Jul 1 (Mt 9:9-13)

One of the easiest traps in our life, today, is to acquire Cheap Popularity! 

‘Popularism’ is a bane which affects many areas of our life. 
People choose…

… to undermine values

… to forsake principles

… to abandon relations

… to disown doctrines 

… and even to dilute ideologies

>> Just to gain some cheap and shoddy popularity! 

But Jesus came to the world…

>> Not to seek Cheap popularity…

… rather in quest of  Precious Sinners
>> Not to acquire instant Glory…

… rather in granting Everlasting Peace! 
>> Not to please People…

… rather to Honour God!
Jesus was clear in His Mission: To seek the wayward, to find the lost, to grant peace to sinners!
This Mission of the Lord would make Him lose His popularity ratings & reputed recognitions!

But Jesus dared…

… to prioritize Principles over Popularity

… choosing Reconciliation over good Reputation!

The Gospel today begins with the verse:

“…Jesus saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. 

He said to him, “Follow me!” (Mt 9:9)

For the religious elite of the Society, this calling of Matthew, the Tax Collector was a shocking experience! 

>> Tax Collectors were among the most hated people in the Jewish Society. 
Tax collectors were generally despised and tainted and stained on three different aspects: 
1. Nationally Traitors 

A tax collector, “sold himself”, to the foreign Roman government, and was a betrayer of the Nation.

>> One of the top-most nation-betrayers!
2. Morally Corrupt 

Each tax collector had the right from the Roman government to gather taxes.
The more he gathered, the more he could keep!

>> One of the top-most dishonest people!


c. Religiously Unclean: 

The constant contact of the tax collectors with the Gentiles made them religiously suspect.

>> One of the top-most impure class!

And it is this Matthew, a tax collector… 

… that Jesus invites to “Follow Him”!

>> An unpopular approach indeed! 
But the Lord is least bothered of  human appreciation and public popularity! 

>> He came to Seek the Lost….and gather the scattered ones! 
And this offer of the Lord, was gladly welcomed by Matthew.. 
He Opened himself to the Love of the Lord….
1. He opened His heart: 

Matthew became a new person. 
Accepting Jesus, meant…

… turning away from his old-ways

… forsaking a good deal of income

… rejecting some of his corrupt business people
2. He Opened His Home: 

Matthew was excited to share his new-found Love, with others too.
The transformation  in one person, became an opportunity, for many others…

… to experience God’s enterprising love

…. and be challenged to undergo a  change!

3. He opened his hands: 

Matthew also opened his hands & worked for the Lord. 
“It could be said, that when Jesus called Matthew, he left his job to follow Christ, but he took along with him, his pen!” 

>> And this would later help him to pen the Gospel…the Gospel according to St Matthew!

The Calling of St Matthew, Caravaggio, 1600, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome

The Call of Matthew, was Jesus’ way of telling that things happen in the Kingdom of God…

… not for the Sake of Popularity!
Rather, the Kingdom is an Invitation and a Home to all who find themselves…

… lost, least, broken, rejected, seeking, disturbed!

We all are in one way or the other, facing some of these problems or difficulties in life.. 

>> Let these not discourage us…
As the saying goes: 

Never say, “GOD, I have a big problem!” but instead, “Hey Problem, I have a big GOD!”


The Lord is ever-ready to welcome us. 

>> He is least bothered of what others think or criticize!!

>> He values our lives much more than losing popularity! 
Yes, We are more precious to Him, than popularity! 

>> He Loves us!

>> He Values us! 

>> He Longs for us! 
We all can find…

… rest in His Heart

… welcome in His Home

… and strength in His Hands!
Pope Benedict XVI says:

“If you follow the will of God, in spite of all the terrible things that happen to you, you will never lose a final refuge…!

>> Go on, trusting, in the One that loves you.” 
Let us Follow the Lord closely….

… and like Mathew, give our hearts, our homes and our hands – our everything – to Him!

God Bless! Live Jesus!
– Fr Jijo Manjackal MSFS

  Bengaluru, India

Jun 30 (Mt 9:1-8)

There is a funeral custom of a particular Austrian Royal Family.

>> This is in a church in which the Hapsburgs, the former ruling family of Austria are buried. 

It is called the “Knocking Ceremony”

>> The custom takes place at the burial of every member of the Imperial Family before the entrance of the Capuchin cloister church.

When the coffin arrives at the entrance, the Grand Chamberlain knocks three times with a silver cane on the door of the Church which contains the Imperial crypt.
The guard inside asks: “Who is there?”
The Grand Chamberlain proclaims the name and titles of the deceased Hapsburg Emperor: “I am (Name) … Emperor of Austria, Apostolic King of Hungary, King of Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia…..etc….”
Upon hearing this, the porter refuses to open the door and says:  “I do not know you.”
The Grand Chamberlain knocks on the door again and in answer to the porter’s question “Who is there?” gives just the name of the deceased Emperor: “I am (Name) … His Majesty, the Emperor and the King ”
The guard inside, again refuses admission: “I do not know you.”
For a third time, the Grand Chamberlain knocks on the door and the guard asks: “Who is there?”
This time, the Grand Chamberlain simply says:  “I am (Name)… a poor mortal and a sinner.”
To this, comes the response:  “Come in.”
The progression in the questions and answers shows a progression towards humility.

>> It is only the humble who can be admitted to the Presence of the Lord!
Where there is humility, there is forgiveness of sin and celebration of mercy

>> Where there is only pride, there is criticism of sinners and condemnation of generosity!


The Gospel of the Day is a beautiful incident of a contrast of experiences:

>> The humble being received into the forgiving love of God

>> The pride being reprimanded to acknowledge the mercy of God!

The Gospel is the forgiveness and healing of the paralytic, when Jesus comes to His own city (Mt 9:1)


Seeing the paralytic being brought on the stretcher, and admiring their faith, Jesus had said:

“Courage child, your sins are forgiven” (Mt 9: 2)

However, some of the scribes got annoyed and commented:  “This man is blaspheming” (Mt 9:3)


But Jesus, who reads the hearts of all people said:

“But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, He then said to the paralytic ,’Rise, pick up your stretcher and go home” (Mt 9:6)

Jesus was seeking to establish an important aspect…

>> Every sin has its evil consequences on a person
It is not that every sickness/evil/ill-happening is a result of sin…

…but the reverse is always true: That Sin always has a negative influence on a person!

The paralytic man was brought on a stretcher by the people (Mt 9:2) for a physical healing
But Jesus demonstrates to the man, his friends as well as to all around…

… that more than physical healing, one needs a spiritual cleansing

… that it is only a spiritual empowerment that can lead to integral material health
This spiritual empowerment…. This spiritual cleansing…

… needs the element of Humility!
Humility is expressed in this incident by the man who “was brought on the stretcher”
>> The paralytic lay in utter helplessness and misery

>> The paralytic was totally vulnerable and powerless 
These elements constitute humility…

… acknowledging one’s helplessness and depending totally on the power of God

… accepting that one is vulnerable and weak and needs God’s strength to be empowered
The scribes who were criticising Jesus failed to have these elements…

>> They instead swelled up in pride and false knowledge

Only where there is humility,  can there be forgiveness of sin and a celebration of mercy

>> Where there is only pride, there is criticism of sinners and condemnation of generosity!
Are we sick and paralysed today?

>> Maybe our family and community lives are paralysed by attitudes of indifference, uncaring attitude, arguments and financial difficulties

>> Maybe our personal lives are paralysed by uncertainties, lack of hope and shortage of inspiration and motivation

>> Maybe our societal lives are paralysed by rejection from others, misunderstandings and unhealthy experiences of corruption and injustice.
We need the healing touch of the Lord… We need an empowerment

>> This healing has to primarily begin from the spiritual dimension

>> This empowerment needs to start first from the spiritual perspective
When we go to the Lord in humility, we will be touched from within

… a spiritual cleansing happens and a spiritual empowerment is kindled!
The Lord came into the world, primarily as a Saviour…

… to save us!

>> And He intends that all of us seek Him with this prime motive above all…

… spiritual graces above material blessings

… growth in holiness over prosperity of earthly riches 
One of the most important means that the Lord provides this opportunity to receive His Mercy and Healing is the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession)
Just as Jesus forgave the sins of the paralytic and restored him to bodily health…

…  so too Jesus wants the Church, through the Holy Spirit, to continue his work of healing and salvation especially through the Sacrament of Reconciliation

>> The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a Sacrament of Healing!
We need to examine ourselves…

>> Has examination of conscience become part of our daily Christian lifestyle?

>> Do I frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation more often and thus receive forgiveness of sins and strength for our spiritual life?

>> Do I make sufficient preparation for the Sacrament, and also seek to hold on to the promises and resolutions made at the Confessional?
Every Confession is to become a life-changing experience!

>> Confession is not a license to do more sins

>> Confession is not a permit to living in sin, thinking that “God will anyway forgive!”
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a great privilege…

… It is also a Sacred Duty and places a moral obligation to seek to grow in holiness!
This Jubilee Year of Mercy is a call to experience the Lord as our Merciful Saviour…

.. and thus to receive healing from Him!
Yes,  let us realise…

… that it is only the humble who can be admitted to the Presence of the Lord!
May we knock at the “Door of the Lord’s presence”, acknowledging in humility, that “we are mortals and sinners”…

… seeking to be healed of all the “paralysis” in our life…
>> And thus, hear the Saviour Lord telling us:

“Take heart, my child, your sins are forgiven!

Rise, take up your stretcher and go home!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!
– Fr Jijo Manjackal MSFS

  Bengaluru, India

Jun 29 (Solemnity of St Peter and St Paul)

It is said that World History is a victorious story written by the winners…
… through the lives of proud emperors, famous rulers, triumphant troops

>> But Salvation History is written by God…
… through the lives of humble saints, repentant sinners and passionate lovers of the Lord!

God is an amazing script writer!
>>  His Divine Wisdom, beautifully pens lives…

But often, we fail to understand this script.
>> Failures, disappointments, tragedies…are mostly, considered by us, as the end of our lives.

But today, Holy Mother, the Church..invites our attention to two persons: St Peter and St Paul…
… who faced failures, disappointments and tragedies…
>> But remarkably, through the Divine Plan, their lives were scripted to a classic story….!

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the two Great Saints of the Church – St Peter and St Paul.

St Peter was overwhelmed by the Great Fishermen of Hearts!
>> All through his life, we see St Peter, varying between many emotions – over-zealous, impatient, bold, courageous, simple, daring etc

Statue of Saint Peter, Vatican City

St Paul was overpowered by the tremendous power of the Risen Lord!
>> All through his life, we see St Paul, displaying many characteristics – zealous and passionate, fervent and ardent, bold and courageous.

Statue of Saint Paul, Vatican City

God, the Great Script writer, knew exactly well, these two personalities!

Their life is a paradox.
>> Both had their moments of rejecting, persecuting, betraying and doubting the Lord…

>> Both had their moments of a “turning point”…
… St Peter’s call to be a Fisher of People & the Lord  once again accepting him, in love, after Resurrection
… St Paul on his way to Damascus, being prevailed over by the Majestic Power of the Risen Lord!

>> Both had their moments of being misunderstood and facing tough moments from the people, especially, the close people, with whom, they lived with, and to whom they ministered.

>> Both had their moments of sharing in the Cross of Christ, in His Chalice of Suffering and in the Baptism of a Holy Death!

Today, both are honoured & venerated as Stalwarts of our Faith & the Pillars of the Church.

>> Peter had been Simon; Paul had been Saul.

>> Peter was the fisherman, the small-town Galilean Jew; Paul was the Pharisee, the scholar of the Law.

>> Peter was conscious of the Faith’s Old Testament roots; Paul had found in Christ, “all things new.”

>> Peter had lived and walked with Jesus; Paul had encountered the Risen Jesus.

>> Peter was crucified on an inverted Cross; Paul was martyred by the Sword.

Two very different persons… Two different temperaments.
>> But ONE in their Zeal, Passion, Love, Mission, Enthusiasm, Fervour…All for the Lord!

These saints have much to teach us…and much to be imitated…!

Is the story of our life, suffering from a bad-script, at the moment?
>> There is Hope….in the Lord!

Are there areas in our life, where there is persecution?
>> There is Salvation…in the Lord!

Are there moments in our life when we feel betrayed or cheated?
>> There is Love…in the Lord!

Are there situations of rejection and loneliness in our life?
>> There is Acceptance…in the Lord!

Are there times of doubt or tears or pain in the depth of our heart?
>> There is Healing…in the Lord!

The Lord, the Mighty Rock..promised and declared St Peter to be the Rock!
>> The Lord, the Good News…promised and declared St Paul to be the Evangelizer!

Today He invites us to imitate & follow the example of these Humble yet Great Saints of the Church.

Like St Peter, may we grow in faith, to declare, “Jesus, You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Mt 16:16)
>> Like St Paul, may we advance in holiness, to declare, “I now no longer live; Christ lives in me!” (Gal 2:20)

Let us grow in Obedience, in Love and in Dependence….like St Peter
>> Let us grow in Passion, in Courage and in Openness….like St Paul!

Let us entrust our lives into the hands of God, the Great and Amazing Script-Writer…
… The One Who can draw straight, with crooked lines!

Happy Feast to the Pillars of the Church….and to us, the Seekers of their Intercession and Zeal!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

– Fr Jijo Manjackal MSFS
  Bengaluru, India

Jun 28 (Mt 8:23-27)

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I?   
I took the one less-travelled by,   
And that has made all the difference”.   

These well-acclaimed and much-celebrated lyrical words from the poem “The Road not taken” by Robert Frost highlight the importance of making critical choices in life.

>> It is our choices that show what we are, far more than our abilities.
>> It is our choices that determines our success in life, far more than our talents.

Being a Disciple of Jesus Christ, is a deliberate choice we make in our lives!
>> This is a choice of “walking the road less-travelled!”

The Gospel of the Day, begins with the verse:
Mt 8:23 – ” Jesus got into a boat, and the disciples FOLLOWED HIM!”

In the preceding verses, Jesus had filtered the massive crowd that was thronging on Him, by placing some demands in being His True Disciple.

And in today’s reading, the Disciples FOLLOW HIM, into the boat!
>> They make a choice of “walking the road less-travelled!”

Now, this sequence is interesting….
1. A large crowd follows Jesus (Mt 8: 18)
2. Jesus places some demands in being a True Disciple ( Mt 8: 19-22)
3. A few Disciples remain – making a deliberate choice – and Follow Jesus in the boat (Mt 8: 23)
4. Though they follow Jesus…the Disciples now encounter a massive storm! (Mt 8: 24)

Is this not, perhaps our experience as well?
1. We seek to follow the Lord, initially, along with others – as in a crowd
2. Jesus then places before us the demands of following Him and how we need to be not merely a “devotee” but also become a “disciple”
3. We choose to remain with Him – making a deliberate choice – and Follow Jesus in the boat, through the waters of this world
4. Though we follow Jesus… as Disciples, we now encounter massive storms!

Is there a storm in our life today??
>> Are there winds of doubt, anxiety, fear, hopeless lashing against the boat of our life?

Though, we have made a deliberate choice to Follow Jesus…
… yet, it seems, the Lord is busy sleeping!

>> The storms hit the boat…
>> Blood Pressure levels go up…
>> The heart starts sinking in Fear…!

In anxiety and trembling we cry:
“Lord, Save us!
… We are perishing!!”

“Lord, Save us!
… My marriage is falling apart and my family life is on the verge of a split!”

“Lord, Save us!
… My friends have deserted me and I feel so lonely!”

“Lord, Save us!
… I have no financial help and emotional support!”

“Lord, Save us!
… My Community life is in shambles and I feel my vocation is in crisis!”

We all have asked such similar queries, in varied ways, and a number of times!

We never question the Lord’s compassion, when things are going on well in life…
>> But we are quick to interrogate the Lord’s presence, when situations hit rock bottom!

But we need to understand and be convinced…
“God’s Power & Compassion is not measured by our circumstances, nor His kindness limited to our understanding!”

>> God loves us… when the tempest is raging and even when the sun is shining bright!
>> God cares for us… when life is happy and full of bliss and even when life has only tears and pains!

Do I trust in this?

The Lord was well aware of the dangers, when He asked them to get into the boat…
>> The Lord is not ignorant…!

The book of Prophet Jeremiah 29:11,14 says: “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for  welfare, not for woe! Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, you’ll find me, with You!”

As a Disciple of Jesus…
…storms are bound to hit us
…lashes of winds are sure to whack us
…tempests and gales are inevitable in life!

None of them are accidents; but are fully known, in the Will of the Father!
>> He is a Loving Father, a Saving Lord, a Guiding Spirit!

These hardships become occasions…
… when our faith levels are tested
… when our heart needs to grow in greater trust
… when our following of Christ undergoes the assessment of strength
… when we need to check whether any sins are blocking my zeal for the Lord

Let u not be bound to our Little Faith…
>> The Lord of the “sea and the waves and the winds” is by our side…

In His time, He will calm these perils…
We need to wait in patience… in cheerful submission… and in humble hope…
…. to the Providential Care of the Lord, which always saves us!

And when we look back, to those moments of dangers…we realize…
Our Faith has grown stronger, by the storms  we passed through!

Yes, the Lord says: “Fear not, thru the storms of Life…”
>> Let’s Keep believing!
>> Let’s Grow Stronger!
>> Let’s be His Faithful Disciples!

Two roads diverge at every moment in our life
>> A road of the easy…and the road of the hard…

Which one shall we travel by?

God Bless! Live Jesus!

– Fr Jijo Manjackal MSFS
  Bengaluru, India

Jun 27 (Mt 8:18-22)

We are living in an age of an insistent inclination to the “Instant”….

We seek for…
>> Instant Coffees…
>> Instant Food…
>> Instant Juices…
>> Instant Pleasures…
>> Instant Solutions to problems…
>> Instant end to difficulties…
And sadly…even an inclination for Instant Christianity!

Christianity sometimes gets reduced to…
…. Going to Church once in a while especially on a Sunday or a Feast day
… Saying a few prayers time to time
…. Reading a few verses from the Bible.. etc…
>>> And then expecting Instant blessings and favours!

But is this all that Christ intended with Christianity?
>> What does it mean to be a Follower of Christ?

There are various categories or classifications in the job sector.
>> Some do a full time job
>> Some do it part time
>> Some do it on a contract basis
>> Some do it to achieve a target.

Am I a Christian, as a full timer…?
>> Or have I reduced it to a part time affair, or in terms of some contract or promises, or in order to achieve some wants and desires?

The Gospel of the Day is a call to re-look at some of the motives and intentions in our following of Christ.

The Gospel of the Day begins with the verse:
Mt 8:18 – “When He saw the crowd press around Him, Jesus gave orders to cross to the other shore”

The preceding verses in Chapter 8 of the Gospel of St Matthew present Jesus performing many miracles and healings…
… and a “Crowd” being attracted to the Lord.

Where there is a miraculous event, a crowd gathers….

But the Lord, wished to sift this Crowd.
>> He says, ” Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His Head” (Mt 8: 20)

Jesus does away with any promise of security and comfort
>> He discourages people from following Him for having a better material life!

It was not that He didn’t want many people…
… but He wished to purify their motives & make them authentic in their following Him!

He sifts and sieves and strains the “Crowd”…to get together the “Disciples”.

Where there is a miraculous event, a crowd gathers…
>> But when there is an exhortation in being committed to that miraculous event…
… the crowd is filtered…and only the Disciples remain back!

The Lord is asking us today…
Are we just a part of the CROWD…?
… or are we ready to be filtered, and be a DISCIPLE?

It is easy to be part of a Crowd….
>> We can enjoy the occasional miracles
>> We can relish hearing the Word of God

But it is not easy to be a Disciple…
>> The experience of external miracles would be few
>> The Word of God would not just be heard, but also be expected to be lived and practised in life!
>> There would be no guarantee of any security in life
>> Many of the personal desires would have to be left behind…

To be a Disciple is hard…undoubtedly painful…and certainly, demanding
>> But to be a Disciple is also joyful…undoubtedly satisfying…and certainly, exciting!!

The Crowd is Casual…
… the Disciple is Dedicated!

The Crowd is Dichotomous…
… the Disciple is Committed!

What are we going to choose?
To be part of the “Crowd” ?…  an Instant and easy-going Christianity?
… or to be a “Disciple” – an Ever-faithful and committed Christianity?

Your answer please?….. Instantly!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

– Fr Jijo Manjackal MSFS
  Bengaluru, India


To learn, revive, love and be faithful… to our Catholic Faith!

1. It is considered that in the 11th Century, the Franciscan monks had the custom of saying Three Hail Marys, along with the bell that was rung, at their Evening Prayer.

The Three Hail Marys was to honour “the immaculate Virgin Mother and to preserve a perfect purity of mind, heart and body, in the midst of the dangers that are encountered in the world”

This practise was also encouraged among the lay people, especially by St Bonaventure.

2. Another tradition also says that in the time when England was occupied by the Normans…
>> In order to control the people, the Normans rang a curfew bell at the end of each day. This was to remind the people  to put off all fires, get out of the streets and go back and retire to their homes.

While this was not aimed for prayer, nevertheless this bell got associated with the evening prayer time, which included saying the Hail Mary.
>> This practise of the bell to be rung at the close of the day, continued, even after the end of the invasion.

>> The Bishop had encouraged the people:  “We exhort you every day, when you hear three short interrupted peals of the bell, at the beginning of the curfew (or, in places where you do not hear it, at vesper time or nightfall) you say with all possible devotion, kneeling wherever you may be, the Angelic Salutation three times at each peal, so as to say it nine times in all”

3. In 1318 in Italy, there began the practise of saying the Hail Mary, on rising in the morning.
>> This habit probably came from the monks, who included the Hail Mary in the prayers they said before their workday began.

4. In 1456, Pope Calisstus III directed the ringing of church bells every day at noon and that Catholics pray three Hail Marys.
>> The Pope exhorted the faithful to use the noonday prayers to pray for peace in the context of the 15th-century invasion of Europe by the Turks.
>>The bell rung at noontime became known as the “Peace” bell

5. The Angelus became a prayer as we know today, towards the end of the 16th century…
…with three Hail Marys, and short verses in between (called versicles), ending with a prayer.
>>  It was first published in modern form in a catechism around 1560 in Venice.

The Angelus reminds us of the Angel Gabriel’s annunciation to Mary, Mary’s Fiat, the Incarnation and Our Lord’s passion and resurrection.
>> It is repeated as a holy invitation, calling us to prayer and meditation.

The Annunciation, Fra Angelico, 1446, Convent of San Marco, Florence

The Angelus is said kneeling
(in symbolic of our humbleness “to welcome and accept the Will of God to take flesh in us”)
>> Pope Benedict XIV directed that the Angelus should be recited while standing on Saturday evening and all day on Sunday ( to honour and commemorate the Triumphant Resurrection of the Lord)
>> He also exhorted that, during the Easter Season, the Regina Coeli (Queen of Heaven) be said instead of the Angelus.

There is also the practise of focussing…
… the Angelus in the morning : On the Resurrection
… the Angelus at noon time: On the Passion
… the Angelus at evening:  On the Incarnation.

The Three-times recitation of the Angelus calls Christians…
… to interrupt the daily, earthly routines
… to turn to thoughts of God, of the Blessed Mother, and of eternity
… and to respond to the call of the Lord to “pray unceasingly and at all times” (Lk 18: 1, 1 Thess 5:17)

The Angelus is a meditation on the Bible – to recall the Salvation History
>> We meditate on the words of Mother Mary who called herself the “handmaid of the Lord”
>> We tell God that we are willing to do His Will, just as Mother Mary did
>> We invite the Lord “to take flesh” in all our actions and thoughts

(1) Seek to daily recite three times the Angelus – morning, noon and night (especially, if possible, as a family or a community)

(2) Thank the Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – for the Salvation History and especially recall the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord and the

(3) Make an examination of the conscience – reviewing the activities done up to that moment…
(a) Thanking Him for His Graces
(b) Asking pardon for faults
(c) Resolving to do better

(4) Seek the intercession of our Blessed Mother to always say “Yes” to God’s Will

May we grow in our devotion and love for the Lord, by the faithful and prayerful recitation of the Angelus!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

– Fr Jijo Manjackal MSFS
  Bengaluru, India

CATHOLIC CARTRIDGE – To learn, revive, love and be faithful… to our Catholic Faith!

Our Catholic Faith is a beautiful gift that is given by God.

The Church is our Mother…
… Who gives us life, in Baptism
… Who gives us acceptance and healing, in Reconciliation
… Who feeds us and nourishes us, in the Eucharist
… Who empowers us and strengthens us, in Confirmation
… Who unites us in love, in Marriage
… Who anoints us and leads us, through the Sacred Orders
… Who comforts us and heals us, in the Anointing

… so often, we fail to realise the treasure and value of our Catholic Church
… so often we only criticise the Church because of her failures and scandals

So many times, we fail to love the Church or sometimes even abandon the Church
>> because of our ignorance…
>> because of our disinterest to learn and know more

So, here is a SERIES to learn and know more about the Catholic Church… CATHOLIC CARTRDIGE
>> An attempt to learn and understand some of the practices, beliefs and teachings of the Church
>> An attempt to revive our passion and fervour for the Church and be zealous to be Her Missionaries

As Archbishop Fulton Sheen says:
” The Church is like Noah’s ark that was full of both clean and unclean animals.
>> It must have had an unholy smell, and yet it was carrying eight persons to salvation.

The world today is tearing up the photographs of a good society, a good family, a happy, individual personal life.
>> But the Church is keeping the negatives.

And when the moment comes when the world wants a reprint, we will have them.”

Yes, let CATHOLIC CARTRIDGE  be a series…
… to learn, revive, love and be faithful… to our Catholic Faith!

Let us be proud and thankful for our Catholic Faith!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Jun 26 (Lk 9:51-62)

Saints inspire us greatly.
>> Their example of bold courage and resolute faith, becomes a catalyst in our life of faith, too.

One such example is in the life of St Jane de Chantal.
>> She is the foundress of the Congregation of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary.

St Jane Francis de Chantal, had an extremely distressing difficulty to overcome, when she discovered that God was asking her to start a new religious congregation, together with St Francis de Sales.

Jane, a young French noble woman, had married the Baron of Chantal when she was 20 years old.
>> Deeply in love, they established an estate that was the envy of many people
>> Their enthusiastic marital joy was a product of their love for each other and their love for Christ.

However, she was widowed when she was only 28…
… losing her husband in a hunting accident.

From then on, she dedicated herself more and more to following Christ.
>>  She had become indispensable to her elderly father and father-in-law.

But God was calling her to a different mission.

When she announced her departure, a storm broke.
>> Her friends and family wept and pleaded with her not to go.
>> Villagers lined the streets in tears.

When her last goodbye had been said, her fifteen-year-old son, whom she had provided for and was leaving in the care of his grandfather…
… threw himself around her neck and begged her to stay!

By her tears, Jane reminded him that it was God who was calling her…
… and she stepped towards the door.

Her son, however, rushed ahead and threw his body on the ground in the doorway, still begging her not to leave.
>> In fact, he told her: “Since I am too weak to stop you, you will have to step over your only son to abandon him!”

But Jane knew what God was asking of her.
>> The bishop had approved her plans
>> Her son was also well-provided for (she would also be visiting him regularly)

So, although with a deep pain, shedding tears, the courageous mother…
… stepped over her son and went out the door…
.. and went out of the threshold!

>> She would go on to found 65 new convents…
… and spark a spiritual revival all throughout Europe!

She made a bold decision, filled with conviction and faith!

A bold decision that has the elements of conviction and faith, is a necessity for a renewal and a revolution!

The Gospel of Day takes pride in presenting a determined Jesus, who has made a choice-for-life in moving towards the mission of His life.

“When the days for His being taken up were fulfilled, He resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem” (Lk 9:51)

The Gospel of St Luke presents the whole ministry of Jesus as a linear journey…
… a movement from Galilee to Jerusalem.
>> All the events and actions of Jesus are oriented towards Jerusalem.

The verse – Luke 9:51 – signifies a mega shift in the earthly ministry of Jesus.

Jesus leaves the northern area of Israel called as Galilee and moves ahead to the southern area of Israel called as Judea.

Just as the Israelites had the Exodus Event, which marked the beginning of their salvation as a nation…
… Jesus too will have the Exodus Event which culminates in Jerusalem, which will mark the beginning of the salvation of the whole world!

This verse – Luke 9:51 – marks the beginning of the Exodus Event in the life of Jesus.

The verse reads, “… He RESOLUTELY determined to journey to Jerusalem”

The Greek word used for “resolutely” is Sterizo.

“Sterizo” is a strong word…
… which means to strengthen and to establish
… which means to stand firm with one’s decision.

Jesus makes this strong resolution  – “Sterizo”…
… to embrace the vision and plan of God.
… to be obedient to the Will of His Father.

Jerusalem was the place where Jesus was to suffer and die.
>> He was fully determined to go and would not be dissuaded
>> He went cheerfully and courageously though He knew the things that would befall Him.

The Road to Jerusalem was to be marched “resolutely” by Jesus!

All of us walk the Road to Jerusalem…
>> Life with its hard challenges and unexpected troubles is a Road to Jerusalem
>> Life with its spiritual difficulties and luring temptations is a Road to Jerusalem
>> Life with its doses of unforgiveness and bad temperaments is a Road to Jerusalem
>> Life with its continual showers of unpleasantness and irritations is a Road to Jerusalem
>> Life with its allurements to bad habits and hard-to-give up pleasures is a Road to Jerusalem

But unless we make a strong resolute decision to walk through this “Road to Jerusalem”, salvation and victory and happiness can never be ours!

When Jesus decided to go ahead with resoluteness in His decision, He met with rejection!
“…they would not welcome Him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem” (Lk9:53)

The Jews and the Samaritans were much at loggerheads with each other.
>> As we see in Jn 4:20, the great controversy between the Jews and the Samaritans was about the place of worship – whether it was Jerusalem or whether it was Mount Gerizim.

So bitter was the altercation between them that the Jews would have no dealings with the Samaritans, nor they with them (Jn. 4:9).

This is the reality of the world.
>> When one makes a determined decision for life, one is faced with many challenges.
>> When one makes a strong resolution for life, one is faced with many oppositions.

Like the disciples James and John, very often, the answer to this rejection is sought in the form of vengeance and violence and wrath.
>> It is the easier way.
>> It is the more simpler way.
… But it is a destructive way!

Jesus answers this rejection with a better and a powerful weapon: self-sacrifice.
>> “The Son of Man came not to destroy, but to save”…
… through a call to repentance.

>> It is the hard way.
>> It is a the more tough way.
… But it is a saving way!

The answer to life’s problems is not in reacting, but in being pro-active!

Jesus in the Gospel today invites each one of us to have a resolute determination in walking the Road to Jerusalem.

Its easy to pick up shortcuts and easy roads to find success in life.
>> But it takes a resolute decision to walk the hard way…

A bold decision that has the elements of conviction and faith, is a necessity for a renewal and a revolution!
>> The grace of God will strengthen and boost us in this hard path…

>> The Holy Bible is a witness to this great saga of great people who have walked this hard path…including Jesus.
>> Many of the saints have also strongly marched the hard and harsh way of the Cross…including St Jane de Chantal.
… May we seek to imitate them!
… May we be inspired by them!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

– Fr Jijo Manjackal MSFS
  Bengaluru, India

Jun 25 (Mt 8:5-17)

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 -1894) was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer.
>> He was a literary celebrity during his lifetime.
>> He ranks among the 26 most translated authors in the world!

He was also a great optimist and had a very strong positive outlook towards life.

But he was also often sick and would not keep well.

Once he was bedridden with tuberculosis.

His wife, sick of his extreme positivity, made fun of him and said: “I expect you still believe that it is a wonderful day!”

Lying on the bed, with a series of medicine bottles on his table, Stevenson looked out of the window, with the sunshine blazing down, and said:
“Oh yes, I do!
I will never let a row of medicine bottles block my horizon!”

What about us?
>> Do the problems of life block the horizon of our faith?

The Gospel of the Day is a wonderful exhibition of a powerful faith, which refused to get limited by the problems of life.

The passage begins with a centurion approaching Jesus with a request:
” Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress” (Mt 8:6)

Here is a beautiful example worth admiring and imitating….
>> A high placed military officer approaches Jesus for a healing of his servant
>> A wonderful illustration of humility, a striking example of concern for people in the lower position.

We need to ask ourselves…
…  What is my attitude to those who are inferior to me?
… How do I treat and behave with those who work for us, in our houses, institutions etc – our servants, our cooks, our drivers, our watchmen etc…?

>> All of them deserve…
… an act of concern!
… a word of appreciation
… a push of encouragement

When Jesus expresses His willingness to come to his house, the Centurion manifests yet another admiring act…
… a Faith that dares the challenges all problems
… A Faith that defies the shocks of troubles!

He responds to Jesus saying: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you under my roof; only say the Word and my servant will be healed” (Mt 8:8)

Who is a centurion?
>> A centurion was a professional officer of the powerful army of the Roman Empire.

Although, theoretically, this word has its roots in the Latin word ‘centum’ which means one hundred…
… a Centurion in the Roman Army was one who commanded 80 men.

What was the position of the Centurion in the Roman Army?
>> Above the centurion was a senior centurion… (a total of 80 men for a Centurion)
>> Above this senior centurion were sixty centurions… ( a total of 4800 men)
>> Above the sixty centurions were six tribunes… (each tribune had 3000 men.. so total 18, 000)
>> Above the six tribunes were the two consuls.
>> Above the consuls was the Emperor!

It was such a “man of immense authority” who stood before Jesus…
… and requested for a healing for his servant.

This mighty centurion looked at Jesus the Commanding Emperor of a mighty army!
>> In Jesus, he saw a man…
… of immense authority!
… of mighty strength!
… of great power!

And so He tells Jesus, “… only say a word, and my servant will be healed” (Mt 8: 8b)

The man had a deep concern for his servant
>> He had a tenderness that caused him to identify with the sufferings of his slave

But he also had a deep faith that refused to be limited by problems and difficulties
>> His faith was strong and refused the challenges of life to hamper his belief in Jesus!

The centurion did not allow the problems of life to block the “horizon of his faith”!

What about us?
>> Do our hardships in life, sometimes cause a mist in the horizon of our faith?
>> Do the concerns of our family and community, sometimes  hinder our horizon of our faith?
>> Do the problems of our future, our plans and our works, cause blocks in the horizon of our faith?

May we respond positively to the challenge and invitation of the Centurion in today’s Gospel …
… to have a deeper humility that causes us to reach out to others in concern and care
… to have a stronger faith that refuses to prevent any blocks in the “horizon of our faith”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

– Fr Jijo Manjackal MSFS
  Bengaluru, India

Jun 24 (Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, Lk 1:57-66,80)

Birth of Saint John the Baptist, Artemisia Gentileschi, 1635, Prado Museum, Madrid

We all are familiar with the ‘remote control’ of a television.

In the remote control, there is the button named “MUTE”.
>> It is used to put off the sound, momentarily.

Sometimes, in our spiritual lives, too, we undergo the experience of being in the “MUTE” mode with God.
>> There is a total silence, that pervades our relation with God.

Have we undergone this experience of the “silence” of God?
>> Do we sometimes feel why is God “absent” in my life?

The Couple of Day – Zechariah and Elizabeth – underwent, this “mute” experience with God.
>> Though advanced in age, living a life of prayer, service and faithfulness, they were not blessed with the Gift of a Child.

Barrenness, in the Jewish Society was one of the greatest misfortunes for a family.
>> Being barren was thus a harsh experience for this Devout Couple!

But then came the precious and joyous moment…
>>The “His Name is John” Moment!
…..when, new life and fresh joy radiated their lives!

The names of John, and his parents – Elizabeth and Zechariah are very significant.

Their names are very significant; it tells  that God’s delays are not His denials!
… The name Zechariah means “The Lord remembers”
… The name Elizabeth means, “the oath of God”
>> Thus, the name of the couple stands for: The Lord remembers His oath!

However, the long years of barrenness would have seemed as a contradiction to them – it seemed God had totally forgotten about them.
>> But this is where we learn, that God’s delays are certainly not His denials!
>> He has a better plan (Jer 29:11) – always, without fail!

And they were indeed blessed with a Son – named “John” whose name means “God is Gracious!”

True to this name, after a prolonged period of silence and hush…
… Zechariah and Elizabeth experienced the “Graciousness of God”.
>>  The long agony had been finally rewarded….with the Graciousness of God – John!

The “muteness” that this Couple experienced, also reflected the Silence that the people of Israel experienced…
… in their waiting of the Messiah!
>> But the Birth of John, was the breaking of this silence.

The World, which waited eagerly for the Messiah, had now heard a Voice!
>> It was time to put off the “Mute”…
… the Voice had been Born!
John 1:23, ” I am the Voice of one, crying out in the desert!”

John the Baptist, the Voice, had  been born, to announce the coming of Jesus, the Word!
We all undergo “Mute” moments in our lives!
>> They are painful and agonizing moments…
… when all seems dry, answerless, silent

…when there is only dreadful calm, a total brokenness, painful agonies and miseries

… when there is sometimes even no hope ahead!

Sometimes, in unbelief, we may begin to even question or interrogate God…
… like Zechariah questioned the Angel
… and may even get affected with some physical muteness of health or wealth or prestige or disbelief or  misunderstanding or persecution etc…!

But nothing of our Unbelief will spoil God’s plan for us…

>> God says in Jer 29:11, “I know well the plans I have in mind for you….plans for your welfare, not for woe; plans to give you a future, full of hope!”

>> Our “mute” moments will be transformed, into, “His name is John” moments…!

>> Our “unspoken miseries” will be transfigured into ” gracious and gifted” moments…!

Let’s strengthen our lives with the oft-heard truth about three ways of God answering our prayers…

>> YES…. I will fulfill your desire in the way you want

>> or WAIT…. in my own time, I will grant your wishes

>> or NO…I have something much better for you!!

Let us be patient in faith, hope and love in our MUTE moments…
… so that we may experience the gracious & gifted “HIS NAME IS JOHN” moments in our lives!

Happy Birthday to John the Baptist, The Voice & Happy Feast Day to all, The Listeners!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

– Fr Jijo Manjackal MSFS
  Bengaluru, India