Feb 1 (Mk 5:1-20)

It was a healing and deliverance session in a praise and worship music concert.

The music was in full blow…
>> The praises were ringing high…
>>> The atmosphere was electrified….

In that high and spirited ambience, the choir began to sing the hymn,
“In the name of Jesus, In the name of Jesus, we have the victory….
In the name of Jesus, In the name of Jesus, demons will have to flee…”

As this hymn of mighty power and deliverance was being sung…
… some of the people who were standing in front, and were reportedly demon-possessed, also began to sing and dance joyfully!

Now that was something surprising and shocking for the people who were singing on the stage…

It was a song for deliverance…
… but instead, these possessed people were also enjoying…

It was a song for liberation…
… but instead, these possessed people were also rejoicing…

On asking them as to how could they be also happy and rejoicing, these people answered:
” Well, although most of you are singing, ‘In the name of Jesus, demons will flee’, none of you seem to be singing it with any conviction or belief.

You seem to be enjoying the music more..
… and so therefore, we too are happy to enjoy the music and sing along!”

>> The hymn lost its power and value…
… because it was sung merely as a fast number!

>> The prayer lost its sanctity and sacredness…
… because it was sung merely as a jumping song!

There was no authority in the singing.
>> There was no credibility in the prayer.
>>>> There was no sincerity in the faith.

When authority and integrity are lacking in a spiritual endeavour, there is very less spiritual growth and nourishment!
>> When authority and integrity are present in a spiritual endeavour, there is much spiritual progress and advancements!

The Gospel of the Day is an exhibition of how true integrity and authority can work tremendous wonders, conversions of heart and transformations of life!

Jesus had come to the other side of the sea, to the country of Gerasenes.

When He came to this place, Jesus encountered the man with an unclean spirit…
…. powerful and strong
… commanding and terrifying

But the Majestic Presence of the Lord, overwhelmed this spirit-possessed person.

The Gospel says, “And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshipped Him…” (Mk 5:6)

The amazing factor in the ministry of Jesus was His tremendous authority!
>> The wondrous aspect in the ministry of Jesus was His awesome integrity!

Elsewhere, in the Gospel of St Mark, we read…

>> The people “were astonished at his teaching, for He taught as one who had authority…” (Mk 1:22)

>> “..they were all amazed so that they questioned among themselves…. ‘…with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him” ( Mk 1: 27)

This authority and integrity came…
… through His deep union with His Heavenly Father.
… through His faithfulness to the commands of His heavenly Father
… through His undivided devotion to His Heavenly Father

How authoritative, credible and integral are we in our life…
… as a Christian?
…  in the family?
… as a consecrated person?

Authoritative does not mean arrogance…
>> Credibility does not mean over-confidence…
>>> Integrity does not mean super-importance…

Authority, credibility and integrity in the Lord means…
… filled with the power and strength of God’s Spirit
… imbued with a deep passion for the Lord and His Church
… living an honest lifestyle in accordance to God’s Will and teachings

The Gospel of the Day calls us to check and examine…
… is my prayer life and devotion truly authentic and credible?
… is my preaching and spreading of God’s Word filled with His Holy Spirit?
… is my reception of the Sacraments helping me to make an honest effort to be a true Christian?

Let our prayers become a true raising of hearts to God…
>> Let the receiving of the Sacraments become an honest transformation for life…
>>> Let the spreading of God’s Word become a credible witness to God’s Kingdom….

Jesus is our model and example to be true and honest in life!
>> Jesus is our ideal and standard to be faithful and  committed to our mission!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Jan 31 (Lk 4:21-30)

One of the most painful words in perhaps the whole of dictionary is the word … “Rejection”

And this is perhaps one word, that has been experienced in life, by most of us.. if not all.
•       Most of us have felt the sting of rejection…
•       Most of us can recollect instances and situations of rejection even now…
•       Most of feel a twinge within ourselves when we hear this word ‘rejection’…

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus, our Master undergoing the painful experience of ‘rejection’.

The background of the Gospel passage of the day is that Jesus is in the Synagogue at Nazareth at the beginning of His ministry.

Being handed over the Scripture from the book of Isaiah, Jesus spoke of the fulfillment of the text that was read:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor….” (Lk 4:18)

The graciousness of His words and the eloquence of His speech attracted the audience to Himself.

The first impression was surely a wonderful impression…
… but as time would prove, it is not always the best and lasting impression.

When He began to teach the people of how God has brought His salvation and the message of hope to not just the Jews, but the Gentiles also, murmurs of rejection began to crop up.

•       The message of straight talk to the heart, which affected their inner lives, caused uneasiness to His listeners.
•       The delivery of the truth which had a direct bearing upon their lives and attitudes, caused edginess to arise among His listeners.

And so, there happened a conversion…
…. a conversion, not for the good, but for the bad!

•       They were converted from having a good opinion of Jesus to forming a detestable view on Him
•       They were converted from nodding their heads in approval to shaking their heads and clenching their fists in refutation and denial.

How true a picture is this of many a human nature….
>> We appreciate those persons who speak what we wish to speak…
… but deny those who speak against us, even if they speak the truth!

>> We encourage those people who harp the same tune that we wish to hear…
… but terribly denounce those who play the melody for a genuine transformation!

The Lord was rejected!
>> And He Himself testified to this naked reality:
“No prophet is accepted in his own native place” (Lk 4: 24)

The Gospel of John presents this reality in a more dramatic manner:
“He came to His own and His own rejected Him!” (Jn 1:11)

Rejection is a part of each of our lives…
>> And the rejection is much greater and true, when one stands for the truth and the values of the Gospel!

•       We get rejected by our friends who don’t approve when we seek to live a holier lives…
•       We get rejected by the society which is unable to appreciate those wanting a sanctified life…

But the Lord assures us.. “In all your rejection, look up to me!”

“There was no one who was rejected as I was…
>>> I was rejected when I was born….
>> I was rejected when I lived…
>> I was rejected when I died….”

“Are you also going to reject me… I, who have risen from the dead?”

Some of us who use the mobile phones, in the dictionary mode, would have experienced this simple fact…
When one types the word “rejected” in the dictionary mode, in a mobile phone, it appears as “selected”…

Try it if you wish….

The same is true when we type in the word “rejected” in the Divine mode…. before the Lord!
•       He converts every “reject” to a “select”…
•       He converts our “rejection” to a “selection” for grace and sanctification
•       He converts our “rejection” to a “selection” for purification and strengthening.

Let us seek the intercession of St Don Bosco, whose feast is celebrated on the 31st of January.
>> In his words, “Take up the shield of faith so that you can resist the assaults of the devil.”

Our lives have suffered much pain and our hearts are a canvas of much agony of rejection.
>> But the Lord today invites us to go to Him and seek solace, healing and consolation from Him.

He Who was rejected, is the Lord of acceptance!
>> He Who was rejected, is the Saviour of hope!
>>> He Who was rejected, is the God of healing!

Let us choose Him as the Lord and Love of our Life!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Jan 30 (Mk 4:35-41)

The journey with the Lord is always an interesting one…

>> There are moments of tremendous joys and happiness…
>> There are times of fascinating delights and elations…

There are also however, moments of dryness and silence.

The Gospel of the Day is an account of the Disciples experiencing this dryness and silence, in their journey with the Lord.

Its a very late evening…nearing midnight…
>> The disciples along with Jesus, who have embarked on a boat, are caught in the midst of a heavy storm.

“A violent squall came up and the waves were breaking over the boat..” (Mk 4: 36)

Some of the disciples were fishermen.

They had been many many years at the sea.
>> They had often suffered the fury and vehemence of nature
>> They had been greatly used to many storms and tempests at sea.

But this storm seemed to be too fierce and too ferocious.

>> The disciples feared greatly!
>> The disciples panicked very much!

With death bells ringing in their ears, and a dreadful end before their eyes…
..the disciples were shocked to see Jesus, unmoved and unperturbed.

“Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion” (Mk 4:38)

In the moment of their deep anguish and helpless, the disciples cry out:
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mk 4:38)

>> The boat could capsize anytime and all of them could be drowned soon…
>> The storms could lash brutally and the waves could overturn them any moment…

Time was fast running…

But Jesus seemed totally unfazed!
>> Jesus seemed totally disinterested!

And they cry out to Jesus… Lord, do you not care??!!

How many times have we screamed similar words to God:
“Lord, do you not care?!”

>> Lord, do you not care… that my family member is so sick?
>> Lord, do you not care that I feel totally alone and miserable in my life?
>> Lord, do you not care that my marriage is failing and my family is breaking up?
>> Lord, do you not care that am without a job now and the future ahead is so bleak?
>> Lord, do you not care that my life seems so meaningless and without any purpose?
>> Lord, do you not care that I am plunged to loneliness and abandoned by all my friends?
>> Lord, do you not care that I encounter only failures, dejection and rejection in my endevours?

When we look into the Gospel,  it is amazing to know whose plan it was, in the first place to make this boat journey…

When we re-read the Gospel passage, we find the answer…
Mk 4:35 says, “On that day, as evening drew near, Jesus said to them, ‘Let us cross over to the other side'”!

Ah…..
Shall we read that again?

… JESUS said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side”!

The idea to go in the boat was not that of the disciples…
>> The idea to go in the boat was that of JESUS!

The encounter with the storms was not some accident!
>> The stumbling into the violent waves was not some unlucky thing!

It had a purpose!
It had a meaning!
It had an intention!

For the disciples, it was a moment of terror…
… But the Lord used this terrorizing time to teach them to have faith in Him!

For the disciples, it was a time of immense crisis…
… But the Lord used this critical moment, to teach them to trust in Him!

For the disciples, it was a time of dreadful fear…
… But the Lord used this fearful circumstance, to teach them to believe in Him!

Our moments of struggle are a time of testing…
>> Our moments of struggle are a time of learning…

Testing of our genuine faith….learning of deeper trusting!
>> Testing of our real convictions…learning of  profound dependence!

Let us learn to grow deeper in trusting the Lord in crisis moments.
Then we too will be blessed to hear the Lord commanding the waves and storms of hardships,
“Quiet! Be Still!” (Mk 4: 39)

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Jan 29 (Mk 4:26-34)

Nature is a wonderful teacher.

Albert Einstein, the renowned scientist says, ” Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

The earth and the sky…the woods and the fields… the lakes and the rivers…the mountains and the seas…
…. are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

Jesus loved the nature very much.
>> Jesus, the preacher made great use of examples from the nature to put forth His teachings.

The Gospel of Day is a typical example of Jesus quoting from the nature to explain.

All through His teaching ministry, Jesus presents different examples, metaphors and symbols to explain about the Kingdom of God.

Today, Jesus speaks about a man who scatters seeds on the land.

Without his awareness there is a growth.
“…and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how” (Mk 4:27)

One of the most tender ideas that this parable presents is that there are many things in life that are not understood and yet, it turns out to be beautiful!

The seed that grows, unnoticed and unseen, is a sign of the Kingdom of God.

>>> The seed takes root.
>> The seed sprouts.
> The seed grows.
But HOW this takes place, is unknown and unseen…

The effect of the growth is seen, but the process of the growth is unknown!
>>> The result of the progress is observed, but the manner of the progress is hidden!

In John 3:8, we read, “The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes… so it is with everyone born of the Spirit”

The movement of the Spirit of God is gentle and mild!
>> The growth of God’s Kingdom is hidden and concealed!

This points to the tremendous fact that God is in total charge and control!
…that God is in perfect sovereignty and power!
…that God is in total dominion and management!

We are sometimes people prone to a lot of strategies and planning.
>> When things don’t turn out the way we have planned, we get worried and anxious.
>> When situations don’t fall in line with what we envisaged, we get tensed and upset!

But, today God tells… I am in total control!

When my life seems to be in a complete mess and nothing is understood by us…
>> God says, “I am in total control”

When circumstances around me go haywire and I lose control of things…
>> God says, “I am in total control”

When conditions are highly worse and it seems to be the end of the world for me…
>> God says, “I am in total control”

This is not to say that we need to have a passive and lethargic attitude to life.
>> This is not to say that we need to have a casual and a lazy mentality in life.
>> This is not even to say that we should not have plans and strategies in our life

But this is a great reminder to know and realise that God is the Ultimate Master!

There are no accidents…no “by chance” happenings…
… for a Christian.
>> Everything finds its place, in the Permissive Will of the Lord!

Do I trust in Him to lead through the dark moments into light?
>> Do I believe in Him to lead through the depressing moments into joy?
>>>> Do I have faith in Him to lead through the confusing moments to clarity?

Let us enjoy the silent working of the Spirit within us…
….and be part of the..
… unseen, yet dynamic..
… silent, yet spectacular…
growth of the Kingdom of God!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Jan 28 (Mk 4:21-25)

A little story goes of a young boy who went, one summer, with his parents to Europe.

The family visited many of the great and majestic cathedrals. of the past.

The child was indeed awe struck and amazed to see the wonderful and glorious structures and  the massive stained glass portraits of various saints.

On returning back from the tour, the catechism teacher asked the child:
“So, I hope you had a lovely time, especially seeing so many spectacular churches and cathedrals.

What did you like most in them?”

The child answered:
” I very much liked and was impressed by the immensity and awesomeness of our God, in whose honour and name, these churches are built!”

With a glow in his eyes, the child added, ” And I also realised… what is a saint”.

Recalling the massive and beautiful stained glass windows, he said:
“A saint is a person, through whom the light shines!”

That was indeed an amazing observation…

A saint is a person, through whom the light shines!

>> The person who allows the radiance of God’s love to flow through…
>> The person who is pure and transparent to let the rays of God’s mercy to shine through…
….Such a person is a Saint!

The Gospel of the Day is an exhortation and a reminder by Jesus to become a “light to the other”

Jesus presents a simple parable, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a bushel or under a bed and not on a stand?” (Mk 4: 21)

In the ancient world, people did not have electricity like we have today.

Most homes would contain several oil lamps because olive oil was in abundance and therefore not expensive.
>> The oil lamps were the main source of light in every home.

These ancient lamps were usually oval shaped, and flat on top.

They were normally made of clay, but the more expensive lamps were made of bronze and sometimes even of gold.
>> Olive oil was available in abundance and therefore lamps were left on for long periods of time, and also gave off a sweet scent.

The Lord presents this common example of the Lamp to highlight…
… that Christian lives also ought to shine and glow
… that Gospel values cannot remain hidden and  concealed
… that the power of light, however, little, can dispel the gloominess of darkness

The world we live in is often in darkness and in obscurity.
>> As Christians, we have a duty and an obligation to hold alight the lamp.

>> The world often runs into the darkness of sin and evil practices…
… Can I be a lamp, bringing them to Christ’s light by my holy and sanctified life?

>> Many people are often forced to remain in the shadows of guilt, shame and abuse…
… Can I be a lamp, bringing them to Christ’s light by my prayers, sacrifices and good works?

The Lord is inviting us to let His light to pass through our actions, deeds and activities.
>> The Lord is inviting us to let His light illumine our thoughts, visions and mentalities.

Today we celebrate the Feast of St Aquinas , the great theologian Priest and patron of all students.

One day when St Thomas Aquinas was preaching to the local people on the love of God, he saw an old woman listening attentively to his every word.

Inspired by her eagerness to learn more about God whom she loved so dearly, he said to the people:
“It is better to be this unlearned woman, loving God with all her heart, than the most learned theologian lacking love!”

Let us lead a saintly life filled with love, and allow others to experience the Light of God’s love!
>> Let us be glowing with a holy life, to let others to see the Radiance of God’s Peace!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Jan 27 (Mk 4:1-20)

Mr. Bhola was getting late to office…

As he was getting ready and keeping his file and office bag ready… he called out to his wife, who was inside the kitchen, preparing breakfast:
” Please get me my tie!”

He continued to get ready and as he began to tie his shoes, he called out, little more loudly,  to his wife who had not responded to him yet:
” Would you please get me my tie?!”

Bhola was by now dressed up, but his wife had not responded yet…

Irritated, he went into the kitchen and screamed at her:
“Can’t you hear what I said? Please get me my tie!!”

His wife, turned around, and in a louder voice, shouted back:
“And for the third time, I am also telling you… Your tie is ready on the table!!”

Feeling embarassed, Bhola realised his mistake…

>> It was not his wife who did not hear…
… it was he, who did not hear!

It was not his wife who was short of listening…
… it was he, who was short of listening!

>> Very often, listening becomes a problem for us…
>> Very often, we get short of hearing properly…

Does the same happen in our life, with respect to God’s voice?

The Gospel of the Day is a call to hear properly God’s Word and receive His message into our hearts.

The Lord is beside the Sea of Galilee…
>> A very large crowd of people have gathered around Him…

Jesus, during the course of His instructions and teachings said, “Listen!” (Mk 4:3)

The people have a gathered together in a big crowd…
>> There were probably some, who were not able to get a proper sitting place…
>> There were probably many children and mothers who had to take care of their kids…
>> There were probably many sick eagerly waiting for the gracious words of the Lord…

The atmosphere would have been a bit chaotic.
>> The situation would have been a bit restless.
>> The circumstance would have been a bit noisy.

It’s in this muddled, disordered and disorganized setting, that the Lord thunders: “LISTEN!”

The voice of the Lord addresses to us at very many moments in life.
>> His sweet gentle tone speaks to us occasionally…
>> His melodious pleasant expression converses to us many times…

But am I really listening?
>> Am I giving heed to His voice?

Our ‘listening mentality’ could be classified similar to the four types of soil that Jesus mentions in the Parable of the Sower…

•       Like the soil on the wayside, we could be a “passive and unprepared listener”…
… disinterested and uncaring for God’s Words
… unmindful of any consequence or loss of God’s inspirations
… lethargic and careless about many of God’s graces and favours

•       Like the soil on the rock, we could be an “overenthusiastic yet foundationless listener”…
… showing immediate but highly temporary reaction to Godly experiences
… finding only instant gratification and satisfaction in being a devotee of God
… making great plans and resolutions, but hardly translated to real actions

•       Like the soil among thorns, we could be a “distracted and unconvinced” listener…
… confused with many pleasurable activities and diverting matters
… easily wavered by contrasting Gospel messages and inauthentic teachings
… unable to discern between true and false exhortations of faith and beliefs

•       Like the soil in a good place, we could be an “attentive and focused” listener…
… eager to act upon God’s word and make them practical in life
… keen and excited to share the saving message of Christ to other people
… passionate and zealous to become sharers of the Good News of the Lord

The Lord today invites us to become active, attentive, focused and alert listeners.

>> Let us not be short to hear…
>> Let us not be hard of listening…

Instead…

>> Let us seek to listen…
… to the Lord with a deeper longing and interest.
… to His Will with an intensified love and affection.

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Jan 26 ( Lk 10:1-9)

Arabian horses are made to go through painstaking and meticulous training in the dry deserts of the Middle East.

One of the most important aspects that the trainers expect from the horses is of “absolute obedience”.

The final test to assess their level of obedience is quite extreme…

The trainers compel the horses to be without water for many days.

A few days later, they turn the horses loose towards a pool of water…
>> The highly thirsty, parched and dehydrated horses, of course start running towards it.

But just as they get to the edge, ready to plunge in and drink, the trainer blows his whistle.
>> Screech….!

The horses are to stop mid-way…

The horses who have been completely trained and who have learned perfect obedience, stop!
>> They turn around and come pacing back to the trainer.
>> They stand there trembling, wanting water… but they wait in perfect obedience.

When the trainer is sure that he has their obedience, he gives them a signal to go back to drink.

>> Complete obedience  from the horses is a sign of their being completely trained.

Well.. this sure sounds hard and severe…
>> But perhaps, we need to learn an important aspect: the need for trustful obedience to our Master!.

•       When we are in the dry deserts of life, we got to be totally obedient to God.
•       When we are in the parched phases of life, we ought to fully heed the voice of the Lord.

The Gospel of the Day is an exhortation by the Lord to listen to Him, to give heed to His Word and to be obedient to Him.

“Jesus appointed seventy (two), whom He sent ahead of Him, in pairs to every town and place He intended to visit” (Lk 10:1)

They were “chosen and appointed”.

>> Why were these chosen?
…and not others?

>> Well… we can only make some guess-works… because the bottom-line is:
“They were ‘chosen'”
Choice is always a gift, and not a merit!
>> This gift cannot be demanded…. it is given by the Lord, out of His Will

Therefore, it demands a sense of “gratitude” and a spirit of “responsibility”!

The choosing of the seventy (two) also reflects Jesus as the New Moses!

Moses had chosen seventy elders.

We read this in the Book of Numbers:
“The LORD said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people.” (Num 11:16)

The “seventy” were chosen from the elders of the tribes of Israel to assist Moses.
>> They were to become an extension of the work that was entrusted to Moses, by Lord Yahweh

In the Gospels, the seventy (two) disciples are also called, by Jesus, for the similar task:
>> They were to become an extension of the work that was entrusted to Jesus by the Heavenly Father.

In this task of “becoming an extension”, one of the most important essentials was that of “listening to the words of the Master”
>> Obedience to the Word is a necessary criteria to become a true extension of the Lord!

Jesus very specifically lays downs rules and regulations to be followed in their mission journey and task:
“Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and salute no one on the road….” (Lk 10:4)

These exhortations by the Master would cause…
… a sense of insecurity for the disciples
… a feeling a being stranded in the problems that they could encounter.

Yet, the disciples were strongly urged to…
… Listen to His Exhortation
… to Trust in His Providence
… and to be obedient to His Word

•       The disciples were to listen to Jesus, the Beloved Son and grasp His teachings for life
•       The disciples were to listen to Jesus, Beloved Son’s commitment in the path of suffering
•       The disciples were to listen to the Beloved Son’s trust in God’s Will at every moment

Each one of us is called and chosen, as Christians, to be a disciple of Christ – “an extension of the Lord’s tasks in this world” …
… “You did not choose me, but I chose you; and appointed you to go and bear fruit; fruit that will last” (Jn 15:16)

•       Life will take us through many deserts and desolations of difficulties.
•       Life will put us through various storms and hurricanes of hardships.
But in all such moments, are we ready and open to listen to the Voice of the Lord?

Yes, when we are in the dry deserts of life, we better be totally obedient to God.
>> When we are in the parched phases of life, we ought to fully heed the voice of the Lord.

The Lord will take us through…
… every crisis
… every desert
… every darkness
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8: 31)

>> Let us grow in our efforts to be completely obedient to our Master!
>> Let us pray for His grace to be truly listening and following the voice of our Master!

Are we ready to listen and obey the voice of the Lord?

God Bless! Live Jesus!