REFLECTION CAPSULE – June 25, 2021: Friday

“Showing the world that we are redeemed, so that they will believe in our Redeemer!”

(Based on Gen 17:1-10, 15-22 and Mt 8:1-4 – Friday of the 12th Week in Ordinary Time)

A missionary who stepped into a village for the first time had an interaction with the village headman.

After knowing that the missionary was there to speak about the Gospel, the village headman, who was open to the truth, stood up…
… and asked the missionary: “Do you want us to know about Jesus Christ?
Then prove it also by your life!”

He went on to say, “As I welcome you to this village, I also appeal to you:
Not only tell us about Christ, but show us Christ!

Show us that you are redeemed, and we will believe in your Redeemer!”

Yes, so true is the saying: “Christianity refuses to be proved first and practiced afterwards…
… its practice and its proof go hand in hand!”

• Theoretical knowledge shows the whole forest – builds the context and helps to set strategy.
• Practical knowledge shows a single tree – puts forth the situation and challenges to act.

The Gospel of the Day is the narrative of the ‘first in the series’ of practical applications of the theoretical knowledge that Jesus has expounded through the Sermon on the Mount

The Gospel is a great challenge to all of us who are expected to “Not only tell about Christ, but also show Christ!”

The incident of the cleansing of the Leper in Mt 8: 1-4 is placed immediately after the Great Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:1- 7:29)
• The Sermon on the Mount was the theoretical knowledge that Jesus expounded
• The cleansing of the leper was the theoretical application of some of those principles

At the start of the Sermon on the Mount, we read “When Jesus saw the CROWDS, He went up to the mountain…..” (Mt 5:1)

At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, we read, “When Jesus came down from the mountain, great CROWDS followed Him” (Mt 8:1)

• Many people in the crowd have listened and marvelled at the teachings of Jesus.
• Many of them now follow Him…

Perhaps to see how He would apply those lofty teachings in real life
Perhaps to see whether all those high ideas were really liveable in actual life

And what is the scene that they encounter?

A leper who approaches Jesus!

“A leper!!”… Ooops!!

“Stay away, all” would have been the united chorus of that multitude of crowd!

Leprosy was one of the most feared and dreaded disease of the ancient world.

The Hebrew word for leprosy (Tsara’ath) comes from a root word which means “to scourge or to strike.”

Leprosy was very often, considered a curse.

It was incurable and highly deadly – blatantly evident on the body and an ugly sight!

Leprosy was almost a ‘living death’, with many sweeping implications.

A person would be declared a leper after tests were performed (Lev. 13).
Once declared a leper by the priest, the leper had to be cut-off from contact with society.

• He had to display marks of mourning, as if for the dead (thus, to touch him would defile oneself)
• When someone drew near, he had to call out, “Unclean! Unclean!”
• He had to remain outside the camp with no access to the temple or perform any worship.

Leprosy was, indeed, a living death!

The crowd who saw this leper approach and worship Jesus would have had mixed feelings – shock… anger… unpleasantness…

They would have been also very curious what would Jesus do…
“He preached so much… let’s see what He does now”
“Is He really going to touch and get defiled by that dirty leper?”

But the Lord was not just well-versed in theoretical knowledge; He was also the perfect executioner of applied knowledge!

Theoretically He had said…
“Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees and the Scribes, you shall not enter the Kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:20)

Practically…
He now goes beyond the ceremonial stipulations of the Law and ‘touches’ and heals the leper (Mt 8:3)

Theoretically He had said…
“… take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them” (Mt 6:1)

Practically…
He tells the leper not to make a publicized show of his cure; instead to ‘show himself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded’ (Mt 8:4)

Theoretically He had said…
“Judge not, that, you may not be judged” (Mt 7:1)

Practically…
He doesn’t condemn or despise or mock the leper who comes close to him and instead expresses his whole-hearted willingness to shower mercy on him by saying, “I am willing; be clean” (Mt 8:3)

Theoretically He had said…
“Not everyone who says Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the Will of the Father in heaven” (7:21)

Practically…
He puts into effect His teachings, ‘walking the talk’ and fulfilling the Will of the Father to be a Healer and Saviour to people.

The Lord was not just an eloquent and effective preacher but also a committed and convinced practiser of what He spoke.
• His deeds matched His wonderful words!
• His words produced dazzling deeds!

This then is the invitation to us too:
To have an integral Christian Life by being a Preacher of the Word (in whichever little or insignificant way possible) and a Practiser of the Word (through a witnessing and charitable life)

May the touch of the Lord take away any ‘leprous’ tendencies in our mind and life and free us from any bondage in order to live a firm and committed Christian Life!

Let us all become a zealous missionary with a clear awareness that we “not only need tell about Christ, but we also need to show Christ to the world!”

Yes, “let us show the world that we are redeemed, so that they will believe in our Redeemer!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
CHRIST’S WHOLE LIFE IS MYSTERY

Many things about Jesus of interest to human curiosity do not figure in the Gospels.
Almost nothing is said about his hidden life at Nazareth, and even a great part of his public life is not recounted.
What is written in the Gospels was set down there “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.”
The Gospels were written by men who were among the first to have the faith…
… and wanted to share it with others.
Having known in faith who Jesus is, they could see and make others see the traces of his mystery in all his earthly life.
From the swaddling clothes of his birth to the vinegar of his Passion and the shroud of his Resurrection, everything in Jesus’ life was a sign of his mystery.
His deeds, miracles and words all revealed that “in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.”
His humanity appeared as “sacrament”, that is, the sign and instrument, of His Divinity and of the Salvation He brings: what was visible in His earthly life…

… leads to the invisible mystery of His Divine Sonship and Redemptive Mission! (Cf. CCC # 514-515)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – June 24, 2021: Thursday

“Living in ‘hope’ and becoming beacons of spreading this ‘hope and trust’ to others.”

(Based on the Solemnity of the Nativity of St John the Baptist)

There was a school system in a large city that had a program, to help children keep up with their school assignments…
… during the time when the children were admitted for sicknesses.

One day a teacher who was assigned to this program, received a call asking her to visit a particular child.

She took the child’s name and room number and had a short talk with the child’s regular class teacher.
“We’re studying about words in his class now – nouns and adverbs,” the class teacher said, “and I’d be grateful if you could help him understand them so he doesn’t fall too far behind.”

The hospital-program teacher went to see the boy that afternoon.

The boy had met with a bad accident, been badly burnt and was in great pain.

Upset at the sight of the boy, she stammered as she told him, “I’ve been sent by your school to help you with nouns and adverbs.”

When she left after teaching, she felt she hadn’t accomplished much.

But the next day, a nurse asked her, “What did you do to that boy?”

The teacher felt she must have done something wrong and began to apologize.

“No, no,” said the nurse. “You don’t know what I mean. We’ve been worried about that little boy, but ever since yesterday, you met him, his whole attitude has changed.

He’s fighting back, responding to treatment…

It’s as though he’s decided to live!”

Two weeks later, the boy explained that he had completely given up hope until the teacher arrived.

Everything changed when he came to a simple realization which he expressed it this way:
“They wouldn’t send a teacher to teach about words, and work on ‘nouns and adverbs’ with a dying boy, would they?”

The gesture of teaching about “words” reinforced hope and courage to that dying boy!

Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear.

If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today!

The Feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist comes with this great message of “hope!”

The Gospel presents the beautiful incident of the birth and naming of St John the Baptist.

The birth of John the Baptist is the pivot around which the history of our faith turns.

He was the last prophet of the Old Covenant – and the first of the New Covenant.

One of the highlighting aspects of the birth of John the Baptist is the message that “hope is not to be lost, even in the midst of extreme barrenness!”

The Gospel of St Luke says that “Elizabeth and Zechariah, both were advanced in years”, but they had no child; Elizabeth was barren” (Lk 1: 7)

Elizabeth’s barrenness was also symbolic of the barrenness of the land, of the world and of the entire humanity…

Wickedness had caused creation to be incapable of nurturing and sustaining life
Sin had rendered human beings infertile, to bear God’s grace and live in holiness

But God…
… is the God of hope
… the God of fulfilling every promise
… and the God of surprises!

From the barrenness of Elizabeth emerged the forerunner of the One who is Life!

From the barrenness of the world, God gave rise to the Fountain of hope and trust!

The entire life of St John – through the key events – is a spectacular reminder of this great virtue of “hope”…

A. The conception of John
Even when there is barrenness all around, we need to “hope” in God who is able to work miracles and give us life and joy!

B. The naming of John
Even when there are many worldly voices that seek to distract us from the ways that God wishes for us, we need to “hope” in God and follow whatever He wills, so as to find glory and joy in Him!

C. The life of John in the desert
Even when life takes us through the deserts of emptiness, dangers, hardships and misery, we need to “hope” in God who has a definite plan and purpose for our life!

D. The beheading of John
Even when we become victims of cruelty, exploitation, wickedness and inhumanness, we need to “hope” in God by living a life of truth, courage, convictions and valour!

The Church celebrates the Nativity of only three persons, in her liturgical calendar…
Jesus -“Hope” Himself

Mother Mary – the Mother of “Hope”
John the Baptist – the symbol of “Hope”
We are invited to have our lives truly rooted in “hope” and become beacons of spreading this “hope and trust” to others.

There are many who are sick in our world.

There are many who are burnt by the fires of afflictions and at the point of death
There are many who have lost all faith in life and give themselves up to despair and dejection.

Our gestures of teaching about “The Word – Jesus” can reinforce hope and courage to those dying…
… in sin, in affliction, in depression, in loneliness.

Wish you a Happy Feast of the Nativity of the “symbol of Hope” – St John the Baptist.

May Jesus our “Hope” and Blessed Mamma, our “Mother of Hope” strengthen us!

God bless! Live Jesus!

Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
THE MYSTERIES OF CHRIST’S LIFE

Concerning Christ’s life the Creed speaks only about the mysteries of the Incarnation (conception and birth) and Paschal mystery (passion, crucifixion, death, burial, descent into hell, resurrection and ascension).
It says nothing explicitly about the mysteries of Jesus’ hidden or public life, but the articles of faith concerning his Incarnation and Passover do shed light on the whole of his earthly life.
“All that Jesus did and taught, from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven”, is to be seen in the light of the mysteries of Christmas and Easter.

According to circumstances, catechesis will make use of all the richness of the mysteries of Jesus. >> Here it is enough merely to indicate some elements common to all the mysteries of Christ’s life, in order then to sketch the principal mysteries of Jesus’ hidden and public life. (Cf. CCC # 512-513)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – June 23, 2021: Wednesday

“Allowing the Love of the Lord to infill our heart to experience true peace and joy!”

(Based on Gen 15:1-18 and Mt 7:15-20 – Wednesday of the 12th Week in Ordinary Time)

Joseph Grimaldi was an English actor, comedian and dancer, who became a very popular English entertainer in the 18th century.

This celebrated clown, used to go through phases of depression.

Once he went to a physician to obtain a cure for his depressed spirit.

The physician however, did not know who the patient was…
… and thought, he only needed a little amusement
He failed to realise that this man was a comedian himself.

So the physician said to him, “I think one of the best solutions for you is…
… go down the town, and there is a person named Grimaldi.
Hear his amusements… and am sure, you will be out of your depression!”

“But, doctor,” was the grim answer that came back, “I am Grimaldi!”

Even though he was a person who was able to make all others happy…
… within himself, Grimaldi failed to experience inner joy and peace of mind.

Does it happen with us as well…

Externally things seem to be good and fine…
… but perhaps, internally we are experiencing pain and brokenness!

Exteriorly, maybe we have fair amount of money, luxuries and comfort…
… but perhaps, interiorly, we fail to have a sense of true joy and peace of mind

We are invited today to shun off every external “mask or façade” and truly bear fruits of peace, joy and love!

The Gospel of the Day is a stern admonition by Jesus on the need “to become aware of any such spiritual deception and pretence” that can ruin our Christian Faith.

The world is fraught with a lot of dangers.

There are physical, social, emotional, environmental, intellectual, occupational dangers etc.

Most of the time, we are aware of these dangers…
And we take means and measures…
… to be protected from them
… and to keep ourselves free from harm.

But there is also another very important area to which, many of us…
… either remain ignorant
… or don’t pay much attention
… or take it very lightly

They are “Spiritual Dangers”

Today, the Gospel discusses one of the most powerful Spiritual Dangers: DECEPTION!

The power of this danger lies in the fact that it is…
… very “subtle”
… very “tricky”
… and apparently appears to be highly “good”!

Jesus cautions: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Mt 7:15)

The Lord begins today’s Gospel with the word, “BEWARE”!

This is a strong word that is used in Greek – “prosecho”

“pros” means ‘before’
“echo” means ‘hold’
Thus, “prosecho” means “hold before”!

BEWARE – Prosecho – means…
… to hold one’s mind back from
… never to expose one’s mind

Jesus in the previous verses had given an invitation to walk along the narrow gate…

“Enter through the narrow gate…” (Mt 7:13)

In this striving to “enter through” to the gate of life…
… Jesus issues a strict warning to be aware of the false prophets who would misguide and lead astray

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing…” (Mt 7: 15)

In Palestine, the most dangerous enemy of the sheep was the wolf!

It was a natural enemy, roaming the hills…

It would wait for a flock of sheep
At the precise moment, it would come out of its place of hiding
And snatch the sheep and rip it to shreds!

The sheep would be totally defenceless against such prowling wolves!

The Lord presents this imagery to His followers – His sheep: Of being aware of such “sheep-clothed” wolves!

We have in the world, today…

Many religious philosophies
Varied spiritual methods
A number of attractive theological views
… which present Religion in a very alluring, charming and pleasant way!
… which presents Christianity as a bed of roses – cosy, comfy and casual!

But let us give heed to the Cry of the Lord: BEWARE!

Let us not bleed away our precious spiritual life and our Christian Faith!

Are we a seeking a Life…
… without the Cross and the Crucified Lord?

Are we fascinated to a Prosperity Gospel which glorifies richness & success & good social life…
… but nothing on repentance, virtuous life & inner holiness?

Are we attracted to “fiery preachers” and “awesome praise and worship” which appears good…
… but are deprived of the Real Sacramental Presence found only in the Catholic Church?

Let us also BEWARE and examine…

The books we read…
The talks we engage in…
The jokes we indulge in…
The habits we occupy ourselves with…
The music and the songs we delight in…

Are they all worthy of being “Christian”…
… or are they deceptively and subtly leading us away from the innocence and honesty of Christian Life?

Are they in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves?

Yes, we need to Beware!!

We need to examine:

Am I really on the watch, with respect to my spiritual life…
… or I am, exposing myself to the deceptive techniques of satan?

Jesus said: “By their fruits, you will know them…” (Mt 7:16)

Gal 5:22 says “The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control!”

In all our actions… and with respect to all peoples…
… let us weigh their truthfulness in the light of these “Fruits of the Holy Spirit”
… let us check their reliability by the yardstick of these “Fruits of the Holy Spirit”

The world will often resort to “deception and pretence” to suit its needs and wants…

The world will often take recourse to “deception and pretence” to rob spiritual resources…
But, as Christians, we need to be aware, as well as be on our guard, constantly…
… preserving our innocence
… and keeping alight our light of faith!

Let us realise that no amount of external goodness, money, luxuries or comfort…
… can “vaccinate” us from pain and brokenness!

It’s only when we allow the Presence of the Lord to heal us…
It’s only when we allow the Love of the Lord to infill our hearts…

That we can experience true peace and joy!

Let’s pray therefore: “O Lord, you know that there are so many moments when I externally need to make others happy and put up a smiling face…
… even though I am broken and depressed within

I pray, at this moment…
… that Your Tender Mercy may heal, strengthen and renew me
… so that I truly become an Icon of Love and Peace in the world
I believe that by the Power of Your Love, I can truly become a joyful person, Amen!”

God bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
MARY’S VIRGINAL MOTHERHOOD IN GOD’S PLAN
By his virginal conception, Jesus, the New Adam, ushers in the new birth of children adopted in the Holy Spirit through faith. “How can this be?”

Participation in the divine life arises “not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God”.
The acceptance of this life is virginal because it is entirely the Spirit’s gift to man.
The spousal character of the human vocation in relation to God is fulfilled perfectly in Mary’s VIRGINAL Motherhood.

Mary is a virgin because her virginity is the sign of her faith “unadulterated by any doubt”, and of her undivided gift of herself to God’s will.
It is Her faith that enables her to become the mother of the Saviour: “Mary is more blessed because she embraces faith in Christ than because she conceives the flesh of Christ.”
At once Virgin and Mother, Mary is the symbol and the most perfect realization of the Church: “the Church indeed…

… by receiving the word of God in faith becomes herself a mother. By preaching and Baptism she brings forth sons, who are conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of God, to a new and immortal life. She herself is a virgin, who keeps in its entirety and purity the faith she pledged to her spouse. (Cf. CCC # 499-501)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – June 22, 2021: Tuesday

“Making a choice for the Divine, Who alone can sustain our lives!”

(Based on Gen 13:2, 5-18 and Mt 7:6-14 – Tuesday of the 12th Week in Ordinary Time)

A man once came to a crossroad, which had a church on one side, and a golf-park on the other.

At the crossroad was an interesting sign board.

It read…

Make a choice!
Would you – like Lot – look at the greenery and be attracted to spend time there?
… or would you, like Abraham, be ready to walk in, to have an encounter with the Divine?

The greens may attract you…allure you… and entertain you
… but remember, its only the Divine that can sustain you!

Life indeed attracts us with many things that can allure and entertain us

But Christian Life demands that we make a choice – for God and His Virtues
… a choice to enter by the “narrow gate”

Jesus says, “Enter by the narrow gate… for the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Mt 7: 13-14)

The Sermon on the Mount continues with Jesus presenting the wonderful message of the Kingdom of God and its radical requirements.

One of the key aspects in the Sermon on the Mount is the demand made on the part of the disciple to “make a choice”
• One has to radically “make a choice” for the Kingdom of God.
• One has to stay committed to this “choice” that is taken and live it to the fullness.

It is this “choice” that will determine whether our entry to eternity…
… eternal condemnation – is through the “wide gate” or
… eternal life – is through the “narrow gate”.

Jesus says that it is easy to pass through the wide gate…
• All those who choose not to live in accordance to the Gospel values
• All those who are content to make life “merry” and just “live life to the max”
• All those who fail to respond to God’s Grace and deny having a life in Him

But this will lead to doom and condemnation!

To pass through the narrow gate is hard…
• All those who make a choice to live according to the teachings of the Lord
• All those who boldly seek to proclaim the Kingdom by their faithful and holy lives
• All those who constantly hold on to the Lord despite hardships and difficulties in life

But this will lead to joy and eternal life!

The book of Genesis tells us about how two people looked at life differently…

Lot – who looked with “human eyes” and was enticed by the external attractions and allurements
Abraham – who chose to look with a “Divine vision;” though he had to “see rivers in the wilderness with the eyes of faith”

“Human eyes” can often deceive and land in folly… just as Lot would experience!

But “Divine vision” always upholds and guides to blessings… just as Abraham would experience!

As we stand at the crossroads of our life, let’s make a choice, remembering…
… The “greens of worldly pleasures” may attract us …allure us… and entertain us

But, it’s only the Divine that can sustain us!
MAKE A CHOICE!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
MARY’S VIRGINAL MOTHERHOOD IN GOD’S PLAN
The eyes of faith can discover in the context of the whole of Revelation the mysterious reasons why God in his saving plan wanted his Son to be born of a virgin.

These reasons touch both on the person of Christ and his redemptive mission, and on the welcome Mary gave that mission on behalf of all men.
Mary’s virginity manifests God’s absolute initiative in the Incarnation. Jesus has only God as Father. “He was never estranged from the Father because of the human nature which he assumed.
He is naturally Son of the Father as to his divinity and naturally son of his mother as to his humanity, but properly Son of the Father in both natures.”
Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary’s womb because he is the New Adam, who inaugurates the new creation: “The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.”
From His conception, Christ’s humanity is filled with the Holy Spirit, for God “gives him the Spirit without measure.”

From “His fullness” as the head of redeemed humanity “we have all received, grace upon grace (Cf. CCC # 502-504)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – June 21, 2021: Monday

“Purifying our lives, rather than indulging in mud-slinging on others!”

(Based on Gen 12:1-9 and Mt 7:1-5 – Monday of the 12th Week in Ordinary Time)

A story is told of an elderly man who, during his evening walk, was surprised to see, a man hoeing his garden (=digging and loosening the mud)…
… while sitting in a chair!

“What laziness!” thought the elderly man.

But suddenly he saw, leaning against the chair…
… a pair of crutches.

The man was at work despite his handicap!

That made the elderly person to think to himself: “How true is the saying: Judge a tree from its fruit, not from its leaves!”

So often it happens that we place people on a trial – as in a court – and judged according to our standards and our human yardsticks….
… Perhaps, most of them would be been condemned and convicted.

But seldom have we realised that there could always be “another side to the story that I am seeing!”

The Gospel of the Day is a teaching on this tendency of human beings to judge – hastily and impulsively – which very often turns out to be rash and reckless

Jesus says, “Do not judge!” (Mt 7:1)

We need to clarify what does the word JUDGE mean…

Jury makes judgments.

Schools make judgments on students.
Companies make judgments on candidates in an interview or in cases of promotion/demotion.

All these may not constitute the judgment that Jesus means.

Judging, in the sense of Jesus, is condemning!

It is to have a negative and pessimistic attitude to human beings and condemning and rejecting them outright and absolutely!!

We could consider “Judge not” from three aspects:

  1. We are unworthy to pass a final judgment on any person or situation

We need to let God be God and as human beings, we need to know our limitations.

  1. We are not to judge the motives of other people

Human beings see only the external…
… God sees the heart of the person!

  1. We are not to be petty faultfinders:

We need to cease having a “microscopic vision”, in order to scan and scrutinize the faults and weaknesses of others.

In the light of today’s Gospel, we need to examine certain aspects of our life…

Do I…
… maximize the sins and faults of others and minimize mine?
… come to quick, hasty and negative conclusions?
… pass critical stories to other?
… have a strong bias to find others guilty?
… be too harsh even when speaking the truth?
… dilute an unkind remark by saying, “I was only joking.”
… say something critical and then trying to cover it up?

Even after this examination, if there is a tendency to judge, then there is one person we can be critical of…
… our own selves!

Yes, let us be judging our actions, our behaviours, our thoughts…
…. and seek to purify our lives, rather than indulging in mud-slinging on others!

The Lord constantly reminds us: “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes…
… in accordance with all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets.” (2 Kings 17:13)

When we look into the lives of people…
… and feel to judge them

Let us consciously tell ourselves: There could always be “another side to the story that I am seeing!”

Yes… Judge a tree from its fruit, not from its leaves!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
MOTHER MARY – “EVER-VIRGIN”

The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary’s real and perpetual virginity…
… even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man.
In fact, Christ’s birth “did not diminish his mother’s virginal integrity but sanctified it.”
And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the “Ever-virgin”.
Against this doctrine the objection is sometimes raised that the Bible mentions brothers and sisters of Jesus. The Church has always understood these passages as not referring to other children of the Virgin Mary. In fact James and Joseph, “brothers of Jesus” are the sons of another Mary, a disciple of Christ, whom St. Matthew significantly calls “the other Mary”. They are close relations of Jesus, according to an Old Testament expression.
Jesus is Mary’s Only Son…
… but Her spiritual motherhood extends to all men whom indeed he came to save:

“The Son whom she brought forth is He whom God placed as the first-born among many brethren, that is, the faithful in whose generation and formation She co-operates with a mother’s love. (Cf. CCC # 499-501)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – June 20, 2021: Sunday

“Avoiding the plank of transient assurances and ‘embracing the Rock of Everlasting Refuge!’”

(Based on Job 38:1,8-11, 2 Cor 5:14-17 and Mk 4:35-41 – 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

A captain of a ship – quite deep rooted in his faith and love for Christ – was addressing a group of teenage boys and girls.

He told them, “My dear young ones! Do not get swayed by your emotions and feelings, in your life of faith.

When you are struggling in the waters of sin, and you try to get closer to hold the hands of Jesus, you know what does the devil do?

He holds out a plank of ‘false feelings and assurances’ and says – ‘Get on to this… and you will feel better!
And when you lose focus from Jesus and step on to that ‘plank,’ he pulls it out…
… and your state of life will be worse than before!

Therefore my friends, remember always…
… Depend not on false feelings. Depend on Your Faith!
… Lose not your focus from Jesus. Allow His Hands to uphold you!

Avoid the plank of transient assurances. Embrace the Rock of Everlasting Refuge!”

The Gospel of the Day is a beautiful encounter of the disciples experiencing “the waves of struggles”…
… and being reminded to “Embrace the Rock of Everlasting Refuge!”

It’s a very late evening… nearing midnight…

The disciples along with Jesus, who have embarked on a boat, are caught in the midst of a heavy storm.

“A violent squall came up and the waves were breaking over the boat…” (Mk 4: 36)

Some of the disciples were fishermen.

They had been many years at the sea.

They had often suffered the fury and vehemence of nature
They had been greatly used to many storms and tempests at sea.

But this storm seemed to be too fierce and too ferocious.

The disciples feared greatly!
The disciples panicked very much!

With death bells ringing in their ears, and a dreadful end before their eyes…
… the disciples were shocked to see Jesus, unmoved and unperturbed.

The Gospel says that “Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion” (Mk 4:38)

In the moment of their deep anguish and helpless, the disciples cry out:
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mk 4:38)

The boat could capsize anytime and all of them could be drowned soon…

The storms could lash brutally and the waves could overturn them any moment…

Time was fast running…

But Jesus seemed totally unfazed!

Jesus seemed totally disinterested!
So they cried out to Jesus… Lord, do you not care?!

How many times have we screamed similar words to God:
“Lord, do you not care?”

Lord, do you not care… that my family member is so sick?
Lord, do you not care… that I feel totally alone and miserable in my life?
Lord, do you not care… that my marriage is failing and my family is breaking up?
Lord, do you not care… that am without a job now and the future ahead is so bleak?
Lord, do you not care… that my life seems so meaningless and without any purpose?
Lord, do you not care… that I am plunged to loneliness and abandoned by all my friends?
Lord, do you not care that I encounter only failures, dejection and rejection in my endevours?

When we look into the Gospel, it is amazing to know whose plan it was, in the first place to make this boat journey…

When we re-read the Gospel passage, we find the answer…
Mk 4:35 says, “On that day, as evening drew near, Jesus said to them, ‘Let us cross over to the other side!’”

Ah…..
Shall we read that again?

… JESUS said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side!”

The idea to go in the boat was not that of the disciples…

The idea to go in the boat was that of JESUS!

The encounter with the storms was not some accident!

The stumbling into the violent waves was not some unlucky thing!

It had a purpose!
It had a meaning!
It had an intention!

For the disciples, it was a moment of terror…
… But the Lord used this terrorizing time to teach them to have faith in Him!

For the disciples, it was a time of immense crisis…
… But the Lord used this critical moment, to teach them to trust in Him!

For the disciples, it was a time of dreadful fear…
… But the Lord used this fearful circumstance, to teach them to believe in Him!

The disciples – who had stepped on the “plank of fear”- were given a lesson: Lose not your focus from Jesus. His Hands will uphold you always!

Our moments of struggle are a time of testing…

Our moments of struggle are a time of learning…

Testing of our genuine faith… learning of deeper trusting!

Testing of our real convictions… learning of profound dependence!

The Lord reminds us of His Sovereignty, as he asked Job, who was going through the sea of sufferings: “Who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst out from the womb?

When I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed bounds for it, and set bars and doors…” (Job 38: 8-10)

Let us deepen our trust in the Lord especially in moments of crisis, so that as St Paul assures us, we can be ‘ambassadors of the new creation’:
“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Cor 5:17)

When life takes us through the “waves of sin and struggle,” let us not get fascinated by the devil’s allurement to step on the plank of “false feelings and assurances”

Instead let us avoid the plank of transient assurances…
… and “embrace the Rock of Everlasting Refuge!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
MOTHER MARY’S VIRGINITY

The Gospel accounts understand the virginal conception of Jesus as a divine work that surpasses all human understanding and possibility: “That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit”, said the angel to Joseph about Mary his fiancee.
The Church sees here the fulfilment of the divine promise given through the prophet Isaiah: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son.”
People are sometimes troubled by the silence of St. Mark’s Gospel and the New Testament Epistles about Jesus’ virginal conception. Some might wonder if we were merely dealing with legends or theological constructs not claiming to be history.
To this we must respond: Faith in the virginal conception of Jesus met with the lively opposition, mockery or incomprehension of non-believers, Jews and pagans alike, so it could hardly have been motivated by pagan mythology or by some adaptation to the ideas of the age.
The meaning of this event is accessible only to faith, which understands in it the “connection of these mysteries with one another” in the totality of Christ’s mysteries, from his Incarnation to his Passover.

St. Ignatius of Antioch already bears witness to this connection: “Mary’s virginity and giving birth, and even the Lord’s death escaped the notice of the prince of this world: these three mysteries worthy of proclamation were accomplished in God’s silence. (Cf. CCC # 497-498)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – June 19, 2021: Saturday

“Standing firm, in trust, placing our faith in the Lord, entirely!”

(Based on 2 Cor 12:1-10 and Mt 6:24-34 – Saturday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time)

There is a French word named “sabot”.

It is a word which means a ‘wooden shoe’.

The English word ‘sabatoge’ comes from this root word ‘sabot’.

According to one theory, ‘sabatoge’ was the practice of throwing a wooden shoe or wooden clogs into a machinery (particularly power looms) to stop the work.

The word “sabotage” therefore has come to mean ‘any attempt to hinder production or spoil a product or mess up a plan’.

In our lives, there is a ‘sabot’ – a ‘wooden shoe’ that is often cast into our souls…
… to hinder us from accomplishing the plan of God
… and to stop our work for the Kingdom of God.

That ‘sabot’ is called worry…
… and it is thrown by Satan!

It clogs our peaceful relation with the Lord and disrupts our life of joy and harmony.

In the Gospel of the Day, Jesus warns us regarding this device of ‘sabotage’ – worry – that we often encounter and experience in our lives.

The Lord firstly invites us to have a clear conviction regarding our loyalty: to God or to mammon.
He says, “No one can serve two masters… You cannot serve God and mammon” (Mt 6: 24)

We can be faithful and committed to only one of them.

To whom have we pledged our loyalty and allegiance…?
… to the True and Living God who alone is worthy of every honour and who alone is able to bless our lives with true joy and happiness….?
… or to false and make-believe effigies of money, wealth and possessions which may give momentary satisfactions but fail miserably in rendering true peace of mind…?

When we have made this pledge and commitment to the Lord, He invites us to “live” this commitment.

One of the strongest signs of “living” this commitment is to “trust” in Him!

And the external sign of “trusting” in Him is to not get into the vice of “anxiety”

Venerable Fulton Sheen says, “All worry is atheism…
… because it is want ot trust of God!”

St Francis de Sales says that, “The greatest thing to befall a soul, after sin…
… is anxiety!”

Jesus asks this very practical and logical question:
“Can any of you, by worrying, add a single moment to your life-span?” (Mt 6: 27)

All of us, surely, as we live our lives have our quota of tensions and troubles.

All of us, without doubt, as we discharge our duties, will have our share of pressures.

But do we let these tensions and troubles and pressures to get converted to needless “worries” and undue “anxieties”?

Humans, as we are, stresses and strains are sure to come our way…

But, does my Christian Faith help me to convert such circumstances to occasions to trust in God deeper and build our faith stronger?

For a person of deep faith, tense situations…
… are turned into moments of seeking God deeper and experiencing His providence.

For a person of higher trust, worrying circumstances…
… are transformed to occasions of cherishing God’s presence and developing an approach of stronger reliance and dependence.

The evil one will no doubt hurl the “sabot” – shoes – of worry and anxiety on us

He does know that discouragements are an easy trap for us to stumble in our life of faith
He does know that anxieties are easy snares to corner us with fretfulness and fear.

The evil one seeks to sabotage our desire to seek the Lord and work for His Kingdom

The evil one tries to sabotage our good intentions to be a messenger of His Kingdom

Do we succumb to those attacks of “anxiety” and “worry?”
… or do we stand firm – in trust – placing our faith in the Lord, entirely?

When the wooden blocks of worries are hurled on us…
… let us seek the help of the wood of the Cross – with Christ Crucified as our strength…

And boldly declare, with hope, “I seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
MOTHER MARY’S VIRGINITY

From the first formulations of her faith, the Church has confessed that Jesus was conceived solely by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary…
… affirming also the corporeal aspect of this event: Jesus was conceived “by the Holy Spirit without human seed”.
The Fathers see in the virginal conception the sign that it truly was the Son of God who came in a humanity like our own.
Thus St. Ignatius of Antioch at the beginning of the second century says: You are firmly convinced about our Lord, who is truly of the race of David according to the flesh, Son of God according to the will and power of God, truly born of a virgin…

… He was truly nailed to a tree for us in his flesh under Pontius Pilate… He truly suffered, as He is also truly risen! (Cf. CCC # 496)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – June 18, 2021: Friday

Making a choice between God and His everlasting Kingdom, and the world and its transient riches!

(Based on 2 Cor 11:18, 21-30 and Mt 6:19-23 – Friday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time)

A priest who knew of a man in his parish, who was greatly attached to wealth, wrote this letter, to him, exhorting him on the need to have God as the Greatest Treasure of his life.

“Dear Jim, I would like to propose to you two examples today – one from the Christian world and the other from the secular world. Do read through… and I pray that God will help you to make the right choices in life.

The first example is of St Francis de Sales who says that there is a wide difference between having poison and being poisoned.

He tells that all apothecaries (= a person who prepares and sells medicines and drugs) have poisons ready for special uses, but they are not consequently poisoned, because…
… the poison is only in their shop, not in themselves

And so you may possess riches without being poisoned by them, so long as they are in your house or purse only…
…and not in your heart!

The second example is that of King Midas, which I’m sure you are aware of…

This tale from ancient Greece tells of a king named Midas who did a good deed for a Satyr (a class of Greek gods) and was granted a wish by the GOD of wine, Dionysus.

For his wish, Midas asked that whatever he touched would turn to gold!

Although Dionysus tried to dissuade him, Midas insisted and so, and it was granted!

Excitedly, Midas went about touching all sorts of things, turning them into gold.

Soon Midas became hungry.

He picked up a piece of food, but he couldn’t eat it, for it had turned to gold in his hand!
‘I’ll starve,’ moaned Midas, ‘Perhaps this was not such a good wish after all!’

Midas’ beloved daughter, seeing his dismay, threw her arms about him to comfort him, and, she too turned to gold!
‘The golden touch is no blessing,’ cried Midas.

He cried out to Dionysus, begging the god to take back his power.

Dionysus instructed him to travel into the hills, and bathe at the source of the river Pactolus.

And sure enough, as Midas bathed, the power of the golden touch flowed into the water.

The water becomes speckled with tiny flakes of gold.

Midas left the river, free of his curse and feeling like a new man.

Greed and avarice made King Midas to consider gold as the greatest treasure.

However, life taught him the lesson for true happiness by making him realise the transient nature of worldly treasures.”

The priest concluded the letter with these words: “These two examples are set before you. Now you need to make a choice: God and His everlasting Kingdom…
… or the world and its transient riches!”

The Gospel of the Day present Jesus teaching us this great lesson of not being attached to earthly riches…
… and instead, to discover our true treasure in the Lord.

Our Blessed Lord says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal…” (Mt 6: 19)

Jesus points out to the futility of having our security on earthly goods by citing two similes:
• Moth and rust
• Thieves

Any possession or any wealth on the earth, has to face a danger from both these aspects:

Those which cause damage from within… Those which cause destruction from outside.

Moth and rust cause damage from within…
… they spoil money, render precious things useless and cause irreversible harm to costly goods.

Thieves cause destruction from outside…
… they loot valuable things, threaten lives for acquiring wealth and induce immense tension and worry.

However, the Lord says to place our treasure on things that are eternal and heavenly.

The advantage?
There is to be no fear of destruction: from within or from outside.

Moth and rust cannot affect them… Thieves cannot loot them.

That is why the Lord would assure to His disciples, later on in the ministry:
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give you peace” (Jn 14: 27)
“…your hearts will rejoice and no one will take your joy away from you” (Jn 16: 22)

St Paul would later articulate this in his letter to the Romans:
“For I am convinced that neither death, not life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth…
… nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8: 38)

Jesus assures a treasure and wealth that cannot be either damaged from inside or can be destroyed from outside.
• There is total guarantee in placing our hearts on heavenly treasures.
• There is full assurance in letting our mind set on spiritual wealth.

What do these teachings mean for us?

Am I being forbidden to use wealth?
Am I being discouraged from having money with me?

Jesus goes a step beyond these queries and seeks to check our intentions and our attitude:
“For where your treasure is, there your health also will be” (Mt 6: 21)

• Is my heart constantly set only on worldly treasures and riches…
… and fails to, instead, give the prime place and honour to the Lord and set priorities for Him?

• Is my life constantly only worried about money, properties, gadgets and possessions…
… and fails to, instead, accord the rightful and due place to the Lord and concerns for Him?

Any of us can, at any time, fall into the desire to have the wishes that King Midas had: an attitude of avarice and wanting to have only wealth and earthly treasures.

But can I know and realise, that all such external possessions will not be able to assure my true peace and happiness?

Real treasure is to be cherished only by having the Lord as our only true possession!
Greatest joys of life come by clinging on to those realities which have eternal value!

The choice is before us: God and His everlasting Kingdom…
… or the world and its transient riches!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF MOTHER MARY

The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God “the All-Holy” (Panagia), and celebrate her as “free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature”.
By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long.
At the announcement that she would give birth to “the Son of the Most High” without knowing man, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary responded with the obedience of faith, certain that “with God nothing will be impossible”: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word.”
Thus, giving her consent to God’s Word, Mary becomes the mother of Jesus.
Espousing the divine will for salvation wholeheartedly, without a single sin to restrain her, she gave herself entirely to the person and to the work of her Son; she did so in order to serve the mystery of redemption with him and dependent on him, by God’s grace.
As St. Irenaeus says, “Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.”
Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert: “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith.”

Comparing her with Eve, they call Mary “the Mother of the living” and frequently claim: “Death through Eve, life through Mary!” (Cf. CCC # 493-494)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – June 17, 2021: Thursday

“With greater trust and confidence, throwing ourselves, into the loving arms of our Heavenly Father!

(Based on 2 Cor 11:1-11 and Mt 6:7-15 – Thursday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time)

In the centre of London stands an iconic building – St Paul’s Cathedral.

This majestic structure is built in the shape of a cross…
… with a large dome crowning the intersection of its arms.

At 111.3 metres high, it is one of the largest cathedral domes in the world.

Climbing up 259 steps inside the dome, one reaches the “Whispering Gallery”.

The speciality of this gallery is:

When one stands on one side of the circular gallery, and whispers…
… these soft tones of sound can be heard, on the other side – even 30 metres away.

The sound bounces back many times on the smooth walls of the dome…
… and the whisper can be heard even at a far distance.

What is said, even in the lowest of tones, can be heard, on the opposite side of the dome.

In the spiritual realm, the entire space is like this “whispering gallery”…
… even the lowest of tones, are heard by our Loving God.

No matter how low we whisper, He hears!
No matter how silent be our prayer, He hears!

Are we able to have such a trust and confidence in our prayer life?

The Gospel of the Day is a beautiful initiation by Jesus to help us to know, grow and deepen our understanding of God as being a Loving and Caring Father…
… as the One Who listens to our every prayer – including the ones whispered in the lowest of tones!

Today’s Gospel passage begins with Jesus issuing a warning on the danger of making prayer a mere “lip-service”

“In praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do….” (Mt 6:7)

What was Jesus meaning by the clause “heaping up empty phrases as the Gentiles…”?

One of the notable Gentile groups at the time of Jesus, were the Romans, under whose occupation the Jews were living.

It’s noteworthy to see some of the aspects of the ancient pagan Roman prayer:

  1. All sacrifices and offerings required an accompanying prayer to be effective.

It was declared that “a sacrifice without prayer was thought to be useless and not a proper consultation of the gods.”

  1. Prayer – the spoken word was considered the single most potent religious action.

And knowledge of the correct verbal formulas were the key to efficacy.

  1. An accurate naming was vital for tapping into the desired powers of the deity invoked.

Hence public religious ritual had to be enacted by specialists and professionals faultlessly…
… even a small a mistake would require that the action, or even the entire festival, be repeated all over!

(A historian named Livy reports of an occasion when the presiding magistrate at the Latin festival forgot to include the “Roman people” among the list of beneficiaries in his prayer…
… the festival had to be started all over!)

The Greek word used for “empty phrases” is “battalagesete”.

It means to stammer, babble, talk gibberish, or to repeat the same things over and over mindlessly!

With this in background, Jesus emphatically declares that prayer is not about “heaping empty phrases”.

In this context, it also good to provide the Catholic understanding and logic of some of the prayers, which are perhaps considered as repetitive (eg: The Rosary, Novenas, Litanies.. etc)

Are all these standard prayers mere “heaping up of empty phrases…?”

No!

The Bible teaches us many examples of repetitive prayers…

The angels continually – day and night – sing “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Rev 4:8)
Psalm 136 repeats the words “for his steadfast love endures forever” nearly 26 times in 26 verses!
Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane prayed in the “same words” three times (Mk 14: 32-39)
Jesus, in fact, also commends the fact of continually praying, through the example of the widow and the unjust judge (Lk 18: 1-14)

Thus, it is seen that the Bible has many examples of repetitive prayer.

Therefore, the repetitive Catholic Prayers like the Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, Novenas, Litanies etc… are scripturally well-supported

When prayed with honesty and devotion, they become means to allow the heart…
… to praise God and understand His mighty works
… to grow in His love and come to a deeper awareness of His Providence
… and pray with Mother Mary and the Saints and intercede to them for our intentions

Prayer is not rattling off a few external words and feel satisfied in having done that…
… It is opening up, in dependence, the interiority of our hearts, to the One Who knows all!

Prayer is not going through a series of stipulated and organised system of words…
… It is allowing the heart to “mean what is said”, and to cause the lips express what the heart feels!

It is to this effect that Jesus says “Your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him” (Mt 6:8)…
… and teaches us the beautiful prayer – “The Our Father”!

Jesus presents the beautiful understanding of God being a Loving and Caring Father…
… The Father, in heaven, Whose Name we acknowledge to be most Holy and Worthy
… The Father, Whose Kingdom becomes the target to Which we ought to aspire
… The Father, Whose Will is to become the compass and blueprint of our life
… The Father, Whose providence nourishes us with daily bread for our sustenance and well-being
… The Father, Who extends His Immense Mercy to us, which we receive only if we forgive in turn
… The Father, Who strengthens us in our moments of trials and temptations
… The Father, Who rescues us from all evil by tenderly holding us in the palm of His Hand

Yes, Jesus wants us to understand and experience God as a Loving and Tender Father.

May we realize that in the spiritual realm, the entire space is like a “whispering gallery”…
… and even the lowest of tones, are heard by our Loving God.

No matter how low we whisper, He hears!
No matter how silent be our prayer, He hears!

Let this be our trust and confidence in our prayer life…
… and thus throw ourselves, into the loving arms of our Heavenly Father!

God Bless! Live Jesus


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF MOTHER MARY

To become the mother of the Saviour, Mary “was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.”
The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as “full of grace”.
In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s Grace.
Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854: The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception…
… by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.
The “splendour of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: She is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son”.

The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love” (Cf. CCC # 489)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – June 16, 2021: Wednesday

“Praying for the gift of humility in order to reach out the Goodness of God to all!”

(Based on 2 Cor 9:6-11 and Mt 6:1-6, 16-18 – Wednesday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time)

A legendary story goes is told of a holy person who lived an extremely virtuous life.

The goodness in him diffused, as a flower would spread its fragrance.

So impressed were the angels, that they came down to enquire on his secrets and even to offer him special gifts of miracles and thus he could gain more popularity and fame.

They offered him the gift of the “touch of his hand” – so that he would be able to heal the sick or raise the dead…
… But he refused, saying that “God alone could heal”

Then, they offered him the “power of conversion” – so that people could turn to God in repentance…
… But he refused, saying that “the Holy Spirit alone could work repentance in souls”

Then they offered the power to be a “model of goodness” so that many more would be drawn to him by the virtue of his life…
… But he refused, again, saying that “if all are drawn to him, people would be away from God”

Puzzled, the angels asked him what gift did he desire!

The holy person replied:
“Grant me the gift of humility…
… so that I might do good to all, without me even knowing it!”

And so the angels interceded to God…
… and he was blessed:

Wherever his shadow would fall, where he himself could not see it…
… the shadow would cure sicknesses, heal broken hearts and bring back people to God in repentance!

Humility was the virtue that was sought by the virtuous person…
… and it was this simplicity – to allow the Lord to take complete possession of all his goodness – that exalted him to climb the ladder of sanctity higher!

Yes, Humility is the prime virtue that needs to embellish the life of every Christian.

The Gospel of the Day is a teaching by Jesus on the prime importance of doing away with pride and instead, beautifying one’s life with sincere humility.

Jesus, through the Sermon on the Mount continues to target the key areas of one’s Christian living.

Today He speaks on the three core practices that were essential pious practices of His time: almsgiving, prayer and fasting.

Jesus condemns these devout exercises becoming instruments to show-case one’s pride and exhibit pomp and self-glory.

With respect to almsgiving, Jesus says…
… “sound no trumpet” (Mt 6:2)

With respect to prayer, Jesus says…
… “shut the door and pray to your Father” (Mt 6:6)

With respect to fasting, Jesus says…
…”anoint your head and wash your face” (Mt 6:17)

One of the fundamental aspects in the Spirituality of Jesus is His emphasis on the intention of the heart.

Sin is…
… when the heart rejects the working of the Spirit.

Holiness is…
… when the heart accepts the grace of the Spirit.

When the heart consents to evil, sin occurs

When the heart consents to Grace, goodness is affirmed.

An act of almsgiving happens, when the heart willingly gives – in generosity and with wholeheartedness

An act of prayer happens, when the heart seeks communion with the Lord – in openness and with faithfulness
An act of fasting happens, when the heart self-sacrifices and renounces – in sincerity and with willingness

When the intention of the heart is genuine and sincere, then one remains least bothered of external attractions and publicity…
… there is no desire to seek for attention and appreciation for one’s devout actions
… there is no inclination to want acknowledgement and recognition for one’s pious deeds

And this is the ideal to which Jesus invites us:

A religion that spreads not simply on the basis of external shows…
… but on the basis of genuine spirituality

A faith that grows not merely on the strength of pompous deeds…
… but on the foundation of true dependence and trust in the Lord

Is my practice of religion very often a flaunting of my pride and vain glory?

It is also interesting to note that these 3 practices also refers to the 3 dimensions of Love: towards God, towards others, towards oneself

  1. Prayer: Reminding ourselves to grow in the Immensity of God’s Love
  2. Almsgiving: Reviving our basic duty of caring and being responsible to one another
  3. Fasting (Penance): Rediscovering the worthiness of our lives and commit to grow in holiness

Let us give heed to the wisdom from the book “Imitation of Christ” and seek to grow in humility and dependence on the Lord:
“Do not think yourself better than others lest, perhaps, you be accounted worse before God who knows what is in man.

Do not take pride in your good deeds, for God’s judgments differ from those of men and what pleases them often displeases Him”

May this be our prayer to enshrine all our activities:
“Grant me the gift of humility…
… so that I might do good to all, without me even knowing it!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
JESUS CHRIST – BORN OF THE VIRGIN MARY

Throughout the Old Covenant the mission of many holy women prepared for that of Mary.
At the very beginning there was Eve; despite her disobedience, she receives the promise of a posterity that will be victorious over the evil one, as well as the promise that she will be the mother of all the living.
By virtue of this promise, Sarah conceives a son in spite of her old age.
Against all human expectation God chooses those who were considered powerless and weak to show forth his faithfulness to his promises: Hannah, the mother of Samuel; Deborah; Ruth; Judith and Esther; and many other women.
Mary “stands out among the poor and humble of the Lord, who confidently hope for and receive salvation from him. After a long period of waiting the times are fulfilled in her…

… the exalted Daughter of Sion, and the new plan of salvation is established.” (Cf. CCC # 489)