Jan 21 (Mk 3:19-21)

“Enthusiasm” is a word that is very commonly used. 

It is interesting to know the root meaning of this word
“Enthusiasm” is derived from two Greek words – “en” and “theos”

>> “En” means IN

>> “Theos” means GOD
“En-theos” means being “In God”

Enthusiasm therefore points to the fact of…

… someone being “possessed by God”

… someone who is mad with the works of God
 

The Gospel of the Day is a narrative of a Man Who is deeply enthusiastic… IN GOD…

… the “Mad and Insane” Jesus!

St Mark’s Gospel is pretty straightforward – to the point and blunt in its nature.

 

 The Lord was out to preach and proclaim the Kingdom of Love and Mercy…

• Broken lives were mended by the balm of His Holiness

• Ruined minds were revived by the power of His teachings

• Shattered destinies were made whole by the cure of His touch

• Hardened hearts were touched by the softness of His presence

• Ruptured consciences were restored by the gentleness of His love

 

 

The crowd following had increased…the popularity ratings had soared!

 

This however causes a great disturbance and distress in the family of Jesus…

“Again the crowds gathered, making it impossible for them, even to eat.

When His relatives heard of this, they set out to seize Him, for they said, ‘He is out of His mind’ ” (Mk 3: 20-21)

 

Jesus was labelled as being “out of mind!”

>> Jesus was tagged as being “insane and mad”

>>> Jesus was branded as being “crazy and odd”

 
The one who is filled with God’s love is indeed an obsessed person!

>> The one who has eyes fixed on one’s goals is indeed a mad person!

Obsessed in love…mad for one’s aim…passionate about one’s goals!

 

And Jesus was indeed passionate and highly zealous for His mission…

So much so, that even His own relatives misunderstood and mistook Him.

       

 

 

The Bible and the Church is a gigantic collection of deeds and acts of such people who were “mad” and who took “crazy” decisions in life…

 

>> Abraham was “crazy” to have faith in God, to have children, even at the ripe old age of hundred!

>> Moses was “mad” to trust God to lead a tiny nation from the clutches of the imposing Egyptian empire!

>> Mother Mary was “crazy” to give up her promising life and instead consent to an Angel to become the Mother of God!

>> St Peter was “mad” to abandon his career and family to follow Jesus for a ministry of unknown and uncertain future!

>> St Paul was “crazy” to undergo tremendous sufferings and agonizing troubles for the sake of the spread of the Gospel!

When one is really passionate towards one’s mission, there is an element of “craziness”!

>> When one is really zealous about one’s purposes, there is an element of “madness”!

 

Do I have and reflect this “mad” passion and zeal for God’s love?

… by seeking Him in all our works, activities and plans

… by reaching out His love to the needy and the disadvantaged

… by spreading hope, courage and optimism in this broken world

 

 

Let us dare to walk and live the path of the Crucified Lord…

… the One who was called mad and insane

… the One who was misunderstood and unaccepted

Because He chose to live and die for His convictions of Love!

 

Let us not be worried… let us not be anxious…but trust in our Loving God!

 

 

In the words of St Francis De Sales:

“God takes pleasure to see you take your little steps; and like a good father who holds his child by the hand, He will accommodate His steps to yours and will be content to go no faster than you.

 

Why do you worry?” 

 

  

Yes, let us be people filled with “enthusiasm”… being IN GOD….

… someone being “possessed by God”

… someone who is mad with the works of God
 

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Jan 20(Mk 3:13-19)

The role of judges in a competition or a contest is known to everybody.

 

The judge is to make a choice of the outstanding performers.

>> This choice is based on a number of criteria…

>> This choosing is dependent on a number of factors…

 

The ones who are selected are considered to be the best among the lot!

>> The ones who are chosen are considered to be the finest among them all!

 

But it’s quite interesting and sometimes even strange, that in the Divine realm, this principle is not followed!

>> Yes, God’s ways are truly far different from the way of human beings!

>> God’s style is exceedingly distinct from the style of human beings!

 

God makes His choice on the Single Principle of Love!
 

The Gospel of the Day is a testimony to this fact, when Jesus makes a choice of His disciples.

“Jesus went up to the mountain, and called to Him those whom He desired, and they came to Him” (Mk 3:13)

 

Another translation would read, “…and summoned to Him those whom He wanted…”

 

The disciples were called because Jesus desired them!

>> The disciples were summoned because Jesus wanted them!

 

This style of choice is indeed strange and queer, isn’t it?

>> Judges usually select the best and the outstanding…

>> Judges usually choose the finest and the exceptional…

But Jesus, the Judge, seems to be doing it all wrong!

 

Here is Project Kingdom at hand…and Jesus chooses not the best, but the ordinary!

 

Jesus is out to usher in a Kingdom of healing and many divine works…

>> But Jesus chooses some mundane fishermen for this task – Peter and Andrew and James and John!

 

Jesus is out to usher in a Kingdom of love and detachment…

>> But Jesus chooses some doubtful personalities like tax collectors and lover of money – Mathew and Judas Iscariot!

 

Jesus is out to usher in a Kingdom of Divine love and peace…

>> But Jesus chooses some nationalists and zealots – Simon!

 
Yes, God’s ways are truly far different from the way of human beings!

>> God’s style is exceedingly distinct from the style of human beings!

 

You and Me – as Christians, are also called and chosen!
What was the reason for it?

>> What was the criteria for God choosing us?

 

Nothing exceptional or spectacular in us…

>> But simply and purely, His exceptional and spectacular love has chosen us!
He chose us simply because He wanted to choose us!

>> He selected us simply because He wanted to select us!

Sounds crazy? Sounds weird?
Well… God’s love and choices are indeed crazy and weird!

>> But they are also full of wisdom and Divine Providence!

 

 

Yes, we are called into existence in love, by the One who loves us deeply!

 

This sole factor can and should be the impelling and encouraging force in our lives!

 

In moments, when we feel that we are unwanted and unloved…

>> Know and realise, that God has chosen us…in love!

 

In moments when we feel unequipped and disarmed to undertake some duties and tasks…

>> Know and realise, that God has chosen us…in love!

 

In moments, when we are broken into despair and rejected into helplessness and loneliness…

>> Know and realise, that God has chosen us…in love!

 

In moments, when meaning to life is found missing and the future looks too hazy and clouded…

>> Know and realise, that God has chosen us…in love!

 
It may be easy for me to write reflections on God’s love…

>> It may be not too hard a task for me to preach on God’s love…

But deep within… can we know and experience, for sure.. that God’s Love encompasses us!

 

He simply loves us!

>> He simply loves to lavish His affections on us!

 

There can be no greater personal revelation for me than to know and experience that I am loved and chosen by God!

>> There can be no greater personal satisfaction and happiness for me, than to live and be passionate about this deep, personal and intimate love and choice of God!

 
Today, let us renew our commitment and zeal to this Love of the Lord!
He is calling us once again… in love..

…to be His disciples

…to be close to Him

…to be part of His Project Kingdom

…to be partakers of His mission in this world

Let’s seek the intercession of martyrs St Sebastian & St Fabian, whose feast we celebrate today , in order to live a faithful life… 

… and to be his faithful disciples! 
“The devil strains every nerve to secure the souls which belong to Christ. We should not grudge our toil in wrestling them from Satan, and giving them back to Christ” (St Sebastian) 

 
God Bless! Live Jesus!

Jan 19 (Mk 3:7-12)

A magnet is an object made of certain materials which creates a magnetic field around itself.

>> This magnetic field causes objects of certain properties to attract to itself…

 

The closer the objects are to the magnet, the stronger they are pulled to the attracting force.

 

Another interesting thing is that…

… objects attached to the magnet, over a certain period of time, themselves become magnetized and are able to attract other things to itself.

 

 

The Gospel of the Day is a wonderful exhibition of this Magnetic Presence of Jesus!

 

St Mark beautifully presents this attractive power of the Lord through the words:

“A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea.

Hearing what He was doing, a large number of people came to Him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan and from the neighbourhood of Tyre and Sidon” (Mk 3: 7-8)

 

 

The popularity of the Lord was spreading far and wide…

>> His power over sin had many to look up to Him…

>> His authoritative teaching was astonishing to many…

>> His dominance over evil spirits was awe-inspiring for many…

>> His amazing healing power had caused a stir among people…

 

Like a magnet, the Lord was attracting many to Himself!

>> Like a magnet, the Lord was pulling variety of people to Himself!

                                                                                                                                               

The magnetic and charming power of the Lord attracts us too..

… But do we remain willing to get attracted to this amazing force?

 

The Living Presence of the Lord in our midst is in the Holy Eucharist.

>> The Holy Eucharist is the powerful magnet that can pull and attract many!

 

The tragedy in our life is that very often, this “magnetic” Eucharistic presence remains abandoned and forsaken!

 

It’s a pity that the Living Lord is hardly visited in the Blessed Sacrament!

 

>> Chapels and Churches often remain empty and forlorn…

>> Very few to visit Jesus in the Eucharist!

>> Hardly any say Hello to the Lord in the Eucharist!

 

We sometimes are reducing ourselves to a generation seeking only after mighty wonders!

>> We sometimes are making ourselves to be a people wanting only fascinating miracles!

>> We sometimes are forming ourselves to be ones who are attracted only to external sensations!

 

But Eucharist – the greatest wonder and miracle of the world often remains unnoticed!

 

There is nothing more sublime in this world than the Holy Eucharistic Presence!

>> There is nothing more beautiful than moments spent before the Eucharistic Lord!

>> There is nothing more awesome than an experience of love in the Holy Eucharist!

 

Am I ready to get attracted and charmed by this magnetic presence of the Holy Eucharist?

 

>> The Lord waits for us…every moment…every day!

>> The Lord seeks for us…every second…every hour!

 

We may have different excuses to evade and avoid time before His presence…

>> Maybe too many works and occupations…

>> Maybe a feeling that it is too dry and boring to be with Him…

>> Maybe an attitude that social works suffice and go beyond all such pious devotions…

 

But no excuse and no theory can give justification to miss the Presence of the Lord!

He is the magnet who can infuse us with power and strength!

>> The more closer we are, the more attracted we be!

>> The more we remain with Him, the more we become like Him!

 

>> May the Magnetic Power of the Holy Eucharist be sought more!

>> May the Magnetic Love of the Holy Eucharist be longed more!

 

And may, we, in turn, become a magnetic Presence of the Lord to others!

… Seeking the Eucharist, to be a Eucharist to the other!

… Loving the Eucharist to break and share oneself to the other!

 

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Jan 18 (Mk 3:1-6)

 The Christian tradition has for a long time, associated the four evangelists (Gospel writers) with the four living creatures that surround God’s throne as described in the book of Revelation.

 

Rev 4:7, “The first creature resembled a lion, the second was like a calf (ox), the third had a face like that of a human being and the fourth looked like an eagle in flight…”

 

These associations are made as follows:

>> Matthew – Human being/Angel;

>> Mark – Lion;

>> Luke – Ox (Calf);

>> John – Eagle.

 

The Gospel of the Day is a passage from the Gospel of St Mark.

 

And today the Lion, associated with Mark’s Gospel is set to “roar”!

Yes, Jesus, the Marcan Lion is out to “roar” in the Synagogue!!

 

It’s another Sabbath day…

>> And Jesus is in the synagogue where there is a man who has a withered hand.

 

St Mark is particular to mention that the Pharisees were watching him keenly, to observe what Jesus, the healer would do (Mk 3:2)

 

>> They did not look, to praise God…they observed in order to pinpoint faults!

>> They did not seek, to glorify God’s name…they scrutinized in order to defame the Lord!

 

What a pity when…

…. religious leaders become only harsh law-enforcing personnel and fail to administer compassion and love!

… when protectors of the law become too rigid and stubborn to keep the rules that they become perpetuators of a perpetual hypocrisy!

 

As the Pharisees keep watching what He is going to do, Jesus throws the ball in their court.

>> The Lord knows the secrets of human hearts!

>> The Lord gauges the depths of human hypocrisy!

 

And so Jesus, the Marcan Lion roars and asks:

” Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” ( Mk 3:4)

 

A basic and a fundamental question was staring on the faces of the Pharisees…

>> They were people who were staunch to uphold the laws and the rules.

>> They were people who would strive to maintain faithfulness to the minutest regulations

>> They were people who would raise their voice at any violation of God’s commandments.

 

Was it love that drove them to do God’s commandments?

>> Was it pure motives that made them to be zealous for God’s law?

>>> Was it a striving for God’s glory that impelled them to be strict keepers of the rules?

 

>> Here was a moment for them to express their intention behind all these things…

>> Here was a chance to tell the world what was their aim in doing all the obligations…

 

“But they remained silent” (Mk 3:4b)

What an anti-climax it turned out to be!

>> They gave the worst possible reply to the life-convicting question: Silence!

 

>> It was a deafening silence that was brutally wounding and viciously hurting!

>> It was a booming silence of their cruel disapproval of Jesus’ healing ministry!

>> It was a crashing silence exposing their wickedness of heart and duplicity of minds!

 

And so Jesus, the Lion roars…

“Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of hearts…” (Mk 3:5)

 

>> The inhuman silence of the Pharisees provokes Jesus, the Lion to anger!

>> The hypocritical hush of the Pharisees instigates Jesus, the Lion to fury!

>> The dreadful stillness of the Pharisees wounds Jesus, the Lion to grief!

 

How many of us are similar to this attitude of the Pharisees….?!

 

We see people withered in misery and abjection…

>> And we assume a dignified silence of inaction and apathy!

 

We see others withered in sinful situations and evil circumstances…

>> And we take refuge in a silence of not doing anything to help them, come out of this condition!

 

We see families, societies and communities withering in disunity and discord…

>> And we maintain a “clean-image” of silence, instead of doing the unpleasant task of unifying!

 

We see ourselves withered in corrupt inclinations and errant behaviour…

>> And we uphold a silence of indifference and lethargy and avoid reformation and renewal!

 

But the Lord, the great Lion, roars in all such “unfair and debasing” moments of silence!

> It angers Him…

>> It grieves Him…

>>> It provokes Him…

>>>> It pains Him…       

 

ROOARRR!!

The Lion of Judah is “roaring” for a positive and active response from us….

>> The Lord “roars” for a change in our attitude and mentality!

>> The Lord “roars” for a radical transformation in our misery of indifference!

 

Let the “roar” of Jesus, the Lion instil in us the urgency to take necessary actions in our life.

 

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Jan 17 (Mk 2:23-28)

“You are under CCTV surveillance!”

>> This is one common notice that is increasingly seen, these days. 
Institutions, offices, public places…. are getting scanned under the CCTV (Closed Circuit TeleVision) camera. 
The CCTV seeks to capture every movement that occurs, in order to trace any untoward incident. 
It is mainly placed…

… in order to identify possible mishaps and troublesome occurrences. 

… in order to find out people who involve in pranks, harmful actions and terrors. 

… in order to trace any untoward incidents by capturing every movement that occurs 

Well.. though the gadget named CCTV is a modern technology, we have its human version already existing centuries back… 

>> And the Gospel of the Day is proof of this aspect! 
Check out the CCTV – sponsored and used by the Pharisees and the Scribes. 

>> And today, Jesus and His disciples are under the surveillance of this CCTV! 

Jesus and His disciples were walking through a field of grain on the Sabbath. 

>> The disciples were hungry and decided to pluck some of the grain. (Mk 2: 23)

The OT law of keeping of the Sabbath in no way prohibited picking a handful of grain to satisfy one’s immediate hunger 
In Dt 23:25, God makes a wonderful provision for travellers: 

“When you enter your neighbour’s standing grain, then you may pluck the head with your hand, but you shall not put a sickle in your neighbour’s standing grain” 
The traditional law however added many rules and regulations. 

>> These traditions were rigid concerning Sabbath observance. 
The Talmud – the book of Jewish traditions – has 24 chapters listing various Sabbath laws.  

>> A rabbi would sometimes spend 21/2 years studying one chapter to figure out all the details. 
On a Sabbath Day…

… no burden could be carried that weighed more than a dried fig, or half a fig carried two times. 

… if you threw an object in the air and caught it with the other hand, it was a sin. If you caught it in the same hand, it wasn’t! 

… a tailor couldn’t carry his needle…. The scribe couldn’t carry his pen… A pupil couldn’t carry his books. 

… no clothing could be examined lest somehow you find a lice and inadvertently kill it. 
Nothing could be…

… sold

… bought

… washed
>> Cold water could be poured on warm, but warm couldn’t be poured on cold. 

>> You could not bathe for fear when the water fell off of you it might wash the floor. 

>> If a candle was lit, you couldn’t put it out. If it wasn’t lit, you couldn’t light it. 

>> Women couldn’t look in a glass or they might find a white hair and be tempted to pull it out. 

>> Women couldn’t wear jewellery because jewellery weighs more than a dried fig!! 
It goes on an on…!! 

The system had become mercilessly oppressive, horribly ungodly and brutally unkind. 
 The safe guarders and protectors of these scrupulous laws were the Scribes and the Pharisees. 

>> And today they are out, to catch hold of Jesus and His disciples. 
Their detective eyes are keen to observe the mistakes committed by them. 

>> Their probing eyes are on the look out to get hold of their Sabbath breakages! 
It’s like a CCTV that is capturing minute-by-minute movements… 

>> It’s like a CCTV that keeps a constant watch for any untoward happenings… 
Do I sometimes adopt this tendency of the Pharisees and the Scribes… 

>> Being on the constant look out for mistakes of others… 

>> Watching others behaviours to probe faults and failures in them… 
It’s interesting that the Scribes and the Pharisees fail to see that they also broke the Sabbath Law! 
The Pharisees are following Jesus and His disciples…. 

>> This meant walking beyond the stipulated steps prescribed by the Sabbath Law! 
But, they conveniently don’t mention this! 

>> They self-justified themselves but accused others of guilt! 

>> They self-approved themselves but blamed others of faults! 
>> Am I a person prone to only find faults and negativity in situations and in others… 

… or do I make constructive criticisms and also be a person who genuinely appreciates? 
>> Am I a person constantly bickering about what is lacking and missing in my life… 

… or do I rather be a person who is delightful and content with all what God has blessed me? 
>> Am I person who magnifies the weaknesses of others and defames others character… 

… or do I be a person who understands others and encourages them to be stronger? 
Its human to chance upon the weaknesses of others… 

>> Its Divine to accept, understand and encourage them to be better instead! 
Its human to always look into the negative dimensions in a person… 

>> Its Divine to have a magnanimous heart to look to positives in life! 

Let us have our focus always on the Lord and His true commandments, seeking the intercession of St Antony of the Desert, the Abbot, whose feast we celebrate today. 

>> Let us strive to give heed to the words of this saintly monk: 

“The devil is afraid of us when we pray and make sacrifices. He is also afraid when we are humble and good. He is especially afraid when we love Jesus very much. He runs away when we make the Sign of the Cross.”  

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Jan 16 (Mk 2:18-22)

Most of us are familiar, with the story of that person who bought large new, exquisite flower vase from the market.  

>> This person was excited in possessing this big and wonderful flower vase. 
He came home and placed this flower vase in the centre table of the main hall. 

>> He looked at the vase and admired saying, “Wow! This vase looks so pretty”. 
But as he kept admiring the beauty of the vase, he realized, that somehow the torn and the rugged carpet beneath, was not matching with this newly bought vase. 
So he decided to change the carpet… 
Once he did the changing of the carpet, and as he admired the flower vase, he realized, the painting on the walls of the house also did not match with the flower vase, and the new purchased carpet.. 

>> So there.. he decided to paint anew the walls as well! 
Well.. the entry of the single vase…. brought about effective changes in the surrounding! 
The love for the beautiful vase prompted the person to make additional changes. 

>> The admiration for the charming vase made the person to bring in extra alterations. 

Something similar is to happen, when the Beautiful and Precious Jesus enters into our lives… 

>> The old is to get transformed.. the new is to be ushered in! 

>> The former is to undergo an alteration…the novel is to be welcomed in! 

This is what the Lord puts forward in the Gospel of the Day by the examples of the old & new cloak and old & new wine 

Our Lord often used examples from daily life to illustrate his parables. 

Today, He uses two concepts that would have been readily understood by his listeners: 

>> No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak. (Mk 2:21) 

>> No one pours new wine into old wineskin (Mk 2: 22) 
It was a known fact as to what would happen if an unshrunk (new) patch was sewn onto an old garment. 

>> When it was washed, the new patch would shrink and pull away from the garment leaving a bigger tear than before. 

In ancient Israel, the grapes were pressed in the winepress and left in the collection vats for a few days. 
Fermentation starts immediately on pressing, and this allows the first “tumultuous” (gassy) phase to pass. 

>> Then the fermenting juice was put in clay jars to be stored, or into wineskins if it was to be transported some distance. 
.When this new wine was placed into a wineskin, it continued to ferment; so it was essential to put it into a new, flexible, skin that would expand, as the carbon dioxide gas (a by-product of fermentation) was given off. 

Historically, these examples illustrate the incompatibility of the old with the new.  

>> The new is Jesus’ message of the Kingdom of God. 

>> The old is the present status of Judaism. 

Contextually, what do these examples mean to us today? 
We have professed and declared ourselves to be Christians, following the path of Jesus. 
Is there a newness and a novelty that I experience and live in my daily life? 

>> Does Jesus Christ really effect any difference in my attitudes and my actions? 

For long, perhaps, we have been proud to carry the tag of being a Christian. 

>> But is it not time that Christ really begins to become “REAL” and “LIVING” in my life? 

We use Christianity as a bait to obtain concessions, quotas, easy entries for jobs etc… 

>> But does Christianity make me to live the values of the Gospel to root out corruption from the society & within ourselves? 

As Christians, we are often portrayed as “forward” people – associated as a western culture of posh and sophisticated living, as a “wine-and-cake” people and as “short-dresses-folk”! 

>> These are not to be trademarks of a Real Christian!! 
Does being a Christian… 

… impel me to forego a sinful life and seek after holiness? 

… encourage me to stand for the values of truth and honesty? 

… make me to be less materialistic and more focussed on things eternal? 

… me shun peer & societal pressures & stand for moral convictions? 

… propel me to defy evil tendencies of the world and be firm to the Kingdom values? 

  

The one who is truly living in the Lord, cannot, but alter his/her sinful way of life. 

>> The one who is really professing to be a Christian, cannot, but seek after holiness. 

Let Jesus, as a beautiful vase, occupy the greatest presence and authority in my life! 

>>This would certainly mean…

… changing the old carpet of sinfulness and evil habits. 

… painting the soiled walls of our wounded past with the new shade of holiness. 
May the newness and the novelty of the Lord sparkle and glitter in our everyday Christian Life! 

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Jan 15 (Jn 1:29-34)

The five fingers of the hand have their own functions and roles. 

>> However, one among these five, is often engaged in a pretty notorious activity… 
That Finger is … the Forefinger or the Index Finger. 

>> And the activity that it is often used for, is… Blaming! 
The Index finger or also called as the Pointer Finger is often used… 

…to point to others and accuse them 

.. to point towards others and blame them 

…to point towards others and lay a charge on them 
This action is also called as Finger-Pointing – the act of casting the blame or assigning the blame for something, to someone else. 

>> We have somehow, consciously or unconsciously, got into a habit of using our Index or the Forefinger to always blame and accuse others and pass on the fault to other people. 

The Gospel of the Day, is however, a welcome change to this “sickening” trend of finger-pointing! 
We have St John the Baptist who utilizes this action of pointing, 

not for blaming or accusing… but rather to point out the Saviour of the World! 

St John the Baptist bearing witness, Annibale Carracci, 1600, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

He points out, in a majestic style, to Jesus… and declares emphatically, 

” Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn 1: 29) 

>> He points towards Jesus… to make known the One who is the long-awaited Messiah! 

>> He points towards Jesus… and reveals to the world, the One who is to redeem humanity!

>> He points towards Jesus… to proclaim the One, who by His greatness, would grant salvation! 
John the Baptist, becomes a witness and a testimony to the world, to reveal Jesus as the Redeemer! 
This pointing to the Saviour reveals many inner qualities of St John the Baptist… 

>> He displays great humility in acknowledging the greatness of Jesus!

>> He shows forth immense goodness in choosing to play the secondary role! 

>> He exhibits nobility by gently shifting the focus and limelight to Jesus, the Saviour! 

>> He demonstrates faithfulness to his mission of being the forerunner to the True Messiah! 
Our life is sometimes plagued by the “bad tendency” to point to others, only in a negative sense… 

>> We point to others to pass on judgment and condemnation 

>> We point to others to cast feelings of guilt and culpability 

>> We point to others to make public the faults of other people 
It’s not that we should refrain from constructive criticism… or correcting others gently… or making the other person aware of their shortcomings. 
But can we learn from St John the Baptist, the attitude to point out to others, in order to…. 

… Instill a sense of encouragement and affirmation 

… Acknowledge their valuable and precious presence 

… Allow people to notice the good and noble deeds of others 
>> Pointing to others, ought not to be a tool of painful criticism 

and discouragement…

… rather it must be an action of encouragement and acknowledgement. 

>> Pointing to others, ought not to be a medium of accusation 

and denunciation… 

… rather it must be a means of appreciation and admiration. 
Let us become a people…

… of true acknowledgement… and not wasteful blaming. 

… of honest encouragement…and not critical judgment. 

… of credible appreciation… and not distasteful denouncing. 

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Jan 14 (Mk 2:13-17)

 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 Levi, the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office,

 He said to him, “Follow me!” (Mk 2: 14)

 

 

For the religious elite of the Society, this calling of Levi (St Mathew), 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 Levi, 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:

Levi 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:

Levi 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:

Levi also opened his hands & worked for the Lord.

 

“It could be said, that when Jesus called Levi (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 Call of Levi, 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 Levi, give our hearts, our homes and our hands – our everything – to Him!

 

 

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Jan 13 (Mk 2:1-12)

 A wealthy man was once seen driving his Lamborghini car through the streets of a busy city.
As he stopped in a particular place for parking, a curious passer-by, remarked at the driver:

“Hey, it’s surprising! You’re driving such an expensive car… but didn’t you notice that your rear window glasses are broken!”
“There’s a reason for pursuing with the broken glasses…”, the man in the car replied, “the broken windows remind me of God’s Providential Love!”

“Huh?”, enquired the passer-by with greater curiosity, “How do ‘broken windows’ remind you of God’s Providential Love?”
“Well.. then, listen to my story,” said the man as he continued, ” I was once passing through the streets, zipping across in my luxurious car…

… when suddenly, a crashing sound was heard from the back!

>> I saw that a stone had been thrown at my car!
In great anger, I noticed that it was a rag-picker boy, who had thrown the stone!
My blood boiled, in rage, as I stopped my vehicle and moved closer to him.

But then I saw him, joining his hands, as he pleaded to me in tears: “Sir, look at my younger brother…

>> I noticed to see, that a young boy who legs were paralyzed was lying down, with a heavy scars and bruises on his legs.
The boy continued: ‘I was crossing the road, helping my lame brother, when a fast-moving bike ran over him, to leave with a bleeding leg.
 I called out to many people for help…but none cared!
Finally, out of my helplessness, I decided to throw a stone at the vehicle which would come next, in order to seek help!
The boy continued: ‘Sir, I am extremely sorry that your expensive car is damaged. But, trust me, this was the only way I could seek help for my injured brother!”
Tears filled my eyes, as I told the boy: “My car windows are surely broken! But they are also a reminder, that sometimes, we have to allow God to break certain things, to remind…

… that we need to stop and help!

… that we need to depend on God in all aspects of life!
>> Surely, these broken windows are a sign of God’s Providential Love!” 

Are there “broken windows” in our life?

>> Broken windows…

… when tragedies and calamities have hit our life?

… when untimely incidents and unexpected twists have taken place in life?

>> Though difficult to comprehend, perhaps, a deeper reflection, will help us to realize that such “Broken Windows are a sign of God’s Providential Love!”

The Gospel of the Day is a story of how a “broken roof becomes a sign of God’s Providential Love!”

We are travelling very quickly with St Mark’s journey of the ministry of Jesus. 

>> We were with Jesus by the Sea of Galilee, where He called the first disciples (Mk 1: 16-20) 
Then…

… we came to the synagogue, where Jesus cures a man with an unclean spirit (Mk: 1: 21-28) 

… we reached Simon’s house, where Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law (Mk 1:29-31) 

… we went to the mountains to pray with Jesus, who always remained focused (Mk 1: 35) 

… we met a leper, unacceptable in the society, who was made clean by Jesus (Mk 1: 40-45) 
The journey moves fast and immediately… 

At Capernaum, a great crowd has gathered in a house, where Jesus is preaching (Mk 2:1-2) 

>> The house is fully packed with people cramming to hear the Lord and seek His Healing.. 
Then comes a group of thick friends who have brought their paralytic friend to Jesus. 

>> They came with much expectation to get their friend whole and well again. 
But as they approached the house… 

… their hopes went down! 
The massive gathering at the door thinned their anticipations! 
But when the chips are down…

… one is given a chance to find strength one never knew one had & put it toward the greater good.  
They came seeking for blessings… 

… but it seemed, that the firmament was closed to shower down blessings! 
But then they had a hope: They realized that “Even a broken roof can be a sign of God’s Providential Love!”

>> And so they decided to plead God to shower His blessings: “by tear opening the roof!” 
“Unable to get near Jesus, because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above Him” (Mk 1:4) 
“Opened up the roof” has other translations: 

>> “Dug a hole through the roof”

>> “Removed part of the roof” 

>> “Uncovered the roof” 
We would perhaps think the roof was some primitive, thatched roof. 

>> But most likely, that was not the case… 
As per the architecture then, this roof was more than likely a mud clay roof with tiles 

>> To lower their paralyzed friend through the roof, they literally had to do a major demolition of the roof.
Well… picture this: 

You’re in this packed house…trying to listen to Jesus. 

>> All of a sudden you start to hear some banging on the roof. 
These friends would have literally tore the tiles off the roof, made a hole & lowered the paralyzed man by a rope into the house. 

>> Then the roof materials begins to fall in on you! 
Well… picture the people’s responses:

>> They would have been astonished, amazed and some even angered! 
They were there to listen to Jesus….they had come early…they had won their spot… 

>> They were perhaps hearing their life-transforming sermon! 
It’s at this point, that the “roof starts tearing down!” 

>> But Jesus, the God of blessings, is immensely pleased and edified by their faith and trust! 
Their “tearing of the roof”…

… is blessed by “pouring down of blessings” and a “cleansing of sins”. 
Many of the times, we too face similar barriers and blockages in our experience for the Lord. 

>> We need to plead to God to shower His blessings: “by tear opening the roof!”

>> When we have…

… ‘end-of-the-road’ feelings and hopeless situations

… problems which seem impossible and unsolvable

>> Are we willing to have our “roofs broken”…

… and thus realize God’s Providential Love?!
Difficulties and barriers will always be many in life… 

Hardships and challenges will often stare on our face… 

>> But let us have the grit and the guts to be ready to “have our roof broken” of all such adversities! 
Yes, let us understand that even a “broken roof is a sign of God’s Providential Love!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Jan 12 (Mk 1:40-45)

  One of the common experiences in many of our daily lives is the aspect of “delay”…

 

> Go to get a certificate in a university….and we are told: “Come next week”

>> Go to an office to get a document signed…and we are told: “Today it’s not possible”

>>> Go to a department to meet an official…and we are told: ” Sir is busy today”

 

Our works are not done in time… Much of our time gets wasted.

>> We experience a lot of “delays”

 

>> Delays could suggest lack of availability.

>> Delays could suggest a lack of interest.

>> Delays could suggest a lack of sincere efforts.

 

But the Gospel of the Day is in stark contrast to this “delay” syndrome!

>> Get set to meet the “fast-paced” and “accelerated” Jesus in the Gospel of St Mark!

 

 

The Gospel of St Mark is the shortest of the four Gospels and probably the earliest.

>> This Gospel was primarily intended to the group of persecuted Christians.

 

It was most likely intended to be read aloud in the Christian assembly, rather than a private reading.

>> A Gospel for the ear more than the eye!

 

And so we would have in the Gospel of Mark, the use of constant repetitions, summaries, recapitulations and variations on a theme. 

 

One of such word that is an oft-repeated one.. is the word “Immediately”

 

The Greek usage of this word is Eutheos,” which is variously translated “straight away, immediately, at once, soon” etc.

>> St Mark would use this word “Eutheos” an astounding 40+ times in his Gospel!

 

 

Here are some examples:

>> Immediately, the Spirit drove Him to the desert (Mk 1: 12)

>> And they immediately left their nets and followed Him (Mk 1: 18)

>> Jesus immediately knew in His mind what they were thinking (Mk 2: 8)

>> The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel against Him (Mk 3:6)

>> The seed sprang up immediately because the soil was not deep (Mk 4: 5)

 

Even the Gospel of the Day uses this word “immediately”…

>> The leprosy left him immediately and he was made clean (Mk 1:42)

>> Then warning him sternly, he dismissed him immediately (Mk 1:43)

 

 

No other Gospel or New Testament writer uses this word “immediately” to the extent that Mark does in his Gospel.

 

What’s happening?

>> Why is St Mark so obsessed with this word “immediately”?

 

Perhaps the foremost word to describe the Gospel of Mark is action.

> No effort is wasted.

>> No time is spent on the frivolous.

>>> The pace is fast.

>>> The language vivid.

 

Mark’s purpose was to immediately confront readers with the need to respond to the Lord.

 

 

What does this “immediacy” mean for us – you and me?

>> This sense of immediacy is still relevant to us today.

 

 

When we take a stand for the Gospel…

… we are immediately tempted.

                                                                         

When we are called by the Lord…

… we are invited to follow Him immediately.

 

When we are touched by the Lord…

… we are made to respond immediately.

 

>> There is to be no “delay”, but a need to “immediately” perform.

>> There is to be a promptitude in His service and the urgency for His mission.

>> There is to be no holding back, no reluctance, no slackness, but a blessed “immediateness”.

 

 

As Christians, we have perhaps allowed ourselves to get into a “delay” syndrome…

>>> We no longer feel the pinch to react when there is immense injustice and corruption around

>> We take it so lightly when we hear reports of tragic deaths and heart breaking calamities.

> We are not much moved when people around us suffer and undergo deep pain.

 

 

We have many who “talk” in defence and importance of faith…

>> But very few who really live and profess this faith.

 

We have many who raise protests when false accusations and persecutions of faith are made

>> But very few who actually live a life of prayer and holiness.

 

We are often no longer on the cutting edge of relevancy… We seem to be more comfortable!

 

 

>> Are we “delaying” to help the suffering people?

>> Are we “delaying” to reinvigorate our Christian lives?

>> Are we “delaying” to take our faith and spiritual life seriously?

>> Are we “delaying” to stand up in defence of Christ and His Church?

>> Are we “delaying” to mould and shape our lives according to God’s Will?

 

In all these “delay” syndromes, the Gospel of Immediacy is challenging and confronting us!

 

 

Come, let us be ready to act…

Come, let us be ready to respond…

…Yes…. immediately!!

 

 

God Bless! Live Jesus!