May 1, 2020 – Feast of St Joseph the worker

“Being inspired by the life of St Joseph, the Worker and fulfilling all the duties entrusted to us, with sense of immense trust and faith in the Lord!”

(Based on Gen 1:26-2:3 and Mt 13:54-58)

A young salesman became discouraged because he had been rejected by many of the customers that he approached.

He asked a more experienced salesman for some advice.

“Why is it that every time I make a call on someone I get rejected?”

“I just don’t understand that,” answered the older salesman…
… “I’ve been hit on the head, called dirty names, and thrown out the door, but I’ve never been rejected!
Remember, my son… Rejection isn’t what happens to us…
… but how we interpret what happens to us!”

How do we interpret the various situations of disappointments that we come across in life?

Do we get depressed and discouraged…
… or can we still be hopeful and know that “every rejection is one more step closer to true success!?”

Rejection and pain, are sure companions in the life of a Christian, who is uncompromising and unwavering in one’s faith.

Despite these aspects, are we ready to do the Will of God, and be His Faithful Followers?

Our Blessed Lord Himself underwent rejection and pain in life.

Yet He remained firm to do the Will of God!

One of the allegations made against Jesus was that He was only a Son of an ordinary worker…
… a carpenter, St Joseph

“Is not this the carpenter’s son?” (Mt 13:55)

Today on 1st of May, as we commemorate St Joseph the Worker, the Church invites us to understand the great dignity of work and labour. This is beautifully presented to us in the Liturgy of the Day:

The First Reading presents the story of creation, with God fashioning the entire Universe and “working” (using a human terminology) to create a beautiful world! (Gen 1:26-2:3)
The Gospel presents Jesus, as a Son of a worker, St Joseph – the carpenter!

We live in a world where dignity of labour is often in question

We find ourselves often in situations wherein rights, dignity and even the very self-respect of those who work, are often trampled upon.

In such a context, the Liturgy of this Feast of St Joseph the Worker comes as a mighty reminder to understand that…
… human work is a participation in the creative work of God.

By work, humankind fulfills the command of God to “to care for the earth” (Cf. Gen 2:15)

Jesus, in the Gospel, is associated with being part of the “family of workers”

By His Incarnation, Jesus took upon Himself, to be in solidarity with every aspect of human life…
… including rejection and pain.

The Gospel of the Day narrates this painful incident of “rejection and pain” that our Blessed Lord encountered in His life, at the hands of His own country people (Mt 13: 54-58)

It is interesting to note, how the people of the hometown seek to justify their rejection of Jesus, by rationalizing their attitude…

Using 6 questions (6= A Biblical symbolic number which often stands for imperfection!)…
… the people of the hometown, reveal their blocked minds and closed hearts.

When one’s heart is rooted in unbelief and is closed to the truth…
… things of the Divine appear to be hostile!

And so the Lord would declare: “A prophet is not without honour, except in his own country or his own house!” (Mt 13: 57)

Thus, Jesus becomes the “Sign of Contradiction!”
… the Prince of Peace, begins to be seen as a cause of division and despise
… the Healer of Souls, begins to be seen as a cause of disagreement and discord!
… the Comforter of Hearts, begins to be seen as a cause of disturbance and distress

Anyone who seeks to follow Jesus – the “Sign of Contradiction” – the Epitome of Truth and Honesty…
… is sure to face the same experience!

Every true Christian, because of one’s convictions in the Eternal Values of Uncompromising Truth and Desire to do the Will of God, is sure to face…
… rejection from the people, because one’s ways challenge the lethargic lifestyle of others!
… pain from the society, because one’s way of living poses a threat the corruption around!

But despite this “rejection and pain”, can we still continue to hold on the Lord, the “Sign of Contradiction?”

Life often hurls the “bricks of rejection” at us…

We can either be hurt by them…
… or be strengthened and buckle ourselves up with greater courage

We can either blame all those situations and curse life…
… or we can be thankful for those moments, which provides us a chance for “more blessings!”

Yes, we need to remember always: Rejection isn’t what happens to us…
… but how we interpret what happens to us!”

Let us not get depressed and discouraged by the various situations of disappointments that we come across in life…
… instead let us be hopeful, and know that “every rejection is one more step closer to true success!”

Today as the Church commemorates St Joseph, the Worker, we are invited to look up to this quiet yet great Saint, who was able to fulfil the duties entrusted to him…
… with a sense of immense trust and faith in the Lord.

As St. Alphonsus Liguori says, “We should, indeed, honour St. Joseph, since the Son of God Himself was graciously pleased to honour him by calling him father.

If the King of kings was pleased to raise Joseph to so high a dignity, it is right and obligatory on our part to endeavour to honour him as much as we can!”

On this First Friday of the Month, as we offer ourselves to the Sacred Heart of the Lord, let us also seek the intercession of St Joseph, who was able to fulfill the duties entrusted to him, with a sense of immense trust and faith in the Lord…
… in order to seek for the higher and heavenly longings of life!

Happy Feast of St Joseph, the Just Worker in God’s Plan of Redemption.

Glorious Blessings of Jesus, his Precious Child – the Way, the Truth and the Life
Heavenly Intercessions of Mary – his loving Spouse and our affectionately protecting Mother

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “In the trouble and distress which afflicts us, we confidently have recourse to thee, St Joseph.

Deign to take under your charitable charge this important and difficult matter, cause of our worries.

Make its happy outcome be for God’s Glory…

… and for the good of His devoted servants.

April 30, 2020 – 3rd Week of Easter

“Let us seek to satisfy our hunger for God, by growing in our love for Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist – the Bread of Life!”

(Based on Acts 8:26-40 and Jn 6:44-51)

Saint Mother Teresa was known for her immense devotion to the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist.

She found her strength for her services of mercy, by being united and spending time with the Eucharistic Lord…
… everyday!

She has spoken very beautifully about the Holy Eucharist:
She says: “When Jesus came into the world, he loved it so much that he gave His Life for it.

He wanted to satisfy our hunger for God.

And what did He do?

He made himself the ‘Bread of Life.’

He became small, fragile and defenseless for us.

Bits of bread can be so small that…
… even a small child can chew it!
… even a dying person can eat it!”

Have we discovered our Love for this “Precious Bread of Life”?

The Sixth Chapter of the Gospel of St John can be called as “the great discourse on the Bread of Life”

Jesus declares Himself as the “Bread of Life” (Jn 6:35), Who came down from heaven.

On hearing this statement of the Lord, the Jews “murmured” about Him (Jn 6:41)

They knew that Jesus was only the son of Joseph.
They knew the father and mother of Jesus.
They were very familiar with His human origins

Therefore, the statement of Jesus that “He was the bread, Who came down from heaven” caused a great deal of “murmur”.

The Greek word that is used here for murmur is a word, “gogguzo”…
This “gogguzo” means…
… any low, continuous sound as of a brook, the wind, trees etc or low indistinct voices
… a mumbled or private expression of discontent
… to show “smouldering discontent”, droning on in a low, constant murmur

A similar “gogguzo” was also expressed by the Israelites, in their long journey in the desert.

When Moses led the large multitude of the Israelites through the desert, the impatient crowd, raised their voices in complaint against Moses and Aaron, “Would that we had died at the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread” (Ex 16:3)

The Israelites also “murmured”!

In response to this “murmuring” of the people, God Yahweh provides them with the “flesh of the quail” and the “bread of the Manna” (Ex 16: 4-15)

In the Gospel, when the Jews “murmured”, Jesus provides them with a reply of the “flesh of His body” and the “bread of His Life”

Jesus told them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves… I am the Living Bread that came down from heaven… the bread that I give is my flesh for the world ” (Jn 6: 43, 51)

The Israelites were given perishable flesh of the quails and they who ate the Manna, died.

But Jesus, now gives His imperishable flesh of His Own Body and offers the Eternal Manna as the Bread of our life!

It is in the Holy Eucharist, that the Lord offers this imperishable food and salvation to each of us.

What is our perception and passion towards this True Life that Jesus offers in the Holy Eucharist?

The Israelites in the Old Testament as well as the Jews in Jesus’ time, “murmured”…

Do I also “murmur” and remain indifferent to believing in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist?
Do I also “murmur” and fail to prepare myself well to receive Jesus, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?
Do I also “murmur” and become unmindful or even disrespectful to the Presence of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, in the Chapels and in the Churches?

May this lengthened meditation on John 6 – the “the great discourse on the Bread of Life” – help us to deepen our faith and zeal for Jesus, in the Most Holy Eucharist.

It is this devotion and union with the Lord, alone, that can make us also, in turn, a Eucharistic people – breaking and giving ourselves – for the welfare and salvation of the world!

In the book of the Acts of the Apostles, Philip, inspired by an Angel of the Lord reaches out to a royal official – an Ethiopian eunach – and delivers the Word of God and the Salvific Message of the Risen Lord.

When we have a deep passion for the Lord in our hearts, we too will reach out the Message of God’s Love and Mercy to the world around us.

Let us seek to satisfy our hunger for God…
… by growing in our love for Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist – the Bread of Life!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “When the bee has gathered the dew of heaven and the earth’s sweetest nectar from the flowers, it turns it into honey, then hastens to its hive.

In the same way, the priest, having taken from the Altar, the Son of God (who is as the dew from heaven, and true son of Mary, flower of our humanity)…

… gives Him to you as Delicious Food!”

April 29, 2020 – 3rd Week of Easter

“May Jesus, the Bread of Life, always be the source, strength and summit of our Christian living!”

(Based on Acts 8:1-8 and Jn 6:35-40)

One of the simplest moral stories that all of us have heard is that of the thirsty crow.

One hot day, a thirsty crow flew all over, looking for water.

For a long time, he could not find any.

He felt weak, and lost all hope.

Suddenly, he saw a water jug below the tree. He flew straight down, and was delighted to see some water inside it!

Sadly, he found that the neck of the jug was too narrow and it was impossible for him to access the water.

He tried to push the jug to tilt, for the water to flow out but the jug was too heavy.

The crow thought hard for a while.

Then looking around it, he saw some pebbles and an idea struck him.

He started picking up the pebbles one by one, dropping each into the jug.

As more and more pebbles filled the jug, the water level kept rising.

Soon it was high enough for the crow to drink.
His plan had worked… His thirst had been quenched!

The moral of this story is to “Think and work hard, you may find solution to any problem”.

But when we consider this story from another perspective, we notice that it also shows the deep craving inside every creature, to satisfy one’s thirst.

One is restless till this thirst is fulfilled…
One is impatient till this craving is satisfied…

This agitated thirst is also innate in every human being…
… a thirst for the Divine, for the Transcendental.

And this thirst, compels humans…
… to search… to seek…
… for the source of satisfaction
… for the fountain of fulfilment

But how wonderful it would be to be knowing and to be convinced that this “thirst” can find its fulfilment only in God.

And how wonderful it would be, if all human beings could be properly guided and correctly directed on this path of finding true contentment.

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus promising this fulfilment and contentment to all those who come to Him and believe in Him – the Bread of Life.

Jesus declares, “I am the Bread of Life; He who comes to me shall not hunger and he who believes in me shall never thirst” (Jn 6: 35)

The crowds who had been fed by Jesus, by the miracle of the multiplication of loaves, came in search of Jesus… probably expecting more…

They wanted still more…and they express this to Jesus, “Sir, give us this bread always” (Jn 6:34)

In John Chapter 4, we read the story of the Samaritan woman, by the well of Jacob, who had also expressed a similar desire.

She said to Jesus “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water” (Jn 4: 15)

This desire to receive bread or water, so that one may not hunger again or be thirsty again, is the innate desire and longing within each human being…

Each of us, deep within, are thirsty and hungry…
… wanting to drink water and eat food that will quench the longing, forever.

It is this search that makes people to go out and seek the various sources of satisfaction.

Some feel to have found this fulfilment…
… through worldly pleasures and bad habits like smoking, drinking, obsession with sex, drugs etc, which only lead to momentary external satisfaction and short-lived bursts of thrill.

Some feel to have found this fulfilment…
… in the various philosophies, new-age patterns of life and naturalistic means of spirituality etc, which may have traces of truth, but fail to provide authentic and fullness of life.

The Book of the Acts of the Apostles records one such notable example of Saul.

Saul (who is also called Paul) failed to understand and grasp “The Truth” and persecuted all those who followed “The Way!”

“But Saul was ravaging the church by entering house after house; dragging off both men and women, he committed them to prison.” (Acts 8:3)

But Jesus, today, boldly and unambiguously declares that it’s only in HIM that true and complete fulfilment of life can be found: “He who comes to me shall not hunger and he who believes in me shall never thirst” (Jn 6: 35)

Are we convinced of this fact, that it’s only in Jesus, that I can achieve true and complete happiness…?

Like the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11-32), we may have strayed away from this path of truth, to seek our own means and ways to find happiness and satisfaction.

But the Lord, today, calls us back to Him…
… to His Heart
… to His Church
… to His Eucharist
… to experience Him fully.

To those who have strayed, the call of the Gospel, is to come back to the paths of truth
To those who are holding on to Him, the call of the Gospel, is to deepen the conviction, that in Him alone, can the hunger of my soul and the thirst of my heart be fulfilled.

To those who have strayed, the Lord invites to build the virtues of humility, docility and openness to the Spirit.
To those who are holding on to Him, the Lord invites to build the virtues of patience, firm trust and a passionate longing.

May Jesus, the Bread of Life, always be the source, strength and summit of our Christian living!

Today we seek the intercession of St Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church, who had a tremendous love and devotion to the Most Holy Eucharist…
… in fact, for the seven year period prior to her death, Saint Catherine of Siena took no food into her body other than the Eucharist.

Her fasting did not affect her energy, however. She maintained a very active life during those seven years. Not only did her fasting not cause her to lose energy, but became a source of extraordinary strength, she becoming stronger in the afternoon, after having received our Lord in His Eucharist.
It was her tremendous love of Jesus in the Eucharist that made her to go out to the poor and especially the very ill and to minister to them as she did.

Today on her Feast day, let her life and words be a great inspiration for all of us:
“O inestimable charity! Even as You, True God and True Man, gave Yourself entirely to us, so also You left Yourself entirely for us, to be our food…
… so that during our earthly pilgrimage, we would not faint with weariness, but would be strengthened by You, our Celestial Bread.

O man, what has your God left you? He has left you Himself, wholly God and wholly Man, concealed under the Whiteness of Bread!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “When you have received Him (in the Holy Eucharist), stir up your heart to do Him homage.

Speak to Him about your spiritual life, gazing upon Him in your soul where He is present for your happiness
Welcome Him as warmly as possible, and behave outwardly in such a way…

… that your actions may give proof to all of His Presence.”

April 28, 2020 – 3rd Week of Easter

“May the Holy Eucharist – the Bread of life – become the essential, the integral and the most fundamental constituent of our ‘Spiritual Diet!’”

(Based on Acts 7:51-8:1 and Jn 6:30-35)

Our generation is a much trendier and health-conscious one….

People, especially, in the urban areas, do spend a great deal of time and energy in seeking to be more fashionable, better-looking and being healthier.

As part of this inclination, the modern trend is being highly conscious of the “diet” that one takes…

One is keen to know which food will help one’s body to remain fit and healthy
One is conscious to supplement foods that will keep one stronger and also appeal to the taste buds, at the same time.
One is also eager to plan out one’s meals and food-eating habits that suits one’s lifestyle, in order to promote good health, shape and wellbeing.

But it would be nice and good to also check what is the condition and state of our “spiritual diet”.

We do tend to give a lot of importance to our “physical diet” in terms of the food to be eaten and that which are to be avoided.

But what is the importance that we accord to our “spiritual diet”?

Is my “spiritual diet” nourishing – my soul, my spiritual wellbeing?

Is my “spiritual diet” leading me to good health – of holy thoughts and purity of heart?

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus, the Spiritual Dietician, exhorting the most important element that is to be part of the “spiritual diet” of everyone who follows Him – the Holy Eucharist – through the “Bread of Life” discourses.

After the feeding of the large multitude of people by the multiplication of the loaves, the people sought Jesus.

Jesus, knew their hearts longed not for Him, but for the bread-giver!
Jesus knew they were following not Him, but the food-provider!

So Jesus sought to put the matters in the right perspective and teaches them about the real food that they should be longing.

It is in this context that Jesus declares, “I am the bread of life; He who comes to me shall not hunger and He who believes in me, shall never thirst” (Jn 6: 35)

Jesus declares Himself as the Bread of Life.

The Greek word that is used here for “bread” is “artos”.

This “artos”….
… refers to food composed of flour mixed with water, and baked.
… also refers to food of any kind or food in general.

As “bread” or “food” is essential for the physical life
… Jesus as “the bread of life” is required for the spiritual life!

Without bread, physical life would perish….
… Without Jesus, the bread, spiritual life would perish!

St Stephen wholly adopted Jesus to be the “Bread of his life” and thus could heroically offer his life as a martyr!

While being stoned, Stephen would imitate our Blessed Lord in reaching our forgiveness to his persecutors: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” (Acts 7:60)

When Jesus becomes the Bread of our Life…
… we learn from Him
… we imitate Him

In the Holy Eucharist, Jesus offers this “Bread of Life” for us…
… to be our nourishment and strength
… to be our sustenance and energy
… to be our life and forte

What is our disposition and attitude towards Jesus, the “Bread of Life” in the Holy Eucharist?

History is a witness, that through centuries, there have been many saints, both men and women, who have lived for major chunks of their lives, just on the Holy Eucharist.

They would take no food or drink, but ONLY received the Holy Communion, everyday.

A few notable among these saints are…
…. St Catherine of Siena (in the 1350’s….. prior to her death, for seven years, she took no food into her body, except the Holy Eucharist)

… St Nicholas of Flue (lived in Switzerland as a hermit, in the 1400’s… for nearly 19 years, lived without any food, except the Holy Eucharist)

… Blessed Alexandrina da Costa of Portugal (of the 20th century… for the last thirteen years of her life, lived on the Holy Eucharist alone)

Our Lord himself explained to Blessed Alexandrina why He gives this grace to his some of His saints:
“You are to live by the Eucharist alone,” Jesus told her, “because I want to prove to the world the power of the Eucharist and the power of my life in souls.”

This greatest Treasure of Lives – the Holy Eucharist – the Bread of Life…
… eagerly longs for our reception
… keenly awaits for our adoration

As Pope Benedict XVI says,
“In the Sacrament of the Altar, the Lord meets us, men and women created in God’s image and likeness, and becomes our companion along the way.

In this Sacrament, the Lord truly becomes food for us, to satisfy our hunger for truth and freedom.
Since only the truth can make us free, Christ becomes for us the food of truth.”

During this time of the lockdown, when we are unable to “physically” access the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist…
… we are to patiently grow – in hope – with a deeper and a renewed love for the Holy Eucharist.

We are invited, to have an intense longing for Him Spiritually

We need to frequent the Sacrament through an Act of Spiritual Communion.

Yes, let us renew our love and commitment in receiving the “Bread of Life” more frequently, more devoutly, more passionately and with greater preparedness!

Let us revive our affection and dedication to spend more time with the “Bread of Life” in the Blessed Sacrament, to gain strength, to atone for sins and to offer the world for its sanctification and healing?

May the Holy Eucharist – the Bread of life – become the essential, the integral and the most fundamental constituent of our “Spiritual Diet”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “I often speak with my Teacher – Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament – because I can learn from Him.

Jesus is the Teacher of the Science of Holiness.

I go to Him because I would like to learn from Him, how to become a saint!”

April 27, 2020 – 3rd Week of Easter

“Transcending and rising up higher, to live our lives in the grandeur of Jesus and His Everlasting Kingdom, instead of merely being fixated in slimy earthly pleasures!”

(Based on Acts 6:8-15 and Jn 6: 22-29)

There is an old legend of a swan and a crane.

A beautiful swan alighted by the banks of the water, in which a crane was wading about, seeking snails.

For a few moments the crane viewed the swan in incredulous wonder and then inquired: “Where do you come from?”

“I come from heaven!” replied the swan.
“And where is heaven?” asked the curious crane.

“Heaven!” said the swan, “Heaven! Have you never heard of heaven?”

And the beautiful bird went on to describe the grandeur of the Eternal City…
She told of streets of gold, and the gates and walls made of precious stones; of the river of life, pure as crystal, upon whose banks is the tree whose leaves shall be for the healing of the nations.

With eloquence, the swan described the beauty of the other world…
… but none of it, strangely, seemed to arouse the slightest interest of the crane.

Finally the crane asked: “Are there any snails there?”
“Snails??” repeated the swan; “No! Of course there are not!”

“Then,” said the crane, as it continued its search along the slimy banks of the pool, “you can have your heaven. I only want snails!”

The crane was satisfied with the lowly earthly “snails” and failed to have any interest for the divine “heavens”

How often we are also like this crane….
… interested only in earthly affairs, and least attracted to the heavenly realms
… busy only with gathering earthly pleasures but rejecting offers for heavenly happiness

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus chiding the people for following Him, just for the sake of earthly desires, and instead, invites and exhorts them to seek for higher and heavenly longings in life…

“Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you” (Jn 6: 27)

The people had witnessed Jesus’ great miracle of the multiplication of loaves.

• Their hunger had been satisfied.
• Their appetites had been gratified.

• In Jesus, they found a person who was able to answer the bodily needs.
• In Jesus, they found a person who was able to satisfy their material desires.

The people desired to crown Him as their King!

Is this not a trend in our society as well?

How often are the bread-givers and money-makers held in high esteem, even in our days…
… at the expense of people who are unable contribute much or do much work.

Think of the aged, the sick, the invalids in our own houses, communities and societies, who are unable to work or contribute anything materially…
• How often do we neglect them!
• How often do we put them down!
• How often do we call them as useless!

We sometimes glorify people based only their work, their position and their activities…
• The “being” of a person is often neglected
… only the “doing” of a person is exalted!

• The “essence” of a person is often not given value
… only the “work” of a person is given credit!

But Jesus refrains from being a victim to this mentality of the society.
• He refuses to be their “Bread-Boss”!
• He rejects to being their “Materialistic-Messiah”!

And so when people, come to Him, Jesus recognizes their motive in seeking Him…
… and He chides them saying: “Amen, Amen, I say to you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs but you ate the loaves and were filled.

Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you” (Jn 6: 26-27)

The Lord seeks to lead the people to desire and long for the higher realities of life.

And this is the wish of the Lord for each one of us too, that we…
… be interested not only in worldly affairs; rather, we be more attracted to the heavenly realms
… be busy not only with gathering earthly satisfactions; but, we accept and embrace more of heavenly happiness

• It is true that “to the hungry one, food and other material wants demand higher urgency”
• It is not denied that “to the one whose basic needs are not met, material satisfaction is important”

But having said this… one must also be willing to accept, that beyond these material aspects, the human person has greater needs – on a spiritual sense, that of the soul, towards the transcendental realities!

What is needed therefore, is a proper prioritizing…
• Does God and the Heavenly realities mean more to me, than earthly desires?
• Does Jesus and His Virtues occupy primal position in my life, than the worldly values?

A true prioritizing and firm conviction alone can help us to be the true witnesses of Jesus, the Messiah.

Jesus is our model and example, Who, in His life, accorded the first and primal place to God and His Will.

The lives of the saints and the martyrs are also proof for this fact.

In the Acts of the Apostles, 6:8-15, we read of how St Stephen, the first Martyr of the Church, “was filled with grace and power, and could withstand any persecution”, because he had a made a choice for Jesus and His Kingdom, above all!

He rejected all worldly promises and desires that blocked his view of the Kingdom!

Are we going to be a people, merely fixed in searching, through the slimy banks, for ‘snails’ of earthly pleasures?

Or we going to be a people, who can transcend and rise up higher, to live our lives in the grandeur of Jesus and His Everlasting Kingdom?

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – He who is able to procure pearls, does not burden himself with shells.

Similarly, those who are intent on virtue…

… are not eager for honours!

April 26, 2020 – 3rd Sunday of Easter

“’Seeing the obvious’ in our life of faith, by growing in our devotion to the Eucharistic Lord and having our eyes opened to see His Presence with us always, in the journey of our life!”

(Based on Acts 2:14, 22-32, 1 Pet 1:17-21 and Lk 24:13-35)

A commonly known incident is told of a customs officer, who observed a truck coming up to the border.

The wary behaviour of the driver caused the customs officer to look at him with suspicion – of smuggling some goods – and he ordered a search of the vehicle.

The officer was pretty sure, that the driver was involved in smuggling something…

But even after a thorough search – of the panels, the bumpers, the wheel cases and other parts of the truck….
… he was unsuccessful!

Not convinced, but due to lack of proof, the customs officer had to wave the driver through.

This happened many times over the years – week after week….

The officer made the driver to go through rigorous searches: full body search, X Rays, Sonar…
… but nothing illicit was ever found!

Finally, the day arrived when the customs officer was to retire.

For one last time, the officer observed the same driver coming in…
… and he asked him: “I know you are a smuggler!
And I also know, very cleverly, you have been deceiving me all these years, and taking some goods beyond this check point.

Today is my last day at work.

So I pray you, to tell me what have you been smuggling all these years.
I promise that I will not tell anyone about it.”

Seeing the insistent pleading of the customs officer, the driver replied, coolly:

The customs officer had made a detailed check up of the driver, on several occasions.

But he missed the most obvious good that could have been smuggled: Trucks!

How often can this happen in our lives as well…
… We “miss the most obvious”!

The Gospel of the Day is a beautiful incident to “open our eyes” to see the obvious – the obvious reality of our Faith…
… and thus, to be convinced witnesses of this Good News of the Reality!

The post-Resurrectional narratives today presents before us the incident of our Risen Lord appearing to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus (Lk 24: 13-35).

One of the striking features that this passage presents before us is the human tendency (weakness!) to “miss the obvious!”

The two disciples, who are on the way to Emmaus, had been greatly struck by the incidents that had happened over the last one week in Jerusalem.

This therefore, resulted in them failing to “read the signs of symbols”…

Their Master, Jesus, in Whom they had placed all their hopes, had undergone a cruel death on the Cross (Lk 24:21).
… The CROSS, however, seemed, to them, purely as a sign of humiliation and shame!

This was followed by the report of some women who had seen the empty Tomb of the Lord (Lk 24:22)
… The EMPTY TOMB, however, seemed, to them, purely as a sign of dashed hopes and broken dreams

This confusion was confirmed by some of the other members of the group, but Him they had not met (Lk 24: 24)
… This ABSENCE of JESUS, however, seemed, to them, purely as a sign of a lost prospect and an uncertain future.

As they walked on the way, Jesus explained the Scriptures to them, to open their hearts to what was written about Him (Lk 24: 27)
… The SCRIPTURES, however, seemed, to them, purely as a sign of falling on deaf ears and God’s words being found empty.

As they reached the village, Jesus made movements as if to go on ahead (Lk 24: 28)
… The MOVEMENTS of JESUS, however, seemed, to them, purely a sign of a traveller wanting to move on with His journey

A number of symbols were presented to these disciples…

Cross, Empty Tomb, Absence of Jesus, Scriptures, Movements of Jesus
… but all of them seemed irrelevant and immaterial.
They failed to make an impact!


That’s when, our Blessed Lord would “open their eyes” by partaking in one of the most important post-resurrectional ‘Expression of His Presence’: The Breaking of Bread!

“He sat down to eat with them, took the bread, and said the blessing; then He broke the bread and gave it to them…
… then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him!” (Lk 24: 30-31)

The ‘Breaking of the Bread’ opened their eyes… and they began to “See the Obvious”

The Cross began to be seen as the Symbol of Victory!
The Empty Tomb began to be seen as the Symbol of God’s Almighty Power!
The Absence of Jesus began to be seen as the Symbol of His Presence amidst the community!
The Scriptures began to be seen as the Symbol of God’s Promises being fulfilled!
The Movements of Jesus began to be seen as the Symbol of the Lord alluring them to invite Him into their hearts and homes!

This incident invites us to also have our “eyes opened” and “see the obvious” in our Faith.

And this experience is deepened by our participation in the “Breaking of the Bread”.

The “Breaking of Bread” is the Holy Eucharist.

This incident of the “Breaking of Bread” contains the elements (Scripture, Prayer, Blessing, Breaking of bread) of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, as stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church…
… “Eucharistic celebration always includes: the proclamation of the Word of God; thanksgiving to God the Father for all his benefits, above all the gift of his Son; the consecration of bread and wine; and participation in the liturgical banquet by receiving the Lord’s body and blood.”

There are moments in our life, when we like the Disciples on the way to Emmaus, walk dejected and disillusioned.
… things seem lost for us and the future holds no good for us
… darkness seem to pervade our every thought

Like those Disciples, we too are given a lot of symbols of God’s Presence…
… but we fail to find meaning in them!

It is therefore the Breaking of the Bread – the Holy Eucharist – that can strengthen our Christian Life and “open our eyes”…
… to “see the obvious”!

Empowered by the Power and Presence of the Risen Lord, the disciples led by St Peter, become bold and courageous witnesses of Christ.

Peter boldly proclaimed: “This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses!” (Acts 2:32)
“Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God!” (1 Pet 1:21)

May this powerful incident of the Emmaus Experience, help us to resolve and renew a few commitments with respect to the Holy Eucharist…
… to be more eager to participate for the Holy Mass as often as possible
… to never be late for Mass; instead to prepare well, and participate with more enthusiasm
… to seek to spend more time with the Eucharistic Lord and encourage others to do so as well

The “missing of the Eucharist” in these days of the pandemic is a surely an immense and a great pain…
… but we are also reminded – very strongly – of the need to cultivate a deeper and a passionate love for the Eucharistic Lord every time…
… and in turn, to live a Eucharistic Life – being broken and shared – to the people around us!

It is the Eucharist that can help us to know and realize that even in our “saddest walks of life”, the Lord is with us – walking with us, and giving us many signs and symbols of Faith…

And thus, to have our “eyes opened”…
… and “see the obvious” in our Life of Faith!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Through devotion, your family cares become more peaceful, mutual love between husband and wife becomes more sincere…

… and our work, no matter what it is, becomes more pleasant and agreeable!”

April 24, 2020 – Feast of St Mark, the Evangelist

“Living the Will of the Father faithfully, being faithful to the missionary mandate of the Lord and making our lives the ‘Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God!’”

(Based on Feast of St Mark, the Evangelist)

It was a place named Bokalia, which means the place of cows, on the east of Alexandria in Egypt.

The Great Feast of Resurrection, that year, 68 A.D., coincided with the great pagan celebration of god Syrabis.

A huge multitude of the pagans, assembled and attacked the Church at Bokalia and forced their way in…

These targeted their chief enemy in that church…
… seized him
… bound him with a thick rope
… dragged him in the roads and streets

And they cried out, “Drag the dragon to the place of cows!”

They continued dragging him with severe cruelty.

His flesh was torn and scattered everywhere…
… the ground of the city was covered with his blood.

They cast him that night into a dark prison.

The next morning, the pagans were back to take him from the prison.

They tied his neck with a thick rope and did the same as the day before – dragging him over the rocks and stones.

Finally, this great warrior of God delivered up his pure soul in the hand of God…
… and received the crown of martyrdom…
… the Apostolic Crown, the Crown of Evangelism, and the Crown of Virginity.

Nevertheless, his death did not satisfy the rage of the pagans and their hatred.

They gathered much firewood and prepared an inferno to burn him.
However, a severe storm blew and heavy rains fell.

This frightened the pagans, and they fled away in fear.

The believers came and took the body, carried it to the church that they had built at Bokalia, wrapped it up, prayed over it, and placed in a coffin.

They laid the coffin in a secret place in this Church.

This is the heroic account of the martyrdom of St Mark, the Evangelist, whose feast we celebrate today.

It is to St Mark, the evangelist, that we owe, historically speaking, the first of the four Gospels.

Some of the distinct features and highlighting aspects of the Gospel of St Mark calls for our attention and reflection…

  1. The Gospel of St Mark is the shortest among all the four Gospel accounts.
    It probably also has the highest tempo, in terms of the language used and the pace at which the whole Gospel account moves.

a. This invites us to reflect on the urgency of the Kingdom in our lives. The time and place of the coming of the Lord is unknown. (Mk 13: 35-37). Therefore, it places on us, the need to be ever watchful, on the guard and ready for action against the evil, with lives sanctified and purified.

b. This also invites to reflect on the shortness of our lives, and how each day and each moment of our life (like each chapter and verse of the Gospel), is to be lived solely for the sake of the Lord…
… and making our lives a “true Gospel”, giving witness to Jesus Christ, the Crucified Risen Lord, the Son of God (Mk 15:39)

  1. The Gospel of St Mark was most probably addressed originally to the persecuted and suffering Christians, of the early Church.

This meant to present Jesus, in the light of how He was able to withstand all pains, pressures and persecutions…
… in order to remain faithful to the Will of His Father and to the Kingdom Mission.

a. This invites us to fully embrace Jesus as the True Model for our lives. He is the Lord, who suffered immensely, took up every pain and bore every temptation, in order to remain faithful to His Father (Mk 14:36).

b. This also invites us to not be afraid of pains and sufferings in life and not to be bogged down by the illogicality of why things go absolutely haywire in our personal and societal lives.

Instead, we need to look up to Jesus, who was crucified, and even from the Cross, the final act of His obedience, cried out, “Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani – My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mk 15:34)

  1. The Gospel of St Mark is, traditionally, greatly associated with the life of St Peter.
    Therefore, this Gospel makes a clear attempt at revealing some of the crucial events, feelings and character of Peter.

It is an attempt, not to merely glorify Peter’s role; rather, it is also an account of how Peter, with all his failures and ‘foolishness’ was still accepted and moulded by Jesus, His patient Master

a. This invites us to face our own weaknesses and limitations of life boldly. Like St Peter, we too very often fall away, oppose the plans of God, be overly-zealous yet lazily lethargic and even betray the Lord. Yet, the Good Shepherd does not abandon us; instead goes ahead of us (Mk 16:7), to invite us “to make our life a beautiful one for Him”

b. This also invites us to not give up in life because of constant failures or be ashamed of our brokenness in life (Mk 14:72b). The Gospel of Mark is a parallel drama of the Glorifying Act of Jesus Christ and the Constantly Wavering Life of St Peter. The Gospel testifies that we are to glory not in our merits or prowess, rather to seek refuge in the wounds of Christ and to be totally dependent on the One who alone is to be our strength and guide.

Just like a lion, the Gospel of Mark brings out powerfully the life and teachings of Jesus, the Mighty Lion of Judah…
… mighty and bold
… fast and powerful,
… demanding and challenging.

The author, St Mark, himself was able to live up to be the witness and shed his blood for sake of the Great Lion of Judah!

Let us read this Gospel of St Mark…
… meditate on it..
… be challenged by it..

And strive to live the Will of the Father faithfully …
making our lives the…
… the “Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mk 1:1)
… and be faithful to the missionary mandate of the Lord, as St Mark writes: “And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it!” (Mk 16:20)

Happy Feast of St Mark, the Evangelist

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Halft an hour’s meditation each day is essential…
… except when you are busy!

Then a full hour is needed!”

April 24, 2020 – 2nd Week of Easter

“Rising above the situations of panic and disturbances, and being calm, knowing that we have a God, who is ultimately in total and perfect control of every situation of turmoil!”

(Based on Acts 5:34-42 and Jn 6:1-15)

Here is a simple question… from the world of the Gospels…

Which is the only miracle, besides the Resurrection of our Blessed Lord that is mentioned in all the four Gospel accounts?

Well, it should not be too difficult to answer this one…

Or, is it a tough one?

Well, the answer is…

…. it IS the miracle of the Multiplication of the Loaves.

The feeding of the people, by the mighty deed of multiplication of the loaves, in the only miracle, besides the miracle of the Resurrection of Jesus, that finds a mention in all the four Gospels.

And each of these Gospels also have something unique to speak of this incident:

Mt 14: 13-21: mentions about five thousand men being fed, “without counting women and children”
Mk 6: 31-4: mentions of making the people to be seated in “groups and clusters of hundreds and fifties”
Lk 9: 10-17: also mentions of five thousand men and being seated in clusters of fifty and also mentions Jesus, “looking up to the heavens”.
Jn 6: 5-15: mentions of a “little boy”, who is the provider of the five loaves and two fish and also that “the Lord gave thanks for it”, before distributing it to the people.

The Gospel of the Day presents this account of the multiplication from the eyes of St John, the Evangelist.

This miracle of the multiplication of the loaves fed a massive crowd.

The Gospel mentions “five thousand men” (Cf. Jn 6:10)

Five thousand men could mean that including women and children, it would have easily exceeded over twenty thousand people!

This easily was the miracle that Jesus performed with the greatest number of witnesses and participants.

This miracle of the multiplication also reveals some of the finest qualities of Jesus, the Messiah…

  1. His sensitivity to the needs of the people
    While the disciples were just eager to send the crowd away, Jesus reaches out to them in compassion and love.
  2. His ability to effect changes in the mindset and thinking-pattern
    The disciples could see no way, in that desert to feed the gigantic crowd. They had only question marks before them.
    But Jesus, sheds new light on their minds and helps them find a solution, even in the seemingly impossible situation
  3. His perfect control in a situation of panic
    Though there would have been panic in the minds of the disciples, Jesus impresses upon them the fact that He is in total charge and in complete control.

As the Lord and Creator, He knows exactly what is to be done in the moment of crisis and calamity.

  1. His attitude of raising His heart in thanksgiving at every situation
    We read that before the actual multiplication happened, Jesus “took the loaves, and gave thanks…” (Jn 6: 11)

It’s amazing to imagine that situation:
… Thousands and thousands of people, eagerly waiting, hungry and exhausted….
… Having just five Loaves and the two fish – which was scarcely able to meet the hunger of a couple of people…
… Jesus still raises His Heart in thanksgiving and gratitude!

It is tremendous faith that allows a person to raise one’s mind in gratitude, even in the midst of utter poverty, deep need and barren nothingness!

  1. His consciousness to gather the remaining pieces, after the miracle
    The Lord, “Who came save and seek the lost” is also highly mindful of gathering up the remaining broken pieces of the loaves.

The disciples get trained to become aware of “what is often considered as wasteful” can also become resourceful!
The disciples are reminded that even things that are usually “discarded” and regarded, as being “unwanted and useless”, can become sources of strength and nourishment!

This beautiful and unique miracle of the multiplication is a reminder to each one of us also:

Can I…
(1) …be sensitive and responsive to the needs and desires of those around me?

(2) … see the brighter side of life, with the Grace and strength from God, and rub the fragrance of this positivity onto others in my life?

(3) … rise above the situations of panic and disturbances, and be calm, knowing that we have a God, who is ultimately in total and perfect control of every situation of turmoil?

(4)… lift up my heart to the Lord, in thanksgiving, at every moment and situation of life, even when the chips are down or when I pass through the dark tunnels and the deep, despairing valleys life?

(5)… be aware of the “unwanted” talents in me, the “excess” people of the society and the “discarded” peripherals of the world, and seek to make the best use of them and collect them to be part of the mainframe scene?

When we seek to be on the side of the Lord…
… the Lord will defend, protect and strengthen us by the Power of His Faithfulness

This fact is very beautifully brought out by Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles.
In the context of seeking to annihilate the Christian Movement, he utters this very important truth: “So in the present case, I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; because if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail…
… but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them – in that case you may even be found fighting against God!” (Acts 5:38-39)

Let us always rise above the situations of panic and disturbances, and be calm, knowing that we have a God, who is ultimately in total and perfect control of every situation of turmoil!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Do everything calmly and peacefully. Do as much as you can, as well as you can.

Strive to see God in all things without exception, and consent to His Will joyously.
Do everything for God, uniting yourself to Him in word and deed.

Walk very simply with the Cross of the Lord and be at peace with yourself!”

April 23, 2020 – 2nd Week of Easter

“Installing the Lord as the Alpha and Omega of all our activities and of our life itself!”

(Based on Acts 5:27-33 and Jn 3:31-36)

A few days back we celebrated the Easter Vigil – even though, for this year 2020, it was an Online Vigil Service for most of us.

The Easter Vigil is called as the mother of all vigils.

In the liturgy of the Easter Vigil, a Paschal Candle is prepared.

The priest marks the candle, in the shape of the Cross, Alpha and Omega – the first and the last Greek letters and the present Year, 2020

He uses the following words:
… Christ yesterday and today (on the vertical arm of the cross)
… the Beginning and the End (horizontal arm of the cross)
… the Alpha (alpha above the cross)
… and the Omega (omega below the cross)
… All time belongs to him (numeral 2 in upper left corner of cross)
… and all the ages (numeral 0 in upper right corner of cross)
… To him be glory and power (numeral 2 in lower left corner)
… through every age and for ever. Amen (numeral 0 in lower right corner)

These words declare the Supreme authority and Heavenly glory of Jesus, the Son of God.

However, it can happen so, that at times, in our life…
… such fundamental factors of faith are taken for granted…
… such basic truths of our spiritual life are presumed as known…

Therefore, it is sometimes good take a pause in our spiritual life, and ask ourselves, this fundamental question,

“Am I really trusting and believing in Jesus, as the True Son of God, the One who is all-powerful and Holy”?

“Is my faith and spirituality truly built on the great foundation, that the Lord is the ultimate beginning (Alpha) and the end (Omega) of everything?”

The Gospel of the day is an invitation to make this examination of the basics of our faith and spirituality and to renew our belief and trust in the Lord.

The Gospel passage begins with the verse, “The One who comes from heaven is above all” (Jn 3: 31)
This verse refers to the Divine origin of the Lord.

At the Annunciation, Angel Gabriel had announced to Mother Mary that Her child “will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Lk 1: 32)

This Divinity of the Lord was affirmed by Him through the various works of wonders and great deeds…
… of healing many in afflictions and sicknesses
… of accepting many of the rejected and unwanted
… of strengthening many of the oppressed and the abused
… of preaching many on the need for repentance and striving to enter the Kingdom

His personality shone with Divinity….

His character radiated with Holiness…

He sought to become the Way-revealer, the Truth-instiller and the Life-giver.

He is the One “Whom the Father loves” and “to Whom the Father has given everything” (Jn 3:35)

Have we given our lives entirely to Him, who is above all things?

Have we entrusted ourselves entirely to Him, who has been entrusted everything by the Father?

When we totally surrender and entrust our loves to the Lord, we are filled with courage to be powerful witnesses of the Lord in the world – just as Early Christian Community.

Even when there were questioned and warned of not giving public witness, they had the courage to be fearless in their proclamation of Jesus and the Kingdom: “But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than any human authority!’”

Doing God’s Will becomes the priority for the one who offers one’s life to the Lord!

At the Holy Mass, one of the most beautiful prayers is called as the “Doxology”.
In this, we render all the praise to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit.

“Through Him, With Him, In Him…. O God Almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all Glory and Honour is Yours, forever and ever, Amen!”

It would be good, to make the words of this prayer of the Doxology, our own, in our works and activities.
• This could be a conscious way of acknowledging the Divinity of the Lord in all our activities.
• This could be a meaningful way of saying that the Lord reigns in all our works and deeds.

Let us revive our hearts to firmly install the Lord as the Alpha (the beginning) and the True Omega (the end) of all our activities
… and of our life itself!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Walk always near to God, for the gentleness of His Shadow…

… is more healthy than the brightness of the sun!”

April 22, 2020 – 2nd Week of Easter

“Living by the Power of the Cross knowing that God’s Immense Love protects us always and everywhere!”

(Based on Acts 5:17-26 and Jn 3:16-21)

In a particular place, in the medieval ages, there lived a certain monk.

This monk, once, announced that he would be preaching next Sunday evening on “The Love of God.”

It was Sunday evening…
The sun began to set…

As the shadows fell and the light slowly ceased to come in, through the glass-stained windows of that marvellous Church, the congregation gathered, were eagerly waiting…

Their eyes were fixed on the monk who was to preach to them….

In the darkness of the altar, the monk lighted a candle and carried it to the crucifix.

First of all, with the candle, he illumined the crown of thorns on the Crucifix..

Then, the two wounded hands…
Then the marks of the spear wound on His side…

Then, in the hush and silence that fell, the monk blew out the candle and left the Church.

There was nothing else to say!

A beautiful sermon on the “Love of God” had been preached!

The sacrifice of Jesus, on the Cross, reveals the depth of God’s Love.

The price that Jesus paid on the Cross, demonstrates the intensity of God’s Love.

It is this love of God that Jesus spells out, when He says to Nicodemus, in today’s Gospel, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish, but may have eternal life…” (Jn 3:16)

This verse, John 3:16 has some of the most unique credits….
… it is perhaps one of the most favourite verses of the entire Bible
… it is perhaps one of the most known verses of the entire Bible

In seven phrases, this verse, reveals the gist and the core of the entire Good News…
… For God: The Great Lord and the Creator of the entire universe
… so loved the world: The Great Purpose of God
… that He gave His only Son: The Great Sacrifice
.. that whoever: The Great Open Invitation
… believes in Him: The Great Condition
… should not perish: The Great Desire
… but may have eternal life: The Great Promise

Jesus was teaching Nicodemus that the heart of God’s love would be revealed in the sacrifice and death of His Beloved Son, on the Cross.

The Cross is not for condemnation…
The Cross is not for judgment…

The Cross is for salvation… the Cross is for hope!

To the one who believes and trusts in this power of the Cross, there is hope and salvation.

To the one who rejects and refuses this power of the Cross, judgment and condemnation is self-inflicted and self-imposed.

God doesn’t want to condemn
… He only wants to redeem.

God doesn’t desire to judge
… He only wants to save.

The disciples of Jesus, after the Resurrection and by the Power of the Holy Spirit, experienced the depth of God’s Love

And this experience of the Immensity of God’s Love impelled them to give witness to Jesus, even in the midst of harsh torture and suffering – so much so, that their persecutors marveled at their courage and conviction: “Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!” (Acts 5:25)

The Cross of the Lord invites us today…
… to be faithful to the salvation won by the Lord, always
… to seek the grace to live a life in the light, always
… to make efforts to walk the path of truth, always

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Do everything for God, uniting yourself to Him in word and deed.

Walk very simply with the Cross of the Lord and be at peace with yourself!”