. He had to overcome the hurdle of “discouragement and being put-down”

The crowd had become very hostile to blind Bartimaeus wanting to meet Jesus and rebuked and shouted at him to be silent. He had felt a ray of hope in Jesus, but the crowd considered him as a botheration and sought to suppress him.

But Bartimaeus overcomes this hurdle of “discouragement and being put-down” and experiences the illumination of Jesus.

>> Am I in need of overcoming the crushing and burdensome factors of “discouragement and being put-down”?

The Blind Bartimaeus shows us the way today, to overcoming hurdles…
…with an eager longing, a resolute determination and commendable humility.

Is my life blind, surrounded by the darkness of many hurdles? The Lord of Light is passing by…

> Let’s raise our voices.
>> Let’s lift up our hearts.
>> Let’s jump over the hurdles!

Yes…. “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

24 Oct (Based on Lk 13:1-9)

Humanity is a daily witness to calamities, catastrophes, adversities and disasters.
>> Tragedies occur in the life of every human being.

Every now and then, we hear of many reports of unpredictable or unimaginable misfortunes occurring in the lives of people….tsunamis, floods, earthquakes….or bomb blasts, mass killings etc..  In our own personal lives too, we experience a lot of painful moments…
…. very often, unexpectedly.

In the face of all these horrors… we are faced with many doubts and questions….
>> Why do these things happen to the innocent?
>> Why doesn’t the Good and Loving God do anything about all this?

>>> Sometimes, we even take on a critical and judgmental attitude and say, ” Probably, God is punishing all these people for their sins or their misdeeds”

In today’s Gospel, Jesus also is presented with a couple of human tragedies and made to react on them.

>> The first tragedy is about the Galileans who suffered at the hands of Pilate (Lk 13: 1-3)
>> The second is about the people who dies when the tower of Siloam fell on them (Lk 13: 4)

>> The first one is about a disaster brought about because of the cruel deeds of human beings
>> The second because of the misfortunes in nature.

In both these cases, however,  the people who died, were mere subjects to death…
>> They had an unfortunate death, without perhaps really being guilty.

And so the natural reaction of the people of the times was that, the people who died would have been greater sins, and they are being punished by God.”

“These people deserved death because of their sins” was the popular slogan of those times.

Perhaps, when faced with calamities, we too often take upon this judgmental attitude,

But here Jesus points out the great reality…

These calamities and disasters are not to be another occasion for us to pass judgments
>> Rather, they become golden opportunities for us to make a self-reflection  on our lives.

Like the tree which is given one more year –  to be dug around, to be given manure and to produce…these tragedies and events in life, present us with more time to examine, how do we live our lives.

Do we take our lives for granted?

Perhaps, we have a tendency to often think there is plenty of time in life.
>> And complacency creeps into our life.

But these tragedies point to us the fact, that after all human life is very short.
>> And in this short-lived life, we need to make the best use of God’s graces to repent and to lead a Holy life.

In Rev 22.7, Jesus says ” Behold, I am coming soon” .

As Christians, we believe in the Coming of the Lord.
>> No one knows the hour
>> No one knows the day

But, being prepared, being vigilant always, is a must, is a necessity.

Human tragedies and personal misfortunes are to be understood as God’s manifestations of Love for us, to have our lives set clearly on our priorities for God and His Kingdom

They are not to evoke fear or elements of judging
>>  Rather, should prompt us to take life more seriously, and to make Real Repentance and live a Holier Lives.

One of the practical tip that we could easily practice is our Daily Examination of Conscience.

When we daily examine our conscience, and make efforts to amend our lives with true repentance, we are able to live the graces that are showered on us.

Also, a meaningful Regular Confession helps us not only to be forgiven of our sins, but also gives grace to lead a more holy and unblemished life.

The Lord invites us today, to wake up from our slumber of taking life easy and cool

>> He disturbs us in our comfortable and cosy life…
… and challenges us to make real repentance and  lead a genuinely holy life.

Disasters, tragedies and misfortunes will keep happening.
>> But they are also a reminder for us to be eternally vigilant and keep guard over the sanctity of our lives.

Lets run in repentance to our Lord who seeks us…and Be His forever!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

23 Oct (Based on Lk 12:54-59)

Science and Technology, in our world today, as scaled amazing heights!

>> Many devastating natural calamities, have had their disastrous effects reduced or minimized, due to the efforts of the Meteorological Department.

>> Many countries have also daringly attempted to obtain information and knowledge regarding various aspects of our neighboring planet and also the entire space, in general.

Such amazing technological advances by human beings is an example of how we are learning to explore the deeper aspects of the mysteries in nature and the universe.

Human beings are truly marching miles in reading the signs in nature and the universe.

In the midst of all these great achievements, we are posed with some probing questions…
>> Are we falling short in reading the signs with respect to humanity’s moral degradation?

>> Are we failing to read the signs of the times with respect to humanity’s spiritual decline?

>>  Are we missing out reading the signs regarding the reign of God in our lives?

The Gospel of the Day is a reminder and a wake-up call, by Jesus to this dimension of our lives. Jesus says, “You superficial people! You understand the signs of the earth & sky, but you don’t understand the present times!” (Lk 12:56)

From ages past, human beings have been gaining expertise on interpreting the signs and indications given in nature…
o    Spotting of some dark clouds, to predict heavy rains…
o    A red sky at dusk, indicating a clearer sky the following day…
o    Strange movements of animals and birds, to predict earthquakes or other calamities…

Jesus uses this example in nature to expose the hollowness and duplicity of the people of His time.

Jesus came in the world to usher in the Kingdom of God.
>> He came to announce to the world that God is not some distant entity but rather is very seriously interested to be close to their lives.

To this end of announcing the Kingdom of God…Jesus performed a number of signs…

>>  He taught the Scriptures and the Laws with a greater freshness and stronger authority.

>> He healed the blind, the deaf and the dumb to make them witness His power.

>>  He raised up the dead and powerfully demonstrated the saving power of God.

>> He restored the crippled and cast out demons to show them God’s might.

  >> He forgave sinners and accepted the outcast to display God’s deep mercy and compassion.

  >> He searched for the lost and invited the oppressed to experience the depth of God’s love.

>>  He performed many miracles in nature to show God’s supremacy over the whole creation.

But many of the people failed to see beyond these signs…
All these miracles & manifestations of the Lord were very often looked upon with much suspicion & sometimes, even contempt!

Jesus pities such an attitude!

The people could interpret so easily the signs in nature…
>> But they failed to interpret the signs of the Kingdom of God!

The people could easily predict certain things by seeing the climate…
>> But they refused to hear God’s inviting voice, in the marvels performed by Him.

The people could easily tell certain events of the future by observing their surroundings…

>> But they adamantly declined to turn to Him in repentance, by seeing His deeds.

This is a danger that any one of us could also have in our own personal lives…

God sustains our daily life with much care…but we fail to give praise for His wonders.
>> We take for granted all these daily blessings.

God protects us from various calamities…but we fail to admit His providence.
>> We take for granted His shielding hand.

God infuses our lives with many inspirations…but we fail to give heed to His voice.
>> We take for granted all His tender invitations.

>  Personal sins are God’s ways of calling us to experience His Mercy and Justice.

>  Delays in prayers are God’s ways of asking us to Trust in Him more Deeply.

>  Accidents and calamities are God’s ways of calling us to trust in His Providence.

> Unexpected failures and pains are God’s ways of making us to Share in His Sufferings.

>  Happiness and a satisfied life is God’s ways of inviting us to Thank and Praise Him more.

>  Failure to overcome our bad tendencies is God’s ways of calling to us to a Life of Humility

>  Despair in life and hopelessness is God’s way of appealing us to Grow much more in Faith.

Signs from God, may sometimes be liked…sometimes be disliked.

St Augustine: ‘If you believe what you like in the gospels but reject what you don’t like, it’s not the gospel you believe, but yourself’

In trust and faith, let us walk with the Lord, knowing that all things “work for good, for those who love Him” (Rom 8:28)

Human beings have come a long way in technological advancements & seeking to conquer the outer space & powers of nature…

>> But we still have a long way to understand the mighty works being performed by God in our personal & communitarian lives.

Let us see the signs… Let us recognize God’s power… Let us march joyfully in Him!

God Bless! Live Jesus!