August 1, 2020 – Feast of St Alphonsus Maria de Ligouri

“Think nobler, and our character will mould into being noble!”

(Based on Jer 26:11-16, 24 and Mt 14:1-12 – Feast of St Alphonsus Maria de Ligouri – Saturday of the 17th Week of Ordinary Time)

The Mammoth Cave National Park, in central Kentucky, is a U.S. National Park.
It encompasses portions of the Mammoth Cave, the longest cave system known in the world.

In these caves, one can see enormous pillars which have been formed by the steady dropping of water from the roof of the cavern.

This masonry – formed of solid rock – made by the slow and silent process of nature, is a true marvel…

A single drop of water, finds its way from the surface down through the roof of the cave, and deposits its sediment
Another follows it and still another… each adding its imperceptible contribution, until the icicle of stone begins to grow, ultimately reaching the pillar which likewise has been forming on the bottom of the cave.

These become a massive pillar – brilliant and classic.

This process is so similar that which occurs in our hearts…

Each thought, that awakens for a moment, sinks into the soul – just as each little drop of water, with its limestone deposit, makes its contribution to the pillar in the cave.

Other thoughts follow and yet others…erecting within our hearts, pillars of purpose that form our character.

Think nobler, and our character will mould into being noble…

Think wicked, and our character will decay into being evil…

What is the thought-pattern that we nurture in our lives?

The Gospel of the Day makes a dramatic presentation of two opposing characters – one of them holy and the other evil – John the Baptist and Herod the Tetrarch – which were formed as a result of the accumulation of contrasting deposits of thoughts and feelings.

The Gospel passage is a “flashback” passage which recounts the visually-disturbing incident of the ‘beheading of John the Baptist’.

The increasing popularity of Jesus caused Herod the Tetrarch, the ruler of the land, to come face-to-face with his guilty conscience.

Truth is always very powerful!

It can, silently, yet very authoritatively…
… challenge faulty lives
… prick guilty consciences
… confront culpable actions

Herod bore the guilt of having killed John the Baptist, who was the voice of the Truth.

He knew that he had done something extremely wicked and merciless
He knew that he had acted in opposition to truth, to honesty and to sincerity.

Therefore, the rising fame of the Lord – whom he misunderstood as John – drove him to despair over that brutal act of the killing of the Baptist.

The constant exposition to wicked thoughts and evil inclinations had caused his life to become a pillar of guilt-filled feelings!

Think wicked, and our character will decay into being evil…

On the other hand, was the righteous life of John the Baptist.

He was born with a sense of purpose – of being a voice to the Truth.

He maintained this goal by always living in sincerity – fearless and courageous.
To this end, he even valiantly shed his blood!

The constant nurturing of holy purposes and sacred acts had caused his life to become a pillar of a purpose-filled existence!

Think nobler, and our character will mould into being noble…

What is the thought-pattern that we nurture in our lives?

Is my life a Pillar…
… of guilt-filled feelings – formed by deposits of wickedness, evil and sin?


Is my life a Pillar…
… of a purpose-filled existence – formed by deposits of holy determination and sanctified lives?

Today we celebrate the Feast of a Great Saintly Doctor of the Church – St Alphonsus Liguori, the Patron Saint of Theologians – the Founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists)

His life was lived in-purpose
His being was filled with determination.

Let us give heed to his words:
“The more a person loves God, the more reason he has to hope in Him.

This hope produces in the Saints an unutterable peace, which they preserve even in adversity, because as they love God…
… and know how beautiful He is to those who love Him, they place all their confidence and find all their repose in Him alone”

May the intercession of this great Moral Theologian Saint inspire and impel us to also live holy lives – and thus our lives may become a “marvel edifice” and an “enormous pillar” of God’s graces…
… as we offer and consecrate the new month of August to the Immaculate Heart of our Blessed Mother!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “And when children begin to use their reason, fathers and mothers should take great pains to fill their hearts with the fear of God.

This the good Queen Blanche did most earnestly by St. Louis, her son: witness her oft-repeated words, “My son, I would sooner see you die than guilty of a mortal sin;” words which sank so deeply into the saintly monarch’s heart…

… that he himself said there was no day on which they did not recur to his mind, and strengthen him in treading God’s ways!”

July 31, 2020 – Feast of St Ignatius Loyola

“Not being depressed and discouraged by the various situations of disappointments that we come across in life; instead, like St Ignatius of Loyola, being hopeful, and knowing that ‘every rejection is one more step closer to true success!’”

(Based on Jer 26:1-9 and Mt 13:54-58 – Feast of St Ignatius of Loyola – Friday of the 17th Week of Ordinary Time)

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 dejection, 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 hold on to doing the Will of God, and be His Faithful Followers?

Our Blessed Lord Himself underwent rejection and dejection in life.

Yet He would cling on to doing the Will of God!

The Gospel of the Day narrates this painful incident of “rejection and dejection” 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!
… dejection from the society, because one’s way of living poses a threat the corruption around!

But despite this “rejection and dejection,” 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!”

Let us today seek the intercession of St Ignatius of Loyola, the Founder of the “Society of Jesus” (Jesuits), on his Feast Day.

He was a man with a lot of worldly ambitions and gripped with seeking vain glory.

But an incident, wherein, he was bed-ridden, as a result of a leg injury, brought a transformation in his life.

Not finding any other books to read, he was handed over the “Life of Saints”, which made him to prompt himself to ask a question: “Why am I using my life just for myself? These people did so much good during their time on earth. Why can’t I?”

St Ignatius was probably at a “dejected and disappointed” phase of his life…
… yet the Lord would use “that” situation, to bring a transformation in his life.

His motto: Ad maiorem Dei gloriam (“for the greater glory of God”) – is a great challenge and an inspiration for all of us.

May the prayer of this great Saint, echo in our hearts as well:
“O my God, teach me to be generous, teach me to serve you as I should…
… to give without counting the cost,
… to fight without fear of being wounded,
… to work without seeking rest,
… to labour without expecting any reward,
but the knowledge that I am doing your most holy will.”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Do not look forward in fear to the changes in life…
… rather, look to them with full hope that as they arise.

God, whose very own you are, will lead you safely through all things!
Be at peace…

… and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations!”

July 30, 2020 – 17th Week of Ordinary Time

“Offer ourselves in total affirmation, into the Providential Hands of our God!”

(Based on Jer 18:1-6 and Mt 13:47-53 – Thursday of the 17th Week of Ordinary Time)

One morning, the husband was at breakfast…
… his face hidden behind the morning paper.

The frightened maid tiptoed into the room and whispered something to the wife’s ears.

The wife – paled slightly – then squared her shoulders resolutely and said:
“Dear, for the last seventeen years, you have been eating oats porridge in the morning.
You will be very upset, isn’t it, if you don’t get it this morning?”

Expecting the worst reaction, the wife began to turn away.

The husband, hiding his naughty smile, however said: “Oh how sad!
Yes, I will miss my daily meal!
But hey! It’s also a nice chance to get something interesting to eat, without having to tell explicitly…
… how bored I am with my daily meal!”

The husband, without wanting to express that he wanted a change in his meal,
… hid behind a casual attitude of “saying yes” without really intending!

Well… such is the case with many of us as well, probably.

There are many things that we don’t really enjoy…
… yet, pretend that everything is fine.

There are many things not going on fine with us…
… but we still behave as if we are okay with everything.

We sometimes are people who affirm and consent…
… without really understanding or grasping the whole reality

There is a “lip” yes…
… but not a consent with the mind.

There is an external nodding…
… without a true affirmation from the heart.

The Gospel of the Day presents such a classic case in the context of the disciples of Jesus saying a “Yes” to having understood the teachings of Jesus…
… and invites us to examine our lives and check whether:

We say only a “lip” yes, without the consonance of the mind!
We give an external nodding, without the affirmation of the heart!

The first 50 verses of the 13th Chapter from St Matthew is a quick montage of several parables…
… Seven in all…

  1. Parable of the Sower (vv. 1-9)
  2. Parable of the Weeds among wheat (vv. 24-30)
  3. Parable of the Mustard Seed (vv. 31-32)
  4. Parable of the Yeast (v. 33)
  5. Parable of the man finding the treasure (v. 44)
  6. Parable of the Pearl of Great Price (v. 45)
  7. Parable of the Net thrown in the sea (vv. 47-50)

These 7 parables teach several great truths and virtues….

  1. Preparing our hearts to receive the Generous Word of God….
  2. Accepting the reality of evil in the world and being firm to be good…
  3. Realizing the Divine Grace that blossoms our littleness into a shelter for many…
  4. Recognizing the transforming effect of a committed faith…
  5. Experiencing the joy of discovering the Lord as the Treasure of our lives….
  6. The Willingness to give up everything to prioritize the Lord as the Pearl of Great Prize….
  7. Living a life with the awareness of the judgment of good and evil at the end of our lives!

At the end of this quick, power-packed narration of the 7 parables, Jesus puts forward a question to His Disciples:
“Do you understand all these things?”(Mt 13:51)

The Lord wished to know if His disciples were grasping these great truths of Christian Life…

He wanted to know from His chosen ones, the level of their understanding.

The Gospel says the Disciples “answered, ‘Yes'”(Mt 13:51b).
Well, we are not fully sure whether the Disciples really understood and grasped everything….

We really can’t say for certain whether their “Yes”…
… was only a “lip” yes or one with the consonance of the mind
… was an external nodding or one with the affirmation of the heart

There are many occasions in the Gospels…
… when we see the Disciples “said something” but did not actually follow it or live it
… Or they really did not fully understand and grasp the person of Jesus and His teachings

At the Transfiguration, when Peter said, “Let us make three tents”, the Gospel says, “he did not know what he was saying!”(Lk 9:33b)

After the multiplication of the loaves, the Gospel says “they had not understood the incident of the loaves”(Mk 6:52)

After the calming of the storm at the sea, they said to one another “Who then is this Whom even wind and sea obey?”(Mk 4:41)
They failed to recognize and see the Father in Jesus and so Jesus chided them, saying, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in Me?” (Jn 14:10)
They asked Him Show us the Father.

We therefore do not really know the depth of the “Yes” of the Disciples…
… Was it only an instinctual reply?
… Was it just a spontaneous answer?

We cannot fully trace the intention of the Disciples.

But this incident is certainly a reminder and an invitation for us to examine…
… Do we seek to understand the Lord and His Teachings?
… Are we aware of the greatness and the worth of the many devout practices of our faith?

Let us examine…

Do we realize the Power of the Most Holy Mass and prepare ourselves accordingly for a worthy celebration…
… or has it become a regular routine of life, without the due preparation and a sense of reverence?

Do we read the Living Word of God daily, and seek to live in accordance with His Teachings…
… or has the Bible merely become another “object” of the house, only to be kept in a place of seclusion, with an occasional glance?

Do our prayers and the reception of the other Sacraments become a God-experience and have a life-touching effect…
… or have they been rendered as casual or even compelled actions, with little effect on one’s life and activities?

Yes, as Christians, we are sometimes people who affirm and consent…
… without really understanding or grasping the whole reality.

Let us offer ourselves into the Providential Hands of our God…
… by giving heed to the Lord, who invited His followers to be like the “instructed scribe, who is like the house holder who brings from his storeroom, both the new and the old.” (Mt 13:52).

Let us trust our Lord Who is the Potter of our lives…
… and like clay, allow ourselves to be moulded at His Mighty Hands! (Cf. Jer 18:1-6)

God bless! Live Jesus

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “There are many who say to the Lord, “I give myself wholly to Thee, without any reserve.

But there are few who embrace the practice of this abandonment, which consists in receiving with a certain indifference every sort of event, as it happens in conformity with Divine Providence…
… as well afflictions as consolations

… contempt and reproaches as honour and glory!”

July 29, 2020 – Feast of St Martha

“Being inspired by St Martha to be persons who are involved in work; yet, realising the need to find a home in the heart of the Lord!”

(Based on the Feast of St Martha)

Lord of all pots and pans and things, since I’ve no time to be
A saint by doing lovely things, or watching late with Thee,
Or dreaming in the dawnlight, or storming heaven’s gates,
Make me a saint by getting meals, and washing up the plates.

Although I must have Martha’s hands, I have a Mary mind;
And when I black the boots and shoes, Thy sandals, Lord, I find.
I think of how they trod the earth, what time I scrub the floor;
Accept this meditation, Lord, I haven’t time for more.

Warm all the kitchen with Thy love, and light it with Thy peace;
Forgive me all my worrying, and make my grumbling cease.
Thou Who didst love to give men food, in room, or by the sea,
Accept this service that I do —- I do it unto Thee.

This poem called as “Prayer Hymn” by Cecily R Hallack is found on the preface page of a book entitled “Devotions for Women at Home” by Martha Meister Kiely, 1959.
(This poem is also called as “Kitchen Prayer” attributed to Klara Carlotta Munkres)

The world is fast-paced.

Some of us are always on the move
Some of us are always on our feet

From very early dawn to very late dusk…
… we’re frenzied with activities & works & efforts & exertions.

Life gives us ample excuses to get busy, isn’t it?

Our cultures sometimes even measures our worth by how busy we are…
….determines our significance by how much we accomplish…
….assesses our importance by how well we meet the expectations of others!

We are often under the yoke of proving to be ‘Somebody’ by what “we do”…
…than by what “we are”!

In this busy dizzy frenzied life…
… the Church today celebrates the Feast of St Martha and teaches us beautiful life examples to grow in holiness.

The moment St Martha is mentioned, our minds immediately paint a picture of a working lady, in the kitchen…

Perhaps a little irritated and vexed, that she alone has to do the serving for Jesus, the Guest.

She is also considered, often, in low tones, in comparison to her sister, Mary.

But on this her feast, we shall try to look closer into the life of this Saint…
… who sadly often remains touted only as an irritated and perplexed kitchen-lady…

And instead learn some important lessons from this Lovely Saint, for our Spiritual Life:

  1. The Hospitable Martha
    The first images of Martha is of one who loved to serve and attend to the needs of the Lord.

Jesus found a home and a resting place in this house of Bethany (Lk 10:38)

  1. The Worried Martha
    This popular image of Martha is a reality in this down-to-earth Saint. She is naturally worried, that she is left alone in serving the Divine Lord.
    She even tends to demand the Lord to ask her sister, Mary to help her (Lk 10:40)
  2. The Loved Martha
    The Apostle of Love, St John, describes Martha as “the one who was loved by the Lord” (Jn 11:5)
  3. The Sorrowful Martha
    At the death of her brother Lazarus, Martha expresses deep sorrow and grief.

Her simple humanness comes to the light once again. (Jn 11:19)

  1. The Trustful Martha
    Though her brother died, the coming of Jesus to her home, was a great occasion for Martha to express her trust and confidence that the Lord can work wonders and great signs. (Jn 11:22)
  2. The Believing Martha
    Martha rose to the occasion when Jesus demands an expression of faith…

Parallel to Peter’s Faith Confession (Mt 16:16), Martha articulates her belief & conviction (Jn 11:27)

  1. The Bold Martha
    An often overlooked fact is that Jesus was often under the ire of the Pharisees and the Elders of the Law – some of them even plotting to kill this “emerging Reformer and Restorer” of the Law.

Jesus was at a constant risk to His life.

And yet, the Bold Martha is courageous and daring to accept the Lord into her home and to render him a shelter and a safe haven.

St Martha serves an inspiration to us, involved in much work and yet seeking to find a home in the heart of the Lord…

St Martha becomes a model to us…

Having human frailties and weakness…
… and yet wanting to tread the path of Holiness.

St Martha proves to be an example to us who gets discouraged by worries and brokenness in life…
… and yet wanting to honour to the Lord with a life of faith and strong belief.

The key is … “To Pay Attention to the Lord”

St Martha perhaps..
… had one Missed Call from the Lord: “Martha Martha, you are anxious about many things” (Lk 10:41)….

But the next time onwards…she was ready to answer…!

As St Paul says, “Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)…
… let us glorify the Lord by our lives!

Happy Feast of St Martha!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

  • Fr Jijo Jose Manjackal MSFS
    Bengaluru, India

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS)– “Those who are burdened with Martha’s busy
anxieties, would not fail to enjoy in the very midst of their hearts, the deep peace of Mary’s better part…

… provided they carry all their cares to God!”

July 28, 2020 – Feast of St Alphonsa

“Being loyal to the Gospel by remaining firm in faith and hope – trusting in the Providence and Power of the Lord!”

(Based on Jer 14:17-22 and Mt 13:36-43 – Feast of St Alphonsa – Tuesday of the 17th Week of Ordinary Time)

One of the very famous hymns in Malayalam, composed by Sadhu Kochukunju Upadesi (1883 –1945 – preacher, poet and composer) goes thus:
“Dukhathinde paana paathram
Karthav yende kayyil thannaal…”

Translated as…

“If my Lord offers a chalice
Full of worries into my hands,
I will accept it with pleasure
And sing ‘Hallelujah’ with thanks.

My father will never offer
Anything that is harmful I’m sure.
He may give me moments of pain
Still He loves me beyond measure!”

The hymn pays glorious tribute to the Immense Love of the Lord…
… despite the seemingly tough and troublesome moments that we go through in life.

The spirit of this hymn was beautifully lived and celebrated by St Alphonsa, the first woman of Indian origin to be canonised…
… whose feast we celebrate today.

Life often takes us through…
… trials of struggle and pain
… situations of agony and abandonment
… occasions of evil encounters and malicious moments!

Yet, in all such moments, the call of the Gospel is to remain firm in faith and hope – trusting in the Providence and Power of the Lord.

The Gospel of the Day is an exposition by the Lord on this crucial Reality of our lives, by the explanation of the Parable of the Weeds.

It’s noteworthy to know some interesting facts about this parable…

  1. Sowing weeds in someone else’s field, was a way take revenge on the other and to express one’s hatred and anger!

Something similar to today, people…
… breaking the glass of the houses of those whom they don’t like
… disfiguring the walls of the house of the people whom they hate

  1. The weeds that Jesus speaks of in the parable, were highly similar to the wheat that was sown.

It was almost impossible to distinguish the two, in their initial stages.

  1. Seeking to pull up the weeds would definitely destroy the wheat plant

This was because, their roots would get inter-twined.

Any attempt to pull up the weeds, would also cause harm to the good plant.

It is in the light of these points, that our “doubt and perplexity” about the Parable of the Wheat and Weeds grows:

“Why does evil exist in a world that was created good?”

This is where the Lord challenges every Christian to understand…
… that some mysteries in life cannot be fully understood…
… but are to be boldly lived!
… that some struggles in life cannot be totally eliminated…
… but are to be bravely challenged!
…. that some problems in life cannot be completely solved…
but are to be fearlessly encountered!

As we take time to digest this fact, let us also spare a thought for the seed of wheat that was sown by the Sower.

For the Sower, the Seed of Wheat was priceless… special…!

He had sown it with a lot of love, care and affection.

And so, He would do everything in His power, to make sure, that He loses nothing of it, in the attempt to get rid of the weeds.

The Sower is God.

And the Bible, throughout, speaks about how the seed that is sown – the wheat – is precious to God…
… the lost sheep is passionately sought until it is found (Lk 15: 1-7)
… the lost coin is ardently searched till it is found (Lk 15: 8-10)
… the leftover pieces of loaves are devoutly gathered up (Mt 14:20)
… the rejected short man, hiding on the tree, is assigned a new chapter in life (Lk 19: 1-10)
… the nearly-stoned woman, caught in the act of adultery, is given new life (Jn 8: 1-11)
… the impulsive fisherman, called as the rock, and who denied three times, is accepted back (Jn 21: 15-19)

We are the precious Wheat.

Jesus opens our hearts and minds to have a “realistic understanding” of life.

We need to be patient with ourselves and with others…
… in dealing with sin and with evil tendencies

Of course, as humans, we do many times…
… bite our teeth in anger, glaring at the inhumanness in our society and the world
… lose our cool, in finding ourselves to be imperfect and sinful even after years of trying
… go mad, in encountering silly disputes and indifferences in our families & communities
… have our blood boiling, seeing the various scandals and shameful incidents in the Church

But the Lord says… “Hold On”….

Surely, we have our emotions and feelings when we come across unjust situations..
But the Lord says:
“Do your best…and leave the rest to Me!

Aim for perfection… but give not into despair because of devastations!”

This certainly is no excuse for us to deny our duty and responsibility…
… and even the obligation to seek to avoid wickedness and dissuade evil practices.

But we may never find ourselves in PERFECT elimination of evil and sinful behaviours…
… either in our personal life, or societal life or even in the life of the church.

The Lord, the Final and the Supreme Judge, will make sure, that “Good finally triumphs over the evil!”

“The Son of Man will send His angels, and they will collect out of His Kingdom, all who cause others to sin and evildoers…
… the Righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of Their Father!” (Mt 13: 41, 43).

As the national motto of India says: “Satyam eva jayate” (Truth alone triumphs!”)

Let us have recourse to the Awesome and Ultimate Power of God, and be strengthened in our lives…
… knowing and trusting that He will ultimately cause “Everything for our good” (Rom 8:28)

In all moments of trials and struggles, let us be loyal to the Gospel by remaining firm in faith and hope – trusting in the Providence and Power of the Lord.

We are given the example of St Alphonsa today

While declaring her as a Saint, Pope Benedict XVI said: “St Alphonsa suffered herself…
… to heal the suffering of others!”

Let us seek the intercession and be inspired by St Alphonsa, as we too sing: “Dukhathinde paana paathram, Karthav yende kayyil thannaal…”

“If my Lord offers a chalice, full of worries into my hands,
I will accept it with pleasure, and sing ‘Hallelujah’ with thanks.

My father will never offer, anything that is harmful I’m sure.
He may give me moments of pain, Still He loves me beyond measure!”

  • Fr Jijo Jose Manjackal MSFS
    Bengaluru, India

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Let us practice that holy resignation and pure love of our Lord that is never as perfect as it is amid suffering.

We must pray for that holy resignation so that God can shape our hearts…

… into a fitting place for him to dwell and reign in eternity!”

July 27, 2020 – 17th Week of Ordinary Time

“Seeking the Grace to realize the power of ‘little things’ and ‘little efforts’ in building up the ‘Great Kingdom of God’ and to spread the ‘Immense Love of the Lord’ to all!”

(Based on Jer 13:1-11 and Mt 13:31-35 – Monday of the 17th Week of Ordinary Time)

Jesus in the Gospels loves to use simple, tiny and insignificant objects, to project His message of the Kingdom!

Today He uses the example of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven in describing the Might of the Kingdom!

The mustard seed & leaven would’ve hardly received any attention in the normal sense.

But Jesus, the Master Artist paints these li’l objects into the Mighty Canvas of the Kingdom & delivers a powerful message…

The Kingdom of God has its humble beginnings….but it develops into a Powerful Force!
The Kingdom of God often starts very insignificantly…but it expands into a Huge Reality!
The Kingdom of God initiates in an unnoticed manner….but it enlarges into an Influential Entity!

Little is much when GOD is in it!

The mustard seed develops into a Tree, which renders shelter to the birds of the air (Lk 13: 19)…..
• The sinners find a solace in this Tree….
• The sick encounter support in this Tree..
• The rejected have a remedy in this Tree…
• The cast-outs meet consolation in this Tree….
• The prostitutes experience peace in this Tree…

The leaven which is little, makes the whole mass of dough to rise (Lk 13: 21)…
• The rod in Moses’ hand…a shepherds’ ordinary crook…became a mighty symbol of God’s Power
• The jawbone with Samson…. a decaying useless bone…became an instrument of killings thousands of enemies!
• The stone in David’s hand….an unnoticed stone… became the means of conquering the gigantic Goliath!

Little is much when GOD is in it!

We live in times when many things are explained or rejected in terms of science, psychology, post-modern modern philosophies and assorted spiritualities
We live in times when material values and worldly attitudes are corroding our lives.
We live in times when ethical principles and traditional virtues often get kicked into the backyard!

Times are bad. Times are worsening. Times are sickening…
Times, are even, sometimes seen to be hopeless, scary and terrifying!

But we also ought to realize that…many things, which cannot be discovered and understood through the microscope of science and modern theories can be discovered by looking through the eyes of faith!

Yes, massive things can be seen and achieved by looking through the miniscule eye of Faith!

Our efforts and attempts to spread God’s Kingdom may be just minor and appearing to be insignificant…
… like the Mustard Seed and the Leaven.

But, little is much, when God is in it!!

The Lord reminds each of us of “His Immense Love” (and His deep pain, when we refuse to accept His Love!) through the example of the “loin cloth” in the Book of Prophet Jeremiah:

“This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own heart and have gone after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be like this waistcloth, which is good for nothing.”
“For as the waistcloth clings to the loins of a man, so I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, says the Lord, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory, but they would not listen!” (Jer 13:10-11)

May we seek the grace to realize the power of “little things” and “little efforts” in building up the “Great Kingdom of God” and to spread the “Immense Love of the Lord” to all!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “If you do all in God’s Name, all you do will be well done…
… whether you eat, drink or sleep…

So long as you do all wisely, you will gain greatly as in God’s sight, doing all because He would have you do it!”

July 26, 2020 – 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time

“Seeking the Lord, more fervently and deeply by immersing ourselves into the waters of repentance and new life and coming out, with an excited shout of discovery: ‘Eureka, Eureka! I have found It!’”

(Based on 1 Kings 3:5-12, Rom 8:28-30 and Mt 13:44-52 – 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time)

One of the common yet interesting legendary stories goes thus…

Archimedes was a Greek scientist – a young man of 22 years old – renowned for his work in mathematics, mechanics and physics.

One day Archimedes was summoned by the king Hiero of Syracusans to investigate if he had been cheated by a goldsmith.

The king said he had given a goldsmith the exact amount of gold needed to make a crown.

However, when the crown was ready the king suspected that the goldsmith cheated some silver into the crown, keeping some of the gold for himself.

The king then asked Archimedes to solve the problem.

Struggling to find the answer to the problem, Archimedes decided to freshen himself with a bath.

With his clothes off, as Archimedes immersed himself into the bathtub.

And as he lowered himself, the water level in the bathtub rose and overflowed…

This phenomena, of the “water overflowing” caused Archimedes to realize: the amount of water displaced depended on how much of his body was immersed into the bathtub.

This simple observation helped him to get the solution to his problem.

This discovery excited him so much that he jumped out of the tub and ran through the streets naked…
… shouting ‘Eureka, Eureka!’

A word in Greek which means, ‘I have found it! I have found it!’.

What about us?

Have we had a “Eureka – I have found It” experience?

A discovery transforms Life!
Every age has its own discoveries and inventions which have transformed the lives of human beings.

These could be the discovery…
… of logical thought, of using stone tools, of fire…
… of domestication, of the wheel, of mathematics and other sciences…
… of metalworking, of language, of paper and the printing press…
… of many medicines…etc etc…

A discovery, indeed, transforms Life!

Discovering God, as the Supreme Treasure of One’s Life is the Greatest Transformation, one can ever have!

Have I discovered God as The Most Important and Matchless Treasure of my Life?

The Gospel of the day presents three parables (Mt 13: 44-52)…
… which speak on the Kingdom of God and an Invitation to each one of us to discover Its Pristine value!

  1. The Parable of the Hidden Treasure:
    The olden days had the practice of hiding one’s treasure like jewellery or money in the field…
    … especially in contexts of wars or natural calamities or foreign invasions.

Sometimes, this hidden treasure remained unclaimed or forgotten…
… and was discovered by some “lucky” persons!

The Parable describes one such person who discovered a treasure.

According to the Palestinian laws of that time, the mere finding of a buried treasure did not entitle the finder to possess it, unless he also owned the property in which it was found.

The Discoverer of our Parable does that…
… Gives up everything, for the Matchless Treasure!

King Solomon gave up all offers of wealth, long life or vengeance on enemies…
… for the Treasure of the Wisdom of God! ( I Kg 3:9)
The Samaritan Woman, was “lucky” to meet the Thirsty Man by the well…
… and she discovered Him to be the Treasure of her life! (Jn 4:29)

The parable dares to offer ourselves totally for the sake of the Discovery of the Kingdom!

  1. The Parable of the one in search of Pearls
    Pearls were the most costliest and the most sought-after.

The trader of our Parable is on a Mission…a clear-cut mission, to discover the Fine Pearls… He is single minded in His search… He is focused on what he wants, in his task.

He has an amazing passion and a dedication to discover the best!

Jacob of the Old Testament was resolute in receiving a Pearl of blessing from the Angel of God (Gen 32:27)
Mary Magdalene was persevering in her search for the Lord, the Pearl of her life ( Jn 20:11)

The Parable dares us to be totally dedicated and zealous in our Discovery of the Kingdom!

  1. The Parable of the Fishing Net
    This parable is an invitation to accept the hard and unpleasant realities in our life and to make the necessary changes and amendments.

Not everything is goody-goody when it comes to spiritual life…
Not all is well when we consider the life in the Church…
Not all is ok in our personal or family or societal life!

We need to strive to cast away the unwanted elements…
… and thus be willing to live a purified and sanctified life!

The People of Nineveh gave up their sinful life to embrace a life in God Yahweh (Jon 3:5)
Zacchaeus was boldly able to throw the unwanted aspects of his life after encountering Jesus (Lk 19:8)

The parable dares us to cast away the unbecoming aspects of our life, in our Discovery of the Kingdom!

These 3 parables when applied to our personal spiritual life, would also give us the 3 key Virtues, that forms the basis of a True Spirituality:

  1. Renunciation: “The parable of the Hidden Treasure” is a call to renounce our everything in order to possess the Kingdom. (Mt 19:21)
  2. Longing: “The Parable of the one in search of the pearls” is a call to have an intense thirst and longing for Jesus and His Kingdom!
  3. Humility: “The Parable of the fishing net” is a call to humble ourselves and acknowledge our limitations and weaknesses so as to grow in perfection of the Kingdom!

Let us discover…

A true Spirit of Renunciation…
A fervent heart of Longing…
A gentle mind of Humility…

Yes, a discovery can transform life!

King Solomon discovered the need to boldly choose the Wisdom of God over all other things (I Kg 3:9)
Paul discovered a great Trust in God’s Providence by saying, “all things in life happens for good! (Rom 8:28)

Have I discovered God as The Most Important and Matchless Treasure of my Life?

Let us seek the Lord, more fervently and deeply…
… immersing ourselves into the waters of repentance and new life

And thus coming out of it, with an excited shout of discovery:
“Eureka, Eureka! I have found It!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “”Riches can prick us…
… with a thousand troubles in getting them
… as many cares in preserving them
… more anxieties in spending them

… and with grief in losing them!”

July 25, 2020 – Feast of St James

“Being inspired by St James, to lower down our minds – the vessels of pride and greed – and allow the Lord to fulfil His promise, of raising to our hearts, the cup of joy and glory!”

(Based on the Feast of St James)

A man who had an experience of conversion and a new life in the Lord describes:
“I never professed to be a Christian or anything like that.

But one morning as I was going about my business, I heard my colleague, in office, reading aloud the passage where Jesus asked Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’

Something within, made me to wish with all my heart, that I could also answer them as Peter did.

But, I felt very sad that I could not!

Then this li’l thought came to me, `Well, if I cannot say so much as Peter, perhaps I could turn it around a little and find something easier.’

So I began to think there was one thing I could NOT say…

What was that?

I surely, could not say, ‘Lord, You know that I do NOT love you’!
And I found some comfort in that!

Strange, isn’t it?

At last I grew bold enough to look up and say:
‘Lord, You know all things. You know that I WANT to love you…’

That made me to think of His great love for me…

I thought of His life, of His words, of His Cross…

And almost before I knew what I was doing, I looked up and said:
‘Lord, you know all things, You know, that I DO love you'”

That was the blessed moment of conversion of the man…
… the moment of consciousness of forgiveness
… the moment of a fresh lease of life that was injected into him

Do I really love the Lord?

This is a question that each one of us need to pose to ourselves and answer honestly.

As humans, surely…
… we have our moments of weaknesses and frailty
… we have our spots of selfishness and pride

But if we are willing to lower down our minds – the vessels of pride and greed – then the Lord promises to raise to our hearts, the cup of joy and glory.

Today we celebrate the Feast of one such Great Person – St James – who willingly lowered his mind – the vessel of pride and greed – and enjoys today, as per the promises of the Lord…
… the cup of joy and glory raised to his heart!

The Gospel of the Day is the incident of the Mother of James and John – the Sons of Zebedee – seeking for a place of honour for her children when the Lord comes in His glory (Mt 20: 20-28)

She said to Jesus, “Command that these two sons of mine, may sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom” (Mt 20: 21)

This passage might seem quite awkward to be read on the Feast day of St James.

Here is a passage…
… that brings to light the natural desire of many humans to possess honour and to enjoy constant glory
… that calls to our attention the fact that human limitations of greed and appetite for positions, can affect even the close followers of the Lord

In a way, this passage shows the weaker side and the frail dimension that can very much be found in the followers of the Lord.

Yet, the pertinent question of the Lord, “Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” (Mt 20: 22), would have probably sunk deep into the heart of St James, the Apostle.

He would realise the full meaning of that statement gradually…
… as He witnessed more and more the works of Jesus
… as He became a witness to the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord
… as He himself, would, one day, give up his life, in martyrdom for His Beloved Master

This then is what we celebrate on this feast day:
As humans, we have our weakness.

Yet, if we be constantly with the Lord, we would slowly be purged of these frailties and grow more and more, in the Image of Christ.

The more we are in the perfumed presence of the Lord, the more His fragrance would envelop and enfold our lives.

Do we feel weak or full of vulnerability or consider that being a “true” follower of the Lord is just not my cup?

Then, let’s look to St James, the Apostle for greater inspiration and strength.

We all need to have our moments of conversion…
… moments of consciousness of forgiveness
… moments of a fresh lease of life that will be injected into us by the power of the Spirit

This alone can help us, to say, with sincerity and honesty – ‘Lord, you know all things, You know, that I DO love you'”

St James invites us: to lower down our minds – the vessels of pride and greed – and allow the Lord to fulfil His promise, of raising to our hearts, the cup of joy and glory!

Happy Feast of St James, the Apostle!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Friendship is completely founded upon communication and exchange…

… and cannot exist in practice, without sharing in the qualities and defects of the friend loved!”

July 24, 2020 – 16th Week of Ordinary Time

“Discovering the Bible as the mighty source, containing the immensity of God’s Power and encountering the Lord Himself”

(Based on Jer 3:14-17 and Mt 13:18-23 – Friday of the 16th Week of Ordinary Time)

One of the most famous persons who had been greatly impressed and influenced by the Holy Bible was Mahatma Gandhi.

He once made a statement, which would make all of us…
… to examine deeply our level of love for the scriptures
… to make relevant changes in order to match our lives with the teachings of the Bible

This statement goes thus:
“You Christians look after a document containing enough dynamite to blow all civilisation to pieces, turn the world upside down and bring peace to a battle-torn planet.
But you treat it as though it is nothing more than a piece of literature!”

Now, that indeed is a mightily powerful statement isn’t it?

That’s an intense statement..
.. of, on one side, our Sacred Scripture being acknowledged…

as having tremendous power to transform
as having remarkable force to bring about changes

… and yet, on the other side, We, the caretakers and promoters of the Bible – the Christians – being people…

who give very minimal respect and reverence
who fail to find the worth of the treasure that is in possession!

Well, it is left to each one of us.. to examine, in the light of this statement, whether…
… the Holy Bible has become a constant and regular companion of my life
… the Sacred Scriptures have become a catalyst for effecting personal transformation

The Gospel of the Day is the beautiful explanation, by Jesus, of the Parable of the Sower and through it, a reminder for us to revive our delight in and our dedication to, in living the Word of God.

The famous author Mark Twain once said:
“Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture which they cannot understand;
But as for me, I have always noticed that the passages in Scripture which trouble me most, are those which I do understand.”

The passage in consideration – the explanation of the Parable of the Sower (Mt 13: 18-23) – is surely one which has come very often under our scanner of reflection and meditation.

We almost know each of its elements in detail:
• The Sower sowing the seed
• Some falling on the wayside and birds devouring them
• Some falling on the rock and after a quick sprouting, withering away
• Some falling among the thorns and failing to grow, suffocated by its choke
• Some falling on the good seed and yielding – a thirty, a sixty and a hundred fold

We also have understood its applications in our life

Yet, very often, its implications fail to take root in us and we remain indifferent or casual regarding the Seed – the Precious Word of God!

Today, therefore, the Lord once again seeks to awaken our minds and shake our lethargic minds, in seeking to revive our love and enthusiasm for His Word.

Here are some of the practical pointers for self-introspection, towards this objective…

  1. What is my reading habit with respect to the Bible – God’s Word…?

Have I read the Bible fully, at least once?
… If YES… why not make efforts to read “the beautiful expressions in God’s love-letters”, once again
… If NO… why not make a bold step to try to read the Bible fully, atleast once.
• One could perhaps, start with some of the easier books/sections of the Bible.. maybe, the New Testament, or the Psalms etc…
• Sometimes we might feel too bored or disinterested to pick up the pages of the Old Testament – some passages might seem even disturbing or distressing.

Yet, when we understand that those were some of the societal manners that existed back then, and Scriptures were written by human authors, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in concrete life-situations, we would be able to appreciate them much better

Can I set apart, daily, at least a few minutes to read the Bible?
Can I make genuine efforts to memorize at least a few verses from the Bible?

• These verses can be invoked in our moments of prayer, in our moments of needing spiritual strength, in our moments of deepening the faith etc.

  1. What is my effort and dedication in putting into practical effect the Bible – God’s Word…?

Am I a person who only simply reads the Bible – without making efforts to understand it, or one who fails to try to put into practice what I learn from God’s Word?
Is my love for the Word of God only finding expression in forwarding ‘Daily Bible Verses’ through social media sites/apps, emails or SMS’S or do I also try to apply and live those verses in my day-to-day activities?
These days, we have access to – especially through the internet and many magazines and books – an innumerable amount of Bible Study material, explanations on the Bible, sermons and reflections etc.

• Do these become a springboard for me to personally learn more and deepen my spiritual bond with the Lord of the Word; or do I only take these, without making any personal reflection and use it for giving sermons, talks etc.

Has the Word become a personal and intimate life-giver for me and do I have a deep thirst to know and grow more in the Word?

Through Prophet Jeremiah, the Lord reminds us to become ‘shepherds after His Own Heart’:

“And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding” (Jer 3:15)
… the Bible is the great source to grow in Knowledge and Understanding of the Lord!

As Christians, we are privileged and prized – to possess the Precious Book of God’s Salvific acts – in the Holy Bible.

As it is said, “The BIBLE contains B(asic) I(nstructions) B(efore) L(eaving) E(arth)”

The Bible…
… is a treasury of immense love
… is a source of unmatched transformative power
… is a supplier of unparalleled strength and grace towards salvation

Let us realise that we have a “Document containing enough dynamite…
… to bring peace to a battle-torn planet!”

Do I treat The Bible just an ordinary piece of literature, a lifeless object to be just decorated (or in some cases, dusted and dirtied) and a book of sacredness but still untouched and unexplored…
…or can I discover It to be the mighty source, containing the immensity of God’s Power and encountering the Lord Himself, “Who is the Word – that became flesh and dwells among us”?

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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

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

July 23, 2020 – 16th Week of Ordinary Time

“May the Word of the Lord – and in particular, the Parables_ – turn out to be a powerful form of Mass Media, effecting transforming changes in us!”

(Based on Jer 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13 and Mt 13:10-17 – Thursday of the 16th Week of Ordinary Time)

Every form of mass media has some kind of an influence on its audience or users.

Some forms of mass media are more powerful and influential…

Some others are lesser…

There is a sense of identification that users have with the content of the Mass Media.

For example:

A scene in a movie may make its audience to burst out laughing, to shed tears at an emotional scene or even induce anger at seeing a disturbing scene.

A commentary or a nice song or jingle or a funny comment by the host in a radio program may make the listeners to smile, to be excited or to be just relaxed.

A meme that is seen on the social networking site or a video or a picture that is shared through mobile social apps like WhatsApp, may make the user to reflect deeper or to feel happier or draw out of ignorance

The Gospels are also a great and effective form of Mass Media…
… sharing the message of God’s love to all
… spreading the news of the Kingdom to all
… reaching out the compassion of the Lord to all

One of the important composition of the Gospel is in the form of “parables”

The Gospel of the Day, presents the dynamics of Jesus using “parables” as an effective method of communication of the message of the Kingdom of God.

The passage begins with an enquiry by the Disciples:
“The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” (Mt 13:10)

The Gospel of St Mathew is generally structured comprising of The Five Discourses…

  1. The Sermon on the Mount (Chapters 5-7)
  2. The Sermon for the Mission (Chapter 10)
  3. The Sermon in Parables (Chapter 13)
  4. The Sermon of the Church (Chapter 18)
  5. The Sermon on Eschatology (Chapters 23-25)

The Thirteenth chapter of the Gospel of St Matthew is the “Sermon in Parables”

Jesus was a master story-teller.
He presented the mighty mysteries of the Kingdom in plain parables.

The parables, however, had two contrasting aspects to it…

  1. On one side, they were simple and revealed many things
    The parables of the Lord were based on everyday experiences of the people and local practices, customs and culture.

This contextualization helped the people to easily connect with the message that Jesus wanted to convey.

  1. On the other side, they were complicated and concealed many dimensions
    The parables of the Lord would neatly conceal many of the complicated dimensions of the mysteries of the Kingdom.

This concealing caused many people to misunderstand, misinterpret Jesus as well as the message that He wanted to convey.

This dual aspect in the “parables” of Jesus…

simple and revealing many things
yet, complicated and concealing many dimensions
… had a dual effect:
To many, it generated interest, a sense of wonder and made way for deeper reflection and personal transformation
Yet, to many others, it failed to make any impact, or even made them to close their hearts in receiving the truth of the Lord

The Parables of Jesus, therefore, also sparked two types of hearers…
… Supporters and Believers

Those who heard and understood the parables, and had their life transformed – growing closer to the Lord and becoming effective missionaries of the Kingdom!
… Opponents and Skeptics
Those who heard, but with minds were closed to the message of the Parables, and had their hearts hardened – distancing themselves from the Lord and turning to be adversaries of the Kingdom!

Through Prophet Jeremiah, the Lord:

Reminds us: “…I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown…” (Jer 2:1)
And makes us aware: … “for My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns, that can hold no water!” (Jer 2:13)

The Word of the Lord – especially through the Parables – are delivered to each one of us too.

What effect do they have, on our lives…

Do I remain open to its message and thus grow to be a supporter of the Kingdom and Believer in the Lord….?
… or do I close my heart to its truths and thus reduce myself to be an opponent to the Lord and a skeptic of the Kingdom of God…?

Jesus used the “parables” as an effective method of communication of the message of the Kingdom of God…
… to share the message of God’s love
… to spread the news of the Kingdom
… to reach out the compassion of the Lord

Do I find a sense of identification with the message of the Parables…
… or do I remain closed and hard-hearted?

May the Gospel – and in particular, the Parables – turn out to be a powerful form of Mass Media, effecting transforming changes in us!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “… [The] use of a parable, Theotimus… [is a] method [that] was so agreeable to the sovereign Master of the love which we are teaching!”