May 26 (Mk 10:46-52)

Every spiritual endeavour ought to have its basis in an experience of the Divine.

This experience becomes the launching-pad to nurture a life-long relationship with the Divine.

The contrast is also true…
A lack of experience of the Divine makes the spiritual journey a lethargic one…
…sometimes makes it even non-existent!

The greater the experience that one has of the Divine, the higher will be one’s enthusiasm and interest in spiritual matters.

The Gospel of the Day presents the experience of the Divine by a blind person and his consequent expression of happiness and delight in the Lord.

Blind Bartimaeus experiences the Divine healing power and gives vent to his deep joy in the Lord by ‘following Him on the way’.

Jesus was passing through the land of Jericho.
>> As he was leaving Jericho, with His disciples, the news reached the ears of Bartimaeus.

He was blind.
>> We do not know how long was he so.
>> We do not know what was the reason for being so.

But we know one thing.. that he would have heard about the wonders and fame of Jesus.
And the very mention that “Jesus of Nazareth” was passing that way, made him to spring into pleading for mercy.

>> Just as the steps of the lover sounds sweet to the Beloved…
>> Just as the strains of music sound sweet to the singer…
So, the mention of the name, “Jesus” sounded healing and wholeness for Blind Bartimaeus!

With his might and strength, he cried, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy” (Mk 10:47)

>> The crowd tried to dissuade him.
>> The people surrounding made efforts to silence him.
But nothing of this could prevent this determined person to cry out to his God!

This persevering and passionate pleading of Bartimaeus was amply rewarded.

Jesus called him, and said to him, ” Go your way, your faith has saved you!” (Mk 10: 52a)

This tremendous healing experience, fanned to flame the sparks of Divine Love within blind Bartimaeus!
>> He immediately received his sight and followed Jesus on the way (Mk 10: 52b)

This experience became a launching-pad to nurture a life-long relationship with the Divine!

We too are in need of an deeper experience of the Lord, in order to nurture and strengthen our spiritual life.

We sometimes remain blind to things of the spiritual dimension.
>> We sometimes rejected in our lack of progress in a holy living.

Yet, we are invited to cry out with full intensity, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Surely, this act of faith from our part, would meet with a lot of oppositions…
… we may hear voices telling us that it is useless to cry to God and rely on His power
… we may be told that it is illogical and unreasonable to be banking on Divine assistance

But like Blind Bartimaeus, are we willing to transgress and traverse all such negative voices, and drown them with a wave of mightier faith, crying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me?”

Unless we undergo such a healing experience, our faith will remain shallow and our spiritual following will remain dispirited.
>> This healing is not just of the physical nature; rather it could be healing of the mind, healing of the spirit or a social healing or an emotional healing.

>> The fact of being healed, would make me more passionate about the Divine Healer!
>> The fact of being cleansed, would make me more zealous about the Divine Sanctifier!

May our hearts be opened, in perseverance and passion, to seek the wonderful experience of the Divine.

God Bless! Live Jesus!

– Fr Jijo Manjackal msfs
  Bengaluru, India

“LIFE ‘n LOVE LYRICS” Reflection in preparation for the Feast of Corpus Christi – The Body and Blood of Jesus! – DAY TWO

(A): THE LITURGY OF THE WORD

Many of us , at some time or the other, would have received love letters – letters from our parents, siblings, relatives, friends etc A love letter carries some unique specialties –  there is much eagerness to read it…there is much joy while reading it…and there is much contentment after having read it…

Hmmm….here is a well-known secret….shhh… the Lord is a great “lover”, though sometimes He is too shy a lover! He loves to talk to us through love-letters. The Word of God is God’s love letter to each one of us.. and the Liturgy of the Word, during the Holy Mass, celebrates this loving conversation.

Lets give a better attention as God speaks to us, In His Word. Often, the time of sitting, while listening to the Readings, is when we gaze around the Church/Chapel, looking at others, being distracted with our thoughts etc. Let’s seek to focus our attention greater, on the Lord, who talks to us…IN HIS WORD!

Let’s be aware of the greatness of this Liturgy of the Word:
1. The 1st and 2nd Readings: God’s mysterious works of Salvation and Love are proclaimed. Let’s seek to strike a chord of these readings with our own lives.

2. The Responsorial: We give an affirmation to the Reading, we heard, and express our gratitude and petition to our Life-Giver. 

3. The Alleluia: Praising the Lord, we welcome Him with joyful shouts and signing ourselves on the forehead, lips and the chest,  we seek His Help to cleanse our minds, lips & hearts, that we may worthily receive Jesus, the Word into our lives!

4. The Sermon: Often considered to be the boring part, the avoidable section, the relaxing phase, the Sermon should, in fact, seek to connect the hearts of the Faithful, with Jesus- the Divine Word, and strengthen our Christian living in this world.

To reflect
 Do I give enough attention while listening to the Readings?
 Do I,  make the sign of the Cross, with awareness, and welcome the Lord, by seeking to cleanse our minds, our lips and our hearts?
 Do I prepare devoutly to preach the sermon/ to listen to the sermon, and seek the assistance of the Holy Spirit, who is the Author of the Word of God?
 Am I able to recall the Readings, during the course of the Day, and make the Word of God, a real and practical dimension of my life?

Prayer

Oh Divine Word, who became flesh and dwelt amidst us, give us the grace and the wisdom to understand You, in the Holy Word. May the Liturgy of the Word, that we celebrate in the Eucharist, become a dynamic inspiration and force in our everyday lives, and may we in turn, become a Gospel- the good news, to the poor, the oppressed and all peoples in our lives, Amen!

(B): THE OFFERTORY

After having been nourished by His Word, we profess our Faith in the Holy Catholic Church, and we offer our petitions and gifts to the Lord.

The Lord has blessed our lives with innumerable gifts and graces. As the Psalmist says, ” If I were to count your blessings, I would have to be eternal like You, O Lord!”

The Eucharist is a thanksgiving meal.. When we come to the Mass, we are not to come empty-handed. Rather, we give ourselves, wholly to the Lord. All what we are and all what we have belongs to the Lord, who is the Source and End of all. And to Him, we offer everything – our blessings, our plans, our feelings, our concerns, our heart and our lives!

Along with ourselves, we also offer all the people in our lives – our family, community, our nation, our world… The Eucharist is a moment of healing and grace for the entire creation..and we bring all to His feet.

Lets bring to consciousness the various dimensions in this part of the Mass:

1. The Creed: With much devotion and deep love, we express and affirm the teachings and faith of our Holy Mother, the Church

2. The Prayer of the Faithful: The Community as a family, offer petitions, and thus, the entire creation becomes part of this Divine Action of the Holy Mass

3. The Offering of Bread and Wine: The Gifts, which soon, will become the Body and Blood of Christ, represent fruits of our labour. As the gifts, we pray, that we too be changed into His Body and Blood
4. The mingling of a drop of water in the wine by the Priest: The water represents, our littleness, which is totally mingled with the wine, signifying, our intention to be one with the Divine Lord

5. The washing of the hands: The Priest – the representative of the People of God, cleanses himself and prepares, for the Most Holy Sacrifice of Calvary.

To Reflect
 Am I fervent and zealous in expressing my love for my mother, the Church, as I recite the Creed?
 Do I offer everything to the Lord, and be ready to accept His will in my life?

Prayer
Most Merciful Lord, I come to you, in humble praise, to offer you myself. All what I have is given by you, and to you, I offer everything. Make the offerings that I make, be for me, a channel to accept your Holy Will in my life, and thus, I may be able to truly experience the power of Your Body and Blood..Amen.

– Fr Jijo Manjackal msfs
  Bengaluru, India

May 25 (Mk 10:32-45)

Spending time along little streams can be a fascinating pastime.

When along these stams, one can observe tiny flies that come and bathe in it.

If one notices carefully, it can be seen that while they plunge their bodies, they keep their wings high out of the water and fly away, with their wings unwet!

The wings are kept safe from getting wet, so that there is no hindrance in flying again!
 

How beautiful a lesson is this for us Christians…
…. who live in the world, yet are called to be out of the world.
… who live amidst possibilities of wealth, yet are called to be detached from them.
… who live with the prospect of gaining immense power, yet are exhorted to not be attached

 
The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus highlighting this essential element of Christian living : Being in the world, but living out of the world, with eyes firmly set on heavenly realms.

 
James and John, the sons of Zebedee approach Jesus and ask for a favour: “Grant to us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory” (Mk 10:37)

They sought for a prime place in the future Kingdom of the Lord.

 
They probably had the conception and understanding, that Jesus would rule in glory, and they being His chosen ones, sought for esteemed positions in this Glorious Kingdom.

 
They were certainly right that the Lord would surely one day rule in glory.

But they got it totally wrong in their understanding and perspective of the nature of this rule.

>> His was not to be a kingdom of arrogant display of power…
… rather one of serene majesty and mercy

>> His was not to be a rule of aggression and pomp… 
… rather one of gentle splendour and grace.

The Lord had, as per St Mark’s Gospel, just made His third prediction, regarding His Passion, Death and Resurrection.

>> He was revealing the true nature and character of the victory that He was to gain.

>> He was exposing the manner in which His glory would be stamped upon all ages to come.

However, the disciples fell short in grasping these words of the Lord.
>> St Mark says that “they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid” (Mk 10: 32b)

Our lives are very often no different, from the ignorance that the disciples had and the wrong notion that was expressed by James and John.

>> We fall prey to seeking great honour and fame in being a Christian…
… but are unable to grasp the fact that ‘to be a Christian is to be living a life of simplicity’.

>> We yield to temptations of being obsessed to seek power and positions of futile vanity…
… and fail time and again to live up to the Christian virtues of humility and modesty

>> We often become victims of engaging in dirty politics and authority-grabbing games…
… and become an anti-witness to the Lord who ‘came to serve, rather than be served’

We need to give heed to the words of the Lord who prayed that “we are in the world, but do not belong to this world” (Jn 17: 15)

A Christian life…. ought to be hallmarked by detachment and separation…
… detachment from too much of worldly distractions and vain glory
… separation from sinful ways and evil tendencies

A Christian life… ought to be radiated with total focus and complete dedication…
… total focus on the Lord who ‘walked the talk’ by giving up His life in service
… complete dedication to the Kingdom of God which calls for a humble way of life

God Bless! Live Jesus!

– Fr Jijo Manjackal msfs
  Bengaluru, India

“LIFE ‘n LOVE LYRICS” Reflection in preparation for the Feast of Corpus Christi – The Body and Blood of Jesus! – DAY ONE

(A): PREPARATION FOR THE HOLY MASS

As human beings, we all engage ourselves in many social  gatherings, events, occasions etc. And for all of that, we do make a lot of planning, preparations and arrangements.

The Holy Mass is the re-enactment of the Sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary, in memory of the Holy Institution at the Last Supper.
>> It is a momentous and splendid Divine Occasion and Event!

But often, this event, is accorded very little preparation. No wonder, for some people, the Mass often seems boring and sadly, considered as a useless ritual!

Very often, we engage our bodies and our minds in talks, in making fun, in being filled with worldly attractions and many external distractions. But is my heart and mind, really ready to embrace the Awesome Moments of the Lord’s Life- His Passion, His Death and His Resurrection, which is celebrated at Mass!

The Lord of the Universe, descends on the Altar and is ready to dwell in our little hearts! I need to  realize the gravity of this Moment and prepare my heart to receive this Divine Saviour!

image
Mass of St John of Matha, Juan Carreno de Miranda, 1666, Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna

• Do I take time to read and reflect on the Readings of the Mass beforehand?
• Do I make a genuine examination of Conscience & truly repent, in order to receive God’s Mercy?
• Do I become aware that, at Holy Mass, I am at Mount Calvary, along with our Blessed Mother, and ready to offer my life, along with Jesus, for the Salvation of the world?

Prayer: O Divine Trinity, give me the grace to prepare myself better, in participating at the Holy Mass. In the past, I have often engaged myself, in external disturbances and failed to really know the importance of the Mass and the preparation required for this Divine Occasion. Help me, to give myself wholly to you, so that every Eucharist becomes a life-transforming experience for me, and I may become a Living Sacrament of Your love to the world, AMEN.

(B): THE INTRODUCTORY RITE

The Holy Eucharist is basically oriented towards four aspects
(a) Adoration and Worship of God     
(b) To give thanks for His gifts and graces
(c) To ask remission of our sins           
(d) To offer our petitions to the Lord.

As we begin the Holy Eucharist, we need to become aware of these aspects.

Lets also become aware of the Importance of the various parts of the Introductory Rite:

1. The Entrance Hymn: The Community of people, which has come together as a family, express their joy through the entrance hymn.

2. The Welcome Greeting: The celebration begins in the name of the God – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, who is One in Three persons. We are welcomed into the Celebration in the Name of the Trinity.

image
Trinity, Andrei Rublev, 1427, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

3. The Penitential Rite: We bring to focus our sinfulness and unworthiness, before the Holy and Awesome God, and seek His mercy and pardon.

4. The Gloria: We unite with all the peoples of the world, with our Blessed Mother,  the Angels and Saints in singing our praises and honour to our Triune God, whose glory reigns on high.

image
Mystical Nativity, Sandro Botticelli, 1501, National Gallery, London

5. The Opening Prayer: Called as the Collect, this prayer, gathers together all the intentions of the participants, and is united with the prayer of the High Priest, Jesus Himself!

To Reflect
 Do I become aware of the importance and significance of some of the Sacramentals and Holy Actions like the Holy Water, the Incense, Bowing before the Altar?
 Do I pay attention to the words of the Entrance Hymn, and make it a real prayer, rather than just a routine affair?
 Do I begin the Holy Mass in a Spirit of Reverence and Recollection, becoming aware of the greatness of the Sign of the Cross?
 Do I recollect my sinful state and truly repent of them, in order to receive God’s Mercy?
 Do I, seek to render my praise and worship to the Lord, with all my heart, with all my mind and with all the strength, as I join in singing the Gloria?
 Do I bring before the Lord, my petitions and the intentions of those who are in need of prayers?

Prayer
Most Loving Lord, as I enter into the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, inspire me to become aware of the greatness and solemnity of this Sacrifice of Calvary. Let the offering of the Mass not be a mere ritual, but become a  real & living energy in me. Help me, to live & practice the spirit of considering each Eucharistic Celebration, as the First, the Last and the Only Mass ever celebrated… Amen!

– Fr Jijo Manjackal msfs
  Bengaluru, India

“LIFE ‘n LOVE LYRICS” Reflection in preparation for the Feast of Corpus Christi – The Body and Blood of Jesus!

Our Christian Life celebrates God, who is Emmanuel – With us, God!

And this Emmanuel God, fulfils His promise, by dwelling in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist.

On 29th May, 2016, we celebrate the Feast of the Corpus Christi; and it is apt and meaningful, that we take some time, to prepare ourselves for this Great Feast and to realize the worth and greatness of this Most Beautiful Treasure that God is gifting to Humanity.

We begin today… a 5- day series of Mini Reflections, to  help us to become spiritually more oriented to the Blessed Eucharist and in the understanding of the Holy Mass.
>> This orientation, in turn, will help us, to become a Eucharist to others.

So let us begin…. a tiny attempt to mingle into the heart of the Mystery of all Mysteries – the Most Holy Eucharist.

Let’s delight in this love story….as Bishop Fulton Sheen says, “The greatest love story of all time is contained in a tiny white Host”!

– Fr Jijo Manjackal msfs
  Bengaluru. India

May 24 (Mk 10:28-31)

In India, booking tickets and getting a confirmed seat to travel by the Railways (trains) is sometimes a stressful affair.
>> The massive number in the people travelling makes this process a very competitive one, with all jostling to get confirmed seats.

To those who manage to get confirmed seats, there is a sense of relief.

But those who fail to get confirmation, and obtain a waiting-list ticket instead, are made to face a lot of tension and worry.
>> There is tension as to whether the tickets would get confirmed in time, so as to be able to travel hassle-free…
>> There is anxiety as to what is to be done and what are the other alternatives, if the possibility of confirmation is very less…

An assurance of confirmation makes the journey pleasant and tension-free.
>> An anxiety over the confirmation adds immense apprehension to the possibility of journey.

Our lives in the Lord, is a spiritual journey…
>> The greater assurance we have in the promises of the Lord, the more pleasant will be our journey
>> The stronger our assurances in the Word of the Lord, the swifter will be our progress in this journey towards the Lord

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus declaring His assured promises to those who follow Him, sincerely and wholeheartedly.

Jesus tells to Peter and the other disciples:
” Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and the sake of the Gospel, who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age….and eternal life in the age to come” (Mk 10: 29)

This incident takes place right after the encounter of the rich young man with Jesus (Mk 10: 17-22)

This man was proposed by Jesus to sell all his possessions and then follow Him.
> The man, however, found it hard, to let go off his attachments, and instead let go of the Lord.
>> He went away sad! (Mk 10:22)

Peter, as the leader of the disciples, however, contrasts this “possessive and worldly” tendency of the rich young man by telling Jesus, ” We have given up everything and followed you” (Mk 10: 28)
>> Perhaps, there was a growing concern among the disciples…
… as to whether their radical decision to commit themselves to the Master would go in vain!

>> Perhaps, there was an apparent fear within the disciples…
… as to whether their decisions to leave their professions, their families and their aspirations to follow the Lord would go fruitless!

And so the Lord, with a candid straight-forwardness replies that their sacrifices would surely assure them of rewards of a much higher quality and  eminence.

How often do our lives also sometimes sink in hopelessness, thinking whether our expressions of faith would end up in meaninglessness!

Sometimes even fearful thoughts and anxious emotions may cross our mind…
… will the various sacrifices and pains that I take up for the Lord, go in vain?
… will my unshed tears, my unspoken prayers and painful sighs, end up in futility?
… will the efforts I make to grow in love and nourish others in faith, lead to fruitlessness?

But the Lord assures us, that none of these efforts – small or great, noticed or unnoticed, seen or unseen – will escape the penetrating eyes of the Lord and go unrewarded.
>> All our actions, done in love has an assured reward!

What is however, most essential, is our total focus on the Lord and unflinched commitment to Him.

The Lord most certainly assures us of rewards and gifts.
>> But, in this pursuit, may we not stray or lose focus of Him!

>> Our lives ought to be impelled by the love for the “God of rewards”, than merely the rewards of God!
>> Our lives must be lived in faithfulness to the “God of gifts”, than being fascinated only to the gifts of God!

May the Lord Himself be our greatest reward… our finest gift!

The journey of our spiritual life comes with a “confirmed ticket” from the part of the Lord.
>> There need be no anxiety… no undue worry!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

May 23 (Mk 10:17-27)

Alexander the Great is known to have created one of the largest empires of the ancient world.
He is considered one of history’s most successful military commanders.

However, in the dying moments, as the mighty conqueror lay prostrate and pale, helplessly waiting to breathe his last, he called his generals and said, “I will depart from this world soon, I have three wishes, please carry them out without fail.”

“My first desire is that”, said Alexander, “my physicians alone must carry my coffin.

People should realize that no doctor on this earth can really cure anybody. They are powerless and cannot save a person from the clutches of death.”

He continued, “Secondly, I desire that when my coffin is being carried to the grave, the path leading to the graveyard be strewn with gold, silver and precious stones which I have collected in my treasury.

This is to tell people that not even a fraction of gold will come with me. Let people realize that it is a sheer waste of time to chase wealth.”

The king felt exhausted after saying this. He took a minute’s rest and continued. “My third and last wish is that both my hands be kept dangling out of my coffin.

I wish people to know that I came empty handed into this world and empty handed I go out of this world”.

With these words, the king closed his eyes.

The King realised the worthlessness and transitoriness  of this world’s wealth and power only at his dying moments.

The faster one realises the momentariness of wealth and pleasures of this world, the greater  will be the time one gets to cherish the true riches and treasures of life.

The Gospel of the Day presents a rich young man who was made to realise the fleeting nature of wealth and possessions by the Lord.

The young man in the Gospel approaches Jesus to ask, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mk 10: 17)

When Jesus gives him list of commandments, that need to be followed to help ensure a passage into eternal life, the man replies, “Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth” (Mk 10: 20)

We underline a few aspects of this young man…
… he did desire for a life of eternity and followed the commandments
… he did nurture a sense of being pious and devout, to please the Lord

However…
… he probably failed to live up to the intentions of the commandments
… he possibly got lost into only keeping the letters of the commandments; not the spirit!

>> He got attached to doing God’s commandment…
…  but failed to break his attachments with the riches of the world.

>> He possessed the good will to follow God’s teachings…
… but failed to let go of the possessions of his life.

The Lord realised this “pitiable” condition of the young man.
>> He was wealthy in the world, but was unable to be rich before God
>> He was obedient to the laws, but was unable to be obedient to give up his attachments.

Therefore, the Lord, knowing this state of the young man – devout yet not properly focussed – “looked at him, loved him, and said, ‘You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then, come, follow me'” (Mk 10: 21)

This young man could represent any one of us…
>> We seek to be pious…
… but find it hard to let go of our possessions

>> We seek for holiness in life…
… but go through a struggle to give up our attachments

>> We seek to follow the Lord wholly…
…  but stumble to give ourselves entirely to the Lord

Yet, the Lord does not give up on us…
> He looks on us…
>> He loves us…
And He invites us, to have the proper focus in life!

>> It is not material possessions that ought to occupy our hearts; rather, our hearts needs to be possessed with the Love for the Lord.
>> It is not worldly treasures that should be our prime motto in life; rather, a life, dedicated to the Kingdom of God and helping the needy with the resources we have.

Our material life is totally in the control of the Lord.
>> Our material possessions will be of no avail, when we leave this world.
>> Our hands will not be able to hold any riches when we depart from this life.

Let us instead be possessed by the Lord, gather the precious stones of His grace and love by works of charity and hold on to Him, so that we may have a wonderful life of eternity with the Lord of all treasures!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

– Fr Jijo Manjackal msfs
  Bengaluru, India

May 22 (Solemnity of the Holy Trinity)

When some guests came home, a little child was once asked to make the sign of the Cross, invoking the name of the Blessed Trinity.

This little girl, with a gleaming smile and innocently looking at her parents, made the sign of the Cross with the words, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of St Anthony, Amen!!”
(The child had probably heard much more about St Antony than about the Holy Spirit)

Another child, during the time of Christmas was asked, “Who are the three persons of the Blessed Trinity”
Looking at the beautiful crib that was made at home, the child answered, “God the Father, Mary our Mother and Baby Jesus, our Saviour!”

In another incident, a child, after attending a prayer service, with various invocations especially to the Infilling of the Holy Ghost, had this doubt: “I don’t understand why the West Coast isn’t included too!”
When inquired what she meant, she added, “You know, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the whole East Coast.”
(The Holy Ghost had been misunderstood by the little child as Whole East Coast!)

Well, such simple misunderstandings are commonly seen among little children.
>> The truth, however, is that, when it comes to the Dogma of the Blessed Trinity, even elders are not spared of possibilities of similar misunderstandings.

The Dogma of the Blessed Trinity is indeed the most fundamental, yet the most baffling and confusing mystery of the Christian Faith.

However, we are encouraged by a great truth about this mystery…
• The mystery of the Trinity is more to be lived, than merely be understood
• The mystery of the Trinity is more to be encountered, than merely be grasped
• The mystery of the Trinity is more to be experienced, than merely be comprehended

Today we celebrate the Great Solemnity of the Holy Trinity.

image
Holy Trinity, Hendrick van Balen, 1620, Sint-Jacobskerk, Antwerp

This feast is celebrated on the Sunday, following the Feast of the Pentecost.

The encounter of the Holy Spirit, was a life-transforming experience for the Disciples.
• It brought about a huge upliftment in courage for their sagging and fearful spirits.
• It brought about a massive alteration of mind, to being bold and dynamic in their faith.

Along with this, it also brought in the tremendous experience of the Holy Spirit as a God!
>> This was something very new, strange and heart-experiential.

The disciples, as we know, were Jews.

Jews believed in strict monotheism – One God.
They professed this belief in One God, daily, by the ‘Shema Israel’ – “Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is one God….” (Deut 6:4)

However, in Jesus, the disciples encountered a deep Divine experience.
>> On Pentecost Day, they also encountered a deep Divine experience in the Holy Spirit.

This tremendous experience, along with the grace of God, helped them to reflect on the many words and sayings of Jesus that pointed to the dimension of Three Persons in the One nature of God.

Thus, with gradual and deeper reflection on the words of the Lord, and the power of the Holy Spirit, the disciples – strict monotheists – began to understand the mystery of God in a new light…
• God is One
• There are three Persons – the Father is God, the Son is God, the Spirit is God
• The Father is not the Son and the Spirit; the Son is not the Father and the Spirit; the Spirit is not the Son and the Father.

This Triune invocation was the way the Lord exhorted to Baptize disciples in all the nations, “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28: 19)

The Dogma of the Blessed Trinity has proofs, explanations, rationalization and details in the Holy Scripture and the Teachings of the Church.
>> However, with all that, the Dogma continues to remain a mystery…

And this is the beauty of the Mystery of the Triune God…
… it is something to grow in, daily
… it is something to develop a deeper relationship, daily
… it something to be lived and experienced in practical life, daily

As Evagrius of Pontus, a Greek monk of the 4th century said: “God cannot be grasped by the mind. If God could be grasped, God would not be God!”

This is our Blessed Triune God…
… He escapes being subjugated to the prisons of the mind; instead, invites to forge a powerful bond with the heart!
… He gets away from being trapped in the intriguing theological explanations and philosophical reasoning; instead calls forth to form an everlasting covenant of love!

• Are we willing to grow in cultivating an intimate and close bond with the Triune God – the God of Love and Holiness?
• Are we willing to live the beautiful virtues of the Blessed Trinity – unity, self-giving, in our personal relationships with one another ?

Our whole world reflects the Triune nature of the Blessed Trinity…
• Water exists in three forms – solid as ice, liquid as water, gaseous as steam
(In physics, it is also proved that theoretically, water exists as solid, liquid and gas at the same time at something called the triple point – a temperature of 0oC or 273.16 K and at a pressure of 611.2 Pa)

• Sunlight displays a triune dimension – the substance of the sun, the heat, the light

• The universe consists of three things: matter, space, and time.
(Each one of those is itself a trinity.
Matter = mass + energy + motion.
Space = length + height + breadth.
Time = past + present + future)

• Human beings have a triple dimension, consisting of the body, the mind and the soul

The Trinity is everywhere!
>> The most important factor that is needed is that we need to grow in this awareness and deeper our love for Him!

May the Blessed Trinity – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit- helps us to grow in our intimacy and union and in turn, help to reflect His image to all people in our lives!
>> May we become greatly aware of the many invocations we make to the Blessed Trinity (Sign of the Cross, in our daily prayers etc…) and perform those actions with greater meaning and significance!

Happy Feast of the Blessed Trinity!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

– Fr Jijo Manjackal msfs
Bengaluru, India

May 21 (Mk 10:13-16)

Home Sweet Home.. is a phrase that is often used in our parlance.

Home evokes a feeling of comfort, relaxation, wellbeing, ease and contentment.
>> “Feel at home” is an constant invitation that we extend to our guests and visitors and make them feel secure.

>> Some places are naturally able to give us this “homely-feeling”…
>> Some persons are also naturally able to render us this “homely-feeling”…
Jesus, is the one person, who is certainly & surely able to give the “best homely feeling!”

The Gospels are a testimony to this fact…
>> Sinners found a home…
…  a solace in the Sanctifying Presence of the Lord!

>> Sick people found a home…
… a remedying cure in the Healing Presence of the Lord!

>> Broken souls found a home…
… a regrouping catalyst in the Restoring Presence of the Lord!

>> Outcast groups found a home…
… an accepting embrace in the Welcoming Presence of the Lord!

>> Hopeless persons found a home…
…  an encouraging impetus in the Energetic Presence of the Lord!
In the Gospel of the Day, we encounter another set of Persons who sought to find a Home in the Lord and wanted to experience His comforting love –  Little Children

Little children are brought to Jesus to be prayed over and to be blessed… (Mk 10:13)

These Little Children are brought to Jesus so that find a Home in Him- a Home of Blessing & Sanctity!
>> But unfortunately… the Disciples prevented the Little Ones from being brought to Jesus!

How often this happens in our world too: Little things in life often not being given the due importance and are discarded or pushed away..

The Disciples of Jesus fell prey to this sad and pitiable trend of the ‘frantic and frenzied’ world…
>> Perhaps they felt…these little children are a nuisance in the hectic & occupied schedule of Jesus…
>> Perhaps they considered…these little children are an unnecessary burden to an already overburdened Jesus…
>> Perhaps they thought.. these little children are a hindrance in the teaching, healing and preaching ministry of Jesus…

But Jesus, the Home-giver, the Care-provider…. reprimands & reproofs this attitude & approach.
>> He is a Home to the Homeless… He is a Shelter to the Shelterless.. He is a Hope to the Hopeless…

He invites the Little Children to be brought to Him & help them feel His Homely Presence!
>> He bids the Little Ones to be brought to Him & let them be touched by His Healing Presence!

In our lives, we at times photocopy this attitude of the Disciples & fall short to approach the Lord: Avoiding the little things of life that give spiritual console and spiritual strength
>> In my work-dominated life…
… Do I fail to spend, a little time in the Homely Presence of the Lord?

>> In my high-styled life…
… Do I miss to realize & enjoy, the little joys in the Providence of the Lord?

>> In my passive life…
Do I take for granted, the favours that I obtain in the Mercy of the Lord? 

>> In my tension-filled life…
Do I neglect the blessings, that I receive through the Bounty of the Lord?

People might prevent us…Situations might discourage us…Circumstances might dampen our spirit
>> But, the Lord has a Home for each one of us!

The Lord never gets tired of us… let us go to Him, to seek comfort and solace!
>> The Lord eagerly waits for us… let us run to Him and be blessed and graced in His embrace!
>>>> The Lord has enough time for us … let us approach Him & experience the true happiness of life!

Jesus, is the one person, who is certainly & surely able to give the “best homely feeling!”
>> Let us be AT HOME WITH JESUS!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

– Fr Jijo Manjackal msfs
  Bengaluru, India

May 20 (Mk 10:1-12)

An elderly couple narrates an incident in the life of their daughter.

A couple of weeks after the marriage of their daughter, they got a call from her.
>> The newly-weds had their first big fight.

After several tense moments over the phone, the mother gave the phone to the father and asked him to speak and console her daughter.

A few minutes later, the father came back to the mother, who had been sitting worriedly, in the living room.
“What happened? What did she say”, asked the tense mother.
“She wanted to come home” replied the father.

“Oh! Then what did you tell her?” enquired the worried mother
“I told her” said the father, “she was already home!”

Yes, once married, the husband and wife form one home, “leaving their father and mother”!
>> This was the truth that was explained by the father to her daughter.

Marriage is a sacred institution – a precious covenant – that demands a lifelong commitment and a faithful dedication, despite the ups and downs of life.

It is this message that is driven home by Jesus in today’s Gospel when He expounds His teaching on the sacredness of the Covenant of Marriage.

The passage begins with a testing interrogation by the Pharisees, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” (Mk 10: 2a)

St Mark clearly points the intention of the Pharisees in asking this question to Jesus: “To Test Him” (Mk 10: 2b)

Jesus was in the district of Judea, across the Jordan (Mk 10:1)
>> Is there something specific in this particular detail being mentioned – “across the Jordan”?

“Across the Jordan” was the place where John the Baptist had been working (Jn 1: 28)
>> By mentioning the place, St Mark alludes to the outcome that had befallen on John the Baptist.

John the Baptist had got into great persecution because of his open-condemnation of the adulterous relationship of King Herod with Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. (Mk 6:17)

>> By putting forward the “same question of divorce” before Jesus, the Pharisees were laying a much greater trap…
… If Jesus condemned divorce, it could amount to an act of treason against King Herod, the ruler of the land!

John the Baptist had lost his head due to the strong stance on the issue of divorce
>> Now Jesus, is also being snared into such a life-threatening trap!

But Jesus remains the Person that He is – uncompromising, unflinching, convinced, bold and daring!

A big lesson for us too, to learn from Jesus…
>> There will be situations in life when people get into our skin, trying to put us into confusion and even  states of danger…
… Can we still remain undaunted and courageous to stand firm on our convictions and principles?

Jesus came to the world to demonstrate the magnanimity of God’s Love.
  This magnanimity includes…
… His unconditional manner of loving us, irrespective of our worthiness
… His unflinched faithfulness to us, despite our many acts of betrayal and disloyalty

It is this model of God’s love that becomes the blueprint for us in loving others, and especially in a marriage relationship.

The partners, pledged in love to each other in marriage, ought to imitate the love that God has for us…
>> We have cheated and strayed away from what God wants of us…
… He still loves us and is faithful to us

>> We have, on innumerable occasions, spat at His face by our shameful deeds and defamed His name by our sinful acts…
… He still holds us close to Him and remains loyal to us

>> We have, despite many warnings, purposely hurt Him in thoughts, words and deeds and even rejected His graces by not co-operating with His Will for us…
… He still waits patiently for our return and constantly seeks to draw us to Him

>> We have failed Him many times, but He has always made efforts to try to win us
>> We have hurt and pained Him much, but He has still longs for us, with His soothing balm of acceptance

It is this “magnanimity of God’s Love” that becomes the basis, the inspiration and the ideal in every marriage relationship.
>> Therefore Jesus says, “What therefore God has joined, let not man put asunder” ( Mt 19: 6b)
 
We live in a world where the quickest solution to many problems is found in “throwing it away!”
>> And the same mentality affects human relationships too… especially to those in marriage.

The challenge therefore is to dare to swim against these worldly currents and bring in the “Jesus Culture of Faithful Commitment” in human relationships, especially of marriage.

Theoretically speaking, this sounds quite good and wonderful.
>> But when it comes down to the actual practice.. in married lives… it is undoubtedly a very hard effort.

“But what is impossible for humans is possible for God” (Lk 18: 27), is the assurance of Jesus.

When the going gets really hard and we want to call it ‘quits’ in our relationships…
… let us look to Jesus who said “Yes to the Will of God” in the painful agony at Gethsemane

>> There may seem no hope ahead…
>> There may appear only meaninglessness ahead…
Still, can we say Yes to God’s Will – to be faithful and committed?

When none of our efforts of restoration work out and we get ‘fed’ up and feel to have reached the ‘limit’ in relationships…
… let us look to Jesus Crucified, who was never ‘fed’ up with our misdeeds and our constant misunderstanding and misuse of His love

>> It may look like the end of the road…
>> It may seem that all the past was mere fantasy and the future appears to be non-existent…
Still, can we hold on to Hope in God – to be true to our promise and be loyal?

The promises made…
>> to our Faith in Baptism
>> to the spouse in Marriage
>> to the Lord in Consecrated and Priestly Life
… all demand an undissolved commitment, an undiluted faithfulness and an unmixed dedication.

May we grow in the understanding of “being faithful and committed” to our relations…
… and seek to “feel at home” – with God and with one another!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

– Fr Jijo Manjackal msfs
  Bengaluru, India