Nov 1 (Based on Solemnity of All Saints)

Who is your favourite hero/heroine?

 

 

This is a question invariably most of us have either asked others and we ourselves have been asked.

 

Heroism is a much overblown idea in our society .

>> We live in a world surrounded by super heroes!

 

 

Hollywood and Bollywood and “other woods” give us movies about superheroes…

… who can leap tall buildings at a single bounce

… vanquish their enemies with a solitary gaze

… and reign supreme with their out-of-the-world capabilities!

 

 

Heroism, in our world, has been quite associated with power, fame, popularity etc…

 

 

They are super-exciting.

>> They are breathtaking.

>> They give an “ooh…wow” feeling!

 

 

Today, the Holy Mother the Church is geared up to celebrate Her Heroes!

>> Of course, Heroes with a difference….

 

Heroes, who really, made a difference!

>> Heroes who have achieved great heights of perfection, in God’s sight!

 

 

It’s a day of immense celebration of these superheroes of God… The Solemnity of All Saints!

 

 

One catchword that dominates today’s celebration is JOY.

>> There is much JOY in belonging to God.

>> There is much JOY is being saved in Christ.

>> There is much JOY in suffering for the Lord.

 

Being joyful does not mean, that all is perfect and without any faults.

>> Being joyful means, one has learned to look beyond those imperfections.

 

And this is Christian Holiness.

 

 

Christian Holiness is wholeness…

… a wholeness that’s experienced in one’s being, as a result of living life in perfect union with the Will of God.

 

 

Today the Church invites us to lift our gaze to heaven, and thank and praise God for the innumerable people who not only persevered in their faith while they lived on earth…

… but actually lived their lives in such a way that they built up Christ’s Kingdom in the world.

 

 

The saints are not superheroes in the worldly sense…

 

What sets them apart…

… is not their miraculous power….

… is not their popularity and fame.

>> Rather, what makes them saints, is their faith and their discipleship and their service to others.

 

 

The word “SAINT”…sometimes strikes an odd chord in our minds…

 

Saints are often considered to be people…

… beyond our reach and too holy for our lives

… for whom the path to sanctity was made easy and cosy.

… who are given a special boon from God to live a holy life.

 

 

But the truth perhaps, is quite contrary…

 

Saints are people who are truly very close to us and lived in simple and ordinary life situations like us.

Saints are people who had to struggle through many hardships and trials in the path to holiness.

Saints are people who co-operated with the grace of God and remained faithful to their commitment and call

 

 

Every Christian is called to a life of Holiness and to be a Saint…

 

How is this possible in our lives…?

>> The Beatitudes proclaimed by Jesus, in today’s Gospel shows us the path… (Mt 5: 1-10)

 

Being a saint…

…by depending on God in all dimensions of our life and seeking His Kingdom above all

…by mourning over our sins and seeking to live a life in repentance.

…by living a life of firm gentleness and trusting patience in the midst of injustice and pain

…by becoming agents of justice and seekers of establishing truth

…by giving mercy and compassion to the needy and even to those who we feel, don’t deserve

…by preserving purity in our thoughts, words and deeds

…by striving for establishing peace and harmony even in conflicting situations

…by accepting suffering and becoming stronger in our struggle to establish God’s Kingdom

 

 

This Feast day is a chance for us to sneak into the personal diary of the saints…and to “steal” some tips for us to admire and imitate them…

 

>> The Saints’ Favourite Food: The Holy Eucharist

 

>> The Saints’ Favourite Dress: The Armour of Faith

 

>> The Saints’ Favourite Pastime: Doing anything with immense love of God

 

>> The Saints’ Favourite Symbol: The Holy Cross

 

>> The Saints’ Favourite Moments: Every time they discovered more the depth of God’s Love

 

 

The Church has a marvellous number of saints who are canonized.

 

On this special day, we also take our time, to raise our hearts in gratitude, for the many other holy men and women, who sparkle with sanctity, but have not been officially declared so.

 

A few may be known to us, in our family or friends circle…

>> But most of them, will remain unknown and unfamiliar and unheard.

>> But in the Lord’s presence, they dazzle and shine, in holiness and purity.

 

 

This galaxy of Saints beckon and encourage each one of us today to tread this path of holiness.

 

As St Augustine says, “Do you aspire to do great things? Begin with the little ones”

…Doing our simple works with much love of God.

…Living our Christian life with much faithfulness

….Seeing the deep presence of God in all areas of our life.

 

Let us live a life of self-sacrifice, renunciation and trust in God….

Let us live a life seeking to do God’s will at all times

Let us live a life laced with the tender Love of God in all our activities.

 

 

All the saints, the Superheroes of God, are looking deep into our eyes…and inviting us…”Come, dear Child…Be a Saint…”

 

What is our response?

 

 

Happy Feast to all the Saints in Heaven…the Church Triumphant!

Happy Feast to all of us, striving to be saints…the Church Militant!

 

 

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Oct 31 (Lk 13:18-21)

“Little Is Much When God is in It!”

 

Jesus in the Gospels loves to use simple, tiny and insignificant objects, to project His message of the Kingdom!

 

Today He uses the example of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven in describing the Might of the Kingdom!

 

The mustard seed & leaven would’ve hardly received any attention in the normal sense.

>> But Jesus, the Master Artist paints these li’l objects into the Mighty Canvas of the Kingdom & delivers a powerful message…

 

>> The Kingdom of God has its humble beginnings….but it develops into a Powerful Force!

>> The Kingdom of God often starts very insignificantly…but it expands into a Huge Reality!

>> The Kingdom of God initiates in an unnoticed manner….but it enlarges into an Influential Entity!

 

Little Is Much when God is in It!

 

The mustard seed develops into a Tree, which renders shelter to the birds of the air (Lk 13: 19)…..

 

•The sinners find a solace in this Tree….

•The sick encounter support in this Tree..

•The rejected have a remedy in this Tree…

•The cast-outs meet consolation in this Tree….

•The prostitutes experience peace in this Tree…

 

The leaven which is little, makes the whole mass of dough to rise (Lk 13: 21)…

 

•The rod in Moses’ hand…a shepherds’ ordinary crook…became a mighty symbol of God’s Power

•The jawbone with Samson…. a decaying useless bone…became an instrument of killings thousands of enemies!

•The stone in David’s hand….an unnoticed stone… became the means of conquering the gigantic Goliath!

 

Little Is Much When God is in It!

 
>> We live in times when many things are explained or rejected in terms of science, psychology, post-modern modern philosophies and assorted spiritualities

>> We live in times when material values and worldly attitudes are corroding our lives.

>> We live in times when ethical principles and traditional virtues often get kicked into the backyard!

 

>> Times are bad. Times are worsening. Times are sickening…

>> Times, are even, sometimes seen to be hopeless, scary and terrifying!

 

But we also ought to realize that…many things, which cannot be discovered and understood through the microscope of science and modern theories can be discovered by looking through the eyes of faith!

 

Yes, massive things can be seen and achieved by looking through the miniscule eye of Faith!

 

Our efforts and attempts to spread God’s Kingdom may be just minor and appearing to be insignificant…

  … like the Mustard Seed and the Leaven.

 

But, Little Is Much When God is in It!!

 
May we seek the grace to realize the power of “little things” and “little efforts” in building up the “Great Kingdom of God” and to spread the “Immense Love of the Lord” to all!
 

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Oct 30 (Lk 13:10-17)

 One of the major topics that is dealt in psychology is that of Personality.

 

One of the personality that is often encountered is what is known as a Split Personality.

>> A person with a split personality has two or more distinct identity and alternates from one character to another.

 

But there is perhaps another personality which is not analyzed or studied much…but is often stumbled upon…

 

It could be called as a “SPIT” personality!

 

(Yes, you read it right. Its spelt S-P-I-T….not SPLIT!)

 
This SPIT personality is a subtle yet very common phenomenon that is observed, including perhaps, in many of us…

 
(Of course, this term “Spit personality” derives from the bad habit of people spitting on the

streets…and making the whole surrounding quite ugly and filthy! )

 

 

 

The Spit Personality, that we are talking of, refers…

… to the habit of spitting out unpleasant words at others, without the least concern.

… to the practise of spitting out harsh and judgmental words, with minimal mercy.

 … to the tendency to spitting out critical words to put down people in humiliation.

 

 
The Gospel of the Day brings a classical example of a person having this SPIT Personality.

 

The context is that of Jesus healing a woman who had been crippled for eighteen on a Sabbath Day.

 

However, after the healing, the leader of the synagogue was indignant that Jesus had cured on a Sabbath.

>> He told, “There are six days when work should be done. Come on those days to be cured, not on the Sabbath day” (Lk 13:14)

 
This leader of the synagogue, displays the SPIT Personality.

 
Here was something noble and good being done…

>> But he fails to see the goodness and instead shouts at the people for not keeping the laws.

 

Here was something miraculous and godly being performed…

>> But he closes himself to the Kingdom of God and focuses on the need to obey human rules.

 
His Spit Personality was badly unleashed!

 
Jesus, the Lord of healing and restoration, encountered the woman who had been crippled for many years…

> She was bent.

> She was in pain probably.

> She was also very much dispirited too.

 
Jesus saw her need…

… but the leader of the synagogue saw her as a nuisance.

 

Jesus understood her pain…

… but the leader of the synagogue chose to inflict shame on the people.

 

  

 

This is the trouble with a Spit Personality: One concentrates only on the negative aspects of persons and situations!

 
Jesus lashes out at such an attitude!

 
He calls the leader of the synagogue a hypocrite, and draws his attention to the greater and important dimensions of life!
“This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years, ought she not have been set free on this Sabbath day from this bondage?” (Lk 13:16)

 
The man focused on the rule of Sabbath…

… Jesus focused on the rule of love and liberation.

 

The man saw the commandment violated.. 

… Jesus saw a life been violated and in need of renewal.

 

The man burst out in anger and pride…

… Jesus blossomed out in compassion and humanness.

 

 

The Spit personality can be highly dreadful and inhuman.

 

Do I display any such characteristics?

 

If I fail to see the goodness in people…and instead speak only of their faults and mistakes?

… I may be having a Spit Personality!

 

If I fail to trust in God in hard situations…and instead only criticize and blame God…

… I may be having a Spit Personality!

 

If I get wild with people for tiny faults without considering their background & context…

… I may be having a Spit Personality!

 

If I spread calumny and gossiping rumours about the misdeeds of others… 

… I may be having a Spit Personality!

 

If I fail to go beyond simple regulations in order to promote well-being and goodness… 

… I may be having a Spit Personality!

 

 

 

The Lord of all Liberation and Wholeness today invites us to experience His Healing Touch.

 

Many of us are crippled and infirmed with this Spit Personality?.

> We need a healing.

> We need a touch of the Lord.

 

 

The Spit Personality in us, can cause much damage to the people around us.

>> It can make our life unclean and miserable and cause people to avoid us.

 >> It can make our families, our communities and our societies to be unlivable and unpleasant.

 
A strong decision needs to be made…

…to stop spitting bad words

…to stop spitting defamatory news

…to stop spitting harmful statements

…to stop spitting uncharitable remarks

…to stop spitting cruel and heartless comments!

 
May we let go of the Spit Personality and adopt…

… a Spirit-filled Personality instead!

… a Service-minded Personality instead!

… a Strength-giving Personality instead!

 
May we seek to be cleansed…May we seek to be pure!

 
God Bless! Live Jesus!

Oct 29 (Mt 22:34-40)

There once was a farmer who grew award-winning ‘corn’ (maize). 

>> Each year he entered his corn in the fair-competition conducted at the state-level, where it won a prize.

One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him.
Among the many great practices that this farmer had adopted, the reporter also learned something highly interesting about how this farmer grew corn…

…and which made him to win a prize every year. 

The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn… his best variety seed…

… with his neighbouring farmers!

“How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbours…

… when they are also entering into competition with you?” enquired the bewildered reporter. 

“Why sir,” replied back the farmer, “didn’t you know one of the important realities of life?
The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. 

>> If my neighbours grow inferior variety of corn, the cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn as well. 

If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn.
This is the reality of life that I have realized: In order to get the best out of life, I need to give my best to the other!”

Yes, the farmer was very much aware of the relatedness of life.

>> His corn could not improve unless his neighbor’s corn also improved.

Have we realized this reality of our lives?

>> In order to get the best out of life, I need to give my best to the other!”
Those who choose to live well, must help others to live well too.  

The value of a life is measured by the lives it touches. 

>> And those who choose to be happy must help others to find happiness…

… for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all!

The lesson for each of us is this: if we are to grow good corn, we must help our neighbours grow good corn. 

Let us all Love those that cross our paths.

 

 

Yes, Love is the starting point, the end and the essence of a Christian Life.

 
The Gospel of the Day emphasizes and affirms this aspect of Love: Love of God and Love of neighbour.

The Pharisees come together to trap Jesus with a question from the Law: “Teacher, which is the most important commandment of the Law?” (Mt 22: 36).

 

The Lord of Love is sought to be trapped in a web of malice!

>> This was a complicated question that was put forward to Jesus.

 
The Jewish Law of the Torah comprised 613 precepts.

>> It was certainly a challenge to condense these codes into a single commandment.

 
Probably Jesus would’ve looked into the eyes of the one who asked this question and thought, “Why do You seek to put me to the test?”

 
There was malice and a corrupt intention in the one who questioned.

>> But the greatness of the Lord overwhelms the evil designs of humans.

 
Jesus answers the question which had an evil bent, with an answer filled with goodness…

… “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind….

>> Love your neighbour as yourself”! (Mt 22: 37)

 
Bingo..!

>> Two birds with one shot!

 
He not just answered His interrogators but He also proclaimed the summary of the Gospel.

>> He not just silenced His critics but He also won many followers for the Good News.

 
The Pharisee came asking which is “the” greatest commandment (Mt 22: 36)
He expected just one commandment.

>> But Jesus answers with two…and showed that those two commandments are nothing but one!

 
The Love of God and the Love of Neighbour…

>> They were two dimensions of the same Love.

 

And this One Love, with two facets, formed the basis of all the other commandments of the Law!

 

 

The tragedy of our world and our spirituality very often, is the separation of these two dimensions…

 

One loves God….but fails to love one’s neighbour!

>> Another loves the neighbour…but fails to love God!

 
One loves to read and hear and understand God’s Word…but fails to apply it in real life.

>> Another loves to have a lot of social relations…but fails to build a strong spiritual basis.

 

One loves to preach deeply over virtues of the Gospel…but fails to live them in actuality.

>> Another loves to be in friendship with all…but fails in closeness with God, the source of Love.

 

One loves the Church and her teachings…but falls short to serve the society and its peoples.

>> Another serves people…but vehemently hates the Church, the ark of the Sacraments of Love!

 

 

Christian love is not just about emotions.

>> Christian love is not just about feelings.

 

Christian love, is…

… making a decision to serve, even if one does not feel so.

… being faithful, even if one is rejected or even shown indifference.

… being committed, even if one feels an aversion towards the other.

 

 

Easier said, than done….right?

 
This is where, we need to…

… depend on God, the Source of Love itself!

… draw strength from the Sacraments that the Church offers!

… display a Passionate love of God in order to share it with others!

 

Unless we are in Communion with the Lord, all this reflection remains merely a theory.

>> Unless we are joined to God, the Source of Love, all our meditations remain superficial.

 
We need to pray as in the Responsorial Psalm today, “I love you, Lord, my strength” (Ps 18: 2).

 
He is the strength for us to love our neighbour.

>> He is the source for us to share our lives with our neighbour.

>> He is the supplier of hope for us to sustain in our difficulties to love.

 

 

As the famous signboard reads…

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centred….

>> LOVE THEM ANYWAY

 

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives…

>> DO GOOD ANYWAY

 

The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow…

>> DO HELP ANYWAY

 

What you spent years building, may be destroyed overnight…

>> BUILD ANYWAY

 

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth…

>> GIVE THE WORLD THE BEST YOU’VE GOT ANYWAY

 
The world is thirsting for Love…

>> Each one of us is called to radiate this Love: Love of God and Love of Neighbour.

 
Yes, let us deepen our realization: In order to get the best out of life, I need to give my best to the other!”

>> Let us become an Apostle and Agent and Ambassador of Love!

 

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Oct 28 (Feast of Saints Jude and Simon)

 A garden of flowers delights most people!

 

A garden consists of a variety of flowers, with varied colours, sizes, shapes.

 

Some flowers tend to capture our attention more…some escape the gaze of our eyes.

>> However, this in no way, reduces or increases their relevance and importance.

 
>>> Each flower has its own specialty.

>>> Each flower has its own attraction.

 

 
Jesus in His garden of ministry, chose twelve apostles.

>> Some apostles tend to capture our attention more…some escape the gaze of our eyes.
However, this in no way, reduces or increases their relevance and importance.

>> Each apostle has his own specialty

>> Each apostle has his own attraction.

 

  
Today Holy Mother the Church celebrates the feast of two apostles: St Jude and St Simon.

 
These are apostles, who in most probability escape the gaze of our eyes.

>> These two saints are usually known as the “unknown apostles”.

 

Yet, they have their own greatness before God and their own importance to inspire us in our lives!

 
The scarcity of their appearance in the New Testament is so vivid that except in the list of the names of the apostles…

… the name of Simon never appears elsewhere whereas the name of Jude makes only a single appearance in the discourse of Jesus after the last supper (Jn 14: 22).

 
In the Gospel of Matthew & Mark, the apostle Simon is given the title of a Canaanaean, while Luke mentions him as “Zealot”.

 

This apostle Simon must have belonged to the Zealot Party.

>> The Zealot Party was a first-century political movement among Judean Jews who sought to overthrow the occupying Roman government.

 

According to the Jewish historian Josephus, four main Jewish groups existed at the time of Christ – the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes and the Zealots.

 
The Zealots were known for their aggression and violent behaviour. 

>> They advocated that no one, but Yahweh alone should rule over Israel and hence, obedience to the Roman government should be refused.

 

The selection of Simon, the Zealot as an Apostle, is a great insight into the workings of Jesus, in His Kingdom Ministry…

 

 

The Lord accepts us with our hard instincts.

>> The Lord takes into account our various mentalities and mindsets.

 
In His Divine Love, He squashes all such factors and patterns us into people fit for His Kingdom.

 
>> He doesn’t reject us in our over-zeal.

>> He doesn’t cast us away because of our impulses.
All that He expects is an openness to follow Him fully and allow ourselves to be moulded!

 

The Apostle Jude is given another title by St Matthew and St Mark: Thaddeus.

>> Thaddeus means “the courageous heart”

 
St Jude is one of the most popular saints in our world today, considering the fact that he is called as “The Miraculous Saint”.  

>> St Jude is the one whose aid is often sought when all hope is lost, especially in grave illness & life-&-death situations.

 

There is a story that since his name is identical with Judas Iscariot, who had betrayed Jesus, St Jude would hardly be interceded too, except in the most desperate situations!

>> And hence, perhaps, he got identified as the Patron in Helpless Causes!

 

 
St Bridget of Sweden & St Bernard had visions from God asking each to accept St Jude as ‘Patron Saint of the Impossible’.

 

 

> The Apostle Jude teaches us a few insights for our spiritual growth:

 

>> Like the name – Jude Thaddeus – we are invited too, to have a “heart full of courage”.
The Kingdom of God requires brave soldiers and people of immense valour.

 

The Lord needs followers who are imbued with the might of His Holy Spirit and who boldly proclaim the Gospel and witness its values by their lives.

 

No situation of discouragement or setbacks will hinder the march of a “Courageous Heart”!

 

>> St Jude, as the Patron of Desperate Cases, inspires us to have a deeper faith and trust in the Providence and Mercy of God.
The Lord is all-knowing.

> He wills what is best for us.

 

However, in our human frailty, we often tend to lose our hope and become highly desperate.

 

But this Saint teaches to grow deeper in our faith & know that “behind every dark cloud is a silver lining of the sun…(Son!)”!

 
>> St Jude also teaches the powerful role of Intercessory Prayer.
We are all created in the Image and Likeness of God, and each of us have a bounden duty to the other…

… to take care, to love each other and to pray for one another.

 
When we pray for others and bring others to the presence of God, we help them in their difficulties and join with them in solidarity and compassion.

 

 
There are many hidden flowers in a garden.

>> Yet, each one has its own beauty and fragrance and value.

 
These two apostles – St Simon and St Jude – are fairly hidden in the Gospels, and yet we can learn and be inspired much by them.

 
May the life and intercession of these two hidden, yet Great Apostles of the Lord…

… impel us further, to love God and His people…

… and spread the Gospel of God to many more!

 

Happy Feast of the Apostles St Jude and St Simon.

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Oct 27 (Lk 12:54-59)

Good dramas produce a great visual treat and also leaves a lasting impression on the mind.

 

One of the characteristics of a good drama is the way it concludes…

>> The conclusion should make the audience to identify with some characters of the story and leave a personal touch for every viewer.

 
One of the best dramatist who has a special niche for such effective conclusions is St Luke!

 
St Luke in his Gospel presents many dramatic stories of Jesus, with a special style of conclusion…that leaves its readers to wonder and ponder…to think and act…!

 
St Luke, in the Gospel of the Day presents one such parable…

… the Parable of the Barren Fig Tree.

 

 
What is this conclusion style of St Luke that we are talking about?

>> It could be termed as a “Dramatic Concluding Suspense for Action!”

 
This “Dramatic Concluding Suspense for Action” has three elements in it…

1. It is dramatic: It has some impressive and spectacular elements to wonder and ponder.

2. It has a conclusion, full of suspense: The conclusion remains unknown &a high curiosity is generated.

3. It calls for action: The conclusion impels viewers to reflect on life and to do some action.

 

 

Such parables of ” Dramatic Concluding Suspense for Action ” are a characteristic feature in St Luke’s Gospel:

 

 

Ø The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10: 29-35)

The Good Samaritan left the man at the Inn and said he would come back to pay the extra denarii…

 

Did the Good Samaritan come back? It’s unknown!

>> But, now the onus is placed on the readers and a thought is left with You and Me…

 
Ø The incident of Martha and Mary (Lk 10: 38-42)

Jesus exhorted Martha, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. Mary has chosen the better part…” 
Did Martha give heed to the words of the Lord and cease to be anxious and worried? It’s unknown!

>> But, now the onus is placed on the readers and a thought is left with You and Me…

 
Ø The Incident of the Rich Young Fool (Lk 18: 18-23)

Jesus invited the man to sell his possessions, distribute it to the poor and then follow Him…

 

Did the young man do what Jesus told him to? It’s unknown!

>> But, now the onus is placed on the readers and a thought is left with You and Me…

 

 

Ø The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15: 11-32)

The Father, at the end of the story, invites the elder brother to join in the celebration of the Prodigal son coming back…

 

Did the elder son join the celebration? It’s unknown!

>> But, now the onus is placed on the readers and a thought is left with You and Me…

 

 

Ø The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Lk 16: 19-31)

The Rich Man pleads to Abraham concerning the future of his five brothers.

 

Did those five brothers meet with the same fate or did they live a better and virtuous life? It’s unknown!

>> But, now the onus is placed on the readers and a thought is left with You and Me…

 

 

Ø The Cleansing of the Ten Lepers (Lk 17: 11-19)

The Lord enquires the Samaritan leper about the nine other lepers who also had been healed.

 

Did any of those nine lepers come back to the Lord to thank Him? It’s unknown!

>> But, now the onus is placed on the readers and a thought is left with You and Me…

 
 

The Parable in the Gospel – the Parable of the Barren Fig Tree – follows this style of “Dramatic Concluding Suspense for Action”.

 

The man who had the fig tree planted in his orchard, comes looking for fruit….

But finding no fruit, he gets disappointed and orders it to be cut off…

But the gardener pleads for another year to cultivate and fertilize it….

 

Did the Owner allow for another year?

Did the tree produce fruit after one year?

Did the tree continue to live or was it cut down?

 

All these answers are unknown!

 

But, now the onus is placed on the readers and a thought is left with You and Me…

 

 

If I am the fig tree in the Parable and the God is the Owner, then we have some things to ponder on…

 

God who has planted me in His orchard, comes looking for fruit…

>> Do I produce the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5: 22-23)

 
If He doesn’t find the fruits, he gets disappointed and warns us….

… we have been blessed with many graces and we are expected to live in response to those favours of the Lord. But if we don’t, it causes pain to God, who is our Loving Father.
>> Do I waste away God’s graces in my life and disappoint the expectations of my Father in Heaven?

 

But the gardener pleads for another year to cultivate and fertilize it.

>> The Lord doesn’t give up on us. He seeks to give us another chance…

Am I willing…

… to accept to have the ground around me cultivated and weed out the unbecoming things like sinful tendencies and bad habits in and around me?

… to be fertilized & be nourished by His Word & His Body and Blood in the Eucharist & thus gain strength to produce fruits?

 

 

The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree has a “Dramatic Concluding Suspense for Action”.

Our lives too often resemble this Barren Fig Tree…

 
The questions are posed before us…

>> The answers are to be answered by us.

 

And the onus is now placed on we, the readers and a thought is left with You and Me…

 
Let us respond positively & with God, the director…

…and make the drama of our lives a beautiful and a witnessing one!

 
God Bless! Live Jesus!

Oct 26 (Lk 12:49-53)

St Ignatius of Loyola is the founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits)
There is an interesting incident narrated about a couple of tourists who visited the Jesuit headquarters in Rome. 
There is a large statue of the St Ignatius majestically displayed in this house.

>> Underneath are also inscribed the words of the Saint to his friend St. Francis Xavier, when the latter was commissioned to spread the Gospel across the globe: 

“Ite, Inflammate Omnia!”
When translated, the motto reads: “Go and set the world on fire!” 

As, the two tourist friends admired at the words of the wonderful saint and were speaking about the greatness of the saint…

… One of them noticed a fire-extinguisher that was placed on the adjacent wall
(The red-coloured fire-extinguisher was of course, placed, in case of any emergency)
But seeing the motto of the Saint and this fire-extinguisher from the same view, the tourist made an interesting comment:

“Well! The Saint asked us to go and set the world on fire…

… but we Christians, probably seem more to be going around with a fire-extinguisher and putting it off!”

Every Christian is expected to set the world on fire…
But are we people “on fire”?

>> Or is the “fire” dying out, and failing to have its intended effects?
Our Blessed Lord was greatly filled with zeal to “set the earth on fire”…

… and desires all His followers to share in this passion for the Kingdom of God.

 

The Gospel of the Day begins with Jesus exclaiming:

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing” (Lk 12: 49)

“Fire” in the Bible is an imagery of many aspects…

>> God’s judgment (Jdt 16:17; Is 66:16; Am 7:4; 2 Pt 3:7)

>> God’s protective presence (Ex 13: 21, 2 Kgs 6:17)

>> Purification (Nm 31:23; Ez 22:19-22, Zec 13: 9), 

>> The Holy Spirit (Mt 3:11, Acts 2:3). 

>> God’s Holiness (Dt 4:24)

>> God’s glory (Ez 1:4, 13)

Fire also has many characteristics:

>> It warms… refines… transforms… burns!
The Lord who was greatly zealous to “set the earth on fire”, invites us to examine:

>> Am I filled with zeal, to blaze the world “on fire”… 

… the fire of God’s love?

… the fire of God’s purging mercy?

… the fire of God’s judgement with respect to sin and evil?

The following two verses of today’s Gospel passage comes in as a shock?

>> “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, division!” (Lk 12:51)
The Gospel of St. Mathew’s version of the same verse reads:

“Do not think I have come to bring peace. I have to come not to bring peace, but a sword… (Mt 10: 34)

These verses become more surprising in the context of…

>>The Sermon of the Mount where in Mt 5:9, it says, “Blessed are the peacemakers”

>> The description of the Messiah where in Is 9: 6 it says, “He (Messiah) will be called “Prince of Peace” 
Why does St Mathew use the words “peace and sword”? 

>> Why does St Luke use the words “peace and division”?

This could be a technique called “Juxtaposing”.
Juxtaposing simply means to place two things side-by-side or next to each other…

… especially to compare or to emphasize on the contrast.

This technique is used extensively in the Bible… 
>> “Unless a grain of wheat dies, it will not give life” (Jn 12: 24)

>> “Light shines in the darkness” ( Jn 1:5)

>> “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit” (Mt 7:18)
Thus we see…

… life and death

… light and darkness

… good and bad

 This “juxtaposition” we also observe in our daily life. 
>> Any artist or a person with some aesthetic sense will vouch for the fact that, in order a highlight some light-coloured flowers in a bouquet…

… a darker background is preferred. 
>> Even in our style of dressing, we prefer to wear dark-coloured trousers…

… along with light-coloured shirts. 

The logic is simple: Juxtaposing two contrasting stuff emphasizes the meaning.

Peace, is generally defined as a situation where there is no violence or war. 

>> Sword, on the other hand, signifies conflict, struggle and death. 
Peace, is normally understood as a situation of calm and absence of conflicts

>> Division, on the other hand, points to disturbances, instability and turmoil.

What is the meaning of this usage of “juxtaposition” in today’s Gospel passage? 
The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy (Rom 14: 17)
To establish this peace or this Kingdom of God…

… sword is an inevitable reality!

… division is an inescapable consequence! 

>> Disturbances, instability , turmoil, conflict, struggle and even death is a real possibility!

That’s why Jesus would go on to say:

“From now on a household of five will be divided… three against two and two against three..” (Lk 12: 52)
>> These verses are an import from Mic 7:6 which speaks of “division in the household”.
 In the Jewish Society…

… the household was one of the strongest units of loyalty and binding.
 However, Jesus shatters all these pre-conceived notions and demands: 

“Loyalty of a disciple to Jesus is to be much higher than even to his own household!”
All intimate relations, even that within the family, are to be given subordinate status in our Love for Jesus.
It is also interesting to note the order of people mentioned in Lk 12: 53:

… Father vs Son, Daughter vs Mother, Daughter-in- law vs Mother in Law. 
It is always the young vs the old. 
What could be the meaning? 

 
The Kingdom of God will cause a sword of division…

… It will be a division of the Young vs Old!
Young and Old are not to be considered in the physical sense… but in the spiritual sense!
Young as being people who are “new”… those by giving up a life of sin, choosing to be part of the Kingdom of God.

>> Old as being those people who are “unrepentant”… those who cling on to sinful ways and oppose the Kingdom.
The Kingdom of God is always characterized by people who are willing to be “new” in the Spirit…

… young at heart and mind, full of dynamism and full of enthusiasm.

What are the implications of all what we have said today?

1. The establishment of peace in the Kingdom of God is always accompanied by the sword of division

>> Are we ready to face the struggles and difficulties that surely will come on our way, as we work for the Kingdom?
2. In this our mission of establishing the Kingdom, we are demanded to have a loyalty to Jesus that is higher than all other relationships. 

>> Are we ready to sacrifice? Perhaps our relationships or our way of thinking or even our lifestyle? all for the sake of loyalty to Christ?
3. The Kingdom of God demands that we always be young – dynamic, enthusiastic, cheerful and energetic.

>> Are we ready to always remain Young at heart and in mind, for the sake of the Kingdom of God?

Jesus, Who was greatly filled with zeal to “set the earth on fire”…

… desires all His followers to also share in this passion for the Kingdom of God.
Yes, let us become Christians “who set the world on fire?!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!