February 1, 2020 – 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Year 2

“Journeying with the Lord, with a readiness and humility to learn, even through the storms and hardships of life!”

(Based on 2 Sam 12:1-7a, 10-17 and Mk 4:35-41)

The journey with the Lord is always an interesting one…

>> There are moments of tremendous joys and happiness…

>> There are times of fascinating delights and elations…

There are also however, moments of dryness and silence.

The Gospel of the Day is an account of the Disciples experiencing this dryness and silence, in their journey with the Lord.

It’s a very late evening…nearing midnight…

>> The disciples along with Jesus, who have embarked on a boat, are caught in the midst of a heavy storm.

“A violent squall came up and the waves were breaking over the boat…” (Mk 4: 36)

Some of the disciples were fishermen.

They had been many many years at the sea.

>> They had often suffered the fury and vehemence of nature

>> They had been greatly used to many storms and tempests at sea.

But this storm seemed to be too fierce and too ferocious.

>> The disciples feared greatly!

>> The disciples panicked very much!

With death bells ringing in their ears, and a dreadful end before their eyes…

… the disciples were shocked to see Jesus, unmoved and unperturbed.

“Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion” (Mk 4:38)

In the moment of their deep anguish and helpless, the disciples cry out:

“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mk 4:38)

>> The boat could capsize anytime and all of them could be drowned soon…

>> The storms could lash brutally and the waves could overturn them any moment…

Time was fast running…

But Jesus seemed totally unfazed!

>> Jesus seemed totally disinterested!

And they cry out to Jesus… Lord, do you not care??!!

How many times have we screamed similar words to God:

“Lord, do you not care?!”

>> Lord, do you not care… that my family member is so sick?

>> Lord, do you not care that I feel totally alone and miserable in my life?

>> Lord, do you not care that my marriage is failing and my family is breaking up?

>> Lord, do you not care that am without a job now and the future ahead is so bleak?

>> Lord, do you not care that my life seems so meaningless and without any purpose?

>> Lord, do you not care that I am plunged to loneliness and abandoned by all my friends?

>> Lord, do you not care that I encounter only failures, dejection and rejection in my endevours?

When we look into the Gospel, it is amazing to know whose plan it was, in the first place to make this boat journey…

When we re-read the Gospel passage, we find the answer…

Mk 4:35 says, “On that day, as evening drew near, Jesus said to them, ‘Let us cross over to the other side'”!

Ah…..

Shall we read that again?

… JESUS said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side”!

The idea to go in the boat was not that of the disciples…

>> The idea to go in the boat was that of JESUS!

The encounter with the storms was not some accident!

>> The stumbling into the violent waves was not some unlucky thing!

It had a purpose!

It had a meaning!

It had an intention!

For the disciples, it was a moment of terror…

… But the Lord used this terrorizing time to teach them to have faith in Him!

For the disciples, it was a time of immense crisis…

… But the Lord used this critical moment, to teach them to trust in Him!

For the disciples, it was a time of dreadful fear…

… But the Lord used this fearful circumstance, to teach them to believe in Him!

King David would be convicted of his mistake and be made to realize the seriousness of the crime that he had committed, when Prophet Nathan would acquit him of the sin of adultery against the wife of Uriah

>> This dreadful of sin and guilt would become a moment for King David to be lowered in humility, in abject dependence on the Lord and he would confess and repent: “I have sinned against the Lord.” (2 Sam 12:13)

David would realize his vulnerability and understand the need to always “pray for a pure heart!” (Cf Ps 51:10)

Our moments of struggle a time of testing…

>> Our moments of struggle can become a time of learning…

Testing of our genuine faith… learning of deeper trusting!

>> Testing of our real convictions…learning of profound dependence!

As we thank the Lord for the gift of the first month of 2020, let us enter into the new month of February with a willingness to grow deeper by trusting the Lord in crisis moments.

>> Then we too will be blessed to hear the Lord commanding the waves and storms of hardships of our lives: “Quiet! Be Still!” (Mk 4: 39)

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Although, dear Lord, I have no feeling of confidence in Thee, I know all the same that Thou art my God, that I am wholly Thine…

… and that I have no hope but in Thy Goodness.

>> Therefore I abandon myself entirely into Thy Hands!”

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January 31, 2020 – 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Year 2

“Being vigilant at all times, to prevent any relapse, and instead staying focused on working for the Kingdom of our Glorious God!”

(Based on 2 Sam 11:1-10, 13-17 and Mk 4: 26-34)

The Indian folklores of Akbar-Birbal are popular.

Here is one…

Once King Akbar asked his prime minister, Birbal, “Who is greater, me or God?”

This minister Birbal was very clever and prudent person.

>> Without hesitation, he answered, “You are, Your Majesty.”

Though the king was flattered, he asked, “How can that be?”

“Well, you see, Your Majesty “, replied the smart minister, “If you do not like someone, you can banish him from your kingdom very easily.

However, how can God banish anyone from His Kingdom?

>> Where can He send him?

The whole universe is God’s Kingdom!”

With one answer, the minister had achieved two goals:

·      Pleased his King – by affirming his greatness by telling of the ‘power’ to banish

·      Told the truth – by acknowledging God’s total sovereignty

This little incident speaks to us of the supreme Glory and Omnipotence of God and His Kingdom.

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus teaching to us on the nature and characteristics of the Kingdom of Glorious and Omnipotent God, with the help of parables.

One aspect that we need to note here is the usage of parables in the teaching ministry of Jesus.

It could be said that if Jesus had a grammar teacher, then, probably the teacher would have been extremely proud of this Student!

Jesus used a lot of metaphors, similes, illustrations and parables in His teachings.

Therefore we need to be aware and careful when we read and understand this ‘technique’ of the Lord:

·      Such metaphors were presented by Jesus to emphasise on a particular aspect of a teaching   

·    Such illustrations were not meant to be closed-reflections; rather, they were to be means of allowing a person to explore and delve deeper into the mystery that was being explained.

The teachings connected to God and His Kingdom are mysteries…. divine and lofty.

·      Metaphors and parables are the meaningful expressions of these mysteries.

They are never complete by themselves

… Yet, they are rich and meaningful.

·      They induce emotions.

·      They help to situate culturally. 

·      They unite people together in a common search.

And this is the essence of true religiosity: fostering one’s search and longing for the Divine.

By presenting the parables, Jesus triggers our minds to open up to the vastness of the reality of God and to foster our desire to seek Him more, in our everyday living and circumstances.

·      For a true seeker of God, every situation of life becomes a parable from God, revealing His Supreme Providence.

·      For a genuine searcher of the Divine, every circumstance and person in life, becomes an illustration from the Lord, to know His Presence and Will

>> Do I consider my life as a “beautiful parable” from God, and seek to find the Divine elements in it?

>> Do I reflect on the circumstances of my life  – joyful, painful, sorrowful, sinful – as a “wonderful illustration” from the Lord, inviting me to see His Presence and fostering my own relationship with Him?

The two parables of the Day present to us, figuratively, some aspects of the Kingdom of God:

1. The Parable of the Kingdom of God as the seed that is sown, sprouted and giving a rich harvest, without being in the grasp of the awareness of the one who sows

What does this parable teach?

a. The duty of the one who sows, even if one is unaware how the growth-process happens

>> Am I active and energetic in being an agent of the Kingdom of God – by speaking of Christ, by living His Gospel values, by freeing our lives from sin –  even if I fail to understand ‘how’ would this help in the growth process of the Kingdom?

b. The glory of the growth of the seed, taking its own time and conveying the message of patience and persistence

>> Do I be patient when success doesn’t come to me immediately and do I continue to be persevering in my efforts – of prayer, of duty, of my responsibilities – even if  it takes a longer time than I expect?

c. The assurance that the growth of the seed, fostered by earthly elements, nevertheless, given by the power and grace of God.

>> Do I be faithful to the duties that I need to do and then totally depend on the mighty hand of God in order to experience success and see the fruits of my labour? As the Psalmist says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain, who build” (Ps 127: 1)

2. The Parable of the mustard Seed as the Seed that is the smallest when sown, yet grows on to be the greatest of all shrubs, and becomes a shelter for the birds of the air

What does this parable teach?

a. The little things of life also have the potency to develop to give the greatest results, since God is the Author of such successes and accomplishments

>> Am I convinced that even if my resources – be it talents or time or income or personnel or anything else – are too small or insignificant, they can still become powerful means for the growth of God’s Kingdom, if we are faithful and depend totally on His grace?

b. The external growth and triumphs that are achieved, in turn, ought to become a source of help and solace for the others (as the birds of the air take nest in the huge mustard shrubs)

>> Do the achievements of my life – small or big- help me to become a person who reaches out in support and solace, to the needy ones?

c. An element of surprise and wonder is present in every act of nature – the little mustard seed, which would otherwise have been trampled upon as something too ordinary, amazes by its extraordinary growth

>> Am I able to trust in the “surprising and astonishing” wonders that the Lord can perform in ‘any’ situation of my life ?

All of us are part of the Project ‘Kingdom of God’.

King David fell into the great temptation of sin by relaxing himself in the great task of Project ‘Kingdom of God.’ (2 Sam 11:1-10, 13-17)

>> This reminds us of the need to remain steadfast to the Lord at all times…

… And to become aware that, if we are not careful, watchful and vigilant, we are vulnerable to fall into the lures of sin.

May we nurture and grow in the task of the Kingdom that is entrusted to us, in the little or big way that God graces us…

… by totally depending on the Lord and not ‘relaxing’ in the comfort zones of our life

… and thus bring glory and honour to our Supremely Glorious and Omnipotent God!

Let us seek the intercession of St John Bosco, on this Feast Day, for this Grace of “recognizing the Presence of the Lord in our lives and avoiding any relapse”…

… and give heed to his words:

“Be brave and try to detach your heart from worldly things

>> Do your utmost to banish darkness from your mind and come to understand what true, selfless piety is.

>> Enliven your faith, which is essential to understand and achieve piety.”

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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January 30, 2020 – 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Year 2

“Letting the light of God’s Love to shine through us, by humbling ourselves before the Awesomeness of God!”

(Based on 2 Sam 7:18-19, 24-29 and Mk 4:21-25)

An incident is narrated in the life of St Thomas Aquinas, whose feast we celebrated on Jan 28.

One day when St Thomas Aquinas was preaching to the local people on the love of God, he observed an old woman listening attentively to his every word.

The old woman impressed the great saint by her simplicity, attentiveness and keenness.

Inspired by her eagerness to learn more about God whom she loved so dearly, he said to the people:

“It is better to be this unlearned woman, loving God with all her heart…

… than the most learned theologian lacking love!”

The lady was able to let the “light of God’s Love” shine through her life of simplicity and passionate tenderness.

We are all invited to lead a saintly life – filled with love – and allow others to experience the Light of God’s love!

>> Our Christian life exhorts us to be glowing with a holy life, to let others to see the Radiance of God’s Peace!

The Gospel of the Day is an exhortation and a reminder by Jesus to become a “light to the other”

Jesus presents a simple parable, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a bushel or under a bed and not on a stand?” (Mk 4: 21)

In the ancient world, people did not have electricity like we have today.

Most homes would contain several oil lamps because olive oil was in abundance and therefore not expensive.

>> The oil lamps were the main source of light in every home.

These ancient lamps were usually oval shaped, and flat on top.

They were normally made of clay, but the more expensive lamps were made of bronze and sometimes even of gold.

>> Olive oil was available in abundance and therefore lamps were left on for long periods of time, and also gave off a sweet scent.

The Lord presents this common example of the Lamp to highlight…

… that Christian lives also ought to shine and glow

… that Gospel values cannot remain hidden and concealed

… that the power of light, however, little, can dispel the gloominess of darkness

The world we live in is often in darkness and in obscurity.

>> As Christians, we have a duty and an obligation to hold alight the lamp.

The world often runs into the darkness of sin and evil practices…

… Can I be a lamp, bringing them to Christ’s light by my holy and sanctified life?

Many people are often forced to remain in the shadows of guilt, shame and abuse…

… Can I be a lamp, bringing them to Christ’s light by my prayers, sacrifices and good works?

King David in the Old Testament, humbles himself before the awesome majesty and power of God.

>> He acknowledges the great Mercy and Providence of God in his life and with sincerity, seeks to be led by the Power of God in his life:

“Now therefore may it please Thee to bless the house of Thy servant, that it may continue forever before Thee; for Thou, O Lord God, hast spoken, and with Thy blessing shall the house of Thy servant be blessed for ever!” (2 Sam 7:29)

When we humble ourselves before the mighty power of God, we allow His light to shine through us.

Our lives become “a glowing and fragrant lamp of God’s Light” when we acknowledge His Great Presence in our lives and allow ourselves to be totally dependent on Him!

The Lord invites us…

…. to let His light to pass through our actions, deeds and activities.

… to let His light illumine our thoughts, visions and mentalities.

Let us understand that, “it is better to be an unlearned person, loving God with all her heart…

… than to be the most learned theologian lacking love!

>> And thus, may we let the “light of God’s Love” shine through our life of simplicity and passionate tenderness!

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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January 29, 2020 – 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Year 2

“Opening our ears to the Voice of the Lord and dwelling on His promises with hope and trust!”

(Based on 2 Sam 7:4-17 and Mk 4:1-20)

Mr. Bhola was getting late to office…

As he was getting ready and keeping his file and office bag ready… he called out to his wife, who was inside the kitchen, preparing breakfast:

“Please get me my tie!”

He continued to get ready and as he began to tie his shoes, he called out, little more loudly, to his wife who had not responded to him yet:

“Would you please get me my tie?!”

Bhola was by now dressed up, but his wife had not responded yet…

Irritated, he went into the kitchen and screamed at her:

“Can’t you hear what I said? Please get me my tie!!”

His wife, turned around, and in a louder voice, shouted back:

“And for the third time, I am also telling you… Your tie is ready on the table!!”

Feeling embarassed, Bhola realised his mistake…

>> It was not his wife who did not hear…

… it was he, who did not hear!

It was not his wife who was short of listening…

… it was he, who was short of listening!

Very often, listening becomes a problem for us…

>> Very often, we get short of hearing properly…

Does the same happen in our life, with respect to God’s voice?

The Gospel of the Day is a call to hear properly God’s Word and receive His message into our hearts.

The Lord is beside the Sea of Galilee…

>> A very large crowd of people have gathered around Him…

Jesus, during the course of His instructions and teachings said, “Listen!” (Mk 4:3)

The people have a gathered together in a big crowd…

>> There were probably some, who were not able to get a proper sitting place…

>> There were probably many children and mothers who had to take care of their kids…

>> There were probably many sick eagerly waiting for the gracious words of the Lord…

The atmosphere would have been a bit chaotic.

>> The situation would have been a bit restless.

>> The circumstance would have been a bit noisy.

It’s in this muddled, disordered and disorganized setting, that the Lord thunders: “LISTEN!”

The voice of the Lord addresses to us at very many moments in life.

>> His sweet gentle tone speaks to us occasionally…

>> His melodious pleasant expression converses to us many times…

But am I really listening?

>> Am I giving heed to His voice?

Our ‘listening mentality’ could be classified similar to the four types of soil that Jesus mentions in the Parable of the Sower…

1. Like the soil on the wayside, we could be a “passive and unprepared listener”…

… disinterested and uncaring for God’s Words

… unmindful of any consequence or loss of God’s inspirations

… lethargic and careless about many of God’s graces and favours

2. Like the soil on the rock, we could be an “overenthusiastic yet foundationless listener”…

… showing immediate but highly temporary reaction to Godly experiences

… finding only instant gratification and satisfaction in being a devotee of God

… making great plans and resolutions, but hardly translated to real actions

3. Like the soil among thorns, we could be a “distracted and unconvinced” listener…

… confused with many pleasurable activities and diverting matters

… easily wavered by contrasting Gospel messages and inauthentic teachings

… unable to discern between true and false exhortations of faith and beliefs

4. Like the soil in a good place, we could be an “attentive and focused” listener…

… eager to act upon God’s word and make them practical in life

… keen and excited to share the saving message of Christ to other people

… passionate and zealous to become sharers of the Good News of the Lord

King David was invited by the Lord to give heed to His Words and to recognize, that through line of David, God was to raise up His Promised Messiah, Who would reign forever:

“When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.

>> He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever!” (2 Sam 7:12-13)

Each of us are today invited by the Lord to become active, attentive, focused and alert listeners.

>> Let us not be short to hear…

>> Let us not be hard of listening…

Instead…

>> Let us seek to listen…

… to the Lord with a deeper longing and interest.

… to His Will with an intensified love and affection.

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “And what does it matter whether God speaks to us from amongst the thorns or the flowers?”

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January 28, 2020 – 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Year 2)

“Holding firm to doing the Will of the Lord, being assured of His Presence with us, always!”

(Based on 2 Sam 6:12b-15, 17-19 and Mk 3:31-35)

It was a tense afternoon in the September of the year 1594.

The Bishop of Geneva in France, had convoked a meeting of all his clergy.

>> There was an urgent need for priests to go to a place named Chablais.

Chablais was a territory in Geneva, which had been under political and religious siege.

>> Around fifty priests in this place had been banished.

>> Many churches had been burnt and devastated.

Chablais had become a place of terror for the Catholic Church.

>> It had became infamous for its terrible persecution of the Catholic Faith.

It’s in this horrifying situation, that the Bishop of the place had called for a meeting…

… to ask for volunteers to go to this place and renew the faith.

But none came forward…

>> None were willing to risk their lives…

It’s at this point, that there came a gentle yet firm voice – “My Lord, if you think that I am capable of it, command me, I am ready!”

The voice was of St Francis de Sales.

His own father considered this decision as “utter madness”

>> Perhaps, the other priests and clergy would have also felt this decision as a “crazy one”

The risk of being driven out, failing in his undertaking and of becoming a laughing stock of the world was great indeed.

>> But St Francis de Sales stood firm to His decision.

>> It was a decision which perhaps defied reasons…

>> It was a decision which perhaps seemed out of senses…

But this decision was to become the turning point of a spiritual revolution!

St Francis de Sales was convinced, that nothing is greater than “seeking and doing” the Will of God.

>> He would in fact, later in life, say:

“Do everything calmly and peacefully.

Strive to see God in all things without exception, and consent to His will joyously.

Do everything for God, uniting yourself to him in word and deed.”

What about our Christian Life?

>> Is it centered on seeking and doing the Will of God, at every moment, in every situation?

The Gospel of the Day is a narrative of Jesus displaying His conviction and commitment on the most vital dimension of the Kingdom of God: Doing God’s Will.

Jesus was in the thick of His ministry.

>> The place was packed with people sitting on the floor, in the passage-way, around the doors and windows, craving to listen to what Jesus was speaking.

It’s at that time that His family members arrived.

His family couldn’t get through to Him

>> So they send a message in, and it passed from one person to person: “Tell him that his mother and brothers are outside looking for him” (Mk 3: 32)

The message finally reached Jesus.

It is interesting to consider the feelings and reactions of the different persons…

>> The family of Jesus…

….were eager and concerned to get the Lord back home

… were wanting to meet Him and if possible to give Him a break in His ministry

>> The crowd around Jesus…

… were understandable that the family of the Lord are keen to meet Him

… were expecting Jesus to stop His preaching, to accommodate meeting His kith and kin

It is in such critical moments and crucial situations…

… that the Lord loves to make use, to put across a message…

… that the Lord loves to thrive on, to send forth a teaching…

Jesus uses the arrival of His physical family as an opportunity to teach about His relationship with His spiritual family.

What is most needed…

… is not human relationships

… is not human affairs

>> Rather, spiritual relations and spiritual affairs!

Jesus brings to focus the importance…

… to seek and do God’s Will

… to become related in the Kingdom.

What is our own attitude and mentality…

>> Am I concerned more with worldly affairs or do I engage myself more into spiritual realities?

>> Am I disturbed more by earthly concerns or do I share more the anxiety for spiritual growth?

>> Am I obsessed more with worldly gains or do I be zealous for spiritual graces and blessings?

Very often we lose our focus…

>> Very often we lose sight of the proper track…

The Lord, today, brings back the “spotlight” on the essentials of a Christian Life.

>> Christian life sometimes gets diluted with too many “social” concerns…

… at the expense of spiritual realities.

>> Christian life sometimes gets polluted with too many “interdisciplinary” matters…

… at the expense of true faith and teachings.

>> Christian life sometimes gets ruined with too many “compromising” practices…

… at the expense of Gospel values and standards.

St Francis de Sales, the Doctor of Love, the Gentleman Saint…

… in His book – The Introduction to the Devout Life (a book recommended for all, especially those in family life) clearly enunciates simple and practical tips of how one can grow in devotion and holiness…

… by constantly remaining in the presence of God

… by continually doing the Will of God

Undoubtedly, in doing the Will of God, we will have to…

… we will have to face moments of loneliness, ‘cos we will find ourselves, swimming against the currents of the world

… we will have to encounter hardships and rejections, ‘cos we would become a subject of calumny and mockery, as others may oppose us

… we will have to go through situations of darkness, ‘cos we would find it hard to even have clarity in our life of faith

But in all such situations, the Lord assures us, with the 5 magical words: I WILL BE WITH YOU!

King David greatly rejoiced in having the Presence of the Ark of the Lord (2 Sam 6:12b-15)

>> The Lord was the strength and the joy of his life

When we cherish to be in the Presence of the Lord, strength and courage is bestowed on us!

>> When we delight to dwell in the Presence of the Lord, power and grace is favoured on us!

May we “Seek and Do” God’s Will at all times and thus “soar in the skies of sanctity”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “God’s favor floats as it were over all events and finds joy in turning all those miseries to the greater profit of those who love Him.

>> From toil He makes patience spring forth!”

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January 27, 2020 – 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Year 2

“Living in integrity by offering ourselves to the Lord, in total dependence!”

(Based on 2 Sam 5:1-7, 10 and Mk 3:22-30)

It was a healing and deliverance session in a praise and worship music concert.

The music was in full blow…

>> The praises were ringing high…

>>> The atmosphere was electrified….

In that high and spirited ambience, the choir began to sing the hymn,

“In the name of Jesus, In the name of Jesus, we have the victory….

In the name of Jesus, In the name of Jesus, demons will have to flee…”

As this hymn of mighty power and deliverance was being sung…

… some of the people who were standing in front, and were reportedly demon-possessed, also began to sing and dance joyfully!

Now that was something surprising and shocking for the people who were singing on the stage…

It was a song for deliverance…

… but instead, these possessed people were also enjoying…

It was a song for liberation…

… but instead, these possessed people were also rejoicing…

On asking them as to how could they be also happy, these people answered:

“Well, although most of you are singing, ‘In the name of Jesus, demons will flee’, none of you seem to be singing it with any conviction or belief.

You seem to be enjoying the music more..

… and so therefore, we too are happy to enjoy the music and sing along!”

>> The hymn lost its power and value…

… because it was sung merely as a fast number!

>> The prayer lost its sanctity and sacredness…

… because it was sung merely as a jumping song!

There was no authority in the singing.

>> There was no credibility in the prayer.

>> There was no sincerity in the faith.

When authority and integrity are lacking in a spiritual endeavour, there is very less spiritual growth and nourishment!

>> When authority and integrity are present in a spiritual endeavour, there is much spiritual progress and advancements!

The Gospel of the Day is an exhibition of how true integrity and authority can work tremendous wonders, conversions of heart and transformations of life…

… and how it can also cause some people to engage in calumny and character-assasination!

The Gospel of the Day begins with the statement that…

… “the scribes who had come down from Jerusalem said, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul and by the prince of demons , He casts out the demons” (Mk 3:22)

One of the reasons why the Scribes were irked by the personality of Jesus was because of the tremendous authority that was displayed by Jesus!

Yes, the amazing factor in the ministry of Jesus was His tremendous authority!

>> The wondrous aspect in the ministry of Jesus was His awesome integrity!

Elsewhere, in the Gospel of St Mark, we read…

>> The people “were astonished at his teaching, for He taught as one who had authority…” (Mk 1:22)

>> “… they were all amazed so that they questioned among themselves…. ‘…with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him” ( Mk 1: 27)

This authority and integrity came…

… through His deep union with His Heavenly Father.

… through His faithfulness to the commands of His heavenly Father

… through His undivided devotion to His Heavenly Father

How authoritative, credible and integral are we in our life…

… as a Christian?

… in the family?

… as a consecrated person?

Authoritative does not mean arrogance…

>> Credibility does not mean over-confidence…

>>> Integrity does not mean super-importance…

Authority, credibility and integrity in the Lord means…

… filled with the power and strength of God’s Spirit

… imbued with a deep passion for the Lord and His Church

… living in humility, an honest lifestyle in accordance to God’s Will and teachings

In the 2nd Book of Samuel, we read how the people of Israel come to David requesting him to be the king.

David accepts their request…

… but also yields himself to the Power of the Lord as he makes a covenant at Hebron, “before the Lord!” (Cf. 2 Sam 5:3).

The result of this dependence on the Lord was that, David grew greater, as the Lord blessed him

>> “And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.” (2 Sam 5:10)

When one ascribes one’s strength and abilities, to the care of the Lord…

… the Lord takes over and gives blessings and favours, in accordance with His Will!

Authority, credibility and integrity grow when one understands that the Lord is the Source, Strength and Summit of one’s life!

The readings of the Day calls us to check and examine…

… is my prayer life and devotion truly authentic and credible?

… is my preaching and spreading of God’s Word filled with His Holy Spirit?

… is my reception of the Sacraments helping me to make an honest effort to be a true Christian?

Let our prayers become a true raising of hearts to God…

>> Let the receiving of the Sacraments become an honest transformation for life…

>>> Let the spreading of God’s Word become a credible witness to God’s Kingdom….

Jesus is our model and example to be true and honest in life!

>> Jesus is our ideal and standard to be faithful and committed to our mission!

With the Psalmist, let us truly experience the Lord telling us: “My Faithfulness and Steadfast Love shall be with him!” (Ps 89:24)

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Offer up all occasions (of worry and vexations) to Him.

>> And if sometimes you are put out, and give way to impatience…

… do not be discouraged; but make haste to regain your lost composure.”

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January 26, 2020 – 3rd Sunday of the year, Cycle A

“Trusting in the Power of the Lord even in the barrenness of our life – attributing all glory to Him – knowing that we will have our Day of Midian!”

(Based on Is 9:14, 1 Cor 1:10-13, 17 and Mt 4:12-23)

The town of Feldkirch, Austria in 1799 was faced with the prospects of being attacked by the armies of Napoleon.

It was an Easter Day and the sun shone brightly, letting the soldiers of the enemy being spotted.

The Town Council was called together, in haste, to consult what had to be done.

> It was a situation of tension.

> It was a time of immense distress.

After a long period of discussion, the dean of the Church made a proclamation:

“My brothers it is Easter Day!

We have been reckoning our own strength, and that fails.

Let us turn to God.

>> Ring the bells and have service as usual, and leave the matter in God’s hands…”

It was a hard and (humanly speaking) a risky decision, but they agreed to do as he said.

Thus from the Church towers of Feldkirch, rang the boisterous and joyous peals of the bells, in honour of the Resurrection of the Lord.

> The streets began to be filled with worshippers, hastening to the Church.

The enemy army, on hearing the sudden ringing of the bells, were taken aback with surprise and shock.

They came to a conclusion that the Austrian Army had arrived in order to relieve the place.

>> So they fled hastily!

The town of Feldkirch were saved from the possibilities of destruction and ruin!

Divine Providence had rescued a tiny town, who placed their trust in Him, from the deathly clutches of a mighty army!

Is my life of faith, characterised by a “Deep Trust in Divine Providence”?

The Gospel of the Day is a wonderful presentation of the marvels that can be witnessed when one place’s one’s complete trust in the Lord and surrenders one’s life – in action and deeds – to the Providence of the Lord.

Our Blessed Lord was into His ministry of preaching and proclaiming God’s Word, after the arrest of John the Baptist (Mt 4:17)

The Word was transforming people…

… and in sometime, a wonderful transformation was to happen to a person, who would become a close follower of the Transforming Lord!

“As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea” (Mt 4:18)

In the Gospel of St Luke, we read in interesting statement, in the similar context…

… “the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets” (Lk 5: 2b)

This verse, though little and appears insignificant carries a mighty message: the message of the Power of God’s Providence.

The fishermen had toiled the whole night

… caught no fish, and were now, dejectedly, washing their nets.

The boat was empty – bereft of any fish!

But Divine Providence had a mighty plan in this “barrenness”

>> The emptiness of the boat allowed our Blessed Lord to enter it, and make it His Pulpit for preaching God’s Word!

>> The vacancy in the boat prompted our Blessed Lord to enthrone it, and make it His platform for calling His First Disciples!

Had there been fish in the boat…

… in all probability, the fishermen would be in it, sorting and cleaning the fish..

… and would have left no space for the Blessed Lord to preach from it

Had there been a mighty catch that night…

… in all probability, the boat, filled with the fish, would not have been there

… and the vehicle of “catching fish” would have missed the chance to be a “podium for proclaiming God’s Word”

Is my life, at this point, empty and barren

… like this boat?

>> Maybe its been a long time I have been watching and expecting, patiently and faithfully, for my boat to be filled.

>> Maybe its being a horrible wait, sometimes even leading to frustration and hopelessness, for my boat to be filled

But can I trust Divine Providence, in having a purposive plan for this “emptiness and barrenness”?

When Jesus called them, “Come after me, I will make you fishers of men…”

… “At once, they left their nets and followed Him” (Mt 4: 20)

Here is a beautiful story of how..

A competent fisherman who had failed utterly in his field of competence…

… is initiated into being a competent fisher of people, for the Kingdom of God!

As Christians, we do claim to be people of faith and belief.

>> But does this “faith” translate itself into real “trust”?

>> When hardships come in life

… I may proclaim my faith with my lips

… But do I “trust” Him to take me through?

>> When emptiness fills my life

… I may perform external works of faith

… But do I “trust” Him to utilize my barrenness, in the way He wants?

>> When toils of life yield no results

… I may persist in saying that I have faith

… But do I “trust” Him to grant me the fruits of labour, in His own time and in His own measure?

And if I really “trust” in the Lord…

… I would be a person of joy, going about my works without anxieties and radiating serenity and calm…

> even when walking through the valleys of sufferings

> even when sinking in the deluge of pain

> even when surrounded by the clouds of uncertainty!

Prophet Isaiah had proclaimed about the luminous promise of the Messianic times:

“The people who walked in darkness, have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness, on them light has shined” (Is 9:2)

He speaks about the victory as on the “day of Midian” (Cf. Is 9:4)

The Day of Midian refers to the story of Gideon in the Book of Judges (Judg 8-9)…

… wherein, Gideon defeated the army of the Midianites with a small group of people

>> The victory being acknowledged and credited to the Lord!

The “day of Midian” is a symbolic expression of the wonders and miracles in life happening as result of God’s Mighty Power, and not because of one’s own strength or ability.

St Paul reminds the Corinthians of this need to depend on the Lord and to understand that all glory is to be attributed to the Lord…

… and not to usurp or assign power and credit to human beings!

>> “Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power!” (1 Cor 1:13, 17)

May we take this message of the readings to heart…

… and be reminded of the need to “let go” of our own fears, apprehensions, preconceptions and pride

… depend on the Lord and attribute all glory and honour to Him

… in order to “fully trust” in the mighty power of God’s Providence, and experience His Awesome and Amazing Care for us!

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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January 25, 2020 – Feast of the conversion of St Paul

“Experience the Sweetness of the Lord and be passionate to give witness to His Love!”

(Based on Acts 22:3-16 and Mt 16:15-18)

A little boy was returning home, with a jar of honey in his hand.

A gentleman, walking behind him, was constantly observing the boy…

… how very often, he would stick his finger inside the jar, and taste a little of the honey.

After noticing this quite a few times, he approached the boy and asked:

“Son, what do you have in that jar”

“Sweet Honey” said the boy

“Honey? Is it sweet?” enquired the man

>> “Yes Sir”

“How sweet is your honey?” asked the man again

>> “Very sweet Sir!”

“You are tasting this so often. So I want to know how much sweet is it?” the man enquired one more time

>> “Very sweet Sir!”

“Well, I don’t understand you!” continued the man, “I am asking you how sweet it is, and you are only saying, it is very sweet! I don’t understand you!”

Finally, the boy lost his patience, and sticking his finger into the honey, he said: “Taste and see for yourself!”

Quite true, isn’t it?

Any description of the sweetness of the honey would not suffice…

… unless one actually experiences it!

So it is with the Lord!

The sweetness of the Lord, however described by others cannot suffice…

… unless one actually experiences it!

Today we celebrate the Feast of one such event of a person, who experienced the Sweetness of the Lord: The Conversion of St Paul.

When we look into the life of St Paul, there are several factors that we can meditate on, and learn from.

One of the very striking aspects is that of the Passion and Zeal of St Paul.

This passion was greatly reflected in all aspects of his life…

… in his preaching and his writings!

… in his dealing with the Gentiles and their cause of faith

… in his aggressiveness against anything that caused scandal and harm to the Church

… in his uncompromising attitude towards anything that endangered his relationship with the Lord!

Some of his writings in the letters reflect this aspect of Passion and Zeal:

>> “Woe to me, if I don’t preach the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16)

>> “I count everything as a loss for Christ…” (Phil 3:8)

>> “For me to live is to Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21)

>> “My preaching… was a demonstration of the Spirit and power” ( 1 Cor 2:4)

We need to ask of ourselves:

>> Is my Christian life, filled with passion and zeal?

>> Do I burn with love for God and His Kingdom?

>> Does the Lord and His Will come first, in my life?

It’s easy to often remain on the “theoretical” dimension of Christian life!

>> We can very often have only discussions and deliberations about faith

… but not real prayer or living in the Spirit

>> We can many times have talks being heard or books being read on Christian life

… but not necessarily living the Christian life of virtues and a Sacramental Life

>> We can sometimes enter into doubts about Christianity, to “know more”…

… but not necessarily growing in our relationship with the Lord or loving Him more

The Feast of the Conversion of St Paul is a mighty reminder to all of us…

… to live our Christian lives “passionately and zealously!”

Yes, just as any description of the sweetness of honey would not suffice…

… unless one actually experiences it!

So it is with the Lord!

The sweetness of the Lord, however described by others cannot suffice…

… unless one actually experiences it!

St Paul experienced the “sweetness of the Lord”…

… and he gave his life for the Lord – in passion and in zeal.

What about us?

>> Are we ready to stick our lives into the “jar of God’s honey of love?”

God bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “ Fruits that are very delicate and decays easily like cherries, apricots and strawberries remain good for the whole year, if preserved in sugar or honey

>> So it is with our hearts – though frail and feeble – they are kept safe from the corruption of sin…

… when preserved in the sugar and honey of the incorruptible Flesh and Blood of God!”

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January 24, 2020 – 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Year 2)

“Learning the Divine Attitude to become more and more gentle, patient and simple!”

(Based on 1 Sam 24:2-20 and Mk 3:13-19 and Feast of St Francis de Sales)

Three different incidents are a told of a person, who was known to struggle with anger…

… yet would deal with it, with a lot of maturity and patience.

1. The first incident is of stray man who walked through the streets, and was trying to ‘do him in’ – trying to harm the person.

This person however, would tell him:

“I am told you wish me harm. I can promise you that even if you had put out one of my eyes, I would still look kindly upon you with the other!”

2. The second incident is when he would be insulted by a certain high official and he was asked, why he did not lose his temper. He would admit and say:

“At that time and many other times, I was seething with anger like water in a pot, boiling over the fire; but that by the Grace of God, even if the violent efforts to resist such passion endangered my life…

… I would not let myself go!”

3. The third incident would be when the person would be instigated to lose temper and to speak badly to a young man. This would be his reaction to the same:

“What did you want me to do in the matter?

…I did what I could to arm myself with an anger that was not sinful. I took my heart in my two hands, but I did not have the courage to dress him down.

>> To tell you the truth, I was afraid of losing in a quarter of an hour this little bit of liquid of gentleness…

… which I have attempted to gather for twenty-two years, drop by drop like dew in the vessel of my puny heart!”

All these three incidents would be occasions when a person – like any of us – in the normal circumstance would have got angry and lost patience.

>> However, this person, with the Grace of God remained calm and composed.

This person is St Francis de Sales – known as the Gentleman Saint…

… whose feast we celebrate today.

His life is a great inspiration to all of us…

… as he would allow himself to be moulded by the Grace of God and his honest efforts to grow in virtue and holiness.

Even though he had a disposition towards losing patience, St Francis de Sales would allow God’s Mighty Love to transform him towards gentleness and kindness…

… and “to repay evil not with evil, but to do good to people”!

The First Reading of the Day (1 Sam 24:2-20) is a marvelous exhortation on the need to “repay evil not with evil, but with good!”

David and his men are in the Desert of En Gedi.

>> It is a wild place of cliffs, caves, wilderness and of springs.

Saul – along with nearly three thousand chosen people – who was in search of David to have him killed…

… goes into a cave to relieve himself.

David gets an opportunity to kill Saul, who had in fact, come to kill him!

Here was a neat chance to take revenge and settle scores.

David would even be instigated by his fellow men:

“The men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.” (1 Sam 24:4)

David, however, would deny “doing evil for evil!”

>> Instead, he follows the Divine Strategy of “doing good, even in the face of evil!”

He spares the life of Saul – who is the anointed of the Lord – and even goes on to make an oath of not harming him!

Here is David following the great Divine Strategy, and invites and inspires us to follow the same:

“Doing evil for evil is bad!”

Doing nothing for evil is better!

Doing good for evil is best!”

The Gospel of the Day (Mk 3:13-19) presents Jesus Who moves about with His Ministry of “failing to stop in the face of evil, and continuing to do good!”

Jesus, in the midst of a ministry, of people rejecting him, and failing to accept His words…

… refuses to give in to failure or to stop doing the good.

>> Instead, “He responds to evil, by doing good” and establishes a band of twelve chosen ones…

… who are to join Him and continue His Noble Mission of “doing good, even in the face of evil!”

The twelve disciples who are chosen (Mk 3:13-19) would be schooled in the Discipleship of the Lord…

… to “leave everything and adopt the Divine Strategy of ‘doing good, even in the face of evil’”

We are invited to grow into Christians who display the Love and Mercy of God to people…

… by a life of gentleness and patience!

>> David would beautifully display this dimension by sparing the life of Saul and giving us the great lesson of “respect and honour” that is due to all the anointed and consecrated ones!

>> Jesus, remarkably responds to hostile and antagonistic situations in His Ministry by establishing a “group of people who would be invited to become agents of the Lord’s Mercy and Compassion!”

>> St Francis de Sales, wonderfully overcame his weaknesses in order to grow in the virtues of gentleness, kindness and love of God, and to be known as “the Gentleman Saint!”

Let the readings of the Day and the Saint of the Day – St Francis de Sales – inspire and help all of us to become “His Missionaries of Mercy and Compassion” in the world…

… by living the simple virtues of gentleness, patience and simplicity!

May the following popular quotes of the Gentleman Saint – St Francis de Sales – inspire and strengthen us:

>> “Bloom where you are planted”

>> “Be what you are and be at its best”

>> “I have made a pact with my tongue… not to speak, when my heart is troubled!”

>> “A spoonful of honey attracts more bees than a barrel of vinegar”

>> “Be patient with all things; but first of all, with yourself!”

>> “Praying daily for half an hour is essential, except when you are busy… in those times, an hour!”

Wish you all a very Happy Feast of St Francis De Sales!

>> With joy and love, let us proclaim with him, “Vive Jesus…Live Jesus!”

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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January 23, 2020 – 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Year 2

“Being attracted to the Presence of the Lord, to become more and more like Him!”

(Based on 1 Sam 18: 6-9, 37, 19:1-7 and Mk 3:7-12)

A magnet is an object made of certain materials which creates a magnetic field around itself.

>> This magnetic field causes objects of certain properties to attract to itself…

The closer the objects are to the magnet, the stronger they are pulled to the attracting force.

Another interesting thing is that…

… objects attached to the magnet, over a certain period of time, themselves become magnetized and are able to attract other things to itself.

Divine Love constantly invites us to be attracted to Divine qualities…

… and to radiate the same in our lives.

The First Reading of the Day (1 Sam 18: 6-9, 37, 19:1-7) presents contrasting characteristics…

… the negative condition of jealousy: displayed by Saul, the king

… the positive quality of appreciation: radiated by Jonathon, his son

Saul is unable to digest the fact that the people sing higher praises of David and felt envious of his rising popularity:

“Saul was very angry, for this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands; what more can he have but the kingdom? So Saul eyed David from that day on.” (1 Sam 18:8-9)

Jonathon, his son, however displayed a lot of maturity and exuded a sense of goodness and appreciation

>> “Jonathan spoke well of David to his father Saul, saying to him, “The king should not sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have been of good service to you” (1 Sam 19:4)

Jonathan had responded positively to Divine Love, Which constantly invited him to be attracted to Divine qualities…

… and to radiate the same in his life.

The Gospel of the Day (Mk 3:7-12) is this wonderful presentation of Jesus Who radiates Divine qualities….

… and attracts many to by His Charismatic personality – like a magnet!

St Mark beautifully presents this attractive power of the Lord through the words:

“A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea.

Hearing what He was doing, a large number of people came to Him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan and from the neighbourhood of Tyre and Sidon” (Mk 3: 7-8)

The popularity of the Lord was spreading far and wide…

>> His power over sin had many to look up to Him…

>> His authoritative teaching was astonishing to many…

>> His dominance over evil spirits was awe-inspiring for many…

>> His amazing healing power had caused a stir among people…

Like a magnet, the Lord was attracting many to Himself!

>> Like a magnet, the Lord was pulling variety of people to Himself!

The magnetic and charming power of the Lord attracts us too..

… But do we remain willing to get attracted to this amazing force?

The Living Presence of the Lord in our midst is in the Holy Eucharist.

>> The Holy Eucharist is the powerful magnet that can pull and attract many!

The tragedy in our life is that very often, this “magnetic” Eucharistic presence remains abandoned and forsaken!

It’s a pity that the Living Lord is hardly visited in the Blessed Sacrament!

>> Chapels and Churches often remain empty and forlorn…

>> Very few to visit Jesus to say Hello to Him, in the Eucharist!

We sometimes are reducing ourselves to a generation seeking only after mighty wonders!

>> We sometimes are making ourselves to be a people wanting only fascinating miracles!

>> We sometimes are forming ourselves to be ones who are attracted only to external sensations!

But Eucharist – the greatest wonder and miracle of the world often remains unnoticed!

There is nothing more sublime in this world than the Holy Eucharistic Presence!

>> There is nothing more beautiful than moments spent before the Eucharistic Lord!

>> There is nothing more awesome than an experience of love in the Holy Eucharist!

Am I ready to get attracted and charmed by this magnetic presence of the Holy Eucharist?

>> The Lord waits for us…every moment…every day!

>> The Lord seeks for us…every second…every hour!

We may have different excuses to evade and avoid time before His presence…

>> Maybe too many works and occupations…

>> Maybe a feeling that it is too dry and boring to be with Him…

>> Maybe an attitude that social works suffice and go beyond all such pious devotions…

But no excuse and no theory can give justification to miss the Presence of the Lord!

It is possible that some of us may have the negative condition of jealousy: displayed by Saul

>> But we are invited to imbibe the positive quality of appreciation: radiated by Jonathon!

Jesus is the magnet who can infuse us with power and strength!

>> The more closer we are, the more attracted we be!

>> The more we remain with Him, the more we become like Him!

May the Magnetic Power of the Holy Eucharist be sought more!

>> May the Magnetic Love of the Holy Eucharist be longed more!

And may, we, in turn, become a magnetic Presence of the Lord to others!

… Seeking the Eucharist, to be a Eucharist to the other!

… Loving the Eucharist to break and share oneself to the other!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “The slow pace of our perfection has to be borne with patience…

… provided that on our part we always do whatever we can to continue advancing!”

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