March 1, 2020 – 1st Sunday of Lent

“Avoiding being trapped by the “axe of sin” by seeking refuge in the “abundance of God’s Grace!”

(Based on Gen 2:7-9, Rom 5:12-19 and Mt 4:1-11)

Once, the trees of the forest formed an association in order to rebel against the ‘axe’, which had caused much harm to all of their folk.

The trees – The redwood, the teak, the cedar, the oak, the cypress, the Sequoias, the banyan and many others – convoked a meeting…
… and decided that none of them would allow the axe to have wood for its helve (= handle of the axe).

But the axe attended the meeting…
… and pleaded to speak just for a couple of minutes.

The request was granted and the axe spoke:
“I can very well understand the difficulties that all of you have faced, as a result of my nature.

And I will definitely not stand in the way of your decision.

But I just have this one suggestion:
” Each of you – be it the redwood or teak or cypress or banyan or any other…
… You look so majestic and splendorous.

People look at you, and raise their minds to the Creator for such marvellous creations.

Will you want your beauty and brilliance to be blocked by the small bushes and trivial creepers that grow in front of you and around you?

So just allow me, to be given some wood only for this purpose…
… that I may cut down those irritating and disturbing plants and creepers

And thus your grandeur can be beheld without any block!”

This proposal seemed very viable and practical for those majestic trees…
… and thus beguiled…

They allowed to give wood to the “axe” – for the ‘good and harmless’ proposal. 

Do we need to continue to hear the story further?

Well, you guessed it right…

The moment the axe was furnished with wood for its handle…
… it chopped down all the trees – sparing none!

Thus the wisdom of the ages comes to highlight: “Watch for the beginnings of evil…”

The Gospel of the Day, on this first Sunday of Lent, is an account, from the Gospel of St Mathew, of how Jesus resisted temptations and emerged victorious by the power of the Spirit, to proclaim the Gospel of God!

The Gospel passage begins with the verse:
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil” (Mt 4: 1)

In Jesus, we encounter a God…
… Who has a very human face – sharing in sufferings, partaking in miseries and participating in hardships.
… Who understands us, in our weak moments, consoles us in our painful situations and who empathizes with us in our trials and temptations.

Jesus knows what it is like to struggle with temptations and enticements…

Because He Himself was tempted!

Jesus knows what it is like to ward off the beasts of our vices and evil tendencies…

Because He Himself was among wild beasts!

Yet, in all His trials, He emerged victorious and triumphant!

The reason?

He had a tremendous infilling of the Holy Spirit!
He had a unshaken determination to be focused on doing God’s Will!
He had a indomitable resolve of being faithful and true to His mission and commitment!

And these reasons of Jesus, are also the techniques for us to overcome the allures of temptations….

Can I grow continually in the infilling of the Holy Spirit?
Can I learn, despite any hardships, to constantly seek and do only God’s Will?
Can I cultivate the steadfastness to be singly focussed on the mission of His Kingdom?

We live in a world which is often, like a wilderness…
… dry in spiritual fervour… heated up with material desires…arid in religious enthusiasm

We live in a world where there are often, many wild beasts…
… ferociously corrupt and unhealthy practices…menacingly abusive evil lifestyles

We need to resist the temptations arising from such situations and stand firm in our focus and commitment to the Lord and His Kingdom.

The account of the ‘First Sin’ in Genesis 3:1-7 clearly gives us the pattern that is followed in every temptation to sin:

  1. A sin is proposed
  2. The person is either pleased or displeased with the proposal
  3. The person either consents or refuses

We see the same pattern being followed in all the three temptations of Jesus (Mt 4:3-10)

And we have the same pattern followed in all our temptations as well – whether we are aware or not.

Our Blessed Lord in His beautiful prayer “The Our Father” taught us the remedy to resist temptation…
“and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil..”

Yes, the easiest recourse to overcome temptation is:  “To Pray”

St Francis de Sales says:
“As soon as you feel yourself tempted, follow what little children would do when they see a wolf or a bear…
… they run at once to their parent’s arms or atleast call out to them for help and assistance”

St Paul invites us to seek refuge in the “abundance of God’s Grace” (Rom 5:17)

It is a deeper and purposeful focus on Jesus Crucified that would come to our aid in our moments of temptations.

We also need to, especially, in our ‘smaller’ temptations, which like bees and flies may constantly seek to disturb…
… make sure that we don’t fall into anxiety or worry
… and instead, perform the contrary virtues


For vain-glory thoughts, think of the triviality of this earthly life
For anger, perform deeds of charity and forgiveness
For pride, do acts of humility
For lust, dwell on the purity of the Lord)

The Lord today exhorts us to not get caught up in the snares of temptation…instead be victorious and triumphant by the Grace and Power of Him –  our Saviour, Model and Master!

Let us not allow any “wood” to be given to the “axe” of sin…
… and thus prevent any eventuality of we “being chopped” of our life in the Lord!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “We must be especially alert against the beginnings of temptation…

… for the enemy is more easily conquered if he is refused admittance to the mind, and is met beyond the threshold, when he knocks.”

February 29, 2020 – Saturday after Ash Wednesday

“Avoiding crimes of the tongue by reaching out to the Divine Physician’s Healing Touch!”

(Based on Is 58:9-14 and Lk 5:27-32)

A young man was browsing through a huge library.

As he was admiring the various titles of the publications, he came across a small pamphlet on which were written the following words:

“I am responsible.

I am responsible for a number of haunting experiences in the world…
… pillows being wet by sobs
… noble hearts broken in the silence of a dark corner
… cruel misunderstandings that make life look dark and dirty
… gentle and sensitive natures, seared and smeared with stains
… old-time friends splitting apart and turning their backs on one another
… and many many more!

Use me, therefore, responsibly…
… Else, I would continue to be responsible for many such ignominies!
Yes, I am responsible!”

Wanna know my name?

I am the Tongue!

And all these my works are called: The Crimes of the tongue!”

Yes, the “crimes of the tongue” are a major source of a number of haunting experiences in the world.

Are we also promoters of such “crimes of the tongue”?

The Gospel of the Day is an account of Jesus, the Great Physician of Galilee, in His rounds of healing sick patients…
… and encountering some critical persons who reveal a dark side of human life by their “slanderous and harsh” tongues and committing the “crimes of the tongue!”

Levi, the tax-collector heeds the call of the Lord “to follow Him” ( Lk 5:27)

In his great happiness of being accepted and the joy of following his new-found love, Levi hosts a grand party.

This feast is a wonderful time of sharing for various other tax collectors as well.

But this time of joy and happiness, becomes an occasion for some people to “wag their tongues” in negative talks and remarks!

As the saying goes…where two or three are gathered with a vicious and malicious mind, there is the assassination of the character of few people!

The Pharisees and their scribes, seeing Jesus sharing the joyful companionship of the tax collectors, began to murmur and grumble: “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” (Lk 5: 30)

Jesus clarifies His mission of coming to the world to heal the sick and to cure the ill. (Lk 5:31)

He is the Great Physician of Galilee.

This Great Physician, clearly examines the “tongues” of the Pharisees and the Scribes and identifies their sickness…

Their tongues spoke ill of people who were being saved.

Their tongues criticized the people who were given a redeeming status in the society.

Their tongues lashed at out the Lord who came to bring acceptance and love to the outcast.

The words that their tongues uttered …
… revealed the low-state of their life.
… revealed the negativity that was widespread in their life.

The Great Physician today wishes to examine our own tongues: our words and our speech.

Are we also persons whose tongues lash out in harsh criticism and rash judgements?
Are we also persons whose tongues hit out in negative comments and unkind criticism?

The Great Physician is here to heal us…

Our tongues easily reveal our sicknesses to Him.

St Francis de Sales, mentions about this aspect, in his book, ‘Introduction to the Devout Life’…

“Doctors get a good knowledge of the health or the illness of a man by examining his tongue.

Our words are signs of the qualities of our souls”

The state of the tongue reveals the state of the health of the person.

The condition of the tongue gives an indication of the well-being or illness in a person.

Similarly, the words, which the tongue speaks, reveal the state of our inner life.

Our speech, which the tongue utters, reveal the condition of our spiritual life.

Prophet Isaiah assures this promise of the Lord to us:
“If you take away from the midst of you…
… the yoke
… the pointing of the finger
… and speaking of wickedness…

Then shall your light rise in the darkness and it gloom be as the noonday!” (Is 58:9b-10)

This time of the Lent is a great opportunity for us, to improve this area of our life.

Jesus, the Great Physician has His prescriptions ready….

His Holy Word, which can sweeten our tongues with patience and charity.

His Holy Eucharist, which can cleanse our tongues in sanctity and holiness.

May we use the tongue, responsibly…
… else, it would continue to be responsible for many ignominies of life!

On this last day of the month of February…
… a special date that comes only once in 4 years – Feb 29…
… with a grateful heart, let us seek to be healed and cleansed by the Divine Touch of the Great Physician…
… and avoid all “Crimes of the tongue!”

God bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “There are some, while fasting, who will not moisten their lips with wone, perhaps not even with water, in his great abstinence…

… however, he does not scruple to steep them in his neighbours blood, through slander and detraction!”

February 28, 2020 – Friday after Ash Wednesday

“Overcoming stagnancy in faith and practising penance in sincerety!”

(Based on Is 58:1-9 and Mt 9:14-15)

Dengue and malaria are fatal sicknesses that have affected a large number of people, all over the world. 

These dreaded sicknesses, are mosquito-borne infections that can cause severe-flu like illness.

One of the causes of steep rise of mosquitoes is the accumulation of stagnant water.

Stagnant water is a favourite breeding-ground for mosquito larvae, which leads to the spread of dengue.

When there is stagnancy, there is a greater chance of sicknesses to spread!

This simple aspect can be very well applied to human minds and human actions as well…

A stagnant mind becomes the breeding ground for laziness, obstinacy and lethargy!
A stagnant action becomes the breeding ground for lukewarmness and listlessness!

There is no vitality in stagnancy…

There is no vivacity in sluggishness…

There is no exuberance in dormancy…

The Gospel of the Day presents this attitude of lifelessness and inertness due to the stagnant practice of an important devotion, namely fasting!

The disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus with an important query:”Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?” (Lk 9:14)

The Mosaic Law commanded only one day of fasting – the day of Atonement.

The Book of Leviticus prescribes this fast:
“On the tenth day of the seventh month..
…you are to enter into a solemn fast and refrain from all work, because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you.

In the presence of God you will be made clean of all your sins.

It is a Sabbath of all Sabbaths. You must fast. It is a perpetual ordinance” (Lev 16:29-31)

But it is to be noted that the Pharisees and apparently, the disciples of John had also adopted another tradition: that of fasting two days a week.

This was considered to be a very pious and pride action among this group.

In Luke 18:12, we find the Pharisee who boasts of fasting twice a week, as he makes his prayer, in contempt of the tax collector.

It is to this fasting, that the disciples of John refer to, when they counter Jesus with the question: “Why don’t your disciples fast?”

But Jesus opens their eyes to see the stagnancy in their thought and practice.

·       The practice of fasting was for atonement of one’s sins.
·       The practise of fasting was a time of mourning in seeking for the restoration of Israel.
·       The practice of fasting was a time of waiting for the Messiah who would redeem their nation.

But somehow all these basic aspects of fasting were forgotten and apparently, lost.

Their practise of fasting had grown stagnant.

Their mindset in skipping meals had become sluggish.
They failed to realise the reason and meaning for their fasting.

The Lord declares Himself as the Bridegroom, who has come to restore the glory of Israel. (Mt 9:15)

The time of mourning is over.

The period of fasting is no longer.

It’s time to rejoice with Him, who is the Bridegroom and Saviour – Jesus!

Yes, when one loses sight of the original purpose, the actions become mere lifeless customs.

When one fails to know the actual motive, the conduct becomes a mere obsolete ritual.

A custom, devoid of its purpose and real intention is dead and decayed.

A tradition, conducted without the true motivation is irrelevant and trivial.
A ritual, performed without knowledge of true meaning is an immaterial routine. 

The Season of Lent calls for us to make extra sacrifices, especially through the form of fasting.

What is my attitude to fasting and penance?

Has it become stagnant…
… devoid of its original purpose of sanctification and growing in closeness to God?

Has it become stagnant…
… becoming a mere yearly custom and tradition with no effect on one’s life?

Am I ready to undertake the powerful style of fasting as presented in Isaiah 58: 6-7:
A fasting…
… to lose the bonds of wickedness and to undo the thongs of the yoke
…  to let the oppressed go free and to share the bread with the hungry
… to bring homeless poor into the house and to cover the naked

Our fasting, penances and sacrifices are to be a joyful one…
… because we have Jesus, the bridegroom with us.

His presence with us, is a matter of joy;
… yet we fast and do penance, to share joyfully in His suffering and pain.

His presence with us, is an occasion of rejoicing;
… yet we make sacrifices and discipline ourselves, to find deeper meaning in His Cross.

His presence with us, is a period of celebration;
… yet we have self-control and abstain oneself, to be united closer to His redeeming action.

Let us not get stagnant.

Let us, instead, open our eyes to the real purpose meaning of our fasting and our acts of penance.

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “We must love obedience rather than fear disobedience…We must do all by love… and nothing by force!”

February 27, 2020 – Thursday after Ash Wednesday

“Making a choice for the Lord and walking in His Way of the Cross!”

(Based on Deut 30:15-20 and Lk 9:22-25)

A story is told of a young woman who wanted to join a particular college, with a reputed fame.

As she filled the application form, her heart sank, when she read the question that read: “Are you a leader?”

Sticking to her principle of being honest in life, she wrote “No”…
… and submitted her application…
… expecting the worst!

She knew, that this question would be the stumbling block for her admission to college.

But to her great surprise, she received the following letter from college:
“Dear Applicant,
A study of all our application forms this year reveals, that we will have 1, 547 new leaders in college.

So we are accepting you as our student, because we feel that it is necessary that all those ‘so-called leaders’, have atleast one follower!”

Well, that pretty much sums up human tendencies isn’t it?
… a tendency whereby people would dilute their ideals for seeking a position or favour!
… a tendency whereby people would want to be only leaders, but fail to be a follower!

Is our Christian life also characterized by these tendencies…?
… to dilute Christian Values for the sake of one’s favour?
… to project our personal merits and crave to be a power-monger rather than a follower?

The Gospel of the Day presents the mighty challenge of Jesus, to those who wish to follow Him…
… being uncompromising in one’s commitment
… being willing to be a follower of Him, the Sole Leader!

Jesus says: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Lk 9:23)

One of the key aspects, when we analyze the ministry of Jesus is that Cross would be an integral aspect of His life and ministry.

The Lord never shied away from the Cross.

And the Lord never shied away from teaching about the Cross.

He doesn’t use attractive advertisements to allure more followers…

He doesn’t preach an easy life to gather in more disciples…

But He instead preaches and proclaims the Cross!

The Cross is a symbol…
… of total self-giving
… of total commitment

We are in the season of Lent.

It’s a time of getting back to the basics of our life…
… to re-dedicate our love and consecration to the Lord
… to review our life more closely in relation to our faith

The Lord sets before us choices continually in life.. (Deut 30:15)
… the choice of life and death
… the choice of good and evil
… the choice of blessings and curses

But all these promises of the Lord are valid, only if we are seeking and are eager to follow His commandments and to walk according to His paths.

Our Christian lives today are often found to be characterized by…

… pragmatism: following Christ and His Ideals only for our personal gains and desires!

… comfortability: following Christ and His Ideals only when it is easy and undemanding!

… dilution: following Christ and His Ideals without sincerity and watering down as per convenience!

… power-mongerism: following Christ and His Ideals only to gain power and popularity!

The Cross comes as a huge blow to all such “easy philosophies!”

The Cross was the choice of the Lord…
… a result of deep obedience and total commitment.

The Cross needs to be our choice too…and this requires…
… deep obedience to the Will of the Lord.
… total commitment to our call and consecration as a Christian.

The Lord promises much happiness and joy…
… but these will be delivered only if we make the determination and resolution to follow Him closer and to live as per His commands!

Let us be bold and courageous to embrace a Life of the Cross…
… without pragmatism, without comfortability, without dilution, without power-mongerism!

And stick on to the Christian Principles…
… even it means, rejection from the world and its ways!

Yes, shall we be ready…
… to embrace this call and exhortation of the Lord?
… to get attracted to a life of the Cross – total discipline and deep dedication?

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Be what you are…

… and be at its best!”

February 26, 2020 – Ash Wednesday

“Returning to the Lord, in humility, and growing in holiness, in this Season of Lent!”

(Based on Joel 2:12-18, 2 Cor 5:20-6:2 and Mt 6:1-6, 16-18)

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

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

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

They offered him the gift of the “touch of his hand” – so that he would be able to heal the sick or raise the dead…
… But he refused, saying that “God alone could heal”

Then, they offered him the “power of conversion” – so that people could turn to God in repentance…
… But he refused, saying that “the Holy Spirit alone could work repentance in souls”

Then they offered the power to be a “model of goodness” so that many more would be drawn to him by the virtue of his life…
… But he refused, again, saying that “if all are drawn to him, people would be away from God”

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

The holy person replied:
“Grant me the gift of humility…
… so that I might do good to all, without me even knowing it!”

And so the angels interceded to God…
… and he was blessed:

Wherever his shadow would fall, where he himself could not see it…
… the shadow would cure sicknesses, heal broken hearts and bring back people to God in repentance!

Humility was the virtue that was sought by the virtuous person…
… and it was this simplicity – to allow the Lord to take complete possession of all his goodness – that exalted him to climb the ladder of sanctity higher!

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

Today we begin the Season of Lent.

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

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

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

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

With respect to almsgiving, Jesus says…
… “sound no trumpet” (Mt 6:2)

With respect to prayer, Jesus says…
… “shut the door and pray to your Father” (Mt 6:6)

With respect to fasting, Jesus says…
…”anoint your head and wash your face” (Mt 6:17)

Prophet Joel expresses the fervent desire of the Lord to return back to Him with sincerity of heart:
“Yet even now,” says the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning…
… and rend your hearts and not your garments.” (Joel 2:12-13)

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

Sin is…
… when the heart rejects the working of the Spirit.

Holiness is…
… when the heart accepts the grace of the Spirit.

When the heart consents to evil, sin occurs

When the heart consents to grace, goodness is affirmed.

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

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

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

When the intention of the heart is genuine and sincere, then one remains least bothered of external attractions and publicity…
… there is no desire to seek for attention and appreciation for one’s devout actions
… there is no inclination to want acknowledgement and recognition for one’s pious deeds

And this is the ideal to which Jesus invites us:

A religion that spreads not simply on the basis of external shows..
…but on the basis of genuine spirituality

A faith that grows not merely on the strength of pompous deeds…
… but on the foundation of true dependence and trust in the Lord

Is my practice of religion very often a flaunting of my pride and vain glory?

It is also interesting to note that these 3 practices also refers to the 3 dimensions of Love: towards God, towards others, towards oneself

  1. Prayer: Reminding ourselves to grow in the Immensity of God’s Love
  2. Almsgiving: Reviving our basic duty of caring and being responsible to one another
  3. Fasting (Penance): Rediscovering the worthiness of our lives and commit to grow in holiness

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

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

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

A few practical tips could help us to make this Season of Lent, more meaningful:

  1. It is said that habits – to make a new one or to break an old one – generally take around 21 days

These 40+ days of Lent are a chance for us to “double” our efforts towards…
… positively growing in a “good virtuous habit”
… negatively rooting out a “not-so-good vicious habit”

(A few examples:
… Reading a portion of the Bible daily
… Learn by heart, some verses of the Bible and make it a personal prayer
… Identify the “root vice” of life, and practice the opposite – “the root virtue”
… Try to frequent Holy Mass / spend time with the Eucharistic Lord, as much as possible
… 40 simple acts of kindness
… Abstain from something that is “dear” and offer it is a sacrifice for someone in need
… Revive personal/family prayer
… Reduce time spent on the internet/social media
… Visit a home of charity or those in our vicinity who needs a help
… Abstain from gossiping/back biting/ irritable words
… Bring a person(s) closer to Christ/Church)

Can we choose, on this day, a habit in our personal life, which we need to “make or break”…
… for these days of Lent?

  1. The Season of Lent covers a period of 7 weeks

Seven – a number of fullness and completeness is a call for us to grow in the Virtue of Charity.

We could identify 7 people – corresponding to the 7 weeks of Lent, who need our help.

This help may be any of the following:
… spiritual help
… social acceptance
… materialistic needs
… emotional assistance

May this Season of Lent – “the acceptable time given by the Lord” (Cf. 2 Cor 6:2) – help us to take concrete and practical decisions to practise the three pillars of Christian Piety – Fasting, Almsgiving and Praying…
… in its truest sense.

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

“Grant me the gift of humility…
… so that I might do good to all, without me even knowing it!”

Wish you all a Very Happy and Blessed Season of Lent.

May this season of lent, be a time – to revive and renew – and thus grow in Holiness!

May our Blessed Mother of Compassion intercede for us.

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “ Fasting is a virtue only when it is accompanied by conditions which render it pleasing to God!”

February 25, 2020 – 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Year 2

“Carving our lives in humility in imitation of our Blessed Lord!”

(Based on Jas 3:13-18 and and Mk 9:30-37)

There is a story of a tourist who visited a particular church.

He was quite surprised to see the figure of a lamb, that had been carved near the top of the church’s tower.

On enquiring, he came to know the reason…

He was told that when the church was being built, a workman fell from a high scaffold.

His co-workers, in fear and despair, rushed down, probably expecting that their companion might have died.

But to their pleasant surprise, they found him alive, with just some minor injuries.

How did the workman survive that steep fall?

A flock of sheep was passing at that time, beneath the scaffold of the tower.

The worker, fell on the top of one of the lambs!

The lamb was crushed to death, but the man was saved!

To celebrate this miraculous escape, a carved lamb was placed on the tower at the exact height from which the workman fell!

It is not confirmed if this story is true or a legend; but one thing is for sure and certain: we need the Lamb for our survival – the Lamb of God!

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus, the Lamb of God predicting His passion and death…
… and drives home the message of the necessity of being clothed with humility and innocence, in order to achieve true greatness in life.

Jesus had a very specific purpose in coming to the world – the salvation of all.

The path chosen to realise this salvific act was the path of suffering and death, leading to glory.

Jesus was always clear in what He wanted and the aims of His Life.

And so very plainly, He forewarns His disciples, “The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He is killed, He will rise after three days” (Mk 9: 31)

Unlike some popular preachings, Jesus preached to the world…
…. not ordinariness or littleness; rather a “Gospel of Greatness”
…. not being satisfied with the minimum or with the least efforts; rather a “Gospel of the Maximum.”

But His understanding of “Being Great” and His way of “achieving the maximum” was unlike how the world thought.

The world views greatness in being powerful with power, wrapped in wealth, possessing positions and clothed in vain glory
The world views achieving maximum in life by means of exploitation, dishonesty, cheating and trickery 

That’s the way also the disciples of Jesus thought, when they were quarrelling on the way, as to “who was the greatest” (Mk 9: 34)

But Jesus defines a “new” way of being great…
… by being little
… by being humble
… and by lowering oneself

And so He says, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be last of all and the servant of all” (Mk 9: 35)

He preaches the “Gospel of Greatness” – being great in the sight of God, by doing His will and following His commandments

He preaches the “Gospel of Maximum” – achieving one’s maximum by depending and trusting in the power of God at all times

In tune with His preaching, Jesus lived a life of immense humility, daring innocence and bold holiness!

He was the mighty Lion of Judah…..but He humbled Himself to become the Lamb of God!

Clothed in mighty glory and rapturous splendour, He emptied Himself to live a life of sacrifice, gentleness and surrender to God’s Will!

This is true greatness:  the higher that one wishes to become, the lower must one humble, to allow the grace of God to fill one’s life!

The Lord wishes that we all become “great” in life…
… but “great” in the proper sense of the term.

The Lord desires that we all achieve the “maximum” in life..
… but “maximum” in the true sense of the term.

St James reminds us that we ought to move away from worldly ways and embrace a life of humility:
“Whoever wishes to be a friend of the world, makes himself an enemy of God.

Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will exalt you!” (Jas 4:4,10)

May we cherish and follow the example of our Blessed Lord in leading a life of humility and scaling the heights of true ‘greatness’ and achieving the ‘maximum’ in life.

Jesus, the Lamb of God – by His sacrificial love and total surrender has given us life and salvation, at the cost of His own life.

Shall we not reciprocate and commemorate this tremendous sacrifice, by “carving” our lives, in the image of “this Lamb” – being humble, committed to our cause and trusting fully in the power of God?

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Let God be the air, in which your heart breathes at ease!”

February 24, 2020 – 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Year 2

“Moving from peripheral faith to powerful trust!”

(Based on Jas 3:13-18 and and Mk 9:14-29)

A story is told of a master who had a disciple, for a long time.

Though the disciple was an extreme simpleton, the master persisted with him, on account of his sincerity.

One day, a rumour spread in the village that the disciple was walking over the waters of the river.

On hearing the news, the master asked the disciple: “Is it true, that you crossed the river, by walking on the water?”

The disciple said: “Yes, O Master. It was all thanks to you. I repeated your name with deep faith and trust, and I could cross over the river!”

The Master said to himself: “If my disciple could walk over the waters, surely I should be able much more.

If repeating my name can work a miracle, why not make an attempt!”

So saying, the master began to walk on the waters, uttering his name…
… only to drown into the waters!

His feeble and wavering faith, had got him drowned!

The master thought only a mere repetition of his name would work a miracle: A peripheral faith!

The disciple had complete confidence that a miracle could be worked: A powerful trust!

Faith is something that comes from within…

True faith requires the peeling away of the “layers of doubts”

The Gospel of the Day is an incident of how a “peripheral faith” is exposed and how a teaching is given to move into the realm of “powerful trust”

The reading in focus is that of some of the disciples of Jesus, who failed to heal a possessed boy, and the chiding that was followed by Jesus.

Jesus, was along with His “chosen within the chosen” disciples – Peter, James and John – on the mount of Transfiguration (Mk 9: 2-13)

Meanwhile the other disciples were approached by a father, who brought his son – possessed by a demon – to them for a healing.

They were however unable to heal.

The father expresses this to Jesus, Who had come down from the Mount of Transfiguration:
“I asked Your disciples to drive it out, but they were unable to do so!” (Mk 9: 18)

Why were the disciples unable to drive the demon?

Why did they fail in their task of healing the boy?

It was a moment of embarrassment and awkwardness for these disciples: being unable to cure the boy

In Mk 6: 7, we read: “Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out, two by two, and gave them authority over unclean spirits”

The power to cast out demons was delegated by Jesus to the disciples

Yet, they failed to heal the demon-possessed boy.


Jesus answers – through a cry of lament: “O faithless generation…!” (Mk 9: 19)

Jesus points to the lack of faith in the disciples

He drives home a very important dimension of Faith that we need examine constantly:

“Do you really believe in Me…?
… or is your faith more in your own-self?”

” Are you totally dependent on Me… ?
… or are you being more self-reliant?”

The disciples had indeed found success in their ministry (Mk 6:30)

They also had witnessed the mighty powers of Jesus and were in astonishment (Mk 6: 34-51)

But somehow, perhaps, their faith had still not grown…their faith was still peripheral

Layers of self-dependence, pride, ‘only external piety’ were still formed!

Therefore Jesus, their Master…
… peeled and “unlayered” those layers

This “peeling of layers” was a necessity for the disciples…
… to begin to depend more on the Lord and His Authority, rather than their power
… to be always humble to allow to the Lord to be given all glory, rather than self-exaltation

Are there such layers in my practise of the Christian faith?
… Layers of pride? Layers of self-reliance? Layers of “only external piety?

Then the Lord will often take us through situations of difficulties, awkwardness and even humiliations or embarrassment…
… in order to not become self-reliant; instead to be God-reliant
… in order to not swell up in pride; instead to humble oneself to trust in God!
… in order to not have a mere external show of faith; instead to grow in interior holiness!

The Lord wishes that we grow higher in our faith… that we love Him more deeply, for His sake alone.

In the words of St James, let’s pray for “wisdom from above that is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity!” (Cf. Jas 3:17).

Let us allow Him to help us to move from a “peripheral faith” into the realm of “powerful trust”…

And thus in, deep trust, to cry out: “I do believe; help my unbelief” (Mk 9: 24)

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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

“ A sign that we truly love God is…

… that we love Him the same, in all occasions!”

February 23, 2020 – 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A

“Living a life of holiness and in the Spirit, and extending His love to all people!”

(Based on Lev 19:1-2,17-18, 1 Cor 3:16-23 and and Mt 5:38-48)

The Year 1989 saw the collapse of the Berlin Wall, Germany.This wall was the barrier that divided the nation from 1961 to 1989.

After the collapse of the Berlin Wall, there would have been, perhaps, no person in all of East Germany, who was more despised …
… than the former Communist dictator Erich Honecker.

Being the secretary of the Communist Party, Erich Honecker was the prime organiser of the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961 and, in this function, bore responsibility for the “order to fire” along the inner German border.

However, after the collapse of the wall, Honecker had been stripped of all his offices.

Kicked out of his villa, the new government refused him and his family, new housing.

The family of the Honeckers were rendered homeless and destitute.

It was at this stage, Pastor Uwe Holmer, Director of a Christian Help Centre decided to take a bold step:
Feeling that it would be wrong to give them a room, in the Help Centre, which was meant for even needier people…
… Uwe Holmer decided to take the family of the Honeckers into their own home!

Holmer’s children had suffered the wrath of the rule of the Honeckers..

8 of his children had been turned down for higher education, due to their discriminatory policies.

But now, Holmer – filled with God’s Mercy –  decided to care and accept their personal enemy – and perhaps one of the most hated men in Germany!

Many people turned against Holmer for his decision
Many felt angered in having given refuge to an enemy

But Holmer, the Christian, was convinced of what he was doing…

It was indeed an unnatural move…
It was undoubtedly an unconventional step…
.. But it was so much Christ-like!

He put into practise what Jesus had taught on the Sermon of the Mount, as we see in today’s Gospel:
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Mt 5:44)

It is said that some books/thoughts are to be just tasted…

Some are to be just swallowed…
While some others are to be chewed and digested!

Well… here is a teaching that is certainly not too easy to digest:
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you!”

Sometimes when we hear the word ENEMY…

Our thoughts go to some enemy of the nation or some social criminal…
Or perhaps, some of us, may think of some person who has harmed us deeply or cheated us, and has turned to be an enemy…

But if we analyze our lives closer… we may observe that we all have many enemies in our lives..

An ‘enemy’, is defined by the Oxford Dictionary, as “a person or thing, hostile or opposed to something; that harms or weakens someone/something”

A little closer look into our lives will probably make us to discover that…

Perhaps, many people fall into this definition of being an “enemy”…
… Many in our family or our community
… Many in our friends circle
… Many in our workplaces
… Many in the society

We get so easily offended when our egos our hurt..

  We feel a sense of resentment when we are not treated as we feel we ought to be…

We experience bitterness when other people do not fall in line with the way we think…
… there are often so many tussles and mental games…
… and we have so often grudges against all these people!

All these are our “enemies”!

This list of enemies in our life..though apparently unnoticed, is perhaps deeper….

But, today the Lord says: “Love those enemies..and pray for them”!

Humanly speaking, of course, it seems only a theoretical advice – seemingly impractical!

But the Lord wants us to be perfect!

We also know one thing…
… If this was not possible, the Lord would have never said it!

The Life of Jesus Himself was a proof for it…
… Lovingly inviting even all those who hated and detested Him, to experience His Love
… Constantly reaching out with the call of repentance, to those who wronged Him
… Giving His life for all of us, who offend and hurt Him

The call of the Gospel “to love our enemies” is a high demand…

It is indeed a huge challenge…

Yet, with the grace of the Lord…
… Lets pick up this challenge of the Lord…and seek towards perfection!

God reminds us through the book of Leviticus that we are all called to holiness and to extend His love, in service, to our neighbours:
“Say to all the congregation of the people of Israel, You shall be holy; for I the LORD your God am holy.” (Lev 19:2).

We are to bring to our conscious awareness that “we are the Temple of God’s Holy Spirit!” (Cf. 1 Cor 3:16)

St John Paul II says, “Don’t fear to be the saints of the Third Millennia!”

Let’s not remain in idealistic talks and thoughts…
… rather, lets translate the words and challenges of the Lord, in our practical and daily life.

May we identify the “enemies” in our life…
… and seek Divine Assistance and the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary and the Saints.

May we dare to “receive into our homes” those who, though deserve to be punished, but still are worthy of the Mercy of the Lord!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “The measure of love is to love without measure!”

February 22, 2020 – Feast of the See of St Peter, the Apostle

“Being fearlessly faithful to the Lord, the Chief Shepherd Who upholds and strengthens us always!”

(Based on 1 Pet 5:1-4 and and Mt 26:13-19)

A soldier working in the army – who was known for his bravery and never-give-up attitude – was asked by a journalist:

“What is the motivation for you to be so valiant and strong in your service?”

To that, the soldier replied: “Well, we have a saying in our army…
… and I try to follow that.

The saying is this: ‘If someone says, he is not afraid of death…
… then he is either lying
… or he is in the army!’

I have lived in this way of life… living this truth!”

As Christians, we are all soldiers of Christ!

Are we ready to have the courage to face any situation of difficulty, including death…
… and seek to be ever faithful to the Lord and His Church?

Today, we are invited to renew our love and commitment to the Church as we celebrate the Feast of the “See of St Peter” (Chair of St Peter).

This Feast celebrates Christ choosing St Peter to “sit” in authority as the visible leader of the Church on earth.

The Gospel of the Day presents to us the Faith Statement of Peter, the leader of the band of the Apostles and Jesus declaring to him:
“…on this rock, I will build my Church; and never will the powers of death overcome it!” (Mt 16:18)

Jesus – the Great Rock entrusts to Peter, the rock and assures Him that the Church will always stay rock-grounded!

The Lord had…
… and still has great Faith and Trust in His Church

But, personally, we need to ask: Am I sometimes doubtful, uncertain and hesitant with respect to the Church?

This Feast is a good opportunity for us to get to some of the Basics of the Church.

The word “Church”….in Greek…is Ekklesia.

Ekklesia can be split to two words… “ek” = out of + “kaleo” = to call

This gives us an important meaning of EKKLESIA – THE CHURCH…. TO BE CALLED OUT OF….

The Church is a body
…to be called out of the world

Into being a Family and Fellowship in God!

The Church is a body…to be called out of materialistic and worldly gains…

And be a sign of hope and salvation!

This gives us a clue to many aspects of the Church
…and which will help our own understanding

The Church is not a mere building…
… the Church is the People of God.

We often reduce the Church – especially in our everyday vocabulary – to a mere building made of stones and cement..

But, we need to realise and remember that the Church is made of living stones (1 Pet 2:5)
… and all of us need to contribute our mite in keeping alive this Church of God.

Do I give my share of talents and gifts to the Church is keeping it effective and relevant for our modern times?

Do I make sacrifices and offer prayers for the Church so that she may stand strong in the midst of struggles?

Do I promote and encourage the teachings of the Church and find beauty and wisdom in them?

Perhaps one reason we find ourselves in a cribbing position, with respect to the Church is because of our failure to understand its nature…
… and also have our own misunderstandings and prejudices.

When Jesus asked His disciples, “Who am I” (Mt 16: 13) he got varied answers…
… some surprising
… some unexpected

The Mystery of Jesus was so great…
… people failed to grasp who actually He was…

The Mystery of the Church is also great…
… that people fail to understand her and even form opposing opinions!

We may feel that the Church is too traditional and too conservative and too authoritarian…

But we fail to see that she has preserved much morals…kept safe human values..and promoted holiness

We may feel that the Church is all too mistaken in many areas and has committed many blunders…

But we ought to know that the Church has a human dimension and despite it, the Spirit of the Lord leads

We may feel that the Church is just too bad with scandals and hypocrites and has lost all credibility…

But we need to realize that the evil one attacks those who strive for sanctity and tries to disrupt God’s plans

The Church undergoes the pain of many a misunderstandings…
… Christ too underwent the same.

The Church suffers the bad name of being called by many names….
… Christ too underwent the same.

From a negative aspect, What is a Hospital?

Diseases, Blood, Pus, Screaming, Pains, Twisted bodies, Suffering..

But from a Positive Aspect, What is a Hospital?

Care, Healing, Love, Solace, Relief, Aid, Selfless Service….

Our Church can be understood in similar tones…
Weaknesses are plenty…
…yet, when seen from a Divine perspective, she is Holy!

All of us are concerned about the growing rejection of Church and Christian values in our society…

But we who are Baptized…and who seek the good of the Church, ought to join our hands and seek to revive the relevance and importance of the Church.

The Church has its weaknesses…
… but the Church needs Powerful Persons… in You and Me!

The Church has its negatives…
… but the Church needs Passionate Lovers of God… in You and Me!

The Church has its flaws…
… but the Church needs Committed Preachers of the Word… in You and Me!

The Body of Christ while hanging on the Cross was weak
… but “No bone of His was broken” (Jn 19:36)

The Church of Christ while living in the world maybe weak
… but No bone shall be broken!
“…on this rock, I will build my Church; and never will the powers of death overcome it!”

St Peter, after having personally experienced the Presence and Power of Jesus in his life, could write with deep conviction:
“When the Chief Shepherd is manifested, you will obtain the unfading crown of glory!” (1 Pet 5:4)

Let us draw closer to Jesus, the Great Rock Who will help us to stand firm and become passionate in service of the Church…

And being ready to face any challenge or problem, let it be said of us:
“If someone says, he is not afraid of death or problems in life…
… then he is either lying
… or he is a Christian!”

Happy Feast Day!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “ When you are physically or mentally occupied while fulfilling the duties of your state of life…

… renew, as far as possible – again and again – your “YES” to the Will of God!”

February 21, 2020 – 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Year 2

“Singing the melody of God’s Love, even in the greatest struggles of life and displaying the Grit of our Faith!”

(Based on Jas 2:14-24, 26 and and Mk 8:34-9:1)

There is a beautiful legend of a thorn bird.

It is said that the thorn bird sings only once in its life.

Leaving its nest, it searches for a bush…
… a bush with long and sharp thorns.

On finding such a thorny bush, the thorn bird pierces itself on the biggest thorn.

It is at that point, that it begins to sing.

And this sweet and beautiful singing, outmatches the lark or the nightingale or any other singing bird.

The world pauses in silence and wonder…
… as they hear the melodious voice, from the wounded and dying bird!

The legend clearly gives the message…
… that the most satisfying moments of life, can be purchased only at the price of great pain

Christian suffering and struggling is represented by the Cross.

The Gospel of the Day is a presentation of the Message of the Cross…
… an invitation to follow the Crucified Christ
… a challenge to faithfully carry the crosses of our life.

Jesus says, “Whoever wishes to come after me, must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me!” (Mk 8:34)

Our Blessed Lord loves to jolt static minds and the inert understandings..

He doesn’t promise cushy comforts…
… He demands Commitment to the Cross!

Those who choose Christianity as a Life Style, ought to be…

Losers of oneself
Be carriers of the Cross
And then Follow Him!

Christianity, as a Life Style, has the Cross as its Basic Rule and it demands Commitment!

But the very mention of the word “Cross”, sometimes puts people off…

“Not again the Cross”
“Enough of pain and suffering”
“We go to Church to relax and be comforted; not simply to hear of the Passion &Anguish of the Suffering Jesus on the Cross; we only prefer the Glorious & Victorious Christ”
“Stop being pessimistic with Sin & Repentance…. Just be optimistic with Joy & Salvation!”

These are often, the “happening” buzz phrases and popular opinions
… even in our religious environs.

We like to be Saved…
… but we Fear the Cross of repentance of our Sins

We like to receive Blessings…
… but we Fear the Cross of living an honest life

We like to live a peaceful life…
… but we Fear the Cross of trusting in God’s Providence

We like to be prosperous…
… but we Fear the Cross of being generous and compassionate

We like to be called good..
… but we Fear the Cross of being Faithful to the teachings of Christ

We like to have joy…
… but we Fear the Cross of giving up attachments and belong totally to God

Yes, We often, Fear the Cross…

But Christ – Crucified on the Cross – promises His Choicest Rewards to the ones, who dare to take up the Cross…

They will find Life…
They will be rewarded…
They will find true joy and peace…
… says the Lord.

Have we really accepted Christianity as our Life Style?

Then let us Embrace the Cross.

One important element of Embracing the Cross is translating our faith into a actual works of service.

In the words of St James:
“Faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead!” (Jas 2:17)

This requires us to permit the Grace of God to work in us, by our constant response and consent to the Will of the Lord…
… This will surely make us encounter struggles and difficulties.

But let’s always trust in the Grace of the Lord to strengthen us.

Life will often push us to thorn situations – painful and agonizing

But like the thorn bird…
… let us dare to embrace this struggle, and yet sing the most beautiful song!
… let us be courageous to go through the time of difficulty, knowing that the Lord wishes to play a beautiful melody through my life!

Let us remain committed to the Cross of Christ and celebrate Christianity with conviction!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “A heart of love, loves the commandments and the more difficult it seems, the more sweet and pleasing they become…

… because it pleases the Beloved and gives Him more honour!