REFLECTION CAPSULE – December 01, 2021: Wednesday

“Daring to know the Lord more and to help each other more!”

(Based on Isa 25:6-10 and Mt 15:29-37 – Wednesday of the 1st Week in Advent)

Picnics are a time of great fun and enjoyment.

They enrich relationships, nurture relaxation and foster a spirit of joy and peace.

Most of us have been part of picnics…
… either from schools/parishes / as a family / as a community / as a group of friends.

A picnic becomes an occasion to share… to care…
… and to also dare to know each other more.

The Gospel of the Day is a lovely occasion of a Picnic…
… A picnic with Jesus.

A picnic basically has some essential elements…

  1. A nice location
  2. Joyful interactions
  3. Good food
  4. A sense of satisfaction and contentment

Our picnic with Jesus in today’s Gospel passage has all these elements.

Come…let’s join Jesus…
… in this wonderful time of a picnic.

  1. nice location:
    The mood of a picnic is very often regulated by the choice of the place we make.
    It should be something exciting, something scenic and something to involve ourselves in.

The location that Jesus chooses for this picnic is a Mountain (Mt 15:29)

A mountain is certainly an exciting place…
… a scenic location and moves our hearts to get involved in its beauty.

The mountain was one of the favourite places of the Lord.

This high altitude place was where Jesus could strengthen His attitude towards His mission.
He would spend hours of the night in communion with His Father on the mountains.

And so, He invites us to join with Him on the mountains…
… To relax in His love and to experience the coolness of His presence.
… To raise our thoughts to higher levels and overcome the worldly concerns.

  1. Joyful interactions:
    Great crowds came to Him, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute and many others. They placed them at His feet and He cured them (Mt 15:30)
    The picnic with Jesus, on the mountain, becomes an occasion of cure and restoration.
    On the mountain, Jesus becomes a fountain of healing and the source of joy.
  2. Good food
    Food is one of the best parts of a picnic.
    And the Lord lavishes abundant food to all those who were there with Him on the mountain.

Then, He took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, broke the loaves and gave them to His disciples, who in turn, gave them to the crowds (Mt 15:36)

It seemed to be a situation of starvation and hunger.

But the Lord converts this grim situation into an occasion of contentment and blessing.
His compassionate love overflows into a lavish multiplication of the loaves and the fish!

  1. A sense of satisfaction and contentment:
    Every picnic ideally should end on a note of great fulfilment and bliss.
    The picnic with Jesus on the mountain, where He healed a lot of people, spoke His Life-giving words and blessed them with abundant food, becomes moments of happiness.
    “They all ate and were satisfied…” (Lk 15:37)

It had been a lovely time for the people in this picnic with the Lord.

They had the picnic…
… in a nice scenic location of the mountain
… with many joyful interactions with Jesus, who healed and cured many.
… with good food, in lavishness, provided by the Lord Himself.
… with a great sense of satisfaction and deep fulfilment.

Prophet Isaiah foretold: “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples, a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.

And he will destroy on this mountain, the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever.
Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth!” (Is 25:6-8)

The Lord invites us to join with Him in a picnic with Him…

To go to the mountain of prayer and intimacy
To have joyful interactions with Him and receive His spiritual, emotional and physical healings.
To be blessed with the good food of His Holy Eucharist and His nourishing Word.
To have a great satisfaction in being filled with immense peace and serenity.

As we enter into December – the last month of the year – with gratitude and hope, let us enjoy the picnic with the Lord & make our lives a beautiful one…
… to share… to care

And to also dare to know the Lord more and to help each other more.

God Bless! Live Jesus!

📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

By her very mission, “the Church…travels the same journey as all humanity and shares the same earthly lot with the world: she is to be a leaven and, as it were, the soul of human society in its renewal by Christ and transformation into the family of God.”
Missionary endeavour requires patience. It begins with the proclamation of the Gospel to peoples and groups who do not yet believe in Christ, continues with the establishment of Christian communities that are “a sign of God’s presence in the world,” and leads to the foundation of local churches.
It must involve a process of inculturation if the Gospel is to take flesh in each people’s culture.

There will be times of defeat. “With regard to individuals, groups, and peoples it is only by degrees that [the Church] touches and penetrates them and so receives them into a fullness which is Catholic. (CCC # 854)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – November 30, 2021: Tuesday

“Being inspired by the tremendous love of St Andrew for His Master, and like him, becoming people who ‘Introduce many to Christ!’”

(Based on the Feast of St Andrew, the Apostle)

“I command you for the last time….make your sacrifice to our gods” yelled Aegeas, the pagan judge.

“Certainly no!” was the reply back,
“I sacrifice daily to The Almighty God, the one and true God.

Not the flesh of oxen and the blood of goats do I offer, but the unspotted Lamb upon the altar.
All the faithful partake of His flesh, yet the Lamb remains unharmed and living!”

Exceedingly angered by that adamant refusal, the judge commanded the rebel to be thrown into prison.

The supporters of the rebel, who stood outside the judging quarters, raised an uproar to free him.

But the one who was punished, personally calmed the mob, and earnestly pleaded with them to desist, as he was hastening towards an ardently desired crown of martyrdom.

When he was led to the place of martyrdom, on beholding the cross from far, he cried out:
“O Good Cross, so long desired and now set up for my longing soul…
… I confidently, with rejoicing come to you!

Exultingly receive me, a disciple of Him who hung on you.”

Within a few moments, he was tied to the cross – an X-shaped Cross!
For two days, he hung there – alive – unceasingly proclaiming the Teachings of Christ…
… until he passed on to Him, whose likeness in death, he so ardently desired!

This brave martyr of Christ was St Andrew, the Apostle of Jesus, whose feast we celebrate today.

A few years back, this valiant martyr, St Andrew, had received the call of the Lord, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Mt 4: 19)

The name “Andrew” in Greek means “manly” or “a person of valour”.

St Andrew was from Bethsaida, in Galilee.

He was a fisherman, by trade and a former disciple of John the Baptist.

St Andrew is said to have been martyred at Patras in southern Greece on a cross which was in the shape of an “X”.

This type of cross has long been known as “St. Andrew’s cross.”
This St Andrew’s Cross, is depicted, on the national flag of Scotland.

One of the wonderful things that we learn from St Andrew is his wonderful quality of being a “Introducer to Christ”, as seen in the various instances of the Gospel

  1. It was St Andrew who “introduced to Christ”, his brother Peter (Jn 1: 40-42)

“We have found the Messiah” (Jn 1:41) were the words with which he introduced Jesus to his brother

  1. It was St Andrew who “introduced to Christ”, the little boy with the five loaves and two fish, which would be later, multiplied for five thousand men! (Jn 6: 5-13)

“There is a little boy, who has five barley loaves and two fish…” (Jn 6:9) were the words with which he introduced Jesus to the little boy.

  1. It was St Andrew who “introduced to Christ” the Greeks who had come up to worship at the feast, at the request of Philip (Jn 12: 20-23)

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (Jn 12: 23) were the words with which Jesus reacted when he was introduced to the Greeks.

Thus, we see that St Andrew became an instrument and an active medium of “Introducing to Christ” many people.

As a Christian, this ought to be one great quality and duty that we ought to follow – “Introducing to Christ” many people… like St Andrew.

And this can be one of the beautiful practical resolutions, that we can, do, all the 25 days of this Advent Season, in preparation for the Birth of Christ, into our hearts and life – “Introducing to Christ”

How can I take up this task of “Introducing to Christ”?

Many around us long to hear a word of encouragement in their brokenness, receive a word of consolation in their struggles and encounter a smile of hope in their helplessness

Can I “Introduce them to Christ” – to His love, to His message of hope, to His treasury of providence?
Many around us have immersed themselves into the murky waters of sin, immorality, injustice and insensitivity to people and nature
Can I “Introduce them to Christ” – to His ocean of mercy, to His fountain of justice and to His abundance of warmth?
Many around us have separated themselves and live in isolation – from people in relationships, from the Church and Her teachings, from the responsibilities and duties of their works and the society.
Can I “Introduce them to Christ” – to His dimension of wholeness in relations, to His Life-giving Sacraments and to His instruction of being faithful?

St Andrew heard the call of the Lord – “to follow Him”

He was touched by His love and was filled with a passion for His Master
He was zealous to bring many more to the Love of Jesus
He was even willing, to lay down his life, in imitation of his Master, for love of Him

We too, have heard the call of the Lord – “to follow Him”

Are we touched by His love and was filled with a passion for His Master
Are we zealous to bring many more to the Love of Jesus
Are we also, willing, to lay down our life, in imitation of our Master, for love of Him

May St Andrew intercede for us and inspire us, by his tremendous love for the Master…
…. And may we too, like him, become people who “Introduce many to Christ!”

Happy Feast of St Andrew, the zealous Apostle who “Introduced many to Christ!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

On her pilgrimage, the Church has also experienced the “discrepancy existing between the message she proclaims and the human weakness of those to whom the Gospel has been entrusted.”
Only by taking the “way of penance and renewal,” the “narrow way of the cross,” can the People of God extend Christ’s reign.

For “just as Christ carried out the work of redemption in poverty and oppression, so the Church is called to follow the same path if she is to communicate the fruits of salvation to men.” (CCC # 853)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – November 29, 2021: Monday

“Glorifying God – with deep Faith and Trust – wherever we live, work and move about!”

(Based on Isa 2:1 and Mt 8:5-11 – Monday of the 1st Week in Advent)

A young man – new in town – was visiting a nearby church.

As he looked at the various art works, paintings and statues…
… his eyes chanced upon a stained-glass window.

The glass had a phrase written on it: “Glory to God in the Highest.”

However, the man also noticed…
… the part of the glass window that had the letter “E” in the word HIGHEST was broken and so missing.

Thus the phrase read instead: “Glory to God in the High st!”

When he saw that phrase, something greatly stuck him…
… High St was the name of the place where he was living – High Street!

And he nurtured this feeling within him:
“This is a clear message from the Lord to me, as I come to this new town

I need to Give Glory to God in the HIGH ST…
… the place where I am living – HIGH STREET – is where the Name of God needs to be glorified!”

The man realized that the way to Glorify God would be to Glorify Him in the place where he was…
… Glorify God – with Deep Faith and Trust – wherever we live, work and move about!

The Gospel of the Day is a beautiful account of a man who “Glorified God – with Deep Faith and Trust – by translation his faith into living and concrete action …
… and Jesus expressing His admiration for the person of Faith!

We have today the incident of the healing of the Centurion’s servant.

Jesus lavishes His appreciations and admirations for a wonderful display of faith.

Here is the story an unusual faith found in an unusual man who displayed his faith in an unusual way.

  1. The Centurion was an unusual person…
    As the name suggests, a Centurion was a person with a hundred soldiers.

They worked for the Roman Empire and were Gentiles.

This Centurion however, was unusual, because of the fact, that he was very much concerned of his slave.

This was rare indeed.

In the Roman Empire, slaves had no rights.

They could be mistreated and even put to death.

It was said that “when your animals are old, you throw them out to die. You do the same with your slaves.”

So this is the unusual thing about this unusual Centurion – He cared very much about his slave!

  1. The centurion showed an unusual faith…
    The Centurion came to Jesus asking and pleading for help.

But when Jesus said that He would come to his house and heal him, the centurion was quick to answer him, “I am not worthy to have you under my roof” (Mt 8:8)

The spirit of a military man is clearly exhibited by the centurion.

A soldier’s way of thinking is extremely logical and to the point:

When an order is given, instant obedience is expected.
My commanding power goes beyond the realms of space
My presence or absence is no excuse for my soldiers to disobey.

The Centurion fully believed that Jesus was a mighty commander with all powers subjected to Him.

And so a word was enough for the healing to take place…
An expression of approval was good enough for the miracle to happen…

  1. The Centurion received an unusual response
    This tremendous expression of faith was enough for Jesus to admire and appreciate Him.

Jesus was astonished by this wonderful demonstration of confidence and belief: ” Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel, have I found such faith” (Mt 8: 10)

We have seen many instances of people praising and appreciating the works and wonders of Jesus.

But, it’s one of those rare occasions, when Jesus publicly acknowledges and asserts the glorious faith of the one seeking for help.

The Lord gives a wonderful ovation and applause for this wonderful presentation of faith.

This Gospel is a wonderful challenge for each of us to examine our life of faith…

In a situation…
… when we are surrounded by sicknesses of negativity and discouragement,
… when life-threatening moments of crushing-failures and despair encircle us,
… when we get depressed by the various day to day problems of life,

Can we also boldly say, “Only say a word, Lord…and I will be healed!”

As a famous saying goes, “It is easy to praise the Lord…
… But it really is a challenge to receive praises from the Lord!”

When we stand firm in our faith in God, we receive appreciations from Him
When we have confidence in our love for God, we receive admiration from Him
When we remain strong in our Hope in God, we receive approval from Him.

Let us realize that that the way to Glorify God would be to Glorify Him in the place where we are and in the situation we are in…
… Glorify God – with Deep Faith and Trust – wherever we live, work and move about!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
Missionary motivation: It is from God’s love for all men that the Church in every age receives both the obligation and the vigour of her missionary dynamism, “for the love of Christ urges us on.”

Indeed, God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”; that is, God wills the salvation of everyone through the knowledge of the truth.
Salvation is found in the Truth. Those who obey the prompting of the Spirit of truth are already on the way of salvation.
But the Church, to whom this truth has been entrusted, must go out to meet their desire, so as to bring them the truth. Because she believes in God’s universal plan of salvation, the Church must be missionary.
Missionary paths: The Holy Spirit is the protagonist, “the principal agent of the whole of the Church’s mission.”
It is He who leads the Church on her missionary paths. “This mission continues and, in the course of history, unfolds the mission of Christ, who was sent to evangelize the poor; so the Church, urged on by the Spirit of Christ, must walk the road Christ himself walked, a way of poverty and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice even to death, a death from which he emerged victorious by his resurrection.”

So it is that “the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians!” (CCC # 851-852)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – November 28, 2021: Sunday

“Remaining ever focused and concentrated on God’s Ways and on His Kingdom, and always ‘atch the Road!’”

(Based on Jer 33:14-16, 1 Thess 3:12-4:2 and Lk 21:25-28, 34-36 – 1st Sunday of Advent, Year C)

In a particular place, a bus driver had reached a unique record: In the 23 years of his service, he had driven a bus for over 1, 00,000 kilometres, without a single accident.

When asked how he had done it, he had just one simple piece of advice: “Watch the road!”

Watching the road had made him always be focused and concentrated, and to have a flawless record.

“Watching the Road” is an important refrain that we all can follow in our Christian life…
… and thus be focused and concentrated always God’s Ways and on His Kingdom.

The Gospel of the Day is a strong warning and a call to be on the guard and “always watch the road!”

Today is the starting of the Season of Advent – a time offered to all of us, to prepare meaningfully for the coming of Christ. Christ comes to us in…
(1) History – His Life, Death and Resurrection
(2) Mystery – The Sacraments that are offered to us
(3) Glory – His Final Coming

The Season of Advent is a time…
…. to grow in our understanding of Salvation History
… to experience, greater, His Love and Mercy in the Mystery of the Sacraments
… and to prepare ourselves meaningfully for the Glory of His Second Coming!

Today we also begin the new Liturgical Year.
The Liturgical Year beautifully unfolds the Mystery of Christ, the cycle of the year…
… and the Church invites and calls all of us to live His mystery in our own lives!

The Gospel of the Day speaks of the various signs that would signal the coming of the Son of Man (Lk 21: 25-28)

It also gives a strict warning and a hard reminder to be always on the alert and be on the watch.

“… and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare” (Lk 21:34)

The Greek word used for “snare” is “pagis”.

‘Pagis’ comes from the word ‘pegnumi’ which means “a setup or a fix”.

It is a trap (fixed or fastened by a noose or notch) that can fall suddenly so that wild animals and birds are caught by surprise.

And when it is set off there is no time to withdraw and avoid getting caught.

As soon as the prey takes the first bite or the first step, the snare is set off and before the prey knows what happened, they are caught.

The Lord describes His Second Coming to the world as this ‘snare,’ giving no time or chance for escape.

Everyone who is caught up with the cares of this life – the day will come on them like a snare!

This, therefore, calls for alertness and watchfulness at all times.

Our whole life, ought to be drenched in preparation and vigilance.

But often, we tend to allow negligence to creep into our lives – we fail to ‘watch the road’

We fail to give heed to the many barriers and blockages that come on our way…
… sins and sinful tendencies that, over time, become actions to which we get addicted
… Indifferences and lethargy that drains away enthusiasm and vitality in our works

The call of the Lord, in this Season of Advent, is clear: “Watch the Road”
… Have your focus back on Jesus, and allow His Light to guide you
… Have your attention back on the Kingdom, and allow concerns of eternity to be prioritised

The Season of Advent is a time of spiritual preparation for the Great Feast of Christmas.
It is probably, many of our felt experience that Christmas, slowly seems to be losing its spiritual sheen…
… and getting reduced to merely a cosmetic occasion, a commercial event, a business-filled period and a money-oriented affair.

Advent therefore, is a reminder and a call, to “get back to the basics” – to get back Jesus and His love and message back in our festivities and celebration of His Nativity.

Let us not to get lost in the glamour and glitz of this Sacred Season that the Church offers and instead, help us to grow deeper in the Love of the Lord…
… and be able to truly make December 25, not merely a calendar event – rather an experience of the Lord being born in our hearts!

Let us remain ever focused and concentrated always on God’s Ways and on His Kingdom…
… and always “Watch the Road!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

The missionary mandate. “Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be ‘the universal sacrament of salvation,’ the Church, in obedience to the command of Her Founder and because it is demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all men”
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and Lo, I am with you always, until the close of the age.”
The origin and purpose of mission: The Lord’s missionary mandate is ultimately grounded in the eternal love of the Most Holy Trinity: “The Church on earth is by her nature missionary since, according to the plan of the Father, she has as her origin the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

The ultimate purpose of mission is none other than to make men share in the communion between the Father and the Son in their Spirit of Love (CCC # 842-845)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – November 27, 2021: Saturday

“Being spirited and passionate people for God and His Kingdom!”

(Based on Dan 7:15-27 and Lk 21:34-36 – Saturday of the 34th Week in Ordinary Time)

All of us have had the experience of utilizing certain things or products which work quite fine for some time….but as time passes, becomes less effective or less efficient.

A ceiling fan/ table fan, after few months or years, tends to be less forceful…
A fast-processing computer after few months of years, tends to slow down…
Colourful clothes after a few washes or usage, tends to lose their initial glean and shine…

This is called as “Dissipation”.

A similar aspect could be visible in our spiritual lives as well!

The Gospel of the Day is a reminder to examine this aspect in our lives and to make amends, in order to revitalise and revive our lives.

The Gospel begins with the verse “But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation…” (Lk 21:34)

Dissipation is strong word which could have several parallel understandings…

With respect to morality:
Dissipation refers to an overindulgence in sensual pleasures.

With respect to behaviour:
Dissipation refers to a conduct that shows one is interested only in pleasure, money, etc.

With respect to economics:
Dissipation refers to an act of using all or a lot of money, time, etc., in a foolish way.

With respect to physics:
Dissipation refers to a physical process by which energy becomes not only unavailable but irrecoverable in any form.

Dissipation is a tendency…
… to squander away enthusiasm because of allowing monotony to creep into life.
… to lose vitality as a result of being indulged in continuous immoral behaviours
… to leak-out the energy and vigour in oneself, in small amounts and thus become lifeless
… to become disinterested and dispirited due to constant exposure to luxury and comforts

Dissipation is a terrible malady that has badly affected many people in the Bible…

The people during Noah’s time were dissipated with eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, although God had sent out a warning of their destruction through Noah.

The citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah were dissipated with extremely immoral and corrupt practices, even though the people were given a forewarning of their possible.

The people of Israel were dissipated with frustration and dissatisfaction while travelling in the desert and failed to understand the providential hand of God.

The disciples of Jesus were dissipated with sadness, shattering of hopes and brokenness after the death of Jesus and failed to believe and trust in His great promises.

We have a call to examine our lives and check whether we too have fallen into a state of “dissipation”…

Maybe my prayer life is “dissipated” due to various distractions, excuses of lack of time, complaints of being tired or just simply a lack of interest…

Maybe my personal intimacy with God is “dissipated” since I don’t experience any joyful or experiential feelings or because some of my expectations of God are not met…

Maybe my relationships with people is “dissipated” due to some friction or misunderstanding or an indifference that has sneaked in without any particular reason.

Maybe my family/community life is “dissipated” because I feel disinterested or not so enthusiastic in going beyond some of my personal comforts or I feel lonely in not feeling accepted or loved.

Dissipation can be a tendency that can steal into our lives very stealthily and can drain away much of our energy, eagerness and passion.

In the book of Revelations, the Lord has this complaint, “…I have this against you: you have lost the love you had at first. Realize how far you have fallen. Repent and do the works you did at first” (Rev 2:4-5)

Let us seek to renew our initial fervour and zeal.
Let us challenge ourselves to revive our zest and interest.

The Lord deserves not “dissipated” people, but “spirited” and “passionate” people!

Today we are concluding this Liturgical Year…
… and stepping into the New Liturgical Year – with ‘Year C’ Readings on Sundays and ‘Cycle 1’ for the Weekdays

This Liturgical Year has taken us through various phases in our life of faith – especially, with the effect of the pandemic still affecting us…
… But the Liturgical Readings were also constantly reminding us that, that “God is with us!”

Let us thank the Lord for this Liturgical Year – for all His Blessings, Graces, Protection…
… and as we start a New Year in our Life – Liturgically – let us surrender ourselves totally to the Providence of our Loving Lord, through the intercession of our Blessed Mother
… as we continually give heed to the words of our Lord, “And behold, I am coming soon!” (Rev 22:7)

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?
Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:
Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; He is present to us in His body which is the Church.
He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door.
Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.
This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and His Church:
Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do His will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.

“Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men (CCC # 846-848)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – November 26, 2021: Friday

“Seeking to win the Christian test of Endurance by throwing ourselves into the Enduring Power of God’s Word!”

(Based on Dan 7:2-14 and Lk 21:29-33 – Friday of the 34th Week in Ordinary Time)

“Endurance” is the name of an American reality television program.

Contestants of Endurance live in a remote location and participate in various mental and physical challenges.

The outcome of the competitions determines which players are eliminated.
The winners receive an all-expenses paid vacation package to an exotic location as the prize.

Christian Life is also a test of Endurance!

Unlike a reality show, it is real life…

There are various mental, spiritual, emotional and physical challenges

Unlike an-all expenses paid vacation package as a prize…
… the Christian test of Endurance rewards Eternal Life.

Are we ready to rise to the challenge of this Christian Life of Endurance?

In this life of bravery and dare, we have the strength of an Enduring Factor – God’s Word!
“Heaven and earth may pass away, but my words will endure forever” (Lk 21: 33)

The Gospel of the Day is an exhortation to being committed to the Christian Life of Endurance by trusting always in the Enduring Word of God!

Words have immense power and potential.
They can cut
They can hurt
They can heal
They can build
They can make
They can break
They can crush
They can console

And God’s Word has ultimate control and infinite power.

God’s Promises through His words are forever.

This is clearly manifested when we travel through the pages of the Bible…

Abraham was called to a distant and unknown land.

He was promised descendants as many as the stars of the sky and the sand on the shore.
But nothing worthwhile seemed to be happening…
… God’s word seemed barren and infertile.

Yet, the enduring faith and the enduring trust of Abraham prevailed at the opportune time…
God’s Word came to fulfilment and great completion

Yes, “Heaven and earth may pass away, but His words will endure forever”

Moses was called to become the liberator of a nation.

He was promised complete guidance and absolute direction from God.
But often during the journey of liberation, Moses had to face the ire of the people.
… God’s word seemed empty and betraying.

Yet, the enduring conviction and the enduring confidence of Moses got him through…
God’s Word displayed great glory and a mighty witness.

Yes, “Heaven and earth may pass away, but His words will endure forever”

Job was blessed with immense comforts and vast riches.

He was however permitted to be tested by Satan and lost much of his security and wellbeing.
Hopelessness and wrenching despair seemed to be his best companion…
… God’s Word seemed to be abandoning and deserting him.

Yet, the enduring tenacity and the enduring perseverance of Job prevailed to the end…
God’s Word showered him with great and marvellous riches.

Yes, “Heaven and earth may pass away, but His words will endure forever”

What is my faith, trust and hope in God’s Word?

In moments of life-crushing events and soul-hurting situations…

Do I endure and trust in the enduring and eternal power of God’s Word?

In times when the asteroids of bad luck crash against the surface of my life…

Do I endure and remain firm in the enduring and everlasting strength of God’s Word?

In times when my family, community and my world gets reduced to total splinters…

Do I endure and be positive in the enduring and emphatic might of God’s Word?

The Lord has promised each one of us, immense blessings and graces through His Word.

At times…
… there are delays in the fulfilment of God’s Word, as in the case of Abraham
… there are frustrations in the following of God’s Word, as in the case of Moses
… there are misunderstandings in the listening of God’s Word, as in the case of Job

But the Lord invites us to remain Faithful, Trusting and Patient!

Let us seek to win the Christian test of Endurance by throwing ourselves into the Enduring Power of God’s Word!

Yes, “Heaven and earth may pass away, but His words will endure forever”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

The Church’s bond with non-Christian religions is in the first place the common origin and end of the human race
All nations form but one community. This is so because all stem from the one stock which God created to people the entire earth, and also because all share a common destiny, namely God. His providence, evident goodness, and saving designs extend to all against the day when the elect are gathered together in the holy city
The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved.
Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as “a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life.”332
In their religious behavior, however, men also display the limits and errors that disfigure the image of God in them
To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son’s Church.
The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation.
The Church is “the world reconciled.” She is that bark which “in the full sail of the Lord’s cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world.”

According to another image dear to the Church Fathers, she is prefigured by Noah’s ark, which alone saves from the flood. (CCC # 842-845)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – November 25, 2021: Thursday

“’Standing erect and raising up our head’ in trust, optimism and hope in the Lord!”

(Based on Dan 6:11-26 and Lk 21:20-28 – Thursday of the 34th Week in Ordinary Time)

An anecdote is told of a pig, in a farmhouse, which fed on the leftovers of food that was supplied to it.

The pig remained content to feed on that which was smelly, dirty and stinking.

The day came when it had to be slaughtered.

As the people tied its legs to a pole to be taken to the slaughter-house and the pig was carried horizontally upside down, for the first time in its life, it gazed on the skies above.

All through its life, the pig always looked downward, satisfied on its feed and food.

But now, for the first time, the pig looked upward, and saw the beauty of nature.

It wondered:
“All through, I thought, life was always stinky and nasty.
But it’s only now, when I look above, that I see that life is much beautiful and brilliant!

Too late am I!
I have missed the real beauty of life, looking always only downward!”

The whole life of the pig, was spent downcast, with images of filth and dirt and foul matter.

Only the last moments were spent looking upward, enjoying the wonderful & pleasant nature.
… Consciously or unconsciously, being content, looking downward & descending into the realms of gloom & pessimism!

Is my life cast downward? Filled with images of gloom, darkness and dirt?

The Lord, through the Gospel of the Day invites us, with strong vibes of positive feelings:
“… Stand erect and raise your heads, because your redemption is at hand” (Lk 21: 28)

The Gospel of the day is a continuation of the talks on the coming of the Son of Man.

Jesus reminds his disciples of the many signs and terrors that will be manifest in the world and persecutions that will befall on His followers.

He invites His disciples to remain firm in perseverance and faithful commitment.

The Gospel brings out a clear contradiction in the stance and approach of the “people of the world” and “people who trust in Him”…

Lk 21: 26, “…people will die of fright…” (“people of the world”)
Lk 21: 28,”…stand erect and raise your heads…” (“people who trust in Him”)

Dying of fright and collapsing is a sign of absolute despair and hopelessness.

When someone is in great tension, his/her physical structure reflects it…

One tends to stoop low…
One tends to put down one’s head…

The worry in the mind makes the face a sorry affair!

The tension in one’s life robs the spirit of joy in living!
Faces turn pale… smiles go wry… body starts sagging!

But the Lord of the Universe today strongly exhorts us to not remain stooped-down

He challenges us to “stand erect and raise our heads…”

The Lord made people to stand on their feet as a sign of feeling protected and strong…

The boy possessed by a demon was “held by the hand, raised up and made to stand” by Jesus (Mk 9:27)

Jesus held the hand of the daughter of Jairus and “helped her to stand” (Mk 5:41)

Peter and John took up the crippled beggar at the Temple gate “by the hand and raised him up…and he leaped up, stood and walk around…walking and jumping” and praising God (Acts 3: 7-8)

The Lord loves to help people to stand erect and hold heads high in firm faith and trust in Him.

Is my life today shattered and collapsed?
Am I unable to stand firmly in faith and in trust?

When difficulties and problems arise in life…

Do I stoop down and get fixated on the worries…
… or do I “stand erect and raise up my head” in confidence of the Providence of God?

When calamities and unsolvable crises hits my family or community life…

Do I stoop down and get lost in despair…
… or do I “stand erect and raise up our heads” in hope of the Power the Lord?

When hopes get shattered and the future appears very blurred…

Do I stoop down and get stuck in hopelessness and desolation…
… or do I “stand erect and raise up my head” in deep faith in the Guiding Hand of the Lord?

Some of us live our lives with much negativity and pessimism…

Life most of the time appears to be dark and depressing and dismal!

But the Lord today asks us to live our lives with more positivity and optimism

Life is in fact much more bright and beautiful and brilliant!

Are we going to continue to have a mentality of “looking downward” and losing the precious moments of life?

Or shall we, “Stand erect and Raise up our head” in trust, optimism and hope in the Lord?

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

Relationship with the Jewish People: When one considers the future, God’s People of the Old Covenant and the new People of God tend towards similar goals: expectation of the coming (or the return) of the Messiah.
But one awaits the return of the Messiah who died and rose from the dead and is recognized as Lord and Son of God…
… the other awaits the coming of a Messiah, whose features remain hidden till the end of time; and the latter waiting is accompanied by the drama of not knowing or of misunderstanding Christ Jesus.
The Church’s relationship with the Muslims. “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham…

… and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day. (CCC # 840-841)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – November 24, 2021: Wednesday

“Holding firm to our Crucified Lord and persevering in faithfulness to our Persecuted Master!”

(Based on Dan 5:1-6, 13-14, 16-17, 23-29 and Lk 21:12-19 – Wednesday of the 34th Week in Ordinary Time)

The Nicene Creed – also called Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed – is a Christian statement of faith

It is ecumenical in nature (i.e. relating to, or representing the whole body of churches)

The Creed – in general – is accepted as authoritative by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and major Protestant churches.
This Creed was first composed and adapted at the First Council of Nicea in 325 AD.

One of the standout aspects – hardly ever brought to light – is about the participants of this Council of Nicea.

Many of the participants – of the approximately 318 Council participants – had lost an eye or lost a hand or limped on a leg…
… as a result of the torture they suffered for their Christian faith!

These bishops who met at Nicea had just come out of an extremely challenging time of intense persecution by the Romans…
… having lived through the cruelty of the Emperors Diocletian (ruling 284-305) and Maximian (ruling 286-305)

According to one ancient writer Theodoret (393-457), “the Council looked like an assembled army of martyrs!”

The Nicean Council was thus, not merely a gathering of intellectuals – discussing and deliberating; rather was a holy coming together of passionate individuals…
… who lived the Faith
… who suffered for the Faith
… and who wished everyone in the future, grows and lives the Faith, with utmost faithfulness!

These ancient people travelled to Nicea with broken bodies to formulate what was worth living and dying for!

This is the reality of Christianity

Every follower of Christ is reminded to joyfully accept a life of struggle and suffering, in order to discover the true joys of Faith!

Every joy in life is accompanied by the companionship of some pain and suffering.

This is the reality of life.
Christian life is an affirmation of this reality.

The joy of being a Christian is accompanied by the cross of pain and suffering.

The delight in sharing Christ’s peace is escorted by the reality of some trials and tribulations.

The Gospel of the Day reminds us of this factor: Experiencing…
… the mighty power of God in the midst of weaknesses of life.
… the splendid joy of God in the thick of persecutions of life.
… the serene peace of God in the middle of terrors of life.

The Lord continues His discourse on the signs of the end times and the forthcoming persecutions that will be the lot of those who believe and follow Him.

Jesus doesn’t tone down in any measure in warning of the future calamities that will befall on His followers:
“They will seize and persecute you… They will hand you over to synagogues and prison…
They will lead you before kings and governors…

You will be handed over by your parents, brothers, relatives and friends…
You will be put to death… You will be hated by all…” (Lk 21: 12-18)

The list of persecutions is too long, right?

For those who consider Christianity as an easy stroll in the part, this is a shocker!

For those who consider following Christ as comfort on a bed of roses, this is a stunner!

Sometimes our faith in Christ remains merely a statement on paper.

As Baptized people – whether as infants or as adults – we’ve the duty to grow in the grace bestowed on us.

To follow Christ is a privilege granted to us.
To become His Disciples is a special opportunity conferred on us.

But we often squander away the blessings that the Lord gives us without realizing its worth.

As a Christian and a follower of Christ…

We love His blessings…
… but get depressed when pains or sufferings come our way.

We crave for joy…
… but get irritated when things don’t go in the way we wish.

We seek for a comfortable life…
… but get wild with Him when we lose some luxuries.

The Lord however, invites us to a life of deeper perseverance and courage: “By your perseverance, you will secure your lives” (Lk 21: 19)

For the one who believes in Christ…

Every sickness, can be a moment to experience the Lord as a Healer.
Every financial crisis, can be a moment to experience the Lord as the Provider.
Every spiritual struggle, can be a moment to experience the Lord as the Saviour.
Every break in relationship, can be a moment to experience the Lord as the Unifier.
Every encounter in failure, can be a moment to experience the Lord as the Sovereign Lord
Every doubt of the future, can be a moment to experience the Lord as the Supreme Master

All these affirmations will remain peripheral and theoretical, unless we trust in the Lord.

Many might say…
… “I don’t believe in a God who allows calamities and persecutions.”
… “I don’t want a relation with a God who permits suffering and pains.”

But this is where challenge of our Baptismal Consecration comes to fruition…

To be with the Lord, in total commitment, when the going gets tough.
To remain united with the Lord, in complete faithfulness, when the road gets bumpy.
To fix one’s eyes on the Lord, in absolute trust, when the skies are darkened.

In the words of Kahlil Gibran, the writer:
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars”

Jesus has shown us the path in the Way of the Cross.
Jesus has broken Himself for us in the Holy Eucharist.

In Him is True Life.
In Him is Genuine Peace.
In Him is Everlasting Happiness.

Let us hold firm to our Crucified Lord and persevere in faithfulness to our Persecuted Master.

With joy and passion, in the words of the Nicene Creed, let us unceasingly proclaim:
“I believe in One God…
… and the life of the world to come, Amen!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

“Those who have not yet received the Gospel are related to the People of God in various ways.”
The relationship of the Church with the Jewish People: When she delves into her own mystery, the Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish People, “the first to hear the Word of God.”
The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God’s revelation in the Old Covenant.
To the Jews “belong the Sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ”…

… “for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. (CCC # 839)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – November 23, 2021: Tuesday

“Allowing Jesus, the King of kings and the Lord of lords to adorn the Temple of our lives!”

(Based on Dan 2:31-45 and Lk 21:5-11 – Tuesday of the 34th Week in Ordinary Time)

“God himself cannot sink this ship!”

“The captain can, by simply moving an electric switch, instantly close all the doors, practically making the vessel unsinkable”
“We believe that the ship is unsinkable.”

These were some of the comments and claims that were made about Titanic – the largest ship in the first half of the 1900s

But all these proud and arrogant assertions found a watery grave, with the sinking of the Titanic on the morning of 15th April 1912, killing over one thousand five hundred people.

It was a massive tragedy of the loss of many lives. Indeed, a very sad moment!

But it was also a horrific lesson to humankind on the need to be aware of her limitations.
It was also a torrid warning to generations on the need to be on the guard, always.

“Being on the watch” is a necessity and a basic requirement in every sphere of human life!
The Gospel of the Day presents this message of being vigilant and alert in our lives.

Gazing on the glorious Temple of Jerusalem, Jesus makes a prophetic saying, “As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” (Lk 21:6)

These words would have come as a big shocker and a tantalizing scandal to His listeners.

Who would have thought that the Titanic would ever sink?

To think of the Jerusalem Temple being totally destroyed was a case next to impossible.

The Jerusalem Temple was the holiest shrine of the Jews.
The Jerusalem Temple was the pulse and the heartbeat of the Jewish Faith.
The Jerusalem Temple was the greatest source of joy and pride for the Jews.

Any attack or any destruction of this Great Edifice of Faith was unimaginable and intolerable.

Yet, Jesus makes this powerful and daring prophecy.

What is the structure and edifice of joy and pride in our lives?

Is it a structure…
… of fat bank-balances and transient fame and popularity
… of remarkable public positions and offices of high ranking
… of enjoying life with temporary pleasures and passing addictions?

All too often we have heard people saying:

“I have enough money and I am happy with my life!
Just enjoy today to the max. Who knows what happens tomorrow?”

“The status that I am in today, is a result of my hard work and labour.
Why should anyone interfere in my private life to prevent me from enjoying it in my own style?”

History teaches us that structures built without the Power and Grace of God is bound to fall.

The Tower of Babel is a classic example from the Bible. (Gen 11: 4-9)

Built on human pride and aspiration, it had a catastrophic collapse

The lives of many people are also a lesson for us – Samson, King Saul, King Solomon, Judas.
They had their moments of great glory and splendour.

But when pride and self-interest crept into their lives, they lost the touch of God’s hand!

We may glory and shine in beauty for some time, by just banking on our capabilities.

But unless we remain in firm obedience and faithful commitment to the Lord, we are bound to fail!

None of us are, and can be unsinkable!

An obstinate stand that I can manage my life by myself is hazardous.
A proud feeling that no power in the world can shake me is dangerous.
An arrogant outlook that I am the sole master of my future and destiny is perilous.

Yes, let God be God in our lives!

Let Him enthrone the highest place and the privileged position in our lives.

May Jesus, the King of kings and the Lord of lords adorn the Temple of our lives.

With Him we can shine forever. With Him we can stand forever.
With Him we can glory forever.

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

“Fully incorporated into the society of the Church are those who, possessing the Spirit of Christ, accept all the means of salvation given to the Church together with her entire organization, and who…
… by the bonds constituted by the profession of faith, the sacraments, ecclesiastical government, and communion…
… are joined in the visible structure of the Church of Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops.
Even though incorporated into the Church, one who does not however persevere in charity is not saved. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but ‘in body’ not ‘in heart.'”
“The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honoured by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter.”
Those “who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church.”

With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound “that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord’s Eucharist.” (CCC # 837-838)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – November 22, 2021: Monday

“Being an all-giving disciple, in imitation of the Master, Who is ‘all-giving!’”

(Based on Dan 1:1-6, 8-20 and Lk 21:1-4 – Monday of the 34th Week in Ordinary Time)

A rich business man and his assistant were travelling around a village on a tour.

As they walked along, they saw a boy pulling a plough (= a large farming implement with blades fixed in a frame, drawn over soil to turn it over and cut furrows in preparation for the planting of seeds)…
… which was steered by an old man.

It amused the assistant so much that he insisted on taking a picture of the scene with his little pocket camera. Later he showed the picture to a priest in the next village, remarking about the peculiar spectacle.

“Yes,” said the Priest, “it seems a very strange way to plough a field that way.
But I happen to know the boy and old man well.

They are very poor. However, when the little church was built here in the village, they wanted to contribute something.

They had no money.
They had no grain to spare and winter was coming on.

So they sold their ox and gave the money to the church building fund, and now, minus the valuable animal, they have to pull the plough themselves.”

The men looked at each other for a moment, then the assistant said, “But what a magnanimous sacrifice! Why did you allow it?”

“They did not feel that way about it” said the priest, “They regarded it as a great joy that they had an ox to give to the Lord’s work!”

Yes, true charity happens when there is an involvement of sacrifice and surrender.

Do we have the joy and the generosity to give ourselves, to the Lord and for His works?

The Gospel of the Day demonstrates the powerful message of True Giving, through the incident of the Offering of the Poor Widow.

The passage begins with the verse, “When Jesus looked up and saw…” (Lk 21: 1)

Jesus has sharp eyes…

He sees what most people miss to see…
He perceives what most people ignore…
He observes what most people pass on as ordinary…

We find this aspect, in many places of the Gospel…

While all others saw only the corrupt mind of Zacchaeus, Jesus saw deeper… (Lk 19:7)

He observed the flame of genuine repentance and earnest desire in him.

While all others saw only the filth in the woman caught in adultery, Jesus saw deeper… (Jn 8:3)

He observed the spark of pleading for mercy and compassion in her.

While all others saw only a disturbance in the blind beggar Bartimaeus, Jesus saw deeper… (Lk 18:39)

He observed the flash of true longing and expectant hope in him…

There are many times in our life, when we think or do little things and we would feel them as insignificant.

But the Lord sees deeper…

A tiny word of thanks and appreciation…The Lord sees our goodness.
A small gesture of timely help and assistance… The Lord sees our nobility.
A genuine smile of encouragement and support… The Lord sees our benevolence.

The palace of goodness is built by the tiny bricks of genuine actions and loving thoughts.

And the Lord sees it all – “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good” (Prov. 15:3)

He doesn’t miss a single gift, small or large.

He knows every giver, rich and poor.

This is the significance of being engaged in little and small acts of charity.

None of them go down the drain.
Rather, all of them are recorded by God and translates into a fountain of blessings!

The Lord keenly observed the insignificant action of the Poor Widow dropping in two copper coins into the Temple Treasury.

The Temple Treasury was in the Court of the Women, which was on the easternmost part of the Temple.

The Court of the Women obtained its name, not from its appropriation to the exclusive use of women, but because they were not allowed to proceed farther, except for sacrificial purposes.

Against the walls of this temple area were the thirteen chests, or ‘trumpets,’ for charitable contributions.

These thirteen chests were shaped like trumpets, narrow at the mouth and wide at the bottom.

Each one had a different Hebrew letter designating separate offerings and causes.

Into this Temple Treasury, “the poor widow just drops in two small copper coins” (Lk 21:2)

What difference did her two coins make toward meeting the temple budget?
Probably nothing!!

Perhaps the treasurer muttered under his breath as he saw it being dropped:
“Why do people throw such small coins into the treasury? They’re more a nuisance to count than they’re worth!”

But the Lord has a totally different yardstick of measuring and of judging.

People count worth of money by what is given.

God counts worth of money by what is left over.

People say “wow” over thicker and fatter amounts given, irrespective of the means and intention.

God says “wow” over any amount given, but only when given with the proper means and true intention.

While most people would have sidelined this meager act of giving, the Lord lavishes praise on the poor widow who “gave it all”.

The gifts of the rich would have not cost them much…
… But the widow may have gone hungry that night because she gave all what she had.

She gave it all, not for any praise or to show-off, but out of love of God and her religion.

What is our attitude in “giving” to God?

Often we give only “leftovers” to God.

If we have some food left, after we have relished nicely, we give it off to some hungry
If we have anything left, after we’ve spent for all our needs, then we drop a bit for charity.
If we have some “time” left, after engaging in all leisure, then we give the time to God.
If we have some goodwill left, after busying with many works, we offer our thanks to the Lord.

The Lord, seriously, is in no need of the offering of our money.

But the Lord, very seriously, is on the lookout for an ‘offering of our hearts’!

Let us make not just peripheral contribution of our lives, but rather engage in sacrificial offerings of our self.

As St Mother Teresa says:
“Give, but give until it hurts…
… It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving”

The Lord has given everything for us.
As His disciples, we too are expected to be similar: to give everything to Him.

An “all-giving” Master deserves “all-giving” disciples…
… Doesn’t He?

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
“All are called to the Catholic unity of the People of God…. and to it, in different ways, belong or are ordered:
… the Catholic faithful
… others who believe in Christ

… and finally all mankind, called by God’s grace to salvation.” (CCC # 836)