Sep 1 (Mt 25:14-30)

Jesus was a classic story-teller. He loved telling stories and parables.

The parables of Jesus are quite simple and often with humble imagery.

>> Probably one of the most touching and best parable of Jesus?

… The Parable of the Prodigal Son!

>> Probably one of the most challenging parable of Jesus for our society?

…The Parable of the Good Samaritan!

>> Probably one of the most hopeful parable of Jesus for the lost ones?

…The Parable of the Good Shepherd!

>> Probably one of the most comforting parable of Jesus for the helpless ones?

…The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus!

>> Probably one of the most merciful and generous parable of Jesus?

… The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard!

And, Probably one of the most practical and feasible parable of Jesus?

…The Parable of the Talents!

Of course, we may have our own opinions and differences and overlappings with respect to this list.

But many of us will surely agree that the Parable of the Talents is a very practical and ‘do-able” parable of Jesus and invites us to shake off our slumber and laziness and awake to a life of responsibility and accountability!

The Gospel of the Day, Mt 25:14-30 presents before us this simple-to-understand and practical-to-follow Parable of the Lord…

… the Parable of the Talents!

Readers are drawn to this Parable because it is simple, clear and easy to understand. And its lessons are hard to miss!!

This parable tells what to do while we live in this world and the need to be responsible and dutiful.

>> The Parable introduces the fact that the servants were judged by the way, they managed the master’s resources.

We learn a very crucial truth from this: “All that we have belongs to God!”

All. Everything. Completely. Totally. Fully………. Belongs to GOD!

We own nothing.

>> We possess no one.

>> We hold no space…

… All belongs to GOD!

He made them…

>> He gave them to us…

>> And one day… He will take them from us again.

Even our life itself is a gift from God.

If only our world and our generation were to grow more and more in this truth…!

How often…

… we hold on to our possessions and go bonkers in preserving and safeguarding them!

… we seek twisted and distorted ways to acquire more wealth and capture vital status and ranks!

… we resort to disgraceful and shameful means to win over positions and powers and authority!

… we play dirty games and indulge in dreadful activities to put down people and go up in dominance!

Another aspect we see the word used in the parable – “talents”.

Usually, when we hear the word “talents” in English, we tend to think of some natural abilities, like playing the piano or being good at some sports or being skilled in painting or knowing how to handle computers etc….

In the time of Jesus, however, the ‘talent’ was referred to a huge amount of money.

One talent would represent approximately 16½ years of salary for a labourer.

>> To give a man two talents would equal around 33 years of salary….

>> To give a man five talents would be like giving him 80 years of salary to invest…

That’s indeed a huge amount, isn’t it?

(…Imagine, how rich would the Owner himself have been!)

But what was the criteria in giving different people a particular amount of money?

>> Each one according to one’s ability

And who made this determination to allocate the amount of money?

>> The Master himself, according to His wish!

Here’s another truth: God is not obligated to treat us, like he treats anyone else.

>> He can give us more or He can give us less than others.

Some have more money and talent and opportunity and strength and health and relationships than others.

>> Others have less money and talent and opportunity and strength and health and relationships!

It’s not about being unlucky.

>> It’s not about our ill-fate.

The Master…has total sovereignty and freedom with what and how much HE wants to give to His people!

This leaves us with a choice:

We can either crib and gripe and grumble and complain about our situation and make excuses and just sit idle!

>> Or….We can accept the given situation we are in and start from where we are and do what we can… to the best!

The Dynamics of Comparison is useless…

… The Tactic of Hard Work is amazing!

The Strategy of Complaining is ineffective…

… The Scheme of Determination is superb!

The Policy of Grumpiness is futile…

… The Approach of Gratefulness is incredible!

The Parable of the Talents is a very Practical Parable that the Lord has offered us!

Yesterday is history… Tomorrow is a mystery… but Today is a GIFT!

>> That’s why, it is called as The PRESENT!

Let’s make this PRESENT a PLEASENT GIFT to the GREAT GIVER…

… by seeking His Grace and combining it with our hard works and determination!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Aug 31 (Mt 25:1-13)

“Take time by the forelock” is a phrase that means ‘to act quickly and decisively” and “not let slip an opportunity”

( “Forelock” is the strand or cluster of hair, growing just above the forehead)

This phrase has an interesting origin…

A statue chiseled by Lysippus (one of the greatest sculptors of the Classical Greek Era in the 4th century BC) stood in one of the cities in Ancient Greece.

This statue…

… had wings

… a lock of hair on the forehead

… and was bald at the back of the head

Underneath this statue, was engraved the following conversation, in a question-answer format…

“Who made thee?”

>> “Lysippus made me.”

“What is thy name?”

>> “My name is Opportunity.”

“Why hast thou wings on thy feet?”

>> “That I may fly swiftly over the earth.”

“Why hast thou a forelock?”

>> “That men may seize me as I come.”

“Why art thou bald on the back of thy head?’?

>> “Because, when I am gone, none can lay hold of me.”

“Opportunity is like this bald-headed man with only a patch of hair right in front.

One has to grab that hair, grasp the opportunity while it’s being confronted…

… else, one will be grasping a slick bald head!”

Is my Christian Life characterized by an enthusiastic response to the many opportunities for blessings that God offers me…?

… or do I ‘doze off’ in lethargy and laziness, letting away many wonderful opportunities and squandering many chances of God’s abundant favours?

The Gospel of the Day presents the Parable of the Ten Virgins, with a strong warning to “make use of every opportunity that life offers” and “to be ever-prepared” in receiving the coming of the Lord.

The parable of the Ten Virgins has its setting in a Jewish Wedding.

In the time of our Blessed Lord, the wedding was probably one of the greatest events in a typical Palestinian village or an Israeli town.

This was a time of great social celebration!

All got together…

… friends, relatives, villagers..

It was a time of great festivity, abounding happiness and overflowing celebrations.

A Jewish marriage consisted of three parts or elements:

1. Engagement

>> It was sort of an official contract between the two fathers, who would be giving their son and daughter to each other.

2. Betrothal

>> This second element consisted of the friends and family members coming together and the couple making vows and promises that were binding.

This phase onwards, they would be officially considered as husband and wife.

3. Marriage

>> The time after Betrothal lasted up to a year, which was for the bridegroom to prepare a place for his bride – either an addition to his father’s house or to have his own

It was to be his concrete expression of showing his love to her – preparing a home for her and preparing his heart and life for her!

At the end of the time that he needed to get it prepared, he would go to take her and bring her to his place – and they would thereafter, live together.

This third phase, therefore was the fulfilment of the eager longing of the bridegroom and bride, in being together for the rest of their life!

The Wedding set-up that is mentioned in today’s Gospel is this scene of the third phase of the wedding.

>> This is the climax of the wedding festivity where the bridegroom goes to get his bride.

This was done in a grand procession through the village, so that all in the village could be part of this festivity.

The Ten Virgins (or bridesmaids) who are mentioned in the Gospel Passage, had the role of performing one of the acts of entertainment.

>> They would have to perform a wedding dance – “torch dance” around the bride and the groom, holding torches.

It would symbolize the light of their love, wishing them a luminous future.

Then the wedding party would go into the house, and the celebration would last for seven long days!

In the parable, it is mentioned that “since the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep” (Mt 25: 5)

It was only when the call that the Bridegroom had arrived was given, that Five of the Virgins realized, that “they brought no oil with them” (Mt 25: 3)

It’s so ironical that the wedding which was such a well-prepared and a long-awaited event, had these five virgins who were so unprepared and so unequipped for the grand moment!

The story of these five virgins who were unprepared (whom our Blessed Lord calls as ‘foolish”) could well be our own stories too..

How often are we too unprepared and unequipped….. missing out on opportunities….

… The Lord gives ample opportunities to get back our life on track, through various Biblical inspirations, talks, retreats, literatures etc.

… There are so many occasions that are provided for us to grow in our virtues, to learn deeper the mysteries of heaven and to illumine ourselves with holy knowledge

… We also get so many chances to build our relationship with one another, to grow in appreciation and praise of other and to discover and nurture the goodness in others

Do we make good use of all such opportunities or do we squander them away?

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Aug 30 (Mt 24:42-51)

>> Sportspersons sweat it out and slog their bodies through a strict routine…

…to achieve the best!

>> Army personnel undergo a hard grilling and a grinding through tough situations…

… to achieve the best!

>> Musicians train their voices and are even extremely cautious in avoiding bad food habits…

… to achieve the Best!

>> Scientists meticulously chalk out their experiments and are very careful in minute aspects…

… to achieve the Best!

Any profession…any activity…to achieve its goal in the best manner possible…

… requires a tough preparation, unabated determination, a constant movement and an unwavering vigilance!

>> We are all aware of these aspects with respect to professional disciplines and careers…

But why is it, that very often, such an attitude & such a principle not get applied to Spirituality or our Christian Life?!

There seems to be…

… a tendency to take our Christian Life as a routine and for granted

… a feeling to live our Spiritual Lives in relaxation and lethargy and sluggishness

… a trend to give least botheration to the aspects of God, Soul, Sin, Grace, Salvation etc

Why does Spirituality most often find the least place in our lives?

>> Why do talks of God figure so little in our daily chats?

>> Why do thoughts of Holiness be entertained least in our minds?

It’s time to wake up from our sleep…

“… know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand.”– Romans 13: 11-12a

The Gospel of the Day sends out this strong message by the Lord…

…. (to) “Stay Awake”… “and Be Alert! ” (Mt 24: 42-44)

The Gospel passage speaks of the Second Coming of the Son of Man…

No one knows the time or the hour.

>> No one knows the context or situation.

Therefore….we need to be alert and watchful at all times.

>> Any time, Any Context, Any Signs!

In verse 44, the Lord says, “You must be prepared”… or “You must be ready” or “You must be alert”.

>> When Abraham was prepared to give up his Beloved Son Isaac…

… he encountered the glory of God!

>> When Moses was ready to follow God and trust Him completely…

… he encountered the power of God!

>> When the Israelites were ready to cleanse themselves and prepare…

… they encountered the Majesty of God!

>> When the Prophets were willing to let go and abandon fully to God’s hands…

… they encountered the Voice of God!

>> When Mother Mary was consenting to God’s Will in Her life…

… she encountered the ‘Grace’fulness of God!

>> When the Apostles were eager to wait in humility and prayer….

… they encountered the Spirit of God!

When we are willing to be prepared and be ready…

… we will experience the mighty touch and presence of God!

One of the biggest reasons why a Christian fails to take one’s faith seriously is because of Procrastination…

>> We mould ourselves to thinking that there is time for all this later…

… we still have years ahead to repent and atone!

Like St Augustine before his conversion, we too often say, “Give me chastity and continence…

… but not yet!”

And this certainly is one of Satan’s most successful strategies in today’s world: To show there is still time…

>> Satan doesn’t prevent us from having thoughts of prayer…

… but he says: “not now, do it a little later.”

>> Satan doesn’t prevent us from having aspirations of fasting…

… but he says: “not now, do it a little later.”

>> Satan doesn’t prevent us from engaging in works of charity…

… but he says: “not now, do it a little later.”

And we, busy with our daily schedules…like ignorant fools…

… find that suggestion practical and feasible!

Today the Lord gets serious in His tone…and warns us ,”Watch! Be alert!”

We give the best in our workplaces… in areas of sports and music… army people & scientists slog to be the best…

>> But why are we slackening when it comes to our Faith and our Christian Life?

We invest our time and money and energy, often only for materialistic and passing things of the world!

>> But today, let us seek to invest of ourselves in service of the Kingdom and to prepare for the Lord’s coming

Our souls are searching… our bodies are agitated and distressed…

… money, positions, power, sex, drugs, alcohol, pleasures, films, criticizing others, passing judgment on others, hidden agenda etc..

>> None of these will satisfy or gratify us!

Let us seek and thirst for the the One whom our souls are searching….

In the words of St Augustine: “You have made us for yourself, O God…. and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Aug 29 (Mk 6:17-29)

” I am the voice….” (Jn 1:23) .

>> This voice was powerful.

>> This voice changed many.

>> This voice was a hope to many.

This voice, however, also disturbed a few…

… disturbed even to the point of revenge and vengeance.

And……slit…..!!

>> This voice was silenced!!!

The Voice was of St John the Baptist, who was martyred for his faith and for the Truth!

The world has witnessed many murders.

>> Many murders have had dangerous ploys…inhuman strategies….and heartless planning

The Gospel of the Day also presents before us a murder…

>> One which ranks among the top-list: The Brutal Beheading of the Voice – John the Baptist!

The Beheading of John the Baptist is one of the most brutal and visually-powerful incident in the entire Gospels.

John the Baptist was a Prophet.

>> And a True Prophet is a truth-teller!

As we read in today’s Gospel, this True Prophet, John, was the whistle-blower in crying “foul” over the illegitimate relationship between Kind Herod and his brother’s wife, Herodias.

Herodias hated John the Baptist…

>> She hated him because he told the truth & she didn’t like the truth.

>> She was determined to twist the truth into a lie & the lie into a truth.

Therefore, at the earliest opportunity, Herodias sought to direct her revenge upon the truth teller!

>> She wanted to get rid of that “crazy man” who was determined to put a moral mirror in front of her face.

Herodias, wanted this Voice to be silent!!

To silence the true voices of the society, is the bane of any generation…

>> How many a “Voice-for-morality” of the Church…

… is put to silence, by modernists and liberalists

>> How many a “Voice-of-correction” of parents…

… is put to silence by disobedient children

>> How many a “Voice-for-peace” of innocent people…

… is put to silence, by fanatics and fundamentalists

How many a “Voice-for-justice” of the citizens…

… is put to silence, by a negligent government.

How many a “Voice-for-repentance” of a spouse…

… is put to silence by an irresponsible and careless partner

How many a “Voice-for-holiness” of the Lord…

… is put to silence, by superfluous spiritualties and comfy theologies

The Voice of Truth cries…

… but how many of us, seek to silence it!

Yes, the lives of Conscience-movers and truth-tellers are always at a risk.

And this risk can even lead one to be a misfit in the society…

… to be “different from others”

… to even risk one’s life!

St John the Baptist had the courage to be the truth-teller and risk his life…

… even to be a martyr!

What are the characteristics of a True Martyr?

1. Martyrs get killed not just for their convictions… but for EXPRESSING their convictions:

‘Play Safe’ is an ad-tag in which many Christians find refuge.

>> “Keep your mouth shut”

>> ” Don’t offend people around us”

>> ” It is better to be silent than sorry”

… these are some of the common phrases which we Christians adopt, in moments of injustice, corruption, inequality & unfairness!

But true Martyrs ARTICULATED and DISPLAYED and EXPRESSED and UTTERED their faith!….

>> Yes, they witness their Faith as a true martyr!

A true Martyr is a bold Witness!

St John the Baptist was not silent…he expressed and articulated the mistakes…

… and so he was martyred!

2. Martyrs don’t get swayed by popular opinions and cheap popularity

A true martyr is not one who checks the pulse of public opinion & makes a statement to “please and satisfy” people.

A Martyr has the guts…

… to go against an oppressive and discrimination culture!

… to voice out against an unjust and demeaning authority!

… to stand firm in the midst of rippled spiritualties and patterns!

St John the Baptist was unfazed and unmoved before the royal immoral powers…

… and so he was martyred!

3. Martyrs are willing and prepared to lay down their lives.

Martyrs are not escapists…who want to die to run away from the grinds of life!

Rather, they are people who are wholly prepared & enthusiastically willing to die, for the sake of their convictions!

>> They are passionate and intensely in love with their faith and their convictions!

>> They are unaffected and impassive to the dangers and risks that are involved!

St John the Baptist knew that he was walking precariously on the rope of risks…

… and he was always ready for it!

Today, You and I….are invited to be a Voice…

…in a voiceless…in a voice-oppressed…in a voice-drowned…in a voice-killed…world!

We are called to be ‘A voice of Truth’…

… “A Voice of correction”

… ” A Voice for morality”

… ” A Voice for peace”

… ” A Voice for justice”

… ” A Voice for repentance”

… ” A Voice for holiness”

St John the Baptist dared to be that VOICE – ” I am the voice….!” (Jn 1:23)

Shall we too dare?

God bless! Live Jesus!

Aug 27 (Mt 23:13-22)

A common story is told of two brothers who were well known around town for their crooked business dealings and underworld connections.

>> They were highly mean and cold-blooded in their dealings.

Eventually, one of the brothers died.

>> The surviving brother wanted to give his dead brother a funeral fit for a king.

He called the funeral home and made all the arrangements.

>> Then he called a famous minister of the town, and promised him a huge amount of money…

… On the condition that in his Funeral Speech, the minister would call his brother as a saint!

The minister agreed.

The whole town turned out for the funeral…

… and the minister began: “The man you see in the coffin was a vile and debauched individual.

>> He was a liar, a thief, a deceiver, a manipulator, a reprobate, and a hedonist.

>> He destroyed the fortunes, careers, and lives of countless people in this city, some of whom are here today.

>> This man did every dirty, rotten thing you can think of.

But… I must tell you one important thing as well…

>> Compared to his brother, he was a saint!”

The world today has many people who seek to only “put on a show from the outside”…

… To gain name and fame

… To earn a good repute in the society

>> But “within” are full of corruption and deceit!

Do I also carry this tendency of only putting on an “external show”…

… But fail to possess true and inner virtues?

The Gospel of the Day mentions people who had achieved a sort of perfection and expertise in the field of acting…

… and making people believe by their subtle behaviours

>> The Pharisees and Teachers of the Law… models of “Acting” and “Deception” and “Fraud”…

Jesus during His ministry on the earth worked always with one kind of a sinner or another.

And it’s amazing to see the way He treated them all..

Sinners were considered with respect and dignity….Prostitutes were given respect and worth…

Tax collectors were accorded value and importance…Lepers were offered acceptance and favour…

He often forgave people’s sins as He healed their broken and diseased bodies.

Jesus loved the sinners….he loved them so much that He wanted them to be always released from the clutches and slavery to Satan!…

But JESUS HATES SIN!!!…..

He hates sin with a great passion and rebuked it whenever He could!

One of the Sins to which He had the most hatred…

… was the Sin of Hypocrisy!

One of the Sins to which He reserved His best condemning words…

… was the Sin of Hypocrisy!

One of the Sins to which He lashed out and which gained His greatest abuses…

… was the Sin of Hypocrisy!

The English word, “hypocrite,” comes from the Greek word, “hypocresis” which is the Greek word for “actor.”

A good “hypocresis” is a good actor.

>> A good actor is good at playing a part, playing a role and a playing a character…

Jesus today vehemently and quite heatedly labels the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law as ‘Hypocrites’!

The sin of Hypocrisy is a deadly one….. Have I become a prey to this deadly and poisonous Sin?

>> I am hypocritical…when I profess to be a Christian…but don’t even seek to live the Gospel values in my life!

>> I am hypocritical… when I say I love God above all..but don’t find even few moments to be with Him in prayer!

>> I am hypocritical… when I say I love others…but constantly hurt with my words and fail to appreciate them!

>> I am hypocritical… when I receive the Eucharist…but fail to even try to give my life in service for others!

>> I am hypocritical… when I recite many prayers…but do not seek to listen or do God’s Will in my life!

>> I am hypocritical… when I, as a Priest/ Religious…have failed to even try to give God the first place in my life!

>> I am hypocritical… if as a Church member.. have failed to even try to follow her commands and regulations!

The habit of hypocrisy is a lethal one…Have I become a victim to this noxious and fatal Habit?

When we read this passage of the Gospel.. we must also keep in mind one basic principle…

>> Jesus is not making a blanket condemnation of the whole group of people…rather He criticizes and condemns the attitude and their mentality

• The Sin is hated….not the sinner! The Sin is to be thrown away…but the sinner is given a chance to repent! The Pharisee is not hated….but Pharisaism is condemned!

• The Lord is a tough task-master… He loves not to dilute His teachings and His policies.

Such condemning passages and harsh extracts may leave us with a feeling..

“All this demand of the Lord seems all too difficult for me… Who at all can live in perfection?

Is there any person who can claim not be living in duplicity?

I fail to find a good example in today’s world…and therefore, I think, this is neither practical nor feasible!”

But the Lord rushes to our rescue & tells …..”What’s impossible for humans is possible for God….What is needed is a genuine attempt at perfection…a true longing to be free from duplicity…a solid motivation to live a harmonious life”

We may be “acting” very well in the stage of life…maybe knowingly…maybe unknowingly…

But today, the Lord wants us to examine our lives…and set things right…

With deep love, He encourages and motivates us through St Paul and his companions, “…we constantly pray for you; may our God make you worthy of His calling. May He, by his power, fulfill your good purposes and your work prompted by faith!” (2 Thess 1:11-12)

Let us do away with the Habit of Hypocrisy…

.. and genuinely grow in Authenticity and Faithfulness!

Today we shall seek the intercession of St Monica, the saintly mother of St Augustine…

… whose prayer and intercession would lead to the conversion of the great Saint Augustine.

May we do away with the tendency of only putting on an “external show”…

… and instead seek to possess true and inner virtues!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Aug 26 (Jn 6:60-69)

“Tom Brown’s School Days” is an 1857 novel by Thomas Hughes.

The story is set in the 1830s at Rugby School, a public school for boys.

>> Much of the novel is based on the author’s experiences in the school.

There is a fine passage in Tom Brown’s School Days which tells of a boy who had the courage to stand up against ridicule.

A new boy – a Christian – had come to the school.

>> On his first night, in a room where there were twelve beds and boys, he knelt down to say his prayers.

But the boy became the object of ridicule and fun…

…others began to make poking comments

…some others began to laugh and giggle, humiliating him and his faith.

Tom Brown had been observing all the while.

>> It was at that time, that Tom also saw a heavy slipper flying through the air toward the head of the kneeling boy.

But the boy remained unperturbed and finished his prayers.

When the lights went out a little later, Tom Brown thought of his own mother, and the prayers that she had taught him to say, but which he had never said since he came to Rugby.

>> Then and there he made a decision that the next time he went to bed, he, too, would say his prayers.

When that next night came, the other boys in the room, ready to laugh and scoff at this newcomer who said his prayers, were amazed to see Tom Brown, whom they all respected and feared, kneel down at the side of his bed and pray.

The courageous prayer of the boy, in spite of the ridicule, won the respect of all his companions!

Yes, Christianity demands…

>> And only the ones who are willing to respond to these demands are worthy of being the Followers of the Lord.

It pays to be a Christian!

>>> It costs much to be a Follower of Christ!

In the Gospel of the Day, the Lord is pretty straight-forward and candid in His challenging requirements and would even ask us, as He asks His disciples, “Do you also wish to go away?” (Jn 6: 67)

We are at the concluding portion of the 6th Chapter of the Gospel of St John – known as the chapter on the Discourse of the Bread of Life.

The hearers of Jesus, from the beginning of this Chapter have been taken through a very intriguing path…

>>> It began with the fragrance of compassion and mercy being radiated by the Lord in the multiplication of the loaves (Jn 6: 1-15)

>>> This fragrance developed into an aura of authority and power that was displayed in the incident of the walking on the water (Jn 6: 16-21)

>>> This aura began to radiate more gloriously through His teachings on He being the Bread of Life (Jn 6: 22-59)

>>> This glorious splendour was further revealed and explained when He declared Himself as the Son of Man who would ascend to where He was (Jn 6: 61-62)

The Chapter, as it’s nears the conclusion, finds many of the hearers abandoning Christ.

Therefore we read, “As a result of this, many of His disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied Him” (Jn 6:66)

It seemed nice and wonderful to be the followers of Christ, when He provided food to their satisfaction

… But when there was a demand made by Christ, the “goody-goody” feelings disappeared and they began to reject Him!

Is this not the attitude that is prevalent among many of the Christians… including we, perhaps?!

As long as the ground of our lives, receives the continual showers of favours being granted and prayers being instantly heard, we feel nice with the Lord.

… But in the times when the ground has to experience the drought of delays in prayers and absence of the rains of consolation, we feel to do away with the ways of the Lord!

As long as the garden of my life, is blessed with the flowers of prosperity, security and comforts, we remain happy to be with the Lord

… But in the circumstances when the garden goes dry and the weeds of misery begin to crop up, we feel to abandon the presence of the Lord and tread our own wills!

And therefore the Lord asks us, “Do you also wish to go away?” (Jn 6: 67)

Faith in the Lord is no cheap thing!

>> It indeed costs to be faithful!

The History of the Bible is replete with examples for this fact…

>> It cost…

… Abraham in giving up Isaac, his beloved, in order to prove his faith in the Lord

… Moses to let go off his weaknesses and frailties, in order to become the leader of a vast multitude

… Daniel to be cast into the den of lions in being a faithful warrior of the Lord

… Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to pass through the ordeals of the fiery furnace in proving to be loyal to the Lord during the time of King Nebuchadnezzar

… Stephen a painful death by being stoned in order to witness his daring courage in the Lord

… cost Peter to be nailed upside down to stand firm as the rock of faithfulness and commitment

Yes, Christianity demands…

>> And only the ones who are willing to respond to these demands are worthy of being the Followers of the Lord.

What is it costing us to be faithful to our Lord and King?

Often times, our practice of Christian faith enters, tiptoed and slyly, into the halls of comfort and coziness…

> A Baptism received long ago…

>> Some Sacraments obtained now and then…

>>> A few Church obligations completed once in a way…

>>>> Some occasionally unavoidable practise of piety and devotion…

This is all that sometimes it “costs” us in being a Christian!

But the Lord today powerfully seeks to shake off the dusts of lethargy and casualness and confronts us, “Do you also wish to go away?”

Our remaining with the Lord, ought not to be in mere words, but also in deeds and actions

Being with the Lord demands…

… that we grow in our zeal and love for the Lord

… that we become an extension of Christ to the needy

… that we strive to be passionate proponents of His love and mercy

Yes, let us be fervent in the stipulations of being a Christian…

… and be willing to respond to those demands that make us worthy of being the Followers of the Lord.

May our Christian lives be encompassed by a deep love for the Lord and may we rise up to the challenge to remain loyal and faithful to the demands placed on us by Christ, our Powerful and Mighty King!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Aug 25 (Mt 23:1-12)

Maundy Thursday is associated with a customary practice that is followed in many of the Churches all around the world…

It consists of choosing of twelve persons from the Church – based on various parameters or criteria.

>> These twelve are given the “privilege” to have the feet washed by the Main Celebrant (usually the parish priest) during the Holy Mass.

This is a symbolic remembrance of the “washing of the feet” that Jesus had undertaken on the evening of the Last Supper.

Preaching on this custom, on a Holy Thursday, a priest once spoke the following in his sermon:

“There are twelve of us, who have been chosen from among us, whose feet will be washed this evening.

Perhaps, there were many others also who had a desire that their feet also be washed.

>> Probably, some of you, children, are dreaming of growing up faster in life, so that one day, you too may be chosen to have your feet washed.

But here is a point to be considered…

Most of us probably are thinking only about ‘having our feet washed’.

But I really do wonder, how many of us – be it those who have got a chance or those who have missed – think also of ‘being the one who washes the feet of others?’

We all probably are desiring and wishing only for the chair, to be seated, and have our feet washed.

>> But how many of us also wish and desire for the ‘towel’?”

It was his direct way of telling that there were very few who will to be the last, the least and the lowest in the Church, the Body of Christ.

Am I a person who is willing to lower myself in humility?

Jesus says in today’s Gospel, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Mt 23: 12)

The 23rd Chapter of the Gospel of St Matthew begins with Jesus turning the attention of His disciples and of the crowds, towards the Scribes and the Pharisees.

Focusing on the religious leaders and on their practices, Jesus launches a volley of critically true statements, a string of their hypocritical misconduct and a barrage of their wicked misdeeds!

The chapter ends with the “Painful Lament” by Jesus over Jerusalem – the city of the Lord!

One of the highlights in this highly volatile and strongly-worded Chapter is the number of times Jesus mentions the two groups of people – “Scribes and Pharisees”

There is, in total, 7 occurrences of the phrase, “Scribes and Pharisees” – a biblical number for totality!

This Chapter is a therefore, a full-blown critique and condemnation of the ways of the Scribes and Pharisees.

Why is Jesus so outright in His condemnation, so merciless in His usage of words and so blatant in His attacks on the Scribes and Pharisees?

(Meanwhile, when we go through these critical attacks of our Blessed Lord on this group, one must always remember the words of Jesus Himself: “I have come not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Lk 5:32)

>>> There was deep pain in the heart of the Lord, in seeing the way religion was being manhandled, misused and misinterpreted by the religious leaders of His time

>>> As the Son of His Beloved Father, it was hurting for the Son to see a section of people, trampling upon God’s precious and venerable truths, and twisting them for their own self-interests and self-agenda

>>> A strong form of condemnation was reserved only to those who were hardened in heart – as a means for them to repent and turn back their ways to the Lord. The method of ‘sharp condemnation’ was reserved only to the proud and the arrogant; never to the poor sinners!)

The reason for Jesus making a scathing attack on the religious authorities of His times, could be summarized into one crucial point: Glorification of one’s own self at the expense of the Glory of God and the Mercy deserving for His people!

Therefore, Jesus goes on to point out the many occasions and circumstances when the Self-Interest of the Pharisees and Scribes took extreme priority over God Himself!

It is this self-centred and self-glorifying act that makes Jesus to tell, “For they preach, but they do not practise!” (Mt 23: 3b)

How easily can this be our own state of affairs, in our life…!

We may be people…

… who “appear” to be very fine and kind – but perhaps, we are persons who find it too hard to let go of our pride, in reaching out to the needy, in humble service!

… who speak a lot on helping others and being generous – but perhaps, we go through grilling moments in lowering ourselves and adopting a lowly status to extend a helping hand!

… who desire happiness in communities and peace at homes – but perhaps, we discover

ourselves to be persons who are unwilling to let go of my ego and allow a listening ear to the views and opinions of others!

The call, today, therefore is…

… ” to work for a cause – not applause

… to live life to express – and not simply to impress!”

Following the Great example of Jesus, may we dare to pick up the “towels” of service and kindness and live a life “clothed in humility!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!