Aug 21 (Mt 20:1-16)

Grrrrr…….

Does that expression sound familiar?!!

>> Children create facial expressions and imitate some wild animals…

… and make that noise….grrrrr…!

>> Our tummies growl when we are starving and when we are hungry…

… and makes that noise…grrrrr…!

But in our day to day experience, has Grrrrr…. also become part of our frequent vocabulary?

>> Do we grrrrr…

… when we get irritated seeing our plans not fulfilled the way we expect?

>> Do we grrrrr…

… when we get upset observing other people thriving in life at our own expense?

>> Do we grrrrr…

… when we get mad in not receiving and acquiring benefits as per the big efforts we put into?

>> Do we grrrr…

… when we get disturbed in being unable to accept some surprising aspects of life, which hurt us?

Grrrr…refers to the aspect of Grumbling…

… of being Irritated…of being Complaining!

Am I a person tending towards Frequent Grumbling?

>> Am I person leaning towards Easy Irritation?

>> Am I person who easily gets grumpy with events in life and fail to view life from a Higher Perspective?

The Gospel of the Day presents to us the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (Mt 20:1-16)

And we come across a group of people…

… who are in a grumbling mode!

The word “grumble” can be described as…

… “to make complaining remarks or noises under one’s breath”

… or “to murmur or mutter in discontent”

… or “to show one’s unhappiness or critical attitude”.

The Bible is very familiar with persons who have been logged into a grumbling mode…

>> Adam…

… when he blamed Eve for disobedience, in eating the forbidden fruit! (Gen 3:12)

>> Israelites…

… when they accused Moses, in making them to starve in the desert (Num 14:2)

>> Job’s wife…

… when she enticed Job, to curse God for his misfortunes and calamities (Job 2:9)

>> Elijah…

… when he felt hurt in being persecuted despite his deep zeal for the Lord (1Kg 19:10)

>> Disciples…

… when Jesus invited them to provide food for the massive hungry crowd (Mk 6:37)

In the Parable of the Workers…the workers who came first, got into being grrrr…the ‘grumbling mode’…

… in dissatisfaction! (Mt 20: 11)

The Parable proceeds progressively…

… with a landowner who seeks to hire labourers… (Mt 20: 1) and finds different groups of working people at different hours of the day… (Mt 20: 2-7)

To the first group, he struck a deal…

… they agreed for a denarius – the daily wage – which is fair enough! (Mt 20: 2)

>> Their dealings with the Master was on a Contract-level!

To the Second, Third and Fourth Group…

… he promised to pay what was just – they agreed for a reasonable wage – which is fair enough! (Mt 20: 3-5)

>> Their dealings with the Master was on a Justice-level!

To the fifth group, he spoke of no payment…

… they probably agreed for a fair-wage – which is fair enough! (Mt 20: 6)

>> Their dealings with the Master was on a Faith-level!

But when it is payment time, there are surprises galore…

The ones who came last, got paid a denarius – the whole day’s wage!

>> Amazing pay for just an hour’s work!

He perhaps, pays the last group first, in order to reveal the hidden motives of those hired earlier in the day!

Those who came in the 1st hour, probably, got their calculators to work…

>> 1 hr work = 1 denarius; 12 hrs work = 12 denarii!!

But then comes the “GRRRR moment”…

… a moment of grumbling & complaint

>> And they felt rightly so to do it!

The ones who worked the most also are paid the same – just 1 denarius!

The crux of the matter was simple: “You have made them equal to us!” (Mt 20:12)

But the Lord raises our heart to see the root cause behind this grumbling and complaint:

>> We often overestimate our own importance…

… and we often underestimate the Grace of God!

>> We seek for the best in our lives…

… but fail to digest the Providence of God’s Goodness in other’s lives!

>> We expect great things for ourselves…

… but fail to understand the Benevolence of God’s Mercy for others!

We want the choicest things for us…

… but fail to accept the Intervention of God’s Power in the life of the other!

How do we go beyond this Grumbling Mode?

Let us take to heart three aspects which can help us to overcome the Grumbling Mode:

1. Thanking God for His Immense Blessings:

>> Let’s open our eyes to see them…and thank the Lord in Gratitude!

2. Avoid judging God’s working in others:

>> Let’s open our minds to accept..and praise God in Goodness!

3. Seeking for faithfulness than success:

>> Let’s open our hearts to be faithful….and love God in Graciousness!

God’s ways of looking at us is different…

>> He looks at us being faithful and committed….not productive!

Yes….God is so just…that no one will be underpaid!

>> God is so generous…that everyone will be surprised!

Let us switch our mode: From a “Grrrr” mode to a “Hmmm” mode…

>> From a Grumbling Mode to an Appreciative mode!

>> From a Irritable Attitude to a Grateful Attitude!

>> From a Prickly Approach to an Admiring Approach!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “It is not those who commit the least faults who are the most holy, but those who have…

… the greatest courage, the greatest generosity, the greatest love…

… who make the boldest efforts to overcome themselves, and are not immediately apprehensive about tripping.

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Aug 20 (Mt 19:23-30)

A distinguished man was lying on his death-bed.

As he lay, some of his precious ornaments, priceless stones and his fine collection of exquisite watches were brought to him.

Turning a cold glance on the treasure, which he would once have clutched with an eager grasp…

… he said with a sigh:

“Alas! this is a very fine thing in this country…

… but I am going to a country where it will be of no use to me!”

The man, at his death-bed realized the worthlessness of clinging on to riches and wealth!

If only, he had realized it, when he had years to live…

… life would have been much peaceful and contented

… life would have been better utilized to prepare for eternal life

Well…

… all of us, do have time to realize – the worthlessness of clinging on to riches and wealthy..

Do we seek to make Christ as the greatest possession and treasure of our lives?

>> Do we mend our lives accordingly, and live in pursuit of heaven?

Jesus, in the Gospel of the Day gives a triple perspective on the aspect of riches (Mt 19:23-30).

1. The difficulties that attachments to riches pose, in entering the Kingdom of God

2. The power of God that alone can assist and help one to attain eternity

3. The promise of reward to those who live a life of detachment

1. The difficulties that attachments to riches pose in entering the Kingdom of God

Jesus says, “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven” (Mt 19: 23)

The reason why riches are given such a strong reprimand by the Lord is because:

>> Attachment to riches can easily take away one’s heart from the Lord…

… The Lord, Who stripped Himself of all glory and became poor is often given less priority!

>> Being obsessed with riches leaves us with little time and thought for things of eternity

… Our plannings, aspirations and projects often end up being only earthly in nature!

>> Having too many riches can pose a danger to feel proud and independent

… A sense of “I can manage all by myself” creeps in; in the process, keeping aside God from our lives!

Venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen says:

“It is ever true that the richer the soul is on the inside, the less need it has of luxuries on the outside;

Excessive adornments and an inordinate love of comforts are proof of our inner nakedness!”

2. The power of God that alone can assist and help one to attain eternity

On hearing of the difficulty of the rich to enter the Kingdom of God, the disciples asked Jesus, “Who then can be saved?” (Mt 19:25)

>> Jesus replied, “For human beings, this is impossible; but for God all things are possible” (Mt 19: 26)

The demands of Christianity to live a life of detachment from riches, can sometimes cause undue anxieties.

>> And we begin to ask…

… Is it really possible for us to live as Jesus expected of us?

… Is it not beyond my capabilities to achieve what the Lord wishes of us?

Such kind of anxieties and worries, can often cause weariness our soul!

St Francis de Sales says:

“Anxiety is the greatest evil that can befall a soul, except sin!

Have patience with all things, but first of all with yourself!”

The Lord tells us that even in our efforts to be detached…

… we need to depend on Him

… we need to know that His Grace will take us through

Therefore, to have detachment…

… we ought to come to the Lord in prayer, surrendering our lives

… we need to thank the Lord continually for all His blessings, acknowledging Him as the source

… we need to reach out to the Lord in the poor, the weak and the needy (Mt 25:40)

3. The promise of reward to those who live a life of detachment

Jesus says: “Everyone who has given up”…will receive a hundred times more and will inherit eternal life” (Mt 19:29)

A question of despair or hopelessness sometimes nags a Christian…

… What is the use of living an honest and virtuous life?

… Why is my life unrewarded, whereas many others thrive even by unjust means?

The Lord however, gives an answer…

… that none of such sacrifices will go unrewarded

He does promise His rewards – temporal as well as spiritual…

… but these are to be received in accordance to the Will of God.

Many times, the Will of God, is not taken into consideration…

… when we look for rewards in having made a sacrifice.

… when we seek for answers to our prayers

… when we expect fruits for our efforts

The Lord therefore invites and challenges us…

… to purify our motives when we make sacrifices

… to align our interests to God’s Will when we work for Him

That’s why Jesus would say: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…and all other things shall be added unto you” (Mt 6:33)

The words of Mother Angelica, the founder of EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) are a reminder to us:

“Have we lost sight of this world being a pilgrimage?

>> It’s a journey! You’re not home yet!

A Christian must never lose sight of this passing reality of life”

Yes, let us come to this realization about attachments to riches:

“Alas! this is a very fine thing in this country…

… but I am going to a country where it will be of no use to me!”

God bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “There is a wide difference between having poison and being poisoned.

All apothecaries have poisons ready for special uses, but they are not consequently poisoned…

…because the poison is only in their shop, not in themselves.

>> And so you many possess riches without being poisoned by them, so long as they are in your house or purse only, and not in your heart.

It is the Christian’s privilege to be rich in material things, and poor in attachment to them!”

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Aug 19 (Mt 19:16-22)

A river wanted to flow to the sea, through a vast desert.

>> But seeing the vast dry sand, it got afraid.

Fearful thoughts crept into its mind:

“The desert may gulp up all my water…

… the hot breath of the sun will surely dry me up…

… and I will be reduced to a mere stinking swamp!”

Then it heard a mysterious voice, “Trust the Desert”

But the river retorted, “But then, will I ever be the same?

>> Will I not lose my identity?”

The voice once again thundered, “There is no way to remain the same!”

So the river, with trust in the desert, began to flow through it.

>> The simmering heat of the sun turned her into vapour.

>> The wind carried her over, as clouds, over the hot expanse of the desert.

>> She was formed into rain!

And out of the clouds, came down a newer, fresher and much more splendid river, on the other side of the desert.

The river was delighted and exclaimed, “Now, I am truly my Real Self!”

Immense trust and making the radical decision to pass through the desert, helped the river to experience newness in life and to enjoy the delight of a transformed and renewed life!

Is life calling us to have a deeper trust and cross through deserts, in order to experience freshness in life?

>> Or are we afraid to take that risk of losing many of the ‘things’ we hold precious to ourselves?

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus exhorting us to trust in Him, and to cross the deserts of life, “letting go of riches, in order to experience true joy in Him and eternal life with Him!

The incident of the person asking Jesus, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (Mt 19:16) finds resonance with many of our inner desires and longings.

We too have a lot of questions, like the man who asked, “What must I do to have eternal life…”

>> How can I really have peace of mind and happiness at home and in my life…?

>> How is it that I may be able to experience joy in life, despite the many poundings and grindings that life renders me…?

>> How is it that I can be assured of the treasures of heaven and the bliss of life eternity…?

The man who enquired Jesus presented Him with a list of many activities and deeds that he engaged himself, towards this purpose.

“All of these (following the commandments) I have observed”, (Mt 19: 20a) said the man to Jesus

We too have something similar to say…

>> I keep on working hard, putting in constant efforts in my daily duties and the various responsibilities entrusted to me…

>> I toil very much in meeting life’s ends and gathering together my resources in making sure that things go on well in life…

But like that man, we too get lost with this one basic question, “What do I still lack?” (Mt 19:20b)

>> What do I still lack…

… that my life fails to be soaked in happiness and my heart misses the train of joy and peace?

… that my relationships fail to have the required fervour of love and affection?

… that my spiritual life fails to have the flavour of passion, zeal and enthusiasm?

This is where the Lord will tell us, “to let go of things that keep us attached”

Jesus says, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell, what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven. Then follow Me” (Mt 19:21)

• The man was attached to his possessions, even though he performed many acts of God’s commandments.

• The man found it hard to leave his riches, and his following of the laws of God made little impact on him, to make renunciations.

Therefore, the Lord diagnosed his problem as his inability to “let go” of his attachments.

“Unnecessary accessories” of life can be a burden in our smooth travelling on the path of eternity!

Are we also faced with the same diagnosis?

Do I find it hard to “let go”…

… of my selfish lifestyle and my own personal comforts… even though I seek to render service or engage in different works?

… of my egoistic tendencies and self-centred inclinations… in my relationships and in interacting with the people in my life?

… of my individual agenda and self-interested plans… and fail to base my life as per the Plan of God and walk according to His Will in my life?

As Christians, we are called to perfection (Mt 5:48)

This ‘challenge to perfection’ demands that we have to pass through the “deserts”…

… deserts of renunciation

… deserts of seeking only God’s Will

… deserts of altering our personal choices and prioritizing the values of the Lord

>> This will help us to experience newness in life and to enjoy the delight of a transformed and renewed life!

May we heed to the call of the Lord today…

… to make such radical choices and decisions in life, so that we can truly experience the joy of heaven in our day-to-day lives and one day, be blessed, with the fullness of life eternal!

When faced with the deserts of life…

… let us, with confidence, give heed to the words of the Lord assuring us: “Trust the desert”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Remember to retire at times…

… into the desert of your own heart!”

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Aug 18 (Lk 12: 49-53)

St Ignatius of Loyola is the founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits)

There is an interesting incident narrated about a couple of tourists who visited the Jesuit headquarters in Rome.

There is a large statue of the St Ignatius majestically displayed in this house.

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

“Ite, Inflammate Omnia!”

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

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

… One of them noticed a fire-extinguisher that was placed on the adjacent wall

(The red-coloured fire-extinguisher was of course, placed, in case of any emergency)

But seeing the motto of the Saint and this fire-extinguisher from the same view, the tourist made an interesting comment:

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

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

Every Christian is expected to set the world on fire…

But are we people “on fire”?

>> Or is the “fire” dying out, and failing to have its intended effects?

Our Blessed Lord was greatly filled with zeal to “set the earth on fire”…

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

The Gospel of the Day begins with Jesus exclaiming:

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

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

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

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

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

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

>> God’s Holiness (Dt 4:24)

>> God’s glory (Ez 1:4, 13)

Fire also has many characteristics:

>> It warms… refines… transforms… burns!

The Lord who was greatly zealous to “set the earth on fire”, invites us to examine:

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

… the fire of God’s love?

… the fire of God’s purging mercy?

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

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

>> “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, division!” (Lk 12:51)

The Gospel of St. Mathew’s version of the same verse reads:

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

These verses become more surprising in the context of…

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

>> The description of the Messiah where in Is 9: 6 it says, “He (Messiah) will be called “Prince of Peace”

Why does St Mathew use the words “peace and sword”?

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

This could be a technique called “Juxtaposing”.

Juxtaposing simply means to place two things side-by-side or next to each other…

… especially to compare or to emphasize on the contrast.

This technique is used extensively in the Bible…

>> “Unless a grain of wheat dies, it will not give life” (Jn 12: 24)

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

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

Thus we see…

… life and death

… light and darkness

… good and bad

This “juxtaposition” we also observe in our daily life.

>> Any artist or a person with some aesthetic sense will vouch for the fact that, in order a highlight some light-coloured flowers in a bouquet…

… a darker background is preferred.

>> Even in our style of dressing, we prefer to wear dark-coloured trousers…

… along with light-coloured shirts.

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

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

>> Sword, on the other hand, signifies conflict, struggle and death.

Peace, is normally understood as a situation of calm and absence of conflicts

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

What is the meaning of this usage of “juxtaposition” in today’s Gospel passage?

The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy (Rom 14: 17)

To establish this peace or this Kingdom of God…

… sword is an inevitable reality!

… division is an inescapable consequence!

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

That’s why Jesus would go on to say:

“From now on a household of five will be divided… three against two and two against three…” (Lk 12: 52)

>> These verses are an import from Mic 7:6 which speaks of “division in the household”.

In the Jewish Society…

… the household was one of the strongest units of loyalty and binding.

However, Jesus shatters all these pre-conceived notions and demands:

“Loyalty of a disciple to Jesus is to be much higher than even to his own household!”

All intimate relations, even that within the family, are to be given subordinate status in our Love for Jesus.

It is also interesting to note the order of people mentioned in Lk 12: 53:

… Father v/s Son, Daughter v/s Mother, Daughter-in- law v/s Mother in Law.

It is always the young v/s the old.

What could be the meaning?

The Kingdom of God will cause a sword of division…

… It will be a division of the Young v/s Old!

Young and Old are not to be considered in the physical sense… but in the spiritual sense!

Young as being people who are “new”… those by giving up a life of sin, choosing to be part of the Kingdom of God.

>> Old as being those people who are “unrepentant”… those who cling on to sinful ways and oppose the Kingdom.

The Kingdom of God is always characterized by people who are willing to be “new” in the Spirit…

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

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

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

>> Are we ready to face the struggles and difficulties that surely will come on our way, as we work for the Kingdom?

2. In this our mission of establishing the Kingdom, we are demanded to have a loyalty to Jesus that is higher than all other relationships.

>> Are we ready to sacrifice? Perhaps our relationships or our way of thinking or even our lifestyle – all for the sake of loyalty to Christ?

3. The Kingdom of God demands that we always be young – dynamic, enthusiastic, cheerful and energetic.

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

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

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

Yes, let us become Christians “who set the world on fire!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Examine from time to time what are the dominant passions of your soul, and having ascertained this, mould your life…

… so that in thought, word, and deed you may as far as possible counteract them!”

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Aug 17 (Mt 19:13-15)

Charles Francis Adams was a 19th century American historical editor, politician and diplomat.

>> His son was Brooks Adams, who became a historian.

A researcher, while making a study on the life of the Adams Family came across their personal diaries.

Both, the father and son, had entered a description of a particular day…

… It was a day when they had gone fishing.

However, interestingly, their descriptions had a world of difference…

>> The father, wrote in his diary:

“Went fishing with son. Day wasted.”

>> The son, however wrote in his diary:

“Went fishing with my father. The most wonderful day of my life!”

Why such a huge contrast in the description of the same day?

The son Brooks, was only twelve years at that time.

>> It was a bad day at fishing as they didn’t catch any fish…

… but they spent a lot of time talking

>> The boy had asked a number of questions, and the father had creatively answered…

… in the process, explained many important aspects about life.

The father, on the other hand, felt it as a waste of time…

… without even any fish being caught!

Our attitude in life makes a world of difference!

>> Seeing the world through the eyes of a child – in openness, sincerity, wonder and innocence – can help us to have “a wonderful day,” every day of our life!

Hence, in the context of a family life, there is a popular quote which says:

“A house is built with bricks and beams…

… A home is built with love and dreams!”

The Gospel of the Day presents to us an occasion to dwell on a reflection on our families…

… and some of the basic essentials that needs to be part of every family (religious community included as well)

Family Life is an important component of every society.

The Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter 19, has an interesting structure or a progression with respect to the topics discussed and the persons involved.

The chapter begins with a discussion on the institution of ‘Marriage’. (Mt 19: 2-10)

>> Jesus explains the importance of this sacred bond and a strong exhortation is given on the need to do away with divorce.

The chapter proceeds, as we see in today’s reading, with a discussion on ‘little children’. (Mt 19: 13-15)

This discussion is followed by an incident in which a ‘young man’ encounters Jesus (Mt 19: 16-22)

The Chapter will finally end with an exhortation by Jesus to have maturity as an ‘adult’ is making choices for the Kingdom of God! (Mt 19: 23-30)

>> Thus, the Chapter 19 of Matthew is a travel through a FAMILY context…

… starting from MARRIAGE…and the need to avoid DIVORCE…

… to little CHILDREN

… to the problems of a YOUTH

… and finally ending with the choices as an ADULT.

In today’s Gospel, we have the discussion on Little Children (Mt 19: 13-15)

Though it’s a short passage, the Gospel gives us enough food for thought…

… especially in the context of a family or a community life.

We see four different groups or sets of people in today’s Gospel Passage, and we can learn some aspects from each of those sets…

>> Three of them give us a positive quality which is to be inculcated

>> One gives a negative quality which is to be avoided in life.

1. Firstly, the Gospel begins with the statement, “Little children were brought to Jesus…” (Mt 19: 13a)

Probably the parents, the elder brothers/sisters or the guardians of the children would have brought them to Jesus.

>> So we see here, the First set of people… Parents, Guardians, Elders etc…. and they teach us the First Positive Quality – the Spirit of Responsibility!

They were Responsible in caring for the good and future of the children.

It was an ancient practice that children would be brought to Rabbis to be blessed and prayed over.

>> This first set of people teach us to be responsible for the growth of others in our family and in our communities.

2. The Second set of people are obviously the Little Children.

These little ones teach us the Second Positive Quality, needed in a family or a community – the Spirit of Receptivity!

Children display a great sense of receptivity and openness.

>> They are able to accept the affection, the care, the love and the blessings that are given to them.

>> They do not close themselves to the good things in life.

We too need to cultivate this Spirit of Receptivity, to be open to the actions, thoughts, views and feelings of others in our family and our community.

3. The Third Set of people display a negative attitude which we need to avoid.

>> When the children were brought to Jesus, the Disciples refuse to accept them and want to keep them away (Mt 19: 13b)

They show a Spirit of Rejection!

They perhaps felt that these children would be a nuisance to Jesus and His ministry.

>> They felt it as a waste of time and energy to entertain the children.

Little things in life were considered to be a useless and futile activity.

We need to avoid this Spirit of Rejection…

>> In our families or communities, we can have this attitude towards those who don’t do any work or fail to contribute anything.

We often fail to understand the importance…

… of little tokens of love

… tiny expressions of care by our family and community members

>> And we, instead, tend to reject and avoid them.

4. The fourth Set is represented by Jesus Himself…

… and he presents the Spirit of Restoration and Redemption.

He does not reject…

… rather, He accepts and seeks to redeem the little children.

He seeks to restore the little ones who are rejected…

… who are avoided and who are not given the due importance.

In our lives, we too need to be having a Spirit of Redemption and Restoration…

>> To redeem the ones who are at the periphery and who fail to get any attention

>> To restore the ones who are broken and abused and are shunned!

Thus, this powerful Gospel passage teaches us…

>> To avoid the Negative Quality of the Spirit of Rejection…

Rather…

>> To adopt the positive qualities of…

… The Spirit of Responsibility,

… The Spirit of Receptivity

… The Spirit of Redemption and Restoration!

Let us seek the Intercession of our Blessed Mother that we may avoid the tendency to Reject People…

>> And instead, we may be…

… Responsible towards others

… Receptive to others

… and Redeem and Restore the lives of others!

>> And thus build happy and loving homes!

May we always understand that “our attitude in life makes a world of difference!”

>> Seeing the world through the eyes of a child – in openness, sincerity, wonder and innocence – can help us to have “a wonderful day,” every day of our life!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “The observations of a parent given gently and affectionately have

much more power to correct a child…

… than those which are given angrily and wrathfully!”

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Aug 16 (Mt 19:3-12)

“Fireproof” is a 2008 Christian drama film.

It is an incredibly gripping, compelling and a transformational story about saving a marriage – of Catherine and Caleb – that had hit rock-bottom.

Catherine was a hospital administrator, married to fire captain Caleb Holt.

>> Caleb recruited young men under the dictum of never leaving one’s partner, ‘especially in a fire’.

But at home, the scenario was quite opposite; he and Catherine argued over almost everything.

>> Catherine accused Caleb of being selfish with time and money.

>> Caleb complained that Catherine was ungrateful for all he did to help others.

Both felt that the other didn’t care or appreciate each other

The constant bickering reached the high point, when Catherine demanded a divorce and an irritated Caleb agreed.

The two complained to their respective friends regarding this unpleasant phase of their life.

John, Caleb’s father convinced his son to delay the divorce proceedings in order to try “Love Dare”, a 40-day challenge for improving marriages by changing the way a spouse was treated.

Caleb’s friend Michael also persuaded Caleb to hold off on divorce and challenged the fire-captain with a bold statement:

>> “I’ve seen you run into a burning building to save people you don’t even know, but you’re going to let your own marriage burn to the ground?”

The acceptance of Christ into his life invigorated Caleb to ask God to help in defeating his demons and overcoming his addictions.

The movie proceeds, through many twists and turns, with Catherine finally realizing and acknowledging the many selfless acts done by her husband and enters into reconciliation with him.

The film ends with Caleb and Catherine renewing their wedding vows as a covenant with God.

Marriage is a sacred institution – a precious covenant – that demands a lifelong commitment and a faithful dedication, despite the ups and downs of life.

>> It is this message that is driven home by Jesus in today’s Gospel when He expounds His teaching on the sacredness of the Covenant of Marriage.

The passage begins with a testing interrogation by the Pharisees, ” Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” (Mt 19:3)

Jesus came to the world to demonstrate the magnanimity of God’s Love.

This magnanimity includes…

… His unconditional manner of loving us, irrespective of our worthiness

… His unfailing faithfulness to us, despite our many acts of betrayal and disloyalty

It is this model of God’s love that becomes the blueprint for us in loving others, and especially in a marriage relationship.

The partners, pledged in love to each other in marriage, ought to imitate the love that God has for us…

>> We have cheated and strayed away from what God wants of us…

… He still loves us and is faithful to us

>> We have, on innumerable occasions, spat at His face by our shameful deeds and defamed His name by our sinful acts…

… He still holds us close to Him and remains loyal to us

>> We have, despite many warnings, purposely hurt Him in thoughts, words and deeds and even rejected His graces by not co-operating with His Will for us…

… He still waits patiently for our return and constantly seeks to draw us to Him

We have failed Him many times, but He has always made efforts to try to win us

>> We have hurt and pained Him much, but He has still longs for us, with His soothing balm of acceptance

It is this “magnanimity of God’s Love” that becomes the basis, the inspiration and the ideal in every marriage relationship.

>> Therefore Jesus says, “What therefore God has joined, let not man put asunder” ( Mt 19: 6b)

We live in a world where the quickest solution to many problems is found in “throwing it away!”

>> And the same mentality affects human relationships too… especially to those in marriage.

The challenge therefore is to dare to swim against these worldly currents and bring in the “Jesus Culture of Faithful Commitment” in human relationships, especially of marriage.

Theoretically speaking, this sounds quite good and wonderful.

>> But when it comes down to the actual practice… in married lives… it is undoubtedly a very hard effort.

“But what is impossible for humans is possible for God” (Lk 18: 27), is the assurance of Jesus.

When the going gets really hard and we want to call it ‘quits’ in our relationships…

… let us look to Jesus who said Yes to the Will of God in the painful agony at Gethsemane

There may seem no hope ahead…

>> Still, can we say Yes to God’s Will – to be faithful and committed?

When none of our efforts of restoration work out and we get ‘fed’ up and feel to have reached the ‘limit’ in relationships…

… let us look to Jesus Crucified, who was never ‘fed’ up with our misdeeds and our constant misunderstanding and misuse of His love

It may seem that all the past was mere fantasy and the future appears to be non-existent…

>> Still, can we hold on to Hope in God – to be true to our promise and be loyal?

The promises made…

>> to our Faith in Baptism

>> to the spouse in Marriage

>> to the Lord in Consecrated and Priestly Life

… all demand an undissolved commitment and an undiluted faithfulness.

As the dialogues in the movie “Fireproof” says (in the scene where the ‘salt and pepper bottles’ are glued together):

“When two people get married, it’s for better or for worse, like these joined salt and pepper.

… For richer or for poorer.

… In sickness and in health.

If you pull them apart, you’ll break either one or both of them.

God made marriage to be for life.”

Yes, fireproof doesn’t mean that a fire will never come…

>> But it does mean, that when it comes, one will be able to withstand it!

May the Lord, the Lover of our souls be the assurance of “fireproof” in our relationships!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “The effect of marital love should be an inviolable fidelity to one another.

In olden times finger-rings were wont to be graven as seals.

>> We read of it in Holy Scripture, and this explains the meaning of the marriage ceremony, when the Church, by the hand of her priest, blesses a ring, and gives it first to the man…

… in token that she sets a seal on his heart by this Sacrament, so that no thought of any other woman may ever enter therein so long as she, who now is given to him, shall live.

>> Then the bridegroom places the ring on the bride’s hand…

… so that she in her turn may know that she must never conceive any affection in her heart for any other man so long as he shall live, who is now given to her by our Lord Himself!”

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Aug 15 (Solemnity of the Assumption of our Blessed Mother Mary and India’s Independence Day)

Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Peter Paul Rubens, 1626, Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp

The Feast of the Assumption of our Blessed Mother Mary is celebrated in variety of ways, all over the world .

In some of the small towns of Rome, there is a very symbolic custom.

It is called as L’Incinata – the Bowing Procession.

The people in the village carry a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary down the main street.

>> This is symbolic of Mother Mary on Her way to heaven

From the opposite direction comes another procession, carrying the statue of Jesus.

>> This is symbolic of Her Son Jesus coming to welcome Her

Under an arch that has been prepared with branches and thousands of flowers, the two processions meet.

The statues are then made to bow to each other, three times…

… It is symbolic of Jesus welcoming His Beloved Mother at the gates of heaven.

Then the combined procession continues, with the people carrying the statues side-by-side to the Church….

… Symbolically indicating, Jesus taking along His Mother to Her throne in heaven!

This ‘bowing procession’ so very beautifully and symbolically represents the wonderful event of the Assumption of our Blessed Mother Mary.

It celebrates the Son-King sharing His Glory with His Mother.

Human kingdoms have followed the tradition of the son who is the King of the Land, crowning his mother, as the Queen of the Kingdom.

The Old Testament bears witness to this fact:

King Solomon on assuming charge of the throne, after King David, raised his mother Bathsheba to his side, to be the royal queen (1 Kings 2: 19)

This was also a foretaste of what was to follow…

… Jesus, the King of Kings awarding the throne of glory to His Mother, Mary and raising Her to be the Queen of Heaven and Earth!

The feast of the Day – the Assumption of Mother Mary – is one of the four Marian Dogmas that the Catholic Church pronounces.

A dogma is a doctrine that is solemnly proposed by the Church as formally revealed in Scripture or Tradition.

The four Marian Dogmas are:

1. Mary as the Mother of God

2. The Perpetual Virginity of Mary

3. The Immaculate Conception of Mary

4. The Assumption of Mary into heaven

The declaration of the Dogma of the Assumption of Mary is as follows:

“By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”

This Dogma of the Assumption was proclaimed on November 1, 1950, by Pope Pius XII in the Apostolic Constitution “Munificentissimus Deus”

This proclamation was not defining something new in the Church…

… rather it was an official recognition of the centuries-old belief on Christians about the Assumption of their Heavenly Mother.

The celebration of the Feast of the Assumption teaches us one important aspect: The Assumption of Mother Mary is the sure hope for us, for a life of eternal glory!

Our Blessed Lord came to this world to “die” and “win” salvation for human beings.

This act of salvation had its total co-operation in the Person that God had chosen as His Own in the Divine Plan – Mother Mary.

From the moment, She said “yes” to the messenger of the Lord to become the Mother of God’s Child…

… She placed Herself in a position of “constantly being under the scanner to say a Yes” to God’s Will!

Her Yes to God, meant a “No” to many things in Her personal life…

… her own individual desires

… her own undisclosed dreams

She would become the epitome of the one who lived the teaching that Jesus would later expound during His ministry, “No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God” (Lk 9: 62)

Her echo of “Yes” reverberated and resonated all through Her life…

…. in times of loneliness

… in times of immense pain

… in times of utter hopelessness

It was this daring faithfulness that made God to bestow on Her the privilege to share in Her Son’s Glory!

This is wonderful story of the Assumption.

This then is one of the great promise and assurance that God gives to each one us through this Dogma of the Assumption of our Blessed Mother Mary.

>> Does life grind us, with its daily toils and do we undergo immense pain and suffering – sometimes even unbearable and agonizing?

>> Does life grill us, with many incidents of misunderstandings, exposition to calumnious talks and total absence of positive encouragements and unconditional acceptance by people?

>> Does life gnash us, with constant tensions and difficulties that never seem to leave us alone and paralyze us with innumerable jolts of depression and despair?

Then, the Assumption of our Blessed Mother comes to our rescue, with a hopeful answer to all such miserable questions!

We need to be reminded that Mary had exclaimed, “Behold, I am the Handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38)

Mary was an ordinary human being.

>> She too had Her ordinary and humble beginnings.

>> She too went through common life’s struggles and strains.

But through these “ordinary” circumstances…

• God “raised” Her to the Heights

• God “assumed” Her into Glory

… simply because She “found favour with God” and lived a life worthy of that call

>> In total submission, humble obedience and loyally faithful!

This then is our call too…

>> As Baptized Christians, we too have “found favour” with God.

We dwell in “ordinary” circumstances of life – with hardships and pains.

But if we also…

• seek and live the Will of the Lord at all times

• constantly submit to what He wants

• and dutifully bow to His mercy and grace

… the glory which Jesus has “won” for us at Resurrection, can be ours!

God’s plans are indeed wonderful…

>> In the “Story of the Fall” a mother (Eve) had been involved intimately with a man (Adam) and humanity fell into the sea of sin!

>> In the “Story of the Rise”, a Mother (Mary) was involved intimately with a Man (Jesus) and humanity is promised to “assume” to the skies of glory!

Are we ready to co-operate with God’s plans in our lives, just as Mother Mary did…

… and thus receive the “Privilege of Assumption into Glory” just as Mother Mary received?

May we grow in our Love for the Lord and for the Blessed Woman who bore God in Her womb and was borne by God into heaven, and not left in the grave to turn back into dust!

Today , the Great Land of India celebrates her Independence Day.

>> May all Indians grow to understand the true meaning of freedom…

… and like Mother Mary, properly channelize the God-given Freedom towards excellence of life, blossoming of virtues and to the Glory of God!

Happy Feast to Jesus, Our Great King and to Mamma Mary, His Glorious Queen-Mother!

>> Happy Independence Day to all Indians, all over the world!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – ““When the Most Holy Soul of Our Lady left her Most pure Body, this Body was carried to the sepulcher and returned to the earth like that of her Son.

>> For it was most proper that the Mother should not have a greater privilege than the Son.

But just as Our Lord rose at the end of three day, so did She rise at the end of three days.

>> Yet in a different manner, inasmuch as the Saviour rose by His own power and authority and Our Lady rose by the almighty power of God Her Son…

… Who commanded the blessed Soul of His most Holy Mother to be reunited to Her Body.

Certainly it was very fitting that this most pure Body should in no way be tainted by any corruption, since that of Our Lord had been drawn from Her chaste Womb…

… and had reposed in it for nine months.”

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Aug 14 (Mt 18:15-20)

Facebook is the popular online social networking service, which has achieved immense levels of popularity and usage.

Many use it, on account of its…

… versatility in finding and maintaining contacts

… easy to use features and the availability of readily accessible tools

… resourcefulness which helps to gain a lot of information and entertainment

One of the features that is available on Facebook is the option to “unfriend” someone.

To “unfriend” means to remove someone from a list of friends or contacts on a social networking website.

The technique to do that is pretty simple:

>> Going to the person’s profile

>> Hover over the ‘Friends’ button at the top of the profile

>> Click on “Unfriend’

It’s as easy and straightforward as that to “throw” someone out of the friend list!

Real life too, sometimes falls into this “simplistic” technique to “unfriend” people from life – especially people who are close to us and who ought to deserve “repeated” chances before the ties are severed…

… Someone offends us – either out of ignorance or perhaps due to some reason – but we easily “break ties” with that person

… Someone speaks a bad word about us and we take so much offence that we lose all our peace of mind and devise schemes to terminate or harm that person – either physically or socially or mentally

… Someone acquires a bad name – out of false rumours or maybe even out of some true incident; but we make a mountain of the mole and go on to further critically damage the image of that person

Our life sometimes makes it so easy “to unfriend” someone…

… sometimes, even our own family members, or close friends or some other person who has played a deep role in our lives.

The Gospel of the Day invites us to reflect in depth on this our trend to “unfriend” people from our lives, without even giving them further chances or opportunities to remedy themselves.

Jesus says, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone” (Mt 18: 15)

Jesus was a person who had an important principle in all His teachings: the need to strive towards perfection.

In Mt 5: 48, Jesus says, “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect”

It’s this pursuit of perfection in human relationships that makes Jesus to invite us in being careful and cautious with respect to severing our relationships with one another.

“Friendship”, it is said, “is delicate as a glass – once broken it can be fixed but there will always be cracks”

Jesus, therefore warns us on the need to “handle with care” our relationships.

The “pursuit towards perfection” makes it inevitable for a Christian – a follower of Christ, to go beyond one’s own limitations and situations in maintaining relationships…

… by preserving and perfecting the fine ones

… by mending and restoring the broken ones.

• It is easy to say “I don’t like you any more” because of some bad experience

… but it takes Christian Gentleness to respect and accept a person, despite his/her faults or failures

• It is easy to show a person the exit-door in our relationship due to some misunderstanding or ego-clash

… but it takes Christian Humility to let go of one’s “proud and adamant mentality” and lower oneself to try to understand better the person in fault and his/her situation and background

• It is easy to harbour grudge and to nurture ill-feelings and to spread the contagion of malicious talks regarding a person whom we don’t like

… but it takes Christian Charity to allow the honey of Christ’s love to permeate our hearts and to be able to find goodness even in the midst of a slush of ‘apparent dirt’ in the person

Our lives, families, communities and societies are being plagued by a number of cancers with respect to relationships:

>> Backbiting and spreading false rumours about people and situations

>> Cooking up bogus stories and building up on some true incidents to fashion an “interesting and spicy” report regarding particular persons

>> Actively engaging in forming groups and cliques against a someone in order to satiate one’s own pleasures and get through one’s personal agenda for life

Are we ready to be bold to let go of all such tendencies to which we can be prone and instead engage ourselves in radical Christian charity and humility?

We shall specially seek the intercession of St Jane de Chantal, whose feast was celebrated on 12th August, in order to have greater strength in our personal relationships.

>> She is the patron saint of forgotten people, in-law problems, loss of parents, parents separated from children and widows.

May her words inspire us:

“If we truly love our neighbours, we refrain from saying anything prejudicial to them.

>> We support everyone as we would like to be supported.

>> We try to give the example that we would like to receive from others.

>> We excuse and forgive the blunders of others as we would like ours to be forgiven and excused.

>> We rejoice in the happiness of others and are sorrowful in their pains, just as we would like them to respond to us in ours.

>> We graciously help others in their needs both by prayer and actual service.

In this way we truly show our good-will and love.”

Today we celebrate the Feast of St Maximillian Kolbe, who was called by Pope St John Paul II as the “Patron Saint of our Difficult Century!”

May his words – the saint who volunteered to die in place of a stranger in the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz – be an inspiration for us:

“The most deadly poison of our times is indifference. And this happens, although the praise of God should know no limits.

>> Let us strive, therefore, to praise Him…

… to the greatest extent of our powers!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Charity never enters a heart without

bringing with it all the other virtues, empowering them and marshalling them as needed…

… just as a captain does his soldiers!”

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Aug 13 (Mt 18:1-5, 10, 12-14)

A mother took her three children to a fine restaurant for a dinner.

>> It was a crowded Sunday and they could only get separate seats.

As food was served, the youngest daughter – 6 year old Mary – who was seated at the far corner of the restaurant…

… loudly enquired from her mother: “Mother, don’t people say grace before meals in this place?”

A wave of silence wrapped the entire restaurant!

The mother did not know how to react.

But soon enough, the manager of the hotel, who was at the counter, said in an assuring voice to the child: “Yes we do. You may start?”

All the people bowed their head in silence

Little Mary closed her eyes, joined her hands and bowing her head…

… in a loud and crystal voice prayed: “Bless us O Lord, and these your gifts, which we are going to receive from your goodness, through Christ our Lord? Amen!”

The child found it strange to observe that none of the elders were praying…

… So she went “out of the way”

>> And did something that was very beautiful

>> And taught others an action to be imitated

The Gospel of the Day is an invitation by the Lord to re-discover this “forgotten” dimension of our lives: Having child-like qualities in our life of faith…

… especially to “go out of the way”!

The Gospel passage begins with disciples asking their Master: “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” (Mt 18: 1)

Taking a child, Jesus exclaims: “Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like little children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 18: 3)

One notable characteristic of a child is to do things “out of the way.”

A child “goes out of the way”…

… in expressing love and affection by trying to imitate the kind acts of the elders

… in trying to help others – giving a hand at the household chores, or doing little works

Jesus, speaking of this worthwhile quality of a child…

… presents to us the image of a Shepherd who goes “out of the way”, in search of the lost sheep.

Jesus says: “If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray…

… will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills, and go in search of the stray?” (Mt 18: 12)

The shepherd loves all his hundred sheep…

… yet, when one gets strayed, he makes “an out-of-the-way effort” to get the lost one back.

He does not give up on the strayed.

>> He doesn’t desert the lost.

>> He doesn’t abandon the one, gone from his circle.

This attitude of going “out of the way”…

>> “taking an extra pain”

>> “dripping an extra sweat”

… would seem weird and strange to the calculative, pragmatic and business-minded head of ours, in this modern period!

We might question:

>> Is it not a waste of time to go after the “lost sheep”…

… of an obsessed drug-addict or a habitual drunkard or a consistent smoker?

>> Is it just too futile to awaken a “lost sheep”…

… of a soul in slumber, where there is no focus on spiritual life, where there is slackness of prayer and sacraments and where worldliness and materialism have crept and conquered?

>> Is it of any use to go after the “lost sheep”…

… of a couple who are constantly bickering and a family which is broken up with regular fights and misunderstandings?

>> Is there any sense in trying to restore the “lost sheep”…

… of a community whose members seem disinterested, who are lethargic, who have their own personal and hidden agenda and who always back-talk and back-bite?

>> Is it just not meaningless to revive the “lost sheep”…

… of a society or a nation where corruption has taken deep-roots in hearts of people and all sincere efforts of transformation often gets dumped into the bin?

The True Shepherd however, in all such situations, of the “lost sheep” …

… “goes out of the way”

>> The Good Shepherd makes an extra effort in getting them back!

This Good Shepherd today invites us to be partakers in restoring the lost ones…

… by having a child-like attitude.

A critical danger in the process of ‘growing- up’ is the tendency to lose our ‘natural child-like’ qualities.

>> As a child, we were free to express our emotions…

… but when we “grow up”, we tend to hold them up all within (only to burst out one day!)

>> As a child, we were easily dependent on those who cared for us…

… but when we “grow up”, we become arrogant towards them and seek ‘independence’

>> As a child, we were able to enjoy and relax in the present moment…

… but when we “grow up”, we get caught up in the snare of the past and shrink with fear of the future.

The Lord invites us to get back the “lost” child-like faith and trust.

>> We need to realize that we are always little children to our Heavenly Father!

>> He loves to care for us… He longs that we depend on Him entirely!

Yes, children sometimes teach elders great lessons, isn’t it?

Many times we forget the basics of life, which the children remind us?

>> Sharing… Being fair… Enjoying the present moment

>> Curiosity to learn… Willingness to let go hurts… Having a sense of wonder

Let us be willing to “go out of the way”…

>> And do things that are very beautiful

>> And teach others actions, that can be imitated!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “God takes pleasure to see you take your little steps; and like a good father who holds his child by the hand, He will accommodate His steps to yours…

… and will be content to go no faster than you.

>> Why do you worry?

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Aug 12 (Mt 17:22-27 and Feast of St Jane de Chantal)

A very wealthy and pious Christian lady was used to share God’s blessings to others…

… by giving bread and soup personally to the poor who came to her door.

Often people who had just received food from her would pretend to leave…

… go around the house

… and get back in line for more!

When asked why she let these people get away with this, the lady would reply:

“What if God turned me away when I came back to him again and again with the same request?”

This lady was Jane…

… St Jane Frances de Chantal – whose feast we celebrate today.

St Jane de Chantal is the Founder of the Visitation Congregation, along with St Francis de Sales, her spiritual friend and director.

St Jane de Chantal, with a personal experience, understood the generosity of God’s Sacrificial Love…

… and invited others to open their eyes to see the magnanimity of God’s Mercy.

The Lord displayed His Immense Generosity and Magnanimous Mercy by paying a “ransom” to save His people

>> He spared no efforts in getting His people released..

… by suffering on the Cross

… shedding His Blood

… giving up His life

… and rising from the dead

Have we fallen in love with this King Who gave Himself up for us?

>> Are we willing to live our life in obedience and in imitation of His commands Who ransomed His life for us?

The Gospel of the Day presents an interesting, yet a ‘not-too-familiar’ passage of Jesus and His disciples being asked to pay the Temple tax.

“When Jesus and His disciples came to Capernaum, the collectors of the Temple tax approached Peter and said, “Doesn’t your Teacher pay the Temple tax?” (Mt 17: 24)

What was this Temple tax?

The Temple tax was …

… a symbolic gesture in gratitude for what the people of Israel owed to God, for their redemption from slavery in the land of Egypt.

It was a Jewish tax with its origins seen in Ex 30: 12-16:

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: ‘This is what everyone among those who are numbered shall give: half a shekel… The half-shekel shall be an offering to the LORD.”

This offering was to be an “atonement money”, which would be used for the service of the meeting tent (Ex 12: 16)

In later centuries, this half-shekel was adopted as the amount of the Temple Tax – the one that all Jews were supposed to pay once a year for the upkeep and maintenance of the Jerusalem Temple.

The Temple Tax was thus an “atonement” money

>> It was a “ransom” money!

It is fascinating to note that the incident of this “ransom/atonement” money  is mentioned immediately after Jesus spoke of His Passion and Death.

Jesus told His disciples in Mt 17:22-23:

“The Son of Man is to be handed over to men, and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day”

The incident of the Temple tax, which is the atonement/ransom money, is mentioned…

… immediately after Jesus speaks of His Passion, Death and Resurrection.

Is there any connection between these two incidents?

The Temple tax was in gratitude for the redemption of Israel from slavery

… Jesus would now free all people from the slavery of sin by His Death and Resurrection

The Temple Tax was paid as “ransom” money…

… The Blood of Jesus would now be the “ransom” that will be paid for redemption of humanity.

Jesus did not resist His disciples from paying the Temple Tax…

… as we would see in the incident of the miraculous catch of the fish with a coin in the mouth (Mt 17: 27)

But the perfect payment of the “tax”…

… would be done by Jesus Himself – by His Sufferings, Death and Resurrection!

Jesus would not just pay the tax…

… He would also give Himself in complete obedience to the Father

Thus, He would becoming the “tax” – the ransom and the atonement money!

>> 1 Tim 2:6 says, “Jesus gave Himself as a ‘ransom’ for all”

>> Mk 10:45 says “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ‘ransom’ for many”

It is interesting to also note that this incident of the Temple Tax brings reminds us of the former occupation (trade) of two of the disciples of Jesus:

1. Matthew… who was a tax collector (Mt 9:9)

(Probably that explains why this incident is mentioned only in the Gospel of St Matthew)

2. Peter… who was a fisherman (Mt 4:18)

(That’s why Jesus asks Peter to “go to the sea, take the first fish that comes up, and open the mouth to find a coin…”)

Matthew and Peter could represent any of us…

Maybe, like Mathew –  the Tax Collector…

>> We are collecting a lot of things in life…

… but still not finding peace in life!

>> We are occupied with material dimensions at our “own tables”…

… or find ourselves at the receiving end of not being accepted and being looked down by others.

Maybe, like Peter – the fisherman…

>> We are fishing in the waters of life for contentment and satisfaction…

.. but fail to have a catch!

>> We are putting in a lot of effort to fish for success, yet finding none…

… or find ourselves drowning in a sea of sin, hopelessness or despair

Whoever we are..

>> The Lord extends His loving invitation…

… to leave our “tables of collection” and follow Him!

… to cast away our “nets of fish” and follow Him!

He has become the “Ransom”…

… in Whom we can find the ‘collection’ of all joys and contentment of life!

… in Whom we can witness the ‘great catch’ of salvation and redemption!

By this great act, He gave the “Ransom”…

… for our freedom from captivity!

>> By His humbling sacrifice, He paid the “Atonement money”…

… for our salvation for eternal life!

Yes, let us fall in love with the Man Who gave Himself up for us!

>> Let us be willing to live our life in obedience and imitation of His commands Who ransomed His life for us!

Let us seek the intercession of St Jane Frances de Chantal in turning towards the Generous Sacrificial Love of Christ and His Mercy…

… and be inspired by her words:

“Should you fall even fifty times a day, never on any account should that surprise or worry you.

>> Instead, ever so gently set your heart back in the right direction and practice the opposite virtue, all the time speaking words of love and trust to our Lord…

… after you have committed a thousand faults, as much as if you had committed only one.

>> Once we have humbled ourselves for the faults God allows us to become aware of in ourselves, we must forget them and go forward!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “The Lord would never exhort the faithful to persevere…

… if he were not ready to give them the power to do so!”

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