Let’s play a game together…
(I know, it will be a bit impractical to play… yet, let’s give it a try )
As they say, “there is no harm in trying something to achieve something worthwhile in life!”
The name of the game is ” Guess the Word!”
Here we go…
All that you need to do is to “Guess which word am I thinking now…!”
>> Yeah, you read it right… Simply guess the Word that I am thinking of… now!
Did I hear someone say “God”?
Well… You are wrong!
“New Year?”… Wrong again!
Hmmm… ” Resolution?” … ” Cross?”… “Celebration?” … “Chocolate?” … “Christmas?”
Sorry… but they are wrong…
Another try?.. Ok….
“Selfie?”…” Food” …”Suffering?” … ” Mass?” … “Books?”… “Flower?”… “Sleeping?”… or some other words?
Well.. sad to say… all your guesses turned out to be wrong!
The right answer…. the word that I am thinking of now is… is…” Pencil!”
Did anyone get it right?
>> I doubt…
If you ask me, why was I thinking of a “pencil”.. I will say, “Well, just simply! No reason”
It would have taken you a very long time to guess that word?
? and probably, you would even have never ever guessed that word!
Not that it was too difficult or something abstract…
But simply because there is almost no other way you can think the Word that I have in mind, unless I myself tell it to you!
The point is?? “The Word that was thought” will be known clearly only if it is “revealed”!
.. Is it not?
Now let’s take this concept of “Guessing the Word” to the Divine Realm….
Human Beings at every point of time in every civilization., every culture, have sought to know and establish a link and relationship with the Divine
…. to know what is the mind of the Divine…
… to guess what is the plan of the Almighty…
…to discern what is the thought of the Supernatural…
>> Some philosophers sought to crack this code by drawing out many theories…
>> Some sages and prophets spent time in deep contemplation and wrote many literatures…
>> Some noble thinkers dedicated their entire lives to put forward doctrines and teachings…
> Some of these we call it as religions.
>> Some as way of life.
>>> Some as philosophies of life.
But none of them were able to clearly know and discern the Divine.
It was just as we played the “guessing the word” game…
>> Many of the guesses were attempted.. some were close…yet, none were fully right!
The Word in the mind of the Divine, would be known clearly only if it is revealed!
And that spectacular instant of revelation is what we call as Incarnation of the Word!
>> The Divine Historic Moment when the Almighty revealed His Word is called Incarnation!
We read in today’s Gospel reading.. John 1: 14, “And the Word became flesh!”
>> The Word in the mind of God took human form in Jesus!
Jesus is the visible, the revealed and the manifested Word of God!
>> Jesus is the Son of God… Jesus is God, the Son!
>> Jesus is the Word made flesh… Jesus is God in human flesh!
What is the impact of this most unique and most spectacular event of history… Incarnation?
>> Humanity which had strayed away from God, now has found another chance to be re-united.
>> Human beings steeped in sin, were provided with an opportunity to be saved and redeemed.
>> Humanity is empowered not with abstract human teachings, but by the Divine Person Himself
>>> This is what makes Christianity different from all other ways of life or religions…
>>> This is what makes Christianity unique among all other philosophies of life…
> It is utter absurdity for philosophers, for the Infinite to become finite…
> It is purely mythical for the naturalist, for the Transcendent to be understood…
> It is totally unscientific for the rationalist, for Fullness to be reduced to limitedness…
But This is The Truth.
>> This is the Reality.
>> This is the Fact.
In Incarnation? the God of Love was now wrapped in human flesh.
… the Almightiness of God moved in a human arm.
… the Love of God now beat in a human heart.
… the Wisdom of God now spoke from human lips.
… the Mercy of God reached forth from human hands.
You & I are the beneficiaries of knowing the answer of this game “Guessing the Word? which humanity was engaged with the Divine, for centuries!
Jesus is that answer!
>> And Jesus can be the answer to all the problems and difficulties of our lives.
>> Have we allowed Him – Jesus, the Word – to take flesh in ourselves?
>> Have we permitted Him – Jesus the Word – to have an impact in our lifestyle?
>> Have we consented to Him – Jesus, the Word – to become the centre and totality of our lives?
We are on the last day of the year.. and at the threshold of yet another New Year…
As we thank the Lord for the gift of this year 2015…
… with its ups and downs
… with its learnings and experiences
… with its joyful events and sad moments
Let us also realize that…
… There can be no spectacular resolve
… There can be no greater discovery
… There can be no better resolution
… There can be no higher decision
… than to allow Jesus, the Word to take firm and absolute control of our lives!
Are we ready to usher in the New Year- 2016, with Jesus, the Word taking complete flesh in us?
Yes, He is The Only Way… The Only Truth.. The Only Life – JESUS, THE WORD REVEALED AND MADE FLESH!
Thank You Lord for the Year 2015.
>> We seek to be Holier and “belonging to You more” in 2016!
God bless! Live Jesus!
There is a quotation by William Barclay, a famous theologian:
“There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why!”
One of them is easier and simpler than the other.
One is just a date and a moment in history.
>> It could be something like the 28th of November or the 7th of March or the 14th of July etc…
This was the day, we first made our appearance on this earth.
This day is special….
The other day is also special…but it’s not easy to discover it!
In fact, it is an arduous task and a patient undertaking.
>> That is day we figure out why we are on this Planet Earth.
>> That is the day we come to a greater realization of our Life.
The first day tells that I am here in this earth!
>> The second day would tell us “why” I am here on this earth!
To discover this meaning and purpose of life and seek to live it fully well, will make our lives satisfying and truly happy.
>> It could happen in one day?
>> It could happen over a period of some years?
>> It could happen over one’s whole lifetime!
Yet, the most important thing is to “keep seeking for it and be alert for its discovery”
>> Am I in this all-important process of discovering “Why I am born in this world”?
The Gospel of the Day will point out today to a person who discovered greatly this aspect of the purpose in life, and dedicated her whole life for it – Anna, the Prophetess.
We are still in the festive passages of Christmas – the Nativity of our Saviour.
Joseph and Mary have brought their Beloved Child, Jesus, to the temple to be presented to the Lord.
After the ritual purification rites and customs, the Holy Family of Nazareth is encountered by Simeon.
>> He who was docile and open to the promptings of the Spirit discovered the Glory of God.
>> He who was patient and constantly in quest, was blessed with the true meaning of his life.
At the same time, another woman was also eagerly waiting for the Messiah…in constant eagerness and longing…Anna!
‘Anna’ is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Hannah, which means, ?grace.?
>> Like the Old Testament Hannah, this Anna is also characterized by prayer and fasting
She was the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.
>> Asher was one of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Asher is considered to be one among ten of these tribes, which had strayed away from the path of the Lord, that were taken captive by the Assyrians in 722 BC, before the northern Kingdom fell.
However, ?some men of Asher, of Manasseh, and of Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem? (2 Chr 30:11).
So, Anna belonged to that small remnant of the tribe of Asher, that had humbled itself to seek protection & providence in the Lord.
Anna was, however, a widow?
>> She was a widow for a very very long time…
? for over seven decades, she had been a widow.
>> It was a tremendous grief to live so long without the love of a husband.
>> It was a dreadful challenge to struggle for survival and existence as a widow.
Sorrow can cause two consequences to a believer….
>> It can make one hard, bitter, resentful and rebellious against God
>> It can make one kinder and dependable on God!
>> Sorrow can cause our faith to be spoilt
>> Sorrow can cause our faith to take deeper roots!
Anna, the widow, chose the better part!
>> She chose to reveal and revel in the Grace of God and live a Gracious Life!
And this process of her discovering “why she was born in the world” made her to…
1. Practice a life of purity: She lived in holiness and integrity.
2. Pray constantly: She lived in the temple continually and was incessantly fasting and praying
3. Persevere Patiently: She battled loneliness and depression and persevered successfully to meet the Lord.
4. Proclaim Boldly: She challenged others in their cozy life by proclaiming the Messiah and His promises!
Life is constantly calling and challenging us to discover “the day why I am born”
It’s easy to while away our time in comforts and pleasures of this world.
>> But that will certainly not serve the goal of our existence here on this earth.
Each of us have a specific task and responsibility entrusted by the Lord.
>> This role is proper to our own vocation as in family life or in a consecrated life.
In God’s precious eyes, there are no small or great responsibilities.
>> He values and treasures each and every duty -small or big- with equal measure.
Every task, when performed with immense love and dedication has its greatness.
Anna, the old lady, “Young and Vibrant at Heart” teaches us today…
? To pursue what we are to be…to discover “why I am born”…to prevail in our aim!
…by Practicing a Life of Purity
… by Praying Constantly
… by Persevering Patiently
…by Proclaiming Boldly!
God Bless! Live Jesus!
Mobile phones come with this option of keeping it in the silent mode.
Usually in a silent mode, one fails to notice a call.
But if one has been eagerly and excitedly waiting for someone’s call, it will be received, even if the phone is kept in the silent mode..
Great blessings from God often come to us silently and quietly.
But the one who is waiting eagerly and patiently excited, receives these blessings even in the silent mode of events…
Such was the case when the Lord was born…
The Messiah was promised long back.. centuries ago.
>> Yet, when we go through the accounts of the Bible, it seems that most people were not ready to receive Him…
> King Herod never seemed to be ready for such a happening..
> The Scribes and Scholars of the time never seem to have expected…
> The rich and the powerful people of Bethlehem failed to have any notice of Him…
Hardly anyone knew when and where the Saviour – the Little Babe was born!
It seemed like a call on the mobile phone that is kept in the silent mode!
>> Silently, the precious gift was delivered…
>> Without and fuss or fanfare, the marvelous treasure was presented…
But there was also a slender group of people, who were waiting for this Blessed Fortune…
>> There were some who were waiting eagerly and patiently excited..
Among this tiny set of persons was Simeon!
In some dramas, we see some characters who appear on the stage just once… speak a few crucial dialogues or perform some significant deeds…and they disappear…never to be seen again…
Simeon is one such figure…
We know nothing about his background, his hometown, his education, or even his occupation.
We assume that he was an old man?but even that is not explicitly mentioned.
He simply appears on the stage of salvation drama for a few moments…
>> After his part is over, he fades from the scene, never to be heard from again!
We however, do know….that this Simeon was waiting eagerly for the Lord.
We could just imagine how Simeon would have gone through his days of waiting for the Saviour of the world…
>> Every time some couple walked in with child, Simeon would have asked, “Could this be the Promised Messiah?”…
Finally, when Mary and Joseph walked in with the child Jesus…Simeon sensed the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
However, looking at them, perhaps, a doubt would have arisen in his mind…
>> “Could the child of this simple and ordinary parents really be the Messiah?
>> The man seems to be some ordinary carpenter sort of…and the mother looks so ordinary a peasant girl.
>> Is it really possible that the Messiah, the Promised Saviour of the Universe, be having such simple and ordinary parents?”
And probably, the voice of the Holy Spirit would have boomed into the ears of Simeon…
Truly.. .there is the Messiah.. the One promised by God!
“Human beings seek external appearances….but God chooses by His own Divine standards.
Doubt not… but go and meet Him, who was promised for ages!
Believe firmly…and encounter the One who is the Salvation of the world!”
Do I seek and listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in my life?
It could come through various formats?
>> Inspirations… Thoughts… Circumstances…Other people… Commandments of the Church.. Bible.. Challenges in Life…etc…
Do I be in patient waiting and constant vigilance to hear this voice of the Lord?
>> Sometimes we cast away inspirations and feelings as trivial and minor…
>> Sometimes we discard some people as just insignificant and unimportant…
>> Sometimes we pass of situations and circumstances as ordinary and common…
>> Sometimes we reject commandments and teachings as outdated and obsolete…
But the Lord…through the patient and ever-watchful Simeon, today, invites us to always be on the watch to listen to the promptings of the Spirit…
We sometimes miss important calls when our phones are kept in silent mode…
Let it not happen so with the movements of the Spirit…
>> Let us always be observant and alert…
The Spirit is talking.. the Spirit is moving…
>> Are we listening?
>> Are we aware?
God Bless! Live Jesus!
Christmas is a time of great celebration and festivities.
The time after Christmas is often a phase of getting through with many cakes, sweets, food…
>> The foodstuff prepared for the occasion often exceeds the required amount and thus, it needs a few more days to consume it fully….
Something similar also happens in the spiritual realm…
For many people, the spiritual significance of an event like Christmas cannot be absorbed and completed in a day.
It’s like trying to comprehend the grandeur of some magnificent places like the St. Peter’s Basilica at Vatican or the Taj Mahal in Agra or the Niagara Falls or other greater and dazzling sites, in one walk-through.
It’s not too easy.
>>We have to return back to those experiences, in order to grasp greater, the beauty and the splendour.
So it is with the spectacular event of the Nativity..
We need more time to comprehend about the Christmas Night, more time to understand the Virgin Birth, more time to realise that God came down to earth as a tender Babe for our salvation etc…
As a result, the Church gives us seven additional days to contemplate these divine mysteries.
These extra days on the liturgical calendar, along with the feast day – eight in total – is called as The Christmas Octave.
Every day of the Christmas Octave is filled with meaning that reflects back on the Nativity – not just the birth of Christ, but the impact, the reality and the consequence of that birth in the lives of different people.
It’s interesting to note that each of the three days following the Feast of Christmas, commemorates a different type of martyrdom…
1) Dec 26th – the Feast of St Stephen – the Martyrdom of the Will, Love and Blood:
>> By His powerful witness, St Stephen was stoned to death in act that was completely willed by him, totally offering his Love for Jesus & shedding his blood.
2) Dec 27th – the Feast of St John – the Martyrdom of the Will and Love:
>> By a life of immense faithfulness & total dedication, lived with a tremendous passion and fervour, St John suffered the martyrdom of the Will and of Love.
3) Dec 28th – the Feast of the Holy Innocents – the Martyrdom of Blood:
>> On coming to know of the birth of Jesus, King Herod ordered that males under the age of two should be executed. These little babies, too little and young to form a will and a desire to love, became martyrs of Blood. (Mt 2:16)
>> Their innocent blood came in defence of the blood of their Divine Contemporary – Baby Jesus, who would grant salvation to them by His Precious Blood!
On this fourth Day of the Christmas Octave, Dec 28th, Holy Mother the Church celebrates the Feast of The Holy Innocents – the martyrs of Blood
The news that a new King of the Jews was born, caused great ordeal for King Herod (Mt 2: 3)
>> He became all the more furious, when he heard that the Magi had deceived him (Mt 2:16)
The easiest solution found was to kill all the males under the age of two.
To react negatively, in a situation of hardship, often seems to be the easiest way out.
>> But it is an extremely cheap and low way of going about
But Herod fell into this snare of “negative reaction” and had little babies killed.
>> These little babies, too little and young to form a will and a desire to love, became martyrs of Blood. (Mt 2:16)
St Augustine would say, “they are the first buds of the Church killed by the frost of persecution; they died not only for Christ, but in his stead!”
The number of children killed is uncertain.
There are a number of views on the actual number of children who were killed.
>> The Byzantine Liturgy (Greek) says that Herod killed 14, 000 boys
>> The Syrian Liturgy speaks of 64,000.
>> Another scholarly study suggests that Bethlehem was a very small town, at the time of Jesus, with a population of maybe 300. The number of children below the age of two could be very less – maybe six or seven.
But the fact remains, that it was a tragic gravely foul and grievously painful.
The death of the little children is a reminder that our earthly life is a pilgrimage…
… to be oriented for the eternal life in heaven
The dreadful massacre of the innocent children can easily cause a question to arise in us:
>> Why did God allow the helpless death of the children before their own parents?
>> Why did these little children have to be murdered, for saving the Divine Child?
>> Could not God have planned a noble way of saving Him?
Such questions can easily cause our faith to be disturbed or even be scandalised by the ways of God
But it brings home an important truth: Our earthly life is a pilgrimage.
>> No one knows how long we will live – some die in infancy, some in their old age; some die prepared, some suddenly and tragically.
This is the reality that we find in the world – we like it or not, we accept or not.
It therefore, is a call for us, to nurture life in the best way possible …
>>> Our own lives by living in holiness and fidelity to the Will of God
>>> Preserving, nurturing and enhancing the lives of others – including the little infants in the wombs.
This commemoration of the Holy Innocents is a reminder to open our eyes to see the tragedies of the world and become courageous torchbearers of justice
This passage of King Herod and the Holy Innocents, might sometimes seem to be like…
… “the unwarranted bone” in the tasty meal of Christmas
… or the “jarring note” in the melodious music of Christ’s Nativity.
We often like to live in “cosy and comfortable” situations – even if it means, closing our eyes to the stark and tragic realities of life
But it is the obligation of every Christian to “get out of every comfort zone”…
… and enter into the “suffering sections” of the society, and give them hope, consolation and life.
The “cry of the mothers of the innocent children”…
… Mt 2:18 – “A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation”…
is also a “Carol”, that is heard every Christmas
Yes, may we deeply understand that Christmas – the birth of Christ, ought to not simply be a “festival of fun or frolic”…
… but also should lead us to hear the many “cries of innocents” today – the oppressed and the abused, the voiceless and the helpless, the sinful and the lonely etc.
Salutations to the Holy Innocents and Glory to the Divine Babe, Jesus!
God Bless! Live Jesus!
There goes a story about a family, in the US, that was struggling to survive during the Great Economic Depression in the 1940’s…
>> The father of the family had lost his job, and they moved to the city to find work.
They couldn’t afford to buy their own house, so they lived in the basement of someone else’s house, paying a large rent for the tiny space.
It was not the most comfortable or cosiest situation – Mom, Dad, and Five Children cramped into a mouldy basement.
But they made the best of it by pouring as much love as they could into little things.
>> They kept the place neat and clean.
>> They had their small and sparse meals together every day.
>> They said their prayers each morning and each evening as a family.
>> They even pitched in to help other families who were in even more difficult situations.
One day, one of the children’s school teachers came by to visit the family.
>> She was shocked at the cramped quarters and the poverty of the family.
The next day at school the teacher took the little girl aside and tried to comfort her.
She said, “I am so sorry that you don’t even have a home to live in!”
But the little girl was surprised and answered:
We have a wonderful home; we’re just still looking for a house to put it in!!”
The li’l girl did not have a proper house, but she had a wonderful home!
>> The family was constricted into a tiny space, but they had much space for each other in their hearts!
Yea, it’s the little things in life that can make the biggest difference.
Often times, we have a grand house but a very poor home…
We have many big things – a three-car garage, a home movie theatre, football-sized rooms, latest of communication & entertainment gadgets etc…
But very often, something essential is missing…
Is it true?
>> Are we living in a “House” or in a “Home”?
Today Holy Mother Church takes delight in celebrating the Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
>> This was a home with much joy and peace, though it struggled to have even a proper house.
The Holy Family of Nazareth is often considered as the perfect and ideal family.
In which sense is it perfect and ideal?
>> Free from problems?
>> Lack of tensions?
>> Absence of worries and fears?
>> No tension of financial constraints?
>> Abundance of wealth?
Well… if these are the yardsticks to define a perfect and ideal family, the Holy Family of Nazareth would be too far from it…
This “ideal” and “perfect” family of Nazareth had to undergo many severe crises, as in any of our families…
• The young Mary had to face an unplanned pregnancy…
She was thrown between a choice to face stoning for death or placing hope in God.
• The just man Joseph had the dilemma of accepting a lady who could be doubted by society…
He faced the challenge of divorcing his to-be-wife or to accept her in faith and trust.
• Joseph and Mary failed to find a proper place even to have the birth of their child…
• At the middle of the night, they had to abandon their only place of refuge and fly to Egypt…
• At the age of twelve, Jesus gets lost and His words to them are not understood by the parents…
• A few years into boyhood, Jesus loses Joseph, his caring Father and the young Mary becomes a widow…
Are these “ideal” or “perfect” situations for a family?
Then, how do we say that the Holy Family of Nazareth is an “ideal” and “perfect” family?
>> Idealness and Perfection comes not as a result of absence of problems and difficulties.
>> Idealness and Perfection is attributed not because of being free from any risks or challenges.
They were able to move beyond a “house” and build a “home” because They had God as their Ultimate Refuge and They always sought and listened to what God wanted in Their lives!
>> Idealness and Perfection is ascribed because They chose to trust and hope in God always!
>> Idealness and Perfection is credited because They sought to walk as per the Will of God always!
What about our families?
Today, unlike any other time in the history of the world, a family or a community faces severe challenges…
>> Consumerism and materialism ruins the fabric of a family…
>> Individualism and self-priorities hampers the structure of a family…
>> Failure to understand and readiness to abandon each other becomes quick solutions…
>> Media and other “knowledge sources” bombard minds with many alternative lifestyles…
As a family and a community, we today, stand before the Crib and gaze on the “Ideal” and “Perfect” family of Nazareth…
>> They had Their own issues and problems…
>> They had their own sets of difficulties.
We might argue, that their problems are nothing compared to what we are going through.
Yet, the method and style of handling and tackling the problems
remains the same…
>> Seeking to do God’s Will…
>> Being steadfastly faithful to one another in every crisis…
>> Being the strength to each other in rough times…
>>> The Holy Family challenges us to place unity and love as the prominent concerns.
>>> The Holy Family exhorts us to trust God in all situations and have God as the highest priority
>>> The Holy Family invites us to understand and accept each other and love the other as they are
We need to build and mould our families lovingly, inspired by the Holy Family of Nazareth.
>> Let us move from being just “house-makers” to being “home-makers”…
>> Let us go beyond the fleeting concept of “houses” to build everlasting and loving “homes”…
Are we living in a House or in a Home?
Happy Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth to all our Families!
God bless! Live Jesus!