Christmas Goodies – Day 1

“THE ADVENT WREATH”

On Day 1 of our “Christmas Goodies”, we shall reflect on the Advent Wreath.

What it is?
>> The Advent Wreath is usually, made of various evergreens, with four candles – 3 purple and 1 pink-  representing the passage of the Four Weeks of Advent, and often a Fifth Candle, white in colour.

What elements can we learn?
1. The Evergreens – symbolize life and freshness
>> Our life ought to be lived in gratitude for the gift of life that God has blessed us with
>> We need to remain ever fresh with the grace of God

2. The Prickly leaves
>> They remind us of the thorns of Christ – His deep love shown in the pain He suffered for us

3. The Circle of the Wreath
>> It shows the infinity of God – no beginning or end; it calls us to let God be the Alpha and the Omega – the first and last- of everything that we do.
4. The purple Candles
>> They signify the virtues of faith, love and hope – the cardinal virtues that need to embellish our Christian Lives.

5. The Pink Candle
>> Lit on the Third Sunday called as the Gaudate Sunday, it symbolizes joy – a virtue that needs to be constantly displayed and nurtured.

6. The White Candle
>> It represents Christ, who is to be the Light of our life and needs to be placed in the centre of our life, words and actions.

What resolutions can I practise today?
>> Today I will seek to live more joyfully and be more hopeful, even in the hard situations of life
>> Today, I will seek to deepen my awareness that God wants me to have Him as the centre of all what I do.

Maranatha – Come Lord Jesus!

God Bless!

Christmas Goodies – Introduction

It’s that time of the year when the cold begins to slowly reign around… the nights get longer… and there is a sense of a serene, yet exciting festivity that is sensed around.

December is the month of the celebration of the Great Feast of Christmas.

Christmas is described as a tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future.
>> It is a fervent wish that every life may overflow with blessings – rich and eternal.

Yet, it is probably, many of our felt experience, that Christmas, slowly seems to be losing its spiritual sheen and getting reduced to merely a cosmetic occasion, a commercial event,  a business-filled period and a money-oriented affair.

“Christ” in the Christmas is being replaced by the unknown – “X-mas”!

As it is often said, “The Devil is most active and happy on Feast Days, because, all seem to be more occupied with external celebrations and fun”

This Christmas, therefore, is a reminder and a call, to “get back to the basics”… to get back Jesus and His love and message back in our festivities and celebration of His Nativity.

We therefore, for the next 24 days, prepare ourselves for this great event…spiritually, with the title, “Christmas Goodies”.
>> We shall dwell on the various common elements and characters associated with Christmas, and thus be able to raise our minds to the Lord.

This, we hope, will help us not to get lost in the glamour and glitz of this Sacred Season that the Church offers and instead, help us to grow deeper in the Love of the Lord…
… and be able to truly make December 25, not merely a calendar event – rather an experience of the Lord being born in our hearts!

As St Paul of the Cross says, “Celebrate the feast of Christmas every day, even every moment in the interior temple of your spirit, remaining like a baby in the bosom of the heavenly Father, where you will be reborn each moment in the Divine Word, Jesus Christ.”

Yes, Maranatha – Come, Lord Jesus.
Be born in our hearts!

God Bless!

Dec 1 ( Lk 10:21-24)

Some things in life are too beautiful to be forgotten…
Some things in life are too precious to be overlooked…
Some things in life are too meaningful to be avoided…

When one realizes the value of such things which are beautiful, precious & meaningful, life undergoes great transformation & conversion.

But the tragedy is that very often…
…such things fail to receive their due attention and honour
…such things fail to be accorded their deserving consideration and respect.

Among these things… the one which ranks as the best and the highest is the Holy Eucharist!

Today we shall consider the Gospel Passage from a Eucharistic perspective.

The Lord in today’s Gospel emphatically declares to His disciples,
“Blessed are the eyes, that see, what you see!” (Lk 10: 23)

When humanity sinned against God, He chose not to abandon the world; instead promised a Saviour and Redeemer.

This Messiah was awaited for many centuries.

>> Many righteous people were eagerly waiting for His coming…
>> Many Holy Prophets had prophesied His coming…

But when finally, He came, none recognized Him.

He was in the world and the world came to be through Him, but the world did not know Him.
He came to what was His own, but His own people did not accept Him (Jn 1: 10-11)

This was the most tragic of all twists…

God sought to write a perfect script for humanity.
>> But human beings, by their disobedience and pride, chose to malign this script.

And yet, God in His divine plan, sent a Hero to rescue the world.
>> But humans, once again, sought to tamper with God’s script, by not recognizing the Messiah!

The disciples were, however, given the special privilege to behold the Messiah!

This is why the Lord, in today’s Gospel, tells to His disciples, “Blessed are the eyes, that see, what you see!” (Lk 10: 23)

This Messiah is very much living and present in our world, in the Most Holy Eucharist.

Do we recognize and acknowledge this mighty and powerful presence of the Eucharistic Lord?

Our personal lives come into contact with daily struggles…

>> Family fights and disturbances…
>> Battling of sicknesses and diseases…
>> Rising Prices of essentials commodities…
>> Misunderstanding among relationships…
>> Cancers of alcoholism, drugs and smoking…
>> Tendency to give up the vocation to which we are called into…

> We have got our own battles to fight…
> We have got our own stories to tell….

In the midst of these daily scuffles and struggles of life, the Holy Eucharist ought to be the strength and support of our lives.

When we face financial crises and issues of economy and wealth…
>> Let us run to the Holy Eucharist, the supplier of every need and necessity.

When we face problems and cracks in our relationships…
>> Let us run to the Holy Eucharist, the unifier and connector of every bond.

When we face unacceptable behaviours and unhealthy habits…
>> Let us run to the Holy Eucharist, the One who can bring about true transformation.

When we face life-crippling sicknesses and paralyzing diseases…

>> Let us run to the Holy Eucharist, the healer and fountain of every consolation.

> The Holy Eucharist may not give us a perfect answers or solutions in the way we expect.
> The Holy Eucharist may not give us immediate responses and remedies in the manner we want.

But the Holy Eucharist will most certainly…

… strengthen us with grace and power to face the challenges with courage.

… infuse us with a deep and intense authority to defy any difficulties that we meet.

… empower us with immense joy and peace in order to withstand the storms of life.

The Lord waits for us day in and day out, in the Holy Eucharist.
>> Many turn to false philosophies in search of real joy.
>> Many turn to unhealthy spiritualities in search of true peace.
>> Many turn to unbecoming habits in search of lasting consolations.

We, however, are a chosen people… blessed with the grace to see, receive, worship and love the Eucharist.

> The Eucharist will give us real joy…
>> The Eucharist will give us true peace…
>>> The Eucharist will give us lasting consolation.

>> In the language of economics…
… It will be a big loss if we fail to tap on the mighty resource of the Holy Eucharist.

>> In the language of chemistry…
… It will be a big disaster if we fail to make use of the precious catalyst of the Holy Eucharist.

>> In the language of sociology…
… It will be a big tragedy if we fail to build on the valuable relationship with the Holy Eucharist.

>> In the language of physics…
… It will be a big failure if we fail to swing to our advantage the mechanism of the Holy Eucharist.

> The Holy Eucharist is a wonderful memorial that is too beautiful to be forgotten…

> The Holy Eucharist is a valuable gift that is too precious to be overlooked…

> The Holy Eucharist is a glorious treasure that is too meaningful to be avoided…

Let us the value of this beautiful, precious and meaningful Fortune and undergo a great transformation and conversion.

May we become a people who love and cherish the Holy Eucharist, and thus hear our Divine Lord telling us,
“Blessed are the eyes, that see, what you see!”

God Bless ! Live Jesus!

30 Nov ( Feast of St Andrew, the Apostle)

“I command you for the last time…. make your sacrifice to our gods” yelled Aegeas, the pagan judge.

“Certainly no!” was the reply back, “I sacrifice daily to The Almighty God, the one and true God.
Not the flesh of oxen and the blood of goats do I offer, but the unspotted Lamb upon the altar.

All the faithful partake of His flesh, yet the Lamb remains unharmed and living!”

Exceedingly angered by that adamant refusal, the judge commanded the rebel to be thrown into prison.

The supporters of the rebel, who stood outside the judging quarters, raised an uproar to free him.

But the one who was punished, personally calmed the mob, and earnestly pleaded with them to desist, as he was hastening towards an ardently desired crown of martyrdom.

When he was led to the place of martyrdom, on beholding the cross from far, he cried out:

“O Good Cross… so long desired and now set up for my longing soul, I confidently, with rejoicing come to you!

Exultingly receive me, a disciple of Him who hung on you.”

>> Within a few moments, he was tied to the cross – an X-shaped Cross!

For two days, he hung there.. alive… unceasingly proclaiming the Teachings of Christ, until he passed on to Him, whose likeness in death, he so ardently desired!

This brave martyr of Christ was St Andrew, the Apostle of Jesus, whose feast we celebrate today.

A few years back, this valiant martyr, St Andrew, had received the call of the Lord, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Mt 4: 19)

The name “Andrew” in Greek means “manly” or “a person of valour”.

St Andrew was from Bethsaida, in Galilee.
>> He was a fisherman, by trade and a former disciple of John the Baptist.

St Andrew is said to have been martyred at Patras in southern Greece on a cross which was in the shape of an “X”.
>>This type of cross has long been known as “St.  Andrew’s cross.”
>> This St Andrew’s Cross, is depicted, on the national flag of Scotland.

One of the wonderful things that we learn from St Andrew is his wonderful quality of being a “Introducer to Christ”, as seen in the various instances of the Gospel

1. It was St Andrew who “introduced to Christ”, his brother Peter (Jn 1: 40-42)

>> “We have found the Messiah” (Jn 1:41) were the words with which he introduced Jesus to his brother

2. It was St Andrew who “introduced to Christ”, the little boy with the five loaves and two fish, which would be later, multiplied for five thousand men! (Jn 6: 5-13)

>> “There is a little boy, who has five barley loaves and two fish…” (Jn 6:9) were the words with which he introduced Jesus to the little boy

3. It was St Andrew who “introduced to Christ” the Greeks who had come up to worship at the feast, at the request of Philip (Jn 12: 20-23)

>> “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (Jn 12: 23) were the words with which Jesus reacted when he was introduced to the Greeks.

Thus, we see that St Andrew became an instrument and an active medium of “Introducing to Christ” many people.

As a Christian, this ought to be one great quality and duty that we ought to follow – “Introducing to Christ” many people…like St Andrew.

>> And this can be one of the beautiful practical resolutions, that we can, do, all the 25 days of this Advent Season, in preparation for the Birth of Christ, into our hearts and life – “Introducing to Christ”

How can I take up this task of “Introducing to Christ”?

Many around us long to hear a word of encouragement in their brokenness, receive a word of consolation in their struggles and encounter a smile of hope in their helplessness
>> Can I “Introduce them to Christ” – to His love, to His message of hope, to His treasury of providence?

Many around us have immersed themselves into the murky waters of sin, immorality, injustice and insensitivity to people and nature
>> Can I “Introduce them to Christ” – to His ocean of mercy, to His fountain of justice and to His abundance of warmth?

Many around us have separated themselves and live in isolation – from people in relationships, from the Church and Her teachings, from the responsibilities and duties of their works and the society.
>> Can I “Introduce them to Christ” – to His dimension of wholeness in relations, to His Life-giving Sacraments and to His instruction of being faithful?

St Andrew heard the call of the Lord – “to follow Him”
>> He was touched by His love and was filled with a passion for His Master
>> He was zealous to bring many more to the Love of Jesus
>> He was even willing, to lay down his life, in imitation of his Master, for love of Him

We too, have heard the call of the Lord  – “to follow Him”
>> Are we touched by His love and was filled with a passion for His Master
>> Are we zealous to bring many more to the Love of Jesus
>> Are we also, willing, to lay down our life, in imitation of our Master, for love of Him

May St Andrew intercede for us and inspire us, by his tremendous love for the Master…
…. And may we too, like him, become people who “Introduce many to Christ”!

Happy Feast of St Andrew, the zealous Apostle who “Introduced many to Christ”!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Nov 29 ( Lk 21:25-28, 34-36)

Legends are common and are important to a culture.

A legend is a semi-true story, which has been passed on from person-to-person and has important meaning or symbolism inherent in it.

It usually includes an element of truth, involve heroic characters or based on historic facts, but with ‘mythical qualities’.

One such famous legend is that of King Nero.

In AD 64, a great fire consumed the city of Rome.
>>  For six days & seven nights, the Romans watched helplessly as their city burned..

This historical fact is accompanied by a legend which says that while the city of Rome was burning, its Emperor Nero was very casually busy, playing the fiddle!

It’s from this legend (true or not) that we get the English phrase “To play the fiddle while Rome burns”

>> It means to “do nothing or something trivial while knowing that something disastrous is happening”.

>> It means “to spend time enjoying oneself or doing things that are not important when one should be dealing with a serious problem”

The Gospel of the Day is a strong warning to examine whether we too, as in the legend of Nero, are engaging ourselves “in playing the fiddle, while Rome burns”.

We are on the first day of the Season of Advent.

In the Church, there are six different liturgical seasons…

1. The Season of Advent is a time to become aware of God’s deep faithfulness and preparing our hearts to receive Him more deeply into our lives.

2. The Season of Christmas invites us to experience, thank and cherish the intervention of God in our lives and to grow deeper in the understanding of the ‘Emmanuel God’ – the God Who is with us!

3. The Season of Lent invites us to focus on the reality of sin and make repentance.

4. The Season of Holy Triduum  invites to focus and experience the passion, death and Resurrection of our Blessed Lord

5. The Season of Easter invites us to focus on the mighty power of God through His Resurrection and the New life He promises.

6. The Season of the Ordinary Times invites us to focus on daily life and teachings of Jesus and draw practical conclusions for our life.

>> Advent is a time to become more aware of the presence of the Lord in our lives.

>> Advent is a time to wake up from the slumber of sin to a life of grace and blessing.

>> Advent is a time to shake off the dust of sluggishness and become more zealous and fervent.

The central theme of reading of the Day is Jesus’ warning to each one of us to be alert, watchful and prepared because Christ’s Second Coming can occur at any time.

We are invited to examine ourselves in asking….
>> Am I casually wasting away my life, without giving enough attention to my spiritual life?

>> Am I spending my time enjoying in vain, without paying attention to the higher things of life?

>> Am I dozing off in lethargy and laziness and failing to carry out my Christian responsibilities?

The Gospel of the Day speaks of the various signs that would signal the coming of the Son of Man. (Lk 21: 25-28)

It also gives a strict warning and a hard reminder to be always on the alert and be on the watch.
>> “But take heed…lest that day come upon you suddenly like a snare” (Lk 21: 34-35)

The Greek word used for “snare” is “pagis”.

> ‘Pagis’ comes from the word ‘pegnumi’ which means “a set up or a fix”.

It is a trap (fixed or fastened by a noose or notch) which can fall suddenly  so that wild animals and birds are caught by surprise.
>> And when it is set off there is no time to withdraw and avoid getting caught.

As soon as the prey takes the first bite or the first step, the snare is set off— and before the prey knows what happened, they are caught.

The Lord describes His Second Coming to the World  as this ‘snare’…. giving no time or chance for escape.

Everyone who is caught up with the cares of this life –  the day will come on them like a snare!

This, therefore, calls for alertness and watchfulness at all times.
>>  Our whole life, ought to be drenched in preparation and  vigilance.

But often times, we tend to allow laxity and sloppiness to dominate our lives.

We tend to become people “who play the fiddle, while Rome burns…”
>> Though we sense the fire of sins and transgressions burning in our lives, we play the fiddle of making many excuses and postpone the need to repent.

>> Though we sense the fire of indifference and unconcern burning in our relationships, we play the fiddle of not taking the lead to improve our contacts and slip into more hatred.

>> Though we sense the fire of abuses and corruption burning in our society, we play the fiddle of passing the responsibility onto others and promote those evils by our apathy and lack of concern.

This Season of Advent is a wonderful time to renew our commitment and consecration to the Lord.

The Lord wishes to come into our hearts….
… God will fulfill His promise of coming into us, when we do our part of being watchful and prepared.

As St. Thomas Aquinas says:
“Without God, I can’t. 
Without me, He won’t.”

> Let us become more watchful.
> Let us become more prayerful.

Let us stop “playing the fiddle while Rome burns”;
…  instead let us “be enthusiastic and responsible while (our heavenly) Home calls!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

28 Nov (Lk 21:34-36)

All of us have had the experience of utilizing certain things or products which work quite fine for some time….but as time passes, becomes less effective or less efficient.

> A ceiling fan/ table fan, after few months or years, tends to be less forceful…
> A fast-processing computer after few months of years, tends to slow down…
> Colourful clothes after a few washes or usage, tends to lose their initial glean and shine…

A similar aspect could be visible in our spiritual lives as well!

The Gospel of the Day is a reminder to examine this aspect in our lives and to make amends, in order to revitalise and revive our lives.

The Gospel begins with the verse ” But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation…”  (Lk 21:34)

Dissipation is strong word which could have several parallel understandings…

>> With respect to morality:
Dissipation refers to an overindulgence in sensual pleasures.

>> With respect to behaviour:
Dissipation refers to a conduct that shows one is interested only in pleasure, money, etc.

>> With respect to economics:
Dissipation refers to an act of using all or a lot of money, time, etc., in a foolish way.

>> With respect to physics:
Dissipation refers to a physical process by which energy becomes not only unavailable but irrecoverable in any form.

Dissipation is a tendency…
… to squander away enthusiasm because of allowing monotony to creep into life.
… to lose vitality as a result of being indulged in continuous immoral behaviours
… to leak-out the energy and vigor in oneself, in small amounts and thus become lifeless
… to become disinterested and dispirited due to constant exposure to luxury and comforts

Dissipation is a terrible malady that has badly affected many people in the Bible…

>> The people during Noah’s time were dissipated with eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage,  although God had sent out a warning of their destruction through Noah.

>> The citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah were dissipated with extremely immoral and corrupt practices, even though  the people were given a forewarning of their possible.

>> The people of Israel were dissipated with frustration and dissatisfaction while travelling in the desert and failed to understand the providential hand of God.

>> The disciples of Jesus were dissipated with sadness, shattering of hopes and brokenness after the death of Jesus and failed to believe and trust in His great promises.

We have a call to examine our lives and check whether we too have fallen into a state of “dissipation”…

>> Maybe my prayer life is “dissipated” due to various distractions, excuses of lack of time, complaints of being tired or just simply a lack of interest…

>> Maybe my personal intimacy with God is “dissipated” since I don’t experience any joyful or experiential feelings or because some of my expectations of God are not met…

>> Maybe my relationships with people is “dissipated” due to some friction or misunderstanding or an indifference that has sneaked in without any particular reason.

>> Maybe my family/community life is “dissipated” because I feel disinterested or not so enthusiastic in going beyond some of my personal comforts or I feel lonely in not feeling accepted or loved.

Dissipation can be a tendency that can steal into our lives very stealthily and can drain away much of our energy, eagerness and passion.

In the book of Revelations, the Lord has this complaint, ” ..I have this against you: you have lost the love you had at first. Realize how far you have fallen. Repent and do the works you did at first” (Rev 2:4-5)

>>> Let us seek to renew our initial fervour and zeal.
>>> Let us challenge ourselves to revive our zest and interest.

The Lord deserves not “dissipated” people, but “spirited” and “passionate” people!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

27 Nov (Lk 21:29-33)

“Endurance” is the name of an American reality television program.

The contestants of Endurance live in a remote location and participate in various mental and physical challenges.
>> The outcome of the competitions determines which players are eliminated.

The winners receive an all-expenses paid vacation package to an exotic location as the prize.

Christian Life is also a test of Endurance!
Unlike a reality show, it is real life….
… There are various mental, spiritual, emotional and physical challenges

Unlike an-all expenses paid vacation package as a prize…
… the Christian test of Endurance rewards Eternal Life.

Are we ready to rise to the challenge of this Christian Life of Endurance?

In this life of bravery and dare, we have the strength of an Enduring Factor – God’s Word!
“Heaven and earth may pass away, but my words will endure forever” (Lk 21: 33)

The Gospel of the Day is an exhortation to being committed to the Christian Life of Endurance by trusting always in the Enduring Word of God!

Words have immense power and potential.
>> They can cut.
>> They can hurt.
>> They can heal.
>> They can build.
>> They can make.
>> They can break.
>> They can crush.

And God’s Word has ultimate control and infinite power.
>> God’s promises through His Words are forever.

This is clearly manifested when we travel through the pages of the Bible.

>>> Abraham was called to a distant and unknown land.

He was promised descendants as many as the stars of the sky and the sand on the shore.

But nothing worthwhile seemed to be happening…
… God’s word seemed barren and infertile.

Yet, the enduring faith and the enduring trust of Abraham prevailed at the opportune time…
> God’s Word came to fulfillment and great completion

Yes, “Heaven and earth may pass away, but His words will endure forever”

>>> Moses was called to become the liberator of a nation.

He was promised complete guidance and absolute direction from God.

But often during the journey of liberation, Moses had to face the ire of the people…
… God’s word seemed empty and betraying.

Yet, the enduring conviction and the enduring confidence of Moses got him through…
> God’s Word displayed great glory and a mighty witness.

Yes, “Heaven and earth may pass away, but His words will endure forever”

Job was blessed with immense comforts and vast riches.
He was however permitted to be tested by Satan and lost much of his security and wellbeing.

Hopelessness and wrenching despair seemed to be his best companion.

God’s Word seemed to be abandoning and deserting him…
… Yet, the enduring tenacity and the enduring perseverance of Job prevailed to the end…

God’s Word showered him with great and marvellous riches.

Yes, “Heaven and earth may pass away, but His words will endure forever”

What is my faith and trust and hope in God’s Word?

In moments of life-crushing events and soul-hurting situations…
>> Do I endure and trust in the enduring and eternal power of God’s Word?

In times when the asteroids of bad luck crash against the surface of my life…
>> Do I endure and remain firm in the enduring and everlasting strength of God’s Word?

In times when my family, community and my world gets reduced to total splinters…
>> Do I endure and be positive in the enduring and emphatic might of God’s Word?

The Lord has promised each one of us, immense blessings and graces through His Word.

>> At times there are delays in the fulfillment of God’s Word, as in the case of Abraham
>> At times there are frustrations in the following of God’s Word, as in the case of Moses
>> At times there are misunderstandings in the listening of God’s Word, as in the case of Job
But the Lord invites us to remain Faithful, Trusting and Patient!
 

Let us seek to win the Christian test of Endurance by throwing ourselves into the Enduring power of God’s Word!

Yes, “Heaven and earth may pass away, but His words will endure forever”

God Bless! Live Jesus!