REFLECTION CAPSULE – March 01, 2022: Tuesday

“Growing in the assurance that God is always holding us!”

(Based on 1 Pet 1:10-16 and Mk 10:28-31 – Tuesday of the 8th Week in Ordinary Time, Year II)

One day a person who was going through much spiritual and mental perplexity called up his friend.

He knew that his friend was able to remain sturdy and confident, even in the midst of troubles of life.

And so he desired to learn from him this secret to stay calm

“Tell me,” the anxious friend asked over the phone, “how is it that you can trust God so easily? How is it that you always got hold of God?”

For some time, the person was silent.
And then, taking a deep sigh, he replied, “It surely did take me a while to know and learn this.

But let me be honest with you.

Even now I have my moments when I don’t know if I have got hold of God…
… but one thing I have learnt over the years: ‘God always has a hold of me!”

It was this assurance that God was always holding him…
… that allowed this person to remain calm and confident in his journey of life.

Are we ready to grow deeper in this fact: That God is always having a hold of me…
… and this assurance that translates to a life of trust and confidence!

Our lives in the Lord, is a spiritual journey…

The greater assurance we have in the promises of the Lord, the more pleasant will be our journey
The stronger our assurances in the Word of the Lord, the swifter will be our progress in this journey towards the Lord

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus declaring His assured promises to those who follow Him, sincerely and wholeheartedly.

Jesus tells to Peter and the other disciples:
“Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and the sake of the Gospel, who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age…
… and eternal life in the age to come” (Mk 10: 29)

This incident takes place right after the encounter of the rich young man with Jesus (Mk 10: 17-22)

This man was proposed by Jesus to sell all his possessions and then follow Him.

The man, however, found it hard, to let go off his attachments, and instead let go of the Lord.
He went away sad!

Peter, as the leader of the disciples, however, contrasts this “possessive and worldly” tendency of the rich young man by telling Jesus, “We have given up everything and followed you” (Mk 10: 28)

Perhaps, there was a growing concern among the disciples, as to whether their radical decision to commit themselves to the Master would go in vain!

Perhaps, there was an apparent fear within the disciples, as to whether their decisions to leave their professions, their families and their aspirations to follow the Lord would go fruitless!

And so the Lord, with a candid straight-forwardness replies that their sacrifices would surely assure them of rewards…
… of a much higher quality and eminence.

How often do our lives also sometimes sink in hopelessness, thinking whether our expressions of faith would end up in meaninglessness!

Sometimes even fearful thoughts and anxious emotions may cross our mind…
… will the various sacrifices and pains that I take up for the Lord, go in vain?
… will my unshed tears, my unspoken prayers and painful sighs, end up in futility?
… will the efforts I make to grow in love and nourish others in faith, lead to fruitlessness?

But the Lord assures us, that none of these efforts – small or great, noticed or unnoticed, seen or unseen – will escape the penetrating eyes of the Lord and go unrewarded.

All our actions, done in love, has an assured reward!

What is however, most essential, is our total focus on the Lord and unflinched commitment to Him.

The Lord most certainly assures us of rewards and gifts.

But, in this pursuit, let us not stray away, or lose focus of Him!

Our lives ought to be impelled by the love for the God of rewards…
… than merely the rewards of God!

Our lives must be lived in faithfulness to the God of gifts…
… than being fascinated only to the gifts of God!

As we begin this new month of March, let us seek to have the Lord Himself as our greatest reward…
… our finest gift!

When we grow in the assurance that God is always holding us…
… we can remain calm and confident in this journey of life.


Are we ready to grow deeper in this awareness?

God Bless! Live Jesus!

📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him.
But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbour or against ourselves: “He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”
Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren.
To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from Him for ever by our own free choice.

This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.” (CCC # 1032)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – February 28, 2022: Monday

Prioritising for the ‘true riches of our life!’”

(Based on 1 Pet 1:3-9 and Mk 10:17-27 – Monday of the 8th Week in Ordinary Time, Year II)

A story is told about Phythius, an ancient King of Lydia (Lydia – a place in the present day Turkey).

Phythius was very wealthy, but also very greedy, and he would spend as little as possible.

His wife – the Queen – was however, greatly determined to cure him of this “wealth mania!”

One day when he came home hungry from a long hunt, she told the slaves to place before him dishes that were filled with gold…
… gold that was fresh from the royal gold mines.

The King stared down at his gold-filled plates, admiring them for some time, and then he asked for some food.

“Food?” his wife asked, feigning surprise, “But surely they have brought you what you love best in the world, haven’t they?”

“What are you talking about?” the King replied, as he lost his temper, “Gold can’t satisfy my hunger.”

“No?” the Queen answered, “Is it not foolish then to have such love for something that cannot be useful so long as you hang on to it?

Believe me; gold is truly of service only to people who exchange it for the good and useful things of life.”

The rich man in the Gospel of the Day also faced a similar “wealth mania”…
… and was reminded that “riches come to have true value, only when given in service, to the needy”

Are we also facing a “wealth mania” in our lives?

The rich man in the Gospel of the Day, approaches Jesus to ask, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mk 10: 17)

When Jesus gave him a list of commandments, that needed to be followed to help ensure a passage into eternal life, the man replied, “Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth” (Mk 10: 20)

We underline a few aspects of this young man…
… he did desire for a life of eternity and followed the commandments
… he did nurture a sense of being pious and devout, to please the Lord

… he probably failed to live up to the intentions of the commandments
… he possibly got lost into only keeping the letters of the commandments; not the spirit!

He got attached to doing God’s commandment, but failed to break his attachments with the riches of the world.

He possessed the good will to follow God’s teachings, but failed to let go of the possessions of his life.

The Lord realized this “pitiable” condition of the young man.

He was wealthy in the world, but was unable to be rich before God
He was obedient to the laws, but was unable to be obedient to give up his attachments.

Therefore, the Lord, knowing this state of the young man – devout yet not properly focused…
… “looked at him, loved him, and said: ‘You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then, come, follow me'” (Mk 10: 21)

This young man could represent any one of us…

We seek to be pious but find it hard to let go of our possessions
We seek for holiness in life but go through a struggle to give up our attachments
We seek to follow the Lord wholly but stumble to give ourselves entirely to the Lord

Yet, the Lord does not give up on us…
He looks on us…
He loves us…

And He invites us, to have the proper focus in life!

It is not material possessions that ought to occupy our hearts; rather, our hearts needs to be possessed with the Love for the Lord.

It is not worldly treasures that should be our prime motto in life; rather, a life, dedicated to the Kingdom of God and helping the needy with the resources we have.

Our material life is totally in the control of the Lord.

Our material possessions will be of no avail, when we leave this world.
Our hands will not be able to hold any riches when we depart from this life.

Let us instead be possessed by the Lord, gather the precious stones of His grace and love by works of charity and hold on to Him…
… so that we may have a wonderful life of eternity with the Lord of all treasures!

Let us give heed to some of the wise and noble sayings of Holy People who have described the necessity to be detached from the riches of the world…

St Bede the Venerable: “He alone loves the Creator perfectly who manifests a pure love for his neighbor.”

St Alphonsus Liguori:”Those who desire nothing from this world are masters of the whole world.”

St Gregory the Great: “Be not anxious about what you have, but about what you are… Make use of temporal things, but set your heart on eternal things.”

Let us be faithful and witnessing members of the Church…
… by prioritising for the “true riches of our life!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture:
“Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.”
From the beginning the Church has honoured the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them…
… above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God
The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:
Let us help and commemorate them.
If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation?

Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them (CCC # 1032)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – February 27, 2022: Sunday

“Improving the quality of our lives, and our credibility in being a leader, with the Grace of God and our sincere cooperation with the Lord!”

(Based on Sir 24:4-7, 1 Cor 15:54-58 and Lk 6:39-45 – 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C)

In a particular town, there lived a cobbler, who was unable to make a living by his trade.

Driven to despair by his poverty, he accommodated himself in another far-away town and began to practise medicine.
He sold a drug which he claimed to be an antidote for all sorts of poisons.

Towards this end, he also created a great popularity campaign through advertisements and boastful proclamations.

Unfortunately, in a short period, the cobbler himself happened to fall sick to a serious illness.

The ruler of the town sought this as a nice chance to test his medicine’s capability and the man’s genuineness.

For this, the ruler called for a cup, and filling it with water, pretended to mix poison with the cobbler’s antidote…
… commanding him to drink, with a promise of a handsome reward.

The sick cobbler, overcome with much fear and trembling, confessed that he had no knowledge of medicine!

The ruler then called the people of the town and addressed them: “Oh, how foolish are you! You have not hesitated to entrust your heads to a man, whom no one could employ even to make shoes for their feet!”

Often, perhaps, it so happens that we too…
… get fooled in life
… get led by incapable people
… get ourselves to be a slave to unbecoming things

We become blind and perhaps, we also lead others to stumble!

Our Blessed Lord in today’s Gospel invites us to a deep examination of the quality of our lives and our credibility in being a leader

Jesus says, “Can a blind man lead a blind person? Will they not both fall into a pit?” (Lk 6: 39)

This verse is a reference to two sets of people: one, the guide… second, the one who is led.

We could find ourselves in either of these categories or sometimes even both.

We could be a guide or one who is guided or both – a guide as well as one who is guided.

In any of the cases, one needs to examine one’s quality of life.

Am I shrouded in the darkness of being in ignorance and apathy…
… disinterested to learn and be willing to know more…?
… causing others to be misled and creating confusions and misunderstandings…?

Am I a person who is sunk into the dark abyss of being prejudiced and unforgiving….
… unwilling to be open to the truth and adamant in considering even to review or re-examine my viewpoints…?
… blinded to accept differences and failing to cherish diversity and thus constantly being at loggerheads with others…?

Am I veiled continuously under the dark shades of being unjustly critical and judgmental…
… full of pride and being unable to let go of my selfish interests and self-centred wants…?
… enamoured by pleasure in looking for opportunities and means to put down others or find faults with others…?

Our Blessed Lord invites us to make an honest review of our lives and to be always willing to ring in positive transformations.

The book of Sirach reminds us: “When a sieve is shaken, the husks appear; so do one’s faults when one speaks.

As the test of what the potter moulds is in the furnace, so in tribulation is the test of the just.” (Sir 27:4-5)

The level of honesty of our heart is reflected by our words and life

We need to nurture purity and holiness in our heart!

This Sunday is an invitation to all of us, to put into the practise the beautiful saying:

If you use the head with which you reprove others to reprove yourself, there will be fewer faults;
If you use the heart with which you forgive yourself to forgive others, there will be perfect friendship.

Let us improve the quality of our lives, and our credibility in being a leader…
… with the Grace of God and our sincere cooperation with the Lord!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.
The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.
The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent.
The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:
As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. >> He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come.

From this sentence, we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come. (CCC # 1030-1031)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULE FOR THE DAY – February 26, 2022: Saturday

“Being AT HOME with Jesus!”

(Based on Jas 5:13-20 and Mk 10:13-16 – Saturday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time, Year II)

Home Sweet Home is a phrase that is often used in our parlance.

Home evokes a feeling of comfort, relaxation, wellbeing, ease and contentment.
>> “Feel at home” is a constant invitation that we extend to our guests and visitors and make them feel secure.

>> Some places are naturally able to give us this “homely-feeling”…
>> Some persons are also naturally able to render us this “homely-feeling”…
Jesus, is the one person, who is certainly & surely able to give the “best homely feeling!”

The Gospels are a testimony to this fact…
>> Sinners found a home…
… a solace in the Sanctifying Presence of the Lord!

>> Sick people found a home…
… a remedying cure in the Healing Presence of the Lord!

>> Broken souls found a home…
… a regrouping catalyst in the Restoring Presence of the Lord!

>> Outcast groups found a home…
… an accepting embrace in the Welcoming Presence of the Lord!

>> Hopeless persons found a home…
… an encouraging impetus in the Energetic Presence of the Lord!

In the Gospel of the Day, we encounter another set of Persons who sought to find a Home in the Lord and wanted to experience His comforting love – Little Children

Little children are brought to Jesus to be prayed over and to be blessed… (Mk 10:13)

These Little Children are brought to Jesus so that find a Home in Him- a Home of Blessing & Sanctity!
>> But unfortunately… the Disciples prevented the Little Ones from being brought to Jesus!

How often this happens in our world too: Little things in life often not being given the due importance and are discarded or pushed away…

The Disciples of Jesus fell prey to this sad and pitiable trend of the ‘frantic and frenzied’ world…
>> Perhaps they felt…these little children are a nuisance in the hectic & occupied schedule of Jesus…
>> Perhaps they considered…these little children are an unnecessary burden to an already overburdened Jesus…
>> Perhaps they thought.. these little children are a hindrance in the teaching, healing and preaching ministry of Jesus…

But Jesus, the Home-giver, the Care-provider…. reprimands & reproofs this attitude & approach.
>> He is a Home to the Homeless… He is a Shelter to the Shelterless… He is a Hope to the Hopeless…

He invites the Little Children to be brought to Him & help them feel His Homely Presence!
>> He bids the Little Ones to be brought to Him & let them be touched by His Healing Presence!

In our lives, we at times photocopy this attitude of the Disciples and fall short to approach the Lord: Avoiding the little things of life that give spiritual console and spiritual strength
>> In my work-dominated life…
… Do I fail to spend, a little time in the Homely Presence of the Lord?

>> In my high-styled life…
… Do I miss to realize & enjoy, the little joys in the Providence of the Lord?

>> In my passive life…
Do I take for granted, the favours that I obtain in the Mercy of the Lord?

>> In my tension-filled life…
Do I neglect the blessings, that I receive through the Bounty of the Lord?

People might prevent us…Situations might discourage us…Circumstances might dampen our spirit
>> But, the Lord has a Home for each one of us!

The Lord never gets tired of us… let us go to Him, to seek comfort and solace!
>> The Lord eagerly waits for us… let us run to Him and be blessed and graced in His embrace!
>>>> The Lord has enough time for us … let us approach Him & experience the true happiness of life!

Jesus, is the one person, who is certainly & surely able to give the “best homely feeling!”
>> Let us be AT HOME WITH JESUS!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

– Fr Jijo Jose Manjackal MSFS
Bengaluru, India

📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
>> Because of His transcendence, God cannot be seen as He is, unless He Himself opens up His mystery to man’s immediate contemplation and gives Him the capacity for it.
>> The Church calls this contemplation of God in His heavenly glory “the beatific vision”:

How great will your glory and happiness be, to be allowed to see God, to be honoured with sharing the joy of salvation and eternal light with Christ your Lord and God…
… to delight in the joy of immortality in the Kingdom of heaven with the righteous and God’s friends
>> In the glory of heaven, the blessed continue joyfully to fulfil God’s Will in relation to other men and to all creation.
>> Already they reign with Christ; with Him “they shall reign for ever and ever.” (CCC # 1028-29)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – February 25, 2022: Friday

“Growing in the understanding of ‘being faithful and committed’ in our relations, and ‘feeling at home’ – with God and with one another!”

(Based on Jas 5:9-12 and Mk 10:1-12 – Friday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time, Year II)

An elderly couple narrates an incident in the life of their daughter.

A couple of weeks after the marriage of their daughter, they got a call from her.

The newly-weds had their first big fight.

After several tense moments over the phone, the mother gave the phone to the father and asked him to speak and console her daughter.

A few minutes later, the father came back to the mother, who had been sitting worriedly, in the living room.

“What happened? What did she say”, asked the tense mother.

“She wanted to come home” replied the father.

“Oh! Then what did you tell her?” enquired the worried mother

“I told her” said the father, “she was already home!”

… once married, the husband and wife form one home, “leaving their father and mother!”

This was the truth that was explained by the father to her daughter.

Marriage is a sacred institution – a precious covenant – that demands a lifelong commitment and a faithful dedication, despite the ups and downs of life.

It is this message that is driven home by Jesus in today’s Gospel when He expounds His teaching on the sacredness of the Covenant of Marriage.

The passage begins with a testing interrogation by the Pharisees, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” (Mk 10: 2a)

St Mark clearly points the intention of the Pharisees in asking this question to Jesus: “To test Him” (Mk 10: 2b)

Jesus was in the district of Judea, across the Jordan (Mk 10:1)

Is there something specific in this particular detail being mentioned – “across the Jordan?”

“Across the Jordan” was the place where John the Baptist had been working (Jn 1: 28)

By mentioning the place, St Mark alludes to the outcome that had befallen on John the Baptist.

John the Baptist had got into great persecution because of his open-condemnation of the adulterous relationship of King Herod with Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. (Mk 6:17)

By putting forward the “same question of divorce” before Jesus, the Pharisees were laying a much greater trap…
… If Jesus condemned divorce, it could amount to an act of treason against King Herod, the ruler of the land!

John the Baptist had lost his head due to the strong stance on the issue of divorce

Now Jesus, is also being snared into such a life-threatening trap!

But Jesus remains the Person that He is – uncompromising, unflinching, convinced, bold and daring!

A big lesson for us too, to learn from Jesus…

There will be situations in life when people get into our skin, trying to put us into confusion and even states of danger…
… Can we still remain undaunted and courageous to stand firm on our convictions and principles?

Jesus came to the world to demonstrate the magnanimity of God’s Love.

This magnanimity includes…
… His unconditional manner of loving us, irrespective of our worthiness
… His unreserved faithfulness to us, despite our many acts of betrayal and disloyalty

It is this model of God’s love that becomes the blueprint for us in loving others, and especially in a marriage relationship.

The partners, pledged in love to each other in marriage, ought to imitate the love that God has for us…

We have cheated and strayed away from what God wants of us…
… He still loves us and is faithful to us

We have, on innumerable occasions, spat at His face by our shameful deeds and defamed His name by our sinful acts…
… He still holds us close to Him and remains loyal to us

We have, despite many warnings, purposely hurt Him in thoughts, words and deeds and even rejected His graces by not co-operating with His Will for us…
… He still waits patiently for our return and constantly seeks to draw us to Him

We have failed Him many times, but He has always made efforts to try to win us
We have hurt and pained Him much, but He has still longs for us, with His soothing balm of acceptance

It is this “magnanimity of God’s Love” that becomes the basis, the inspiration and the ideal in every marriage relationship.

Therefore Jesus says, “What therefore God has joined, let not man put asunder” (Mt 19: 6b)

We live in a world where the quickest solution to many problems is found in “throwing it away!”

And the same mentality affects human relationships too… especially to those in marriage.

The challenge therefore is to dare to swim against these worldly currents and bring in the “Jesus Culture of Faithful Commitment” in human relationships, especially of marriage.

Theoretically speaking, this sounds quite good and wonderful.

But when it comes down to the actual practice… in married lives… it is undoubtedly a very hard effort.

“But what is impossible for humans is possible for God” (Lk 18: 27), is the assurance of Jesus.

When the going gets really hard and we want to call it ‘quits’ in our relationships…
… let us look to Jesus who said “Yes to the Will of God” in the painful agony at Gethsemane

There may seem no hope ahead…
There may appear only meaninglessness ahead…
Still, can we say Yes to God’s Will – to be faithful and committed?

When none of our efforts of restoration work out and we get ‘fed’ up and feel to have reached the ‘limit’ in relationships…
… let us look to Jesus Crucified, who was never ‘fed’ up with our misdeeds and our constant misunderstanding and misuse of His love

It may look like the end of the road…
It may seem that all the past was mere fantasy and the future appears to be non-existent…
Still, can we hold on to Hope in God – to be true to our promise and be loyal?

The promises made…

to our Faith in Baptism
to the spouse in Marriage
to the Lord in Consecrated and Priestly Life
… all demand an undissolved commitment, an undiluted faithfulness and an unmixed dedication.

Let us grow in the understanding of “being faithful and committed” in our relations…
… and to “feel at home” – with God and with one another.

God Bless! Live Jesus!

📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

By His death and Resurrection, Jesus Christ has “opened” heaven to us.
The life of the blessed consists in the full and perfect possession of the fruits of the redemption accomplished by Christ.
He makes partners in hIs heavenly glorification those who have believed in Him and remained faithful to His Will.
Heaven is the blessed community of all who are perfectly incorporated into Christ.
This mystery of blessed communion with God and all who are in Christ is beyond all understanding and description.

Scripture speaks of it in images: life, light, peace, wedding feast, wine of the kingdom, the Father’s house, the heavenly Jerusalem, paradise: “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him (CCC # 1026-27)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – February 24, 2022: Thursday

“Living a saintly life and attracting many to Christ!”

(Based on Jas 5:1-6 and Mk 9:41-50 – Thursday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time, Year II)

An experience is narrated of a family who went to visit the world-famous Niagara Falls.

It was spring, and ice was rushing down the river.

As the family members viewed the large blocks of ice flowing toward the falls, they could see that there were carcasses of dead fish embedded in the ice.

A large number of sea-gulls (= birds, which feed mainly on fish) were riding down the river, feeding on the fish.

As they came to the brink of the falls, their wings would go out, and they would escape from the falls.

However there was one particular sea-gull, which seemed to delay much in flying.

It was deeply engrossed in the carcass of a fish.

Finally, only when it came to the brink of the falls, did it “flap its wings”.
…But it was a moment too late!

The bird flapped and flapped and even lifted the ice out of the water.

But it had delayed too long so that its claws had frozen into the ice.

The weight of the ice was too great, and the gull plunged into the abyss!

Excessive attachment and attraction, at the expense of “letting go”, cost the sea-gull its life!

How true is the saying: “The finest attractions of this world become deadly when one becomes overly attached to them.”

The Gospel of the Day is the powerful exhortation of Jesus on the need to “cut-off and pluck-off” ANYTHING which causes us to sin…
…thus according the prime duty of every follower of Christ to meticulously and diligently pursue the paths of holiness!

Jesus uses an extreme language to convey this message across:
“If your hand causes you to sin… cut it off!
If your foot causes you to sin… cut it off!
If your eye causes you to sin… pluck it off!” (Mk 9: 43,45,47)

The hand….the foot… and the eye… are three faculties which are extremely vital for a person’s activities:
The hand: points to the things “that we do”
The foot: points to the places “that we go”
The eye: points to the things “that we see or desire”

Jesus, thus refers to ANYTHING, which causes sin, to be totally be dismembered.

We need to make an honest examination of our lives…

What are the areas of my life, which cause me to sin…
… and keeps me away, from pursuing holiness?

Who are the people in my life, who lead me to sin…
… or keep me away from becoming closer to the Lord?

Which are the activities, which instigates me to sin…
… and renders me a slave to the wiles of the devil?

As human beings, there could be a naturally tendency….
… to easily get attached to things which attract and allure us
… to find it hard to let go of situations which gives us momentary pleasure and vain gratification
… to be impelled to remain holding onto certain people, even though we know they cause us to sin

But the Lord calls for an honest examination of our life…
…and dares us to “let go” of anything that would cause us to be unworthy of His Love.

May we seek to not get “attached” or “stuck” to the peripheries of life…
…instead “flap our wings” in the proper time…
… and pursue the paths of holiness and sanctity!

Let our lives be a saintly one, attracting many to Christ…
… and not a scandalous one, repelling many from Christ!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

This perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity – this communion of Life and Love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed – is called “heaven.”
Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfilment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness.

To live in heaven is “to be with Christ.”
The elect live “in Christ,” but they retain, or rather find, their true identity, their own name.

For life is to be with Christ; where Christ is, there is life, there is the kingdom (CCC # 1024-1025)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – February 23, 2022: Wednesday

“Living in faith and love, conviction and commitment – and becoming worthy to be truly called as the children of our Heavenly Father”

(Based on Jas 4:13-17 and Mk 9:38-40 – Wednesday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time, Year II)

A man possessed a ring set with wonderful diamonds.

This ring was a charm – whoever wore it, became so sweet and true in character that all people loved him.

It was always passed down from father to son, and always it did its work.

As time went on, it came to a father who had three sons whom he loved with an equal love.

What was he to do when the time came to pass on the ring?

The father had an idea…
… He made two other rings made precisely the same way – so that none could tell the difference.

On his death-bed he called each of his sons in, spoke some words of love … and without telling the other, gave to each a ring.

When the three sons discovered that each had a ring, a great dispute arose as to which was the true ring.

The case was taken to a wise judge.

He examined the case, and then spoke:
“If the true ring gives sweetness to the character of the man who wears it,” said the judge, “then I and all people will know the man who possesses the true ring by the goodness of his life.

So, go your ways -Be kind, Be truthful, Be brave, Be just in your dealings.

He who does these things will be the owner of the true ring.”

The owner of the original ring was to be found by the life that they lived!

Am I a possessor of the “Ring” of Christian Faith?

Then it needs to be displayed by a life of faith and love

Am I wearing the “Ring” of being a follower of Christ?

Then it needs to be exhibited by a life of conviction and commitment

The incident in today’s Gospel focuses on how Jesus opens the minds of His disciples to “not get limited” by peripherals of religion…
… Instead to focus on the power of God and to live a life worthy of our Christian Calling!

One of the disciples – John – told Jesus: “Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following Us” (Mk 9:38)

An act of demoniac-healing was being conducted by one who was “not in Jesus’ group”

The disciples were alarmed by it…
… they felt it their duty to forbid it, since that man was outside their “boundary”
… they would have felt within themselves, “How can he who is not with us, do such things?”
… there might perhaps even been a tinge of jealousy, since sometime back, they themselves couldn’t heal a possessed-boy (Mk 9:18)

This incident of the Gospel has a marked parallel in the Book of Numbers 11: 25-29

The Lord had spoken to Moses and bestowed the spirit on seventy chosen elders
Among them, two named Eldad and Medad were not in the gathering, but left in the camp
Joshua, came rushing to Moses and complained, “Stop them… they are prophesying in the camp”
To that, Moses replied sternly, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets!” (Num 11: 29)

Many times, among the “chosen people”, there could be such a tendency to “monopolize” Divine gifts

There could be occasions when “selected persons” feel themselves to be having a special right and privilege, to which no others can lay claim!

But the Lord seeks to break such fake boundaries and false borders, by telling:
“Whoever is not against us, is for us” (Mk 9:40)

The quality of our Christian Life will be not assessed, simply by the vocation to which we are called…
…but by our life of faithfulness and fidelity

The Christian Vocation is not merely a “title” to be hung around in pride…
… it is a responsible duty that is to be carried out with sincerity and earnestness

The Call to be a member of God’s Kingdom is not merely a “plaque” to be carried around for gratification…
… it is an accountable task that is to be performed with dedication and perseverance


We need to let go of our “restricted, narrow and prejudiced” mindsets and be open to the working of God’s Spirit, in any people

As Christians, we all are blest with the “ring” of being called the followers of Christ

Let us live with faith and love, conviction and commitment – and become to worthy to be truly called as the “Children of our Heavenly Father”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

Those who die in God’s grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they “see him as He is,” face to face
By virtue of our apostolic authority, we define the following: According to the general disposition of God, the souls of all the saints and other faithful who died after receiving Christ’s holy Baptism (provided they were not in need of purification when they died, or, if they then did need or will need some purification, when they have been purified after death) already before they take up their bodies again and before the general judgment…
… and this since the Ascension of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ into heaven – have been, are and will be in heaven, in the heavenly Kingdom and celestial paradise with Christ, joined to the company of the holy angels.

Since the Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, these souls have seen and do see the divine essence with an intuitive vision, and even face to face, without the mediation of any creature. (CCC # 1023)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – February 22, 2022: Tuesday

“Drawing closer to Jesus, the Great Rock Who will help us to stand firm and become passionate in service of the Church!”

(Based on the Feast of the Chair of St Peter, the Apostle)

A soldier working in the army – who was known for his bravery and never-give-up attitude – was asked by a journalist:
“What is the motivation for you to be so valiant and strong in your service?”

To that, the soldier replied: “Well, we have a saying in our army…
… and I try to follow that.

The saying is this: ‘If someone says, he is not afraid of death…
… then he is either lying
… or he is in the army!’

I have lived in this way of life… living this truth!”

As Christians, we are all soldiers of Christ!

Are we ready to have the courage to face any situation of difficulty, including death…
… and seek to be ever faithful to the Lord and His Church?

Today, we are invited to renew our love and commitment to the Church as we celebrate the Feast of the “See of St Peter” (Chair of St Peter).

This Feast celebrates Christ choosing St Peter to “sit” in authority as the visible leader of the Church on earth.

The “See of St Peter” or the “Chair of St Peter” in the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is “a symbol of the special mission of Peter and his Successors…
… to tend Christ’s flock, keeping it united in faith and in charity!”

This feast brings to mind the mission conferred by Christ on St Peter, the First Pope, and continued in an unbroken line down to the present Pope.

We celebrate the unity of the Church, founded upon the Apostle, and renew our assent to the Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff!

The Gospel of the Day presents to us the Faith Statement of Peter, the leader of the band of the Apostles, and Jesus declaring to him:
“…on this rock, I will build my Church; and never will the powers of death overcome it!” (Mt 16:18)

Jesus – the Great Rock entrusts to Peter, the rock and assures Him that the Church will always stay rock-grounded!

The Lord had…
… and still has great Faith and Trust in His Church

But, personally, we need to ask: Am I sometimes doubtful, uncertain and hesitant with respect to the Church?

This Feast is a good opportunity for us to get to some of the Basics of the Church.

The word “Church”….in Greek… is Ekklesia.

Ekklesia can be split to two words… “ek” = out of + “kaleo” = to call

This gives us an important meaning of EKKLESIA – THE CHURCH…. TO BE CALLED OUT OF….

The Church is a body
…to be called out of the world
… into being a Family and Fellowship in God!

The Church is a body…to be called out of materialistic and worldly gains…
… and be a sign of hope and salvation!

This gives us a clue to many aspects of the Church
…and which will help our own understanding

The Church is not a mere building…
… the Church is the People of God.

We often reduce the Church – especially in our everyday vocabulary – to a mere building made of stones and cement…

But, we need to realise and remember that the Church is made of living stones (1 Pet 2:5)
… and all of us need to contribute our mite in keeping alive this Church of God.

Do I…
… give my share of talents and gifts to the Church is keeping it effective and relevant for our modern times?
… make sacrifices and offer prayers for the Church so that she may stand strong in the midst of struggles?
… promote and encourage the teachings of the Church and find beauty and wisdom in them?

Perhaps one reason we find ourselves in a cribbing position, with respect to the Church is because of our failure to understand its nature…
… and also have our own misunderstandings and prejudices.

When Jesus asked His disciples, “Who am I” (Mt 16: 13) he got varied answers…

The Mystery of Jesus was so great…
… people failed to grasp who actually He was…

The Mystery of the Church is also great…
… that people fail to understand her and even form opposing opinions!

We may feel that the Church is too traditional and too conservative and too authoritarian…

But we fail to see that she has preserved much morals…
… kept safe human values
… and promoted holiness

We may feel that the Church is all too mistaken in many areas and has committed many blunders…

But we ought to know that the Church has a human dimension and despite it, the Spirit of the Lord leads

We may feel that the Church is just too bad with scandals and has lost all credibility…

But we need to realize that the evil one attacks those who strive for sanctity and tries to disrupt God’s plans

The Church undergoes the pain of many misunderstandings…
… Christ too underwent the same.

The Church suffers the bad name of being called by many names….
… Christ too underwent the same.

From a negative aspect, what is a Hospital?

Diseases, Blood, Pus, Screaming, Pains, Twisted bodies, Suffering..

But from a Positive Aspect, what is a Hospital?

Care, Healing, Love, Solace, Relief, Aid, Selfless Service….

Our Church can be understood in similar tones…

Weaknesses are plenty…
… yet, when seen from a Divine perspective, she is Holy!

All of us are concerned about the growing confutation of the Church and Christian values in our society…

But we who are Baptized, and who seek the good of the Church…
… ought to join our hands and seek to revive the relevance and importance of the Church.

The Church has its weaknesses…
But the Church needs…
… Powerful Persons… in You and Me!
… Passionate Lovers of God… in You and Me!
… Committed Preachers of the Word… in You and Me!

The Body of Christ while hanging on the Cross was weak
… but “No bone of His, was broken” (Jn 19:36)

The Church of Christ while living in the world maybe weak
… but No bone shall be broken!
“…on this rock, I will build my Church; and never will the powers of death overcome it!”

St Peter, after having personally experienced the Presence and Power of Jesus in his life, could write with deep conviction:
“When the Chief Shepherd is manifested, you will obtain the unfading crown of glory!” (1 Pet 5:4)

Let us draw closer to Jesus, the Great Rock Who will help us to stand firm and become passionate in service of the Church…

And being ready to face any challenge or problem, let it be said of us:
“If someone says, he is not afraid of death or problems in life…
… then he is either lying
… or he is a Christian!”

Happy Feast Day!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the Divine Grace manifested in Christ.
The New Testament speaks of judgment primarily in its aspect of the final encounter with Christ in his second coming…
… but also repeatedly affirms that each will be rewarded immediately after death in accordance with his works and faith.
The parable of the poor man Lazarus and the words of Christ on the cross to the good thief, as well as other New Testament texts speak of a final destiny of the soul – a destiny which can be different for some and for others.
Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven-through a purification or immediately…
… or immediate and everlasting damnation.

At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love (CCC # 1021-1022)

REFLECTION CAPSULE FOR THE DAY – February 21, 2022: Monday

“Facing the challenges of life with a strong and sturdy faith!”

(Based on Jas 3:13-18 and Mk 9:14-29 – Monday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time, Year II)

Raphael is the famous Italian painter – the architect of the High Renaissance.
>> Together with Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, he forms the traditional trinity of great masters of that period.

There is a famous painting of the Transfiguration of our Blessed Lord by Raphael.
>> This painting was done in Rome in 1520.

Raphael had his health deteriorating at this time, as soon he was to die at the age of 37.
>> With the life-energy draining out of him, he chose to apply his mastery strokes on the painting of the Transfiguration.

In the upper centre part of the painting is seen a flat, rock mountain top.
>> The three disciples – Peter, James and John – are shielding their eyes from the glory.
>> Just above them, in the air, are Elijah and Moses and Jesus.
>> Jesus is glisteningly white, as scripture says, “no fuller on earth could bleach”

At the bottom of the mountain, is the crowd of the other disciples.
>> They are being unable to heal a boy, who is possessed by a demon.
>> The boy, an epileptic is seen in a fit of seizure, and flanked by his helpless father

These two contrasting images in the same picture are drawn from the 9th Chapter of the Gospel of St Mark
>> The Transfiguration of the Lord (Mk 9:2-8)
>> The inability of the disciples to heal the epileptic boy (Mk 9:14-29)

The Gospel of the day is the second incident: of how the disciples fail to heal the boy and how Jesus intervenes to cure and teaches the importance of possessing strong faith.

These two incidents that are depicted in the Painting of the Transfiguration by Raphael, shows contrasting dimensions…
>> On one side, immense glory being revealed and the Divine splendour being manifested
>> On the other, lack of faith being exposed and the failure in the Kingdom ministry

>> On one side, the three disciples basking in the light of heightened faith and devotion
>> On the other, the other disciples being lost in the darkness of inability to put the faith to effectiveness

And how often is this the painting of our own lives too…

There are some moments when we experience the loftiness of God’s glory and power
>> There are other moments when we fail miserably to evoke His presence and are unable to feel His

There are some times when faith makes us to feel that everything is so glorious and wonderful
>> There are other times when our faith hits rock-bottom and our spiritual life loses its sheen and all seems so miserable

This is the reality of our lives – contrasting experiences of glorious faith at some instants and miserable lack of trust at other

But the Gospel of the day gives an encouraging exhortation by Jesus to have a strong and sturdy faith…
… “All things are possible to him who believes!” (Mk 9:23)

When the disciples were unable to bring about a healing to the epileptic boy, the Lord sure did rebuke them for their “lack of faith”

>> But after having healed the child, He does not linger with the reproaching or admonishing attitude … Instead, as a loving friend and a caring master, gently but firmly encourages them to be stronger in their faith: “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.” (Mk 9:29)

This is the approach that He has towards us too…
>> He knows that we have our weak moments and situations of disbelief and doubts
>> He knows that there are times when our faith is merely on the lips and not really from the depths of our hearts
>> He knows that there are occasions when annoying circumstances encroach our faith-life and all our efforts in devotion meet with bitter conclusions

Yet, with firmness and fondness, Jesus invites us to keep seeking to grow in our trust in Him!

The painting of our lives often carry contrasting experiences…
… of glorious faith at some instants
… and miserable lack of trust at other
Let us not get discouraged!
>> Instead, with trust in the Lord, let us face the challenges of our life with a strong and sturdy faith, knowing that, “All things are possible to him who believes!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
>> The Christian who unites his own death to that of Jesus, views it as a step towards Him and an entrance into everlasting life.
>> The Church for the last time speaks Christ’s words of pardon and absolution over the dying Christian…
… seals him for the last time with a strengthening anointing
… and gives him Christ in viaticum as nourishment for the journey (CCC # 1020)

– Fr Jijo Jose Manjackal MSFS
Bengaluru, India

REFLECTION CAPSULE – Feb 20, 2022: Sunday

“Freeing ourselves from the ‘imprisonment of the past’ and, with God’s Grace, to live in love and holiness!”

(Based on 1 Sm 26:2, 7-9,12-13, 22-23, 1 Cor 15:45-49 and Lk 6:27-38– 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

A nine year old girl was walking through the fields, a little away from her home, when two persons, appearing to befriend her, asked her to help collect fruits from the forest.

Brought up with the good habit of showing courtesy to elders, the girl hurried to obey.

But soon she realised that it was a trick to kidnap her!

“I saw two persons behind me,” she would recall later…
… “One of them briskly grabbed me with one hand, while the other one pulled out a knife and held it to my side.
He told me, ‘If you cry, you’ll die! Follow us!?’”

After a forced march, the girl was sold as a slave.

The captors gave her a name, in Arabic, which meant (ironically) “The Lucky One!”

Though this title was intended to be a sarcastic one, it came about to express the girl’s approach towards life.

In the coming years, she gladly accepted the name.

After her release, she amazingly, even thanked God for the good that had come, from her suffering.
“If I were to meet those who kidnapped me, and even those who tortured me,” she wrote, “I would kneel and kiss their hands.

For if these things had not happened, I would not have been a Christian and a religious today!”

The name of the girl is St Bakhita – a Saint for those who are “prisoners of the past!”

She was able to heroically display the Christian virtue of forgiveness…
… especially to enemies – those who had persecuted her and had cause irreparable damages to her life!

In life, so often we get “imprisoned by our past!”

This is true especially from the perspective of relationships…

There are many who cause hurts and pains to us
There are many against whom we have causes to hold grudge in the heart
There are many with whom we find it difficult to relate and extremely hard to forgive

The past clings to us in a mighty way…

“Enemies” are, undoubtedly, a reality in most of our lives!

What is our attitude and approach to these “enemies” in our life?

The Gospel of the Day is a bold challenge by Jesus to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you!” (Lk 6:27)

One of the sayings goes thus, “Divinity cannot be confined to one’s pockets or be contained in one’s purse!”

So vivid is this saying in the life of Jesus, the Fullness of Divinity.

Jesus does not allow to be confined to the tiny pockets of our mind-sets
Jesus does not permit to be limited to the finite purses of our expectations
He goes much beyond…. His teachings reach a new level…

This is what we come across when we challenge ourselves with the words of the Lord:
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you!” (Lk 6: 27)

There are four explicit commands that are given:

  1. Love
  2. Do Good
  3. Bless
  4. Pray

All these four exhortations are very often in direct contrast to what we expect or what we wish

  1. Love your enemies

Our natural tendency towards our “enemies” is that of animosity or grudge or at the best, indifference

But Jesus says to go beyond… Love them!

Love them… in a way, that they are able to experience the Mighty Love that God has for each one of us!
Love them… in a way, that no hateful feelings get sown or nurtured in our hearts and we be free in our minds!

  1. Do good to those who hate

Our common inclination to those who hate is to say, “Why should I have anything to do with someone who is least interested in me and only keeps hurting me?”

But Jesus says to go beyond – Do good to them!

Do good to them… in a way, that our good actions – little or big, seen or unseen – become actions that evoke repentance and contrition!
Do good to them… in a way, that gestures of charity is a way to crush our own ego and pride feelings and makes us to be humbler, in imitation of Christ who totally humbled Himself!

  1. Bless those who curse you

Our first instinct to those who curse us to “give back still strongly” in return and wish the worst for the concerned person.

But Jesus says to go beyond – Bless them!

Bless them… in a way, that our holy wishes may move the heart of the one who offends us and we become a channel and active instrument to allow God’s forgiveness to flow
Bless them… in a way, that our words of grace may heal the vibrations of negativity and hatred and evokes the mighty power of God against the dark forces of Satan

  1. Pray for those who abuse you

Our immediate reaction to those who abuse is to abuse in return or to let out a volley of unfit phrases or violent actions and gestures

But Jesus says to go beyond – Pray for them!

Pray for them… in a way, that the grace of God’s mercy and compassion may descend into the relationship
Pray for them… in a way, that the words of abuse may fizzle out in the blazing power of prayer and holiness

David, in the Old Testament, goes beyond the lures of the people around, and refuses to take revenge on Saul – even though he had the possibility to terminate his life

He chose to “not get imprisoned by the past” and instead, gave priority to the Lord and His Will, by recognising the ‘Grace of Anointing bestowed on Saul’ (Cf. 1 Sam 26:8-9)

Life constantly seeks to “imprison us in our past”

But God’s Grace coupled with our willingness to co-operate with His grace, will allow us to “live in love and holiness”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

The Church encourages us to prepare ourselves for the hour of our death.
In the litany of the saints, we pray: “From a sudden and unforeseen death, deliver us, O Lord”;
We ask the Mother of God to intercede for us “at the hour of our death” in the Hail Mary
We are called to entrust ourselves to St. Joseph, the patron of a happy death.
Every action of yours, every thought, should be those of one who expects to die before the day is out.
“Death would have no great terrors for you if you had a quiet conscience…
… Then why not keep clear of sin instead of running away from death? If you aren’t fit to face death today, it’s very unlikely you will be tomorrow!”
“Praised are you, my Lord, for our sister bodily Death, from whom no living man can escape.

Woe on those who will die in mortal sin! Blessed are they who will be found in your most holy will, for the second death will not harm them!” (CCC # 1014)