REFLECTION CAPSULE FOR THE DAY – February 19, 2022: Saturday

“Moving from ‘peripheral faith’ into the realm of ‘powerful trust’”

(Based on Jas 3:1-10 and Mk 9:2-13 – Saturday of the 6th Week in Ordinary Time, Year II)

A story is told of a master who had a disciple, for a long time.
>> Though the disciple was an extreme simpleton, the master persisted with him, on account of his sincerity.

One day, a rumour spread in the village that the disciple was walking over the waters of the river.


On hearing the news, the master asked the disciple: “Is it true, that you crossed the river, by walking on the water?”
>> The disciple said: “Yes, O Master. It was all thanks to you. I repeated your name with deep faith and trust, and I could cross over the river!”


The Master said to himself: “If my disciple could walk over the waters, surely I should be able much more.
>> If repeating my name can work a miracle, why not make an attempt!”

So saying, the master began to walk on the waters, uttering his name…
… only to drown into the waters!


His feeble and wavering faith, had got him drowned!

The master thought only a mere repetition of his name would work a miracle: A peripheral faith!
>> The disciple had complete confidence that a miracle could be worked: A powerful trust!

Faith is something that comes from within…
>> True faith requires the peeling away of the “layers of doubts”




The Gospel of the Day is an incident of how a “peripheral faith” is exposed and how a teaching is given to move into the realm of “powerful trust”


The Gospel passage in focus is that of Jesus, along with His “chosen within the chosen disciples” – Peter, James and John – on the mount of Transfiguration (Mk 9: 2-13)

The test of this “glorious experience of faith” is checked in the passage immediately following the Transfiguration…
… that of some of the disciples of Jesus, who failed to heal a possessed boy, and the chiding that was followed by Jesus.

The disciples were approached by a father, who brought his son – possessed by a demon – to them for a healing.
>> They were however unable to heal.

The father expresses this to Jesus, Who had come down from the Mount of Transfiguration:
“I asked Your disciples to drive it out, but they were unable to do so!” (Mk 9: 18)


Why were the disciples unable to drive the demon?
>> Why did they fail in their task of healing the boy?

It was a moment of embarrassment and awkwardness for these disciples: being unable to cure the boy

In Mk 6: 7, we read: “Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out, two by two, and gave them authority over unclean spirits”
>> The power to cast out demons was delegated by Jesus to the disciples

Yet, they failed to heal the demon-possessed boy.

Why?

Jesus answers – through a cry of lament: “O faithless generation…!” (Mk 9: 19)
>> Jesus points to the lack of faith in the disciples


He drives home a very important dimension of Faith that we need examine constantly:
>> “Do you really believe in Me…? Or is your faith more in your own-self?”
>> “Are you totally dependent on Me… ? Or are you being more self-reliant?”

The disciples had indeed found success in their ministry (Mk 6:30)
>> They also had witnessed the mighty powers of Jesus and were in astonishment (Mk 6: 34-51)

But somehow, perhaps, their faith had still not grown…their faith was still peripheral
>> Layers of self-dependence, pride, ‘only external piety’ etc could have been formed!

Therefore Jesus, their Master…
… peeled and “unlayered” those layers


This “peeling of layers” was a necessity for the disciples…
… to begin to depend more on the Lord and His Authority, rather than their power
… to be always humble to allow to the Lord to be given all glory, rather than self-exaltation


Have I formed such layers in my practise of the Christian faith?
… Layers of pride? Layers of self-reliance? Layers of “only external piety?


Then the Lord will often take us through situations of difficulties, awkwardness and even humiliations or embarrassment…
… in order to not become self-reliant; instead to be God-reliant
… in order to not swell up in pride; instead to humble oneself to trust in God!
… in order to not have a mere external show of faith; instead to grow in interior holiness!


The Lord wishes that we grow higher in our faith… that we love Him more deeply, for His sake alone.


Let us allow Him to help us to move from a “peripheral faith” into the realm of “powerful trust”…
>> And thus in, deep trust, to cry out: “I do believe; help my unbelief” (Mk 9: 24)


God Bless! Live Jesus!

——————————–
Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE MEANING OF CHRISTIAN DEATH
The Christian vision of death receives privileged expression in the liturgy of the Church
>> “Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended. When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.”
>> Death is the end of man’s earthly pilgrimage, of the time of grace and mercy which God offers him so as to work out his earthly life in keeping with the Divine Plan…
… and to decide his ultimate destiny.
>> When “the single course of our earthly life” is completed, we shall not return to other earthly lives: “It is appointed for men to die once.”
>> There is no “reincarnation” after death. (CCC # 1012-1013)
——————————–

REFLECTION CAPSULE – Feb 18, 2022: Friday

“Remaining committed to the Cross of Christ and celebrating Christianity with conviction!”

(Based on Jas 2:14-24, 26 and Mk 8:34-9:1 – Friday of the 6th Week in Ordinary Time)

There is a beautiful legend of a thorn bird.

It is said that the thorn bird sings only once in its life.

Leaving its nest, it searches for a bush…
… a bush with long and sharp thorns.

On finding such a thorny bush, the thorn bird pierces itself on the biggest thorn.

It is at that point, that it begins to sing.

And this sweet and beautiful singing, outmatches the lark or the nightingale or any other singing bird.

The world pauses in silence and wonder…
… as they hear the melodious voice, from the wounded and dying bird!

The legend clearly gives the message…
… that the most satisfying moments of life, can be purchased only at the price of great pain

Christian suffering and struggling – and triumph – is represented by the Cross.

The Gospel of the Day is a presentation of the Message of the Cross…
… an invitation to follow the Crucified Christ
… a challenge to faithfully carry the crosses of our life.

Jesus says, “Whoever wishes to come after me, must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me!” (Mk 8:34)

Our Blessed Lord loves to jolt static minds and the inert understandings…

He doesn’t promise cushy comforts…
… He demands Commitment to the Cross!

Those who choose Christianity as a Life Style, ought to be:
Losers of oneself
Be carriers of the Cross
And then Follow Him!

Christianity, as a Life Style, has the Cross as its Basic Rule and it demands Commitment!

But the very mention of the word “Cross”, sometimes puts people off…

“Not again the Cross”
“Enough of pain and suffering”
“We go to Church to relax and be comforted; not simply to hear of the Passion &Anguish of the Suffering Jesus on the Cross; we only prefer the Glorious & Victorious Christ”
“Stop being pessimistic with Sin & Repentance…. Just be optimistic with Joy & Salvation!”

These are often, the “happening” buzz phrases and popular opinions
… even in our religious environs.

We like to be Saved…
… but we Fear the Cross of repentance of our Sins

We like to receive Blessings…
… but we Fear the Cross of living an honest life

We like to live a peaceful life…
… but we Fear the Cross of trusting in God’s Providence

We like to be prosperous…
… but we Fear the Cross of being generous and compassionate

We like to be called good..
… but we Fear the Cross of being Faithful to the teachings of Christ

We like to have joy…
… but we Fear the Cross of giving up attachments and belong totally to God

Yes, We often, Fear the Cross…

But Christ – Crucified on the Cross – promises His Choicest Rewards to the ones, who dare to take up the Cross…
They will find Life…
They will be rewarded…
They will find true joy and peace…
… says the Lord.

Have we really accepted Christianity as our Life Style?

Then let us embrace the Cross.

One important element of Embracing the Cross is translating our faith into a actual works of service.

In the words of St James:
“Faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead!” (Jas 2:17)

This requires us to permit the Grace of God to work in us, by our constant response and consent to the Will of the Lord…
… This will surely make us encounter struggles and difficulties.

But let’s always trust in the Grace of the Lord to strengthen us.

Life will often push us to thorn situations – painful and agonizing

But like the thorn bird…
… let us dare to embrace this struggle, and yet sing the most beautiful song!
… let us be courageous to go through the time of difficulty, knowing that the Lord wishes to play a beautiful melody through my life!

Let us remain committed to the Cross of Christ and celebrate Christianity with conviction!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE MEANING OF CHRISTIAN DEATH

In death, God calls man to himself.
Therefore the Christian can experience a desire for death like St. Paul’s: “My desire is to depart and be with Christ.”
He can transform his own death into an act of obedience and love towards the Father, after the example of Christ: “My earthly desire has been crucified;
There is living water in me, water that murmurs and says within me: Come to the Father.

I want to see God and, in order to see him, I must die. I am not dying; I am entering life” (CCC # 1011)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – Feb 17, 2022: Thursday

“Opening our hearts to listen and do what God wants of us!”

(Based on Jas 2:1-9 and Mk 8:27-33 – Thursday of the 6th Week in Ordinary Time)

The famous incident of President Abraham Lincoln during the US civil war goes thus…

The President met a group of church leaders for a prayer-cum-breakfast.

At one point during the breakfast, one of the leaders remarked: “Mr President, let us pray, that in this time of the Civil War, God is on our side”

But Abraham Lincoln, replied with a much-greater insight…
… “No gentlemen. Let us pray that we are on God’s side!”

It was a reminder by the President that religion ought not to be a tool to get God to do what we want…
… but a way of life, to open our hearts to listen and do what God wants of us!

Are we on the side of God?

Or are we on the other side, and expecting God to bend Himself to our ways and styles of life?

The Gospel of the Day is a beautiful reminder of the Lord to examine our lives…
… and check, “if we are on the side of God!”

On reaching the villages of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus put forth the two-question examination to His disciples:
“Who do people say that I am?” (Mk 8: 27)
“Who do you say that I am?” (Mk 8: 29)

After having given various views of what the people felt, Peter, the leader, gives the answer:
“You are the Christ” (Mk 8: 29b)

Although, Peter had given the right answer, the following statements by Jesus on His Passion, Death and Resurrection, scandalized Peter!

Peter had a set and standard understanding of a Messiah – as did the Jews of his time…
… a leader who would wield power and Icontrol
… a liberator who would exercise supremacy and command.

So when Jesus spoke of a “Servant-Leader” (Mk 8: 31)…
… One Who would suffer
… One Who would subjected to the mercy of the other

Peter could no longer stand himself!

He began to rebuke Jesus (Mk 8: 32b).

But Jesus had to set things right…
… and so He would rebuke Him back strongly: “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men!” (Mk 8: 33)

Though Peter had made a correct statement about Jesus…
… it was still only a partial sight!

He still needed a “second intervention”, in order to see fully.

This was just as it was in the Healing of the Blind Man in the previous passage (Mk 8: 22-25)

The blind man initially could only see “people walking, like trees” (Mk 8: 24)

But after the “second touch” from Jesus, he was able to see fully.

Jesus was reminding Peter, by the strong rebuke…
… that Christian Life is not about “we wanting our way; it is about we seeking and doing God’s Will in life!”

Yes, Christianity is a Way of Life, that constantly asks us: “Are we on the side of God?

In our everyday life, we come across plenty of opportunities, when we need to make this discernment:

Either to be on the side of God…
… or to go against Him!

We need to examine seriously our prayer life…

“Do we seek God’s Will in prayer…
… or do we seek to impose our will on Him?”

“Do we place our worries and problems before our God (Who knows all!)…
… or do we also command Him, on how and when these problems ought to be solved?”

Sometimes, we do have tendencies, to pull God into our boundary…
… instead of we moving to God’s side!

Today, the Lord clearly reminds us, as He rebuked Peter…
… to constantly be on the “side of God”.

Like Peter…
… we may have our own justifications to think the way we do
… we may have our own fears in encountering a Suffering God

St James in his letter powerfully and unequivocally emphasizes this fact that we need to behave with one another as God wishes – in selflessness and service…
… and not act in partiality or prejudice
“Show no partiality as you hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory” (Jas 2:1)

The Lord, is clear and constant in His presentation of Christianity: “Seek to be on the side of God”

Yes, let us allow the Lord to mellow our hearts…

So that we can understand that religion ought not to be a tool to get God to do what we want…
… but a way of life, to open our hearts to listen and do what God wants of us!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE MEANING OF CHRISTIAN DEATH

Because of Christ, Christian death has a positive meaning: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
“The saying is sure: if we have died with him, we will also live with him.
What is essentially new about Christian death is this: through Baptism, the Christian has already “died with Christ” sacramentally, in order to live a new life; and if we die in Christ’s grace, physical death completes this “dying with Christ” and so completes our incorporation into him in his redeeming act:
It is better for me to die in (eis) Christ Jesus than to reign over the ends of the earth.

Him it is I seek – who died for us. Him it is I desire – who rose for us. I am on the point of giving birth >> Let me receive pure light; when I shall have arrived there, then shall I be a man (CCC # 1010)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – February 16, 2022: Wednesday

“Having a ‘retouch’ by the Lord to have the ‘clearer vision of working for the Glory of God!’”

(Based on Jas 1:19-27 and Mk 8:22-26 – Tuesday of the 6th Week in Ordinary Time, Year II)

A sailor found himself in harsh and rough waters on the sea.

Survival seemed scanty… but he called on the Lord.

His prayers were heard, and he found himself washed up on a small, uninhabited island.

On the island, he again prayed intensely to God, to rescue him.

Every day he would scan the horizon for help…
…but none seemed forthcoming.

Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood (wood from the wreckage of the ship) to protect himself from the elements, and to store his few possessions.

One day, after having wandered all around for food, he arrived home..
… Only to find his little hut in flames, with smoke rising up to the skies.

He felt the worst had happened, and everything was lost.

Stuck with disbelief, grief, and anger, he cried out:
“GOD! How could you do this to me?
You saved me from the shipwreck, but only to abandon me on this island!

And now you have taken away my only means of survival.”

Early next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship approaching the island!

It was a rescue ship…
… they had come to rescue him!

“How did you know I was here?” asked the weary man of his rescuers.
“We saw your smoke signal,” they replied!

The burnt hut – which the man had considered as a tragedy and a cruel act from God…
… turned out to be the signal, by which people could come to rescue him.

Even though he had received a rescuing hand, the first time, from the shipwreck…
… he needed a “repeat” intervention, to realise and deepen the awareness of the Providential Presence of God in his life.

What about us?

Are we also in need of a “repeat” intervention from the Lord…
… for a greater commitment and dedication to our life of faith?

The Gospel of the Day is the beautiful and unique incident of a blind man, experiencing a “repeat” intervention from the Lord…
… and obtaining total healing and cure.

When Jesus arrived at Bethsaida, people brought to Him a blind man.

Jesus takes aside this blind man, and begins the process of healing…
… a process that takes place in two stages.

Jesus first places His Hands on him and enquiring whether he sees anything

The man replied: “I see people looking like trees and walking” (Mk 8: 23-24)

Then Jesus laid His Hands a second time…
… and he saw clearly, with his sight restored. (Mk 8: 25)

This two-step process of healing is a great reminder to us…
… that Jesus was in perfect control of the healing process
… that faith in Jesus is not a one-time event; rather a process that could extend to different stages

Jesus, the great Healer, Who had healed many, with His One Word…
…now also demonstrates that when human beings go through a stage of “not seeing fully, but only men walking as trees”, He is still in perfect charge of the situation.

Jesus, the great evoker of Faith, Who had instilled confidence and hope in many…
… now also demonstrates that growing in faith in Him, is a gradual process.

The blind man, in the context of the Gospel of St Mark is also a figure of the Disciples of Jesus…
… who were with the Lord for quite sometime
… and yet failed to understand Him and His ministry (Cf. Mk 8:14-21)
… and would gradually go through a process of growing in their faith in the Lord

Each of us in life go through such situations and moments in life…
… when we are blind
… when, even with a touch of the Lord, “we see people looking like trees and walking”

Problems and difficulties often clout our vision

Experiences of an encounter with the Lord do keep our faith alive, though feeble
… In all such moments, we need another “touch” from the Lord.

Yes, we are all in need of a “repeat” intervention from the Lord!

As Christians, who have been “in faith” for long time, there are possibilities…
… when our life of faith loses its charm and charisma
… when our resolutions and promises lose touch of its initial fervour and zeal
… when our commitment and dedication fail to have the required enthusiasm and passion

In all such moments of “blind moments” and “blurred vision”…
… we need a “repeat” intervention from the Lord!

Let us therefore, allow the Lord to touch us and experience His Healing Grace…
… to lead us out of blindness and blurredness into clarity of faith and trust.

St James gives the clear instruction that our faith ought not to be merely in words…
… rather, should be translated into everyday actions of service
“But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer…
… he is like a man who observes his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself and goes away, and at once forgets what he was like!” (Jas 1:22-24)

Our “blurry faith without service” needs to be have a “retouch” by the Lord to have the “clearer vision of working for the Glory of God!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
DEATH

Death is transformed by Christ.
Jesus, the Son of God, also himself suffered the death that is part of the human condition.
Yet, despite His anguish as He faced death, He accepted it in an act of complete and free submission to his Father’s will.

The obedience of Jesus has transformed the curse of death into a blessing (CCC # 1009)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – Feb 15, 2022: Tuesday

“Translating our ‘faith into living actions of trust!’”

(Based on Jas 1:12-18 and Mk 8:14-21 – Tuesday of the 6th Week in Ordinary Time)

This familiar story is known to many of us, in various forms.

A young boy traveling by airplane to visit his grandparents had beside him a man…
… who was a professor in a prestigious university.

The boy was reading the Bible and the professor – who was not a very ardent believer in God – thought he would have some fun with the lad.

“Young man,” said the professor, “if you can tell me something God can do, I will give you a big, shiny apple.”

The boy thought for a moment and then replied, “Well Sir! I have a better proposal for you!

If you can tell me something God cannot do…
… I’ll give you a whole barrel of apples!”

So often, it happens in our life, that we fail to understand the Power and Presence of God!

Even though theoretically we know that God is with us…
… we often, fail to translate that “faith into living actions of trust!”

The Gospel of the Day presents an experience of the disciples…
… an experience of not “feeling the closeness of the Power of Jesus,” despite the fact that He was with them
… an experience of “feeling lost and uncomfortable” on facing an unfamiliar situation.

The disciples had embarked on a journey with the Lord.

They had forgotten to take bread and had only one loaf.

During the journey, the Lord cautioned them on the “yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod…” (Mk 8:15)

This was in reference to the “insincere and phoney” attitude that the Pharisees and Herodians were exhibiting to Jesus and His ministry.

The disciples, however totally misunderstood these words of the Lord.

They thought that the Lord was scolding them for taking less bread on the way.

The reference to the “yeast” in the context of the “lack of bread during the journey”…
… made the disciples to conclude this way: “They said to one another, ‘It is because we have no bread.’” (Mk 8:16)

But the Lord strongly reminds them to become aware of “His Presence” with them!

He chided the disciples – asking them to make a shift from temporal aspects to the eternal dimensions of life!

He strongly urged them to recognise His Divine Presence – especially through the manifestations of glory that He had displayed in the many great works!

The Gospel passage ends with a very pertinent question: “Do you not yet understand?” (Mk 8:21)

The disciples…
… had heard a good number of Divine exhortations and sermons
… had seen many people having a transformative experience
… had witnessed a great number of miraculous deeds

Yet, their eyes were closed… and they failed to recognise the Mighty Presence of the Lord with them..
… being occupied only by the “lack of bread”

All of us, like the disciples, travelling in the boat of our lives are put forth this question: “Are you only focussing yourselves on the lack of earthly bread…
… or do you recognize and understand that the Bread of Life Himself – the Source of all Goodness – is with you in the boat of your life?”

Do I seek JESUS ABOVE ALL?

Is my life of faith only dependant on “familiar situations” and “moments of comfort”…
… to feel that God is near me?

Do I feel very uncomfortable and lost spiritually, when things seem too alien or situations seem to be too unfamiliar?

Let us realise and understand that even when things seem too alien or situations seem to be too unfamiliar…
… God with His Power, is close to me!

Theoretically, of course, we do know that God is with us…
… Let us seek to translate this “faith into living actions of trust!”

Let us fill…
… the apparent emptiness of our lives with the Love and Spirit of the Lord.
… the seeming vacuum within us, with the Peace and Passion for the Lord.

God bless! Live Jesus!


📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
DEATH

Death is the end of earthly life.
Our lives are measured by time, in the course of which we change, grow old and, as with all living beings on earth, death seems like the normal end of life.
That aspect of death lends urgency to our lives: remembering our mortality helps us realize that we have only a limited time in which to bring our lives to fulfilment: Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth… before the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it
Death is a consequence of sin.
The Church’s Magisterium, as authentic interpreter of the affirmations of Scripture and Tradition, teaches that death entered the world on account of man’s sin.
Even though man’s nature is mortal God had destined him not to die.
Death was therefore contrary to the plans of God the Creator and entered the world as a consequence of sin.

“Bodily death, from which man would have been immune had he not sinned” is thus “the last enemy” of man left to be conquered. (CCC # 1007-1008)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – February 14, 2022: Monday

“Being open and docile to God, the greatest lover of our life!”

(Based on Jas 1:1-11 and Mk 8:11-13 – Monday of the 6th Week in Ordinary Time, Year II)

This popular story is told of a woman who woke up one morning, turned to her husband and said, “Honey, I just had a dream that you bought me a new gold necklace. What do you think it means?”

He answered, “I don’t know, but Valentine’s Day is coming soon. Then you’ll know.”

A few nights later, she again woke up after having a dream. She said, “This time, I dreamed you gave me a pearl necklace. What do you think it means?”

“You’ll know on Valentines’ Day,” he replied.

The morning of Valentine’s Day, she again woke up telling him about her dream: “This time I dreamed that you brought me a diamond necklace. What do you think it means?”

“Please, be patient,” he said. “You’ll know tonight.”

That evening, the husband came home with a package – neatly covered with a shining golden wrapper – and gave it to his wife.

Delighted and with much expectation, she opened it…
… and found a book titled “The Meaning of Dreams!”

This humorous incident tells us that each of us have our own expectations of life…
… and each of us have our own way of fulfilling the expectations of others!

In our life of faith, God – the One Who loves us the most – expects us to be people who are always open and docile to His working in our life.

However, sometimes, we tend to become resistant and stubborn.

The Gospel of the Day, presents to us a group a people who remained stubborn and resistant…
… to the ways of the Lord
… to the workings of the Lord

The Gospel passage begins with the statement: “The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test him.” (Mk 8:11)

This single statement presents to us the repulsive attitude of the Pharisees towards Jesus and His ministry.

The statement tells us…

  1. Their method of dealing with Jesus: “to argue with Him”

They sought to pick up and interpret the deeds of the Lord only from a negative dimension
They tended to destructively magnify, minute peripheral “apparent changes” that the Lord introduced

  1. Their demand from Jesus: “Asking for a sign from heaven”

They failed to see the glorious signs that were offered by the Lord in healing and touching the lives of many people
They rejected the magnanimous sign that was presented by Jesus, in the multiplication of the loaves for thousands of people

  1. Their purpose to check with Jesus: “to test Him”
    They showed a great lack of “sincerity to learn” and put forth interrogations without any intent of openness to the truth
    They remained totally closed to the Lord and came up with questions only to condemn and find faults with the Lord!

Resistance and lack of docility to the Will of God, along with stubbornness to their own way of thinking…
… made them not to experience the Transformative and Wonderful Presence of the Lord

And this is so true in our lives…

So often we miss the providential signs of the Lord
So often we fail to perceive the miracles that God works in our lives
So often we remain unenthusiastic in life because we don’t see His hand at work in us
… all this because, we fail to be open to the Will of God and remain stuck with our mentalities.

The Gospel of the Day reminds us of the expectation of God, the Greatest Lover of our life: Rely solely on the Lord!

Though not easy, it can bring forth much fruits in our lives!

Let us be open and docile to Him!

14th February is popularly celebrated as Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day is, of course, a day when a there is a “sudden” wave of expression of love and care and affections to the ones whom we love.

When taken in the right spirit and when celebrated in a meaningful way, this Day becomes a Day…
… of “specially” recognizing the worth of the one(s) we love
… of showing our love and affection to the one(s) dear to the our heart

But our modern society unfortunately and tragically, sometimes tends to “rob” this day to be celebrated in a meaningful.

“Love” is highly commercialized and “sold”
External affections are unduly given greater importance, forgetting the prime duties – of commitment and faithfulness – involved with love
Advertisers and commercialists rake in massive profits with a number of external objects portraying “love”

Whether this day truly becomes a day of “expressing genuine love and care”

Or whether it is more, a day of “externalities of ‘love-feelings’ taking the upper-hand…
… is a matter of debate, as well as a matter of one’s own personal choice and view.

But as a Christian, this day – Feb 14…
… is a day for us to remind ourselves to grow in the Immensity of God’s Love
… is a day for us to revive our basic duty of caring and being responsible to one another
… is a day for us to rediscover the worthiness of our lives and commit to grow in holiness

Jesus, the True Lover illustrates the real meaning of love…
… by leading us out of ignorance to true knowledge
… by inviting us to move from earthly riches to truly heavenly treasures

This is real and true love…
… a heart that makes one to move out of ignorance
…a heart that prompts in action to reach out to those in need of God’s true Word

Jesus, our True Lover… invites and challenges us to grow in this love!

Holding our hand, and with deep love and affection, He asks us:
“Will you be My valentine forever?”

Let’s not blush….let’s not be shy…

Instead in deep faith and true commitment, pledge forever, our love to the Lover of all Hearts!

God bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
DEATH

“It is in regard to death that man’s condition is most shrouded in doubt.”
In a sense bodily death is natural, but for faith it is in fact “the wages of sin.”
For those who die in Christ’s Grace, it is a participation in the death of the Lord…

… so that they can also share His Resurrection. (CCC # 1006)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – February 13, 2022: Sunday

“Making an offering to the Lord so that our life-journey is assured to be in safe hands!”

(Based on Jer 17:5-8, 1 Cor 15:12, 16-20 and Lk 6:17, 20-26 – 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C)

A highly rich and influential person was privileged to be one of the special guests to undertake a 21-day cruise on a Majestic Battleship.

This ship belonged to the former Emperor of the land, and had been modernized with immense facilities and luxurious features.

The man was highly impressed with the comforts that were provided on board.

Among the many things that made a pleasant impact on him was also the Sunday Morning Mass that was attended by all the sailors and attendants, who were not on duty.

It was more so, since the man himself was not so particular about the practise of faith.

At the conclusion of the celebration of the Mass, the man asked one of the sailors:
“Are you obliged to attend these Sunday Morning services?”

“It’s not exactly about obligation, Sir!” replied the sailor, “but our journey is assured to be in safe hands, by this our offering to the Lord!”

Those sailors and attendants had made a conscious and deliberate choice to practise their faith and to surrender themselves to the Higher Power for safety and protection.

Our lives are also similar to such cruises…
… sometimes going through calm and quiet waters
… sometimes struggling in disturbed and turbulent waters
… sometimes encountering dangerous storms and violent gales

Do we make a constant choice for the Lord and live ourselves in surrender to Him?

The Gospel of the Day is the beautiful teaching of the Beatitudes in the Gospel of Luke.

The beatitudes are assurances of blessing and joy to all those who make a conscious choice for the Lord and His Kingdom!

Jesus says, “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God” (Lk 6: 20)

One of the great messages in this verse is the Message of Hope!

The Greek word used for “poor” is “ptochos”

Ptochos means…

Reduced to beggary or asking for alms
Destitute of wealth, influence, position, honour
Helpless, powerless to accomplish an end

It’s interesting to note that this word “Ptochos” has its origin in the word “ptosso” which means “to crouch”

Therefore, the “poor” literally means, “one who is crouching” – a position where the knees are bent and the upper body is brought forward and down

It’s a position that is very often defied and despised, in the worldly standards, which emphasizes on being proud and haughty!
It’s a position that is very often made fun of and fooled, in the eyes of the world, which glorifies pomp and external show!

Thus, when the Lord says, “Blessed are the poor”, it is a tremendous message of Hope…
… To those who find themselves at the peripheries of life
… To those lost in the miseries of life and find no hope – materially, spiritually, mentally, socially

Of course, the word “poor” does not mean…
.. that one simply becomes timid and passive or be simply submissive to any social evils without any resistance
… that one adopts an attitude of being “always hands folded” in surrender or “faces cast down” in defeat

“Poor” instead refers to the fact that one has God has one’s greatest strength and treasure

Being “poor in the Lord”, contradictory as it may sound, is the greatest richness that one can have.
Being “poor in the Lord” gives the greatest confidence to a person, who realises that being in God, one can never fail!

How true is the saying, “One who kneels before God, can stand before anyone!”

One who is dependant on God and His Grace…
One who is willing to challenge the societies unjust norms with the mighty trust in God…
One who is aware of one’s strengths and weaknesses and yet offers oneself entirely to the power of God…

Such a one, in the eyes of the world may be “poor”… but is “Blessed” in the sight of God!

Prophet Jeremiah assures us: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.

He is like a tree planted by water…
… that sends out its roots by the stream
… and does not fear when heat comes
… for its leaves remain green
… and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” (Jer 17:7-8)

It takes courage to be a Christian who is committed!

It requires a conviction to be a follower of Christ who is passionate!

Let us realise that our life in the Lord “is not about obligation…
… but our journey is assured to be in safe hands, by our offering to the Lord!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
DYING IN CHRIST JESUS

To rise with Christ, we must die with Christ: we must “be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”
In that “departure” which is death, the soul is separated from the body.

It will be reunited with the body on the day of resurrection of the dead (CCC # 1005)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – February 12, 2022: Saturday

“Moving out of the ‘zone of our limitations’ and trusting the Lord!”

(Based on 1 Kgs 12:26-32; 13:33-34 and Mk 8:1-10 – Saturday of the 5th Week in Ordinary Time, Year II)

Two Christian friends were talking about their life experiences.

One of them said: “It is so very hard to trust God and to realize that His Hand is still leading us in the dark phases of our life!”

“Well”, said the other, “if you cannot trust a person out of sight, then he/she is not worth much!

And if you cannot trust God in the dark, it simply shows… you don’t trust Him at all!”

That’s quite a point, isn’t it?

We find our Christian Faith often on an easy course, when things go on well.

But when difficulties come our way, our “trust” level is questioned.

It is in these “questionable moments of trust” that we tend to enter into a “zone of limitation”

The Gospel presents to us the very familiar passage of the multiplication of loaves…
… the multiplication of seven loaves and a few small fish for about four thousand people, as recounted by St Mark.

A great crowd was with the Lord…
… and seeing the massive crowd, the Lord had compassion on them, and asked the disciples to give them something to eat…

“I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way – and some of them have come from a great distance.” (Mk 8:2-3)

These words reveal the tender and compassionate Heart of our Blessed Lord…
… His great care and concern for everyone
… His sensitivity to the needs and hunger of all

It’s this compassionate Heart of the Lord that also challenged the disciples to, in turn, become compassionate to the crowds.

But as is the case often in life… “Challenges are usually met with opposition, resistance… and even grumbling!”

The disciples began to question and put forth their difficulty to the Lord: “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” (Mk 8:4)

“How can we”… is a question that we often ask…
… in times of struggles and strains
… in moments of troubles and toils

It’s here that the Lord teaches us the beautiful and powerful lesson for every Christian: “If you cannot trust a person out of sight, then he/she is not worth much!”

With immense faith and authority… the Lord “ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and He took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks, He broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd.

They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed” (Mk 8:6-7)

Jesus is a picture of perfect calm and in total control of the situation!

And this IS Faith!
This IS Trust!

All of us are invited to have this faith and trust… in the Lord!

All of us are invited to have this dependence and reliance… on the Lord!

Jesus – our Compassionate Lord and the Epitome of Faith exhorts and challenges all of us:
Be a compassionate and merciful person, being sensitive to the needs of the other and translating your good thoughts into noble actions

Depend and Trust on the Lord at all times – even when the “bread and the fish” of life seem to be too minimal before the “crowd” of difficulties and challenges!

Yes, we will have moments in our life which makes us to complain: “It is so very hard to trust God and to realize that His Hand is still leading us in the dark phases of our life!”

But we are reminded by the Gospel of the Day:
“If you cannot trust a person out of sight, then he/she is not worth much!

And if you cannot trust God in the dark, it simply shows… you don’t trust Him at all!”

Let us dare to move out of the “zone of limitation” and trust the Lord…
… knowing He is always with us – caring, loving and providing…
… and thus sing with the Psalmist: “O Lord, You have been our refuge, from one generation to the next” (Ps 90:1)

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

United with Christ by Baptism, believers already truly participate in the heavenly life of the risen Christ, but this life remains “hidden with Christ in God.”
The Father has already “raised us up with him, and made us sit with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
Nourished with His Body in the Eucharist, we already belong to the Body of Christ. When we rise on the last day we “also will appear with Him in glory.”
In expectation of that day, the believer’s body and soul already participate in the dignity of belonging to Christ. This dignity entails the demand that he should treat with respect his own body, but also the body of every other person, especially the suffering:
The body [is meant] for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?

You are not your own… So glorify God in your body! (CCC # 1003-1004)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – February 11, 2022: Friday

“Doing away with our monotonous life and living an enthusiastic life – with convictions and passions!”

(Based on 1 Kgs 11:29-32, 12:19 and Mk 7:31-37 – Friday of the 5th Week in Ordinary Time, Year II)

A group of people were standing outside a very large and ornate Cathedral…
… admiring and marvelling at the fine craftsmanship
…the detail work
… the care and the love that seemed evident in building such a fine place to worship a loving God.

One of the men turned to the other in the group and asked:
“Why can’t we build so today? Why can’t we build with such pride, such craftsmanship today?

After all, we now have better technology than back then!”

The other man gazing at the glorious edifice, replied: “Well…
They had convictions; we, mostly, only opinions!
They had passion; we, mostly, only fashion!”

How is our life of faith?
Enthusiastic… with convictions and passions?

Or monotonous… with only opinions and fashions?

The Gospel of the day presents the fruits of a convinced and passionate follower of Christ…
… with an invitation, to allow the Lord to open our hearts and lives to His Saving Love!

Jesus is back to the district of the Decapolis.
It was in this region that Jesus had healed the man who was possessed by a legion of demons (Mk 5: 1-20)

When Jesus had performed the miracle then, the people had requested Him to leave the place.
“Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their district” (Mk 5:17)

But today’s Gospel gives a contrasting picture of this people who had opposed Jesus.

The Gospel says that the people of this area, were begging Jesus to lay His hands on the deaf and dumb person! (Mk 7:32)

What had caused this dramatic change?

The people who were begging Jesus to leave their place…
… were now begging Jesus to perform a miracle!

Probably, the great witness of the man who was delivered from the legion of demons had caused about this transformation!

We hear at the end of that incident…
… “And as he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged Jesus that he might be with Him.

But He refused, and said to him, ‘Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.’
And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and all men marveled!” (Mk 5:18-20)

This man went around to proclaim the Good News that he had experienced and that had healed him!

Yes, when the Good News becomes a personal experience and a transformative healing encounter…
.. one is filled with a “passionate zeal” to reach it to others!

As it is said, “a spark can become a flame; a flame a fire”
… the spark of the experience of the Lord’s Power became a fire in his heart, to bring God’s Healing to many!”

A real experience of the Lord can indeed be a source for many to believe in the Lord!

A true encounter with the Lord can indeed turn one to be a tremendous missionary!

And this missionary endeavor of the man…
… led the people of the area to reach out to Jesus
… resulting in the healing of another man – a deaf and dumb person

Jesus in healing this deaf and dumb person, has a very peculiar style of going about.

Jesus takes the person away from the crowd, put His fingers into the man’s ears, spitting, touched his tongue, lifted up His eyes to heaven, groaned and said “Ephphatha, Be Opened!” (Mk 7:33-34)

There is a very personal and intimate touch in this healing process!

It is interesting to note that in the book of Genesis, when God formed human beings, there was a very personal involvement from the part of God to create humans – the crown of creation.
“God formed man, out of the clay and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being.” (Gen 2:7)

Jesus also does something similar in the healing of the deaf and dumb person….

He very personally involves Himself.
He uses His own touch to heal and recreate the person!

Jesus is the Lord of the New Creation!

God created the world good.

Human beings spoiled it through sin.
But Jesus restores and renews the goodness!

Our ears maybe closed very often to the voice of the Spirit of the Lord

Our mouth maybe often mute to speak the power of the Lord to others.
Our ears maybe closed very often to the cries of the poor and the needy,
Our mouth maybe often mute to speak for justice for the cause of others.

But the Lord is ready to touch us…and renew and recreate us.

Are we ready to receive this renewing and recreating touch from the Lord?
“Ephphatha… Be Opened!”

This “Ephphatha experience” ought to help us to also reach out His Care, Mercy and Love to many people!

The Lord wishes that we build our lives into a beautiful edifice of His Love and Mercy

But this requires us to move from opinions to convictions in faith!
It requires us to journey from mere fashions to passions in life!

On this Feast Day of our Lady of Lourdes, we seek the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary…
… to do away with our monotonous life – with mere opinions and fashions…
… and live an enthusiastic life – with convictions and passions!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
RISEN WITH CHRIST

Christ will raise us up “on the last day”; but it is also true that, in a certain way, we have already risen with Christ.
For, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, Christian life is already now on earth a participation in the death and Resurrection of Christ:
And you were buried with him in Baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead…

… If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (CCC # 1002)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – Feb 10, 2022: Thursday

“Being ready to overcome the contagion of ‘blaming’”

(Based on 1 Kgs 11:4-13 and Mk 7:24-30 – Thursday of the 5th Week in Ordinary Time)

Many of us have grown up with an extra kid in the house!
We didn’t know it…
… but he was there at certain times!

His name was “Not Me.”

He always appeared when something wrong or bad happened.

Like when your mom asked:

“Who has messed up the front room and made this floor dirty?” (This unseen kid would answer, “NOT ME!”)

“Who has applied mud on the walls of the house?” (This unseen kid would answer, “NOT ME!”)

“Who has kept the tap water on and caused the water-tank to be almost emptied?” (This unseen kid would answer, “NOT ME!”)

“Who has broken the glass windows of our neighbours?” (This unseen kid would answer, “NOT ME!”)

This “unseen kid” often continues to accompany us…
… and shouts loud, when things don’t go well in life!

Our problems, often, find a scapegoat in this excuse called: “blaming”
Our defeats, often, find a cause in this contagion named: “blaming”

But the Gospel of the day presents an amazing personality who silences this “unseen kid of blaming” and wins for herself the favour of the Lord.

The Gospel passage is the incident of Jesus’ encounter with a Gentile woman who comes seeking for a cure for her daughter, from a demon.
“…a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit, heard about Jesus. She came and fell at His feet” (Mk 7:25)

This person who came to Jesus went through a string of ignominies and exploitations…

  1. She had to face humiliations because she was a woman…
    The Jewish society accorded a lowly and highly subjugated status to women
  2. She had to face disgraces because she was a Greek…
    The Greeks, who were considered pagans by the Jews, were treated with inferiority.
  3. She had to face dishonour because she was a Syrophoenician…
    A Syrophoenician denoted a mixed race – half Syrians and half Phoenician; thus denoting also a crisis in cultural and linguistic identity.
  4. She had to face scandal because she had to approach Jesus who was a pure Jew…
    Greeks and especially Greek woman had no interaction at all with Jewish men
  5. She had to face crisis because her child was possessed with an unclean spirit…
    A demon-possession in her beloved daughter would have chased away all her peace of mind.
  6. She had to face challenge to her faith when the Lord addressed to her in an apparently disrespectful manner…
    Being called as a “dog” would have put off the mind of a weak and frail person

Well… this Syrophoenician Greek woman, had many things to complain in life…

She had a number of reasons to “blame” and get defeated in life…

She could have just “blamed” the society for their inhuman attitudes…
She could have just “blamed” the citizens for their class divisions…
She could have just “blamed” the civilization for their cruel outlooks…
She could have just “blamed” her stars and fate for what happened to her daughter…
She could have just “blamed” Jesus for His challenging and apparently resistant answer…

She could have just kept “blaming” anybody and anything….and get bogged down totally!

But this woman decides to silence this “unseen kid of blaming”

She decides to close her eyes to all humiliations and yet stand strong with a bold face!
She decides to overlook all setbacks and defy the odds with her deep convictions and trust!

As a result, the Lord rewards her immensely and her daughter was delivered of the demon!

Are we people who get easily afflicted by the contagion of “blaming?”
Are we people who are easily paralysed by the virus of “blaming?”

The Syrophoenician woman…
… by her tremendous faith and bold trust is a challenge to us.
… by her amazing determination and resolve is an inspiration for us.

Our society, our families, our own individual selves are often under the grip and possession of this contagion of “blaming”.

Let us approach the Lord for a deliverance…
Let us approach the Lord for a liberation…

God Bless! Live Jesus!


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CHRIST’S RESURRECTION AND OURS – HOW DO THE DEAD RISE?

This “how” exceeds our imagination and understanding; it is accessible only to faith.
Yet our participation in the Eucharist already gives us a foretaste of Christ’s transfiguration of our bodies: Just as bread that comes from the earth, after God’s blessing has been invoked upon it, is no longer ordinary bread, but Eucharist, formed of two things, the one earthly and the other heavenly…
… so too our bodies, which partake of the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, but possess the hope of resurrection.
When? Definitively “at the last day,” “at the end of the world.”
Indeed, the resurrection of the dead is closely associated with Christ’s Parousia:
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God…

… and the dead in Christ will rise first (CCC # 997-998)