May 5, 2020 – 4th Week of Easter

“Seeking to have the ‘tender touch’ of our Blessed Lord to ‘warm our cold hearts’ and thus to experience an abundance of life in Him!”

(Based on Acts 11:19-26 and Jn 10:22-30)

In many parts of the world, it is now summer!

The effects of global warming are being clearly experienced in many of the countries…
…with increased temperatures
… unusual climatic changes

But it’s pretty interesting to note, that even though externally, the climate is warm…
… there could be many areas in our life… which remain cold!

Isn’t it?

… we are experiencing a “coldness” in many of our relationships
… there is a sense of a “cold wave” in our work-places, studies or in our undertakings and activities

We need the “tender touch” of our Blessed Lord to “warm” our “cold hearts” …
… and in order to come to experience “abundance of life” in Him!

The Gospel of the Day presents the dimension of “coldness” that was experienced by the people, who encountered Jesus, in accepting Him as the Lord of Life.

The Gospel passage begins with St John giving a dual-context in the encounter between Jesus and the people…

  1. The religious atmosphere of the time: “The Feast of the Dedication was then taking place in Jerusalem” (Jn 10: 22a)
  2. The physical atmosphere of the time: “It was winter” (Jn 10:22b)

The Feast of Dedication was also called Hanukkah.

This feast celebrated the liberation of the city of Jerusalem from Antiochus, the Syrian King.

This King had desecrated the Jerusalem Temple by building an altar to Zeus and sacrificing pigs on the Temple Altar.

The Feast of Dedication celebrates the day that Israel regained control of the temple and re-consecrated it to the one true God!

However, it is to be noted that though year after year, they gathered to celebrate the re-dedication of the Temple…
… their hearts were, perhaps, still far from God Yahweh!
.. their lives were, perhaps, still, yet to be in accordance with the Will of God!

This is what St John, the Evangelist, points to when he speaks of the physical atmosphere of the time: “It was winter” (Jn10:22b)

This statement was not just about the weather or the season of the year

He was describing “a season of life… a season of faith”!

It was his style of diagnosing the interior condition of the “Faith of the People” who had come for the Feast of the Dedication!

Many of the people of Israel, were in a season of “winter”…
…”cold” in their hearts: to accept the person of Jesus – the One Who had inaugurated the Kingdom of God, going about doing a lot of works of salvation and healing!

… “cold” in their minds: to accept the teachings of Jesus – the One Who was exhorting them to live God’s commandments not just externally, but with the sincerity of the heart!

… “cold” in their lives: to accept the challenge of Jesus – the One Who was convicting them of their sinfulness and inviting them to a life of repentance and holiness!

It was this being in a “season of winter” that prompted them to ask Jesus with a sense of apathy and irritation: “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly” (Jn 10: 24)

“Tell us plainly” was the utterance of a frozen people…
… who had “winter” in their hearts and their minds
… who were “cold” and had begun to take their faith for granted
… who were “frozen” and were merely satisfied with external dedication of the Temple, without an inner renewal of the heart!

We need to examine our lives and check….
… Am I also a “frozen person?”

Am I also, in a “season of Winter”?
… Is my relationship with the Lord, a mere utterance of the lips and fails to affect my daily living?
… Is my practice of devotion and my participation in the liturgy and sacraments, a plain ritualistic and a routine custom, without making me to truly enter into intimacy with the Lord?
… Is my life of faith, just an ordinary and lethargic one, taking the grace and blessing of the Lord for granted, and not wanting to make efforts to grow in the love of the Lord and neighbour?

The Lord gives us the one straight answer: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them and they follow Me” (Jn 10: 27)

The Book of the Acts of the Apostles gives us the beautiful example of Barnabas – who lent his ears to the Lord and thus could be an agent of the Lord’s Power and Love

“When Barnabas came and saw the Grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to the Lord!” (Acts 11: 23-24)

When we offer our Lord our entire life –our heart and mind wholly– we become a contagious witness of His Resurrection and a powerful messenger of His Love

May we dedicate not just our externalities to the Lord; but much more our internalities – our hearts, minds and lives to His Providence

Let us seek to come away from the “Season of Winter”….
… be warm in the love of the Lord
… be enthusiastic, receiving the touch of the Divine
… be ardent, to seek, hear and follow the voice of the Good Shepherd!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Retire at various times into the solitude of your own heart, even while outwardly engaged in discussions or transactions with others…

… and talk to God!”

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