April 1, 2020 – 5th Week of Lent

“Being faithful to the Lord, even when we know it is God’s Will that is permitting us, to experience momentary suffering and struggle!”

(Based on Dan 3:14-20, 24-25, 28 and Jn 8:31-42)

Valiant stories of courage and faith are always an inspiration!

One such beautiful incident is narrated in the 3rd Chapter of the Book of Daniel

This chapter describes how the Jews were forced to bow down before a golden image of King Nebuchadnezzar.

However, three young men – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – refused to do so, and held on to their faithfulness to God Yahweh.

This act of defiance infuriated the king and he warned them of severe consequences if they failed to to do what he commanded.

At this, the three young, displaying immense courage and faith in the Lord responded:
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.

If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.
But if not, be it known to you, O king…
… that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up!” (Dan 3:16-17)

The three young men were convinced of the mighty delivering Hand of the Lord…

But not only that; they also boldly offered themselves to the Will of God and declared…
… “even if it is the Will of God, that we should momentarily suffer in this fire, we will still be faithful to God!”

That’s Faith! That’s Trust!

Holding on to the Lord, not only because you wish that God will answer your prayer, in the way you want, and in the time you want…
… but being faithful to the Lord, even when you know it is God’s Will that is permitting you, to experience momentary suffering and struggle!

Being convinced of the Truth and Beauty of God’s Will…
… they were willing to make every sacrifice – and go against every stubborn temptation!

Are we ready to open our eyes to this Truth of knowing and accepting God’s Will in our life?

Or do we remain stubborn and defiant in the ‘temptation to think and do as per our own wishes’…
… and fail to experience the Divine Power of the Lord?

The Gospel of the Day is a continuation of the Jews getting into arguments with Jesus on the question of His Divinity.

The Lord invites them open their eyes to see and experience the Truth…
… but they close their minds, and choose to remain stubborn, in their own understanding

The Lord exposes before them the futility of being ignorant and the advantage of knowing the Truth…
… but they wilfully choose to remain stuck in their past knowledge and be unwilling to open their hearts to possibilities of change.

Jesus, the Truth-Incarnate, declares: “You will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free” (Jn 8: 31)
But the people retorted and answered: “… we have never been enslaved…” (Jn 8: 33)

They considered slavery from only a physical perspective!

They were extremely offended when Jesus considered them to be slaves!

But Jesus brings the focus into right perspective (as he does always!), and speaks of a deadlier form of slavery and a higher form of freedom…

A slavery to Sin…
… that causes one to be away from God and His people

A slavery to ignorance and error…
… that causes one to be closed to God’s Word and prevent His transformation to take place within

He invites to receive Freedom in Him…
… that enjoins with knowing and doing the Father’s Will
… that liberates one from the bondages of death, and leads into peace and joy!

The danger to remain stagnant in sinful or ignorant ways constantly lurks in our life:

The Truth of the Bible is often presented to us in appealing and interesting formats…
… but we often seek to remain ignorant or don’t show any interest to read and understand God’s Word

The beauty of the Sacramental Life and the Teachings of the Church is laid before our eyes…
… but we time and again, tend to be lethargic, casual and sometimes even, hostile to them

Our eyes often come into contact with the suffering lot of people, in and around us…
… but many times, we turn a blind eye to them and remain indifferent in our cosy lifestyle

Each of us needs a purification…

Each of us needs a movement…

A purification from our stubborn ways to a life of obedience and docility to God’s Word

A movement from a sluggish life of faith to being a fervent and committed Christian

Yes, Jesus is constantly extends His Nail-Scarred Hands, inviting us to a life of holiness and sanctity.

We are constantly exhorted, to live in holiness and purity…
… but often, we stubbornly choose to inhabit in sin, shame and ignorance!

We are invited, to a life of spotlessness and sanctity…
… but often, we remain satisfied to dwell with the unclean and dirty things of life!

Let us make a self-examination of our state of life…
… realize the need to have a purification and a movement…
… and embrace and live with Jesus, the Truth, “Who sets us free”!

Today, let us make a firm commitment – like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the three young men in the Book of Daniel, whose life was a valiant story of courage and faith

And hold on to the Lord, not only because we wish that God will answer our prayer, in the way we want and in the time we want…
… but being faithful to the Lord, even when we know it is God’s Will that is permitting us, to experience momentary suffering and struggle!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “God will unfailingly be pleased with our patience and take note of our diligence and perseverance!”

March 31, 2020 – 5th Week of Lent

“Opening our hearts – in repentance and contrition – and allowing Him to reveal “the light” of His love and grace in our hearts!”

(Based on Num 21:4-9 and Jn 8: 21-30)

St. Augustine speaks of a conversation, he had, with an unbeliever.

The other man showed him his idol gods and said, “Here is my god; Where is thine?”

He again pointed to the skies and said, “Lo, Here is my god; Where is thine?”
He further showed some of the land creatures and said, “Behold, here is my god; Where is thine?”

“But” St Augustine says, “I showed him not my God;

Not because I had not one to show him, but because he had not eyes to see Him”

Unless one open’s one’s eyes to the Divine realities…
… one cannot see the Divine!

If one chooses to remain closed to the light of Divinity…
… then one continues to remain in the darkness of life!

The Gospel of the Day is the account of Jesus presenting Himself as the Light of the World and his continued debate with the Pharisees, who chose to remain in the darkness of error and ignorance.

Jesus is at the Feast of the Tabernacles (Jn 7: 10)

It is a kind of a harvest festival.

It’s a festival of going up to Jerusalem and join in the festivities with many of the other farmers and vineyard-keepers…
… being grateful and expressing one’s thankfulness to God Yahweh, who has blessed with a good harvest.

In the evening of the Feast day, everyone gets together in the Court of the Women at the Temple to dance and praise God for his goodness.

There is an elaborate ceremony involving the pouring out of water from great pitchers and then the lamps are lit.

Four huge oil lamps are positioned around the courtyard and the priests’ assistants pour great quantities of oil into the bases of them.
Massive wicks are created from the worn-out clothing of the priests and stuffed into the necks.
Darkness falls quickly with very little twilight between the strong sunlight and the rising of the moon, which follows very rapidly at this time of year.

Suddenly the lamps are lit and the whole courtyard is bathed in their light.

A cheer goes up from the revellers and from around the city, as the light can be seen from every part of Jerusalem.

Using the contrast between…
… the glowing exuberance of the brightly lit courtyard
… and the growing darkness in the atmosphere

Jesus makes a loud and bold proclamation:
“I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jn 8: 12)

But the Pharisees objected and spoke in retort:
“You testify on your own behalf, so your testimony cannot be verified” (Jn 8: 13)

There was a contrast-play, on here….

The Temple was lit brightly
… Jesus declared Himself as the Light of the World

The evening had set and the surroundings were growing darker
… The Pharisees, by rejecting the person of Jesus, chose to remain in darkness!

Jesus was constantly giving witness to the fact that He was the “light of the world”

He brought the light…
… of healing – to those sick and in distress
… of salvation – to those in sin and guilt
… of power and grace – by His words and teachings

But the Pharisees and many of the “creamy class” of the Jewish society, chose to dwell in “darkness”

They remained in the darkness…
… of ignorance – by not being open to the teachings and works of Jesus
… of death – by continuing a life of sin and error and refusing the offer of grace from Jesus

Jesus wishes to be the “light of our life”!

One of the most tragic statements in the Bible reads thus:
“He came to His own, and His own rejected Him” (Jn 1: 11)

What about us?

Do we open our hearts to allow His light to shine through us?

Or do we get stagnant in darkness, and choose to reject His teaching in our life…?

Do we seek the Lord in honesty seeking, to cause His light to shine in our minds?

Or do we remain indifferent in darkness, and get stuck to our pride mentality and lifestyle…?

The people of Israel failed to see the Mighty Hand of the Lord leading and protecting them on their way to the Promised Land.

They got stuck with peripheral and materialistic concerns
… “And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” (Num 21:5)

As a result, they greatly offended the Lord and brought punishment upon themselves.

Yet, the Lord, in His Great Goodness, provided a solution – the bronze serpant – a pre-figurement of the Cross of Christ, which would bring redemption to the whole world!
… “And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it on a pole; and if a serpent bit any man, he would look at the bronze serpent and live!” (Num 21:8-9)

The Lord comes to us, today…
… proclaiming Himself as the “light of the world”

Let us not remain closed; rather, open our hearts, in repentance and contrition…
… and allow Him to reveal “the light” of His love and grace in our hearts?

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Christian Doctrine clearly proposes to us…
… the truths, God wills us to believe
… the goods, He wills us to hope for
… the punishments, He wills us to fear
… the things, He wills us to love
… the commandments, He wills us to fulfil
… and the counsels, He desires us to follow

All of this is called the Signified Will of God, because He has signified and made manifest His Will and that intention…

… that these things should be believed, hoped for, feared, loved and practised!”

March 30, 2020 – 5th Week of Lent

“With faith, picking up the broken pieces of our life, filling the spaces in our emptiness with His love and being ready to start, all over again, in hope!”

(Based on Dan 13:41-62 and Jn 8:1-11)

“Let me start again … pick the pieces of my brokenness
Fill the spaces in my emptiness … Let me start again”

This a beautiful hymn that echoes the sentiments and feelings of a person who has suffered much and is yet ready to start life all over again.

Life sometimes can crush us really hard…
Life sometimes can wreck us really miserably…

The Gospel of the Day is a beautiful testimony of a person who…
… found herself at the lowest ebbs of her life
… when everything seemed all over
… in total tatters and brokenness

… was able to pick up the broken pieces of her life
… fill the spaces in her emptiness
… and start it all over again
All by the grace and power of the Lord, who intervened, and instilled a new hope and zeal in her.

The incident in focus is the ‘infamous’ occurrence of the woman who was “caught” in adultery.

This is the story of a tragic failure in life.
This is the story of immense shame in life.
This is the story of generous grace in life.

There are so many many things to be pondered and reflected on, through this incident…

Think of the “mean” and “disgraceful” attitude of the people who “caught” this woman “in the act” (Jn 8:3)
… Were they fitted with “special probing and lusty” eyes, that devilishly gazed into “intimate exchanges”, that too on an early morning?

Think of the “self-appointed” role of these “moralists” who sought to restore the innocence of the land, without realising that, perhaps, their own eyes were filled with lust, their hearts drenched in obscenity and their lives soaked in vulgarity.
… How was it that their “clean” consciences and “true” intentions caught hold of only the woman, “caught in the act”, whereas, the man involved, was left, scot-free?

Think of the “deadly” trap that they were laying before the Lord, in seeking to find his opinion on the accused woman
… How neatly they had trapped the Lord in a “most vicious” dilemma:

If the Lord permitted death, it would be going against the Law of the land – of the Romans – since only the Romans were permitted to take the life of a person
If the Lord did not allow to stone, He would be going against the Law of the Lord, which had ordered the stoning of the convicted adulterer to death.

If the Lord permitted killing, He would be going against His own teaching of mercy, and His fundamental mission of “coming to seek and save the lost”
If the Lord forgave her, He would be going against the principle of Justice, and that would be infringing the rights and duties of a Just God.

It was a near-perfect scene, for the religious leaders to dreadfully trap the Lord.

The woman had been caught “in the act” of adultery…
Jesus was now to be trapped “in the act” of breaking the Law…

The woman had been shamefully paraded and stripped of all her dignity…

Jesus was now to be gloriously humiliated and disrobed of His glory and majesty…

But all these were “mere” human thinking and wile wishes…

The wisdom of God is much greater than all human craftiness and cunningness
The mercy of the Lord extends much beyond all human wickedness and maliciousness.

In their wickedness, they failed to see, that they were testing the law with the Law-Giver Himself!

And so, the Benevolent Law-giver, bent down, and wrote with His finger… (Jn 8:6)
… just as He had, centuries back, written the Law on the tablet and given to Moses: “… tablets that were made by God, having inscriptions on them that were engraved by God Himself” (Ex 32:16)

He wrote, not a new law, but He wrote to make the law perfectly understood..

He wrote, not a new commandment, but He wrote to make understand the true spirit of the commandment…
“Let the one who is without sin, be the first to throw a stone at her” (Jn 8:7)

This statement shattered all those accusers who heard it!

Those who came to cast the stone had themselves stoned brutally, by the guilt of their sin!
Those who came to enjoy parading the nakedness of the woman, themselves were stripped naked, by their sin and shame!

Justice had triumphed!

Mercy had excelled!
Love had won!

All had left, save the one accused and the One who was Love and Compassion!

The one accused, stood in fear and trembling before the One who recreates and renews!

And so she was given another chance…
…. to pick up the broken pieces of her life
… and to start anew!

In the book of Daniel, the innocent lady, Susanna would undergo a similar experience…
… of being condemned and doomed to death!

But the Wisdom of the Lord would shine through the young boy Daniel…
… and innocent life was saved!

Susanna trusted in the mighty Providence of God…
… and her hopes would not be disappointed; she would not be left in desolation.

These are times when our world is going through immense difficulty

With hope, let us renew our love and faith in the Lord…
… trusting that the Mighty Hand of the Lord will deliver us from every “hopeless and fearful” situation!

Yes, life may very often reduce us also to the same state as this one who was accused.

We may find ourselves crushed….broken…accused… abandoned…shamed!

But the Lord, still gives us a chance….

Shall we not…
…. pick up the broken pieces of our life…
… fill the spaces in our emptiness…
… and start it, all over again?

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life in fear; rather look to them with full hope that, as they arise! God, Whose you are, will deliver you out of them. He is your keeper.
He has kept you hitherto.
Do you but hold fast to his dear hand, and he will lead you safely through all things…and, when you cannot stand, He will bear you in His arms!”

March 29, 2020 – 5th Sunday of Lent

“Exclaiming with hope and trust: ‘Thank you Lord for the pain! I know there is a purpose! I know I am loved!’”

(Based on Ezek 37:12-14, Rom 8:8-11 and Jn 11:1-45)

An incident is narrated of a 6-year old boy, who was diagnosed with leukemia (cancer of the blood/bone-marrow).

One day, the child had to undergo a very painful procedure called “spinal tap”.
(‘Spinal Tap’ is a procedure in which a needle is inserted into the spinal cord in order to take out fluid for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment).

The mother, knowing that her child would have to undergo a lot of pain, approached him and told:
“Remember, if it hurts, it’s because you are loved, and there is purpose for the pain!”

The child remembered this sentence and took it to heart.

As the procedure was conducted, the child yelled and sobbed and cried…
… with the horrendous pain.

When the process was finally getting through, the child, with tears in his reddish eyes, looked up to the doctor and exclaimed:
“Thank you Doctor for the pain!
I know there is a purpose!
I know I am loved!”

(The incident goes on to say, that the child survived the painful illness and went on to live a normal life!)

Well, life often takes us through “painful procedures,” right?
(Just as all of us are going through painful moments of fear and suffering in the midst of the deadly sickness!”

In all such situations, our Christian faith reminds us:
“Remember, if it hurts, it’s because you are loved, and there is purpose for the pain!”

The Gospel of the Day – the raising of Lazarus – is a powerful teaching on this dimension of how we need to put our trust in the Lord…
… and realise, that there is a purpose that God has in store for us, even in the most painful situations of our life.

The narration of the raising of Lazarus is the longest single narrative/story in the entire Gospels (Jn 11: 1-45).

Long as it is, this incident also teaches us a number of essential lessons for life…

  1. The Providence of God, that answers, even when we do not “feel” His presence around us (Jn 11: 4-6)

“So when Jesus heard, that Lazarus was ill, He remained for two days in the place where He was” (Jn 11: 6)

Thus teaching us…
… we need to depend on the Lord at all times, even in our dark moments of life
… the Lord will never abandon us and in fact, can never leave us

  1. The slow understanding of the Disciples, who were with the Lord for a while, and yet had not understood His Ways and Words (Jn 11: 8-16)

“Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved” (Jn 11: 12)

Thus teaching us…
… doubts and dilemmas are very much part of one’s life as a disciple
… the patience of the Lord in dealing with those who are called and chosen

  1. The power of trust and hope in the Lord, even in hard and trying situations of life (Jn 11: 21-27)

Martha said to Jesus, ‘Yes Lord, I have come to believe, that You are the Messiah, the Son of God…” (Jn 11: 27)

Thus teaching us…
… as gold is tested in furnace, so our faith will be tested in the crucible of pains and sufferings
… we need to resign ourselves to the Power of the Lord, even though we may not understand many things

  1. The empathy of the Lord in sharing with the pain of humanity (Jn 11: 35)

“And Jesus wept” (Jn 11: 35)

Thus teaching us…
… in our suffering moments, the Lord is very much close to us, and suffers with us
… our tears are precious to the Lord and He stores them in a bottle (Ps 56:9)

  1. The power of God’s Word (Jn 11: 43-44)

“Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!'” (Jn 11: 43)

Thus teaching us…
… the Word Which created the entire universe, is given to us in the Holy Bible, for us to read, cherish and find strength!
… the promises given by His Word will come to fruition in due season and no powers on this earth can diffuse or dilute it!

In the midst of all these and various other “food for transformation” that this incident offers…
… we focus our attention on one message: “God’s delays are not His denials”

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

One of the striking aspects we encounter in this Gospel passage is the delay that Jesus “purposely” entails in coming to Lazarus.

The Gospel says that “… when Jesus heard that Lazarus was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was.” (Jn 11: 6)

This statement is on one side surprising; while on the other, shocking!

It was clearly known that Jesus was closely associated with Lazarus.

“A friend in need, is a friend indeed” is a phrase that we are aware.

Then why did Jesus delay in going to Lazarus?

As the Lord Himself answers: “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (Jn 11: 4)

This verse then is the key to many of our problems and anxieties about “prayers not being answered!”

How many are the times, when we go through the struggles of life, and we expect the Lord to work a wondrous deed…
… But when nothing as such happens, we become feeble in our faith!

How many are the occasions, when we face a problem in our material or spiritual life, and we hope that something terrific is going to happen…
… But when the situation remains the same, we begin to waver in our belief!

This is where the words of the Lord, “this illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God”…
… ought to come to our aid!

We need to examine our life…
… Am I only having “belief in the Lord”, but not having “trust in Him”?
… Am I only “professing the Lord with my lips”, but failing to “recognize His power from my heart”?

“Belief in the Lord” would only consist of declaring oneself to be a Christian, and having a name that one is a follower of Christ…
… But “Trust in the Lord” would translate to also follow the commandments of being a Christian, and seek to live as Christ lived, by seeking and doing God’s Will in life.

“Professing the Lord with my lips” would only include saying vocal prayers, being regular to the practices of devotion and piety and finding satisfaction in doing the external duties of the religion…
… But “Recognizing His Power from the heart” would mean to also remain calm in the face of problems, being patient even in great darkness and being joyful in the midst of turbulent life situations.

As Christians, the only way is the “Way of the Cross”
… a way filled with pains and sufferings
… a way that enshrines hardships and struggles

But, we must also realise, that it is this “way of the Cross” alone…
… that would lead to the “joy of the Resurrection!”

All our “unwanted” situations of life – pains, struggles, difficulties and crisis – have a meaning and purpose in the eternal plan of God…

“… all things work for good, for those who love God…” (Rom 8:28)
“… I know well that plans for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe…” (Jer 29:11)

The Word of God assures us through Prophet Ezekiel and St Paul that God will raise us up from every grave and from every “dead situation” – the “grave and the death of sicknesses, hopelessness and fear!”

“And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people…
… And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done it, says the Lord!” (Ezek 37:13-14)
“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you!” (Rom 8:11)

Yes, in all our struggles and hardships of life – especially in this time when all of us are facing the harsh reality of sicknesses, let us seek…
… to move higher in our faith and belief towards a real “trust in the Lord”
… to advance from just “professing the Lord with my lips” to “recognizing His power from our hearts!”

And thus, in every situation of life let us with hope and trust exclaim:
“Thank you Lord for the pain!
I know there is a purpose!
I know I am loved!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father Who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations, and say continually: ‘The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart has trusted in Him and I am helped. He is not only with me but in me and I in Him!’”

March 28, 2020 – 4th Week of Lent

“Seeking to grow in our relationship with Jesus, the Truth Incarnate and being faithful to Him forever!”

(Based on Jer 11:18-20 and Jn 7: 40-52)

Christianity and the teachings of the Catholic Church have baffled and amazed many people.

Some have even tried – even violently – to find alternatives for the same…
… only to realise, that a genuine search for the Truth would lead them to Christianity and the Catholic Church!

One such person who rejected Christianity for the sake of “finding the truth” was G.K. Chesterton.

Chesterton sought to formulate the one blanket philosophy that could explain everything as everything is…
… because he did not believe Christianity or any other modern worldview to be completely it.

He was after the “master key of philosophies,” for he was certain no one had yet found it.

Eventually he knitted together a philosophy that appeared to be wholly true and sane and sensible…
… only to discover that his discovered philosophy of sanity was, in fact, not his – it was the Truth already taught by the Church!

In his own words, “I tried to be some ten minutes in advance of the truth.

And I found that I was eighteen hundred years behind it!”

G.K. Chesterton would later say, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”

The Christian Ideal indeed demands living with convictions…
… in the midst of opposing views and interpretations.

Jesus, the Master – the Truth Incarnate – lived this life of conviction…
… and in the face of oppositions and worldly thought-patterns, He became a sign of “contradictions and paradox!”

And therefore Christ had to undergo varied responses from those who encountered Him…
… very few understood Him, a little
… many of them failed to understand Him
… many of them even badly misunderstood Him

He remained The Truth – yet, the sign of contradiction.

The Gospel of the Day presents this deep contradiction that was experienced by the people of His time – including the religious leaders.

The passage records two conversations:

The first one among the crowd
The second one among the chief priests and the Pharisees

Both have a similar subject: Jesus.
Both have a similar dilemma: Confusion about Jesus.

The people in the crowd were confused in recognizing who really Jesus was.

The words of the Lord were so authoritative and astonishing that some considered Him as a prophet revisited and some even seeing Him as the Messiah (Jn 7:41).

However, others were not convinced and they began to debate on the origin of the Messiah.

The second conversation, between the chief priests and Pharisees, was not just about some personal opinions, but involved the proper following of the Law as well.

Nicodemus, the one who had met Jesus, one night, however , began to defend Jesus.

It was to him, that Jesus, on that night, had told, one of the most loved verses, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son; that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16)

After his encounter with the Truth-Incarnate, Nicodemus….
… the genuine seeker of truth, had the spark in his heart, kindled by the Lord of Love.
… the honest searcher of reality, had the longing within, nourished by the Lord of Holiness.

And so he stood firm and bold, to defend the One whom he perceived as the Truth!

But here, one also gets to see the deep hatred that was grooming in the minds of the leaders…

Nicodemus told that, in judging Jesus, it was necessary to follow the Law properly: “Does our law condemn a person, before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?” (Jn 7:51)

He did not say that he agreed with Jesus…

He did not say that he denied Jesus could be a criminal…

All he said was to follow the law – to be just and fair!

But that statement provoked the anger of the other blinded-and-obstinate religious leaders!

The forces of confusion and dilemma watered him down, and contradictions reigned galore!

Where there is the proclamation of truth, there is the presence of many false screams, seeking to drown it hard!
Where there is the defence of truth, there is the defiance of many evil forces, wanting to do away with it!

Jeremiah, the Prophet foretold this “opposition to the Truth” that Jesus would encounter:
“But I was like a gentle lamb, led to the slaughter. I did not know it was against me, they devised schemes, saying, ‘Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more!’” (Jer 11:18)

Jesus is a sign of contractions.

He is The Truth.

In His presence, no lie can stand.
In His presence, no evil can withstand.

But it is this confusion, that can lead a person to understand the reality, if one is open and honest!

Yes, it’s pretty strange that sometimes contradictions that can actually help us to recognize The Truth!

Georges Bataille, a French intellectual and literary figure writes, “I believe that truth has only one face: that of a violent contradiction”

The Lord – the Truth Incarnate is ready to reveal Himself to those open at heart and honest in seeking Him.

Are we ready to learn more from Him and to know Him more?
Are we ready to draw the waters of Holiness from the Fountain of Truth?
Are we ready to blaze our lives with the fire of passionate love from the Furnace of Truth?

Let us not be…
… confused by the Lord who was the sign of contradiction.
… puzzled by the Lord who was the sign of paradoxes.

Instead, let us be…
… convinced in the Lord of Truth!
… passionate for the Lord of Truth!

Let us reminded of the fact that a genuine search for the Truth would always lead to Christianity and the Catholic Church!

God bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “There are three things we must do to be at peace…
… have a pure intention to desire the honour and glory of God in all things
… do the little that we can, unto that end, following the advice of our spiritual father… and leave all the rest, to God’s Care!”

March 27, 2020 – 4th Week of Lent

“Living and standing firmly for Christian Convictions!”

(Based on Wis 2:1a, 12-22 and Jn 7: 1-2, 10, 25-30)

An incident is told about a great Christian missionary who had pioneered the Christian work in a far-off island.

A group of well-wishers – some of them who wished to join this Missionary in his work – wrote a letter to him, asking:
“Have you found a good road to where you are?

If so, we want to know how to send other men to join you.”

The Christian missionary however replied back:
“If you have men who will come only if they know there is a good road, I don’t want them.

I want men who will come if there is no road at all!”

The beauty of life is enhanced, when people are willing to take the “road less travelled!”

And this can happen, only “when one’s life is guided by convictions!”

It is convictions in life…
… that will help to experience true serenity and happiness.
… that will help to tide across the various storms encountered.

Am I living a life of deep convictions in faith, which makes people to take notice of the Lord and help them come closer to Him?
Am I filled with a deep passion for the Lord, which makes others to be attracted and fascinated to the Kingdom of the Lord?

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus, boldly facing and withstanding the various storms of difficulties, and thus emerging as an Epitome of passion and conviction.

Jesus is progressing in His ministry.

On one side, there has been a increase in His popularity ratings…
… many sick being healed, many oppressed finding solace, many rejected finding consolation.

On the other side, however, there has also been an augmentation in opposition to Him…
… many being offended by His radical call of transformation, many finding Him blaspheming, many snubbed at His uncompromising authority.

But Jesus remains unperturbed!

He continues to preach the Word of God…
He continues to openly declare His relation with the Father…
He continues to publicly affirm His mission and purpose on the earth…

Jesus is the Epitome of convictions and passion!

Nothing could make Him to compromise His convictions…
Nothing could make Him to lay down His principles of life…
Neither threats, nor adulations… neither opposition, nor exaltation!

The Book of Wisdom prophesied the Person of Jesus Christ and His convictions that would amaze even His opponents:
He professes to have knowledge of God, and calls Himself a Child of the Lord.

He became to us a reproof of our thoughts; the very sight of him is a burden to us, because His manner of life is unlike that of others, and His ways are strange.
We are considered by Him as something base, and He avoids our ways as unclean; He calls the last end of the righteous happy, and boasts that God is His Father! (Wis 2:13-16)

Can I also seek to grow in my life of conviction in my faith?

Can I also try to deepen my passion for the Lord and His Kingdom?

One of the very popular and yet, good-to-remind quote is:
“My life may be the only Gospel…
… that people may encounter
…that people may read
…that people may experience”

Let our lives powerfully and convincingly radiate the message of the Gospel!

The beauty of Christian life is enhanced, only when we are willing to take the “road less travelled!”

And this can happen, only “when one’s life is guided by convictions!”

May our Blessed Lord grant us the Grace to always live and stand firmly for “Christian Convictions!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Have Jesus always for your Patron…
… His Cross for a mast on which you spread your resolutions as a sailYour anchor shall be a profound confidence in Him, and you shall sail prosperously!”

March 26, 2020 – 4th Week of Lent

“Seeking to be true and faithful, rather than just be popular!”

(Based on Ex 32:7-14 and Jn 5:31-47)

Written on the stone pavements of a street in a remote village are the following words:
“One of the evils of this modern day is the scarcity of men and women in places of leadership who are willing to speak their convictions…
… at the risk of popularity!”

Christian life is a constant challenge between two aspects: Being Popular or being Right!

There is a constant challenge to stand against prospects of gaining false fame and phony popularity, by compromising on one’s Christian ideologies and values.

Can we be Christians who value one’s integrity for Christ’s sake…
… than to compromise one’s principles and turn popular?

Can we be Christians who give priority to being honest for the Lord’s honour…
… than to dilute one’s ethics and gain cheap fame?

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus who stood firm and rock-solid, in his mission commitment, even in the face of opposition, indifference and apathy from the Jews.

The context of today’s Gospel Passage – Jn 5:31-47 – is the aftermath of the Healing of the Crippled Man by the pool of Bethesda, on the Sabbath Day (Jn 5:1-18)

This incident had sparked a rage of opposition against Jesus…

He was persecuted because the act of healing was done on the Sabbath (Jn 5: 16)
His defense caused the Jews to kill Him, because Jesus equated Himself with God (Jn 5:18)

There was a strong wave of antagonism and hostility, against Jesus…
… that was pressurizing Him to compromise His teachings
… that was coercing Him to dilute His principles

But Jesus stood firm and rock-solid, in his mission commitment, even in the face of opposition, indifference and apathy from the Jews.

He therefore presents before the Jews, witnesses which would testify to Him, to His Divinity.

He uses the language of a courtroom – “witnesses” – to prove His credibility as the Divine Person

The Jews considered that two witnesses were needed for the veracity of a testimony or person.

The Torah says, “One witness shall not arise against a man for any sin or guilt that he may commit; according to two witnesses or according to three witnesses a matter shall stand.” (Dt 19:15)

Jesus, however brings in 4 witnesses…

  1. The Witness of John the Baptist (Jn 5: 33-34)
  2. The Witness of His Works (Jn 5: 36)
  3. The Witness of God the Father (Jn 5: 37-38)
  4. The Witness of God’s Word – the Scriptures (Jn 5: 39-40)

Our Christian Life is a constant challenge…
… to let go of our values and principles
… to compromise on our efforts and mission works

But we need to be inspired and imitate our Blessed Lord…
… Who was unwilling to let go of His Commitment and Dedication to the Mission

And like Jesus, we too have the help of “Divine Witnesses” to accord veracity to our testimony.

There will be moments when…
… we get into situations of being asked to be dishonest, lethargic and be untruthful

We need to seek the Witness of John the Baptist…
… who remained uncompromising in living a life of truth, dare and boldness!

There will be moments when…
… life surrounds us doubts in the form of sicknesses and tragedies

We need to seek the Witness of the Works of Jesus…
… which brought new life and healing to the hopeless, the lost and the dying!

There will be moments when…
…our life will be caught in a turmoil of confusions and uncertainties

We need to seek the Witness of God the Father…
… Whose unconditional love and compassion, strengthens us and lifts us without fail!

There will be moments when…
… our convictions get challenged by the straying and deceitful philosophies of the world

We need to seek the Witness of God’s Word – the Scriptures …
… Which can bring clarity and passion in our Christian life.

Let this Gospel Passage challenge and inspire us…
… to remain ever uncompromising in our Christian Life.

To stand for God and His Kingdom
To live to share His Love and Mercy

Yes, “one of the evils of this modern day, is the scarcity of men and women in places of leadership who are willing to speak their convictions…
… at the risk of popularity!”

In the Old Testament, Moses displayed a great heart of leadership, in interceding for the people of Israel…
… and offered himself, in humility, to plead for the Mercy of the Lord. (Ex 32:7-14)

He chose the path of being true faithful, even if he had to tread the path of being not popular!

Let us dare to show this “spirit of leadership” like Jesus our Master…
… by seeking to be true and faithful, rather than just be popular!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “If only God would seal my heart, so that nothing could ever enter there but His Divine Love…… and nothing could open it, but charity!”