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!”

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