REFLECTION CAPSULE FOR THE DAY – January 19, 2021 – Tuesday

“In situations of ‘barking criticisms,’ continuing to shine as the moon, by drawing our light from Jesus, the Sun of our Life!”

(Based on Heb 6:10-20 and Mk 2:23-28 – Tuesday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time, Cycle 1)

A common story is told of a judge who had been frequently ridiculed by an arrogant lawyer.

When asked by a friend why he didn’t rebuke his assailant, the judge replied:
“In our town lives a widow who has a dog.

Whenever the moon shines, it goes outside and barks all night.”

Having said that, the magistrate shifted the conversation to another subject.

After sometime, someone asked, “But Judge, you did not complete saying about the dog and the moon…
… What happened thereafter?”

“Oh,” the judge quipped, “the moon went on shining—that’s all.”

In life, we often face situations when criticisms are thrown at us…
… and we come under the scanner of “people’s unfair observations and judgments!”

What is our attitude to such situations of life?

Do we react negatively and thus lose our peace of mind…
… or do we remain firm and patient – trusting in God’s Protection – and being convinced of standing for the truth?

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus and His disciples coming under the “observant scanner of the Pharisees and the Scribes”…
… and Jesus responding to the situation with conviction in the Truth!

Jesus and His disciples were walking through a field of grain on the Sabbath.

The disciples were hungry and decided to pluck some of the grain. (Mk 2: 23)

The OT law of keeping of the Sabbath in no way prohibited picking a handful of grain to satisfy one’s immediate hunger

In Dt 23:25, God makes a wonderful provision for travellers:
“When you enter your neighbour’s standing grain, then you may pluck the head with your hand, but you shall not put a sickle in your neighbour’s standing grain”

The traditional law however added many rules and regulations.

These traditions were rigid concerning Sabbath observance.

The Talmud – the book of Jewish traditions – has 24 chapters listing various Sabbath laws.

A rabbi would sometimes spend 21/2 years studying one chapter to figure out all the details.
The system had become much oppressive, sometimes even ungodly and unkind.
The safe guarders and protectors of these scrupulous laws were the Scribes and the Pharisees.
And today they are out, to catch hold of Jesus and His disciples.

Their detective eyes are keen to observe the mistakes committed by them.

Their probing eyes are on the look out to get hold of their Sabbath breakages!

Do I sometimes adopt this tendency of the Pharisees and the Scribes…

Being on the constant look out for mistakes of others…
Watching others behaviours to probe faults and failures in them…

It’s interesting that the Scribes and the Pharisees failed to see that they also broke the Sabbath Law!

The Pharisees were following Jesus and His disciples….

This meant walking beyond the stipulated steps prescribed by the Sabbath Law!

But, they conveniently avoid in mentioning this!
They self-justified themselves but accused others of guilt!

They self-approved themselves but blamed others of faults!

Am I a person prone to only find faults and negativity in situations and in others…
… or do I make constructive criticisms and also be a person who genuinely appreciates?

Am I a person constantly bickering about what is lacking and missing in my life…
… or do I rather be a person who is delightful and content with all what God has blessed me?

Am I person who magnifies the weaknesses of others and defames others character…
… or do I be a person who understands others and encourages them to be stronger?

It’s human to chance upon the weaknesses of others…

It’s Divine to accept, understand and encourage them to be better instead!

It’s human to always look into the negative dimensions in a person…

It’s Divine to have a magnanimous heart to look to positives in life!

Life and situations may often go on “barking criticisms” at us…

Let us continue to shine as the moon…
… drawing our light from Jesus, the Sun of our Life!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
SPEAKING ABOUT GOD

In defending the ability of human reason to know God, the Church expresses her confidence in the possibility of speaking about him to all men and with all men, and therefore of dialogue with other religions, with philosophy and science, as well as with unbelievers and atheists.
Since our knowledge of God is limited, our language about him is equally so. We can name God only by taking creatures as our starting point, and in accordance with our limited human ways of knowing and thinking.
All creatures bear a certain resemblance to God, most especially man, created in the image and likeness of God.
The manifold perfections of creatures – their truth, their goodness, their beauty all reflect the infinite perfection of God
.

Consequently we can name God by taking his creatures “perfections as our starting point, “for from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator!” (CCC 39,40,41)

REFLECTION CAPSULE FOR THE DAY – 18th January, 2021

“Allowing the newness and the novelty of the Lord to sparkle and glitter in our everyday Christian Life!”

(Based on Heb 5:1-10 and Mk 2:18-22 – Monday of the 2nd Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1)

Most of us are familiar, with the story of that person who bought large new, exquisite flower vase from the market.

This person was excited in possessing this big and wonderful flower vase.

He came home and placed this flower vase in the centre table of the main hall.

He looked at the vase and admired saying, “Wow! This vase looks so pretty”.

But as he kept admiring the beauty of the vase, he realised, that somehow the torn and the rugged carpet beneath, was not matching with this newly bought vase.

So he decided to change the carpet…

Once he did the changing of the carpet, and as he admired the flower vase, he realized…
… the painting on the walls of the house also did not match with the flower vase, and the new purchased carpet!

So there…
… he decided to paint anew the walls as well!

Well…
The entry of the single vase…brought about effective changes in the surrounding!

The love for the beautiful vase prompted the person to make additional changes.

The admiration for the charming vase made the person to bring in extra alterations.

Something similar is to happen, when the Beautiful and Precious Jesus enters into our lives…

The old is to get transformed.. the new is to be ushered in!

The former is to undergo an alteration…the novel is to be welcomed in!

This is what the Lord puts forward in the Gospel of the Day by the examples of the old & new cloak and old & new wine

Our Lord often used examples from daily life to illustrate his parables.

Today, He uses two concepts that would have been readily understood by his listeners:

No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak. (Mk 1:21)
No one pours new wine into old wineskin (Mk 1: 22)

It was a known fact as to what would happen if an unshrunk (new) patch was sewn onto an old garment.

When it was washed, the new patch would shrink and pull away from the garment leaving a bigger tear than before.

In ancient Israel, the grapes were pressed in the winepress and left in the collection vats for a few days.

Fermentation starts immediately on pressing, and this allows the first “tumultuous” (gassy) phase to pass.

Then the fermenting juice was put in clay jars to be stored, or into wineskins if it was to be transported some distance.

When this new wine was placed into a wineskin, it continued to ferment.

So it was essential to put it into a new, flexible, skin that would expand, as the carbon dioxide gas (a by-product of fermentation) was given off.

In Biblical history, these examples illustrate the incompatibility of the old with the new.

The new is Jesus’ message of the Kingdom of God.

The old is the present status of Judaism.

Contextually, what do these examples mean to us today?

We have professed and declared ourselves to be Christians, following the path of Jesus.

Is there a newness and a novelty that I experience and live in my daily life?

Does Jesus Christ really effect any difference in my attitudes and my actions?

For long, perhaps, we have been proud to carry the tag of being a Christian.

But is it not time that Christ really begins to become “REAL” and “LIVING” in my life?

We often “use” Christianity as a bait to obtain concessions, quotas, easy entries for jobs etc…

But does Christianity make me to live the values of the Gospel to root out corruption from the society & within ourselves?

As Christians, we are often portrayed as “forward” people – associated as a culture of posh and sophisticated living, as a “wine-and-cake” people and as “short-dresses-folk!”

These are not to be trademarks of a Real Christian!!

Does being a Christian…
… impel me to forego a sinful life and seek after holiness?
… encourage me to stand for the values of truth and honesty?
… make me to be less materialistic and more focused on things eternal?
… make me shun peer & societal pressures & stand for moral convictions?
… propel me to defy evil tendencies of the world and be firm to the Kingdom values?

The one who is truly living in the Lord, cannot, but alter his/her sinful way of life.

The one who is really professing to be a Christian, cannot, but seek after holiness.

Let Jesus, as a beautiful vase, occupy the greatest presence and authority in my life!

This would certainly mean changing the old carpet of sinfulness and evil habits.
This would certainly mean painting the soiled walls with the new shade of holiness.

May the newness and the novelty of the Lord sparkle and glitter in our everyday Christian Life!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
LIMITATIONS OF HUMAN REASON, AND THE NEED FOR GOD’S REVELATION

In the historical conditions in which he finds himself, however, man experiences many difficulties…
… in coming to know God by the light of reason alone.
This is why man stands in need of being enlightened by God’s revelation, not only about those things that exceed his understanding…

… but also “about those religious and moral truths which of themselves are not beyond the grasp of human reason, so that even in the present condition of the human race, they can be known by all men with ease, with firm certainty and with no admixture of error!”

REFLECTION CAPSULE FOR THE DAY – January 17, 2021: Sunday

“Becoming a people of true acknowledgement and honest encouragement!”

(Based on 1 Sam 3:3-10, 19, 1 Cor 6:13b, 15, 17-20 and Jn 1:35-42 – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B)

The five fingers of the hand have their own functions and roles.

However, one finger among these five, is often engaged in a pretty notorious activity…

That Finger is …
… the Forefinger or the Index Finger.

And the activity that it is often used for, is…
… Blaming!

The Index finger or also called as the Pointer Finger is often used
… to point to others and accuse them
… to point towards others and blame them
… to point towards others and lay a charge on them

This action is also called as ‘Finger-Pointing’ – the act of casting the blame or assigning the blame for something, to someone else.

We have somehow, consciously or unconsciously, got into a habit of using our Index or the Forefinger to always blame and accuse others and pass on the fault to other people.

The Gospel of the Day, is however, a welcome change to this “sickening” trend of finger-pointing!

We have St John the Baptist who utilizes this action of pointing, not for blaming or accusing… … but rather to point out the Saviour of the World!

He points out, in a majestic style, to Jesus…
… and declares emphatically, ” Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn 1: 29)

He points towards Jesus…
… to make known the One who is the long-awaited Messiah!
… and reveals to the world, the One who is to redeem humanity!
… to proclaim the One, who by His greatness, would grant salvation!

John the Baptist, becomes a witness and a testimony to the world, to reveal Jesus as the Redeemer!

This pointing to the Saviour reveals many inner qualities of St John the Baptist…
a. He displays great humility in acknowledging the greatness of Jesus!
b. He shows forth immense goodness in choosing to play the secondary role!
c. He exhibits nobility by gently shifting the focus and limelight to Jesus, the Saviour!
d. He demonstrates faithfulness to his mission of being the forerunner to the True Messiah!

Our life is sometimes plagued by the “bad tendency” to point to others, only in a negative sense…

We point to others…
… to pass on judgment and condemnation
… to cast feelings of guilt and culpability
… to make public the faults of other people

It’s not that we should refrain from constructive criticism… or correcting others gently… or making the other person aware of their shortcomings.

But can we learn from St John the Baptist, the attitude to point out to others, in order to….
… Instill a sense of encouragement and affirmation
… Acknowledge their valuable and precious presence
… Allow people to notice the good and noble deeds of others

Pointing to others, ought not to be a tool of painful criticism and discouragement…
… rather it must be an action of encouragement and acknowledgement.

Pointing to others, ought not to be a medium of accusation and denunciation…
… rather it must be a means of appreciation and admiration.

Let us become a people of true acknowledgement… and not wasteful blaming.

Let us become a people of honest encouragement…and not critical judgment.
Let us become a people of credible appreciation… and not distasteful denouncing.

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
KNOWING GOD

Our Holy Mother, the Church, holds and teaches that God, the first principle and last end of all things, can be known with certainty from the created world by the natural light of human reason.
Without this capacity, man would not be able to welcome God’s revelation.

Man has this capacity because he is created “in the image of God!” (CCC #36)

REFLECTION CAPSULE FOR THE DAY – January 16, 2021: Saturday

“Following the Lord closely and like Levi, giving our hearts, our homes and our hands – our everything – to Him!”

(Based on Heb 4:12-16 and Mk 2:13-17 – Saturday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time, Cycle 1)

One of the easiest traps in our life, today, is to acquire Cheap Popularity!
‘Popularism’ is a bane which affects many areas of our life.

People choose…
… to undermine values
… to forsake principles
… to abandon relations
… to disown doctrines
… and even to dilute ideologies

Just to gain some cheap and shoddy popularity!

But Jesus came to the world…

Not to seek Cheap popularity…
… rather in quest of Precious Sinners

Not to acquire instant Glory…
… rather in granting Everlasting Peace!

Not to please People…
… rather to Honour God!

Jesus was clear in His Mission: To seek the wayward, to find the lost, to grant peace to sinners!

This Mission of the Lord would make Him lose His popularity ratings & reputed recognitions!
But Jesus dared…
… to prioritize Principles over Popularity
… choosing Reconciliation over good Reputation!

The Gospel today begins with the verse:
“… Jesus saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office,
He said to him, “Follow me!” (Mk 2: 14)

For the religious elite of the Society, this calling of Levi (St Mathew), the Tax Collector was a shocking experience!

Tax Collectors were among the most hated people in the Jewish Society.

Tax collectors were generally despised and tainted and stained on three different aspects:

  1. Nationally Traitors
    A tax collector, “sold himself”, to the foreign Roman government, and was a betrayer of the Nation.

One of the top-most nation-betrayers!

  1. Morally Corrupt
    Each tax collector had the right from the Roman government to gather taxes.

The more he gathered, the more he could keep!

One of the top-most dishonest people!

c. Religiously Unclean:
The constant contact of the tax collectors with the Gentiles made them religiously suspect.

One of the top-most impure class!

And it is this Levi, a tax collector…
… that Jesus invites to “Follow Him”!

An unpopular approach indeed!

But the Lord is least bothered of human appreciation and public popularity!

He came to seek the Lost….and gather the scattered ones!

And this offer of the Lord, was gladly welcomed by Matthew…

He Opened himself to the Love of the Lord….

  1. He opened His heart:
    Levi became a new person.

Accepting Jesus, meant…
… turning away from his old-ways
… forsaking a good deal of income
… rejecting some of his corrupt business people

  1. He Opened His Home:
    Levi was excited to share his new-found Love, with others too.

The transformation in one person, became an opportunity, for many others…
… to experience God’s enterprising love
…. and be challenged to undergo a change!

  1. He opened his hands:
    Levi also opened his hands & worked for the Lord.

(“It could be said, that when Jesus called Levi (Matthew), he left his job to follow Christ, but he took along with him, his pen!

And this would later help him to pen the Gospel…the Gospel according to St Matthew!”)

The Call of Levi, was Jesus’ way of telling that things happen in the Kingdom of God…
… not for the Sake of Popularity!

Rather, the Kingdom is an Invitation and a Home to all who find themselves…
… lost, least, broken, rejected, seeking, disturbed!

We all are in one way or the other, facing some of these problems or difficulties in life..

Let these not discourage us…

As the saying goes: Never say, “GOD, I have a big problem!” but instead, “Hey Problem, I have a big GOD!”

The Lord is ever-ready to welcome us.

He is least bothered of what others think or criticize!!
He values our lives much more than losing popularity!

Yes, We are more precious to Him, than popularity!

He Loves us!
He Values us!
He Longs for us!

We all can find…
… rest in His Heart
… welcome in His Home
… and strength in His Hands!

Pope Benedict XVI says: “If you follow the will of God, in spite of all the terrible things that happen to you, you will never lose a final refuge…!

Go on, trusting, in the One that loves you.”

Let us follow the Lord closely….
… and like Levi, give our hearts, our homes and our hands – our everything – to Him!

Let us today specially seek the intercession of St Joseph Vaz. He was a native of Goa, India…
… later served in Mangalore (India) and in Ceylon (Sri Lanka)

“As the life of Saint Joseph Vaz teaches us, genuine worship of God bears fruit not in discrimination, hatred and violence but in respect for the sacredness of life, respect for the dignity and freedom of others and loving commitment to the welfare of all.” (From the Homily of Pope Francis on the Canonization of St Joseoph Vaz – 14 January 2015)

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
“THE WORLD AND HUMAN BEINGS ATTEST THE PRESENCE OF GOD!”

The world, and man, attest that they contain within themselves neither their first principle nor their final end…
… but rather that they participate in Being itself, which alone is without origin or end.
Thus, in different ways, man can come to know that there exists a reality which is the first cause and final end of all things, a reality “that everyone calls God.”
Man’s faculties make him capable of coming to a knowledge of the existence of a personal God.
But for man to be able to enter into real intimacy with him, God willed both to reveal himself to man, and to give him the grace of being able to welcome this revelation in faith…

… (so) the proofs of God’s existence, however, can predispose one to faith and help one to see that faith is not opposed to reason.

REFLECTION CAPSULE FOR THE DAY – January 15, 2021: Friday

“Experiencing the God of blessings pouring down graces on us!”

(Based on Heb 4:1-5, 11 and Mk 2:1-12 – Friday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time, Cycle 1)

There is a popular quote in Hindi, which goes so:
“Bhagwaan jab deta hain, chappar phaad kar deta hain”

The meaning of the words are given below:

Bhagwaan (God) jab (when) deta hain (gives), chappar (roof) phaad (tear open) kar deta hain (gives)!

Therefore, literally, in English, this quotation would get translated as:
“When God gives, He tear opens the roofs and gives!”

The Gospel of the Day gives a similar scene of “The roof being torn open!”

We are travelling very quickly with St Mark’s journey of the ministry of Jesus.

We were with Jesus by the Sea of Galilee, where He called the first disciples (Mk 1: 16-20)

Then we came to the synagogue, where Jesus cures a man with an unclean spirit (Mk: 1: 21-28)

Then we reached Simon’s house, where Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law (Mk 1:29-31)

Then we went to the mountains to pray with Jesus, who always remained focused (Mk 1: 35)
Then we met a leper, unacceptable in the society, who was made clean by Jesus (Mk 1: 40-45)

The journey moves fast and immediately…
At Capernaum, a great crowd has gathered in a house, where Jesus is preaching (Mk 2:1-2)

The house is fully packed with people cramming to hear the Lord..

The house is brimming with persons seeking the healing of the Lord..,

Then comes a group of thick friends who have brought their paralytic friend to Jesus.

They came with much expectation to get their friend whole and well again.
They sought with an eager and earnest desire for the Lord of power and healings.

But as they approached the house… their hopes would have gone down!

The thick crowd of people would have slimmed their hopes!

The massive gathering at the door would have thinned their anticipations!

But when the chips are down, one is given a chance to find strength one never knew one had & put it toward the greater good.

They came seeking for blessings…
They came seeking for the God of blessings…
.But it seemed, that the firmament was closed to shower down blessings!

But then they had a hope…similar to that of …” Bhagwaan jab deta hain, chappar phaad kar deta hain!”
Yes …”When God gives, He tear opens the roofs and gives!”

And so they decided to take on this same principle that God uses to shower His blessings:
“To tear open the roof!”

“Unable to get near Jesus, because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above Him” (Mk 1:4)

“Opened up the roof” has other translations…
… “dug a hole through the roof”
…“removed part of the roof”
… “uncovered the roof”

We would perhaps think the roof was some primitive, thatched roof.
But most likely, that was not the case…

As per the architecture then, this roof was more than likely a mud clay roof with tiles
To lower their paralyzed friend through the roof, they literally had to do a major demolition of the roof.

Well… picture this…
You’re in this packed house – people crammed to the max…trying to listen to Jesus.

All of a sudden you start to hear some banging on the roof.

These friends would have literally tore the tiles off the roof, made a hole & lowered the paralyzed man by a rope into the house.

Then the roof materials begins to fall in on you!

Well… picture the people’s responses…

They would have been astonished, amazed and some even angered!
They were there to listen to Jesus….they had come early…they had won their spot…

They were perhaps hearing their life-transforming sermon!

It’s at this point, that the “roof starts tearing down!”

But Jesus, the God of blessings, is immensely pleased and edified by their faith and trust!

Their “tearing of the roof” is blessed by “pouring down of blessings”
Their “tearing of the roof” is rewarded with a “cleansing of sins”.

Many of the times, we too face similar barriers and blockages in our experience for the Lord.

Are we willing to “break through the roof”…
… of discouragements, disappointments and distresses?

Are we willing to “break through the roof”…
… of ‘end-of-the-road’ feelings and ‘hopeless situations’?

Are we willing to “break through the roof”…
… of problems which seem impossible and unsolvable?

Difficulties and barriers will always be many in life…
Hardships and challenges will often stare on our face…

But let us have the grit and the guts to be ready to “break through the roof” of all such adversities!

Then, we will experience the God of blessings also pouring down graces on us… “Chappar phaad ke!!” (breaking the roof)

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
WAYS OF COMING TO KNOW GOD

Created in God’s image and called to know and love him, the person who seeks God discovers certain ways of coming to know him.
These are also called proofs for the existence of God, not in the sense of proofs in the natural sciences, but rather in the sense of “converging and convincing arguments”, which allow us to attain certainty about the truth.

These “ways” of approaching God from creation have a twofold point of departure: the physical world, and the human person.

REFLECTION CAPSULE FOR THE DAY – January 14, 2021: Thursday

“Imitating Christ in His deep commitment and dedication!”

(Based on Heb 3:7-14 and Mk 1:40-45 – Thursday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time, Cycle 1)

Kalaupapa was a remote peninsula, surrounded by the roaring Pacific Ocean, on three sides on an island named Molokai.

This tiny place had become the prison for those forcibly banished as a result of being afflicted with Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy).

The souls outcast here became prisoners in their own land, harshly kicked from boats, washing onto shore without adequate supplies, infrastructure, medicine, or tools.

Families on surrounding islands, powerless to help, mourned for the cruel fate of their loved ones.

In this situation, a priest named Damien, volunteered to move to this place and serve the people who are afflicted by this dreaded disease.

Fr Damien was greeted with devastation.

He walked among the living dead.

Everywhere he looked…
… there was only bleeding and oozing sores
… rampant diseases of various kinds
… and perhaps worst of all, hopelessness and endless misery

Choosing to make this place as his home for life, Fr Damien began his first sermon, addressing the people in the leper colony: “We lepers….”

Fr Damien did not yet have a sign of the leprous infection, but he already identified himself with the afflicted ones, by including himself as “We lepers…”

But within fifteen years, he too would be afflicted with the same disease and die!

When one is committed to a cause, one identifies totally with the cause, even to the point of death!

When one is faithful to a mission, one equates with its demands, even to the point of being afflicted!

This is what Damien – St Damien – would teach from his life…

And this is what we learn, as St Damien did, from the life of Jesus: a total identification with the afflicted ones, in order to redeem and save them!

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus who effects a healing for a leper…
… but in the process, undergoes the isolation and separation that was the lot of the lepers.

Jesus is in the land of Galilee.

A leper comes to Him seeking for a cleansing: “If you wish, you can make me clean” (Mk 1: 40)
Looking at the leper, Jesus knew and understood the immense agony and dread that the man had undergone…

The ancient times had leprosy as one of the most feared diseases.

The book of Leviticus required that all those found unclean with leprosy “shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp” (Lev 13:46)

Jesus knew that to come into contact with a leper was to make oneself unclean.

Jesus knew that to touch a leper was to also share in the affliction and misery.

Yet, the Lord, who is the One who cleanses (Eze 36:25) and the One who refines (Is 48:10) decides to touch the leper…and bring about a healing!

“Jesus stretched out His hand, touched him and said to him, ‘ I do will it. Be made clean'” (Mk 1:41)

The leper was immediately made clean.

The leper had to also get it confirmed from the priest.

But Jesus, who cleansed and freed the leper, now Himself, undergoes the pain as that of a leper…

The Gospel says that, “…it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places…” (Mk 1:45)

Jesus now identifies Himself with the isolation that the leper himself had undergone

Jesus now undergoes Himself the staying away from society that the leper had undergone.

Yes, when one is faithful to a mission, one equates with its demands, even to the point of being afflicted!

When one is committed to a cause, one identifies totally with the cause, even to the point of death!

Each of us are called with a specific mission and purpose in life…

It requires a deep commitment.
It requires an identification with the people and situation.
It requires a complete giving of oneself to the cause and mission.

Am I ready to embrace such a dedication?

St Paul invites us to be “… imitators of Christ” just as he imitated Christ (1 Cor 11:1)

Let us remain open to this Invitation of the Lord, and not close our hearts… “Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test…” (Heb 3:8-9)

Let us imitate Christ in His deep commitment and dedication.

Let us imitate Christ who came to bring healing to all in this world.
Let us imitate Christ who shared in our sufferings to bring redemption and joy.

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
RESPOONDING TO THE EVER-EAGER CALL OF THE LORD TO SEEK HIM
Although man can forget God or reject him, He never ceases to call every man to seek him, so as to find life and happiness.

But this search for God demands of man every effort of intellect, a sound will, “an upright heart”…

… as well as the witness of others who teach him to seek God! (CCC #30)

REFLECTION CAPSULE FOR THE DAY – January 13, 2021: Wednesday

“Not merely running after ‘by-products;’ rather, seeking Jesus, Who is the Essence!”

(Based on Heb 2:14-18 and Mk 1:29-39 – Wednesday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time, Cycle 1)

A young boy went to his Uncle’s house for a few days of vacation.
His uncle was a scientist.

One day, the scientist-uncle told the boy, “Today we are going the method of obtaining petrol”

The boy was super-excited

He enjoyed fast cars and racing games.

And so, he was pretty curious to know how petrol was obtained.

They went to a place where oil was dug.

The boy looked in amazement at all the works being done – the digging into the earth, the huge pipes making their way into the depths, the extraction process!

After quite a while, the boy, pretty dejected approached his uncle and asked:
“I thought, you told me, we are going to see petrol being obtained.

But all that I find here, is that they are extracting oil!

Where is the petrol?”

At that time, the scientist-Uncle began to explain to the boy:
“Son! Remember, you never dig petrol!

You only dig for oil…
… and petrol is later, extracted from it, through a process of distillation!

Search not for petrol – which is a by-product…
… Look rather for the oil, which is the essence!

Is our Christian life sometimes similar?

Are we looking often only for the material goods and products from the Lord…
… or do we seek primarily for Jesus and His Kingdom?

We need to check and examine: Have we discovered the “Real” Jesus in our life?

The Gospel of the Day presents before us this great challenge: To identify the real Jesus!

The Gospel reading is a description of the Lord’s ministry as per St Mark’s account.

Jesus is engaged in His proclamation of the Kingdom of God.

He is proving Himself to be a person who is of the supernatural and the extraordinary realm.

He teaches the Scriptures with deep authority and conviction…
… People hear God speaking in their lives!

He silences and expels the forces of evil and influences the nature…
… People experience the Divine force in their lives!

He infuses life into the dead and proclaims his great power…
… People come across the marvellous works of the Lord!

He exercises His healing over the sick and the suffering…
… People witness His glorious control and supremacy!

People are…
… swayed over His mighty works
… super-excited by His amazing wonders
… overwhelmed with His wonderful deeds

But such occasions are the times of great testing and trial for anyone..

The easiest moments of losing oneself is in the midst of immense success!

The most tempting times of losing one’s focus is when there are widespread victories!

The Lord was surrounded by immense recognition and successes.

The crowds were thronging around Him and His popularity ratings were soaring.

But, just as the tree of success must be deeply grounded & rooted in the soil of stability and firmness…

So also, the Lord was fully aware of His goals and mission.

And so the Gospel of St Mark would explicitly point out the actions of the Lord…
‘Rising very early before dawn, He left and went off to a deserted place, where He prayed’ (Mk 1: 35)

‘He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose I have come”‘ (Mk 1: 38)

The Lord points out to the people and to His disciples the priorities of His Life – Being in communion with His Heavenly Father and Spreading the Kingdom of God!

He doesn’t get over-awed with success!
He doesn’t get carried away by reputations!

He reminds His disciples and His people to seek the “real” Jesus!

He brings to the notice of His disciples and His people to long for the “real” Jesus!

It’s a moment for us to check and examine our own lives: Am I following the “Real” Jesus?

Is Jesus merely a source of healings and remedies in my moments of physical sicknesses…
… or has He also become the true balm and consolation in my spiritual health and well-being?

Is Jesus only like a call-centre agent whom I seek in order to fix some problems of life…
… or Has He also become genuinely the treasure and the priceless fortune of my Life?

Is Jesus simply a solution and answer when crisis hits my life and things go badly…
… or has He also become authentically the greatest powerhouse and thrust of my Life?

Am I following the “Real” Jesus?

Or is it merely…
… a Jesus of quick-fix solutions?
… a Jesus who is a problem-solver?
… a Jesus who is remembered in times of trials alone?
… a Jesus who is expected to give all answers to my confusions?

The people and the disciples, as we see in the Gospel, seemed happy and satisfied to seek Jesus who performs wonders.

Surely, wonders and sensational deeds are good.

But they are not to be an end in itself….
They are not to be made the primary motto.

Miracles and marvels ought to become a launching pad for a deeper relationship with the Lord.

Let us not reduce the greatness of Jesus to just miracles…

Let us not bring down the immensity of Jesus to just physical needs.

Let us rather, seek…
… the True and Living Lord for a wholesome & integral growth for eternity.
… the Compassionate and Powerful Lord to grow in holiness & sanctity.

The Lord is the One Who knows us, understands us and wishes that we seek Him with a sincere heart. His understanding Presence with us, is assured in the Letter to the Hebrews:
“Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people.

For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted!” (Heb 2:17)

Just like digging is done for oil…
… and petrol is later, extracted from it, through a process of distillation!

We need to search first for Jesus and His Kingdom (Mt 6:33)
… and all other things – which are a by-product – will be given to us

Yes, let’s not merely run after ‘by-products’…
… Let us rather seek for Jesus, Who is the Essence!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
THE UNIVERSAL CALL OF HUMAN BEINGS AS A RELIGIOUS BEING AND THE VARIOUS DANGERS IT FACES

In many ways, throughout history down to the present day, men have given expression to their quest for God in their religious beliefs and behaviour: in their prayers, sacrifices, rituals, meditations, and so forth.
These forms of religious expression, despite the ambiguities they often bring with them, are so universal that one may well call man a religious being:
But this “intimate and vital bond of man to God” can be forgotten, overlooked, or even explicitly rejected by man.

Such attitudes can have different causes: revolt against evil in the world; religious ignorance or indifference; the cares and riches of this world; the scandal of bad example on the part of believers; currents of thought hostile to religion; finally, that attitude of sinful man which makes him hide from God out of fear and flee his call!” (CCC #28, 29)

REFLECTION CAPSULE FOR THE DAY – 12th January, 2021

“Submitting ourselves to His Power and Authority, knowing for sure that ‘when God orders, even the devil obeys!'”

(Based on Heb 2:5-12 and Mk 1:21-28 – Tuesday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1)

A beautiful and commonly quoted story goes thus:

A very poor woman called a Christian radio station asking for some assistance and help.

A man – known to be an unbeliever in God and who highly despised religion – who was listening to this radio program…
…. decided to make something out of it…

He decided to play a prank on the woman, and make her a fool.

He got the ladies’ address…
… then called his secretary and ordered her to buy food

And take to the woman with the following instruction:
“when the woman asks who sent the food…
… tell her that it’s from the devil.”

When the secretary arrived and delivered the food to the woman…
… the woman was so happy and readily accepted the food and moved inside her little house.

The Secretary, out of curiosity asked her: “But don’t you want to know who sent the food?”

The woman answered:
“NO, it doesn’t matter!

Because when GOD orders, even the devil obeys.”

Yes…
… when God orders, even the devil obeys!

The Gospel of the Day presents this act of encounter…
… where the shackles of captivity and bondage of Satan are broken by the power of release and liberation by Jesus!
… where Kingdom of Satan yields to the Kingdom of God!

Jesus is in the synagogue on the Sabbath Day and addressing the people. (Mk 1:21)

His teaching is full of power and conviction…
His teaching is filled with passion and fervour…

This presentation of Jesus, with full of power and authority is something remarkable…
… and worth to be imitated and inspired.

Jesus announced in his First Programmatic Speech (Lk 4: 16-30)…

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…
… to proclaim liberty to the captives”

In tune with this announcement, the Lord goes about “preaching liberty to the captives”…

Those people, who were captivated…
… by sin
… by oppression
… by evil forces and satanic powers

And this “liberation from captivity,” was done by Jesus…
… with a lot of power and authority
… with immense conviction and passion

When one is deeply convinced of one’s beliefs, it overflows into one’s words and actions

When one is highly passionate about one’s faith, it overwhelms one’s deeds and life.

As He thus taught the people, Jesus encountered a man with an unclean spirit, who cried out:
” What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” (Mk 1: 24)

Darkness cannot reign, when light shines!
Filth cannot dominate, where there is immense holiness!
Satanic powers begin to crumble, when the Word of God is proclaimed!

The man with the unclean spirit could not tolerate the Words and the Presence of Jesus!

His heart and mind began to reverberate
The depth of his soul was pierced

Irritation began in him..
… Restlessness began to overpower him

And finally, unable to withstand, he yelll out:  “What have you got to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?!” (Mk 1: 24)

But the Power of God was much more powerful than this yelling!

The Lord with might and power, boldness and  audacity ordered:
“QUIET! Come out of him” (Mk 1: 25)

And when God orders, even the devil obeys!

The Gospel says: “The unclean spirit convulsed him, and with a  loud cry came out of him” (Mk 1:26)

Our life is a constant battle with the powers of the evil.

Time and again, we have people and situations who discourage us

Many times we go through moments when spiritual life doesn’t seem to be encouraging

We often get tied down by the powers of temptation
… We often get disappointed by the struggles of sinful tendencies

But let’s know for sure: The power of the Lord is with us – waiting to save us!

We need to know for sure: That when God orders, even the devil obeys!

What is therefore needed is that, we need to…
… yield ourselves to the Orders of God!
… make ourselves open and docile to the Commands of God!

Let’s examine our Christian lives and check:

Do I constantly seek live a life, in the Presence of the Lord…
… so that no powers of Satan can touch us?

Do I nourish my spiritual life with the daily food of Prayer, Word of God and re-commitment to holiness…
… so that we are never under the bondage of the evil?

The mighty power of the Lord is with us

Always wanting to provide for us!
Always wanting to take care of us!

Let’s submit ourselves to His Power and Authority, knowing for sure:
“When God orders, even the devil obeys!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
THE DESIRE FOR GOD AND THE NEED TO ACKNOWLEDGE HIS PRESENCE

The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself.
Only in God will he find the truth
The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God.
For if man exists it is because God has created him through love…
… and through love continues to hold him in existence.
He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love…

… and entrusts himself to his Creator! (CCC #27)

REFLECTION CAPSULE FOR THE DAY – January 11, 2021: Monday

“Allowing the Lord to walk into our ordinary lives and accepting His invitation to be partakers of the Extraordinary and Effervescent Works of the Kingdom!”

(Based on Heb 1:1-6 and Mk 1:14-20 – Monday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time, Cycle 1)

A story is said of a rich man – much attached to possessions and wealth – who heard a sermon which exhorted to “Let God” work in one’s life.

The example cited was of how, at the creation of the world, God commanded a word and things were created…
… let there be light
… let there be the firmament and the waters
… let there be the living creatures etc
“Letting God” to work would allow miracles to take place in one’s life

Even though this man was not a very practising Catholic, and instead was much attached to his wealth…
… these words “Let God”… “Let God”… kept ringing in his hears.

However, he was not sure, how to “Let God” in his life.

As he sat in the evening with his family, his 6 year old child came to him, telling him, “Pappa, our catechism teacher asked us to write the title of today’s sermon as a homework. Would you kindly check if what I have written is right…?”

And so saying, the little boy handed over the book

The man was surprised to see the title written as “LET GO”
… and there it flashed to him: The way to “Let God” was to “Let Go!”

Yes…
“Letting God” to work in life…
… begins with “Letting Go!”

Have we discovered this fundamental truth of Christian Discipleship?

The Gospel of the Day is this beautiful presentation of the first disciples of Jesus, who “let go”…
… in order to follow Jesus

We have entered into the 1st Week of the New Liturgical Year with the Feast of the Baptism.

The “expectant and hopeful purple colours of Advent” and the “golden and white festive colours of the Christmastide” are now kept aside…
… and its time to live the “sublime and green colours of the ordinary time”

The Gospel presents Jesus entering into the “ordinary situations” of the people…
… and inviting them to be partakers of the “Extraordinary and Effervescent Works of the Kingdom!”

The Gospel says:

“And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen.” (Mk 1:16)
“And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets.” (Mk 1:19)

Simon, Andrew, James and John – would have begun their day just like any other day…
… hoping for a good catch
… but also wary that they may end up without much to carry back home

But Divine Providence had a special day in store for them

Jesus encounters these people on a “regular and ordinary day”
… only to convert that day to a “very special day of blessing and grace!”

Each of us also most probably begin our day, just like any other regular days…
… with mundane tasks
… regular errands and similar schedules

But if we are open and willing to allow the Lord to enter into our lives…
… each day can become a “very special day of blessing and grace!”

Yes, each day can indeed become “the day that the Lord has made” (Ps 118:24 )…
… if we remain open to God’s Voice and cooperate with His Merciful Grace in our lives!

Simon, Andrew, James and John – the first disciples responded to the call of the Lord

And they would have their lives transformed.

The Lord wishes to work out the same transformation in our lives as well.

But for this, we need to “let go”

Yes, we need to “Let Go” in order “to let God” work beautiful miracles in our lives

“Let go” of our tendencies to be attached to material possessions and giving priorities only to worldly riches…
… instead to focus more on the spiritual and eternal realities of life!

“Let go” of our egoistic attitudes…
… instead to accommodate and extend God’s Love to people with the virtues of forgiveness, humility and acceptance!

“Let go” of our bad habits and sinful inclinations…
… instead, to put on the vestment of holiness and purity of life!

The Lord wishes to work mightily in our lives

As the Letter to the Hebrews testifies: “In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets…
… but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world!” (Heb 1:1-2)

Jesus, the Son – the culmination and fulfilment of all revelation….
… desires to walk into our ordinary lives offers us the invitation to be partakers of the “Extraordinary and Effervescent Works of the Kingdom!”

Shall we “let go”….?
… so that we can “let God….”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
UNDERSTANDING WHAT IS FAITH
We begin our profession of faith by saying: “I believe” or “We believe”.

Faith is man’s response to God, who reveals himself and gives himself to man…

… at the same time bringing man a superabundant light, as he searches for the ultimate meaning of his life. (CCC # 26)

REFLECTION CAPSULE FOR THE DAY – 10th January, 2021

“Kindling  the fire and love of being a Christian by renewing our Baptismal vows and living our Baptism!”

(Based on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord)

An incident is told about St Katherine of Alexandria.

Katherine was a noble and learned young woman in this cultural hub of the ancient world of the 4th century. She had attained a lot of popularity in the town of Alexandria.

She was a Christian.

This was the time of the persecution of Christians by Emperor Maxentius.

Christians were given only two options:

Worshipping the emperor (which would violate the First Commandment)…
… or being put to death

In this context, the Governor of Alexandria also came up with another plan to humiliate and discourage the Christians.

He invited the famous Katherine to debate a group of fifteen (some say 50) of the best pagan philosophers and orators…
… Hoping that this dispute would refute all her pro-Christian arguments and thus morally discourage other Christians as well!

Katherine accepted the challenge.

They gathered in the governor’s palace and the discussion began.

But the plan backfired.

Instead of Katherine being converted, several members of the panel (some sources say, all members) were actually converted!

They asked for baptism immediately, so as to receive God’s grace into their souls.

But the governor was furious and condemned them all to immediate death.

To that, Katherine with concern and care assured all the new-converts that since they so sincerely desired to receive the sacrament…
… their own blood would take the place of water, and their own martyrdoms would take the place of baptism.

Those men were willing to give up everything else, only in order to receive the friendship and grace and Jesus Christ.

That’s the power of God’s Love!

And that’s the Power of Witnessing to God’s Love!

The fire of God’s Love that was kindled in St Katherine of Alexandria, at Baptism…
… continued to blaze in her, setting many other souls on fire for love of God!

Does the Fire of Love, that had been kindled in us, at our Baptism…
… continue to blaze powerfully in us?

Or has the fire been diminished and lessened?

Today, Holy Mother the Church celebrates the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus…
… and with an invitation: To “fan into flames” ( 2 Tim 1:6) the fire of God’s Love that has been kindled in us, at our Baptism!

The liturgical season of Christmas, celebrating the self-revelation of God through Jesus, comes to an end with the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord.

This incident of the Baptism of Jesus is greatly significant and important….

It is one of the few passages that appears in all the four Gospels.
It was the first public revelation of the Three Persons of the Trinity
It was the first official declaration of Jesus as the Son of God to the world.

For Jesus, it was…
… a moment of identification with us sinners.
… a moment of decision to begin His public ministry.
…a moment of approval when His Father called Him as His “beloved Son”.

Each one us, as Christians have been baptized in the Lord!

What does Baptism mean to us?

What has Baptism meant to us?

Baptism is a time when we call ourselves to have “put on” Christ…
… a time of conversion…from the old to the new!

For a moment, let’s borrow the idea of how the Jewish conversion would be effected…
… so that we could have a better and a deeper understanding of our Christian Baptism

For a Gentile man to become a full-fledged Jew there was a basic three-step process:

  1. The first was to offer a sacrifice
    A heifer or a pair of turtledoves was brought to the priest and given as a burnt offering to God. This meant some expense involved.

It required hardship, forfeiting  and sacrifice oneself to become a new person!

  1. The second was circumcision – the cutting away of a piece of flesh from a man’s body.
    For a Jewish boy, this was done when he was 8 days old, thus the pain wasn’t remembered.

But an adult male, who wanted to become a Jewish proselyte, had to undergo this procedure, regardless of his age.

It required deep pain, immense agony and even shedding of blood to become a new person!

  1. The third was baptism.
    The person stripped off all of his clothes.

He then went into the water naked before the Rabbis…
… dipped himself under water making sure to fully immerse his entire body!

It required a lot of humility and self-sacrifice to become a new person!

Christian Baptism may not have these external signs and actions as that of the Jews.

But the internal aspects are much more strongly present…
… and even more valid!

To be a Baptized Person in Jesus – a passage from the Old to the New, requires….

  1. Sacrifice of oneself
    …. Willingness to sacrifice one’s life for the Lord, in the form of money, talents, time, energy etc…

He who wishes to follow me, must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me (Mt 16:24)

  1. Undergoing pain and suffering
    … Openness to share the agony and grief of life through various life situations and being patient and faithful in all trials …

“The Lord your God will circumcise your heart… to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul…” (Dt 30: 6)

  1. Embracing a life of humility and dependence on God
    … Readiness to overcome our pride, our selfish desires and interests and allow God’s grace and mercy to flow through us…

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Pet 5:6)

Most of us have been Baptized when we were too little…

We were not aware….

But those who loved us and cared for us, were aware.

Today very often, the Ceremony of Baptism gets reduced to a mere ritual with only celebrations and get-togethers

We need to instead, revive the primary aspect of Baptism: As a life-transforming process, with its intrinsic elements of pain and sacrifices!

Baptism was a beginning… an initiation…into a life of grace…
… a journey with the Lord!

The Spirit of the Lord is within us…

And the call from Deep within us is strong:
“Rise up from slumber, if you are sleeping…
As a Baptized Christian, you have a very noble vocation and an immense responsibility…

Christian Life is no joke
… it does not tolerate passivity
… it does not allow lethargy!

Look up…

Mother Church is waiting to embrace you in deep love with Her Sacraments…

Mother Mary and all the Saints and Angels are encouraging you to become a Saint…

Yes, You are a Baptized Child of God
… Consecrated to the Lord
… Holy to Him!

Be true…

Be Faithful…
Be Enthusiastic…
Be Proud… to be a Christian”

Yes, the fire of God’s Love that has been kindled in us at Baptism…
… ought to continue to blaze in us, setting many other souls on fire for love of God!

Let us re-kindle the fire and love of being a Christian….

Let’s renew our Baptismal vows!
Let’s live our Baptism!

Happy Feast to all of us, baptized with our Dearest Lord!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
THE FUNDAMENTAL PASTORAL STATEMENT OF THE CATECHISM

The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends.
Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible…
… so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love…

… and have no other objective than to arrive at love! (CCC #25)