Dec 1 (Mt 24:37-44 – First Sunday of Advent)

Legends are common and are important to a culture.

A legend is a semi-true story, which has been passed on from person-to-person and has important meaning or symbolism inherent in it.

It usually includes an element of truth, involve heroic characters or based on historic facts, but with ‘mythical qualities’.

One such famous legend is that of King Nero.

In AD 64, a great fire consumed the city of Rome.

>>  For six days & seven nights, the Romans watched helplessly as their city burned..

This historical fact is accompanied by a legend which says that while the city of Rome was burning, its Emperor Nero was very casually busy, playing the fiddle!

It’s from this legend (true or not) that we get the English phrase “To play the fiddle while Rome burns”

>> It means to “do nothing or something trivial while knowing that something disastrous is happening”.

>> It means “to spend time enjoying oneself or doing things that are not important when one should be dealing with a serious problem”

The Gospel of the Day is a strong warning to examine whether we too, as in the legend of Nero, are engaging ourselves “in playing the fiddle, while Rome burns”.

We are on the first day of the Season of Advent.

In the Latin Rite tradition of the Church, there are six different liturgical seasons…

1. The Season of Advent is a time to become aware of God’s deep faithfulness and preparing our hearts to receive Him more deeply into our lives.

2. The Season of Christmas invites us to experience, thank and cherish the intervention of God in our lives and to grow deeper in the understanding of the ‘Emmanuel God’ – the God Who is with us!

3. The Season of Lent invites us to focus on the reality of sin and make repentance.

4. The Season of Holy Triduum  invites to focus and experience the passion, death and Resurrection of our Blessed Lord

5. The Season of Easter invites us to focus on the mighty power of God through His Resurrection and the New life He promises.

6. The Season of the Ordinary Times invites us to focus on daily life and teachings of Jesus and draw practical conclusions for our life.

>> Advent is a time to become more aware of the presence of the Lord in our lives.

>> Advent is a time to wake up from the slumber of sin to a life of grace and blessing.

>> Advent is a time to shake off the dust of sluggishness and become more zealous and fervent.

The central theme of reading of the Day is Jesus’ warning to each one of us to be alert, watchful and prepared because Christ’s Second Coming can occur at any time.

We are invited to examine ourselves in asking….

>> Am I casually wasting away my life, without giving enough attention to my spiritual life?

>> Am I spending my time enjoying in vain, without paying attention to the higher things of life?

>> Am I dozing off in lethargy and laziness and failing to carry out my Christian responsibilities?

The Gospel of the Day speaks of the various signs that would signal the coming of the Son of Man. (Mt 24: 37-41)

It also gives a strict warning and a hard reminder to be always on the alert and be on the watch.

>> “Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come” (Mt 24: 42)

St Luke in his Gospel uses an interesting word, to convey this same message.

>> “But take heed…lest that day come upon you suddenly like a SNARE” (Lk 21: 34-35)

The Greek word used for “snare” is “pagis”.

> ‘Pagis’ comes from the word ‘pegnumi’ which means “a set up or a fix”.

It is a trap (fixed or fastened by a noose or notch) which can fall suddenly  so that wild animals and birds are caught by surprise.

>> And when it is set off there is no time to withdraw and avoid getting caught.

As soon as the prey takes the first bite or the first step, the snare is set off…

… and before the prey knows what happened, they are caught.

The Lord describes His Second Coming to the World  as this ‘snare’… giving no time or chance for escape.

Everyone who is caught up with the cares of this life –  the day will come on them like a snare!

This, therefore, calls for alertness and watchfulness at all times.

>>  Our whole life, ought to be drenched in preparation and  vigilance.

But often, we tend to allow laxity and sloppiness to dominate our lives.

We tend to become people “who play the fiddle, while Rome burns…”

>> Though we sense the fire of sins and transgressions burning in our lives, we play the fiddle of making many excuses and postpone the need to repent.

>> Though we sense the fire of indifference and unconcern burning in our relationships, we play the fiddle of not taking the lead to improve our contacts and slip into more hatred.

>> Though we sense the fire of abuses and corruption burning in our society, we play the fiddle of passing the responsibility onto others and promote those evils by our apathy and lack of concern.

This Season of Advent is a wonderful time to renew our commitment and consecration to the Lord.

The Lord wishes to come into our hearts….

… God will fulfill His promise of coming into us, when we do our part of being watchful and prepared.

As St. Thomas Aquinas says:

“Without God, I can’t. 

Without me, He won’t.”

> Let us become more watchful.

> Let us become more prayerful.

Let us stop “playing the fiddle while Rome burns”;

…  instead let us “be enthusiastic and responsible while (our heavenly) Home calls!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, not even if your whole world seems upset.

>> If you find that you have wandered away from the shelter of God…

… lead your heart back to Him quietly and simply!”

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Nov 30 (St Andrew the Apostle)

“I command you for the last time…make your sacrifice to our gods” yelled Aegeas, the pagan judge.

“Certainly no!” was the reply back, “I sacrifice daily to The Almighty God, the one and true God.

>> Not the flesh of oxen and the blood of goats do I offer, but the unspotted Lamb upon the altar.

All the faithful partake of His flesh, yet the Lamb remains unharmed and living!”

Exceedingly angered by that adamant refusal, the judge commanded the rebel to be thrown into prison.

The supporters of the rebel, who stood outside the judging quarters, raised an uproar to free him.

But the one who was punished, personally calmed the mob, and earnestly pleaded with them to desist…

… as he was hastening towards an ardently desired crown of martyrdom.

When he was led to the place of martyrdom, on beholding the cross from far, he cried out:

“O Good Cross… so long desired and now set up for my longing soul, I confidently, with rejoicing come to you!

>> Exultingly receive me, a disciple of Him who hung on you.”

>> Within a few moments, he was tied to the cross – an X-shaped Cross!

For two days, he hung there, alive…

…. unceasingly proclaiming the Teachings of Christ, until he passed on to Him, whose likeness in death, he so ardently desired!

This brave martyr of Christ was St Andrew, the Apostle of Jesus, whose feast we celebrate today.

A few years back, this valiant martyr, St Andrew, had received the call of the Lord, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Mt 4: 19)

The name “Andrew” in Greek means “manly” or “a person of valour”.

St Andrew was from Bethsaida, in Galilee.

>> He was a fisherman, by trade and a former disciple of John the Baptist.

St Andrew is said to have been martyred at Patras in southern Greece on a cross which was in the shape of an “X”.

>>This type of cross has long been known as “St Andrew’s cross.”

>> St Andrew’s Cross, is depicted, on the national flag of Scotland.

One of the wonderful things that we learn from St Andrew is his wonderful quality of being a “Introducer to Christ”, as seen in the various instances of the Gospel

1. It was St Andrew who “introduced to Christ”, his brother Peter (Jn 1: 40-42)

>> “We have found the Messiah” (Jn 1:41) were the words with which he introduced Jesus to his brother

2. It was St Andrew who “introduced to Christ”, the little boy with the five loaves and two fish, which would be later, multiplied for five thousand men! (Jn 6: 5-13)

>> “There is a little boy, who has five barley loaves and two fish?” (Jn 6:9) were the words with which he introduced Jesus to the little boy

3. It was St Andrew who “introduced to Christ” the Greeks who had come up to worship at the feast, at the request of Philip (Jn 12: 20-23)

>> “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (Jn 12: 23) were the words with which Jesus reacted when he was introduced to the Greeks.

Thus, we see that St Andrew became an instrument and an active medium of “Introducing to Christ” many people.

As a Christian, this ought to be one great quality and duty that we ought to follow – “Introducing to Christ” many people, like St Andrew.

We are on the last day of the month of November, and as we enter into December…

… this can be one of the beautiful practical resolutions, that we can, do, all the 25 days of this Advent Season, in preparation for the Birth of Christ, into our hearts and life

>> “Introducing to Christ”

How can I take up this task of “Introducing to Christ”?

Many around us long to hear a word of encouragement in their brokenness, receive a word of consolation in their struggles and encounter a smile of hope in their helplessness

>> Can I “Introduce them to Christ” – to His love, to His message of hope, to His treasury of providence?

Many around us have immersed themselves into the murky waters of sin, immorality, injustice and insensitivity to people and nature

>> Can I “Introduce them to Christ” – to His ocean of mercy, to His fountain of justice and to His abundance of warmth?

Many around us have separated themselves and live in isolation – from people in relationships, from the Church and Her teachings, from the responsibilities and duties of their works and the society.

>> Can I “Introduce them to Christ” – to His dimension of wholeness in relations, to His Life-giving Sacraments and to His instruction of being faithful?

St Andrew heard the call of the Lord – “to follow Him”

>> He was touched by His love and was filled with a passion for His Master

>> He was zealous to bring many more to the Love of Jesus

>> He was even willing, to lay down his life, in imitation of his Master, for love of Him

We too, have heard the call of the Lord – “to follow Him”

>> Are we touched by His love and was filled with a passion for His Master

>> Are we zealous to bring many more to the Love of Jesus

>> Are we also, willing, to lay down our life, in imitation of our Master, for love of Him

May St Andrew intercede for us and inspire us, by his tremendous love for the Master…

… And may we too, like him, become people who “Introduce many to Christ”!

Happy Feast of St Andrew, the zealous Apostle who “Introduced many to Christ”!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Let us walk joyously, dear souls, among the difficulties of this passing life.

>> These pains will have an end when our life ends…

… after which there will be only joy, only contentment, only eternal consolation!”

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Nov 29 (Lk 21:29-33)

“Endurance” is the name of an American reality television program.

Contestants of Endurance live in a remote location and participate in various mental and physical challenges.

>> The outcome of the competitions determines which players are eliminated.

The winners receive an all-expenses paid vacation package to an exotic location as the prize.

Christian Life is also a test of Endurance!

Unlike a reality show, it is real life…

>> There are various mental, spiritual, emotional and physical challenges

Unlike an-all expenses paid vacation package as a prize…

… the Christian test of Endurance rewards Eternal Life.

Are we ready to rise to the challenge of this Christian Life of Endurance?

In this life of bravery and dare, we have the strength of an Enduring Factor – God’s Word!

>> “Heaven and earth may pass away, but my words will endure forever” (Lk 21: 33)

The Gospel of the Day is an exhortation to being committed to the Christian Life of Endurance by trusting always in the Enduring Word of God!

Words have immense power and potential.

They can cut

>> They can hurt

>> They can heal

>> They can build

>> They can make

>> They can break

>> They can crush

>> They can console

And God’s Word has ultimate control and infinite power.

God’s Promises through His words are forever.

This is clearly manifested when we travel through the pages of the Bible…

Abraham was called to a distant and unknown land.

He was promised descendants as many as the stars of the sky and the sand on the shore.

>> But nothing worthwhile seemed to be happening…

… God’s word seemed barren and infertile.

Yet, the enduring faith and the enduring trust of Abraham prevailed at the opportune time…

God’s Word came to fulfilment and great completion

>> Yes, “Heaven and earth may pass away, but His words will endure forever”

Moses was called to become the liberator of a nation.

He was promised complete guidance and absolute direction from God.

>> But often during the journey of liberation, Moses had to face the ire of the people.

… God’s word seemed empty and betraying.

Yet, the enduring conviction and the enduring confidence of Moses got him through…

God’s Word displayed great glory and a mighty witness.

>> Yes, “Heaven and earth may pass away, but His words will endure forever”

Job was blessed with immense comforts and vast riches.

He was however permitted to be tested by Satan and lost much of his security and wellbeing.

>> Hopelessness and wrenching despair seemed to be his best companion…

… God’s Word seemed to be abandoning and deserting him.

Yet, the enduring tenacity and the enduring perseverance of Job prevailed to the end…

God’s Word showered him with great and marvellous riches.

>> Yes, “Heaven and earth may pass away, but His words will endure forever”

What is my faith, trust and hope in God’s Word?

In moments of life-crushing events and soul-hurting situations…

>> Do I endure and trust in the enduring and eternal power of God’s Word?

In times when the asteroids of bad luck crash against the surface of my life…

>> Do I endure and remain firm in the enduring and everlasting strength of God’s Word?

In times when my family, community and my world gets reduced to total splinters…

>> Do I endure and be positive in the enduring and emphatic might of God’s Word?

The Lord has promised each one of us, immense blessings and graces through His Word.

At times…

… there are delays in the fulfilment of God’s Word, as in the case of Abraham

… there are frustrations in the following of God’s Word, as in the case of Moses

… there are misunderstandings in the listening of God’s Word, as in the case of Job

>> But the Lord invites us to remain Faithful, Trusting and Patient!

Let us seek to win the Christian test of Endurance by throwing ourselves into the Enduring Power of God’s Word!

>> Yes, “Heaven and earth may pass away, but His words will endure forever”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Truly it is a blessed thing to love on earth as we hope to love in Heaven…

.. and to begin that friendship here which is to endure for ever there!”

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Nov 28 (Lk 21:20-28)

A simple but effective test that is often used in psychological group-dynamics is called as the “Trust Fall” Exercise.

(N.B.: We can try doing this exercise with our friends…

… of course, with care and caution!)

The test comprises of two partners  – one standing in front of the other.

The task consists in the one who is standing in front…

… gently falling back, with both the feet, held firm on the ground

… while the partner at the back, supports the person – preventing from falling.

Initially, the partner “who is falling”, finds it extremely difficult to fall back…

… for fear of falling down.

(There is fear writ all over the face…

… there is a sense of panic, that is experienced deep within!)

But as they repeat this exercise…

… the trust level increases

… the confidence factor grows

>> And the person feels, at ease, to fall back, without any fear!

(There is a sense of positive feeling…

… trust and reliance is built up gradually!)

>> This “Trust Fall” is an group -dynamics exercise to grow in the aspect of trusting one another and believing in each other’s capacity.

Such a “Trust Fall” happens with our God as well, isn’t it?

When we go through struggles and problems of life…

… we often fall back!

>> If we don’t trust Him enough, we are afraid that we will fall down!

>> But, if we trust in His power, we are sure that the He will never let us fall down!

The Lord, through the Gospel of the Day, invites us, with strong vibes of positive feelings, “…Stand Erect and raise your heads, because your redemption is at hand” (Lk 21: 28)

The Gospel of the day is a continuation of  the talks on the coming of the Son of Man.

Jesus reminds his disciples of the many signs and terrors that will be manifest in the world and persecutions that will befall on His followers.

>> He invites His disciples to remain firm in perseverance and faithful commitment.

The Gospel of the Day brings out a clear contradiction in the stance and approach of the “people of the world” and “people who trust in Him”…

>> Lk 21: 26, “…people will die of fright…” (“people of the world”)

>> Lk 21: 28,”…stand erect and raise your heads…” (“people who trust in Him”)

Dying of fright and collapsing is a sign of absolute despair and hopelessness.

>> When someone is in great tension,  his/her physical structure reflects it…

… one tends to stoop low

… one tends to put down one’s head…

The worry in the mind makes the face a sorry affair!

>> The tension in one’s life robs the spirit of joy in living!

Faces turn pale…smiles go wry… body starts sagging!

But the Lord of the Universe today strongly exhorts us to not remain stooped-down

>> He challenges us to “stand erect and raise our heads…”

The Lord makes people to stand on their feet as a sign of feeling protected and strong…

>> The boy possessed by a demon was “held by the hand, raised up and made to stand” by Jesus (Mk 9:27)

>> Jesus held the hand of the daughter of Jairus and “helped her to stand” (Mk 5:41)

>> Peter and John took up the crippled beggar at the Temple gate “by the hand and raised him up…and he leaped up, stood and walk around…walking and jumping” and praising God (Acts 3: 7-8)

The Lord loves to help people to stand erect and hold heads high in firm faith and trust in Him.

Is my life today shattered and collapsed? 

>> Am I unable to stand firmly in faith and in trust?

When difficulties and problems arise in life…

>> Do I stoop down and get fixated on the worries…

… or do I “stand erect and raise up my head” in confidence of the Providence of God?

When calamities and unsolvable crises hits my family or community life…

>> Do we stoop down and get lost in despair….

… or do We “stand erect and raise up our heads” in hope of the Power the Lord?

When hopes get shattered and the future appears very blurred…

>> Do I stoop down and get stuck in hopelessness and desolation…

… or do I “stand erect and raise up my head” in deep faith in the Guiding Hand of the Lord?

Some of us live our lives with much negativity and pessimism…

>> Life most of the time appears to be dark and depressing and dismal!

But the Lord today asks us to live our lives with more positivity and optimism

>> Life is in fact much more bright and beautiful and brilliant!

The “Trust Fall” is an exercise, that we go through continually in our life of Faith!

>> When we go through struggles and problems of life…

>> If we don’t trust God enough, we lose heart…

… and we are afraid that we will fall down!

>> But, if we trust in His power, we can stand firm…

… and we are sure that the Lord will never let us fall down!

Are we ready to play the “Trust Fall” Exercise with the Lord?

>> Be assured… He will hold you firm!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Don’t get upset with your imperfections. >> Surrender to the Power of God’s Love…

… which is greater than our weakness.

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Nov 27 (Lk 21:12-19)

There was a Christian woman – completely bedridden – but was always bright, cheerful, and optimistic

>> She was confined to her room because of illness.

>> She lived in an attic apartment on the fifth floor of an old, dilapilated building.

Her friend decided to visit her one day and brought along another woman – a person of great wealth.

>> Since there was no elevator, the two ladies began the long climb upward.

When they reached the second floor, the well-to-do woman commented: “What a dark and filthy place!”

>> Her friend replied, “It’s better higher up.”

When they arrived at the third landing, the remark was made: “Things look even worse here.”

>> Again the reply, “It’s better higher up.”

The two women finally reached the attic level, where they found the bedridden lady.

>> A smile on her face radiated the joy that filled the heart of that disabled lady.

Although the room was clean and flowers were on the window sill…

… the wealthy visitor was just not comfortable with the stark surroundings in which the woman lived.

She blurted out, “It must be very difficult for you to be here like this!”

Without a moment’s hesitation, the bedridden woman responded:

>>”It’s better higher up!”

The lady had found the secret of joy: Not to find satisfaction at temporal things…

…but having the eye of faith fixed on the Eternal!

Yes!

>> “It’s better higher up!”

Have we discovered the Joy of this Truth?

Every joy in life is accompanied by the companionship of some pain and suffering.

>> This is the reality of life.

Christian life is an affirmation of this reality.

>> The joy of being a Christian is accompanied by the cross of pain and suffering.

>> The delight in sharing Christ’s peace is escorted by the reality of some trials and tribulations.

The Gospel of the Day reminds us of this factor:

>> Experiencing the mighty power of God in the midst of weaknesses of life.

>> Experiencing the splendid joy of God in the thick of persecutions of life.

>> Experiencing the serene peace of God in the middle of terrors of life.

The Lord continues His discourse on the signs of the end times and the forthcoming persecutions that will be the lot of those who believe and follow Him.

Jesus doesn’t tone down in any measure in warning of the future calamities that will befall on His followers:

“They will seize and persecute you..

They will hand you over to synagogues and prison…

They will lead you before kings and governors…

You will be handed over by your parents, brothers, relatives and friends…

You will be put to death… You will be hated by all…” (Lk 21: 12-18)

The list of persecutions is too long, right?

>> For those who consider Christianity as an easy stroll in the part, this is a shocker!

>> For those who consider following Christ as comfort on a bed of roses, this is a stunner!

Sometimes our faith in Christ remains merely a statement on paper.

As people who are Baptized – whether as infants or as adults – we’ve the duty to grow in the grace bestowed on us.

>> To follow Christ is a privilege granted to us.

>> To become His Disciples is a special opportunity conferred on us.

But we often squander away the blessings that the Lord gives us without realizing its worth.

As a Christian and a follower of Christ…

>> We love His blessings….

… but get depressed when pains or sufferings come our way.

>> We crave for joy…

… but get irritated when things don’t go in the way we wish.

>> We seek for a comfortable life…

… but get upset with Him when we lose some luxuries.

The Lord however, invites us to a life of deeper perseverance and courage: “By your perseverance, you will secure your lives” (Lk 21: 19)

For the one who believes in Christ…

>> Every sickness, can be a moment to experience the Lord as a Healer

>> Every financial crisis, can be a moment to experience the Lord as the Provider

>> Every spiritual struggle, can be a moment to experience the Lord as the Saviour

>> Every break in relationship, can be a moment to experience the Lord as the Unifier

>> Every encounter in failure, can be a moment to experience the Lord as the Sovereign Lord

>> Every doubt of the future, can be a moment to experience the Lord as the Supreme Master

All these affirmations will remain peripheral and theoretical, unless we trust in the Lord.

>> Many might say

…I don’t believe in a God who allows calamities and persecutions.

>> Many might complain

… I don’t want a relation with a God who permits suffering and pains.

But this is where the challenge of our Baptismal Consecration comes to fruition…

> To be with the Lord, in total commitment, when the going gets tough.

> To remain united with the Lord, in complete faithfulness, when the road gets bumpy.

> To fix one’s eyes on the Lord, in absolute trust, when the skies are darkened.

In the words of Kahlil Gibran, the writer, “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars”

>> Jesus has shown us the path in the Way of the Cross.

>> Jesus has broken Himself for us in the Holy Eucharist.

> In Him is True Life.

> In Him is Genuine Peace.

> In Him is Everlasting Happiness.

Let us hold firm to our Crucified Lord and persevere in faithfulness to our Persecuted Master.

Life may often blurt out statements like…

“It must be very difficult for you to be here like this!”

Without any sense of hesitation, let us boldly and with conviction and joy respond:

>>”It’s better higher up!”

Let us seek to find satisfaction not at temporal things…

…but always have the eye of faith fixed on the Eternal!

Yes!

>> “It’s better higher up!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Have patience with all things…

… but chiefly have patience with yourself.

>> Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections…

… but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew!”

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Nov 26 (Lk 21:5-17)

Leonardo da Vinci was one of the greatest painters of all time.

His masterpiece, “The Last Supper” has been a source of many inspirations and stories.

>> Some of these are based on true facts; some on fictitious imaginations.

One such incident (without any certification of its truthfulness or falsity) goes such…

The artist Da Vinci had put all his talent on this great masterpiece, which was painted on a convent wall in Milan, Italy.

The painting was drawn with so much perfection, that it appeared to be extremely realistic.

>> Even the cup that was used by the Lord used was drawn perfectly…

… an opulent golden vessel richly set with jewels.

At the completion of the picture, some of his friends were given the privilege to view the painting.

The friends were wonder-stuck at the sight of the painting, and especially the dazzling chalice, and exclaimed:

>> “Wow! What a wonderful cup!”

>> “What a shine! See how the vessel sparkles!”

>> “I’ve never seen a cup with such exquisite beauty being painted before!”

Hearing such comments, the great painter, immediately stroked some dark colours over the glittering cup…

… and made it look like an ordinary vessel.

As he did so, he remarked:

“The glory of Christ, and not the beauty of the cup, must be the focus of my work!

In all things, He must be pre-eminent!”

Is Christ pre-eminent in our faith?

>> Or have other materialistic concerns – which may appear to be more sparkling and attractive- taken precedence in our life of faith?

The Gospel of the Day is a strong exhortation to restore the primacy of Christ in our lives…

… even at the cost of shattering every materialistic temples that we have dreamt of!

… even at the price of bringing down every worldly concerns that we have built up!

Jesus is on the courtyard of the Jerusalem Temple.

He heard some speak of “how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings” (Lk 21:5)

The Jerusalem Temple was a glorious structure and one of the great wonders of the time.

This Temple – which was originally constructed by King Solomon – had been marvellously rebuilt by Herod the Great.

The Jerusalem Temple was a vast glittering mass of white marble…

… with the occasional presence of gold and precious stones.

Despite such a grand spectacle in the background, Jesus makes a prophetic saying:

” All that you see here – the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down” (Lk 21:6).

Our Blessed Lord doesn’t really mince words, isn’t it?

>> He is the One Who is least afraid of calling “a spade as a spade!”

While all others lavished phrases of vain glory on the majestic Temple…

… Jesus predicted its mighty fall!

While all others had pinned their hopes and faith in this structure of grandeur…

… Jesus prophesied its soon-to-come destruction!

Here is a great truth that Jesus invites us to always be reminded of:

“While the human mind seeks to find comfort and coziness in external glories and splendour…

… the Divine always minimizes such vain laurels and insists on the true beauties of life!”

Jesus forewarns His disciples:

“See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name saying: ‘I am he’ and ‘The time has come’

… Do not follow them!” (Lk 21: 8)

Jesus was teaching His disciples…

… of not losing the focus, in the midst of materialistic and attractive fascinations!

… of not missing the track, in the face of many disguises, falsities and deceptions!

A Christian, always ought to have…

… Jesus as the focus!

… the Kingdom of God as the goal!

Anything… or anyone…

… which causes distraction or diversion, will have to be remedied!

Are there such distracting forces in our life, which takes away our focus from the Lord and His Kingdom?

>> Many of such disturbances would be…

… deceptive

… subtle in nature

… attractive at first-sight

But let us not be afraid to restore the primacy of Christ in our lives…

… even at the cost of shattering every materialistic temples that we have dreamt of!

… even at the price of bringing down every worldly concerns that we have built up!

May the glory of Christ, and not the beauty of any materialistic concern, be the focus of our works!

>> “In all things, may Christ be pre-eminent!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “We shall steer safely through every storm, so long as our heart is right…

… our intention fervent

… our courage steadfast

… and our trust fixed on God!”

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Nov 25 (Lk 21:1-4)

A rich business man and his assistant were travelling around a village on a tour.

As they walked along, they saw a boy pulling a plough (= a large farming implement with blades fixed in a frame, drawn over soil to turn it over and cut furrows in preparation for the planting of seeds – usually pulled only by animals)…

… which was steered by an old man.

It amused the assistant so much that he insisted on taking a picture of the scene with his little pocket camera.

>> Later he showed the picture to a priest in the next village, remarking about the peculiar spectacle.

“Yes,” said the Priest, “it seems a very strange way to plough a field that way.

But I happen to know the boy and old man well.

They are very poor. However, when the little church was built here in the village, they wanted to contribute something.

>> They had no money.

>> They had no grain to spare and winter was coming on.

So they sold their ox which pulled the plough and gave the money to the church building fund…

… and now – minus the valuable animal – they have to pull the plough themselves.”

The men looked at each other for a moment, then the assistant said, “But what a magnanimous sacrifice! Why did you allow it?”

“They did not feel that way about it” said the priest, “They regarded it as a great joy that they had an ox to give to the Lord’s work!”

Yes, true charity happens when there is an involvement of sacrifice and surrender.

Do we have the joy and the generosity to give ourselves, to the Lord and for His works?

The Gospel of the Day demonstrates the powerful message of True Giving, through the incident of the Offering of the Poor Widow.

The passage begins with the verse, “When Jesus looked up and saw…” (Lk 21: 1)

Jesus has sharp eyes…

>> He sees what most people miss to see…

>> He perceives what most people ignore…

>> He observes what most people pass on as ordinary…

We find this aspect, in many places of the Gospel…

While all others saw only the corrupt mind of Zacchaeus, Jesus saw deeper… (Lk 19:7)

>> He observed the flame of genuine repentance and earnest desire in him.

While all others saw only the filth in the woman caught in adultery, Jesus saw deeper…(Jn 8:3)

>> He observed the spark of pleading for mercy and compassion in her.

While all others saw only a disturbance in the blind beggar Bartimaeus, Jesus saw deeper… (Lk 18:39)

>> He observed the flash of true longing and expectant hope in him…

There are many times in our life, when we think or do little things and we would feel them as insignificant.

But the Lord sees deeper…

>> A tiny word of thanks and appreciation…The Lord sees our goodness.

>> A small gesture of timely help and assistance… The Lord sees our nobility.

>> A genuine smile of encouragement and support… The Lord sees our benevolence.

The palace of goodness is built by the tiny bricks of genuine actions and loving thoughts.

And the Lord sees it all – “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good” (Prov. 15:3)

He doesn’t miss a single gift, small or large.

>> He knows every giver, rich and poor.

This is the significance of being engaged in little and small acts of charity.

>> None of them go down the drain.

Rather, all of them are recorded by God and translates into a fountain of blessings!

The Lord keenly observed the insignificant action of the Poor Widow dropping in two copper coins into the Temple Treasury.

The Temple Treasury was in the Court of the Women, which was on the easternmost part of the Temple.

>> The Court of the Women obtained its name, not from its appropriation to the exclusive use of women, but because they were not allowed to proceed farther, except for sacrificial purposes.

Against the walls of this temple area were the thirteen chests, or ‘trumpets,’ for charitable contributions.

These thirteen chests were shaped like trumpets, narrow at the mouth and wide at the bottom.

>> Each one had a different Hebrew letter designating separate offerings and causes.

Into this Temple Treasury, “the poor widow just drops in two small copper coins” (Lk 21:2)

What difference did her two coins make toward meeting the temple budget?

Probably nothing!!

Perhaps the treasurer muttered under his breath as he saw it being dropped:

“Why do people throw such small coins into the treasury?  They’re more a nuisance to count than they’re worth!”

But the Lord has a totally different yardstick of measuring and of judging.

People count worth of money by what is given.

>> God counts worth of money by what is left over.

People say “wow” over thicker and fatter amounts given, irrespective of the means and intention.

>> God says “wow” over any amount given, but only when given with the proper means and true intention.

While most people would have sidelined this meager act of giving, the Lord lavishes praise on the poor widow who “gave it all”.

The gifts of the rich would have not cost them much…

…  But the widow may have gone hungry that night because she gave all what she had.

She gave it all, not for any praise or to show-off, but out of love of God and her religion.

What is our attitude in “giving” to God?

Often we give only “leftovers” to God.

>> If we have some food left, after we have relished nicely, we give it off to some hungry

>> If we have anything left, after we’ve spent for all our needs, then we drop a bit for charity.

>> If we have some “time” left, after engaging in all leisure, then we give the time to God.

>> If we have some goodwill left, after busying with many works, we offer our thanks to the Lord.

The Lord, seriously, is in no need of the offering of our money.

>> But the Lord, very seriously, is on the lookout for an ‘offering of our hearts’!

Let us make not just peripheral contribution of our lives, but rather engage in sacrificial offerings of our self.

As Saint Mother Teresa of Kolkotta would say:

“Give, but give until it hurts…

… It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving”

The Lord has given everything for us.

>> As His disciples, we too are expected to be similar: to give everything to Him.

An “all-giving” Master deserves “all-giving” disciples…

…  Doesn’t He?

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “When we abandon all to Him, He takes a tender care of us…

… and His Providence for us is great or small according to the measure of our abandonment!”

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