Kindly Note

Please note that Jan 1st 2018, falls on a Monday.

For those of us, going to participate in the New Year’s Vigil Mass, please note that It is the Mass of 1st Jan (Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God – New Year’s Day).

Please do not miss to attend the Sunday Morning/Saturday Evening Mass…

… thinking that it is enough to attend the New Year Vigil Mass.

Participating in the Vigil Mass on Sunday evening/night Mass will not fulfill the Sunday Mass obligation.

Kindly spread this awareness to maintain the good Catholic Faith.

Let’s thank the Lord for all His Blessings through this year 2017!

God bless! Live Jesus!

Fr Jijo Manjackal MSFS

Bengaluru, India

Dec 31 (Feast of the Holy Family – Lk 2:22-40)

There goes a story about a family, in the US, that was struggling to survive during the Great Economic Depression in the 1940’s…

The father of the family had lost his job, and they moved to the city to find work.

They couldn’t afford to buy their own house, so they lived in the basement of someone else’s house, paying a large rent for the tiny space.

It was not the most comfortable or cosiest situation …

… Mom, Dad, and five Children cramped into a mouldy basement.

But they made the best of it by pouring as much love as they could into little things.

>> They kept the place neat and clean.

>> They had their small and sparse meals together every day.

>> They said their prayers each morning and each evening as a family.

>> They even pitched in to help other families who were in even more difficult situations.

One day, one of the children’s school teachers came by to visit the family.

>> She was shocked at the cramped quarters and the poverty of the family.

The next day at school the teacher took the little girl aside and tried to comfort her.

She said, “I am so sorry that you don’t even have a home to live in!”

But the little girl was surprised and answered:

“Oh no!

We have a wonderful home; we’re just still looking for a house to put it in!!”

The li’l girl did not have a proper house, but she had a wonderful home!

>> The family was constricted into a tiny space, but they had much space for each other in their hearts!

Yes, it’s the little things in life that can make the biggest difference.

Often times, we have a grand house but a very poor home…

We have many big things: a three-car garage, a home movie theatre, football-sized rooms, latest of communication & entertainment gadgets etc…

But very often, something essential is missing…

Is it true?

>> Are we living in a “House” or in a “Home”?

Today Holy Mother Church takes delight in celebrating the Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

>> This was a home with much joy and peace, though it struggled to have even a proper house.

The Gospel of the Day speaks of the Presentation of Child Jesus in the Temple (Lk 2: 22-38) and the return to Nazareth, where the Child grows (Lk 2: 39-40)

The Holy Family of Nazareth is often considered as the perfect and ideal family.

In which sense is it perfect and ideal?

>> Lack of tensions…?

>> Free from problems…?

>> Abundance of wealth…?

>> Absence of worries and fears…?

>> No tension of financial constraints…?

Well…

… if these are the yardsticks to define a perfect and ideal family, the Holy Family of Nazareth would be too far from it…

This “ideal” and “perfect” family of Nazareth had to undergo many severe crises, as in any of our families…

1. The young Mary had to face an unplanned pregnancy…

>> She was thrown between a choice to face stoning for death or placing hope in God.

2. The just man Joseph had the dilemma of accepting a lady who could be doubted by society…

>> He faced the challenge of divorcing his to-be-wife or to accept her in faith and trust.

3. Joseph and Mary failed to find a proper place even to have the birth of their child…

4. At the middle of the night, they had to abandon their only place of refuge and fly to Egypt…

5. At the age of twelve, Jesus gets lost and His words to them are not understood by the parents…

6. A few years into boyhood, Jesus loses Joseph, his caring Father and the young Mary becomes a widow…

Are these “ideal” or “perfect” situations for a family?

Then, how do we say that the Holy Family of Nazareth is an “ideal” and “perfect” family?

Idealness and Perfection comes not as a result of absence of problems and difficulties.

>> Idealness and Perfection is attributed not because of being free from any risks or challenges.

They were able to move beyond a “house” and build a “home” because…

… They had God as their Ultimate Refuge

… and They always sought and listened to what God wanted in Their lives!

Idealness and Perfection is ascribed because They chose to trust and hope in God always!

>> >> Idealness and Perfection is credited because They sought to walk as per the Will of God always!

What about our families?

Today, unlike any other time in the history of the world, a family or a community faces severe challenges…

>> Consumerism and materialism ruins the fabric of a family…

>> Individualism and self-priorities hampers the structure of a family…

>> Failure to understand and readiness to abandon each other becomes quick solutions…

>> Media and other “knowledge sources” bombard minds with many alternative lifestyles…

As a family and a community, we today, stand before the Crib and gaze on the “Ideal” and “Perfect” family of Nazareth…

>> They had Their own issues and problems…

>> They had Their own sets of difficulties.

We might argue, that their problems are nothing compared to what we are going through.

Yet, the method and style of handling and tackling the problems remains the same…

>> Seeking to do God’s Will…

>> Being steadfastly faithful to one another in every crisis…

>> Being the strength to each other in rough times…

The Holy Family…

… challenges us to place unity and love as the prominent concerns.

… exhorts us to trust God in all situations and have God as the highest priority

… invites us to understand and accept each other and love the other as they are

We need to mould and build our families lovingly, inspired by the Holy Family of Nazareth.

Let us move from being just “house-makers” to being “home-makers”…

>> Let us go beyond the fleeting concept of “houses” to build everlasting and loving “homes”…

Are we living in a House or in a Home?

Happy Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth to all our Families!

God bless! Live Jesus!

Dec 30 ( Lk 2: 36-40)

There is a quotation by William Barclay, a famous theologian:
“There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why!”

One of them is easier and simpler than the other.

One is just a date and a moment in history.
>> It could be something like the 28th of November or the 7th of March or the 14th of July etc…

This was the day, we first made our appearance on this earth.

This day is special….

The other day is also special…but it’s not easy to discover it!

In fact, it is an arduous task and a patient undertaking.

>> That is day we figure out why we are on this Planet Earth.
>> That is the day we come to a greater realization of our Life.

The first day tells that I am here in this earth!
>> The second day would tell us “why” I am here on this earth!

To discover this meaning and purpose of life and seek to live it fully well, will make our lives satisfying and truly happy.

>> It could happen in one day!
>> It could happen over a period of some years!
>> It could happen over one’s whole lifetime!

Yet, the most important thing is to “keep seeking for it and be alert for its discovery”
>> Am I in this all-important process of discovering “Why I am born in this world”?

The Gospel of the Day will point out today to a person who discovered greatly this aspect of the purpose in life, and dedicated her whole life for it – Anna, the Prophetess.

We are still in the festive passages of Christmas – the Nativity of our Saviour.

Joseph and Mary have brought their Beloved Child, Jesus, to the temple to be presented to the Lord.

After the ritual purification rites and customs, the Holy Family of Nazareth is encountered by Simeon.

>> He who was docile and open to the promptings of the Spirit discovered the Glory of God.
>> He who was patient and constantly in quest, was blessed with the true meaning of his life.

At the same time, another woman was also eagerly waiting for the Messiah…in constant eagerness and longing…Anna!

‘Anna’ is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Hannah, which means, ‘Grace’
>> Like the Old Testament Hannah, this Anna is also characterized by prayer and fasting

She was the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.
>> Asher was one of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Asher is considered to be one among ten of these tribes, which had strayed away from the path of the Lord, that were taken captive by the Assyrians in 722 BC, before the northern Kingdom fell.

However, “some men of Asher, of Manasseh, and of Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem” (2 Chr 30:11).

So, Anna belonged to that small remnant of the tribe of Asher, that had humbled itself to seek protection & providence in the Lord.

Anna was, however, a widow
>> She was a widow for a very very long time…
… for over seven decades, she had been a widow.

>> It was a tremendous grief to live so long without the love of a husband.
>> It was a dreadful challenge to struggle for survival and existence as a widow.

Sorrow can cause two consequences to a believer….

>> It can make one hard, bitter, resentful and rebellious against God
or…
>> It can make one kinder and dependable on God!

>> Sorrow can cause our faith to be spoilt
or…
>> Sorrow can cause our faith to take deeper roots!

Anna, the widow, chose the better part!
>> She chose to reveal and revel in the Grace of God and live a Gracious Life!

And this process of her discovering “why she was born in the world” made her to…

1. Practice a life of purity: She lived in holiness and integrity.

2. Pray constantly: She lived in the temple continually and was incessantly fasting and praying

3. Persevere Patiently: She battled loneliness and depression and persevered successfully to meet the Lord.

4. Proclaim Boldly: She challenged others in their cozy life by proclaiming the Messiah and His promises!

Life is constantly calling and challenging us to discover “the day why I am born”

It’s easy to while away our time in comforts and pleasures of this world.
>> But that will certainly not serve the goal of our existence here on this earth.

Each of us have a specific task and responsibility entrusted by the Lord.
>> This role is proper to our own vocation as in family life or in a consecrated life.

In God’s precious eyes, there are no small or great responsibilities.
>> He values and treasures each and every duty -small or big- with equal measure.

Every task, when performed with immense love and dedication has its greatness.

Anna, the old lady, “Young and Vibrant at Heart” teaches us today…
… To pursue what we are to be…to discover “why I am born”…to prevail in our aim!

… by Practicing a Life of Purity
… by Praying Constantly
… by Persevering Patiently
… by Proclaiming Boldly!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Dec 29 (Lk 2:22-35)

Mobile phones come with an option of keeping it in the ‘silent mode’.

It often happens, that when a phone is kept in the silent mode, one fails to notice a call.

But if one has been eagerly and excitedly waiting for someone’s call, it will be received, even if the phone is kept in the silent mode..

>> Right?

Great blessings from God often come to us silently and quietly.

>> But the one who is waiting eagerly and patiently excited, receives these blessings even in the silent mode of events…

Such was the case when the Lord was born…

The Messiah was promised long back.. centuries ago.

>> Yet, when we go through the accounts of the Bible, it seems that most people were not ready to receive Him…

> The Scribes and Scholars of the time never seem to have expected…

> The rich and the powerful people of Bethlehem failed to have any notice of Him…

Hardly anyone knew when and where the Saviour – the Little Babe was born!

It seemed like a call on the mobile phone that is kept in the silent mode!

>> Silently, the Precious Gift was delivered…

>> Without and fuss or fanfare, the Marvelous Treasure was presented…

But there was also a tiny group of people, who were waiting for this Blessed Fortune…

>> There were some who were waiting eagerly and patiently excited..

Among this tiny set of persons was Simeon!

In some dramas, we see some characters who appear on the stage just once…

… speak a few crucial dialogues or perform some significant deeds

…and they disappear

…never to be seen again!

Simeon is one such figure…

We know nothing about his background, his hometown, his education, or even his occupation.

>> We assume that he was an old man, but even that is not explicitly mentioned.

He simply appears on the stage of salvation drama for a few moments…

>> After his part is over, he fades from the scene, never to be heard from again!

We however, do know….that this Simeon was waiting eagerly for the Lord.

We could just imagine how Simeon would have gone through his days of waiting for the Saviour of the world…

>> Every time some couple walked in with child, Simeon would have asked, “Could this be the Promised Messiah?”…

Finally, when Mary and Joseph walked in with the child Jesus…

… Simeon sensed the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

However, looking at them, perhaps, a doubt would have arisen in his mind…

>> “Could the child of this simple and ordinary parents really be the Messiah?

>> The man seems to be some ordinary carpenter sort of…and the mother looks so ordinary a peasant girl.

>> Is it really possible that the Messiah, the Promised Saviour of the Universe, be having such simple and ordinary parents?”

And probably, the voice of the Holy Spirit would have boomed into the ears of Simeon…

“YES!

Truly.. .there is the Messiah.. the One promised by God!

“Human beings seek external appearances….but God chooses by His own Divine standards.

>> Doubt not… but go and meet Him, Who was promised for ages!

Believe firmly…and encounter the One who is the Salvation of the world!”

What about us?

Do we seek and listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in our lives?

It could come through various formats?

>> Inspirations… Thoughts… Circumstances…Other people… Commandments of the Church.. Bible.. Challenges in Life…etc…

Do we be in patient waiting and constant vigilance to hear this voice of the Lord?

>> Sometimes we cast away inspirations and feelings as trivial and minor…

>> Sometimes we discard some people as just insignificant and unimportant…

>> Sometimes we pass of situations and circumstances as ordinary and common…

>> Sometimes we reject commandments and teachings as outdated and obsolete…

But the Lord…through the patient and ever-watchful Simeon, today, invites us to always be on the watch to listen to the promptings of the Spirit…

We sometimes miss important calls when our phones are kept in silent mode…

Let it not happen so with the movements of the Spirit…

>> Let us always be observant and alert…

The Spirit is talking.. the Spirit is moving…

>> Are we listening?

>> Are we aware?

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Dec 28 (Feast of the Holy Innocents)

Christmas is one of the most – if not the most – popular Fest in the world!

This Fest is – besides the spiritual nourishment – greatly celebrated…

… with a lot of joy and merriment

… with the aspect of renewing relationships through get-togethers

… with a great deal of decorations and festoons to amplify the exciting tone

But for a moment, when we think of the very First Christmas Night…

… we being to understand that such was not exactly the mood back then!

There were many elements on that First Christmas Night which were actually very ordinary and some even, sad and scandalizing!

… the long and arduous travel of the “expectant Mother with Child ”and the ‘uncertain father’ towards Bethlehem

… the Holy Family failing to find a place in the inn (perhaps, refused to be given a place!)

… the birth of the Messiah, the Creator of the entire universe, in a manger – which was actually the place of feeding for the animals!

… the terrifying and indecisive flight into Egypt

As the famous Carol goes, it was in all probability more of a “Silent Night…”!

Another importantly sad and scandalizing event was that of the “Killing of the Innocents” under the of two, at the order of King Herod ( Mt 2: 16-18)

On this fourth Day of the Christmas Octave, Dec 28th, Holy Mother the Church celebrates this Commemoration of The Holy Innocents.

The news that a new King of the Jews was born, caused great ordeal for King Herod (Mt 2: 3)

>> He became all the more furious, when he heard that the Magi had deceived him (Mt 2:16)

The easiest solution found was to kill all the males under the age of two.

To react negatively, in a situation of hardship, often seems to be the easiest way out.

>> But it is an extremely cheap and low way of going about

But Herod fell into this snare of “negative reaction” and had little babies killed.

>> These little babies, too little and young to form a will and a desire to love, became martyrs of Blood. (Mt 2:16)

St Augustine would say, “they are the first buds of the Church killed by the frost of persecution; they died not only for Christ, but in his stead!”

The number of children killed is uncertain.

There are a number of views on the actual number of children who were killed.

>> The Byzantine Liturgy (Greek) says that Herod killed 14, 000 boys

>> The Syrian Liturgy speaks of 64,000.

>> Another scholarly study suggests that Bethlehem was a very small town, at the time of Jesus, with a population of maybe 300. The number of children below the age of two could be very less – maybe six or seven.

But the fact remains, that it was a tragic gravely foul and grievously painful.

The death of the little children is a reminder that our earthly life is a pilgrimage…

… to be oriented for the eternal life in heaven

The dreadful massacre of the innocent children can easily cause a question to arise in us:

>> Why did God allow the helpless death of the children before their own parents?

>> Why did these little children have to be murdered, for saving the Divine Child?

>> Could not God have planned a noble way of saving Him?

Such questions can easily cause our faith to be disturbed or even be scandalized by the ways of God

But it brings home an important truth: Our earthly life is a pilgrimage.

>> No one knows how long we will live – some die in infancy, some in their old age; some die prepared, some suddenly and tragically.

This is the reality that we find in the world – we like it or not, we accept or not.

It therefore, is a call for us, to nurture life in the best way possible…

>>> Our own lives by living in holiness and fidelity to the Will of God

>>> Preserving, nurturing and enhancing the lives of others – including the little infants in the wombs.

This commemoration of the Holy Innocents is a reminder to open our eyes to see the tragedies of the world and become courageous torch-bearers of justice

This passage of King Herod and the Holy Innocents, might sometimes seem to be like…

… “the unwarranted bone” in the tasty meal of Christmas

… or the “jarring note” in the melodious music of Christ’s Nativity.

We often like to live in “cosy and comfortable” situations – even if it means, closing our eyes to the stark and tragic realities of life

But it is the obligation of every Christian to “get out of every comfort zone”?

… and enter into the “suffering sections” of the society, and give them hope, consolation and life.

The “cry of the mothers of the innocent children”…

… Mt 2:18 – “A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation”…

is also a “Carol”, that is heard every Christmas

Yes, may we deeply understand that Christmas – the birth of Christ, ought to not simply be a “festival of fun or frolic”…

… but also should lead us to hear the many “cries of innocents” today – the oppressed and the abused, the voiceless and the helpless, the sinful and the lonely etc.

Christmas is surely, one of the most – if not the most – popular Fest in the world!

But let not this Fest be drowned only in external celebrations and merriment

>> Rather, let it also be an occasion for all of us to renew our commitment to the cause of justice and peace in the world, and make this earthly pilgrimage more meaningful!

Salutations to the Holy Innocents and Glory to the Divine Babe, Jesus!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Dec 27 (Feast of St John)

Christmas is a time of great celebration and festivities.

The time after Christmas is often a phase of getting through with many cakes, sweets, food…

The foodstuff prepared for the occasion often exceeds the required amount and thus, it needs a few more days to consume it fully….

Something similar also happens in the spiritual realm…

For many people, the spiritual significance of an event like Christmas cannot be absorbed and completed in a day.

It’s like trying to comprehend the grandeur of some magnificent places like…

… the St. Peter’s Basilica at Vatican

… or the Taj Mahal in Agra

… or the Niagara Falls

… or other great and dazzling sites, in one walk-through.

It’s not too easy.

>> We have to return back to grasp greater the beauty and the splendour.

So it is with the spectacular event of the Nativity..

We need…

… more time to comprehend about the Christmas Night

… more time to understand the virgin birth

… more time to realise that God came down to earth as a tender Babe for our salvation etc…

As a result, the Church gives us seven additional days to contemplate these divine mysteries.

These extra days on the liturgical calendar, along with the feast day – eight in total – is called as The Christmas Octave.

Every day of the Christmas octave is filled with meaning that reflects back on the Nativity – not just the birth of Christ, but the impact, the reality and the consequence of that birth in the lives of different people.

It’s interesting to note that each of the three days following the Feast of Christmas, commemorates a different type of martyrdom…

Dec 26th – the Feast of St Stephen – the Martyrdom of the Will, Love and Blood:

>> By His powerful witness, St Stephen was stoned to death in act that was completely willed by him, totally offering his Love for Jesus & shedding his blood.

Dec 27th – the Feast of St John – the Martyrdom of the Will and Love:

>> By a life of immense faithfulness & total dedication, lived with a tremendous passion and fervour, St John suffered the martyrdom of the Will and of Love.

Dec 28th – the Feast of the Holy Innocents – the Martyrdom of Blood:

>> On coming to know of the birth of Jesus, King Herod ordered that males under the age of two should be executed. These little babies, too little and young to form a will and a desire to love, became martyrs of Blood. (Mt 2:16)

Their innocent blood came in defence of the blood of their Divine Contemporary – Baby Jesus, who would grant salvation to them by His Precious Blood!

On this third Day of the Christmas Octave, Dec 27th, Holy Mother the Church celebrates the Feast of St John, the Evangelist – the Martyr of Will and Love!

St John, the Apostle and Evangelist is known as the Apostle of Love.

His Life defined Love.

>> His writings expressed Love.

>> His thoughts instilled Love.

The Gospel of St John is a witness that “this disciple who was loved by Jesus” received two unique places alongside Jesus, that none of the other apostles received.

1. Near the heart of Jesus – in the bosom of His Divine Lord! (Jn 12: 23)

Jesus bestowed this unique place, close to His heart, to John, His Beloved Disciple, at the Last Supper.

At the last supper, while Jesus announced that one of His disciples would be betray Him, John, leaning on Jesus’ bosom, asked Him, “Lord, who is it?” (Jn 13: 25)

While the synoptic Gospels testify to the fact, that when Jesus said, “One of you will betray me”, all other disciples, with a (perhaps) sense of guilt or doubt asked, “Is it I, Lord?”

>> But the Gospel of St John, clearly testifies to the fact, that when Jesus said, “One of you will betray me”, John with a clear conscience asked directly, “Lord, who is it?”

The innocent heart of John did not bear any guilt or doubt.

>> The love in John’s veins prompted him to not have any fear or panic.

>> The child-like trust in John prompted him to ask Jesus bluntly, “Who is it..?”

Love seeks to be close to the One who is loved.

>> Love wants to have the nearest place to access the One who is loved.

>> Love longs to be intimate to the heart of the One that is deeply loved.

St John, the Apostle of Love, was given this place to be closest to the Heart of Jesus!

2. Near the Cross – in the crucible of suffering of His Divine Lord (Jn 19:26)

Jesus bestowed this unique place, close to His Cross, to John, His Beloved Disciple.

While all other disciples had forsaken the Lord, John remained close to the Cross of Jesus.

The Apostle of Love remained faithful and committed to His Master.

>> The Apostle of Love was staunchly courageous in the face of extreme fear and danger.

Love…

… desires to be with the pain of the One who is loved.

… defies every hurdle to be joined to the suffering of the One who is loved.

… breaks itself completely to have a share in the anguish of the One who is loved.

St John, the Apostle of Love, was given this place to be closest to the Cross of Jesus!

It’s a point to be noted, that the only other person who was given this unique privilege of being closest, both, to the Heart and Cross of Jesus…

… was our Blessed Mamma Mary – the Supreme Apostle of Love!

… She was closest to the heart of Jesus, nurturing and nourishing Her tender Babe

… She was closest to the Cross of Jesus, sharing and suffering the pain of Her beloved Child.

YES… An Apostle of Love can be made and moulded only in these two unique places…

… Near the Heart of Jesus and near the Cross of Jesus.

Love longs to be close to the Heart…

>> Love drives every fear of the Cross.

Love seeks to kiss the Heart…

>> Love impels to embrace the Cross!

Blessed Mamma Mary and St John invite us, with much tenderness and affection:

>> “Come my Child.. Come my brother and sister… Be an Apostle of Love – close to the Heart and Cross of Jesus”

Happy Feast of the Apostle of Love!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

CHRISTMAS GOODIES – CONCLUSION

We have meaningfully reached the end of this Reflection Series – The Christmas Goodies!

Christmas is the Day when God blesses us with His Greatest Goodie –He Himself!

We have every reason to thank the Lord for all these 25 days of Goodies, which He has blessed us with.

Let quickly make a recap of all the Christmas Goodies…
… and try to remember, some of the aspects, we reflected on each of the Goodies (if necessary, let’s go back and check the respective reflections)

DAY 1 – “The Advent Wreath”
DAY 2 – “The Stars”
DAY 3 – “The Colour – Purple”
DAY 4 – “The Omission of the Gloria”
DAY 5 – “The Christmas Bells”
DAY 6- “The Christmas Candles”
DAY 7- “The Christmas Tree”
DAY 8 – “The Christmas Carols”
DAY 9 – “Santa Claus”
DAY 10 – “Christmas Cakes”
DAY 11 – “Christmas Greeting Cards”
Day 12 – “Christmas Crib”
DAY 13 – “The Christmas Manger”
DAY 14 – “The Christmas Animals”
DAY 15 – “The Angels”
DAY 16 – “The Ancestors of Jesus”
DAY 17 – “Elizabeth and Zechariah”
DAY 18 – “John the Baptist”
DAY 19 – “The Shepherds”
DAY 20 – “King Herod and Holy Innocents”
DAY 21 – “The Magi”
DAY 22 – “St. Joseph”
DAY 23 – “Blessed Mother Mary”
DAY 24 – “God the Father & God the Holy Spirit”
DAY 25 – “JESUS”

Through these Goodies, the Lord has been personally talking to us…
… giving us information and knowledge – some which were unknown to us earlier
… touching our hearts with some pertinent questions and making us to ponder deeper
… inviting us to take certain practical resolutions, in order to deepen the significance of this festivity

Let’s thank Him for His Word
>> Let’s thank Him for His Care

At the same time, let’s also become aware, that with Christmas Day having been celebrated…
… most of us, will slowly tend to forget these goodies…till the Next Christmas comes!

>> That’s pretty natural
>> That’s nothing wrong either

But, the Lord also wishes that we do take in from these Goodies…
… at least a few elements of reflections
… at least some resolutions to be practised
>> So that the “Spirit of the Christmas Goodies” can be continued throughout the days to come!

Pretty soon…
… the cakes and good food will be over
… the decorations and the lightings would be dimmed
… the carols will go to the background and the crib statues would be kept away safe

But let the “Spirit of the Christmas Goodies” be continued
>> So that the “CHRIST in CHRISTmas” may be our strength and support… all the days of our life!

May the Chorus of Christmas – “Glory to God in the Highest” – be our constant refrain!
In all what we think…
In all what we say…
In all what we do…
>> Let all Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit…
… as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen!

Yes, Maranatha – Come Lord Jesus!
>> Be Born in us, every moment!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Dec 26 (Feast of St Stephen)

>> Stones were flying from different directions…

>> The atmosphere was very tense and highly apprehensive…

>> The people had become enraged and were very badly instigated…

St Stephen…. the man filled with the power and spirit of God, however, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God. (Acts 7: 54-56)

And then a surprising thing happened….

>> He saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God!

Usually, we always read or say in our prayers that Jesus is sitting at God’s right hand…

>> But here, Jesus is seen standing!

Jesus is probably giving a standing ovation…. to St. Stephen, the one who became his brave witness.

>> The mighty display of faith by St Stephen was worthy of a standing ovation by the Son of God!

>> The Majestic King was tremendously proud of His Faithful and Committed Soldier!

We are on the first day after Christmas…

Yesterday, we celebrated child Jesus in the crib…

>> We sung the “silent night” and “joy to the world”…

>> We remembered the angels singing “Glory to God in the Highest and Peace to people of good will”…

>> We exchanged a lot of smiles and shared much fun…

But suddenly today, there is a shift…

>> The atmosphere of fun and frolic has turned sombre and serious…

>> The carols of mirth and joy are substituted by cries for death and vengeance…

>> The shining gold vestments at Holy Mass are replaced with blood-red vestments…

The peace and joy of Bethlehem is contrasted by the tragedy and heartbreak at Jerusalem…

Yesterday we celebrated the birth of our eternal King.

>> Today we commemorate the triumphant suffering of His faithful soldier.

Yesterday our King left His place in the Virgin’s womb and was born in the world.

>> Today His soldier leaves the tabernacle of his body and goes triumphantly to heaven.

Yesterday a group of enthused and excited people visited and paid homage to our King.

>> Today, a group of proud and ferociously evil mob execute His soldier!

Why does the Church celebrate this tradition of commemorating the gruesome stoning to death of St Stephen, soon after the celebration of the tender Babe?

The Church’s long tradition of celebrating the memorial of St. Stephen soon after the celebration of the Nativity of Christ, does not serve to demote Christmas, but to continue & manifest more clearly an important meaning of the Christmas celebration.

Christmas essentially means becoming a true disciple of Christ…

>> And a true disciple ought to tread the way of the cross – “If any want to be my disciple, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me” (Lk 9: 23)

Christ the Master, Himself walked this path of trials and difficulties.

>> The signs of suffering and pain were foreshadowed very much already in the Crib of Christ…

>> The manger where the babe was laid, foreshadowed the Cross on which He was to be laid.

>> The swaddling clothes of the babe, foreshadowed the shroud which will cover Him in His tomb.

>> The lack of room in the inn, foreshadowed the lack of room for Him to be buried after His death.

Christmas is the celebration of Life that was pledged to be given up in death, in order to win back life – life in its fullness!

Christmas becomes a true reality when Jesus is born in our hearts…

When Jesus comes to dwell in our hearts, that heart cannot remain without effect.

>> There is a contagious enthusiasm.

>> There is a great transformation.

>> There is a tremendous zeal.

And this birth of Jesus took place in the heart of St Stephen.

>> He underwent a Real Christmas.

He experienced the joy of having Christ born in His life.

And this fact that Christ was born within, led Him to be a dynamic and bold soldier of His King!

>> Nothing could stop Him from being a witness…

>> The experience of Christmas in His life had made St Stephen to be a bold soldier.

>> The experience of Christmas in His life had made St Stephen to stand firm for the truth.

>> The experience of Christmas in His life had made St Stephen to bear the pain of stoning

>> The experience of Christmas in His life had made St Stephen to shed His blood for His Lord

>> Have we also experienced Christmas in a way that transforms and makes us authentic disciples?

>> Have we also celebrated Christmas which makes us to pledge every breath and cell of our life to the Lord?

>> Have we also enjoyed Christmas in order to find immense power and strength in being a true and authentic Christian?

The blood of St Stephen sings the beautiful carols of Jesus who was born in his life!

>> Are we ready to discover still further, the true and genuine meaning of Christmas in our life?

Jesus, the King of kings and the Lord of lords gave a wonderful standing ovation seeing the spectacular display of faith and courage of His Beloved soldier, St Stephen.

Let us also be filled a deep passion and courage that comes from the New Born King and be His Dynamic and Enthusiastic Soldier for His Kingdom!

Happy Feast of St Stephen, the First Martyr of the New Born King of kings!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

CHRISTMAS GOODIES – DAY 25 – “JESUS”

On Day 25 of our “Christmas Goodies”, we shall reflect on “JESUS”

What it Is?

>> The Reason, the Cause and the End of this Festive Season is Jesus!

>> Gal 4: 4 – “When the fullness of time had come, God sent His Son, born of a woman?”

What elements can we learn from this Christmas Goodie – “JESUS”?

1. Jesus, the Divine Babe is the primary reason for the celebration of this Festival

>> Many of us have been preparing for the wonderful day of Christmas, for the last few days, particularly.

>> But sometimes, like runners in a race, there can be a possibility to feel tired, or given in to feel exhausted; sometimes even to give up.

>> But Christmas is to become a new beginning in our life; the days of preparation ought to become the launching pad to lead a more holy and zealous life in the Spirit.

>> Its very much possible, that Jesus – the reason for this season, may get lost in the thickets of celebrations, good food, excited shoppings etc.

>> But the Babe in the Manger, will keep waiting, to be taken home – to one’s heart, to one’s life, to one’s family

2. Jesus, the Divine Babe came primarily as the Saviour of the world

>> “For today in the city of David, a Saviour has been born for you..” (Lk 2:11)

>> Jesus came to the world with a very specific mission: to save people from sin and grant eternal life to those who believe in Him (Jn 10:10)

>> He is the only person Who took birth to die! It was by His death, that He was to achieve the mission of granting life to all.

>> Therefore, the celebration of Christmas has to be primarily a celebration made in “repentance and renewal”

~~ If the heart doesn’t repent, then Christmas can never be celebrated truly!

~~ If the life is not renewed, then Christmas can never become meaningful!

>> Christmas is the story of a God passionately in love with us, and deeply desiring that we belong to Him, and Him alone!

3. Jesus, the Divine Babe desires a place in our hearts

>> Rev 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock”

>> Mother Mary and St Joseph had to lay the newborn Babe in the manger, “because there was no room for them in the inn” (Lk 2: 7b)

>> Christmas is the story of a God Who comes searching for His beloved creation, and knocking at the door of each heart, for a place to be born.

4. Jesus, the Divine Babe, in the manger, is the One who identifies with us, in our weakness

>> God chose (in human terms) probably, one of the “most ridiculous” way of coming into the world – as a tiny infant

>> He is the Creator of the World; the One Who has all powers subject to Him. Yet, He chose to be totally detached (Phil 2: 6-8) and take the form of a little baby – weak, helpless and vulnerable

>> Christmas is the story of a God Who became weak like us, so that we can be strong like Him!

5. Jesus, the Divine Babe deserves a wonderful gift on His Birthday

>> Birthdays become occasions to gift the one who is celebrating.

>> Jesus, the Birthday Baby surely deserves the best gift.

>> But what can we give Him? All what we have and all what we are, comes from God anyways! So is there anything, that I can call of my own?

>> Yes! Probably the only thing which belongs to me, is my sin!

>> This Christmas, beyond all other gifts and preparations, we could gift our “sinful life” to Him.

>> It might feel bad for us to give all that ugly part of our life. But our Blessed Lord invites us to give of our self to Him entirely – broken, weak, dirty, impure, lost- as we are, to Him, so that He can renew us and make us a new person (Rev 21:5 – “Behold, I make all things new”)

>> As Bishop Fulton J Sheen says:

” You give me your humanity, I will give you my divinity.

You give me your time, I will give you my eternity.

You give me your slavery, I will give you my freedom.

You give me your death, I will give you my life.

You give me your nothingness, I will give you my all.”

What resolutions can I practise today?

>> Today I will seek to have Jesus as the centre of all that I am to celebrate in this Festive Season and give Him the rightful place in my heart

>> Today I will deepen my awareness of Jesus as the Saviour of my life, and make practical decisions to let go sinful ways, and offer my heart as a Gift to Baby Jesus on His Birthday!

Yes, Maranatha – Come Lord Jesus!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Dec 25 (Solemnity of Christmas)

Revolutions have changed the course of history and the world has witnessed many revolutions…

The French Revolution, The American Revolution, The Industrial Revolution, The Sexual Revolution, The Green Revolution etc…

>> Each of these revolutions have caused a stir in the society and a significant changes.

>> Each of these revolutions brought a change in the mentality and thought-pattern of peoples.

We live in revolutionary times…

… the world is seeing fast and rapid changes as never before… some horrible and dreadful…

Optimism is being replaced by pessimism…

>> Confidence with fear…

>> People who used to be excited of the future are filled with uncertainty…

In this dramatically disturbed world, we are set to celebrate the Greatest Revolutions of all time “Christmas – the Birth of Jesus, our Saviour – the only unchanging factor in this changing world”!

This revolution started in the most unlikely places of all…

…In an ordinary stable – outside a forgotten village called Bethlehem.

It involved three simple persons on earth – Jesus the babe, Mary the Virgin Mother and Joseph the Just Man – hardly glamorous, significantly unnoticeable and glaringly simple!

Yet… the revolution that began from this Stable has had the greatest effect on humanity.

His birth was to ring in…

… a Political Revolution – He being the King of the World!

… a Social Revolution – Unifying all classes and castes and races!

… an Economic Revolution – Bringing Hope to the poor and the oppressed!

… a Moral Revolution – Emphasizing on intentions of the heart and the mind!

… a Spiritual Revolution – Forgiveness and Salvation for all ready to receive Him!

We could look at some simple, yet significant aspects of this Revolution…

1. The beauty and the greatness of God’s Wisdom is to delight in insignificant things…

God loves to take simplicity in life, and decorate it with His Divine touch!

>> He feasts on ordinary situations and transforms them into amazing moments of Divine Experience!

>> He enjoys to descend into li’l hearts and converts them to glorious dwellings of His Divine Presence!

2. Joseph and Mary, went about place to place, inn to inn, looking for a birth place. (Lk 2:7)

It’s a Divine Paradox that the Creator of the entire Universe sought for a place to be born!

Am I ready to make my the “stable of my heart” ready to receive the Lord?

3. The Lord was born in a manger.

Wood was to escort Jesus, all through His Life…

>> The wooden manger would give Him shelter when He was born…

>> The wooden tools would accompany Him as He grew up as a carpenter…

>> The wooden boat will be His pulpit for preaching His Word on the Kingdom…

>> The wooden cross would be His instrument of Salvation and Redemption of the world…

The wooden manger is be a reminder to us that Christmas is the Season, not just of joy, but also of hardships and responsibilities in life!

4. Christmas is Christ + Mas(s) = the Mass of Christ…. the Sacrifice of Christ!

When we wish Happy Christmas, let’s also remember that the Crib & Cross are two sides of the great sacrifice of Jesus of Nazareth.

In the Crib, Jesus descended from heaven and became weak and vulnerable.

>> On the Cross, Jesus embraced sinfulness of the earth and became helpless and miserable.

The Caravan from the Crib to the Cross is Celebrated and Commemorated at Christmas!

5. Carols will be sung in great festivity on this special day.

There were two types of Carols sung on Christmas Day when Jesus was born.

>> The Carols of Joy when the Angels sang in deep acclamation and mirth – “Glory to God”!

>> The Carols of Pain when the mothers cried in deep pain for their li’l babes who were executed!

There are two types of Carols song even today in our world…

>> The Carols of Joy – people uniting for social justice; hearts turning to the Lord in true contrition; people expressing care & love etc

>> The Carols of Pain – the number of terrorizing acts around the world; families, societies and even churches divided because of money, language, race, caste; increased sense of hopelessness and meaninglessness in life…etc.

Carols ought to remind us of these two aspects… Joy and Pain in life!

When carols of Joy and Pain in life, are sung with Confidence in the Lord, we will be blessed to sing the Carol of Celebration on the Day of Salvation!

6. Christmas is a great time of celebration.

It is the celebration of the Birth of a Baby Jesus who demands space in our Hearts!

Let us take utmost care that during this Christmas, Jesus, the Tiny and Tender Babe not get…

… drowned in the avalanche of cakes and sweets

… buried in the frenzy of shopping and decorations

… drunk in the dirt of revelry and partying

… lost in the celebrations with Santa Claus and exchanging of gifts

Rather, let us make sure that Jesus, the precious and beautiful infant…

… is held close to the heart and given a pledge of our life and love

… is lavished with kisses of our true promises and renewed consecration

… is showered with true smiles of our Love for Him, His Word, His Eucharist & His Church

Yes, Jesus is…and He alone is…and ought to be… the Reason for this Season!

>> May He be born, not just in the crib in houses or church, but in our Hearts and Lives!

Happy Birthday to our Dearest and Beloved Baby Jesus!

>> Congratulations to our Blessed Mamma for Her Yes and to Blessed Joseph for his care!

A Blessed and a Holy Christmas to all of us!

God Bless! Live Jesus….always!