Jan 1 (Solemnity of Mother of God & the New Year 2019)

Two friends were discussing with each on the New Year resolutions that they had made in the past year.

One of them said: “You know, my friend, I have kept up all the 6 resolutions that I made last year!”

The other friend was quite surprised, knowing the character of his mate…

… “Really? How did you manage to do that?

>> I was not able to keep up even one resolution for the whole year!”

“Haha!” laughed the boy, “I knew I will be breaking all my resolutions!

>> So I wrote all the 6 resolutions on a sheet of paper…

… and kept up the paper, high on a cupboard!

So you see… all my 6 resolutions are KEPT UP!”

Well.. it’s that time of the year, when we are called forth to make some resolutions…

…as we enter into a New Year!

Are we ready to sincerely “keep up” our resolutions…

… or are we going to make it a mere customary practice and follow the crowd mentality: “Resolutions are made to break!”

We are on the first day of the New Year 2019…

… and on the 8th day after Christmas – the Octave Day.

We notice that the hustle & bustle of Christmas, the celebrations & merriment of the Festival are slowing waning down…

>> The Crib and the Christmas Tree and the stars which were brightly shining have faded away…

>> The large number of people in Church for Christmas have reduced to a slender one today…

>> The joy and devout mood of the faithful which was on high, seems to have reduced…

Is the message of Christmas slowly being left behind…?

But the Church still dynamically and emphatically keeps up the True Spirit of Christmas.

The Church reminds us that, “The glamour of Christmas may fade…

… but the Glory of Christ will always shine!”

This Octave Day of Christmas, fittingly celebrated as the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God is a reminder to this fact…

…that Christmas is not a one day event; rather a celebration for life.

…that spiritual exercises and movements can’t be limited; rather need to overflow everyday

The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God is a dogma of the Church and the devotion to Mary is one of the great treasures of the Church.

However, often there are many doubts arising and controversies created over Mary, being considered and called as the Mother of God.

But the logic is pretty simple and easy to understand actually…

Premise 1: Mary is the Mother of Jesus

Premise 2: Jesus is fully God and fully Man

Conclusion: Mary is the Mother of Jesus, the fully God and fully Man.

And therefore, Mary is the Mother of God!

>> In honouring Mamma Mary with this title, we acknowledge and give glory to Jesus, fully God and fully Man.

>> In addressing Mamma Mary with this identity, we proclaim and declare emphatically the divinity and humanity of Jesus.

The Motherhood of Blessed Mamma has many implications for us…

>> We are assured of a Maternal protection and care in our journey towards the Lord, when we face crises, problems and difficulties.

>> We are challenged to respond to God’s inspirations, just as She said “Yes” to God’s call to be a partner in the salvation of the world.

>> We are invited to be faithful and committed in being united with Jesus, in the face of any hardships and troubles that come our way.

>> We are exhorted to totally committed and focussed on Jesus and Him alone and to make His Life as the aim, the goal and the foundation of our life.

On this first day of the New Year, the Lord invites us to check & examine our Spiritual Health with a spiritual thermometer….

>> Am I fervent and zealous in my commitment and consecration?

>> Am I passionate and ardent in my Love for Jesus, my Lord?

>> Am I charitable and caring in my dealings with my brothers and sisters?

Let us take some practical resolution for this Year…

… and seek to sincerely “keep up” our resolutions…

>> Let our determination combined with God’s Grace overpower the notion that “resolutions are made to break!”

Blessed Mamma, the Mother of God invites us to hold Her hands and march forward joyfully and fervently on the Path of Faith & Love.

Wish you a Very Happy Feast of Blessed Mamma!

>> Wish you a Blessed New Year 2019!

May we always – all the days of this New Year and the days to come…

… Live Jesus! God Bless!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Let us run to Mary, and as Her little children, cast ourselves into Her Arms with perfect confidence!”

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Dec 31 (Jn 1:1-18)

Let’s play a game together…

(I know, it will be a bit impractical to play… yet, let’s give it a try )

As they say, “there is no harm in trying something to achieve something worthwhile in life!”

The name of the game is ” Guess the Word!”

Ok.. Ready?

Here we go…

All that you need to do is to “Guess which word am I thinking now…!”

>> Yeah, you read it right… Simply guess the Word that I am thinking of… now!

Did I hear someone say “God”?

Well… You are wrong!

“New Year?”… Wrong again!

Hmmm… ” Resolution?” … ” Cross?”… “Celebration?” … “Chocolate?” … “Christmas?”

Sorry… but they are wrong…

Another try?.. Ok….

“Selfie?”…” Food” …”Suffering?” … ” Mass?” … “Books?”… “Flower?”… “Sleeping?”… or some other words?

Well.. sad to say… all your guesses turned out to be wrong!

The right answer…. the word that I am thinking of now is…

… is…” Pencil!”

Did anyone get it right?

>> I doubt…

If you ask me, why was I thinking of a “pencil”.. I will say, “Well, just simply! No reason”

It would have taken you a very long time to guess that word…

… and probably, you would even have never ever guessed that word!

Not that it was too difficult or something abstract…

But simply because there is almost no other way you can think the Word that I have in mind, unless I myself tell it to you!

The point is… “The Word that was thought” will be known clearly only if it is “revealed”!

.. Is it not?

Now let’s take this concept of “Guessing the Word” to the Divine Realm….

Human Beings at every point of time in every civilization, every culture, have sought to know and establish a link and relationship with the Divine

… to know what is the mind of the Divine…

… to guess what is the plan of the Almighty…

… to discern what is the thought of the Supernatural…

>> Some philosophers sought to crack this code by drawing out many theories…

>> Some sages and prophets spent time in deep contemplation and wrote many literatures…

>> Some noble thinkers dedicated their entire lives to put forward doctrines and teachings…

> Some of these we call it as religions.

>> Some as way of life.

>>> Some as philosophies of life.

But none of them were able to clearly know and discern the Divine.

It was just as we played the “guessing the word” game…

>> Many of the guesses were attempted.. some were close…yet, none were fully right!

The Word in the mind of the Divine, would be known clearly only if it is revealed!

And that spectacular instant of revelation is what we call as Incarnation of the Word!

>> The Divine Historic Moment when the Almighty revealed His Word is called Incarnation!

We read in today’s Gospel reading.. John 1: 14, “And the Word became flesh!”

>> The Word in the mind of God took human form in Jesus!

Jesus is the visible, the revealed and the manifested Word of God!

>> Jesus is the Son of God… Jesus is God, the Son!

>> Jesus is the Word made flesh… Jesus is God in human flesh!

What is the impact of this most unique and most spectacular event of history… Incarnation?

>> Humanity which had strayed away from God, now has found another chance to be re-united.

>> Human beings steeped in sin, were provided with an opportunity to be saved and redeemed.

>> Humanity is empowered not with abstract human teachings, but by the Divine Person Himself

>> This is what makes Christianity different from all other ways of life or religions…

>> This is what makes Christianity unique among all other philosophies of life…

> It is utter absurdity for philosophers, for the Infinite to become finite…

> It is purely mythical for the naturalist, for the Transcendent to be understood…

> It is totally unscientific for the rationalist, for Fullness to be reduced to limitedness…

But This is The Truth.

>> This is the Reality.

>> This is the Fact.

In Incarnation, the God of Love was now wrapped in human flesh.

… the Almightiness of God moved in a human arm.

… the Love of God now beat in a human heart.

… the Wisdom of God now spoke from human lips.

… the Mercy of God reached forth from human hands.

You & I are the beneficiaries of knowing the answer of this game “Guessing the Word” which humanity was engaged with the Divine, for centuries!

Jesus is that answer!

>> And Jesus can be the answer to all the problems and difficulties of our lives.

>> Have we allowed Him – Jesus, the Word – to take flesh in ourselves?

>> Have we permitted Him – Jesus the Word – to have an impact in our lifestyle?

>> Have we consented to Him – Jesus, the Word – to become the centre and totality of our lives?

We are on the last day of the year.. and at the threshold of yet another New Year…

As we thank the Lord for the gift of this year 2018…

… with its ups and downs

… with its learnings and experiences

… with its joyful events and sad moments

Let us also realize that…

>> There can be no spectacular resolve

>> There can be no greater discovery

>> There can be no better resolution

>> There can be no higher decision

… than to allow Jesus, the Word to take firm and absolute control of our lives!

Are we ready to usher in the New Year- 2019, with Jesus, the Word taking complete flesh in us?

Yes, He is The Only Way… The Only Truth.. The Only Life – JESUS, THE WORD REVEALED AND MADE FLESH!

Thank You Lord for the Year 2018.

>> We seek to be Holier and “belonging to You more” in 2019!

God bless! Live Jesus!

Dec 30 (Feast of the Holy Family)

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 coziest 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”…

… it is just that we are 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!

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

In which sense is it perfect and ideal?

>> Free from problems…

>> Lack of tensions…

>> Absence of worries and fears…

>> No tension of financial constraints…

>> Abundance of wealth…

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…

>> 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.”

>> 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.

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

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

As we have in the Gospel of the Day, at the age of twelve, Jesus gets lost and His words to them are not understood by the parents…

… 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?

We must understand that Idealness and Perfection…

… comes not as a result of absence of problems and difficulties.

… is attributed not because of being free from any risks or challenges.

Rather, Idealness and Perfection…

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

… is credited because They sought to walk as per the Will of God always!

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!

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 “sources of knowledge” 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 the strength to each other in rough times…

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

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

As we celebrate this Feast of the Holy Family today, let us seek to cultivate (or revive) some (or all) of the following good practices in our families…

1. Coming together for Family Prayer, everyday without fail – and reciting especially the Holy Rosary

2. Making Sunday a special family day – reading/studying a portion of the Bible together, keeping away the TV/mobile for some time at least and spending time specially together

3. Creating a sacred space in the house with holy images/icons – becoming an area of prayer

4. Children seeking blessings from parents before going out

5. Having a small font for Holy Water in the house and regularly blessing oneself

6. Practicing “one virtue a month” together as a family

7. Celebrating “one saint a week/month” – by having special prayers (and) (or) learning more about the Saint

8. Reading a small portion of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” during Family Prayers

9. Going out together as a family – once in a month/three months/ six months/whenever convenient – to reach out in service to someone in need

10. Reading the passages of the Bible (1st Reading, 2nd Reading and Gospel) before going for Mass on Sundays

11. Having meals together – and avoiding electronic gadgets, books during meals

12. Each member of the family making a small prayer- in one’s own personal words – during family prayer.

13. Holding the hands of each other with forgiveness and joy in the heart sometime during family prayer / giving a meaningful sign of peace and joy after the prayer

14. Reciting the Divine Mercy Chaplet

15. Insisting on confession at least every month (or maximum once-in-two-months)

… and many many more!

Yes…

… We need to build and mould 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 29 (Lk2:22-35)

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 age 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 commemorates 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 “cozy 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 fathom 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!

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.

… to stand firm for the truth.

… to bear the pain of stoning

… 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!