Aug 22 (Feast of Queenship of Mother Mary)

Last week, we had sung a beautiful Anthem…

… praising God for His Wonderful Providence, as we thanked the Lord, for sharing “His Glory with Mother Mary” 

>> It was the chorus we sang in unison and love – The Holy Trinity, the Holy Angels and all people of faith on the earth – 

… Just seven days back.. on the Feast of the Assumption of our Blessed Mother Mary!

Today we are back to chanting the same chorus and the same refrain with a deeper enthusiasm and stronger gusto…

… as we celebrate with heaven, the Coronation of our Blessed Mamma as the Queen of Heaven and Earth!

This Feast of the Queenship of Mary was instituted by Pope Pius XII at the conclusion of the Marian Year in 1954.

>> It was not a new doctrine or a new teaching. 

>> It was not a new policy or a new understanding!
The declaration was merely an affirmation of the age old faith that has been celebrated down through the ages!
>> St. Ephrem referred to Mother Mary as the “Majestic and Heavenly Maid, Lady, Queen.” 

>> St. Gregory Nazianzen called her, “the Mother of the King of the Universe.”

On this Feast Day of the Queenship of Mary… we are presented with the Reading on the Annunciation.

Let us travel with Mary, our Mamma and Queen….through this Life Transforming Event of Her life….

>> This incident will highlight the journey of Grace and Mercy that God worked, to raise Her to a Glorious State!

1. The Simple Mary

She was the simple and unnoticed girl of the unpopular town of Nazareth. She was an ordinary person betrothed to a man named Joseph.

>> She had her dreams… 

>> She had her wishes for a family life…

>> She had her desires for a peaceful life!
But…

>> God had bigger dreams for Her…

… a dream which would make Her the Blessed among all…
>> God had higher wishes for Her…

… a wish which would make the Nazareth Family a model for all…
>> God had bigger desires for Her…

… a desire which would fill her with Peace amidst every pain…

2. The Troubled Mary

She was deeply troubled when she encountered Angel Gabriel. 

>> The greeting of the Divine Being made Her simple heart to be filled with feelings of concern and disturbance.
She had her concerns…

>> She had her share of uneasy feelings…

>> She had her moments of worry!
But…

>> God had greater cares for Her… 

… a care which would make her a Mother to all those who have concerns…
>> God had finer feelings for Her…

… a feeling which would help her to Feel for those who go through life’s pains…
>> God had greater comforts for Her…

… a comfort which will lead Her to be a Comforter to the Uncomforted…
3. The confused Mary

It was a moment of great confusion and perhaps even total puzzlement as to how could the words of Angel Gabriel be believed. 

>> There was great uncertainty as to how could a conception of this sort take place and what made Heaven to grant Her this choice of being the Mother of the Son of God!
She had Her confusions. 

>> She had Her perplexity. 

>> She had Her moments of Inner Turmoil.
But…

>> God had a deeper solution to Her confusions… 

… He assured Her of the Presence of His Mighty Spirit…
>> God had an enhanced way out of Her perplexity…

… He calmed Her by opening Her eyes to His great works…
>> God had a deeper answer to Her turmoil…

… He relieved Her by reminding Her that all things are possible for Him
4. The willing Mary

The Fiat Moment – the time when Mary said the Big Yes to God’s Plan of Salvation! 

>> It was a sacred time when Mary consented and became willing to allow God’s Script to work in Her unadorned Life!
She had Her mysterious moment. 

>> She had Her ‘what-next’ moment. 

>> She had her moments of indefiniteness!

But…

>> God had His superior light beyond all mysteries… 

… She was to be the Woman of the Mystery of God’s Salvation …
>> God had His clear plan beyond all doubts…

… She was to be the Perfect Executor of Heaven’s Plans for humanity…
>> God had his superior design across all indefiniteness….She was to be the Refuge of all in Uncertainty…

Today, Is My Life…

… just too simple and ordinary? 

… just too troubled?

… just too confused?

… just too complex to be Willing to God?

 

Then Mother Mary is a model to us… a perfect example… a shining witness…a great challenge to us!

In all our ordinariness, troubles, confusions and unwillingness to God’s Will…

… let us trust and have faith in God… just like Mother Mary

>> And seek to always say to God, ” Fiat – Yes, Be it done to me according to Your Will!”

Let us raise an Anthem of Thanksgiving, Love and Affection to our Beloved Mamma – the Queen of the Heavens and the Earth…

… and with deep joy and trust, pray that we too may always seek His Will, and one day, come to share in His Glory, like our Blessed Mother!

Happy Feast of the Beloved Queen Mamma united with Her son, King Jesus, to all Her little princes!  

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Aug 21 (Mt 19:16-22)

“My illness helped me to see that what was missing in me….
I acquired more wealth, power, and prestige than most…

… But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty!

>> What power wouldn’t I trade for a li’l more time with my family? 

>> What price wouldn’t I pay for being with friends?

It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with that truth, but it is a truth that the country, caught up in its ruthless ambitions and moral decay, can learn on my dime.

…the future leaders must speak to this spiritual vacuum at the heart of American society, this tumour of the soul”

These are words from an article in the LIFE magazine….written by Lee Atwater, a former American Political Consultant…

(This person was mainly responsible for the election of George Bush as the American President. He was afflicted by a massive Brain Tumour Death at the age of 40!)

These words, of a man who acquired name & fame & wealth at a very young age but suffered a tragic death, and came to a late realization…written back in the 90’s

… is a greater and a naked reality in our 21st century: There is a great spiritual vacuum at the heart of our society… a tumour of the soul!
>> There are many who have plenty of wealth…

… but extremely poor in peace of mind
>> There are many who have honour and fame…

… but strangely lost in loneliness and despair
>> There are many who have cashed in popularity and glam and glitz…

… but end up in depression and gloom
>> There are many who have built bungalows and estates…

… but sadly abandoned in nursing animosity at home

Our world is habitually sick…

>> Our society is often sad deep within…

>> Our families are frequently cracked & broken!

The Gospel of the Day, brings on stage, one Person…

… who claimed he had everything right

… who claimed he did everything right

>> And yet….yet…”he lacked something”! 
A vacuum filled his soul!!

The Rich Young Man in today’s Gospel passage apparently looks as an Ideal Person…

… and some of us can even identify the pattern of our lives with his.
>> He seeks for Eternal Life…

… We too seek the spiritual treasures and religious riches
>> He addresses Jesus as the Master… 

… We too acknowledge the supremacy and authority of God in our lives…
>> He knows the laws…

… We too know the basics of our teachings and are informed of the doctrines
>> He practices the commandments… 

… We too do our bit in keeping the rules and regulation of religion

Despite all these aspects, he still lacked something….. 

>> DESPITE ALL THESE ASPECTS, ARE WE TOO LACKING SOMETHING?

To hear that statement was hard for that man…

… and it is hard for us too, to hear and digest that – “You are lacking something!”

>> It’s a statement which can belittle people!

>> It’s like telling a Great Artist…

… your art is superb, but you still lack the quality in painting the nuances
>> It’s like telling a Great Speaker…

… your talks are classic, but you still lack the trait of modulation of tones
>> It’s like telling a Great singer…

… your voice is amazing, but you still lack the punch in singing the high notes
>> It’s like telling a Great Writer…

… your writings are nice, but you still lack the feature of translating your thoughts

After doing and achieving many things, to hear that “You are lacking something” is hurting….

>> But that was the fact…. that was the Reality and the Reason, for the Vacuum and the Void that was experienced!

The Rich Young Man thought he had gained everything… He assumed he did everything right…

>> But he Still lacked something… What was that? 

He lacked the grace to have heaven as his greatest treasure and fortune…

>> He lacked the control to let go off money and mammon as the controlling factor of his life…

>> He lacked the charity to share his resources and his possessions to the needy and the wanted…

>> He lacked the generosity to set free his mind from being dominated by the cares and burdens of this world…

The Man had gained much in life… but he still lacked what was most important: A great vacuum had engulfed his soul….a great void had overpowered his life!

>> Is my life in resemblance with this person, who thought he had everything right….

… yet lacking the Basics?
>> Is my life similar to this person, who considered he was on the right track…

… but lacked the Right Direction?

The Lord invites us too, as He invited the Rich Young Man: 

>> “Go, sell what you have…give to the poor and follow Me“
>> “Give up the feeling that money and worldly riches can rule your life…

… rather acquire spiritual treasures”
>> “Give up the notion that worldly success can satisfy you… 

… rather feed your lives with divine riches”

Let us fill the vacuum within us, with the Power and Grace of the Lord… with the Might of the Holy Spirit!

>> Our world needs it…our generation requires us… our families and communities call for it!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Aug 20 (Mt 15:21-28)

There lived a good woman, who was well-known among her circle for her simple faith and her great calm and composed attitude, in the midst of many trials. 
Another woman, who came as her new neighbour, hearing of her, remarked:

“I must go and see that woman, and learn the secret of her calm, happy life.” 

She went, and, enquired of the woman: “Are you the woman with the great faith?” 
“I don’t know,” was the answer, “I don’t know if I am the woman with the great faith…

… but I do know that I am the woman with a little faith in the Great God!”

The Gospel of the Day in a similar way, presents before us a beautiful incident of faith…

… of a woman, with a faith, in the Great God!

“You are beautiful… pleasant… delightful… Your love is like honey… Your presence is charming!

>> You are wonderful in your splendour and spectacular in your majesty and glory!”
These are some of the endearing and appealing and fascinating words that are addressed to Jesus.

This is the Jesus who is sweet, cuddly, lovable, adorable, amiable, agreeable and friendly!

>> We yearn for this Jesus. 

>> We are happy with this Jesus. 
We get settled, often for a sentimental faith. 

>> We get fixated, often with a faith based on emotions and sweet words.
Perhaps, that’s how we also want our world to be – kind, caring, accommodating, considerate and gentle!

But we know..the reality is different. 

>> The world that we wish is very often not the world that we experience.

>> The world that we aspire is often in contrast with the world that we come in contact with.
>> We like a peaceful world… 

… but we often encounter a world with missiles and innocent lives snatched away!
>> We like an equal society… 

… but we often meet a society which discriminates and victimizes people!
>> We like a just culture…

… but we often run into a culture which is corrupt and degrading and inhuman!
>> We like a respectful civilization…

… but we bump into a civilization which is debasing and merciless!

The world of our actual experience is very different from the world that we hope and desire for…

>> In this context, we need a Faith that can carry us through this tough life. 
A faith based on mere sweet words, pious rituals and peripheral feelings doesn’t suffice… 

>> A mere sentimental faith leaves us paralyzed and crippled with the hard-hitting realities of life!
We need a Faith that’s strong….

… a Faith that’s valiant

… a Faith that can battle life’s odds..

The Canaanite Woman in today’s Gospel Reading is a Person who possessed this Challenging and Brave Faith!

>> She is a big misfit in approaching Jesus and to be a bearer of Faith…
1. She is a Canaanite: An unaccepted pagan….a denied heathen! 

2. She is a Woman: A degraded status… a humiliated class!

3. She has a possessed child: A helpless situation…a miserable condition!

>> Yet she dares… 

… to approach the Lord of the Universe: ” Lord, Son of David, have pity on me!!”
The First Reply from the Lord…?

>> Shhhh…. (the Word Perfect responds with a total hush…)
No answer from the Master…. the wait for the Woman increases…

>> It’s trying time!

>> It’s a testing moment!

The probably irritated-disciples seek to chase her away, disturbed by the shoutings and the wailings…

The Second Reply from the Lord…?

>> Hmmm… I am sent not for her category…I am sent only for the Chosen Race…
Agony from the Master… the hopes of the woman diminishes…

>> It’s a grilling time!

>> It’s a gruelling moment!

Yet she dares… to approach once more..kneeling before the Throne of Mercy…” Sir, help me!!”
The Third Reply from the Lord…?

>> Grrr… Children’s bread is not thrown to the dogs…
More anguish from the Master.. the expectations of the woman is crushed…

>> It’s a hard time!

>> It’s a harsh moment!

To hear being called a DOG…was humiliating and insulting and offensive… 
Was this the height of rudeness??

But, the woman of Faith noticed that Jesus had used the word “kunariois” – the word for household pets…

>> She noticed that He had not used the word kuon – the word for other ordinary dogs…

Ah..there was the opening.. there was the possibility…there was the occasion…

>> A person of Deep Faith is able to wait patiently for a sparkle of sunshine even in the midst of the darkest clouds!

The Woman of Faith sneaked a chance in that seemingly degrading word…

>> The Woman of Faith found her prospect in that apparently disgusting expression…

She was a kunariois – a household pet…. She immediately matches her wit, with the wit of Jesus.. 
Pets are not outsiders… they are insiders;

>> Pets are not out of the family…they are part of the family…
Pets are not to have a seat at the Master’s table…

… but they enjoy an intimacy at the Master’s feet!

So she replies: “Yes Lord! But even the little dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the Master’s table”

>> It was a moment of Truth! 
The Fourth Reply from the Master…?

>> “Woman, how great is your faith!!”

The Woman of Faith had triumphed! 

>> The Lord of the Universe marvelled at her faith!
The God of Healings blessed the Woman of Faith with heart’s desire!

Life is definitely hard. 

>> We are challenged however to have a harder and a stronger faith!

The Canaanite Woman, who is proclaimed, through all the churches today, is a shining model!

>> She, who was called a DOG….(!!)…is today praised and glorified by GOD…(!!)!
Sentimental Faith and Sugary Words are needed. 

>> But it’s not enough!

We need to combine our Sweet Faith with a Tough Trust… 

… our Pious Devotion with a Faithful Dedication!

Let us be a Person of Faith with the Heart of a Dove and the Skin of a Rhinoceros!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Aug 19 (Mt 19:13-15)

“ The right temperature at home is more surely maintained…

… by the warm hearts and cool heads of those who live there…

… than by electric thermostats”

 

This quote very rightly corresponds to the other popular quote:

“ A house is built with bricks and beams…

… A home is built with love and dreams!”

 
Family Life is an important component of every society. 

 

 

The Gospel of the Day presents to us an occasion to dwell on a reflection on our families…

… and some of the basic essentials that needs to be part of every family (community included as well!)

 

 

 

The Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter 19, has an interesting structure or a progression with respect to the topics discussed and the persons involved.

 

The chapter begins with a discussion on the institution of ‘Marriage’. (Mt 19: 2-10)

>> Jesus explains the importance of this sacred bond and a strong exhortation is given on the need to do away with divorce. 

 

The chapter proceeds, as we see in today’s reading, with a discussion on ‘little children’. (Mt 19: 13-15)

 

This discussion is followed by an incident in which a ‘young man’ encounters Jesus ( Mt 19: 16-22)

 

The Chapter will finally end with an exhortation by Jesus to have maturity as an ‘adult’ is making choices for the Kingdom of God! ( Mt 19: 23-30)

 

>> Thus, the Chapter 19 of Matthew is a travel through a FAMILY context…

… starting from MARRIAGE…and the need to avoid DIVORCE…

… to little CHILDREN

… to the problems of a YOUTH

… and finally ending with the choices as an ADULT. 

 

 

In today’s Gospel, we have the discussion on Little Children. (Mt 19: 13-15)

 

Though its a short passage, the Gospel gives us enough food for thought…

… especially in the context of a family or a community life. 

 

 

We see four different groups or sets of people in today’s Gospel Passage, and we can learn some aspects from each of those sets… 

>> Three of them give us a positive quality which is to be inculcated

>> One gives a negative quality which is to be avoided in life. 

 

 

1. Firstly, the Gospel begins with the statement, ” Little children were brought to Jesus…” (Mt 19: 13a)

 

Probably the parents, the elder brothers/sisters or the guardians of the children would have brought them to Jesus. 

>> So we see here, the First set of people… Parents, Guardians, Elders etc…. and they teach us the First Positive Quality – the Spirit of Responsibility!

 

They were Responsible in caring for the good and future of the children. 

 

 

It was an ancient practice that children would be brought to Rabbis to be blessed and prayed over. 

>> This first set of people teach us to be responsible for the growth of others in our family and in our communities. 

 

2. The Second set of people are obviously the Little Children. 

These little ones teach us the Second Positive Quality, needed in a family or a community – the Spirit of Receptivity!

 

Children display a great sense of receptivity and openness. 

>> They are able to accept the affection, the care, the love and the blessings that are given to them. 

>> They do not close themselves to the good things in life. 

 

We too need to cultivate this Spirit of Receptivity, to be open to the actions, thoughts, views and feelings of others in our family and our community. 

 

3. The Third Set of people display a negative attitude which we need to avoid.

>> When the children were brought to Jesus, the Disciples refuse to accept them and want to keep them away (Mt 19: 13b)

 

They show a Spirit of Rejection! 

 

They perhaps felt that these children would be a nuisance to Jesus and His ministry. 

>> They felt it as a waste of time and energy to entertain the children. 

 

Little things in life were considered to be a useless and futile activity. 

 

We need to avoid this Spirit of Rejection… 

>> In our families or communities, we can have this attitude towards those who don’t do any work or fail to contribute anything. 

 

We often fail to understand the importance…

… of little tokens of love

… tiny expressions of care by our family and community members

>> And we, instead, tend to reject and avoid them. 

 

 

4. The fourth Set is represented by Jesus Himself…

… and he presents the Spirit of Restoration and Redemption. 

 

He does not reject…

… rather, He accepts and seeks to redeem the little children. 

 

He seeks to restore the little ones who are rejected…

… who are avoided and who are not given the due importance. 

 

 

In our lives, we too need to be having a Spirit of Redemption and Restoration… 

>> To redeem the ones who are at the periphery and who fail to get any attention

>> To Restore the ones who are broken and abused and are shunned!

 

 

Thus, the this powerful Gospel passage teaches us…

>> To avoid the Negative Quality of the Spirit of Rejection…

 

Rather…

>> To adopt the positive qualities of…

… The Spirit of Responsibility, 

… The Spirit of Receptivity 

… The Spirit of Redemption and Restoration!

 

 

Let us seek the Intercession of our Blessed Mother that we may avoid the tendency to Reject People…

>> And instead, we may be…

… Responsible towards others

… Receptive to others 

… and Redeem and Restore the lives of others!

>> And thus build happy and loving homes!

 

 

Yes, let us always remember:

“It takes hands to build a house…

… But it takes hearts to build a home!”

 

 

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Aug 18 (Mt 19:3-12)

 “Fireproof” is a 2008 Christian drama film.

 

It is an incredibly gripping, compelling and a transformational story about saving a marriage – of Catherine and Caleb – that had hit rock-bottom.

 

 

 

Catherine was a hospital administrator, married to fire captain Caleb Holt.

 >> Caleb recruited young men under the dictum of never leaving one’s partner, ‘especially in a fire’.

 

 

But at home, the scenario was quite opposite; he and Catherine argued over almost everything.

>> Catherine accused Caleb of being selfish with time and money.

>> Caleb complained that Catherine was ungrateful for all he did to help others.

 

Both felt that the other didn’t care or appreciate each other

 

 

The constant bickering reached the high point, when Catherine demanded a divorce and an irritated Caleb agreed.

 

  

The two complained to their respective friends regarding this unpleasant phase of their life.

 

 

 

John, Caleb’s father convinced his son to delay the divorce proceedings in order to try “Love Dare”, a 40-day challenge for improving marriages by changing the way a spouse was treated.

 

 

Caleb’s friend Michael also persuaded Caleb to hold off on divorce and challenged the fire-captain with a bold statement:

>> “I’ve seen you run into a burning building to save people you don’t even know, but you’re going to let your own marriage burn to the ground?”

 

 

 The acceptance of Christ into his life invigorated Caleb to ask God to help in defeating his demons and overcoming his addictions.

 

 

The movie proceeds, through many twists and turns, with Catherine finally realizing and acknowledging the many selfless acts done by her husband and enters into reconciliation with him.

 

 

The film ends with Caleb and Catherine renewing their wedding vows as a covenant with God.

 

 

 

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 to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” (Mt 19:3)

 

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 unfailing 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…

>> 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 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 and an undiluted faithfulness.

 

 

 As the dialogues in the movie “Fireproof” says (in the scene where the ‘salt and pepper bottles’ are glued together):

 

“When two people get married, it’s for better or for worse, like these joined salt and pepper.

… For richer or for poorer.

… In sickness and in health.

 

If you pull them apart, you’ll break either one or both of them.

God made marriage to be for life.”

 

 

Yes, fireproof doesn’t mean that a fire will never come…

>> But it does mean, that when it comes, one will be able to withstand it!

 

 

May the Lord, the Lover of our souls be the assurance of “fireproof” in our relationships!

 

 

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Aug 17 (Mt 18:21-19:1)

The March 9, 2015 issue of the New York Magazine reports an interesting article on “Forgiveness”.

 

According to this article, the animal kingdom has been the subject of studying the patterns of forgiveness and reconciliation for many scientists.

 

 

Much of the research has involved gorillas and chimps.

 

 

It is found that they often enter into fights with each other…

… only later to embrace and continue their companionship.

 

Similar traits of behaviour has also been noticed among goats and hyenas.

 

 

However, the researchers have found that one species of animal doesn’t seem to forgive (atleast externally)

 

 

They are domestic cats.

 

 

(Well, there might be many of us, who will out rightly reject this theory, especially those who really like cats.

 

But let’s just take this as a ‘research finding’ and not the ultimate truth.

 

Researches findings, of course, are subject to exceptions and limited by conditions and interpretations!)

 

 

Human beings too have our moments of grappling with the aspect of ‘forgiveness’.

 

>> For some people, it’s easy to forgive…

>> But some others struggle hard in serving out pardon…

 

 

The Gospel of the Day is a teaching by Jesus on this necessary virtue of “forgiveness”.

 

 

To the query of Peter, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him” ( Mt 18: 21), Jesus illustrates His reply with the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.

 

 

One of the principles in this virtue of forgiveness is the avoiding of a “mathematical accounting policy” in granting pardon.

 

 

As human beings, there is sometimes an avoidable tendency in us to “keep counts” in our relationships…

 

We make a count or keep a rough numerical impression…

… of how many times a person has done good to me

… of when was the last time a person behaved badly with me

… of how many times a person has hurt or caused harm to me

… of how often has a person offended me or spoken ill about me

 

 

Relationships…

… sometimes get reduced to mere mathematical entities

… sometimes find themselves entangled in the web of calculative units

 

 

It’s in such situations that “forgiving” the one who has erred against us becomes a ‘calculative’ affair.

 

 

Thus, we find that Peter in the Gospel asks Jesus, “How often must I forgive the brother who has sinned against me?”

 

 

We maintain, sometimes, a sort of an imaginary “fault-account” book.

 

And our thought-process takes the following pattern:

 

>> “This person, on so and so date, committed this mistake

And on so and so date, I had forgiven him”

 

>> “This person, on this particular day, had behaved in a very indifferent manner to me

And a particular number of days later, I had extended my pardon”

 

 

But Jesus today warns us to stop looking at life and relationships from a “mathematical” or “calculative” perspective.

 

 

What is the basis for Jesus to say this?

 

It is simply the fact that all of us – without any exception – are the beneficiaries of the mercy and forgiveness of God.

 

• God abandons all mathematical calculations in extending His forgiveness to us

• God lets go of every measure of computation in allowing us to receive His mercy
 

 Rom 3:23 says that “all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace thorough the redemption in Jesus Christ”

 

 

>> Each of us finds ourselves sinking in the “boats of sinfulness and guilt”

But it is the Mercy of God that still keeps us ashore.

 

>> Each of us pass through the “deserts of shame and culpability”

But it is the Forgiveness of God that nourishes us with the oasis of blessings

 

 

This “free and underserved” reception of the Forgiveness of God, places an undeniable responsibility on us to extend His pardon to all.

 

 

 

The prayer “Our Father” gets recited so often by us, during the day or in our prayers.

 

 

But do we realize that it contains a clause, whose condition, if not fulfilled, does not help us to receive the “unconditional forgiveness of God”?

 

 

We pray, “Forgive us our sins.. as we forgive those who sin against us”

 

>> Even though the mercy of God is always made available for us, it can be truly received only if one is willing, generous and humble enough to “forgive” the faults of others.

 

 

 

Forgiveness is a powerful weapon that, of course won’t change the past, but will sure transform the future.

 

 

 

Even the animal kingdom in general, displays traits of forgiveness and reconciliation.

>> How much more are we, as human beings, who are created in the image and likeness of God, bound to forgive one another?

 

 

 Perhaps, some of us have a feline flavour in us to “avoiding granting pardon” and “nurturing the grudge”

>> But can we let go of our “pride and arrogance” and “put on Christ” (Rom 13: 14) to become that “flower which perfumes the hand that crushes it”

 

 

May the Gospel of the Day strongly cause us to take realistic resolutions to cherish our relationships with the freedom it deserves and to generously sow the seeds of forgiveness and mercy in the hardened fields of broken and damaged relationships!

 

 

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Aug 16 (Mt 18:15-20)

Facebook is the popular online social networking service, which has achieved immense levels of popularity and usage.

 

Many use it, on account of its…

… versatility in finding and maintaining contacts

… easy to use features and the availability of readily accessible tools

… resourcefulness which helps to gain a lot of information and entertainment

 

One of the features that is available on Facebook is the option to “unfriend” someone.

 

To “unfriend” means to remove someone from a list of friends or contacts on a social networking website.

 

The technique to do that is pretty simple:

>> Going to the person’s profile

>> Hover over the ‘Friends’ button at the top of the profile

>> Click on “Unfriend’

 

It’s as easy and straightforward as that to “throw” someone out of the friend list!

 

Real life too, sometimes falls into this “simplistic” technique to “unfriend” people from life – especially people who are close to us and who ought to deserve “repeated” chances before the ties are severed…

 

… Someone offends us – either out of ignorance or perhaps due to some reason – but we easily “break ties” with that person

 

… Someone speaks a bad word about us and we take so much offence that we lose all our peace of mind and devise schemes to terminate or harm that person – either physically or socially or mentally

 

… Someone acquires a bad name – out of false rumours or maybe even out of some true incident; but we make a mountain of the mole and go on to further critically damage the image of that person

 

 

Our life sometimes makes it so easy “to unfriend” someone… 

… sometimes, even our own family members, or close friends or some other person who has played a deep role in our lives.

 

 

The Gospel of the Day invites us to reflect in depth on this our trend to “unfriend” people from our lives, without even giving them further chances or opportunities to remedy themselves.

 
Jesus says, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone” (Mt 18: 15)

 

 

Jesus was a person who had an important principle in all His teachings: the need to strive towards perfection.

 

In Mt 5: 48, Jesus says, ” Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect”

 

 

It’s this pursuit of perfection in human relationships that makes Jesus to invite us in being careful and cautious with respect to severing our relationships with one another.

 

 

“Friendship”, it is said, “is delicate as a glass – once broken it can be fixed but there will always be cracks”

 

 

Jesus, therefore warns us on the need to “handle with care” our relationships.

 

 

The “pursuit towards perfection” makes it inevitable for a Christian – a follower of Christ, to go beyond one’s own limitations and situations in maintaining relationships…

… by preserving and perfecting the fine ones

… by mending and restoring the broken ones.

 
• It is easy to say “I don’t like you any more” because of some bad experience

… but it takes Christian Gentleness to respect and accept a person, despite his/her faults or failures

 

• It is easy to show a person the exit-door in our relationship due to some misunderstanding or ego-clash

… but it takes Christian Humility to let go of one’s “proud and adamant mentality” and lower oneself to try to understand better the person in fault and his/her situation and background

 

• It is easy to harbour grudge and to nurture ill-feelings and to spread the contagion of malicious talks regarding a person whom we don’t like

… but it takes Christian Charity to allow the honey of Christ’s love to permeate our hearts and to be able to find goodness even in the midst of a slush of ‘apparent dirt’ in the person

 

 

Our lives, families, communities and societies are being plagued by a number of cancers with respect to relationships:

>> Backbiting and spreading false rumours about people and situations

>> Cooking up bogus stories and building up on some true incidents to fashion an “interesting and spicy” report regarding particular persons

>> Actively engaging in forming groups and cliques against a someone in order to satiate one’s own pleasures and get through one’s personal agenda for life

 

 

Are we ready to be bold to let go of all such tendencies to which we can be prone and instead engage ourselves in radical Christian charity and humility?

 

 

We shall specially seek the intercession of St Jane de Chantal, whose feast was celebrated on 12th August, in order to have greater strength in our personal relationships.

 >> She is the patron saint of forgotten people, in-law problems, loss of parents, parents separated from children and widows.

 

May her words inspire us:

“If we truly love our neighbours, we refrain from saying anything prejudicial to them.

>> We support everyone as we would like to be supported.

>> We try to give the example that we would like to receive from others.

>> We excuse and forgive the blunders of others as we would like ours to be forgiven and excused.

>> We rejoice in the happiness of others and are sorrowful in their pains, just as we would like them to respond to us in ours.

>> We graciously help others in their needs both by prayer and actual service.

 

In this way we truly show our good-will and love.”

 

 

 God Bless! Live Jesus!

Aug 15 (Solemnity of the Assumption of our Blessed Mother Mary and India’s Independence Day)

 The Feast of the Assumption of our Blessed Mother Mary is celebrated in variety of ways, all over the world .

 

 

 

In some of the small towns of Rome, there is a very symbolic custom.

 

 

It is called as L’Incinata – the Bowing Procession.

 

 

The people in the village carry a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary down the main street.

>> This is symbolic of Mother Mary on Her way to heaven

 

From the opposite direction comes another procession, carrying the statue of Jesus.

>> This is symbolic of Her Son Jesus coming to welcome Her

 

 

 

Under an arch that has been prepared with branches and thousands of flowers, the two processions meet.

 

 

The statues are then made to bow to each other, three times…

… It is symbolic of Jesus welcoming His Beloved Mother at the gates of heaven.

 

 

Then the combined procession continues, with the people carrying the statues side-by-side to the Church….

… Symbolically indicating, Jesus taking along His Mother to Her throne in heaven!

 

 

 

This ‘bowing procession’ so very beautifully and symbolically represents the wonderful event of the Assumption of our Blessed Mother Mary.

 

It celebrates the Son-King sharing His Glory with His Mother.

 

 

Human kingdoms have followed the tradition of the son who is the King of the Land, crowning his mother, as the Queen of the Kingdom.

 

The Old Testament bears witness to this fact:

 

King Solomon on assuming charge of the throne, after King David, raised his mother Bathsheba to his side, to be the royal queen (1 Kings 2: 19)

 

 

This was also a foretaste of what was to follow…

… Jesus, the King of Kings awarding the throne of glory to His Mother, Mary and raising Her to be the Queen of Heaven and Earth!

 

 
The feast of the Day – the Assumption of Mother Mary – is one of the four Marian Dogmas that the Catholic Church pronounces.

 
A dogma is a doctrine that is solemnly proposed by the Church as formally revealed in Scripture or Tradition.

 

The four Marian Dogmas are:

1. Mary as the Mother of God

2. The Perpetual Virginity of Mary

3. The Immaculate Conception of Mary

4. The Assumption of Mary into heaven

 

 

The declaration of the Dogma of the Assumption of Mary is as follows:

 

“By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”

 

 

This Dogma of the Assumption was proclaimed on November 1, 1950, by Pope Pius XII in the Apostolic Constitution “Munificentissimus Deus”

 

 

This proclamation was not defining something new in the Church…

… rather it was an official recognition of the centuries-old belief on Christians about the Assumption of their Heavenly Mother.

 

 

 

The celebration of the Feast of the Assumption teaches us one important aspect: The Assumption of Mother Mary is the sure hope for us, for a life of eternal glory!

 

 

 

Our Blessed Lord came to this world to “die” and “win” salvation for human beings.

 

 

This act of salvation had its total co-operation in the Person that God had chosen as His Own in the Divine Plan – Mother Mary.

 

 

 

From the moment, She said “yes” to the messenger of the Lord to become the Mother of God’s Child…

… She placed Herself in a position of “constantly being under the scanner to say a Yes” to God’s Will!

 

 

Her Yes to God, meant a “No” to many things in Her personal life…

… her own individual desires

… her own undisclosed dreams

 

 

 

She would become the epitome of the one who lived the teaching that Jesus would later expound during His ministry, “No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God” (Lk 9: 62)

 

 

 

Her echo of “Yes” reverberated and resonated all through Her life…

…. in times of loneliness

… in times of immense pain

… in times of utter hopelessness

 

 

It was this daring faithfulness that made God to bestow on Her the privilege to share in Her Son’s Glory!

 

This is wonderful story of the Assumption.

 

 

 

This then is one of the great promise and assurance that God gives to each one us through this Dogma of the Assumption of our Blessed Mother Mary.

 

 

>> Does life grind us, with its daily toils and do we undergo immense pain and suffering – sometimes even unbearable and agonizing?

 

>> Does life grill us, with many incidents of misunderstandings, exposition to calumnious talks and total absence of positive encouragements and unconditional acceptance by people?

 

>> Does life gnash us, with constant tensions and difficulties that never seem to leave us alone and paralyze us with innumerable jolts of depression and despair?

 
Then, the Assumption of our Blessed Mother comes to our rescue, with a hopeful answer to all such miserable questions!

 

 

We need to be reminded that Mary had exclaimed, “Behold, I am the Handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38)

 

Mary was an ordinary human being.

>> She too had Her ordinary and humble beginnings.

>> She too went through common life’s struggles and strains.

 

But through these “ordinary” circumstances…

• God “raised” Her to the Heights

• God “assumed” Her into Glory

… simply because She “found favour with God” and lived a life worthy of that call 

>> In total submission, humble obedience and loyally faithful!

 

 

This then is our call too…

>> As Baptized Christians, we too have “found favour” with God.

 
We dwell in “ordinary” circumstances of life – with hardships and pains.

 

But if we also…

• seek and live the Will of the Lord at all times

• constantly submit to what He wants

• and dutifully bow to His mercy and grace

… the glory which Jesus has “won” for us at Resurrection, can be ours!

 

 

God’s plans are indeed wonderful…

>> In the “Story of the Fall” a mother (Eve) had been involved intimately with a man (Adam) and humanity fell into the sea of sin!

>> In the “Story of the Rise”, a Mother (Mary) was involved intimately with a Man (Jesus) and humanity is promised to “assume” to the skies of glory!

 

Are we ready to co-operate with God’s plans in our lives, just as Mother Mary did…

… and thus receive the “Privilege of Assumption into Glory” just as Mother Mary received?

 

 

May we grow in our Love for the Lord and for the Blessed Woman who bore God in Her womb and was borne by God into heaven, and not left in the grave to turn back into dust!

 

 
Today , the Great Land of India celebrates her Independence Day.

>> May all Indians grow to understand the true meaning of freedom…

… and like Mother Mary, properly channelize the God-given Freedom towards excellence of life, blossoming of virtues and to the Glory of God!

 

 

Happy Feast to Jesus, Our Great King and to Mamma Mary, His Glorious Queen-Mother!

>> Happy Independence Day to all Indians, all over the world!

 

 

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Aug 14 (Mt 17:22-27)

There is an incident mentioned in the life of King Richard I, who ruled England in the late 12th century.

>> He was known as Richard the Lion Heart for being a great military warrior and leader. 
However, once, while returning after the Third Crusade, he was captured by Leopold V, the Duke of Austria.

>> He was handed over to Henry VI, the Roman Emperor. 
This king demanded a very huge amount for his release

The price of ransom was 1,50, 000 Marks…

… equivalent of nearly three tons of silver. 
This was an enormous demand.
But the people of England spared no efforts in getting their king released. 

>> Extra taxation was imposed

>> Huge contributions were obtained
Finally, after many months, the money was raised…

… and the king returned to England.
A huge “ransom” was paid to get the King released

( This is probably also the origin of the English phrase – “A king’s ransom” – which means “a large amount of money”)

Centuries ago, however, on the face of the earth, this act was reversed…

… One Man – The King of Kings – paid a “ransom” to save His people
>> He spared no efforts in getting His people released..

… by suffering on the Cross

… shedding His Blood

… giving up His life

… and rising from the dead

 

Have we fallen in love with this King Who gave Himself up for us?

>> Are we willing to live our life in obedience to His commands Who ransomed His life for us?

The Gospel of the Day presents an interesting, yet a ‘not-too-familiar’ passage of Jesus and His disciples being asked to pay the Temple tax.
“When Jesus and His disciples came to Capernaum, the collectors of the Temple tax approached Peter and said, “Doesn’t your Teacher pay the Temple tax?” (Mt 17: 24)

What was this Temple tax?
The Temple tax was …

… a symbolic gesture in gratitude for what the people of Israel owed to God, for their redemption from slavery in the land of Egypt. 

It was a Jewish tax with its origins seen in Ex 30: 12-16:
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: ?This is what everyone among those who are numbered shall give: half a shekel… The half-shekel shall be an offering to the LORD.”

This offering was to be an “atonement money”, which would be used for the service of the meeting tent (Ex 12: 16)
In later centuries, this half-shekel was adopted as the amount of the Temple Tax – the one that all Jews were supposed to pay once a year for the upkeep and maintenance of the Jerusalem Temple.  

The Temple Tax was thus an “atonement” money

>> It was a “ransom” money!

It is fascinating to note that the incident of this “ransom/atonement” money is mentioned immediately after Jesus spoke of His Passion and Death.
Jesus told His disciples in Mt 17:22-23:

“The Son of Man is to be handed over to men, and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day”

The incident of the Temple tax, which is the atonement/ransom money, is mentioned…

… immediately after Jesus speaks of His Passion, Death and Resurrection.

Is there any connection between these two incidents?

 

The Temple tax was in gratitude for the redemption of Israel from slavery

… Jesus would now free all people from the slavery of sin by His Death and Resurrection
The Temple Tax was paid as “ransom” money…

… The Blood of Jesus would now be the “ransom” that will be paid for redemption of humanity.

Jesus did not resist His disciples from paying the Temple Tax…

… as we would see in the incident of the miraculous catch of the fish with a coin in the mouth (Mt 17: 27)
But the perfect payment of the “tax”…

… would be done by Jesus Himself – by His Sufferings, Death and Resurrection! 

Jesus would not just pay the tax…

… He would also give Himself in complete obedience to the Father
Thus, He would becoming the “tax” – the ransom and the atonement money! 
>> 1 Tim 2:6 says, “Jesus gave Himself as a ‘ransom’ for all” 

>> Mk 10:45 says “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ‘ransom’ for many”

It is interesting to also note that this incident of the Temple Tax brings reminds us of the former occupation (trade) of two of the disciples of Jesus:

1. Matthew… who was a tax collector (Mt 9:9)

(Probably that explains why this incident is mentioned only in the Gospel of St Matthew)
2. Peter… who was a fisherman (Mt 4:18)

(That’s why Jesus asks Peter to “go to the sea, take the first fish that comes up, and open the mouth to find a coin…”)

Matthew and Peter could represent any of us…
Maybe, like Mathew – the Tax Collector…

>> We are collecting a lot of things in life…

… but still not finding peace in life!
>> We are occupied with material dimensions at our “own tables”…

… or find ourselves at the receiving end of not being accepted and being looked down by others

Maybe, like Peter – the fisherman…

>> We are fishing in the waters of life for contentment and satisfaction…

.. but fail to have a catch!
>> We are putting in a lot of effort to fish for success, yet finding none…

… or find ourselves drowning in a sea of sin, hopelessness or despair

Whoever we are.. 

>> The Lord extends His loving invitation…

… to leave our “tables of collection” and follow Him!

… to cast away our “nets of fish” and follow Him!

 

He has become the “Ransom”…

… in Whom we can find the ‘collection’ of all joys and contentment of life!

… in Whom we can witness the ‘great catch’ of salvation and redemption!

By this great act, He gave the “Ransom”…

… for our freedom from captivity!

>> By His humbling sacrifice, He paid the “Atonement money”… 

… for our salvation for eternal life!

Yes, let us fall in love with the Man Who gave Himself up for us!

>> Let us be willing to live our life in obedience to His commands Who ransomed His life for us!

Today we celebrate the Feast of St Maxmilian Kolbe, who was called by Pope St John Paul II as the “Patron Saint of our Difficult Century” .

 

 

May his words – the saint who volunteered to die in place of a stranger in the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz – be an inspiration for us:

 “Let us remember that love lives through sacrifice and is nourished by giving.

 >> Let’s remember that not everything which is good and beautiful pertains to genuine, essential love…

 

Without sacrifice there is no love.

 >> Sacrifice the senses, taste, hearing, and above all, the mind and the will in holy obedience.”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Aug 13 (Mt 14:22-33)

 A young man went to a sage, whom he had often seen going to a forest.
Curious to know what the sage did in the forest, he asked him:

“I wonder what do you do in the noise of that forest, everyday!”
The sage replied: “Have you any time tried to hear the voice of the forest?”
“Voice?” queried the young man in surprise, “I never hear voice. 

I only hear noise.

>> And the only noise I hear in the forest is when the woodcutter crashes the wood, or the leaves and the fallen branches break beneath his foot.”

“Ah, that’s the difference between you and me”, said the sage, as he continued:

“I still myself in silence, in the forest, and I hear clearly the voice…

… of one limb of a branch grinding against another

… of the fall of a nut

… of the flutter of the wings of birds

… of the scamper of a rabbit

…. of the gentle stirring of the wind!
That’s the difference between you and me…

… You run away from silence by wanting noise always!

>> I seek for silence, by moving away from noise!”

What about us?
Do we also run away from silence by wanting noise always…

… or do we seek for silence, by moving away from noise?

We live in a world of noises. 
Noise is everywhere.

>> Music. Talks. Discussions. Commentaries. Arguments….

Apparently, much of life’s beauty is drowned in this sea of noises.

>> The word “noise” apparently comes from the Latin root word of “nausea” which means a sensation of vomiting and uneasiness….
Are we surrounding ourselves with too much noise – too much of an uneasy environment….

…that we even fail to listen to the Voice of the Spirit of the Lord?

>> We need to quieten ourselves. 

>> We need to hear… the still, soft, gentle voice of the Lord!

The first reading of the Day presents the remarkable experience of Prophet Elijah encountering the Lord in a tiny, whispering voice (1 Kings 19: 11-13)

>> The Gospel of the Day begins with Jesus spending quiet moments with His Heavenly Father (Mt 14:23)

What is our attitude to Prayer?
1. Shopping-list Attitude

>> We reduce our prayer time to mere presenting to God all our various wants and demands and desires and requirements. Much of time is spent is considering God as a mere giver and granter of gifts and objects.
2. Complaint-Box Attitude

>> We spend much of our prayer time in whining and cribbing about the various disturbances affecting our life. Prayer gets reduced to a time of only grumbling and protesting and raising many grievances.
3. Character-Assassination Attitude

>> Though not much acknowledged, we may spend our prayer time in speaking the ill of others, in making comparisons to the lives of others and even wishing the negative of other people for our advantage. 
Pleasure is found much in speaking of the faults and negatives of other people and prayer acquires an “other-centeredness”, but in a very negative sense!
4. Recitation-competition Attitude

>> Prayer becomes reduced to a mere recitation of a fixed set of prayers, holy invocations and muttering of words. Sometimes, much of this mumbling of expressions go without any concentration, or even knowing and meaning the value of the words.
It’s not necessary to get critical & too self-conscious of our style of prayer. 

>> But we also need to know: Prayer is more of a relationship…

…Prayer is spending time with our Heavenly God…

…Prayer is just “being” with Him!
Prayer is more…

… of giving myself as I am to the Lord… than mere receiving!

… of experiencing the silence of the Lord….than mere babbling words!

… of a communion with the Lover of our Souls…than mere external expressions!

The readings of the day invite us to a Life of Prayer..

… to a Life of Discovering the Power of Silence

… to a Life of finding quiet moments with the Lord.
Am I able to discover silent moments in my working activities?

>> Am I able to feel God’s presence in the things and objects that I use and handle?

>> Am I able to realize the gentle charisma of the Lord in the din and noise of the day?
>> Storms in life are bound to happen…

>> Waves of hardships are sure to hit our boats of life…

… but if we are rooted in a true spirit of prayer &communion with the Lord, we will be firm & strong.

In true silence and serenity, we will be hear the words of the Lord:

“Take courage, it is I! 

>> Do not be afraid!” (Mt 14: 27)
Let us seek the Lord…

… in true prayer

…in serene silence

… in the midst of life’s noises and clamour and clatters!!

Yes, may we amend our attitude of “running away from silence by wanting noise always…

… and instead seek for silence, by moving away from noise

>> And thus experiencing the Presence of the Divine!”


God Bless! Live Jesus!