Jun 19 (Mt 6:1-6, 16-18)

A legendary story goes is told of a holy person who lived an extremely virtuous life.

>> The goodness in him diffused, as a flower would spread its fragrance.

So impressed were the angels, that they came down to enquire on his secrets and even to offer him special gifts of miracles and thus he could gain more popularity and fame.

>> They offered him the gift of the “touch of his hand” – so that he would be able to heal the sick or raise the dead…

… But he refused, saying that “God alone could heal”

>> Then, they offered him the “power of conversion” – so that people could turn to God in repentance…

… But he refused, saying that “the Holy Spirit alone could work repentance in souls”

>> Then they offered the power to be a “model of goodness” so that many more would be drawn to him by the virtue of his life…

… But he refused, again, saying that “if all are drawn to him, people would be away from God”

Puzzled, the angels asked him what gift did he desire!

The holy person replied:

“Grant me the gift of humility…

… so that I might do good to all, without me even knowing it!”

And so the angels interceded to God…

… and he was blessed:

>> Wherever his shadow would fall, where he himself could not see it…

… the shadow would cure sicknesses, heal broken hearts and bring back people to God in repentance!

Humility was the virtue that was sought by the virtuous person…

… and it was this simplicity to allow the Lord to take complete possession of all his goodness, that exalted him to climb the ladder of sanctity higher!

Yes, Humility is the prime virtue that needs to embellish the life of every Christian.

The Gospel of the Day is a teaching by Jesus on the prime importance of doing away with pride and instead, beautifying one’s life with sincere humility.

Jesus, through the Sermon on the Mount continues to target the key areas of one’s Christian living.

Today He speaks on the three core practices that were essential pious practices of His time: almsgiving, prayer and fasting.

Jesus condemns the practice of these devout exercises becoming instruments to show-case one’s pride and exhibit pomp and self-glory.

·      With respect to almsgiving, Jesus says…

… “sound no trumpet”

·      With respect to prayer, Jesus says…

… “shut the door and pray to your Father”

·      With respect to fasting, Jesus says…

…”anoint your head and wash your face”

One of the fundamental aspects in the Spirituality of Jesus is His emphasis on the intention of the heart.

>> Sin is…

…  when the heart rejects the working of the Spirit.

>>  Holiness is…

… when the heart accepts the grace of the Spirit.

·      When the heart consents to evil, sin occurs

·      When the heart consents to grace, goodness is affirmed.

>> An act of almsgiving happens, when the heart willingly gives – in generosity and with wholeheartedness

>>  An act of prayer happens, when the heart seeks communion with the Lord – in openness and with faithfulness

>>  An act of fasting happens, when the heart self-sacrifices and renounces – in sincerity and with willingness

When the intention of the heart is genuine and sincere, then one remains least bothered of external attractions and publicity…

… there is no desire to seek for attention and appreciation for one’s devout actions

… there is no inclination to want acknowledgement and recognition for one’s pious deeds

And this is the ideal to which Jesus invites us:

>> A religion that spreads not simply on the basis of external shows..

…but on the basis of genuine spirituality

>> A faith that grows not merely on the strength of pompous deeds…

… but on the foundation of true dependence and trust in the Lord

Is my practice of religion resembling a peacock’s display of feathers – wanting to flaunt one’s pride and vain glory – but in the process…

…  exposing one’s unattractive face of life?

… revealing one’s cheap side of life?

Let us give heed to the wisdom from the book “Imitation of Christ” and seek to grow in humility and  dependence on the Lord:

“Do not think yourself better than others lest, perhaps, you be accounted worse before God who knows what is in man.

>> Do not take pride in your good deeds, for God’s judgments differ from those of men and what pleases them often displeases Him”

May we take concrete and practical decisions to practise the three pillars of Christian Piety – Fasting, Almsgiving and Praying…

… in its truest sense.

>> And may this be our prayer to enshrine all our activities:

“Grant me the gift of humility…

… so that I might do good to all, without me even knowing it!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “The most perfect degree of humility is to take pleasure in contempt and humiliations.

>> Contempt suffered patiently for love of Him is worth more before God…

… than a thousand fastings and disciplines!”

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Jun 18 (Mt 5:43-48)

Myopia is a commonly found eye condition.

>> Popularly, it is also called as “near-sightedness” or “short-sightedness”.

It is a state of the eye that causes distant objects to appear blurred, while close objects can be seen clearly.

Coming from the greek word, “muōpia”, which literally means “trying to see like a mole”…

… Myopia is a condition of the eye that causes the image that one sees, when looking at a distant object, to be out of focus, but in focus when looking at a close object.

Well, this short-sightedness or myopia is limited to not just the physical eye…

>> It can also easily be applicable to our general outlook of life or our spiritual life.

Yes, it is often found that one becomes short-sighted in life – seeing things only as they appear at the moment, and unable to take the long view of matters.

>> This is “spiritual myopia”

>> This is “spiritual short-sightedness”

The Gospel of the day presents Jesus inviting us to become aware of the presence of a possible “spiritual myopia” in our lives and to take measures to get rid of this condition.

The passage begins with the statement.. “You have heard that it was said….. But I say to you” (Mt 5: 43)

It must be borne in mind that the region in and around the ministry of Jesus, was multicultural and multilingual.

>> Under the Roman Empire, there was an infusion of languages… Latin, Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew…

Many of the common people of Israel usually spoke in Aramaic or Greek and perhaps Latin.

In this multi-linguistic situation, the reading and understanding and interpretation of the Scriptures (which was in Hebrew) was mainly by the religious leaders of the time – the Pharisees and the Scribes.

This therefore gave them the chance to interpret the Scriptures in a manner that reflected their own personal and biased teachings.

>> As time passed, this style of interpretation finally led to the situation that just observing the Law in an outward allegiance was sufficient in fulfilling God’s demands.

The spirit of the law was sacrificed for the letter of the law!

>> The inner dimensions and requirements were abandoned.

A “spiritual myopia” had crept in…

>> A “spiritual short-sightedness” had overpowered them…

·       They were fixed only to doing the stipulations, but failed to live the spirit of the Law

·       They were limited to a vision of doing only the externals, but got blind to the internals.

And therefore, Jesus warns the people to be aware of this “spiritual myopia” and to see beyond…

…to the real requirements of the law

…to the core of God’s commandments

                                                                          

Jesus attacks the method which interpreted Scripture with a limited vision and perspective…

He contrasts the Pharisees’ interpretation of the law with the law’s real meaning, by using the formula :”You have heard that it was said to those of old. . . . But I say to you . . .”

Six times in the second half of Matthew 5, Jesus uses this formula…speaking about…

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… anger (Mt 5: 21-22)

… adultery (Mt 5: 27-ikuj28)

… divorce (Mt 5: 31-32)

… oaths (Mt 5: 33-34)

… retaliation (Mt 5: 38-39)

… loving enemies (Mt 5: 43-44)

>> Each time Jesus described the “limited” interpretation of the law…and each time He “broadened” the vision of the law.

>> Each time Jesus exposed the “myopic” understanding of the law…and each time, He “enlarged” the understanding of the law.

Am I also in a condition of a “spiritual myopia”?

… limited in my vision of the love of God and failing to extend His charitable love to all

… limited in my vision of the law of God and being stuck to my egoistic interpretations

… limited in my vision of the mercy of God and blocking it from reaching our enemies.

Am I also in a condition of a “spiritual short-sightedness”?

… having eyes fixed only on materialistic aspects and failing to see heavenly realities

… having eyes fixed only on what happens externally and failing to understand inner facts

…having eyes fixed only on being pious outside and failing to have a genuine intimacy within

In the Nazareth Manifesto, at the beginning of His public ministry, Jesus declared that He has been sent, “to proclaim…recovery of sight to the blind…” (Lk 4:18)

Let us seek the grace of the Lord

… to have our eyes touched

… and thus to be healed of our spiritual “myopia”

God Bless ! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Retire at various times into the solitude of your own heart, even while outwardly engaged in discussions or transactions with others…

… and talk to God.”

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Jun 17 (Mt 5:38-42)

The TIME magazine, in its declaration of Jesus, as the Man of the Millennium, proclaimed:

“The single most powerful figure – not merely in these two millenniums but in all human history – has been Jesus of Nazareth…

… a serious argument can be made that no one else’s life has proved remotely as powerful and enduring as that of Jesus.”

One of the reasons for this Massive Influence of Jesus, was His uncompromising and ever-bold attitude with respect to sin, evil and living a life of total love!

The Gospel of the Day presents this lofty teaching of Jesus on non-retaliation and the power of forgiving love.

One of the highly debatable and confusing teachings of Jesus is contained in today’s Gospel reading.

Jesus says, “Do not resist the one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the one cheek, turn to him the other also” (Mt 5: 39)

This verse could easily raise a lot of doubts and questions…

>> Did Jesus mean that a Christian should be passive to evil?

>> Did Jesus teach that we should suffer unnecessarily in the face of social evils?

>> Did Jesus teach passivity and being lethargic when one encounters wickedness and evil?

The one direct answer to all such doubts is seen in the light of the life of Jesus Himself…

>> He was always actively against evil and sinful activities

>> He was a constant opponent to oppression, condemnation and human wickedness

Then what would have Jesus meant by those strong phrases of “resist evil.. and turning one’s cheeks?”

There could be, speaking in general terms, three responses to evil:

1. Opposing with violence

2. Bearing everything passively

3. A courageous non-violence

The first two responses are also popularly called as Fight or Flight

…either FIGHT against the evil… or take FLIGHT from the evil situations

>> FIGHT: oppose with evil and violence

>> FLIGHT: run away from the situation or passively be submissive

But the way of Jesus is a higher one… a much higher and bolder one: the way of ACTIVE NON-VIOLENCE.

The Greek word that is used by St Mathew, for “resist” is “antisthemi”

‘Antisthemi’ is not a passive or a weak term.

>> It was a classical Greek ‘military’ term.

It means…

… to take a stand against, to oppose or to resist

… to establish one’s position publicly by conspicuously “holding one’s ground,”.

… It means refusing to be moved (” being pushed back”)

This clearly shows that “to resist evil” is not merely a passive act of submission…

… rather is a firm, courageous and bold action of holding onto one’s convictions of truth and opposing every reaction to subdue truth.

This is further illustrated in the example that Jesus gives, “of turning one’s cheek, when hit on the right cheek”

In the culture of Jesus, the left hand was commonly used for unclean tasks, and only the right hand was considered appropriate for such actions as striking another person.

Now, its common sense to note, that if one hits with the right hand, it would hit the other person only on the “left” cheek.

Therefore, if the person is hit on the “right” cheek, as in the example of Jesus, it simply means, that one was hit with a “back-hand”.

What is the significance of a back-handed slap?

>> A backhanded slap, had a greater message than merely hurting or causing pain…

>> Instead, it meant to be an act of “severe” humiliation… of “terrible” insult!

A backhand slap, in the time of Jesus, was the usual way of admonishing inferiors:

Masters backhanded slaves; husbands, wives; parents, children; men, women; Romans, Jews.

What is the response that Jesus suggests for such an act of dreadful humiliation?

>> Not Fight… Not Flight.

Rather, a strong and bravely opposing act of courage: “turn the other cheek as well!”

It is a calculated response intended to invite the aggressor to consider his or her actions.

>> This bold action of turning one’s cheek robs the oppressor of the power to humiliate.

It is as if the oppressed person is saying,

“Try again if you want, buddy!

Your first blow failed to achieve its intended effect.

>> I deny you any power to humiliate me!”

This was how our Blessed Lord who gave this supremely lofty teaching demonstrated in His life… by dying on the Cross!

>> The Cross was a powerful opposition to evil and sin.

The One who died on the Cross did not die a passive death…

>> Rather, He boldly preached against every act of oppression and mightily spoke against every form of discrimination!

As Christians, we need to be bold and courageous to “resist” every evil and sinful deed.

In Christ, we have a teaching that is not passive, but is “extremely” active and powerful.

To merely FIGHT or simply make a FLIGHT in the face of oppressions, is cheap and ordinary…

>> In fact, it is “no spirituality”.

But to “be bold in one’s convictions” and “to oppose” evil, even to the point of giving up one’s life, is a lofty, supreme and mighty spirituality.

>> Jesus embodied this spirituality.

>> Many great men and women in history have been inspired by it and lived it.

As Christians, the followers of the Bold Jesus, are we ready to embrace this “powerful” spirituality?

>> Let us become…. Agents and Ambassadors of true love…destroying evil forces with goodness!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) –”Nothing is so strong as gentleness…

… nothing so gentle as real strength!”

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Jun 16 (Solemnity of the Holy Trinity)

A story is told of various fruits, coming together for a discussion.

The topic of discussion was to know the reason, why no other fruit, but the grape, contains juice, from which the best wines were ma    de.

They also discussed from the Biblical perspective, as to how, the wine from the grape, is an important element in Sacred Scriptures.

“Her drink is famous throughout the world”, declared all the other fruits.

>> “Why is she more worthy, than we are, to be so blessed by God?”, they asked one another.

A cluster of grapes, which were hanging nearby in the garden, heard the complaint and told them:

“All of you grow individually – each one to oneself and by oneself.

But we, grapes, always, grow in bunches.

>> We always hang on to each other.

That is our nature – that is the only way we can grow.

And it is this mutual dependence on one another, that puts something special into the wines that come forth from us!”

Mutual dependence, selfless unity and constant integration with one another, was their nature – and this brought the best in them.

These qualities, also ought to become the nature in our own families, communities and society – and that will bring out the best in us!

Adoration of the Trinity (detail), Albrecht Dürer, 1511, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Our God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – the Blessed Trinity is the Perfection of this Mutual Dependence, Selfless Unity and Constant Integration with one another!

Today, as we celebrate the Great Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, we are invited to grow into this Nature of our God.

The Dogma of the Blessed Trinity is indeed the most fundamental, yet the most baffling and confusing mystery of the Christian Faith.

However, we are encouraged by a great truth about this mystery…

>      The mystery of the Trinity is more to be lived, than merely be understood

>      The mystery of the Trinity is more to be encountered, than merely be grasped

>      The mystery of the Trinity is more to be experienced, than merely be comprehended

This feast is celebrated on the Sunday, following the Feast of the Pentecost.

The encounter of the Holy Spirit, was a life-transforming experience for the Disciples.

>      It brought about a huge upliftment in courage for their sagging and fearful spirits.

>      It brought about a massive alteration of mind, to being bold and dynamic in their faith.

Along with this, it also brought in the tremendous experience of the Holy Spirit as a God!

>> This was something very new, strange and heart-experiential.

The disciples, as we know, were Jews.

Jews believed in strict monotheism – One God.

>> They professed this belief in One God, daily, by the ‘Shema Israel’:  “Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is one God….” (Deut 6:4)

However, in Jesus, the disciples encountered a deep Divine experience.

>> On Pentecost Day, they also encountered a deep Divine experience in the Holy Spirit.

This tremendous experience, along with the Grace of God, helped them to reflect on the many words and sayings of Jesus…

… that pointed to the dimension of Three Persons in the One nature of God.

Thus, with gradual and deeper reflection on the words of the Lord, and the power of the Holy Spirit, the disciples – strict monotheists – began to understand the mystery of God in a new light…

>>     God is One

>>      There are three Persons – the Father is God, the Son is God, the Spirit is God

>>     The Father is not the Son and the Spirit;  the Son is not the Father and the Spirit; the Spirit is not the Son and the Father.

This Triune invocation was the way the Lord exhorted to Baptize disciples in all the nations, “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them, in the name of the FATHER and of the SON and of the HOLY SPIRIT” (Mt 28: 19).

The Dogma of the Blessed Trinity has explanations, rationalization and details in the Holy Scripture and the Teachings of the Church.

>> However, with all that, the Dogma continues to remain a mystery…

And this is the beauty of the Mystery of the Triune God…

… It is something to grow in, daily

… It is something to develop a deeper relationship, daily

… It something to be lived and experienced in practical life, daily

As Evagrius of Pontus, a Greek monk of the 4th century said: “God cannot be grasped by the mind. If God could be grasped, God would not be God!”

This is our Blessed Triune God…

… He escapes being subjugated to the prisons of the mind; instead, invites to forge a powerful bond with the heart!

… He gets away from being trapped in the intriguing theological explanations and philosophical reasoning; instead calls forth to form an everlasting covenant of love!

Our whole world reflects the Triune nature of the Blessed Trinity…

>>     Water exists in three forms – solid as ice, liquid as water, gaseous as steam

(In physics, it is also proved that theoretically, water exists as solid, liquid and gas at the same time at something called the triple point – a temperature of 0oC or 273.16 K and at a pressure of 611.2 Pa)

>>      Sunlight displays a triune dimension – the substance of the sun, the heat, the light

>>      The universe consists of three things: matter, space, and time.

(Each one of those is itself a trinity.

Matter = mass + energy + motion.

Space = length + height + breadth.

Time = past + present + future)

>>      Human beings have a triple dimension, consisting of the body, the mind and the soul

The Trinity is everywhere!

>> The most important factor that is needed is that we need to grow in this awareness and deeper our love for Him!

The Lord in today’s Gospel presents this deep love of the Blessed Trinity, in perhaps, the most popular verse of the Gospels: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Son, that whoever believes in Him, may not perish, but may have eternal life!” (Jn 3:16)

>>      Are we willing to grow in cultivating an intimate and close bond with the Triune God – the God of Love and Holiness?

>>      Are we willing to live the beautiful virtues of the Blessed Trinity – Mutual Dependence, Selfless Unity and Constant Integration – in our personal relationships with one another ?

Let us become greatly aware of the many invocations we make to the Blessed Trinity (Sign of the Cross, in our daily prayers etc…) and perform those actions with greater meaning and significance!

May the Blessed Trinity – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit- helps us to grow in our intimacy and union, and in turn, help to reflect His image to all people in our lives…

… and thus, bring the “best wine” in us all!

Happy Feast of the Blessed Trinity!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – ”

“With our right hand, we use either three fingers to represent the Trinity or five fingers to represent Jesus’ five wounds.

We begin the prayer by placing our right hand on our forehead to acknowledge that God the Father is the one from whom all things originate.

>> Next, we move our hand down to our stomach as a sign that Jesus proceeded from the Father. >> Lastly, we cross ourselves from left shoulder to right shoulder to show that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son…

… and that He is the bond of love between Father and Son!”

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Jun 15 (Mt 5:33-37)

A Chinese proverb goes thus: “Do not have each foot on a different boat.”

“Standing on two boats” is a trend that we find in our modern world.

… people taking double standards in their life in the society outside and life at home inside

… friends changing their loyalties to one another depending on the circumstance and situation, for their own favour

… spouses cheating on one another, for their own selfish and sinful pleasures

… business partners entering into secretive contracts with other companies, for unaccounted gains

Many such examples of people not being “true to their words” makes today’s Gospel extremely relevant in our context.

In the Gospel, Jesus says: “Let what you say, simply be ‘Yes’ or “No’” (Mt 5:38)

Continuing the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives His instructions to His disciples, on how one should remain “focused in one’s faith”.

The Sermon on the Mount can be also termed as a “Teaching on Challenging Mediocre Lifestyles”.

Jesus, all through the Sermon on the Mount, picks up various topics…

… anger

… adultery

… divorce

… vows

… love for enemies

etc…

>> And raises the level of their understanding for a Christian.

Today’s Gospel presents Jesus speaking on the topic of “vows and promises”…

… emphasizing on the aspect of remaining focused and clear, in one’s words and deeds.

Jesus categorically declares that for a Christian, there ought to be no “double standards”

… a Yes, ought to be a Sincere Yes

… a No, ought to be a Firm No

>> A Sincere Yes to God… a Firm No to Satan

>> A Sincere Yes to Holiness… a Firm No to Sin

>> A Sincere Yes to the Kingdom of God… a Firm No to the ways of the world

The reason to have this conviction is our Faith and Confidence in the Lord.

>> He is the Lord Who remains the same always: “Jesus Christ, yesterday, today and forever!” (Heb 13:8)

We need to therefore ask ourselves:

>> Am I focusing on sincerity and honesty, in my daily actions and words…

… or do I sometimes take “double-standards”?

>> Am I having the proper balance in living the Christian life even though I face many pressures…

… or do I lose the balance and fall into the pits of lethargy, disappointments and laxity?

>> Am I having the confidence and the trust in the Lord and bank on Him at every turn of life…

… or do I experience perplexities of anxiety, despair and despondency?

The world today clearly promotes and propagates insincerity, unfaithfulness and duplicity.

>> Glamour and popularity are the motivations

>> Business-orientations and short-term gains are the catchwords in relationships

In such a “tricky and trying” situation, a Christian is called forth to avoid “standing on two boats”…

… and instead, “be firm and resolute” to standing on Christian Principles.

Our Master Jesus reminds us:

“I prepared for 30 years in silent contemplation of the Christian Virtues…

… 3 years in preaching them

… and 3 hours – on the Cross – in standing firmly in defense of them!

What about you?”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Ask nothing, refuse nothing!”

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Jun 14 (Mt 5:27-32)

The Canadian author, Thomas Costain in his historical novel “The Three Edwards” speaks of the life of a 14th century Duke named Raynald Ill.

>> Raynald was extremely overweight and was commonly called by his Latin nickname “Crassus” which meant ‘fat’!

This Duke Raynald, after a violent quarrel, suffered defeat in a revolt by his younger brother Edward.

Edward captured Raynald, but did not kill him.

Instead he imprisoned Raynald in a room in the castle…

… and promised that he could regain his title and property, if he was able to escape from the room.

This task – to escape from the room – would have been pretty simple for most people, since the room had several windows and a door; none of which was locked!

But Raynald had a problem…. His size… His uncontrolled appetite!

Edward knew his elder brother…

… and He very well knew this weakness as well!

Each day, therefore, Edward send him a variety of delicious foods!

>> Instead of dieting his way out of the room, he began to relish on the grand food served to him…

… and Raynald grew fatter!!

When Edward was questioned by the people on his cruelty for having captured his elder brother, he would reply, without any qualms:

“My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave when he so wills.”

The story goes on to say that Raynald stayed in that room for ten years and wasn’t released until after Edward died in battle.

>> But by then his health was so ruined, that he died within a year!

Raynald died…

… as a prisoner of his own appetite!

How often is this a reality in our spiritual lives as well!

>> Sin sometimes captures our hearts so much…

.. that we are unwilling to let go, and thus wither in our sinful state

>> Immorality and transgressions take over our lives so much…

… that we become slaves, and remain much bound to them.

                                                                                                                       

The Gospel of the Day is a powerful call by Jesus to make an honest examination of our state of life, and check whether we are imprisoned by sin…

… especially from the perspective of immorality and decadence in our ethical system.

Our modern society is often a rude and mute witness to many inhuman atrocities and abuses, especially against women.

>> The world seems to be more and more losing, the sense of sin!

In this context, it’s shocking to read the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel reading:

“Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has committed adultery in his heart”! (Mt 5:28)

Jesus’ words pierces through the heart!

>> He gives no space for lame excuses and silly explanations…

… he hits straight at the target!

SIN consists not in some external actions alone…

…..but SIN is conceived and given birth in one’s heart!

When we consider the society in which we live in, we find that…

Immorality is on the rise….

>> We pass through cities and towns..

>> We look through newspapers and magazines…

>> We scan across websites, swanky apps and fancy shops…

.. and we find that…  Immorality is, indeed, on the rise!

Immoral pictures, sensual visuals, inhuman portrayal of persons, double-meaning talks have somehow become the order of the day!

>> We are very often surrounded by filth and lewdness in our society.

Satan, the father of deception scatters the seeds of immorality and lust everywhere!

It’s here, that a Christian needs to be on the watch.

>> It is our duty as Christians, to preserve our hearts from this dangerous contagion.

The beatitudes tell us, “Blessed are the pure in heart, they shall see God” (Mt 5: 8)

We have a duty…

… to preserve ourselves from Impurity!

… to protect others in their dignity and honour!

…to awaken the society which is often, deadened in immorality & perversion!

Let us examine our lives and check.. “Am I becoming a prisoner of my own appetite?”

… being a slave to lustful thoughts or immoral patterns of attitudes

… being indifferent to a society which strips itself of all dignity in the name of liberty and freedom

The Lord very powerfully challenges us to be totally intolerant to casting away sin and sinful tendencies from our life…

>> ” If your right eye causes you to sin… tear it out and throw it away” (Mt 5: 29)

>> ” If  your hand causes you to sin… cut it off and throw it away” (Mt 5: 30)

Sin has no place in a world of mercy and love!

>> Mercy places an obligation that all sin be rid off!

>> Love demands that all wrongdoing be cast away!

Let the words of St Antony of Padua be given heed to:

“Anyone, then, who desires to live chastely in Christ Jesus, must flee not only the mouse of lust, but even from its very scent.”

Let’s awake, Dear Christians…

…  Purify our World and live in Sanctity and Holiness…

Let us free ourselves from the “imprisonment of our appetites” and experience the “glorious liberty” of the Children of God!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – ” The soul which rises from out of sin to a devout life has been compared to the dawn…

… which does not banish darkness suddenly, but by degrees.

>> That cure which is gradually effected is always the surest!”

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Jun 13 (Mt 5:20-26 and Feast of St Anthony of Padua)

Sinbad the Sailor is a fictional character.

>> His tales are mostly voyage stories – fantastic adventure stories through the seas of Africa and South Asia.

One of the tales narrates of how Sinbad and his sailors landed on an island.

On arriving, they saw coconuts, high up on the trees; which could very well quench their thirst and satisfy their hunger.

>> But these coconuts were far beyond their reach.

However, they noticed a large number of monkeys on the branches of the trees.

>> Soon enough, Sinbad and his men,  began to throw stones and sticks up at the apes.

This enraged the monkeys and they began to seize the coconuts…

… and hurl them down at the men on the ground.

This was exactly what Sinbad and his men wanted!

They got the monkeys so angry…

… that they gave in to satisfy the needs of those who made them angry!

This is exactly what anger does…

… we play ourselves, into the hands of those who cause us to lose our temper!

We end up “reacting”…

.. than “responding”!

The Gospel of the day is a teaching by Jesus on this very important concern of Christian Life: Anger.

Killing is considered to be a serious evil in every society and every religion.

>> Killing in its basic form is usually considered only in the sense of the physical body.

But the Lord today presents a higher perspective in the understanding of killing…

“You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill’; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment’.

>> But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to the judgment….” (Mt 5: 21)

The Lord expands the understanding of killing beyond the physical body…

A person engages in an act of killing… if, by anger…

…the emotional state of the other person is injured

…the spiritual balance of the other person is wounded     

We could understand anger from various perspectives…

1. Anger as Quick temper

Prov 15:18 says, “An ill-tempered man stirs up strife…”

It is said that speak when one is angry, one makes the best speech that would be regretted much!

Quick temper sometimes…

… forms part of our temperament

… comes even unknowingly

… is instigated by other’s actions

Yet, in all this, one ought to…

… rise quickly from remaining in the state of anger.

… become conscious of the occasions which can excite anger

… see that the temper is not fed or nurtured or intensified

2. Anger which leads to stubbornness

Eph 4:26: “…. do not let the sun to set on your anger”

Sometimes, the anger within is allowed to grow so much…

…that we get habituated to getting angry for even tiny and trivial matters

…that we lose our peace of mind, and sometimes even become indifferent

…that we choose not to budge from our position or viewpoint and remain adamant

Yet, we need to make efforts…

… to try to overcome our ego and self mentality and seek to make amends with the person

… to lower oneself in humility (even if we are right) and ease the situation of annoyance

Anger needs to be sanctified…channelled in the proper way!

One may feel a ‘just’ anger at….

… the immense corruption in the world and even in religious circles

… the forces of evil that seem to root away even faint traces of hope

… the indifferent and unchanging attitudes and temperaments of people which is sickening.

Yet… even these ought to get channelled properly

…even these ought to be routed in the right manner

Yes… even our just anger needs to be sanctified and purified in the burning furnace of God’s Love.

>> Anger is indeed a major tendency that is a cause of distress for many of us.

>> Anger is indeed a prime inclination that is a root of sin for many of us.

There are moments, when anger captures us and we throw ourselves into people…

… throw words which are not appropriate

… throw emotions that would cause shame and guilt later

… throw actions and deeds that would cause pain and injury

Let us seek to make genuine, practical and realistic efforts in the fight to sanctify and purify our anger.

Undoubtedly…

… it is painstaking

… it requires deeper attempts

… it requires committed determination!

But the Lord assures His grace to help us and His Love to encourage us!

Let us make efforts to be people, who not simply “react”…

… instead, in patience and gentleness, seek to “respond”!

Today we celebrate the Feast of St Antony of Padua…

… one of the most loved Saints, all over the world.

He is popularly invoked by those who have trouble finding lost objects.

But in own day, he was more popular as the “Hammer of Heretics”…

… due to the powerful witness of his life and preaching.

An account in the life of St Antony tells of an Ordination of some Franciscan and Dominican friars both…

… and the superiors desired that someone be designated to preach.

With no one prepared to speak, St Antony was pressed by the other friars in attendance (both Franciscans and Dominicans) to take on the unprepared task.

He hesitated…

… but was encouraged by the others to speak “whatever the Spirit of God gave him to say.”

Anthony proceeded to preach with great brilliance, to the shock of all those in attendance!

His zeal, oratory skill, and many conversions won him the title “Hammer of Heretics.”

>> His brilliance made him the foremost preacher in his day.

May the Powerful Intercession of the “Hammer of Heretics” – St Antony of Padua…

…. help us to live “the lifestyle of peace and gentleness” which is sometimes “lost” in our world of temper and anger.

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “I state absolutely and make no exception, do not be angry at all…

… if that is possible.

>> Do not accept any pretext whatever for opening your heart’s door to anger.”

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