Nov 21 (Lk 19-41-44 and Feast of the Presentation of our Blessed Mother)

A priest was once persuading a church member to be more active and enthusiastic in his Christian life…

… and to give a little more priority to his spiritual life.

They were sitting inside the man’s parlour

>> It was winter time, and the coal was burning in the fireplace.

The man objected saying, “I can be a good person, even without doing all the spiritual activities and the requirements of the Church.”

The priest kept silent.

But stepped to the fireplace

>> Took the tongs, and picked a blazing coal from the fire…

… and kept it away from the fire.

In silence, both of them watched the blazing coal – which was far from the fire – lose its heat…

… and going off.

“I see…,” said the man!

Living a life away from God – the Fire of Life…

… will always cause tepidity and apathy to sneak in

>> Leading to a slow but sure loss of life.

The Gospel of the Day is the dramatic incident of Jesus crying over the City of Jerusalem…

… who had failed to understand the coming of the Messiah

>> And thus lost opportunity to truly be the “Jerusalem – the City of Peace!”

The heart of a parent is broken, when the child strays away from the ways of truth and honesty.

>> If this is the experience of our earthly parents, how much more will be the pain and suffering of our God, if we stray away from Him, who loves each one of us deeply with a tender affection?

It is this sorrow and grief that is strongly expressed by Jesus in the Gospel of the day.

Jesus laments over the City of Jerusalem.

St Luke records this lamentation of the Lord with a powerfully sentimental verse:

“As Jesus drew near, he saw the city and wept over it” (Lk 19: 41)

Jesus is usually an epitome of great joy and rejoicing.

>> But this joyful Jesus being made to shed tears shows the gravity of situation.

What made Jesus to shed tears?

The pain and the hurt He experienced because of the ill-response and harsh reaction of His chosen people, Israel, represented by the city of Jerusalem.

God had chosen Israel as His people.

>> Out of all the civilizations on the earth, He chose them as His beloved.

Through them He promised that the Saviour of the human race would come.

This promise ignited the hearts of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

>> God wiped out their enemies even in the most extreme of circumstances!

Time and again, God blessed them with judges, kings and prophets. He even provided them a place to worship.

But as the quote goes, “Familiarity breeds contempt!”

Israel, God’s own people no longer delighted in being His distinctive people.

>> For them, He became routine.

>> They began to consider Him of little value.

They allowed their hearts to grow hard, over and over, again and again.

Finally, Jesus, the long-promised Messiah came, the One whom God the Father had sent.

>> But most of the Jews by then, had grown stubborn and complacent in their ways.

>> They had no room for One who came to fulfil their Law and the Prophets.

They maltreated the Saviour of the World.

>> They rejected the Chosen One of God.

>> They abused the Anointed One of the Lord.

And this led, Jesus to shed tears.

This story of Jerusalem could well be our own life-story.

We have been specially chosen and loved by the Lord.

>> He has taken us through many dangers, sicknesses and accidents.

In times when everything seem lost, He has been our refuge.

> In moments when all seemed totally blank and dark, He has been the glowing light.

> In occasions we felt like quitting life and escaping from realities, He held us in good stead.

But we tend to easily forget all these good deeds and wonders of the Lord.

>> Yes, it’s a sad thing, but a sure reality: “For many of us, God is often, just a routine!”

We fail to be grateful and thankful to the Lord….

…by living a holy and virtuous life.

…by deepening our bond of love and affection with Him

…by translating His graces into deeds of charity and concern for our people.

We instead persecute and torture Him…

… by living a lethargic or unholy or even scandalous life

… by abandoning many of His commandments and the teachings of the Church

… by harming our brothers and sisters and being highly indifferent in situations.

God’s Heart – like that of a broken parent weeping for the child – is crying out for us…

>> Perhaps, He is telling us, “I am wounded!”

>> We have strayed much…it’s time to come back to Him

He calls us.

> He longs to have us with Him always.

>> He wants us back in His loving embrace.

As little children, let us run, in sincere repentance and honest contrition, to the welcoming Heart of our Beloved God.

Let us not boast or brag saying that, “I can be a good person, even without doing all the spiritual activities and the requirements of the Church.”

Rather, let’s realize that “away from the fire”…

… even a blazing coal will slowly but surely lose its heat and go off!

May we be reminded that living a life away from God – the Fire of Life…

… will always cause tepidity and apathy to sneak in

>> Leading to a slow but sure loss of life.

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of our Blessed Mother Mary.

Today we celebrate the initiation of our Blessed Mother into this way of holiness, in Her Presentation.

The account of the Presentation of Mary comes from the apocryphal Infancy Narrative of James.

>> Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anne, who had been childless, received the good news from an angel that they would have a child.

>> In thanksgiving for the gift of their daughter they brought her when she was around the age of three to the Temple in Jerusalem to consecrate her to God.

The Feast of the Presentation of our Blessed Mother is a reminder and a challenge to us to give greater attention to a life of holiness.

It is also a constant reminder for us to “offer ourselves” to the Lord.

We can offer many things to the Lord…

… our talents for His glory

… our possessions for His service

But the greater and the better sacrifice, that the Lord not just wishes, but also demands, is the Offering of our Lives.

… an offering of a faithful life

… an offering of a holy life

Today, as we celebrate the Feast of our Blessed Mamma’s Presentation, may we “give ourselves” wholly to the Lord.

>> We shall also seek the intercession of our Beautiful Mother, so that, like Her, we too can be wholly belonging to the Lord!

Yes, as little children, holding the Hands of our Blessed, may we cry to the Lord – “For You, Forever!”

Happy Feast of the Presentation of our Blessed Mamma!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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

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Nov 20 (Lk 19:11-28)

A little tortoise was constantly facing a complex of feeling too low in life.

Seeing the various other animals, moving swiftly and speedily…

… the tortoise would very often hide itself in its shell.

It felt that it could never progress in life!

One day, it came across a wise person and sought an advice of how to get the best from life.

The sage – a wise person – replied:

“My little tortoise, always remember that you have been created specifically.

So never feel low or bad about yourself.

And as far as progressing is concerned…

… Always remember: ‘Unless you stick your neck out, you can never progress!”

That was a simple, yet effective piece of advice, isn’t it

Unless the tortoise “stuck its neck out, it could never progress!”

Sticking the neck out of course, meant “taking a risk”…

… but unless that was done, progress was not going to happen.

The same is true for us in our life as well:

>> Unless we take risks… Unless we “stick out our necks”

… we can never progress!

The Gospel of the Day is a parable of a person who refused “to stick out his neck”…

… and thus not only failed to progress, but ended up on the losing side!

Jesus presents the very-practical “Parable of the Productive Servants”

A nobleman who, before going to a far away country, entrusts money to his servants with an instruction, “Engage in trade with these, until I return” (Lk 19: 13)

The money given was a “mina”

A mina was a Greek coin.

>> The lowest level of the Greek Coinage System was the drachma…

…. equal to one day’s wages.  (1 Drachma = 1 day’s wages)

One hundred drachmas equaled one Mina (100 Drachmas = 1 Mina).

>> Therefore, One Mina equaled nearly 100 days of wages (1 Mina = 100 days wages; i.e. nearly 3 months)

With this (fairly huge) amount of money, the Master instructs the servants to “invest”

Investment always means a “sense of risk!”

The parable goes on to say that…

… one of them made another ten (Lk 19: 16)

… the other made another five (Lk 19:18)

These two are greatly rewarded.

The one “who is willing to take risks” always finds life more rewarding and satisfying!

But, its over here, the parable presents the third servant, who decided to be “Mr. Keep it Safe!”

He came back to his master, with an excuse: “Sir, here is your coin” (Lk 19: 20)

He failed to make any investment

>> He failed to take “any risk”

He refused to “stick out his neck!”

Sticking the neck out of course, meant “taking a risk”…

… but unless that was done, progress was not going to happen.

>> And that would make him to end up on the losing side!

The Bible is replete with personalities, who would take “risks”…

… and thus emerge successful!

>> Noah would “take the risk” of listening to God and build the Ark for rescue from the deluge

>> Abraham would “take the risk” by obeying God and leaving His country and people

>> Moses would “take the risk” and trust in God to lead the people out of slavery

>> Jeremiah would “take the risk” of being a prophet despite of several oppositions to his life

>> Peter would “take the risk” of leaving his fishing profession to be ‘fishers of men’

… and many many more!

They “risked their life” for God – His Will and His Kingdom!

>> They would “stick our their neck” in progressing in the ways of God!

How about us?

>> Do we “take risks”?

… the “risk” to trust in God, in spite of the uncertainties of life

… the “risk” to know God has the best plan for us, despite the many hardships we face in life

… the “risk” to believe that God always walks with us, even though we go through the ‘deserts of life’

May we always realize:

Unless we take risks… Unless we “stick out our necks”

… we can never progress!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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

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

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Nov 19 (Lk 19:1-10)

There is a story said about a carpenter, who had least botheration about his Christian faith.

His pious and devout wife would often exhort him to return to faith…

… but he cared least!

>> They would even often have fights over this issue.

Once, he left to the woods, to fell trees.

As he glanced around, he noticed a tree – dead and dry, with its leafless branches embracing the skies.

>> He said to himself, “That tree I will cut down. For it is dead and dry, fit only to burned!”

As he got himself ready with the axe, to chop down the tree…

… he heard a voice thundering within him, “Are you not also like this dead tree…. Fit only to be burned?”

He tried to banish away such thoughts…

… but the higher he lifted up the axe to cut the tree, the greater was the voice heard!

He went on to strike the tree a few times…

… but the thought kept flashing in his mind: “Will God ever tell me.. ‘Cut it down..fit only to be burned!”

Eventually, the thoughts became so great, that he fell on his knees…

… and pleaded with God, to receive him back.

The story goes on to say, that he went back to his wife and was reconciled to her…

… and had his faith restored in the Lord…

… revived by the Mercy of God!

Is my life like a dead tree….without spiritual energy and “fit only to be burned”?

… then the Lord today thunders in our hearts: To restore our faith and be revived in His Mercy!

The Gospel of the Day takes us through such a faith-restoring and mercy-experiential incident in the life of a little man – Zacchaeus

The story begins with Jesus coming to Jericho and intending to pass through the town (Lk 19:1)

Jericho has a long history, especially seen in the Old Testament.

>> Jericho was the first city to be conquered by the Israelites under Joshua. (Josh 6:1-27)

It was surrounded by a huge wall. However, with directives from God & under the leadership of Joshua, the city was laid siege.

On the appointed day, Joshua ordered the people to shout & the walls of the city collapsed and the Israelites destroyed it.

Joshua laid a curse on the one who would rebuild this city.

>> Thus, Jericho bore the brunt of a curse.

It is to this ‘place of curse’ that Jesus makes his entry.

As Jesus makes his entry to this cursed place, a little man named Zacchaeus climbs & hides himself behind the leaves of a tree.

Now this incident of Jesus entering an accursed city and a man hiding behind the leaves of a tree, has quite striking similarities with another incident, seen at the start of the Bible – the incident in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3)

In the book of Genesis, when Adam and Eve sinned, God moved about in the garden.

>> But they hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden (Gen 3: 8)

God comes to a place, which has been now cursed because of sin.

But two persons hide themselves in the trees of the garden.

Interesting similarity, isn’t it?

God comes to a place of curse… the Garden… and two persons (Adam and Eve) hide in the trees.

>> Jesus comes to a place of curse… the city of Jericho… and one person (Zacchaeus) hides in the trees.

But with the similarity, there are also striking differences…

Adam and Eve hid from God, in order to stay away from God, because of the guilt of sin.

>> Zacchaeus hid from Jesus, in order to see him better, because of his own complexes.

Adam and Eve were fearful to hear the words of God addressing them.

>> Zacchaeus was surprised and joyful to hear the words of Jesus addressed to him.

Adam and Eve wanted to remain hiding even after God sought for them in the garden.

>> Zacchaeus jumped down from the tree after Jesus sought to come to his home.

Is there some similarity of these incidents to my life too?

Am I, like Adam & Eve, hiding from God, because I am scared of Him due to some of the sins which I am unwilling to give up?

>> Or am I, like Zacchaeus, seeking refuge in the leaves of trees like money, pleasure, evil habits and yet have a desire to see the Lord?

The Lord is gazing at us… like He gazed at Adam and Eve and Zacchaeus.

Am I, like Adam & Eve, fearful to hear the words of God, in the Bible or through the teachings of the Church or the words of other people, because of the pain to get rid of my sinful tendencies and evil practices?

>> Or am I, like Zacchaeus, joyful to hear God’s words addressed to me, & also ready to make changes for a better spiritual life?

The Lord is addressing each one of us…like He addressed Adam and Eve and Zacchaeus.

Am I, like Adam & Eve, wanting to remain in my sinful and lethargic state of life even though I experience that God’s mercy and compassion is readily available?

>> Or am I, like Zacchaeus willing to jump down with joy, from the tree of pride, complexes, sin and fear, and welcome the Lord into the home of my life?

The Lord is seeking for us…as He sought Adam and Eve and Zacchaeus.

The Lord is gazing, addressing and seeking for us.

>> Am I ready to encounter, to listen and to be found by Him?

A Yes to the question, will also mean taking some radical decisions in our life, just like Zacchaeus did…

>> Giving up of possessions…

>> Letting go of my undue desire for money, cheap popularity, the riches in my life etc.

>> Repaying those whom I have cheated…

>> Forgiving and accepting those whom I hurt, whom I don’t like, whom I am not in good terms etc.

Zacchaeus was a despised man.

… because of his short stature.

… because as a tax collector, he worked for the enemy-government and would cheat and defraud people.

… because Jesus came to his house – a house of a sinner.

But the encounter with Jesus made him a transformed person

>> The encounter with Jesus made him to go beyond all complexes and filled him with deep joy!

This same transformation is at hand for us…

Let, us, learn from the Little Man and make significant changes in our life, in order to experience the magnanimous wonders and graces from our Big God!

Maybe our life is like a dead tree….without spiritual energy and “fit only to be burned”!

>> The Lord today thunders in our hearts: To restore our faith and be revived in His Mercy!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Do not become upset when difficulty come your way.

>> Laugh at its face and know…

… that you are in the Hands of God!”

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Nov 18 (Lk 18:35-43)

Every person in the world faces a moment of darkness.

>> Some of us get encompassed by it.

>> Some of us get dejected by it.

The Gospel of Day presents the healing of a blind man.

> The blind man, faced immense darkness, but did not allow to get encompassed or dejected by it.

Let us travel with him through this exciting journey of moving from “Tamas”(darkness) to “Jyothi”(light)…

These blind man takes us through four stages of a spiritual life:

1. A State of Blindness

The man was stuck with blindness.

There is no idea as to when or how or why he became blind.

>> Maybe he was blind from birth.

>> Maybe he was blind due to some sickness as he grew up

>> Maybe he was blind as a result of some accident or calamity

The reasons for his blindness is unknown

Perhaps, many of us are in a state of blindness….

>> Blindness of being rejected and not accepted…

>> Blindness of inferiority complexes…

>> Blindness of inner brokenness…

>> Blindness of family crisis…

> Some of us maybe experiencing this darkness from the time of our birth.

> Some of us maybe experiencing this darkness due to calamities striking our lives as we grew

2. A State of Seeking

A life of blindness meant a life of total dependence on others…

…at times facing the ire of the people…at times facing the rejection of the people.

> The blind man could have become dejected and totally depressed.

> He could have given up in life and cursed their destiny.

But the blind man, did not allow the darkness to cloud his lives.

>> He probably would have heard about Jesus and the wonders He had done.

>> He sought with hope, the One who could banish his darkness.

>> His sought with faith, the One who could heal his gloominess.

Our state of blindness should not become a hindrance to seek the Lord.

>> We need to seek the Lord with our entire being…

>> We need to seek the plan of God and His providential care in our shadows..

>> We need to seek the road ahead with Hope and Faith in His Divine plans…

3. The State of Faith

The blind man, after making a deliberate choice to seek the Lord, expressed his deep faith in the healing power of the Lord.

The Lord makes a test of his trust and hope in Him.

“What do you want me to do for you?”

He said, “Lord, let me receive my sight” (Lk 18:41)

Our seeking for the Lord, needs to be supplemented greatly with the vitamin of Faith!

>> Delays in our prayer requests, should become an incentive to grow deeper in faith.

>> Addition of more problems in life, ought to be a moment to have more faith in Him

4. The Stage of Proclamation

The blind man, who was healed by Jesus, now, was filled with tremendous joy and enthusiasm.

> His happiness is so much overflowing, that he goes beyond the words of Jesus, and proclaims His wonderful miracle to the peoples.

“And immediately, he received his sight and followed Jesus, glorifying God” (Lk 18: 43)

> Once we are touched by the Lord, our happiness would know no bounds.

> Once we are healed by the Lord, our enthusiasm would get highly contagious.

The Blind man in the Gospel take us through these four stages…

The Stage of Blindness… The Stage of Seeking…the Stage of Faith…the Stage of Proclamation.

Let us be inspired and challenged by him

>> Let us seek the Lord of Light in our darkness.

>> Let us seek the Lord of healing in our sicknesses.

>> Let us seek the Lord of holiness in our blindness.

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “During the night, we must wait for the light!”

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Nov 17 (Lk 21:5-19)

“God himself cannot sink this ship!”

>> “The captain can, by simply moving an electric switch, instantly close all the doors, practically making the vessel unsinkable”

>> “We believe that the ship is unsinkable.”

These were some of the comments and claims that were made about Titanic – the largest ship in the first half of the 1900’s

But all these proud and arrogant assertions found a watery grave, with the sinking of the Titanic on the morning of 15th April, 1912 killing over one thousand five hundred people.

It was a massive tragedy of the loss of many lives.

>> But it was also a horrific lesson to humankind on the need to be aware of her limitations.

>> It was also a torrid warning to generations on the need to be on the guard, always.

“Being on the watch” is a necessity and a basic requirement in every sphere of human life!

The Gospel of the Day presents this message of being vigilant and alert in our lives.

Jesus is on the courtyard of the Jerusalem Temple and He hears “some people speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings” (Lk 21:5)

The Jerusalem Temple was a magnificent building and one of the wonders of those days.

The Temple had just been marvelously rebuilt by Herod the Great.

>> In all its beauty, the Jerusalem Temple was a vast glittering mass of white marble, touched here & there with gold & colour and precious stones.

“Whosoever had not gazed on it”, said the old rabbis, “had not seen the perfection of beauty.”

>> The historian Tacitus, called this spectacular edifice as “a temple of vast wealth”

Precious gifts such as crowns, shields, vessels of gold and silver were presented by princes and others who visited the holy house.

>> The Jerusalem Temple was indeed rich in these votive offerings.

With such a grand spectacle and gorgeous building 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)

These words would have come as a big shocker and a tantalizing scandal to His listeners.

>> Who would have thought that the Titanic would ever sink?

>> Who would have thought that the great Twin Towers in America would be in rubble?

>> Who would have thought the British Empire where “the sun never sets” would wane down?

To think of the Jerusalem Temple being totally destroyed was a case next to impossible.

>> The Jerusalem Temple was the holiest shrine of the Jews.

>> The Jerusalem Temple was the pulse and the heartbeat of the Jewish Faith.

>> The Jerusalem Temple was the greatest source of joy and pride for the Jews.

Any attack or any destruction of this Great Edifice of Faith was unimaginable and intolerable.

>> Yet, Jesus makes this powerful and daring prophecy.

What is the structure and edifice of joy and pride in our lives?

> Is it a structure…

… of fat bank-balances and transient fame and popularity

… of remarkable public positions and offices of high ranking

… of enjoying life with temporary pleasures and passing addictions?

All too often we have heard people saying:

>> “I have enough money & I am happy with my life!

Just enjoy today to the max. Who knows what happens tomorrow?”

>> “The status that I am in today, is a result of my hard-work and labour.

Why should anyone interfere in my private life to prevent me from enjoying it in my own style?”

History teaches us that structures built without the power and grace of God is bound to fall.

The Tower of Babel is a classic example from the Bible. (Gen 11: 4-9)

>> Built on human pride and aspiration, it had a catastrophic collapse

The lives of many people are also a lesson for us?

>> Samson… King Saul… King Solomon… Judas.

They had their moments of great glory and splendour.

>> But when pride and self-interest crept into their lives, they lost the touch of God’s hand!

We may glory and shine in beauty for some time, by just banking on our capabilities.

>> But unless, we remain in firm obedience and faithful commitment to the Lord, we are bound to fail!

None of us are, and can be unsinkable!

>> An obstinate stand that I can manage my life by myself is hazardous.

>> A proud feeling that no power in the world can shake me is dangerous.

>> An arrogant outlook that I am the sole master of my future and destiny is perilous.

Yes, let God be God in our lives!

>> Let Him enthrone the highest place and the privileged position in our lives.

May Jesus, the King of kings and the Lord of lords adorn the Temple of our lives.

>> With Him we can shine forever.

>> With Him we can stand forever.

>> With Him we can glory forever.

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “The King of Glory does not reward His servants according to the dignity of their office…

… but according to the humility and love with which they have exercised it!”

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Nov 16 (Lk 18:1-8)

An interesting incident is mentioned in the life of Jan Paderewski

>> He was a famous Polish pianist and a pioneer of the solo recital at music concerts.

It is said that when Paderewski was to leave his native Poland to play his first recital in London…

… he asked an influential compatriot to give him a letter of introduction, to a leading figure in Britain’s musical world

>> This was for any assistance, should anything go amiss.

The letter was handed to him in a sealed envelope.

>> Paderewski hoped that everything would proceed smoothly and he would not have to use the letter.

Well…

.. he did not have to use the letter.

>> His debut was a great success and he soon began to climb the ladder of success.

Some years later, while going through his papers, he came upon the ‘letter of introduction’ and opened it.

He was surprised to read the content:

“This will introduce Jan Paderewski, who plays the piano, for which he demonstrates no conspicuous (visible/noticeable) talent.”

Life… is often such!

>> Discouragements lure everywhere

>> Rejections prowl all around

Do we get bogged down by such discouragements and rejections?

>> Are we people who bring about discouragement and rejection to people?

The Gospel of the Day is the Parable of the Persistent Widow.

The Parable speaks of a judge and a widow.

The judge is characterized by some features:

>> He did not fear God.

>> He did not fear humans.

>> He was initially adamant in his refusal.

The Widow is characterized by some features:

>> She had a genuine need.

>> She was denied justice.

>> She remained persistent till the end.

We are often in many and true needs.

>> But we do sometimes find ourselves, a bit depressed at the delays in receiving the answers to our prayers.

The parable encourages and exhorts us to remain persistent in our prayer life and not to get discouraged by God’s delays, which apparently appears as God’s denials.

>> Yes, God’s delays are certainly not His denials!

>> God’s pauses are certainly not His refuses!

At the same time, this parable invites us to switch roles:

>> To see ourselves as the Judge…

… and God as the Widow.

Widows in the first century found themselves at a very sad state.

They were quite literally unprotected. Many became homeless and destitute after the death of their husbands.

>> Often they were at mercy of cunning men, including some religious leaders who would “devour widows houses” (Mark 12:40)

A widow couldn’t count on anyone to come to her aid.

>> She represents the hopeless….the unaided…the oppressed.

In Mt 25:35, Jesus identifies Himself with the one who was hungry, thirsty, naked, stranger and the imprisoned.

>> Jesus in the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger and the imprisoned…

… is the hopeless one …the unaided one …the oppressed one.

Jesus, like the widow in the Parable…comes knocking at our door:

Behold I stand at the door, and knock… (Rev 3:20)

As the oppressed and justice-deprived Widow, Jesus, knocks at our door – we, the judges.

What is our reaction and response to the voice of the needy and the helpless?

The cry of the one in pain and suffering reaches our hears…

>> Do I reach out my heart to them and seek to ease their troubles and hardships?

The moaning of a broken family or a lost teenager or a spoilt child comes to us…

>> Do I pray for them and help them, in ways possible for me?

The sad tear of the abused or oppressed people with whom we work is seen by us…

>> Do I get out of my comfort-shell to make them feel comforted and consoled?

The disturbing reports of violence, corruption, injustice in society falls on our senses…

>> Do I remain indifferent to them and become saturated with such atrocities?

Yes…the widow – the hopeless, the unaided and the oppressed one… keeps knocking at our doors…

>> As a Judge…

… do I keep refusing?

…do I keep getting irritated?

…do I feel life as a botheration?

Life often has discouragements luring everywhere and rejections prowling all around

Do we get bogged down by such discouragements and rejections?

>> Are we people who bring about discouragement and rejection to people?

The Parable of the Persistent Widow is certainly a big lesson to remain firm and perseverant in our prayer life.

>> And when looked from another perspective is also a big challenge to become a people who reach out in justice and give comfort and consolation to the needy.

Knock….knock…

>> Do we hear the knock, seeking for help?

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “What we need is a cup of understanding, a barrel of love, and an ocean of patience.

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Nov 15 (Lk 17:26-37)

A humorous story is told of a heavy-weight boxer who would greatly brag about his prowess…

… and speak of how he would “he would conquer the world!”

It is said that one day, he came to a big city with two huge suitcases.

As he got down the bus, putting the suitcases down, he looked up to the tall building tower and exclaimed: “I will conquer this city!”

When he looked down, however…

… the suitcases were gone!

Very often, our lives are such…

>> We dream of conquering the entire world…

… but often fail to even have a control on ourselves!

We become “so worldly”, that we fail to give heed “to the world to come!”

>> We become so occupied with the concerns of our earthly existence, that sometimes we “forget about our Heavenly priorities!”

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus highlighting this essential element of Christian living: Being in the world, but living out of the world, with eyes firmly set on heavenly realms.

Jesus says, “Whoever seeks to gain his life, will lose it, but whoever loses his life, will preserve it” (Lk 17:33)

Very often our lives get too attached to material riches and attachments.

>> We fall prey to seeking great honour and fame in being a Christian…

… but are unable to grasp the fact that ‘to be a Christian is to be living a life of simplicity’.

>> We yield to temptations of being obsessed to seek power and positions of futile vanity…

… and fail time and again to live up to the Christian virtues of humility and modesty

>> We often become victims of engaging in dirty politics and authority-grabbing games…

… and become an anti-witness to the Lord who ‘came to serve, rather than be served’

We need to give heed to the words of the Lord who prayed that “we are in the world, but do not belong to this world” (Jn 17: 15)

A Christian life ought to be hallmarked by detachment and separation…

… detachment from too much of worldly distractions and vain glory

… separation from sinful ways and evil tendencies

It ought to be radiated with total focus and complete dedication…

… total focus on the Lord who ‘walked the talk’ by giving up His life in service

… complete dedication to the Kingdom of God which calls for a humble way of life

The world today is being ‘gripped in sin’, “as it was in the days of Noah” (Lk 17:26)

>> We need to open our eyes to realize the warning given by the Lord and be ‘on the watch’… … after the example of the destruction of the sinful city of Sodom.

Perhaps our own life… or our family… or our community… our society…

… is resembling the city of Sodom

>> There is much drunkenness in worldly pleasures!

>> There is much ‘eating and consumption’ of corrupt practices!

>> There is much neglect of honest ways and of truthful conduct!

>> There is much enjoyment of bad, inhuman and cruel behaviours!

Let us deepen…

… our faith in the Lord

… our love for the Kingdom

… and our detachment from riches

We are reminded today that as Christians, we are people…

… who live in the world, yet are called to be out of the world.

… who live amidst possibilities of wealth, yet are called to be detached from them.

… who live with the prospect of gaining immense power, yet are exhorted to not be attached

We may be often tempted “to conquer the world and the city”…

… but let’s get our priorities right, and in humility, seek to first protect “the suitcases of our souls!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “May the favorable wind of celestial inspirations ever fill your vessel’s sails fuller and fuller…

… and make you happily arrive at the port of Holy Eternity!”

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Nov 14 (Lk 17:20-25)

In the 1990s, there came an advertisement in promotion of the fizzy drink: Coca-cola… especially during the thick of some cricketing action.

>> The promotion lines went thus: Eat cricket, sleep cricket, drink only Coca-cola.

The ad was to infuse a greater mood of the game and to promote the use and consumption of the cola drink.

The Gospels, with Jesus as the greatest promoter, would have a promotion line, with a similar phrasing: Eat Kingdom, Sleep Kingdom, Drink Kingdom, Work Kingdom, Live Kingdom!

Are we ready to collaborate with Jesus, to infuse a greater spirit of the Kingdom in the world and to promote the reach and spread of the Kingdom of God?

The Gospel of the Day is a teaching on the Kingdom of God.

The Pharisees ask “when” the kingdom will come (Lk 17:20)…

>> Jesus however explains “how” the Kingdom will come (17:22-35)

Jesus does not give an answer to the question of the Pharisees.

>> Rather, He makes them to realize what should be the proper question.

It’s the style and technique of the Lord to get right the priorities and focus in life!

The people searched for Jesus after the miracle of the multiplication of loaves…

> Jesus sets right their intentions by speaking of the need to hunger for the bread of life (Jn 6)

The disciples of John came to clarify whether Jesus was indeed the Messiah to come…

> Jesus sets right their focus by turning their attention to all His signs and deeds (Lk 7:19ff)

The two disciples, James and John, sought for privileged places in Jesus’ future reign…

> Jesus sets right their priorities by exhorting them to grow rather in humility and service (Mk 10: 35-45)

Nicodemus, in his encounter with Jesus, remained on peripheral questions and doubts…

> Jesus sets right his doubts by calling his attention on living a life in the Spirit and being born anew spiritually (Jn 3: 1-21)

The Lord loves to challenge our doubts, theories & even convictions…

… in order to be in harmony with the priorities of the Kingdom.

>> Am I willing to allow the Lord to work in me to change some of my thinking patterns, that would be in accord to His Will?

>> Am I flexible to let the Lord to mould and shape my lifestyle and thus be in tune with the focus of His Kingdom?

The “Kingdom of God” is an oft-repeated phrase in the New Testament and especially in the Gospels.

What is the Kingdom of God?

A kingdom normally brings to picture a geographical territory, with its clear-cut boundaries and its rulers and citizens.

The Kingdom of God, is however, quite different!

>> The Kingdom of God is not a geographical dominion like worldly kingdoms!

The Kingdom of God is a spiritual reality where God’s Will is done.

It is a person…

>> It is He – Jesus… GOD HIMSELF!

“Jesus leads people to realize the overwhelming fact that in Him, God is present among them and that He is God’s presence… (from the book, “Jesus of Nazareth – Part I” by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI)

The Pharisees who asked Jesus on “when” the Kingdom would come, were probably expecting an external sort of a Kingdom.

>> They probably expected a Kingdom which would overturn and overthrow the Roman Government.

>> They probably expected a Kingdom where perfect peace and harmony would reign all over the world.

But Jesus clarifies the nature of this Kingdom…

He speaks of a Kingdom which is much more internal & spiritual, and whose impact would be felt and experienced in the external world.

One experiences the Kingdom of Heaven first in one’s inner life…

… and this is manifested in one’s external lifestyles…

The Samaritan Woman experienced the power of the Kingdom of God within herself, when she spoke to Jesus, the fountain of life…

>> And this experience of the Kingdom led her to proclaim the name of Jesus to all her villagers & bring many to the saving fold of the Lord.

The Disciples experienced the power of the Kingdom of God within them, when the Holy Spirit descended on them…

>> And this experience of the Kingdom was manifested in their bold and powerful witnessing life!

St Paul experienced the force of the Kingdom of God within him, when he encountered the Risen Lord on the way to Damascus…

>> And this experience of the Kingdom was displayed by him through his passionate life of preaching and missionary works.

In the Prayer, the Our Father, we pray:

“Thy Kingdom Come,

Thy Will be Done…”

>> The Kingdom of God is, where the Will of God is fulfilled.

>> The Kingdom of God reigns, where the Will of God is in control.

The whole ministry of Jesus was centered around this “Kingdom of God” concept.

>> He began His ministry preaching that the Kingdom of God is near.

>> He spoke parables and spoke many teachings of the presence of the Kingdom of God.

>> He performed great signs and wonders to tell that the Kingdom of God is in our midst.

The question arises before us:

Is the Kingdom of God here?

>> Or is the Kingdom yet to come?

This is where we speak of the concept of “Already and not yet”

The Kingdom of God is already here, but not yet!

>> The Kingdom of God already reigns now, but not yet, in its fullness!

As St Paul says in 1 Cor 13: 12, “At present, we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present, I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known”.

Do I experience the Kingdom of God in my life?

The Kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17)

>> I need to experience the joy and the peace of the Lord in my life…

>> I need to place the priorities of God over all else in my life…

>> I need to radiate the precious love of the Lord to all in my life…

That’s the Kingdom of God.

>> That’s the Reign of God.

We are invited today “to radiate heaven on our faces”!

Yes, let us Eat Kingdom, Sleep Kingdom, Drink Kingdom, Work Kingdom, Live Kingdom!

>> May we become a “Kingdom People!

Today, 14th of November, India celebrates Children’s Day

As we pray for children all over the world, on this day…

… let us also seek to “remain childlike” – especially with virtues of deeper trust and dependence…

>> And thus, live joyfully as Children of God’s Kingdom!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “God desires from us more fidelity to the little things that he places in our power than ardor for great things that do not depend upon us.”

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Nov 13 (Lk 17:11-19)

Shopping malls and Super markets have gained a lot of popularity over the last few years.

One of the attractions in most of these places is the decorative tag-board displaying the word: “FREE”!

>> Buy one shirt, get one FREE…

>> Pick up two items of your choice, and get a gift hamper FREE…

>> Choose any one item in the following, and receive a kitchen set absolutely FREE…

People flock where there are FREE things to be offered.

Sometimes, even in our religion and our spirituality, we look for such FREE offers!

Though, there’s nothing wrong in this concept of FREE offers…

… in the spiritual realm, such FREE gifts also places a demand on the receivers to have a spirit of gratefulness and gratitude.

Every FREE gift in the spiritual world, is a call to cultivate greater, the spirit of Thankfulness!

The Gospel of the Day is a reminder to  grow in this dimension of appreciating & acknowledging the great FREE gifts of God in our lives.

The story of the Healing of the Ten Lepers is a very familiar and popular incident.

In the Biblical days, leprosy, was one of the most dreaded diseases. Leprosy finds its mention in the Bible in over 40 places.

One of the reason why leprosy is talked about so much in the Bible is that it is a graphic illustration of sin?s destructive power.

>>  Incurable by man, many believed that God inflicted the curse of leprosy upon people for the sins they committed.

Leprosy became a disease that was so despised and loathed that those afflicted were not allowed to live in any community with their own people (Numbers 5:2).

A leper wasn’t allowed to come within six feet of any other human, including his own family.

>> The disease was considered so revolting that the leper wasn’t permitted to come within 150 feet of anyone when the wind was blowing.

Lepers lived in a community with other lepers until they either got better or died.

This was the only way the people knew to contain the spread of the contagious forms of this dreaded sickness.

When the Lord travelled through the region of Samaria and Galilee, He encountered the group of ten lepers.

In loud exaltation, they cried, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” (Lk 17:13)

The chorus reached the ears of the Divine Choir-Master, Jesus!

>> Their pleading voice, echoed in the ears of the Divine Healer!

“Go, show yourselves to the Priest” (Lk 17: 14) were the words of the Divine Lord.

Lev 14:1-9 states that the priest must authenticate any cure from leprosy.

>> This was to allow the afflicted person to re-enter the society.

But as the lepers are on their way to show to the priest, they are cured!

>> Miracles occur, when one chooses to put one’s trust in God!

>> Wonders happen, when one obeys the words of the Lord, in faith and hope!

But one of them realizes that He had been healed.

And so he returned and glorified God in a loud voice and fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked Him (Lk 17: 15)

Here is a big lesson for us all…

> All the ten lepers sought for a FREE blessing from the Lord.

> All the ten lepers expected a FREE miracle from the Healer.

>> Jesus, in His graciousness, did bless all of them with a FREE miracle.

>> Jesus, in His compassion, did shower all of them with a FREE blessing.

But just one among them, acknowledged the worth and value of that FREE gift

>> The rest of the nine, probably completely forgot the source of that FREE blessing.

Every FREE gift in the spiritual world, is a call to cultivate greater, the spirit of Thankfulness!

But perhaps, this is a reality that we very often forget in our lives.

We take for granted the many many FREE gifts and blessings that are showered upon us.

Like the FREE offers, available at shopping malls and super markets, we gladly receive God’s blessings…

… but unfortunately, often, fail to acknowledge them and be grateful for it.

The one who returned back to thank the Lord, received not just physical healing, but also was doubly blessed with the gift of being saved!

The Lord showers His FREE gifts on us…

>> Do I return back to thank God for His marvelous blessings?

>> Do I reduce my life to being a clatter of complaints or do I adorn my life with a litany of praises and thanksgiving?

>> Do I take all my blessings for granted and merely groan about my duties?

We love to flock where there are FREE things.

>> We also love to receive the FREE blessings from God.

But, in this process, let’s not fail to also acknowledge and thank Him for His FREE offers.

Ten people were healed that day, but only one came back to give thanks.

> The one who returned to give thanks chose not to forget what Jesus had done for him.

Are we living as this grateful one or as the other nine?

Praise is a choice.

> A thankful heart is a choice.

None is forced.

>> None is compelled.

The secret of a thankful heart is a conscious choice not to forget what God has done for us.

Shall we also possess this Secret?

(Psst…once again…this too is a FREE offer…. )

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Learn to see God in the details of your life…

… for He is everywhere!”

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Nov 12 (Lk 17:7-10)

The Pope is the Head of the Universal Church.

He is recognized by many titles… Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles,  Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church etc.

Another prominent title among these is: the Servant of the servants of God.

Servanthood is an important dimension in being a follower of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel of the Day is an invitation and reminder to this great aspect of our Christian Lives: Being a Servant.

The Lord narrates the Parable of the Unprofitable Servant.

In this parable, Jesus tells about a servant who works all day long out in the field, or out taking care of the flock.

>> And after he works all day long, he comes into the house…

Is he expected to sit down and rest and eat his own meal?

No!

Rather, he is required to serve his master by providing him the meal first.

>> And after doing all that work – all day long – there’s no word of thanks, no gratitude.

Jesus closes out this parable by saying that the servant was unprofitable because he only did what he was told to do.

Is it something practical?

>> Is it something easy?

Our modern-day psychology would speak of the concept of a “positive stroke” that is to be given to those working or those who undertake some labour.

>> It’s important that the employers in a company are given a “positive stroke” by appreciating their good works…

>> It’s important that the servants in a house are given a “positive stroke” by encouraging with good words and a cheerful countenance…

>> It’s important that the workers in a firm or factory are given a “positive stroke” by acknowledging their worth and constantly boosting their confidence level…

But the Gospel of the Day seems to be demanding much more from a Servant…

>> A servant who works whole day long ploughing in the field or tending the sheep…

>> A servant who delays his needs and instead prepares and serves meals for his master…

>> A servant, who after all his works, doesn’t expect words of gratitude…

The Parable is surely a tough one!

But, the One who preached this Parable is not a mere preacher, but is a practitioner!

Jesus, the one who preached this Parable, practised perfectly, this life of being a servant.

He is the Servant, who works in the field ploughing…

… sowing the seed of the Word of God, ploughing the Gospel in the hearts of people and toiling in the hot sun of oppositions and mockery

He is the Servant, who tends the sheep in the field…

… providing pasture for His people, protecting them from the wolves of the evil and going after any of the sheep which are lost in the wilderness

He is the Servant, who prepares a meal and serves at table…

… nourishing those at table with His own body, strengthening them with His own blood and constantly reinforcing in the journey of life

How are we to be such a Servant of the Lord?

1. Having a mind of being a Servant of God:

The world of a servant centers not around himself, but around the Master.

>> Whatever pleases the Master, the servant does.

If we truly acknowledge God as our Master, then we too…

…will do the works which please Him

…will think and seek to do His Will

…will speak the words which are worthy of His grace

2. Being Faithful in this task of being His servant

The world of a servant centers around total availability and openness to the needs of the Master.

If we truly accept God as our Master, then we too…

…will give ourselves to Him totally at all times

…will place His priorities over ours

…will avoid anything that blocks my complete service of Him

The Call is to be a Servant…who is dedicated and selfless.

>> Jesus is our model and example in being a Servant.

It’s a demand placed on us.

Servanthood is an important dimension in being a follower of Jesus Christ.

>> Let us seek for this grace of growing in the Service of the Lord.

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “To be a good servant of God means…

… having patience with yourself in your daily failings

… and peacefully tolerating your neighbour with all his or her imperfections!”

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