✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Jan 16, 2023: Monday

“Trusting that our Divine Master knows what is best for us, and thus obeying His commands to enter into newness of life!”

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

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

Two men were candidates for the office.

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

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

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

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

“I am not going to do such fool’s work,” replied the other.
Throwing down his basket, he went away.

The other man continued until he had exhausted the well.

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

Our work was not useless!”

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

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

It is this trust and confidence that makes one to “enter in the newness of the Lord!”

The Gospel of the day is an invitation to “enter the new”
… by letting go of things of the past which block us from receiving God’s Grace
… by being open to the ways of the Lord and being docile to His Spirit.

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

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

This “closed mentality” caused them not to accept the teachings of Christ…
This “closed mentality” prevented them from experiencing the Salvific Love and Mercy of the Lord!

They felt that they “knew better”…
… and thus, failed to accept the Words of the Lord!

We are all called to have an “openness and docility” to the Word of the Lord.

When we are open to the Lord, “the old gets transformed and the new is ushered in!”

This is what the Lord puts proposes by the examples of the old & new cloak and the old & new wine

He uses two examples 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)

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

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

We are to remember that, “failure to obey the words and commands of the Lord will lead to our downfall!”

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

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE ANOINTING OF THE SICK – CHRIST THE PHYSICIAN

Christ’s compassion toward the sick and His many healings of every kind of infirmity are a resplendent sign that “God has visited his people” and that the Kingdom of God is close at hand.
Jesus has the power not only to heal, but also to forgive sins…
… He has come to heal the whole man, soul and body
… He is the physician the sick have need of.1
His compassion toward all who suffer goes so far that He identifies Himself with them: “I was sick and you visited me.”
His preferential love for the sick has not ceased through the centuries to draw the very special attention of Christians toward all those who suffer in body and soul.

It is the source of tireless efforts to comfort them. (CCC #1503)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Jan 15, 2023: Sunday

“Listening to God’s Will; living a Life of Holiness; letting the light of His Love to shine”

(Based on Is 49:3, 5-6, 1 Cor 1:1-3 and Jn 1:29-34 – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C)

Six-year-old Johny made a trip to some European countries with his parents.

On returning back to the Catechism classes, his teacher asked him about his experiences.

And Johny said, “I loved all the churches in Europe – they are so many and they are so beautiful!
They have so many glass paintings on the windows of these bog churches of many saints!”

On hearing the word, “Saint”, the teacher asked Johny: “So tell me, who is a saint?”

And Johny, recollecting those glass paintings on the Church windows said:
“A saint is someone, who allows the Light of the Lord to pass through!”

That’s a beautiful description of a Saint, isn’t it?

One who allows the Light of the Lord to pass through!

The Liturgy of the Day invites each of us to allow the Light of the Lord to pass through…
… and become a light – a witness – of God’s Love to the world!

The First Reading (Is 49:3, 5-6) is one of the Four Servant Songs in the Book of Isaiah, about Jesus, the Messiah. (The other three – Is 42:1-9, 50:4-9, 52:13-53:12).

The Servant is named Israel (Is 49:3)

And elsewhere, the nation of Israel, is called the servant of the Lord (Is 41:8-9, 44:1-2, 21; 45:4; 48:20).

But Israel failed in its vocation.

This title of the “Servant of the Lord” is, however, faithfully lived by Jesus…
… who is shown to be the one faithful Israelite (Mt 12:15-21, Phil 2:6-8).

This title is later also given to those who make up God’s reconstituted Israel – all those who follow Jesus!

Each of us is thus invited to be “the light to the nations, that His Salvation may reach to the ends of the earth!” (Cf. Is 49:6)

St Paul beautifully shows this way to be the light to the nations: By doing His Will and living a Holy Life!

St Paul understood the depth of his vocation by identifying himself with the Will of God…
… “Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God…” (1 Cor 1:1)
He also invites the people of Corinthians to live a sanctified life…
… “to the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints…” (1 Cor 1:2)

When we do the Will of God in our lives and live a holy life, we allow God’s light to shine through us

When doing what God wants becomes the first priority for us, we become His Authentic Witnesses!

This is what we find St John the Baptist doing in the Gospel: Following the Will of God, he takes up this mission and duty of “being a light – a witness!”

“The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him and declared, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” (Jn 1:29-30)

Jesus would later testify to this fact when He tells about John the Baptist:
“He was a burning and shining lamp…” (Jn 5:35)

Our Christian lives are to be lived…
… by seeking and doing God’s Will!
… by living a holy life!

It is this transparency and openness to the Will of God that will help us to allow the Light of the Lord to pass through…
… and become a light – a witness – of God’s Love to the world!

May our prayer be, like the words of that beautiful hymn to our Blessed Mother:
“Mamma Mary, help me be open
To let the Light shine through me

Mamma Mary, teach me obedience,
Make me transparent like You!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE ANOINTING OF THE SICK – ITS FOUNDATIONS IN THE ECONOMY OF SALVATION

The man of the Old Testament lives his sickness in the presence of God.
It is before God that he laments his illness, and it is of God, Master of life and death, that he implores healing.
Illness becomes a way to conversion; God’s forgiveness initiates the healing.
It is the experience of Israel that illness is mysteriously linked to sin and evil, and that faithfulness to God according to his law restores life: “For I am the Lord, your healer.”
The prophet intuits that suffering can also have a redemptive meaning for the sins of others.

Finally Isaiah announces that God will usher in a time for Zion when he will pardon every offense and heal every illness. (CCC #1502)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULE – Jan 14, 2022: Saturday

“Meeting and experiencing the Lord, in our everyday – simple and ordinary – situations of life!”

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

An old lady loved visiting antique shops.

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

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

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

She stopped, stunned!

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

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

God is, indeed, a God of surprises!

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

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

The Gospel of the Day presents a person who encounters the Call of the Lord in his “routine of life!”
… Levi, who would become an apostle of Christ.

The mission of Jesus – sent by His Father – was to search for “lost sheep” and “sick patients”
The Gospel today – Mk 2:13-17 – presents this aspect of Jesus, in search of His flock

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

This encounter of the Lord ‘searching for us’ can take place even in the ordinary and daily situations of life.

This was what Levi experienced.

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

But, even in a situation of “counting the taxes at table,” God can intervene in human lives!

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

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

Then let us know and understand that even in such ordinary situations of being “busy at table counting taxes”…
… can become moments when God wants to address you and tell you, “Follow me!” (Cf. Mk 2:14)

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

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

Let us learn to remain open and docile to the voice of the Lord – the Word of the Lord – in the daily circumstances of our life.

The Word of the Lord has power…
… as we read in the Letter to the Hebrews, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
And before Him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” (Heb 4:12-13)

Yes, God is a God of surprises!

He visits us even in the most ordinary situations of life.
His Word is addressed to us, in all the circumstances of our life.

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

God Bless! Live Jesus!


📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE ANOINTING OF THE SICK – ITS FOUNDATIONS IN THE ECONOMY OF SALVATION

Illness can lead to anguish, self-absorption, sometimes even despair and revolt against God.
It can also make a person more mature, helping him discern in his life what is not essential so that he can turn toward that which is.

Very often, illness provokes a search for God and a return to Him. (CCC # 1501)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULE – Jan 13, 2022: Friday

“Realizing God’s Providential Love in every situation of life!”

(Based on Heb 3:7-14 and Mk 2:1-12 – Friday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1)

A wealthy man was once seen driving his Lamborghini car through the streets of a busy city.

As he stopped in a particular place for parking, a curious passer-by, remarked at the driver:
“Hey, it’s surprising! You’re driving such an expensive car… but didn’t you notice that your rear window glasses are broken!”

“There’s a reason for pursuing with the broken glasses…”, the man in the car replied, “the broken windows remind me of God’s Providential Love!”

“Huh?”, enquired the passer-by with greater curiosity, “How do ‘broken windows’ remind you of God’s Providential Love?”

“Well.. then, listen to my story,” said the man as he continued, ” I was once passing through the streets, zipping across in my luxurious car…
… when suddenly, a crashing sound was heard from the back!

I saw that a stone had been thrown at my car!

In great anger, I noticed that it was a rag-picker boy, who had thrown the stone!

My blood boiled, in rage, as I stopped my vehicle and moved closer to him.

But then I saw him, joining his hands, as he pleaded to me in tears: “Sir, look at my younger brother…

I noticed to see, that a young boy who legs were paralyzed was lying down, with a heavy scars and bruises on his legs.

The boy continued: ‘I was crossing the road, helping my lame brother, when a fast-moving bike ran over him, to leave with a bleeding leg.

I called out to many people for help…
… but none cared!

Finally, out of my helplessness, I decided to throw a stone at the vehicle which would come next, in order to seek help!

The boy continued: ‘Sir, I am extremely sorry that your expensive car is damaged. But, trust me, this was the only way I could seek help for my injured brother!”

Tears filled my eyes, as I told the boy: “My car windows are surely broken! But they are also a reminder, that sometimes, we have to allow God to break certain things, to remind…
… that we need to stop and help!
… that we need to depend on God in all aspects of life!

Surely, these broken windows are a sign of God’s Providential Love!”

Are there “broken windows” in our life?

Broken windows…
… when tragedies and calamities have hit our life?
… when untimely incidents and unexpected twists have taken place in life?

Though difficult to comprehend, perhaps, a deeper reflection, will help us to realize that such “Broken Windows are a sign of God’s Providential Love!”

The Gospel of the Day is a story of how a “broken roof becomes a sign of God’s Providential Love!”

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)
… we reached Simon’s house, where Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law (Mk 1:29-31)
… we went to the mountains to pray with Jesus, who always remained focused (Mk 1: 35)
… 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 and seek His Healing..

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.

But as they approached the house…
… their hopes went down!

The massive gathering at the door 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…
… but it seemed, that the firmament was closed to shower down blessings!

But then they had a hope: They realized that “Even a broken roof can be a sign of God’s Providential Love!”

And so they decided to plead God to shower His blessings: “by tear opening the roof!”

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

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

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

We need to plead to God to shower His blessings: “by tear opening the roof!”

When we have…
… ‘end-of-the-road’ feelings and hopeless situations
… problems which seem impossible and unsolvable
Are we willing to have our “roofs broken”…
… and thus realize God’s Providential Love?!

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 “have our roof broken” of all such adversities!

Yes, let us understand that even a “broken roof is a sign of God’s Providential Love!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE ANOINTING OF THE SICK – ITS FOUNDATIONS IN THE ECONOMY OF SALVATION

Illness and suffering have always been among the gravest problems confronted in human life. In illness, man experiences his powerlessness, his limitations, and his finitude.

Every illness can make us glimpse death. (CCC # 1499)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULE – Jan 12, 2022: Thursday

“Imitating Jesus in reaching out to the needy and bringing healing and hope to the world around us!”

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

One of the common experiences in many of our daily lives is the aspect of “delay”…

Go to get a certificate in a university… and we are told: “Come next week”

Go to an office to get a document signed… and we are told: “Today it’s not possible”

Go to a department to meet an official… and we are told: “Sir is busy today”

Our works are not done in time… Much of our time gets wasted.

We experience a lot of “delays”

Delays could suggest lack of availability.

Delays could suggest a lack of interest.
Delays could suggest a lack of sincere efforts.

But the Gospel of the Day is in stark contrast to this “delay” syndrome!

Get set to meet the “fast-paced” and “accelerated” Jesus in the Gospel of St Mark!

The Gospel of St Mark is the shortest of the four Gospels and probably the earliest.

This Gospel was primarily intended to the group of persecuted Christians.

It was most likely intended to be read aloud in the Christian assembly, rather than a private reading.

A Gospel for the ear more than the eye!

And so we would have in the Gospel of Mark, the use of constant repetitions, summaries, recapitulations and variations on a theme.

One of such word that is an oft-repeated one…
… is the word “Immediately”

The Greek usage of this word is Eutheos,” which is variously translated “straight away, immediately, at once, soon” etc.

St Mark would use this word “Eutheos” an astounding 40+ times in his Gospel which is only 16 chapters long!

Here are some examples:

Immediately, the Spirit drove Him to the desert (Mk 1: 12)
And they immediately left their nets and followed Him (Mk 1: 18)
Jesus immediately knew in His mind what they were thinking (Mk 2: 8)
The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel against Him (Mk 3:6)
The seed sprang up immediately because the soil was not deep (Mk 4: 5)

Even the Gospel of the Day uses this word “immediately”…

The leprosy left him immediately and he was made clean (Mk 1:42)
Then warning him sternly, he dismissed him immediately (Mk 1:43)

No other Gospel or New Testament writer uses this word “immediately” to the extent that Mark does in his Gospel.

What’s happening?

Why is St Mark so gripped with this word “immediately”?

Perhaps the foremost word to describe the Gospel of Mark is ACTION.

No effort is wasted.

No time is spent on the frivolous.

The pace is fast.
The language vivid.

Mark’s purpose was to immediately confront readers with the need to respond to the Lord.

What does this “immediacy” mean for us – you and me?

This sense of immediacy is still relevant to us today.

When we take a stand for the Gospel…
… we are immediately tempted.

When we are called by the Lord…
… we are invited to follow Him immediately.

When we are touched by the Lord…
… we are made to respond immediately.

There is to be no “delay”, but a need to “immediately” perform.
There is to be a promptitude in His service and the urgency for His mission.
There is to be no holding back, no reluctance, no slackness, but a blessed “immediateness”.

As Christians, we have perhaps allowed ourselves to get into a “delay” syndrome…

We no longer feel the pinch to react when there is immense injustice and corruption around
We take it so lightly when we hear reports of tragic deaths and heart breaking calamities.
We are not much moved when people around us suffer and undergo deep pain.

We have many who “talk” in defence and importance of faith…

But very few who really live and profess this faith.

We have many who raise protests when false accusations and persecutions of faith are made

But very few who actually live a life of prayer and holiness.

We are often no longer on the cutting edge of relevancy…

We seem to be more comfortable!

Are we “delaying”…
… to help the suffering people?
… to reinvigorate our Christian lives?
… to take our faith and spiritual life seriously?
… to stand up in defence of Christ and His Church?
… to mould and shape our lives according to God’s Will?

In all these “delay” syndromes, the Gospel of Immediacy is challenging and confronting us!

As seen in the Gospel of the day, let us imitate Jesus in reaching out to the needy…
… and “stretched out our hands and touch lepers” (Cf. Mk 1:41)

And thus, bring healing and hope to the world around us!

Come, let us be ready to act…
Come, let us be ready to respond…
…Yes…. immediately!!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE ANOINTING OF THE SICK

“By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of the priests the whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that he may raise them up and save them.

And indeed she exhorts them to contribute to the good of the People of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and death of Christ. (CCC # 1499)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULE – Jan 11, 2022: 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 CELEBRATION OF THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE

Individual, integral confession and absolution remain the only ordinary way for the faithful to reconcile themselves with God and the Church, unless physical or moral impossibility excuses from this kind of confession.”
There are profound reasons for this. Christ is at work in each of the sacraments. He personally addresses every sinner: “My son, your sins are forgiven.”
He is the physician tending each one of the sick who need him to cure them.
He raises them up and reintegrates them into fraternal communion.

Personal confession is thus the form most expressive of reconciliation with God and with the Church. (CCC # 1484)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULE – Jan 10, 2022: Tuesday

“Submitting ourselves to the Power and Authority of our Blessed Lord!”

(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 CELEBRATION OF THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE

“Individual, integral confession and absolution remain the only ordinary way for the faithful to reconcile themselves with God and the Church, unless physical or moral impossibility excuses from this kind of confession.”
There are profound reasons for this. Christ is at work in each of the sacraments. He personally addresses every sinner: “My son, your sins are forgiven.”
He is the physician tending each one of the sick who need him to cure them.
He raises them up and reintegrates them into fraternal communion.

Personal confession is thus the form most expressive of reconciliation with God and with the Church. (CCC # 1479)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULE – Jan 09, 2023: Monday

“Encircling ourselves in prayer and self-discipline, and
being willing to get out of our “comfort zones” so that we can be passionate and zealous children of God!”

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

A young missionary in a particular village heard the fame of a
senior missionary and his successful ventures in reviving the
faith of the people.

Wanting to know the secret of success in ministry, the
younger missionary, on meeting the senior, asked him: “What
is the secret of reviving the faith of the people in my village?”

The senior man, who was also aware of the worldly lifestyle of
the younger missionary said:
“Go back to your home and lock yourself up in a private room.

Then, take a piece of chalk, and mark a circle on the floor.

Get down on your knees, then, inside the circle…
… and pray to God to begin a revival inside the circle!

When this prayer is heard, a revival will take place in your
people!”

Yes, it is when one is revived with the Spirit of the Lord…
… that one can radiate the same to others!

This revival demands that we “encircle” ourselves in prayer
and self-discipline, by being willing to get out…
… of our “comfort zones” of worldliness and hard-heartedness!

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is a call to revive our
consecration and commitment as followers of Christ.

The event of the Baptism symbolically finishes three decades
of Jesus’ hidden life…
… as Jesus is declared as God’s own beloved Son in Whom He
is well pleased. (Cf. Mt 3:17)

By being baptised at the waters of River Jordan, Jesus sanctified
the waters of Baptism and empowered them…
… so that the water would become the vehicle of the Holy
Spirit bringing inner cleansing, rebirth, and transformation!

The entry of Jesus into the waters of River Jordan has two
direct implications for our day-to-day Christian living:

  1. Our Blessed Lord continues to enter into our stained
    situation to cleanse us and renew us

He enters into our sinful humanity so that, through His
Mercy, we will enter into His Divinity.

[Just as the Priest, while pouring a drop of water into the wine
in the chalice at Offertory during the Holy Mass, prays: “By
the mystery of this water in wine, may we come to share in
the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our
humanity.”]

  1. We are called to enter into the world of sinners and lead
    them to the redemptive love of Christ

Being in the sinful world, but not being part of it, we are
called to “be blameless and innocent, children of God without
blemish amid a crooked and perverse generation… [to] shine
as lights in the world” (Cf. Phil 2:15)

The Baptism of the Lord is a reminder of our Christian dignity
as Children of God!

We are privileged to have been rescued from the power of
darkness and brought into the light of God’s kingdom!

Our Christian dignity as God’s children calls us to become a
saint!

Pope St John Paul II exhorts: “Since Baptism is a true entry
into the holiness of God, it would be a contradiction…
… to settle for a life of mediocrity
… marked by a minimalist ethic and a shallow religiosity

Holy Father, Pope Francis during one of his Wednesday
audiences in the presence of a packed St. Peter’s Square once
said:
“Baptism is in a certain sense the identity card of the Christian,
his birth certificate, and the act of his birth into the Church.

All of you know the day on which you were born and you
celebrate it as your birthday, don’t you?
Let’s do something: today, when you go home, find out
what day you were baptized, look for it, because this is your
second birthday.
The first birthday is the day you came into life and the
second birthday is the one on which you came into the Church.
This is your homework!”

This is the day for us to…
… to renew our faith and conviction in all the articles of the
Creed
… to check if we use our ears and lips to hear and speak about
God
… to examine whether the flame of faith is still burning in us
… to declare our rejection of Satan and his empty promises
… to see if our garment is still white, for the eternal banquet

Let us celebrate our birth in the Lord and into the Church

Let us “encircle” ourselves in prayer and self-discipline, and
be willing to get out of our “comfort zones” of worldliness and
hard-heartedness…
… so that we can be passionate and zealous children of God!

Happy Feast of the Baptism!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE CELEBRATION OF THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE

Grave necessity can also exist when, given the number of penitents, there are not enough confessors to hear individual confessions properly in a reasonable time, so that the penitents through no fault of their own would be deprived of sacramental grace or Holy Communion for a long time.
In this case, for the absolution to be valid the faithful must have the intention of individually confessing their grave sins in the time required.
The diocesan bishop is the judge of whether or not the conditions required for general absolution exist.

A large gathering of the faithful on the occasion of major feasts or pilgrimages does not constitute a case of grave necessity. (CCC # 1483)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULE – Jan 08, 2023: Sunday

“Maintaining the desire of God in our hearts, and allowing the Lord to outline His Plan to us through the little things of life so that we can have an Epiphany Experience!”

(Based on Isa 60:1-6, Eph 3:2-3, 5-6 and Mt 2:1-12 – Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord)

A Parish priest was taking a group of his catechism children to a church, which was known to be a pilgrimage centre.

The children were very much excited seeing the new church, which was particularly famous for its glass paintings.

As they kids moved around the church, little Peter – all of 6 years and the smallest one of the group – suddenly gazed at a large glass painting and shouted:
“Wow! There is the Cross of Christ!

Do you see what I see?”

Seeing his excitement, the others also gathered to see the Glass Painting.

But they could see nothing of the Cross!

To them, the glass painting resembled only a jumbled mass of confusion

It was a modernistic glass picture composed of a maze of colours and shapes – sophisticated and abstract

But little Peter kept shouting: “Do you see what I see?”

The others kept nodding their heads in negation.

But Peter went on: “Can’t you see him? It’s Jesus hanging on the cross.”

The priest finally said: “Little Peter… maybe we are all blind.

But could you please… help us to see what you see?”

With all excitement, with his little finger, through the maze of shapes and colours…
… Peter outlined the Cross as he kept saying: “Do you see what I see?”

And then… like an Epiphany, they all saw JESUS…
… His Face
… His Arms outstretched on the Cross

As the image began to appear more clear!

And then with astonishment, the priest looking at little Peter and then the Cross of Christ, exclaimed: “This… is… Epiphany!”

When one longs with a great desire and looks with a clear intent, then we have the Epiphany of God!

Yes, the Lord makes Himself known to the one who desires and longs – sincerely, honestly and faithfully!

It is this deep desire and the wonderful manifestation of the Lord that we celebrate today, in the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord.

The word “Epiphany”, means…
… appearance or manifestation or showing forth.

It is from the Greek word “Epiphaneia”

It refers to the first appearance of Jesus to the Gentiles.

This Feast of the Epiphany drives home a powerful message…
… and gives pointers to experience true joy and happiness in life.

The Magi teach us some vital clues towards finding the “Joy in Life”…

  1. WHAT do we seek?
    The Magi from the East had just one purpose in their long journey: to meet the New Born King and pay Him homage and worship. (Mt 2:2)
    (This was also in fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah: “And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising!” – Isa 60:3)

This single focus and dedication…
… Impelled them to move forward with determination
… Inspired them to overcome all hurdles
… Infused them with a hope that would taken them through their deep desire.

What about us?

What do we seek in life?

Is it for the Lord and His glory…?
… Or do we engage ourselves in activities for our own glory and pride?

Is the Lord the end and purpose of all our actions…?
… Or do worldly desires dilute our works and actions?

  1. WHERE do we seek?
    The purposeful determination of the Magi made them to be focused on the Star – a sign to lead them to their destination ( Mt 2:2b)

As long as they followed the Star, they remained on the right track.

Of course, for a moment, seeing King Herod’s palace, they got a bit deviated as they reasoned out that the New Born King would be born in a palace!

But Divine Providence soon brought them back on track.

The star once again led them and they reached the Great King enthroned on the Wooden Throne of the Manger!
(pre-figuring the enthronement of the Lord, later, on the Wooden Throne of the Cross!)

What about us?

Where do we seek the Lord?

Do we faithfully follow the Star of inspiration, that the Lord constantly sends…
… Through His Commandments, Teachings of the Church, many people in our life and the situations of life

Do we seek His Love in the wonderful sacraments that the Church offers, encounter Him in the poor and the needy and experience His Providence in the situations of our life?
… Or do we get lost, in our search for the Divine, in the pleasures of this world, engage too much only in our works and material engagements or dip ourselves into the murky waters of sinful addictions, sly attachments and silly attractions.

  1. WHAT GIFTS do we offer Him?
    The Gospel says that the Magi offered Baby Jesus, their precious gifts – fit and appropriate… (Mt 2:11b)

Gold for Jesus, the King
Frankincense for Jesus, the Priest
Myrrh for Jesus, the Prophet.

These gifts would have cost them a fortune…
… They also bore the marks of their sacrifice and pain

But they were gifts that were worthy and befitting the King!

What about us?

What gifts do we offer to the Lord?

In the Holy Mass…
Do we really offer Him our pains, struggles, our little sacrifices, our honest longings?
… or, has the Holy Mass become just a customary ritual, without we offering anything to Him and thus failing to derive any joy or consolation for this Precious Sacrament?

In our life…
Do we try to make some personal sacrifices…?
Take some radical decisions to live worthier Christian lives, and be more dedicated to pursue a life of holiness and sanctity…?

The Lord wishes, desires and deserves the best gifts from us.

He tells us to, above all, “offer our lives as a living sacrifice” (Rom 12: 1) – sinful, broken, wounded; just as we are…
… So that He can transform us, and make us a new creation (“Behold I make all things new – Rev 21:5)

The Feast of the Epiphany is a powerful invitation for us:
To examine, purify and strengthen…
… the focusses and priorities of our life.

Yes, like the Magi…

Let us seek the Lord deeper
Let us long for the Lord intensely in the right place
Let us desire for the Lord passionately, offering Him the best gifts of our life

Our life may sometimes resemble a jumbled mass of confusion

Like the modernistic glass pictures, we may often get lost in the maze of colours of uncertainty and shapes of difficulties – sophisticated and abstract!

But if we maintain the desire of God in our hearts, He will, through the little things of life…
… outline His Plan to us

And then…
… like an Epiphany, we will be able to see the Presence of God in our Lives!

May we all, thus, with astonishment and gratitude exclaim: “This is Epiphany!”

Happy Feast of the Epiphany!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE CELEBRATION OF THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE

In case of grave necessity, recourse may be had to a communal celebration of reconciliation with general confession and general absolution.

Grave necessity of this sort can arise when there is imminent danger of death without sufficient time for the priest or priests to hear each penitent’s confession. (CCC # 1483)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULE – Jan 07, 2023: Saturday

“Seeking the intercession of our Queen-Mother Mary and being
obedient to the commandments of the Lord!”

(Based on 1 Jn 5:14-21 and Jn 2:1-11 – Christmas Weekday)

A man who had abandoned Christian practices came across a young boy who was polishing
shoes on the street.

As the boy kept shining the shoes, the man noticed that there was a
shining medal dancing around the neck of the boy.

With a sense of disdain, the man asked the boy, “What’s that hardware around your neck?”

“It’s a medal of Blessed Mother,” said the boy.

“Why her medal?” retorted the man (who had forsaken his Christian way of life)
“She is no different from your mother!”

The boy looked up at the man…
… smiled, as he continued to polish the shoes as he said, “But remember that there is a real big
difference between Her Son and me!”

The man understood the tremendous faith and confidence of the boy in the Blessed Mother.

The story goes on to say that this incident helped the man to re-discover his Catholic Faith.

Mary is special because Her Son Jesus is special!

The greatness of Her Motherhood arises from the greatness of Her Son’s Divine Sonship.

And it is this privilege of being the Mother of Jesus…
… that makes Her a powerful intercessor of God’s Grace!

The Gospel of the Day presents this powerful intercessory role of our Blessed Mother, in the
Wedding at Cana.

The Wedding at Cana is the first of the “signs” that is reported in the Gospel of St John.

Weddings were probably the high point of the Jewish social life.

It was a time when there would be an abundance of celebration, extravagance of merriment
and lavishness of fun.

Weddings were some of the very few occasions when the common, working-class people
could take time off to celebrate and enjoy themselves.

As a result, most weddings would include five to seven days of festivities.

Wine was an integral part of this important social custom.

Therefore when the Gospel says, “they ran short of wine”…
… it was a moment of immense embarrassment for the family.
… it was a time of utter shame and humiliation for the hosts

But in this time of crisis and trouble, Mother Mary realised the potential disaster.

She took the initiative to do something about it – to help avoid the great embarrassment that would have crashed upon the family

How often do we face such situations of “the wine running short” in our life!

The “wine”….
… of unity and fellowship, often, “runs short” in our family life….
… of holiness and sanctity, often, “runs short” in our spiritual life….
… of faith and perseverance, often, “runs short” in our prayer life….
… of sensitiveness and responsiveness, often, “runs short” in our social life….
… of joy and commitment, often, “runs short” in our religious and priestly life….

In all such occasions of “the wine running short”, Blessed Mother Mary is our intercessor to
help us receive the “abundance of the best wine” from Jesus.

But…

Have we invited Mother Mary in our life?
Have we given Her a place in our life?

She will take us to the Lord and help receive His blessings and graces!

Therefore, we also ought to follow Her words, “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2: 5)

Mother Mary not only helps us receive blessings from the Lord…
… She also directs us towards Him and exhorts us to follow Him closer!

Mother Mary not only takes our petitions, by Her intercessions to the Lord…
… She also shows us the way to Him and urges us to live a life of obedience to Him!

On tasting the water that was changed to wine, the headwaiter said:
“Everyone serves good wine first and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one.
But you have kept the good wine, until now” (Jn 2: 10)

Yes, there are often situations, when “we run short of wine” in our lives. But, in all such
moments of worry, despair and trouble, Mother Mary takes us closer to Jesus…
… Who longs to provide us with the “best wine” – the wine of true joy and eternal salvation!

She is special because Her Son Jesus is special!

And it is this privilege of being the Mother of Jesus…
… that makes Her a powerful intercessor of God’s Grace!

Are we ready to feast, by seeking the intercession of our Queen-Mother Mary and being
obedient to the commandments of the Lord?

The best wine is waiting… !

God Bless! Live Jesus!


📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE CELEBRATION OF THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE

The sacrament of Penance can also take place in the framework of a communal celebration in which we prepare ourselves together for confession and give thanks together for the forgiveness received.
Here, the personal confession of sins and individual absolution are inserted into a liturgy of the word of God with readings and a homily, an examination of conscience conducted in common, a communal request for forgiveness, the Our Father and a thanksgiving in common.
This communal celebration expresses more clearly the ecclesial character of penance.

However, regardless of its manner of celebration the sacrament of Penance is always, by its very nature, a liturgical action, and therefore an ecclesial and public action. (CCC # 1482)