REFLECTION CAPSULE – January 22, 2022: Saturday

‘Being people filled with ‘enthusiasm’… being IN GOD and being ‘mad’ with the works of God!”

(Based on 2 Sam 1:1-4, 11-12, 17-19, 23-27 and Mk 3:20-21 – Saturday of the 2nd Week in Ordinary Time, Year II)

“Enthusiasm” is a word that is very commonly used.

It is interesting to know the root meaning of this word

“Enthusiasm” is derived from two Greek words – “en” and “theos”

“En” means IN
“Theos” means GOD

“En-theos” means being “In God”

Enthusiasm therefore points to the fact of…
… someone being “possessed by God”
… someone who is mad with the works of God

The Gospel of the Day is a narrative of a Man Who is deeply enthusiastic… IN GOD…
… the “Mad and Insane” Jesus!

St Mark’s Gospel is pretty straightforward – to the point and blunt in its nature.

The Lord was out to preach and proclaim the Kingdom of Love and Mercy…

Broken lives were mended by the balm of His Holiness
Ruined minds were revived by the power of His teachings
Shattered destinies were made whole by the cure of His touch
Hardened hearts were touched by the softness of His presence
Ruptured consciences were restored by the gentleness of His love

The crowd following had increased…the popularity ratings had soared!

This however causes a great disturbance and distress in the family of Jesus…
“Again the crowds gathered, making it impossible for them, even to eat.
When His relatives heard of this, they set out to seize Him, for they said, ‘He is out of His mind’ ” (Mk 3: 20-21)

Jesus was labelled as being “out of mind!”

Jesus was tagged as being “insane and mad”

Jesus was branded as being “crazy and odd”

The one who is filled with God’s love is indeed an obsessed person!

The one who has eyes fixed on one’s goals is indeed a mad person!
Obsessed in love…mad for one’s aim…passionate about one’s goals!

And Jesus was indeed passionate and highly zealous for His mission…
So much so, that even His own relatives misunderstood and mistook Him.

The Bible and the Church is a gigantic collection of deeds and acts of such people who were “mad” and who took “crazy” decisions in life…

Abraham was “crazy” to have faith in God, to have children, even at the ripe old age of hundred!
Moses was “mad” to trust God to lead a tiny nation from the clutches of the imposing Egyptian empire!
Mother Mary was “crazy” to give up her promising life and instead consent to an Angel to become the Mother of God!
St Peter was “mad” to abandon his career and family to follow Jesus for a ministry of unknown and uncertain future!
St Paul was “crazy” to undergo tremendous sufferings and agonizing troubles for the sake of the spread of the Gospel!

When one is really passionate towards one’s mission, there is an element of “craziness!”

When one is really zealous about one’s purposes, there is an element of “madness!”

Do I have and reflect this “mad” passion and zeal for God’s love?
… by seeking Him in all our works, activities and plans
… by reaching out His love to the needy and the disadvantaged
… by spreading hope, courage and optimism in this broken world

Let us dare to walk and live the path of the Crucified Lord…
… the One who was called mad and insane
… the One who was misunderstood and unaccepted
Because He chose to live and die for His convictions of Love!

Let us not be worried… let us not be anxious…but trust in our Loving God!

In the words of St Francis De Sales:
“God takes pleasure to see you take your little steps; and like a good father who holds his child by the hand, He will accommodate His steps to yours and will be content to go no faster than you.

Why do you worry?”

Yes, let us be people filled with “enthusiasm”… being IN GOD….
… someone being “possessed by God”
… someone who is mad with the works of God

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of Her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things..
… so that She might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.”

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in Her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians:

In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death. (CCC # 966)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – January 21, 2022: Friday

“Knowing that the waters of gentleness and kindness always find a way to seep through the rocky terrains of tough situations of life!”

(Based on 1 Sam 24:2-20 and Mk 3:13-19 – Friday of the 2nd Week in Ordinary Time, Year II)

A hostel warden had fallen into the disagreeable habit of yelling at the boys who were in his charge.

He thought this necessary in order to maintain his authority

Once, he was confined to bed for a week with severe laryngitis (inflammation of the vocal cords)

He could not speak above a whisper…
… and had to run the affairs of the hostel from his bed.

“Do you know,” he confessed afterwards, “I found that the children were far more well-behaved and good-natured when I could only speak to them in a whisper…
… than when I used to shout at them!”

The waters of gentleness and kindness always find a way to seep through the rocky terrains of tough situations of life!

And it is God’s Mighty Love that causes us to act with gentleness and kindness…
… and “to repay evil not with evil, but to do good to people!”

The First Reading of the Day (1 Sam 24:2-20) is a marvellous exhortation on the need to “repay evil not with evil, but with good!”

David and his men are in the Desert of En Gedi.

It is a wild place of cliffs, caves, wilderness and springs.

Saul – along with nearly three thousand chosen people – who were in search of David to have him killed…
… goes into a cave to relieve himself.

David gets an opportunity to kill Saul, who had in fact, come to kill him!

Here was a neat chance to take revenge and settle scores.

David would even be instigated by his fellow men:
“The men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.” (1 Sam 24:4)

David, however, would deny “doing evil for evil!”

Instead, he follows the Divine Strategy of “doing good, even in the face of evil!”

He spares the life of Saul – who is the anointed of the Lord – and even goes on to make an oath of not harming him!

Here is David following the great Divine Strategy, and invites and inspires us to follow the same:
“Doing evil for evil is bad!”
Doing nothing for evil is better!
Doing good for evil is best!”

The Gospel of the Day (Mk 3:13-19) presents Jesus Who moves about with His Ministry of “failing to stop in the face of evil, and continuing to do good!”

Jesus, in the midst of a ministry, of people rejecting him, and failing to accept His words…
… refuses to give in to failure or to stop doing the good.

Instead, “He responds to evil, by doing good” and establishes a band of twelve chosen ones…
… who were to join Him and continue His Noble Mission of “doing good, even in the face of evil!”

The twelve disciples who are chosen (Mk 3:13-19) would be schooled in the Discipleship of the Lord…
… to “leave everything and adopt the Divine Strategy of ‘doing good, even in the face of evil’”

We are invited to grow into Christians who display the Love and Mercy of God to people…
… by a life of gentleness and patience!

David would beautifully display this dimension by sparing the life of Saul and giving us the great lesson of “respect and honour” that is due to all the anointed and consecrated ones!
Jesus, remarkably responds to hostile and antagonistic situations in His Ministry by establishing a “group of people who would be invited to become agents of the Lord’s Mercy and Compassion!”

Let us always remember that the waters of gentleness and kindness always find a way to seep through the rocky terrains of tough situations of life!

And it is God’s Mighty Love that causes us to act with gentleness and kindness…
… and “to repay evil not with evil, but to do good to people!”

We seek today the intercession of St Agnes of Rome – the thirteen year old girl – who offered her life in martyrdom to the Lord, on her Feast Day

She knew the worth of her life consisted in the fact that she was deeply loved by the Lord…
… and that her faithfulness to the consecration to the Lord was her strength

And so with deep conviction, she would exclaim:

“You may stain your sword with my blood…
… but you will never profane my body that I have consecrated to Christ.”

“Christ made my soul beautiful with the jewels of grace and virtue…
… I belong to Him whom the angels serve!”

May the life and words of St Agnes inspire us, as we seek to grow in our “spirituality of living in love – with gentleness and kindness!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
MARY’S MOTHERHOOD WITH REGARD TO THE CHURCH

After Her Son’s Ascension, Mary “aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers.”

In Her association with the apostles and several women, “we also see Mary by her prayers imploring the gift of the Spirit, who had already overshadowed her in the Annunciation!” (CCC # 965)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – January 20, 2022: Thursday

“Becoming a magnetic Presence of the Lord to everybody!”

(Based on 1 Sam 18:6-9, 19:1-7 and Mk 3:7-12 – Thursday of the 2nd Week in Ordinary Time, Year II)

A magnet is an object made of certain materials which creates a magnetic field around itself.

This magnetic field causes objects of certain properties to attract to itself…

The closer the objects are to the magnet, the stronger they are pulled to the attracting force.

Another interesting thing is that…
… objects attached to the magnet, over a certain period of time, themselves become magnetized and are able to attract other things to itself.

Divine Love constantly invites us to be attracted to Divine qualities…
… and to radiate the same in our lives.

The First Reading of the Day (1 Sam 18: 6-9, 37, 19:1-7) presents contrasting characteristics…
… the negative condition of jealousy: displayed by Saul, the king
… the positive quality of appreciation: radiated by Jonathon, his son

Saul is unable to digest the fact that the people sing higher praises of David and felt envious of his rising popularity:
“Saul was very angry, for this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands; what more can he have but the kingdom? So Saul eyed David from that day on.” (1 Sam 18:8-9)

Jonathon, his son, however displayed a lot of maturity and exuded a sense of goodness and appreciation

“Jonathan spoke well of David to his father Saul, saying to him, “The king should not sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have been of good service to you” (1 Sam 19:4)

Jonathan had responded positively to Divine Love, Which constantly invited him to be attracted to Divine qualities…
… and to radiate the same in his life.

The Gospel of the Day (Mk 3:7-12) is this wonderful presentation of Jesus Who radiates Divine qualities….
… and attracts many to by His Charismatic personality – like a magnet!

St Mark beautifully presents this attractive power of the Lord through the words:
“A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea.
Hearing what He was doing, a large number of people came to Him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan and from the neighbourhood of Tyre and Sidon” (Mk 3: 7-8)

The popularity of the Lord was spreading far and wide…

His power over sin had many to look up to Him…
His authoritative teaching was astonishing to many…
His dominance over evil spirits was awe-inspiring for many…
His amazing healing power had caused a stir among people…

Like a magnet, the Lord was attracting many to Himself!

Like a magnet, the Lord was pulling variety of people to Himself!

The magnetic and charming power of the Lord attracts us too…
… But do we remain willing to get attracted to this amazing force?

The Living Presence of the Lord in our midst is in the Holy Eucharist.

The Holy Eucharist is the powerful magnet that can pull and attract many!

The tragedy in our life is that very often, this “magnetic” Eucharistic presence remains abandoned and forsaken!

It’s a pity that the Living Lord is hardly visited in the Blessed Sacrament!

Chapels and Churches often remain empty and forlorn…
Very few to visit Jesus to say Hello to Him, in the Eucharist!

We sometimes are reducing ourselves to a generation seeking only after mighty wonders!

We sometimes are making ourselves to be a people wanting only fascinating miracles!
We sometimes are forming ourselves to be ones who are attracted only to external sensations!

But Eucharist – the greatest wonder and miracle of the world often remains unnoticed!

There is nothing more sublime in this world than the Holy Eucharistic Presence!

There is nothing more beautiful than moments spent before the Eucharistic Lord!
There is nothing more awesome than an experience of love in the Holy Eucharist!

Am I ready to get attracted and charmed by this magnetic presence of the Holy Eucharist?

The Lord waits for us…every moment…every day!
The Lord seeks for us…every second…every hour!

We may have different excuses to evade and avoid time before His presence…

Maybe too many works and occupations…
Maybe a feeling that it is too dry and boring to be with Him…
Maybe an attitude that social works suffice and go beyond all such pious devotions…

But no excuse and no theory can give justification to miss the Presence of the Lord!

It is possible that some of us may have the negative condition of jealousy: displayed by Saul

But we are invited to imbibe the positive quality of appreciation: radiated by Jonathon!

Jesus is the magnet who can infuse us with power and strength!

The more closer we are, the more attracted we be!
The more we remain with Him, the more we become like Him!

May the Magnetic Power of the Holy Eucharist be sought more!

May the Magnetic Love of the Holy Eucharist be longed more!

And may, we, in turn, become a magnetic Presence of the Lord to others!
… Seeking the Eucharist, to be a Eucharist to the other!
… Loving the Eucharist to break and share oneself to the other!

Let’s seek the intercession of martyrs St Sebastian & St Fabian, whose feast we celebrate today, in order to live a faithful life…
… and to be his faithful and inspiring disciples!

“The devil strains every nerve to secure the souls which belong to Christ. We should not grudge our toil in wrestling them from Satan, and giving them back to Christ” (St Sebastian)

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
MARY’S MOTHERHOOD WITH REGARD TO THE CHURCH

Wholly united with her Son: Mary’s role in the Church is inseparable from Her union with Christ and flows directly from it. “This union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ’s virginal conception up to his death”; it is made manifest above all at the hour of his Passion
Thus the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in Her union with Her Son unto the cross. There she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, joining herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim, born of her…

… to be given, by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross, as a mother to his disciple, with these words: “Woman, behold your Son” (CCC # 964)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – January 19, 2022: Wednesday

“Having faith and trust, to follow the Word of the Lord and to be assured that His Providence will take us through!”

(Based on 1 Sam 17:32-51 and Mk 3:1-6 – Wednesday of the 2nd Week in Ordinary Time, Year II)

A popular story with a minor variation goes as follows:

A man fell off a cliff, but managed to grab a branch of a tree on the way down.

The following conversation then proceeded:
“Is anyone up there?”

“I am here. I am the Lord. Do you believe me?”
“Yes, Lord, I believe. I really believe, but I can’t hang on much longer.”

“That’s all right, if you really believe you have nothing to worry about.

I will save you. Just let go of the branch.”

After a moment of pause, the many continued and sad:

“Is anyone else up there?”

The man failed to depend on the Lord when the “crunch situation” was encountered!

Faith and Trust in the Lord requires us to follow His Word and to be assured that His Providence will take us through!

The First Reading of the Day (1 Sam 17: 32-33, 37, 40-51) is a wonderful story of a young little man who trusted immensely in God in defeating a gigantic enemy…
… the story of God defeating Goliath through the instrumentality of David!

This popular story is a wonderful saga of faith and the Power of Depending on the Lord for everything.

On the other side, this story also teaches us that failure to have the Lord as the strength of life can paralyze and cripple our life with fear and inactivity…
… as we see in the life of Saul.

Saul being the king should have taken the lead to lead the Israelites against the gigantic Goliath

But he measured only his human capabilities and strengths in calculating the battle strategy

David however, first counted on the Lord, before gathering together his human skills and expertise!

“I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them.” (1 Sam 17:39)
“You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied!” (1 Sam 17:45)

We understand an important truth here:
In our life, we are often on the battlefield, with Satan as the gigantic Goliath…
… challenging us in our faith
… laughing us at our face

Do we understand that if we hold on, in faith, it is the Lord Himself Who fights for us?
Do we deepen our conviction that our faithfulness will be rewarded by God with the victory shout?

Jesus in the Gospel had to fight the deadly battle with “the hardness of hearts of people!” (Cf. Mk 3:5)

Faced with a man who had a withered hand…
… the Lord had to encounter face-to-face with a Goliath – with the face of indifference, unbelief and animosity – in the Pharisees and the Herodians (Cf Mk 3:6)

The man with the withered hand was asked by Jesus to “Come forward” (Cf Mk 3:5)
… to come forward in the battle of life – in faith – to defeat the forces of unbelief!
… to come forward in the war against Satan – in trust – to slay the head of indifference and animosity!

Just as David would “come forward” in faith and trust – totally depending on the Lord’s power…
… we need to step ahead by taking complete refuge in the Divine Providence of the Lord!

We may have our moments when we “hang onto the branches of life” in our moments of struggles and crisis

As the Lord invites us to trust in His Word, we need to check if we fail to depend on the Lord when the “crunch situations” are encountered!

Yes, Faith and Trust in the Lord requires us to follow His Word…
… and to be assured that His Providence will take us through!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
MARY – MOTHER OF CHRIST, MOTHER OF THE CHURCH

Since the Virgin Mary’s role in the mystery of Christ and the Spirit has been treated, it is fitting now to consider her place in the mystery of the Church.

“The Virgin Mary . . . is acknowledged and honoured as being truly the Mother of God and of the redeemer…. She is ‘clearly the mother of the members of Christ’ … since she has by her charity joined in bringing about the birth of believers in the Church, who are members of its head – Mary, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church.” (CCC # 963)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – January 18, 2022: Tuesday

“Growing in our ‘heart spirituality’ and deepening the conviction that our worth is in the fact that God loves, accepts and appreciates us, the way we are!”

(Based on 1 Sam 6:1-13 and Mk 2:23-28 – Tuesday of the 2nd Week in Ordinary Time, Year II)

A very popular story is said of a speaker who started off his seminar by holding up a $20 note.

He asked, “Who would like this $20 bill?”
Hands started going up.

He said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this.”

He proceeded to crumple the dollar bill up.

He then asked, “Who still wants it?”

Still the hands were up in the air.

“Well,” he replied, “What if I do this?”

And he dropped it on the ground and got it more crumpled and dirty.

“Now who still wants it?”
The hands still continued to go up!

The worth of the money is not in the external aspect…
… but in the internal value!

So much more is the value of a human person…
… whose value is measured by the heart!

God gives this mighty message through the First Reading of the Day (1 Sam 16:1-13) when He reminds Samuel:
“For the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7b)

The passage is about Prophet Samuel being asked by the Lord to anoint one of the sons of Jesse as the successor king to Saul.

Samuel learns an important principle that reigns in the heart of God: External appearances can be deceptive; the real worth of a person is in the value of his heart!

“For My Thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My Ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My Ways higher than your ways and My Thoughts than your thoughts” (Is 55:8-9)

God values the love and commitment that a person has in the heart, than at just the external appearances.

“… only You know what is in every human heart!” (1 Kings 8:39)

Samuel was under the impression that one of the seven older sons of Jesse would be the future king.

But God always knows to spring a surprise!

He would place His Heart on the youngest lad, David – the shepherd boy
… “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor 1:27)

So often we get carried away by the external appearances.

But the Lord invites us to see the way He does: Look at the heart!

David was tending the sheep, when he was called by God

His family would have never had a thought like this
All the people had totally overlooked him and never considered him as even a “possibility!”

So often it can happen to us, that…
… people don’t mind us
… people overlook us and even put us down
… people make fun of us and we are disgraced often!

But in all such “unlucky” or “unfortunate” or “unfair” situations of life…
… trust in the Lord and know that He loves, accepts and appreciates us, the way we are!

Jesus in the Gospel (Lk 2:23-28) exhorts the people to have a “heart spirituality” than a mere “law fulfilling religion!”

Learn to obey God more, not because you are afraid, but because you love Him much!

Let us deepen our conviction that the value of a human person…
… is to be measured by the heart!

Let us grow in our “heart spirituality”
… of understanding that we ought to defer judgment on people, by merely look at their externals – and instead, to leave space for the Mercy and Providence of God to reign in life!
… and of deepening the conviction that our worth is in the fact that God loves, accepts and appreciates us, the way we are!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

Communion with the saints: “It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself”
We worship Christ as God’s Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord’s disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples!
Communion with the dead: “In full consciousness of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, from the very earliest days of the Christian religion, has honoured with great respect the memory of the dead; and ‘because it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins’ she offers her suffrages for them.”
Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective.

In the one family of God. “For if we continue to love one another and to join in praising the Most Holy Trinity – all of us who are sons of God and form one family in Christ – we will be faithful to the deepest vocation of the Church. (CCC # 957-959)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – January 17, 2022: Monday

“Obeying the Lord’s Commands, and being blessed to discover the ‘shining ring’ of God’s Love!”

(Based on 1 Sam 15:16-23 and Mk 2:18-22 – Monday of the 2nd Week in Ordinary Time, Year II)

A popular legend is told of a certain king who needed a faithful servant.

Two men were candidates for the office.

The king took both at fixed wages, and his first order was to fill a cane basket with water from a neighbouring well…
… saying that he would come in the evening and see their work.

After putting in one or two basketfuls, one man said:
“What is the good of doing this useless work?
As soon as we put the water in one side, it runs out the other.”

The other however, answered:
“But we have our wages, haven’t we?

The use is the master’s business, not ours.”

“I am not going to do such fool’s work,” replied the other.

Throwing down his basket, he went away.

The other man continued until he had exhausted the well.

Looking down into it he saw something shining – a diamond ring.

“Now I see the use of pouring water into a basket,” he cried, “If the basket had brought up the ring before the well was emptied, it would have been found in the basket.

Our work was not useless!”

The obedient servant understood the importance of trusting in the word of the master…
… and he would reap the benefits of gaining the approval of the master!

Christians must believe that their Divine Master knows what is best, and obey His commands…
… and in due time, they will know and understand the worth of the Master’s Word!

Failure to obey the words and commands of the Lord will lead to our downfall…
… and this is highlighted in the First Reading of the Day (1 Sam 15:16-23) through the fall of King Saul.

The reading begins with Samuel reminding Saul of the innumerable favours and blessings He had received from the Lord.

“Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel.” (1 Sam 15:17)

Saul was blessed with many blessings and protection from the Lord

And these favours therefore demanded a greater faithfulness from Saul!

Each favour from the Lord ought to be a reminder of our Sacred Duty to love Him more!

Each blessing from the Lord should be a sign of we being invited to be more faithful to Him!

Saul however, failed to display this obedience and faithfulness to the Lord.

God had commanded him not to retain any of the spoils of the battle that he was to have with the Amalekites…
… Saul would however, not fully obey the Lord in this matter – and would retain the best of the spoils that he got

“And the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?” (1 Sam 15:18-19)

Even though Saul apparently had a good intention – to use these spoils as sacrifice to God…
… God was not pleased with him, because what God demands is “an obedient heart than the choicest sacrifice!”

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obedience to the voice of the Lord?
Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is no less a sin than divination, and stubbornness is like iniquity and idolatry.” (1 Sam 15:22-23)

In the Gospel, we have the Pharisees and the Scribes who question Jesus on the aspect of fasting (Mk 2:18-22)

The Pharisees and Scribes were stuck on following their own ways of understanding the ways of God…
… and failed to have an openness and docility to the Will of God!

Each of us are invited to allow the “New Wine of God’s Word” to be filled in the “new wineskin of our minds – in obedience and openness!”

We are also warned to not try to patch up the “old garment of our disobedience” with the “new garment of God’s Commandments and Instructions!”

Let us remember, “failure to obey the words and commands of the Lord will lead to our downfall!”

Let us always trust that our Divine Master knows what is best…
… and thus obeying His commands, may we be blessed to discover the “shining ring” of God’s Love!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

So it is that the union of the wayfarers with the brethren who sleep in the peace of Christ is in no way interrupted, but on the contrary, according to the constant faith of the Church, this union is reinforced by an exchange of spiritual goods.”

The intercession of the saints: “Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness…. They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus… So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped. (CCC # 955-956)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – January 16, 2022: Sunday

“Preparing ourselves for the Great Wedding Feast by seeking the intercession of our Queen- Mother Mary, and being obedient to the commandments of the Lord!”

(Based on Isa 62:1-5, 1 Cor 12:4-11 and Jn 2:1-11 – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C)

There is a story of a poor farmer.
The only possession he had was a plantain grove.

Once, his only son fell seriously sick.

He did not have the required money to treat his son.
Desperation grew stronger, and hopes were getting diminished!

His wife advised him: “Why don’t we try to approach our King and seek his financial assistance? Hopefully, he will help!”

“Hmm… that is a good suggestion,” said the farmer, “but what shall we present him, when we go to meet him? We surely can’t go empty-handed!”

They both went to their plantain grove.

Unfortunately, there were only three plantains!
“How can we give this cheap present to the King,” sadly exclaimed the wife.
“He may even get angry with us”, commented the farmer.

Finally, faced with no choice, they thought about another idea – “they would meet the Queen-Mother of the King”

So they went, in fear, yet with hope, approaching the mother of the King.

They presented her the three plantains as a gift to the King and informed her of their serious problem.

That night, the mother, placed the three plantains, in a golden plate, full of precious stones.

When the King saw the plantains, which were placed amid the fine jewels, he was impressed.

He enquired who gave it – and the problem of the farmer and his sick child was informed.

The King called the farmer, and being pleased with him, gave him much wealth and land!

Similar is the work of our Blessed Mother, the Queen-Mother of our Blessed Lord.

She presents our problems and difficulties to the Lord, and provides consolation and strength in our moments of distress.

The narrative of the marriage feast at Cana stands at the beginning of Our Lord’s public ministry.

Mary was present. Jesus and His disciples were also invited.

Amid the festivities, Mary observes that the wine has failed, and, foresees the embarrassment which the bridal pair were sure to be exposed, and tells: “They have no wine!” (Jn 2:3)

This statement not only presents the reality of what happened at the wedding at Cana, but is in fact, a story of our own lives – of moments and times in our lives “when the wine runs short!”

All of us have our own story to tell of the day or of the times, when the “wine ran out!”
… maybe at the death of our loved one or the loss of friendship or of disturbances in marriage
… maybe the disappointing search for acceptance, care and understanding from others
… maybe our despairing hunt for meaning in life or the fear to encounter uncertainty of the future
… maybe moments of financial crunch or social abandonment or being a victim of gossip and ill-talk

The list goes on – of moments and situations – when the “wine ran out!”

And despite all our good intentions, hard work and efforts, we are unable to refill the jars!

Our lives only remain as jars with water that is “filled up to the brim!” (Cf. Jn 2:7)

We realise that by ourselves, we are limited and our human efforts will be insufficient!

We realise that the faster we recognise the illusion of self-sufficiency, the greater we begin to depend on God’s Grace and His Holy Providence.

This is where our Blessed Mother’s intercessory role plays a significant role

She presents the diagnosis of our state of life to Her Beloved Son, and directs the servants to do the Will of His Son – “Do whatever he tells you!” (Jn 2:5)

Mary’s concern for every human person and our situation is unequivocal here.

She comes to the help of human needs, and brings those needs to the attention of Jesus.
She stands “between her Son and humankind in the reality of their wants, needs, and sufferings!”

At Cana, Mary does not tell Jesus what to do!

As a Mother, she points out to Her Son, the things which must be done, and leaves everything to His Will and Decision!

In Mother Mary, we can ‘send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears” and pray to Her, the most gracious advocate, “to turn Her eyes of mercy towards us!”

Yes, we need to offer all our concerns and uncertainties into the hands of our Blessed Mother!

As St Maximilian Kolbe says, “Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did!”

Let us prepare ourselves for the Great Wedding Feast which will take place on “The Third Day” (Cf Jn 2:1) – the Day of our Resurrection – by seeking the intercession of our Queen- Mother Mary, and being obedient to the commandments of the Lord!

The best wine is waiting…!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE COMMUNION OF THE CHURCH OF HEAVEN AND EARTH

The three states of the Church. “When the Lord comes in glory, and all his angels with him, death will be no more and all things will be subject to him. But at the present time some of his disciples are pilgrims on earth. Others have died and are being purified, while still others are in glory, contemplating ‘in full light, God himself triune and one, exactly as he is”‘

All of us, however, in varying degrees and in different ways share in the same charity towards God and our neighbours, and we all sing the one hymn of glory to our God. All, indeed, who are of Christ and who have his Spirit form one Church and in Christ cleave together. (CCC # 954)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – January 15, 2022: Saturday

“Being open to meet and experience the Lord, in our everyday – simple and ordinary – situations of life!”

(Based on 1 Sam 9:1-4, 17-19; 10:1 and Mk 2:13-17 – Saturday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time, Year II)

An old lady loved visiting antique shops.

One day while browsing one, she came across a beautiful old Singer-style sewing machine…
… the manual kind, mounted on a table with a foot pedal.

When she saw it she whispered a simple prayer: ‘God, I’d love something like that for my place.’

A couple of days later, as she was walking out her front door on her way to work when she saw a pile of junk by the roadside.

She stopped, stunned!

There in the rubbish stood an old Singer-style sewing machine…
… the manual kind, mounted on a table with a foot pedal.

On it hung a sign that said:
“In good condition— anyone can take.”

God is a God of surprises!

He visits us even in the most ordinary situations of life.

Are we open to meet and experience the Lord, in our everyday – simple and ordinary – situations of life?

The readings of the day present two people who encounter the Call of the Lord in their “routines of life!”
… Saul, who would become the first king of Israel
… Levi, who would become an apostle of Christ

The people of Israel had remained adamant and stubborn in their demand for a king…
… just like all other nations of the world (Cf. 1 Sam 8:19-20)

They would thus move away from the Kingship of the Lord – obstinate to follow their own wills

Yet, God doesn’t forsake them

He provides a king from among them – the Divine Wisdom of preparing the people to receive Christ as the Ultimate King

Saul is chosen in an ordinary and regular context of life.

The reading describes how Saul is sent by his father to search for “lost donkeys!”

“Now the asses of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. So Kish said to Saul his son, “Take one of the servants with you, and arise, go and look for the asses.” (1 Sam 9:3).

In the East, asses/donkeys are a valuable property – indispensable for farm-work and travelling.

They were valuable to their owners, since they were their mode of transportation.
They were even a symbol of peace and wealth (Esau sent to Jacob, his brother “twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys” – Gen 32:14 – in order to appease him)

As Saul moves from place to place, in search of “lost donkeys” he is encountered by Samuel, the prophet, who would be instructed to anoint Saul as the king of Israel.

‘When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, “Here is the man of whom I spoke to you! He it is who shall rule over my people.” (1 Sam 3:17)

The Gospel of the Day (Mk 2:13-17) presents Jesus, who is sent by His Father, to search for “lost sheep” and “sick patients”

“Jesus said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.’ (Mk 2:17)

Levi was “busy at table counting taxes”…
… with his own worldly interests and concerns
… surrounded by people who hated tax-collectors like him, and looked down on him, in contempt and rejection

It is interesting to see…
… that even in a situation of “donkeys being lost”, God can intervene in human lives!

Even though Saul was only looking for “donkeys”, God was in search of Saul!

It is interesting to see…
… that even in a situation of “counting the taxes at table”, God can intervene in human lives!

Even though Levi was only looking for “taxes”, Jesus was in search of Levi!

Do we find ourselves in situations of “lost donkeys”…
… searching for wealth and means of comfort in life?
… searching for peace and satisfaction in life?

Do we find ourselves “busy at table counting taxes?”
… busy with many worldly concerns and worries?
… busy in being surrounded by people who reject and hate us?

Then let us know and understand that even in such ordinary situations of “lost donkeys” and being “busy at table counting taxes”…
… can become occasions when God wants to anoint us with His Oil of Graces and Gladness! (Cf. 1 Sam 10:1)
… can become moments when God wants to address you and tell you, “Follow me”! (Cf. Mk 2:14)

God is looking for you…
… even if you are not thinking much about Him!

Jesus wants you to follow Him closer…
… even if you are not much ready for it and busy with the affairs of the world!

Yes, God is a God of surprises!

He visits us even in the most ordinary situations of life.

Are we open to meet and experience the Lord, in our everyday – simple and ordinary – situations of life?

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

Communion of charisms: Within the communion of the Church, the Holy Spirit “distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank” for the building up of the Church.
Now, “to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
“They had everything in common.” “Everything the true Christian has is to be regarded as a good possessed in common with everyone else.
All Christians should be ready and eager to come to the help of the needy… and of their neighbours in want.”
A Christian is a steward of the Lord’s goods.
Communion in charity: In the sanctorum communio, “None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.”
“If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”

“Charity does not insist on its own way.” In this solidarity with all men, living or dead, which is founded on the communion of saints, the least of our acts done in charity redounds to the profit of all. Every sin harms this communion. (CCC # 951-953)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – January 14, 2022: Friday

“Holding on – firmly and with conviction – to do what is right always, and allowing the Lord to always be the King of our hearts”

(Based on 1 Sam 8:4-7, 10-22 and Mk 2:1-12 – Friday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time, Year II)

A social worker – known for his many deeds of selfless service – was being honoured at a public function.

On being asked, what was his philosophy that made him to reach out to the needy…
… despite the many challenges, persecutions and oppositions, he answered:
“My philosophy is simple!
I have always trusted in the maxim: ‘What is right need not be popular always…
… and what is popular need not be right always!’

Holding onto this philosophy has always helped me…
… not to waver in my decisions with wrong influences – even when there was immense pressure
… not to be discouraged when I know it was right – even when the whole world did not agree”

Do we hold on to doing what is right…
… even if we those are not popular?

The people of Israel in the Old Testament chose popularity over doing what was right…
… and thus went against the Mind of God!

The First reading is this account of the people of Israel demanding for a “king”…
… in order to ‘identify themselves with all the surrounding nations’ and thus gaining in popularity and reputation

“…Now appoint for us a king to govern us like all the nations.” (1 Sam 8:5)

Israel was called “to be holy!”

“You shall be holy to me; for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.” (Lev 20:26)

The word for “Holy” in Hebrew is “Qadosh”

“Qadosh” literally means “to be set apart for a special purpose!”

Thus, the people of Israel were to have a distinct identity among all the nations of Israel, with the Lord God as their Only King (“The Lord will reign for ever and ever” – Exo 15:18)…
… and they His Chosen People – set apart to walk in His Paths!

“And I will take you for my people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (Exo 6:7)

But the people failed to hold on this “right” perspective of their calling…
… and sought after “popularity” and identification as the other nations!

“No! but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations…
… and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles!” (1 Sam 8:19-20)

What about our lives?

Do we allow “right things and right deeds” to have priority…
… do we give greater preference to the “popular ones” even if they are not right?

As Christians, we are called “to be different from the world” and not allow ourselves to be diluted and corrupted by the wrong influences of the world
… “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (Jn 17:16)

Do we allow the Lord to be the Sole and Sovereign King of our lives?

The Israelites by demanding for a king were rejecting God – “…they have rejected me from being king over them.” (1 Sam 8:7)

Every time, we run after things which may be popular, but not right in the eyes of the Lord…
… we are rejecting the Kingship of God!

Every time, we go against the Virtues of the Kingdom in order to “please others or to fulfil our selfish desires”…
… we fail to allow God to reign over us!

Every time, we disobey the commands and wishes of the Lord in order “to remain in good stead and in the well-liked and trendy books of others”…
… we end up dethroning God, as the King of our lives!

The Gospel of the Day (Mk 2:1-12) presents some of the Scribes who remained closed to the “right things” that Jesus did – healing of the paralytic: spiritually and physically…
… and were unwilling to usher in the Reign of God in their lives!

When hearts are closed, one fails to see the Presence of God – just like the people of Israel and the Scribes

When minds are unwilling to learn, one becomes rebellious and agitated – just like the people of Israel and the Scribes.

Let us hold on – firmly and with conviction – to the philosophy: ‘What is right need not be popular always, and what is popular need not be right always!’…
… and allow the Lord to always be the King of our hearts, so that “we can sing forever of the Love of the Lord!” (Ps 89:1)

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
COMMUNION IN SPIRITUAL GOODS

In the primitive community of Jerusalem, the disciples “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers.”
Communion in the Faith: The faith of the faithful is the faith of the Church, received from the apostles. Faith is a treasure of life which is enriched by being shared.
Communion of the Sacraments: “The fruit of all the sacraments belongs to all the faithful. All the sacraments are sacred links uniting the faithful with one another and binding them to Jesus Christ, and above all Baptism, the gate by which we enter into the Church.

The communion of saints must be understood as the communion of the sacraments…. the name ‘communion’ can be applied to all of them, for they unite us to God…. But this name is better suited to the Eucharist than to any other, because it is primarily the Eucharist that brings this communion about (CCC # 949-950)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – January 13, 2022: Thursday

“Staying close to God, the Source of our Strength, and always being charged and powerful!”

(Based on 1 Sam 4:1-10 and Mk 1:40-45 – Thursday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time, Year II)

“Beep, beep” came the sound of the mobile phone

The beeping sound indicated a very low level of the battery.

After a couple of minutes, another clicking sound came…
… with a message, “Your phone is going to shut down because the battery is over!”

The mobile had stayed away from the charger for too long!

It lost its ability to function the way it was created and designed…
… because it stayed away from its source of power for too long!

Christian life is so much more similar

“We lose the charge and power when we stay away from God, the Source of our Strength!”

We cannot keep pushing our life too long on a “low battery mode”…
… and also thus wonder, why are things not going on well in my life?

Am in danger of “being shut down” due to “low-battery life?”

Is my life today in need of “recharging” by dwelling with the Source of our life?

The 1st Book of Samuel today gives us an important lesson on the danger of being away from the Source of our life…
… through the example of Hophni and Phinehas, the priestly sons of Eli, the priest.

The Bible describes them as people who “had no regard for the Lord”

“The sons of Eli were worthless men; they had no regard for the Lord.” (1 Sam 2:12)

They abused their office of priesthood in a number of ways:

They took more than their share of the meat from the animals that were brought to the sanctuary as sacrifices (Cf 1 Sam 2:13-14)
They often took their portion at the wrong time during the sacrifice (Cf 1 Sam 2: 15-16)
They lay with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting (Cf 1 Sam 2:22)

Even though they were warned by their father Eli, these sons failed to give any regard and respect to his admonitions. (Cf. 1 Sam 2:22-25)

Continual and wilful disobedience to rules and laws – even minor ones – always takes one’s heart away from God…
… leading gradually to a fall from one’s commitment.

The reading of the day presents the disturbing incident of the Ark of the Covenant being captured by the Philistines and the death of Phinehas and Hophni (1 Sam 4:1-11).

The incident teaches some important and crucial spiritual reminders:

  1. Depend not on human wisdom; rather trust in God’s Word

The Israelites lost around four thousand people on the battlefield against the Philistines (Cf 1 Sam 4:2b).

On returning back, as they evaluated the defeat, they made a consultation only among themselves…
… even though Samuel, the prophet of God was available (Cf 1 Sam 3:19-4:1)

They least bothered to find what was the Mind of God or to seek for His Guidance!

In our moments of decision-making and of evaluation, do we only take refuge in human knowledge and wisdom…
… or do we allow ourselves to consult the Mind of God and to learn from Him – primarily through prayer?

As the book of Proverbs says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.” (Prov 3:5)

  1. Do not misuse/manipulate Divine Graces in one’s own personal ways and means

Without knowing the mind of the Lord, the Israelites decided to bring the Ark of the Covenant in their midst, for gaining victory.

The purpose to bring the Ark was not to honour or glorify the Name of the Lord, nor to ascribe dependence on the Lord…
… rather, when they ran out of all human resources – as a last resort – they sought to manipulate Divine Graces in their own way.

This is a great reminder for all of us to follow and obey the Holy Rubrics and Instructions of our Faith and Liturgy as instructed by the Church …
… instead of “creatively using or avoiding” rituals and ceremonies as per our own conveniences

Giving Supreme Glory and Honour to God in humble submission to the teachings of the Church ought to be the motto in everything that we do!

  1. Do not expect God’s Holy blessings without repenting and turning to Him

When the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the camp of Israel, the two priests – Phinehas and Hophni – were accompanying.

These priests were very much in sin and transgression…
… and yet, without repenting they would handle the Divine Ark!

Seeking to receive God’s Holy Sacraments in a state of sin and without repentance can cause harm…
… instead of receiving blessings.

St Paul echoes this fearful reality when he says: “Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.” (I Cor 11:28-30)

Do I prepare myself well in order to receive the Blessings of the Lord…?
… especially an honest examination of conscience – with repentance – for the Sacrament of Confession
… a meaningful and sincere preparation for the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist

Each of us are invited to live a deeper and closer relationship with the Lord at all times

As the leper, in the Gospel (Mk 1:40-45) would beseech the Lord, “If you will, you can make me clean”…
… let us always first seek and allow God’s Will in our life, in order to receive His Healing and His Blessings

Let us remember that in our life, “we lose the charge and power when we stay away from God, the Source of our Strength!”

Let us avoid the danger of “being shut down” due to “low-battery life and instead “recharge” ourselves by earnestly praying: “Redeem us, Lord, because of your mercy!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS

Since all the faithful form one body, the good of each is communicated to the others, we must therefore believe that there exists a communion of Goods in the Church.
But the most important member is Christ, since he is the head…. Therefore, the riches of Christ are communicated to all the members, through the sacraments.”
“As this Church is governed by one and the same Spirit, all the goods she has received necessarily become a common fund.”
The term “communion of saints” therefore has two closely linked meanings: communion in holy things (sancta)” and “among holy persons (sancti).
“Sancta sancti’s! (“God’s holy gifts for God’s holy people”) is proclaimed by the celebrant in most Eastern liturgies during the elevation of the Holy Gifts before the distribution of Communion.

The faithful (sancta) are fed by Christ’s holy body and blood (sancta) to grow in the communion of the Holy Spirit (koinonia) and to communicate it to the world. (CCC # 947-948)