July 10, 2020 – 14th Week of Ordinary Time

“May we be bold in facing humiliations, in suffering persecutions and in undergoing pain, for the Sake of Christ, who showed us the Way to Glory through the path of persecution!”

(Based on Hos 14:1-9 and Mt 10:16-23 – Friday of the 14th Week of Ordinary Time)

Teilhard de Chardin, a French Priest, Theologian and Philosopher describes three categories of people who climb a difficult mountain peak….

  1. The Pessimists – (the ones who give up easily):

They regret having ventured to undertake the arduous task of climbing the huge mountain.

  1. The Hedonists – (the ones who remain passive and just enjoy)

They are satisfied with just some scenic views on the way and cease the journey, with simple trifles, unwilling to take the risk to go ahead…

  1. The Enthusiasts – (the ones who seek to conquer the mountains)

They are the real mountaineers, who keep their eyes fixed on the peaks and never give up, till they reach their goal!

The road to being a Disciple of Christ, is indeed climbing a Mountain peak….

Which category of mountain climbers are we going to be?

  1. The Pessimists (the ones who give up easily)?

Regretting to being a Christian and thus living a life of sin and indifference

  1. The Hedonists (the ones who remain passive and just enjoy)?

Resigning to the fact that somehow I need to be a Christian, due to societal pressures, and thus live in casualness, negligence and lethargy.

Or…

  1. The Enthusiasts (the ones who seek to conquer the mountains)?

Real Christians who keep their eyes fixed on the Crucified Saviour and never give up, marching forward towards the goal of salvation!

The Gospel of the Day is a presentation of the challenges that are to be encountered by every follower of Christ…
… the one who wishes to walk with Jesus on the way of the Cross
… the one who wishes to scale the mountain of holiness and sanctity

When we read through the Gospels, we observe that our Lord Jesus and His teachings remained unfazed, in the midst of glamour and sensations…

They are simple and yet deeply challenging and radical!

The Lord does not offer a Comfortable Carpet of Roses to stroll….

He presents a Challenging Pathway of Thorns to tread!

“Everyone will hate you, because of ME!” (Mt 10:22a)

These are the fierce & fervent words of the Lord.

Yes, the Master, Himself was persecuted and hated!

He was the Epitome of Love…
… and yet He was badly hated, persecuted and tortured…

What had He ever done to be hated?

Being Meek and Humble of Heart…
… touching lives with Healing and Forgiveness…?

Being a Gospel of Love to all…
… even to the Enemies…?

Being a Symbol of Pardon and Forgiveness…
… even to those who persecuted and killed Him…?

Being an Emblem of Truth…
… in the midst of diluted ideologies & hypocritical ritualism…?

Being an Ornament of Joy and Hope…
… to the broken-hearted, the sinful and the rejected…?

Did he deserve to be hated?

Yet, He was!

He was hated… mocked at… rejected… finally even arrested, scourged and killed!

And this our Blessed Master says…Even You too!

Even you too, My Followers, will be hated and will be persecuted!

The path ahead sounds dangerous, right?

The mountain climbing seems to be not as easy as thought, right?

But relax…!

The road does not end with persecutions…

The verse of Jesus does not end in calamity…

He goes on to say: “… but whoever endures to the end will be saved!” (Mt 10: 22b)

Yeah.. That’s great good news!

The Way of Jesus is surely laden with persecutions…
….but it is also filled with much joy, satisfaction, true peace
…and finally rewarded with Eternal Life!

We only need to persevere……till the end!

The Mountain Peak of Salvation is High….

But the Lord beckons to each one of us!

He also reminds us through Prophet Hosea, “Return to Your God Yahweh, O Israel!” (Hos 14:2)

Let us give heed to the words of St Benedict:
“Prefer nothing whatever to Christ….and he will bring us all together to everlasting life!”

May we be bold in facing humiliations, in suffering persecutions, in undergoing pain…
… all for the Sake of Christ, who showed us the Way to Glory through the Path of Persecution!

Let’s keep on moving… let’s keep climbing… let’s keep the Faith!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “You must choose.

Is it better that there should be thorns in your garden in order to have roses…

… or that there should be no roses in your garden, in order to have no thorns?”

July 9, 2020 – 14th Week of Ordinary Time

“Let the experience of the ‘Divine tug’ keep us moving forward and to depend on Divine Presence for strength in life!”

(Based on Hos 11: 1,3-4,8c-9 and Mt 10:7-15 – Thursday of the 14th Week of Ordinary Time)

A story is told of a blind boy who was flying a kite.
He enjoyed this pastime along with others of his own age.

A passer-by, knowing him and wanting to mildly tease the blind-fellow, said:
‘Hey, boy! Do you know where your kite is?
You don’t know whether it is on the ground or up in the sky, do you?’

‘Oh yes,’ said the blind lad, ‘I do know! It is now quite a fair height up in the air.’

How do you know that?’ asked the passer-by, ‘you surely can’t see it.’

The boy replied, ‘I can’t see it, it is true, but I can feel the tug of the string!’

The ‘tug’ of the string help the boy to realise the presence of the kite and to sense its height in the air!

The awareness of the presence of the Divine power in our lives, is such…
One may not be able to always see the presence of the Divine, but the believer can surely experience its power and strength!

This experience of “the Divine tug of the string” keeps the life of the believer moving forward and helps to depend on the Divine Presence for strength in life.

The Gospel of the Day is an invitation by Jesus to grow deeper in this “awareness and dependence” on Jesus in our life as a missionary of the Kingdom of God.

After having summoned, authorized and named His Twelve Apostles, Jesus sends them ahead of Him, to the places of mission.

The Gospel of the day begins with the phrase, “Preach, as you go…” (Mt 10:7)

Some other translations would read as “As you go, make a proclamation…”

This is such wonderfully practical, and yet at the same time, a phrase that is often overlooked: “Preach, as you go….” / “As you go… make a proclamation”

Preaching or Proclamation in our times, is often pictured with a limited understanding…
Preaching or proclamation that takes place…
… only from the pulpit or during a service in Church
… only in the form of speaking and explaining the Word of God

But the words of the Lord are worth noting:
“Preach, as you go….” / “As you go… make a proclamation”

Preach, as you go about doing your daily duties and activities

As you go about your responsibilities and works, make a proclamation

Preach as you go around meeting different people by sharing His love and joy to all

As you go about engaging in numerous actions, make a proclamation by sharing His presence

The act of preaching and proclamation of the Kingdom of God is to be reflected in our every action and movement…
• Whatever we do, may it become an act of proclaiming God’s abundant blessings!
• Whatever work we take up, may it become a moment of preaching God’s amazing providence!

Such an act of Preaching and Proclamation makes it mandatory that one grows deeper in the “awareness and dependence” on Jesus in the life as a missionary of the Kingdom of God.

The act of proclamation needs the “awareness” that I am continuing the Great Mission work that has Jesus as the “Initiator”, the “Sustainer” and the “Finale”!
The act of preaching needs the “dependency” on the Lord to realize that the Lord alone can provide all the graces, strength and courage for the mission!

One needs to feel the “tug and the pull of the Divine Lord”…when one goes through
… hardships and difficulties in being a missionary of the Kingdom, in hostile situations
… problems and challenges as we seek to live a true Christian life in the modern world
… meaninglessness or emptiness as we go through the ‘deserts’ and ‘darkness’ in life

Prophet Hosea beautifully depicts the affectionate love of the Lord for each one of us – represented by the nation Israel…

“When Israel was a child, I loved him, out of Egypt I called my son.
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms…
… I led them with cords of compassion, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one…!” (Hos 11:1-4)

Yes, it is an experience of “the Divine tug of the string” that keeps the life of the believer moving forward and to depend on the Divine Presence for strength in life!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Love renders the charm of what we love so pleasing…

… our minds never tire of reflecting on it!”

July 8, 2020 – 14th Week of Ordinary Time

“Let us co-operate with Our Strange Master, Who calls us to ‘Dare to be Different!’”

(Based on Hos 10:1-3,7-8,12 and Mt 10:1-7 – Wednesday of the 14th Week of Ordinary Time)

Jesus is strange!

And he loves to do strange things!

“Dare to be different” is a call which echoes very much through the corporate sector today, and also in many areas of our life!

And Jesus, certainly, is a model and an example for each one of us, in this ‘Daring to be Different’!

And this strange and daring Jesus – Who loves to do things differently –
…throws up a classic example for this, in today’s Gospel Reading, by choosing The Twelve…

Twelve strange persons to be His Daring disciples.

We could have a short litany of adjectives to describe or portray these Twelve…
Let’s get set with a mini-dictionary:

Ordinary, Mundane, Shy, Absent-minded, Introvert, Prejudiced, Inhibited…
Hated by society, Craver of power, Zealous in quick actions, Betraying Characters…
Sceptics, Unsteady Temperaments, Cynical….
The list is long, right?

Maybe, some of us, also very much possess these characters and traits!

Is it True?

But, with all these varied personalities and natures, Jesus, the Daring Master, chose His twelve, having these characters…!

The Lord loves to transform and change…

He changed the water into wine…
He transformed a few loaves of bread and fish as food for thousands…
He changed the raging sea to calmness and serenity…
He transformed sicknesses in people to good health and new vigour…
He changed the static and inhuman view of the Law to a dynamic and loving perception…

Yes, the Lord loves to transform and change…

And this Lord, who loves to transform and change, also worked wonders with the Twelve!

These Twelve, with their varied personalities and characters, were handed on the Charge to continue the Gigantic Task of their Daring Master: “To be the Ambassadors of the Kingdom of God”

To be with Him and to be sent out
To have authority over unclean spirits and drive them out
To cure every disease and illness and to preach!

These chosen lights were to cast their rays over the rest of humanity, in all nations.

Are we also hearing the Call of the Lord, to be the Ambassadors of His Kingdom, in the place where we are, in the state of life, that we are in?

Let us not be worried about our nature or temperament or character or weaknesses.

Yes, the Lord is strange…
… and He loves to do strange things

He is CRAZY over us!

The Lord also loves…
… to transform and to change

He is Willing to TRANSFORM us!

The only thing that He needs from us… is Our Consent.. Our Willingness…our Openness!

Let no negative feelings come in the way of this Deep Desire of the Lord…

Like the Israelites in Hosea 10:1…
… Let us not boast on our prosperity or our richness
… Let our hearts not remain divided in our loyalty

Let us instead plough a new ground…seeking the Lord…

The Kingdom of God is a vineyard…
… it needs labourers!

The Kingdom of God is a net…
… it needs fishermen!

The Kingdom of God is a field…
… it needs sowers and reapers!

The Kingdom of God is a flock…
… it needs shepherds!

Yes, the Lord is calling… the Lord is desiring… the Lord is wanting…

Are we hearing?

Let this not remain a Missed Call!

Let’s pick up, and answer…
… and Co-operate with the Strange Master, Who calls us to “Dare to be Different”!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – The Lord asks for your heart.

Give it such as it is!

Are we not aware that everything that is remitted into His Divine Hands is converted to good?

July 7, 2020 – 14th Week of Ordinary Time

“Recognizing, acknowledging and thanking the Power of God in life!”

(Based on Hos 8:4-7, 11-14 and Mt 9:32-38 – Tuesday of the 14th Week of Ordinary Time)

A commonly heard story goes thus….

A small town had been “dry” for years.

i.e. ‘without any bars or consumption of alcohol’.

But some of the business people, decided to build a bar in that town.

The local Christian group were however alarmed and concerned at this latest development

They decided that they would have an all-night prayer to ask God to intervene.

Work on the construction of the bar, progressed right up till the week before opening…
…. when lightning struck the bar and it burned to the ground!

The owners of the bar, enraged, filed a case against the prayer group – to sue them in court.

They claimed that the prayers of the group was responsible for the destruction of their bar!
They claimed that the people in the church were ultimately responsible for the ruin of the building – either through direct or indirect actions or means.

The prayer group members however appointed a lawyer to defend themselves

They vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection to the building’s devastation in its reply to the court.

The judge after the initial examination of the case stated thus:
“I do not know how I am going to decide.

But no matter how this case ends, one thing is clear:

It appears that we have some bar owners who believe in the power of prayer…
… but an entire praying congregation that does not!”

How true is not this the case, even in our lives?

People who are expected to be having more faith…
… often are seen to live a life of unbelief and distrust in God

People who are “inside” the praying circle and the group of faith…
… often have difficulties to simply trust in the power and workings of God

The Gospel of the Day presents before us an incident where this contrast is brought forth…

A group of people – the Pharisees – who were intellectually deeper in the scriptures and were expected to know more about the Messiah…
…. failed to recognize and acknowledge the Messianic Power of Jesus

The other group of people – simple and ordinary crowds – who followed Jesus and were effortlessly attracted to Him…
… publicly acclaimed and appreciated the mighty deeds of Jesus

The Gospel passage begins with the incident of a man – dumb and demoniac – who was brought to Jesus (Mt 9: 32)

When the demon had been cast out, the dumb man spoke (Mt 9: 33a)

There were two reactions to this same incident: One was of marvel; the other was of contempt!

The crowds – simple and ordinary – who were attracted to Jesus “marvelled and said: ‘Never was anything like this seen in Israel'” (Mt 9:33b)
The Pharisees – knowledgeable and intellectual – who often looked to find loopholes in the ministry of Jesus and trap Him, said: “He casts out demons by the prince of demons” (Mt 9: 34)

The same incident – Jesus healing the dumb and demoniac man – was observed and experienced by two different groups…
…. but they generated contrasting reactions and divergent responses!

One of them marvelled; the other mocked!
One of them had found a reason to praise God; the other found a reason to deride Jesus!

Is this not the case, often, even in our lives too?

Very often is this not the phenomena seen with respect to prayer…?

People who go to Church seem to be believing less in the power and providence of God…
… people who stay away from pious devotions, often acknowledge the influence of the Divine!

People who go regularly to Holy Mass and the Sacraments, often live superficial lives…
… people who stay away, seek to live better and more honestly.

What does this mean?

Not that we should stay away from our pious actions, devotions and our activities of faith
Not that people who don’t display faith have more reasons to live a good life

But these are reminders and alarms from the Lord…
… to examine our life and activities of faith!
… to check whether my prayer life is actually translated to a living trust in God!

Do the prayers that I make and the devotions that I engage in:

Cause me to believe and trust in the providential power of the Lord, knowing that He works out all things for our good…
… or do they just remain mere lip-services and an exercise and custom that I go through, without having any effect on me?

Do the Sacraments that I participate in – especially the Holy Mass and Sacrament of Reconciliation:

Cause me to have a life-transformational experience, every time, and become moments to encounter the Living Lord and His mighty love in my life…
.. or do they become routine rituals and casual ceremonies that I go through, without allowing the Lord to cause any effect or change in me?

Do the sermons that I hear, the reflections that I read and the Bible and other books that I meditate…

Cause me to reflect on my life, examine my conscience and let go a life of sin…
… or do they merely become aids to help me give pointers for ‘powerful’ sermons and feel a sense of external satisfaction, without taking decisions to also live a life of holiness and sanctity?

As Christians…

It is our duty to know more about the Lord and learn deeper about the elements of our faith…
… but we also need to grow in our life of holiness and live the faith in our practical lives

It is our duty to understand Scripture more and know learn about the Church and her teachings…
… but we also need to allow the Scripture ‘to read our lives’ and to help to love, spread and defend the Church and her teachings to others.

Prophet Hosea reminds of the danger of straying away from the ways of the Lord… and invites, to stay closer to the Lord and walk in His ways: “They made kings, but not through Me.

They set up princes, but without my knowledge.
With their silver and gold they made idols for their own destruction.
I have spurned your calf, O Samaria. My anger burns against them. How long will it be till they are pure in Israel?”

Which group of people are we in…

“Knowing theoretically much about the power of God and scriptures” but failing to recognize and acknowledge His power…?
Or simple and ordinary in our faith and belief – seeking to know more about God and scripture – but above all, recognizing, acknowledging and thanking the Power of God in life? (Hos 8:4-5)

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – ” A heart full of love loves the commandments and the more difficult it seems, the more sweet and pleasing they become…

… because it pleases the Beloved and gives Him more honour!”

July 6, 2020 – 14th Week of Ordinary Time

“Experiencing the great healing presence of the Lord and becoming passionate proponents of Him, Who alone can restore life in dead situations!”

(Based on Hos 2:14, 15b-16, 19-20 and Mt 9:18-26 – Monday of the 14th Week of Ordinary Time)

Here is an excerpt from an autobiography…

“My world had come crashing down!

• The gush of tears would not stop despite the dams of consolation that were constructed for me…
• The flow of grief could not be stilled despite the walls of comfort that were built for me…

I lost the one whom I considered so precious in my life.
She was the treasure of my heart… She was the crown of my life!

Her tender laughter would fill my life with mirth
Her innocent talks would imbibe my heart with happiness

But life is sometimes so cruel… so unjust… so nasty even!

It snatched away from my hands my beloved princess

She was only twelve… small and tender.
She was just about to begin her life.

But why did she have to die so soon?

Was it my mistake?

o Did I care less for her?
o Did I not provide the best facilities for her?

I look at life now… with my dead girl on the bed….and say:
‘I remained faithful in my duties and works, and this is the cruel way you are treating me!”

I look at the Divine now… with my sweet little child lifeless.. and say:
‘I have sought to be honest, and this is the dreadful manner You deal with me!”

But then I heard of a person named Jesus.. who was near the town.

I have heard of He being a mighty prophet… a powerful healer!

I did not believe in His God…
…but I have heard, ‘His God is the God of all nations, of all peoples!’

And so I ran to Him… and beseeched Him: ‘My daughter has just died. But come, lay Your Hand on her, and she will live’.

I did not know how did I get the courage to say those bold words.
But I believe, it was the charisma of that Person, which made me to say those words of immense faith.

I believe there was already a miracle happening in me, by the fact, that I could have that much boldness to say that “God could infuse life to a dead and lifeless situation’!

Indeed, possessing faith and having trust in God is itself a precious miracle of the Lord!

As that Divine Person was on His way to my home, I encountered another miracle…

A woman who had been suffering from haemorrhage for twelve years was healed of her sickness by just touching the tassel of His cloak!

The words of the Master to that suffering woman was amazing, ‘Courage daughter, Your faith has saved you!’

This incident was another miracle for me.

I felt….
• If this woman who was suffering for twelve years could be healed, why not my daughter also who was twelve years…!

• If this woman could be cured by just touching the fringe of his garment, why not my daughter too, if this Great Man lays His hand on her…!

• If this woman could receive new life by placing her trust in Him, why not my daughter too, since I have also come with faith and hope in Him…!

Life, I found is sometimes too cruel… but the more I was trusting in this Man – who now for me was showing the Compassionate Face of God – the greater I was feeling strengthened.

I was reminded of what some people had told me, about what this Man had once declared, ‘Come to Me, all you who labour and are overburdened; and I will give you rest!’

I was giving my burdens to Him… I was giving my labours to Him…

And I was being more and more convinced, that He would take up my burden on Himself and make me light!

We proceeded on our way…. after that shower of consolation that I received on this path of suffering!

As we reached our house, my relatives and well-wishers raised up a mighty tumult….
Wailing for my daughter…. Crying and sharing in our deep grief.

But will I be a bit stupid if I say, that in those moments, though externally I was totally broken and shattered…
… within me, I could experience already, a certain sense of hope, that this Man – whose charism was so much Godly and Divine – would bring my daughter back to life.

I was sad outside… but His Presence made me hopeful inside
I was crying externally…. but His Charm made me encouraged within

And my thoughts got a deeper confirming sign, when I heard Him say to all those were weeping and bitterly crying, “Go away! The girl is not dead but is sleeping!”

We stepped in the room…

The sight of my dead princess was too overwhelming for me!
• My grief once again overpowered me!
• My tears of sadness once again began to drown me!

But I again realised, I had to fix my gaze on that Divine Man in that moment of pain, to find courage and consolation.

• When I took of my eyes from Him, and stared at my situation of grief, I was shattered!
• But when I took off my eyes from the problem, and fixed my eyes on Him, I was consoled!

And then came that moment of absolute wonder and ecstasy…
The best moment of my life!

This Divine Man placed His hand on my precious daughter….
And up she arose!!

Life was restored to a dead situation!
Happiness was reinstated in a grieving circumstance!

My daughter was alive… once again!

• How great is the joy of those who place their trust entirely in this Divine Master!
• How immense is the blessing experienced by those who have faith in this Charismatic Man!

I wish and hope that all peoples of the world may come to experience the great healing presence of this Man…

I also wish and hope that all those who have encountered His Living and Miraculous Touch may become passionate proponents of this Man who alone can restore life in dead situations!”

… This excerpt is taken from an imaginary autobiography titled, “He restores our life!” of the Official, seen in the Gospel of Mt 9: 18-22, whose girl was dead at the age of twelve and was restored back to life.

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “You were never told not to think about your advancement…

… but that you were not to think about it anxiously!”

July 5, 2020 – 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time

“May the ‘Yoke’ of Christ give us rest, hope, strength and joy and may we hear the Good Shepherd telling us in our moments of struggle, ‘My Child, it’s Jesus!’”

(Based on Zech 9:9-10, Rom 8:9, 11-13 and Mt 11:25-30 – 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time)

A story is told of a shabby old man who would go to the Church at noon every day.

He would just be inside the Church for a few minutes.

The sacristan of the Church was disturbed with this man’s daily presence..
… “What could he be doing?”
… “Why is the motive of this shabby man?”

After all, the Church also contained valuable furnishings.

“I go to pray,” the old man said in reply to the sacristan’s questioning.

“Oh, come on! Don’t lie”, the sacristan refuted, “you are never long enough in the church to pray.”

“Well, you see,’ the old man went on…
“I cannot make a long prayer.
But every day at twelve o’clock I just come and say, “Jesus, it’s Jim.”
I wait for a minute and then come away.

It’s just a little prayer, but I guess He hears me.”

Some months back, Jim was injured and was taken to the hospital.

He had a wonderful influence in the hospital ward

Grumbling patients became cheerful and often the ward would ring with laughter.

“Well, Jim,” said the nurse to him one day, “It’s so wonderful to see you happy always!”

“Hmm… yes, Sister, I can’t help being happy.
You see, it’s my Visitor. Every day He makes me happy!”

“Your visitor?” asked the puzzled sister, for he was a lonely old man, with no relations, “Your visitor? But when does he come?’

“Every day,” Jim replied, with the twinkle in his eyes growing brighter.

“Every day at twelve o’clock He comes and stands at the foot of my bed.
I see Him and He smiles and says, “Jim, it’s Jesus!”

When we lean on to the Lord, He gives us His rest and consolation

When we are faithful to our relationship with Him, He strengthens us and comforts us!

The Gospel of the Day is the beautiful invitation by the Lord…
…. to come to His Presence
… and to rest in His Heart!

Jesus says, “Come to me all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11: 28)

Our lives are characterised by innumerable occasions when we feel tired and exhausted and just to give up….
… Those doing their studies often feel the burden of their academics and say, “Oh, I am fed up of this!”
… Those doing household chores at times feel unrewarded and unrecognised and say, “Oh, it’s a daily burden!”
… Those into works of livelihood sometimes struggle with pressures and deadlines and say, “Oh, I am really tired of all this!”
… Those in positions of caretaking others, often strain against temperaments and characters and say, “Oh, I feel so tired”
… Those who are surrounded by evil tendencies, bad habits and sinful cravings say, “Oh, I am I feel so weary!”

Each of us, at some time or the other…in some situation or the other…
… do feel the burden of being tired, weary and exhausted.

Perhaps….

You feel life sometimes is a great struggle, isn’t it?
You often have thoughts like, “Why is my life so pitiable,” isn’t it?
You tend to think that “I wish all this was not there in my life,” isn’t it?
You have feelings that you are unlucky in life and “I have nothing to look forward,” isn’t it?

To each of us then, Our Gentle Lord invites: “Come my Child…. and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28)

Jesus says: “Take My yoke upon you…” (Mt 10: 29)

The instant reaction to this sentence, to us who are already overburdened, might be…
… “Oh No! Why another yoke?”
… “I already have a yoke; why should I carry the Lord’s yoke?”

We need to understand the concept of a “yoke”, especially from the Jewish society.

‘Yoke’ is a bar of wood, so made as to unite two animals (usually oxen)…
… enabling them to work in the fields, drawing heavy loads and pulling instruments used for farming.

Farmers would ‘yoke’ the young ox with the old experienced ox to train them.

The old ox would take the major load and the young one would be walking along and learning.
… The burden of the young one is reduced and the older one takes over the weight of the work!

The Yoke, helps the young one…
… to reduce its burden
… to feel that it is in perfect control of the elder one
… to feel urged to do more, as its efforts are doubled by the elder one

This is the picture of the ‘yoke’ that Jesus presents…
… Yoke as a symbol of partnership
… Yoke as a symbol of control
… Yoke as a symbol of relief
… Yoke as a symbol of hope

When we take the “yoke” of Christ…
… He Strengthens us
… Our burdens are no longer ours; He takes over
… We find a meaning for our lives and we feel refreshed
… We feel urged to do more in life as the Lord blesses our efforts

Prophet Zechariah mirrors the emotions of the one who trusts in the Lord and finds strength in God: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is He…!” (Zech 9:9)

St Paul reminds us to live not by the flesh, but by the Spirit…
… and thus to prioritize God in our every activity

“So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh; for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Rom 8:12-13)

Are we ready to take the “Yoke” of Christ?

It means that we ought to build a relationship with the Lord…

It means that as disciples, we are willing to accept the “yoke” of our Rabbi and Master Jesus
Life might be harsh on us….
But the Lord invites us, “Come to me, and I will give you rest… Take my yoke”

We need to be in the presence of the Lord – growing more in prayer and trust in Him.

Often we run to other sources for comfort and pleasure, to relieve ourselves from our burdens…
… sinful addictions
… unpleasant habits
… unholy sources of pleasure

But the Lord says, to instead present ourselves to Him, at every moment…

Especially in our moments of burden and hardships
… and receive strength and rest from Him!

When we lean on to the Lord, He gives us His rest and consolation

When we are faithful to our relationship with Him, He strengthens us and comforts us!

Let us read the Word of God daily to find strength

Let us spend time with the Lord in prayer every day without fail
Let us worthily receive the Sacraments to experience His Living Presence

Yes, Life may be playing a “joke” on us by straining us with burdens and hardships…

But let the “Yoke” of Christ give us rest, hope, strength and joy
… and let us hear the Good Shepherd telling us in our moments of struggle, “My Child, it’s Jesus!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “By turning your eyes on God in meditation, your whole soul will be filled with God.

Begin all your prayers in the presence of God!”

July 4, 2020 – 13th Week in Ordinary Time

“May we grow in our following of God, by looking at people and situations in His style: integrating compassion with sincerity and love with genuineness!”

Based on Amos 9:11-15 and Mt 9:14-17 – Saturday of the 13th Week in Ordinary Time)

A little boy once came to his mother, saying, “Mummy, I am as tall as Goliath! I am nine feet high!”

“How do you say that?” asked his surprised mother.

“Well, I made a little ruler of my own and measured myself with it and I am just nine feet tall.”

The little fellow considered himself to be huge and tall…
… but by having a measuring scale that he himself had devised – which he had adjusted in such a way, that he would be made to look tall!

How often is our own styles of assessment and measure the same!

We make “our own” yardsticks to measure others actions, and to find a way of criticising others!
We make “our own” measuring tapes to determine the deeds of other people, and thus find ways to put down other people!

The Gospel of the day is an invitation to examine this our tendency of assessing others’ manners and conduct based on “standards and measurements” that are set by we ourselves.

· Do I evaluate the action of another person based on my own “prejudiced” mindset… or do I measure it with the yardstick that God uses?

· Do I critically analyze other people’s attitudes from my own “biased” perspective… or do I gauge it with the benchmark that God proposes?

In the Gospel, we see the disciples of John who come to Jesus with a critical query:
“Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” (Mt 9:14)

It is interesting the reason that the disciples of John use here, in order to ask put forward their question…

It would be something like this…
“We, the disciples of John… we follow our Master in leading an ascetic and hard life.

We fast often times during the week… we live a hard life.

Look at the Pharisees too… they fast twice a week, which is more than the stipulated requirement of the Law.

We engage ourselves in so much of fasting.

But look at your disciples…
They are only found to be enjoying life!

Who don’t they fast… like we do… ??”

They had perhaps made “their own” yardsticks to measure the actions of the disciples and found a way of criticizing them!

They had perhaps made “their own” measuring tapes to determine the deeds of the disciples, and thus found ways to put them down!

But the Lord asks them to change this their “yardstick” and “measuring scale” of judging other people.

Jesus gives an example of the bridegroom and the context of a marriage.

Marriage is the time of joy and celebration… not of mourning or being sad.

It is a time of feasting… and not fasting!
… a time of feasting on God’s tremendous Providence and Grace!
… a time of feasting on the Love and Compassion shown by the Lord!

The Lord makes a challenge….
… consider and evaluate situations from the “eyes of God” – in the way that God sees.
… assess and measure people in the “manner of God” – with the approach that God takes.

It is said that when God measures a person, “He puts the tape around the heart, and not the head!”

May we also grow in our following of God… looking at people and situations in His style:
… a style that integrates compassion with sincerity
… a style that incorporates love with genuineness

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Have patience with all things..

But first of all with yourself!”

July 3, 2020 – Solemnity of St Thomas, the Apostle of India

“May St Thomas help us, with his intercession and inspiration, to become Christians of Conviction and Certainty and to firmly cry out, in joyful acclamation, ‘My Lord and My God’”

(Based on Solemnity of St Thomas, the Apostle of India)

A young man joined the military service as a soldier.

One morning, he was ordered by the sergeant to report for duty at the canteen.

He, however refused.

The sergeant threatened to report him to the officer that day.
“All right,” said the young man, “go ahead. I did not enlist to be a bartender but a soldier, and I will not report at the canteen!”

His action of refusal was duly reported to the major who sent for him.

His companions taunted him as being “adamant” and “snobbish”

The young man went to the Major – with trembling knees but a steady heart – for he knew he was right.

The officer asked him, ‘Are you the young man who disobeyed orders this morning?’

“Yes, sir, I am.”

“Why did you do it?”
“Simply because I do not believe it is right to do what I was asked to do.
I enlisted to be a soldier and not a bartender.’

The officer arose quickly from his chair.
A trickle of fear went down the spine of the young man!

However, the officer extending his hand, said: “Young man, you are the kind of man we want.
I am glad to see a fellow who has the courage of his convictions.
You are not obliged to report at the canteen.
I am proud of your convictions!”

The young man was supposedly considered by others as being “adamant” and “proud”…

But the officer realized the worth of this young man – as having a courageous character of convictions!

True commitment and steadfast faithfulness in life requires the power of convictions and certainty!
Today we celebrate the Feast of St Thomas – who is popularly (or rather infamously) called as the “Doubting Apostle”.

He was probably considered by others as being “adamant” and “proud”…
• It was his search for convictions in life that made him seek for a proof for the Lord’s appearance
• It was his desire for certainty in life that caused him to doubt at the words of his companions over the Lord’s Resurrection.

The Lord realized the worth of this young man- as having a courageous character of convictions!

When we go through the life of St Thomas as seen in the Gospels, we encounter a person constantly displaying courage, expressing commitment and seeking for convictions.

St Thomas indeed stands out among the other apostles…

  1. It was probably St Thomas who first expressed his desire to give up his life for the Lord and His Kingdom…

“Let us also go, that we may die with Him” (Jn 11: 16)

St Thomas becomes a motivation for all those who follow Christ, to be bold and brave and even to give up one’s life for the Lord and His Kingdom

  1. It was St Thomas who had the simplicity and the openness to ask Jesus when the Lord had declared that “Where I am going you know the way..” and the Lord had responded “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”…

“Master, we do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?” (Jn 14:5)

St Thomas becomes a consolation to all those who face genuine uncertainties in spiritual life and encourages to remain like a child – in openness, simplicity and frankness.

  1. It was St Thomas who refused the trust the words of his companions on the issue of the Jesus’ Resurrection.

He knew that many of his companions had impulsive reactions and therefore, could not be believed for their words. Therefore, he insisted that his belief in Christ’s Resurrection would depend only on His personal experience with the Lord

“Unless I see the mark of the nails in His Hands and put my finger into His side, I will not believe” (Jn 20:25)

St Thomas becomes a refuge for all those who grapple with spiritual anxieties – lack of consolation in prayer life, deep longing to experience God and many confusions regarding spiritual teachings and faith experiences

In St Thomas we have a saint who is very human and with whom we – who are often prone to mistakes and frail in weaknesses – can easily connect.
• He was brave, but also had his moments of feeling lost
• He was courageous, but also had his moments of seeking answers for doubts
• He was enthusiastic, but also had his moments of staying away from the faith-community

St Thomas is a shining beacon of courage.
• He had his doubts.

But once cleared, he became a person of immense conviction.

This conviction made him to travel across many lands to give witness to Jesus, His Lord and Master… and even to give up His life, in martyrdom!

Yes, True commitment and Steadfast faithfulness in life requires the power of convictions and certainty!

May St Thomas help us, with his intercession and inspiration, to become Christians of Conviction and Certainty and to firmly cry out, in joyful acclamation, “My Lord and My God”

Happy Feast of St Thomas, the Convinced Disciple of Christ!

Happy Feast of Faith and Belief, Boldness and Courage to all!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “There is no need to doubt that we possess faith in God…
… simply because we find it difficult to keep clear of sin
… or find ourselves diffident
… or even fearing that we will not be able to resist occasions of temptation.

No!

Diffidence in our strength of will is not due to lack of resolve but is a true acknowledgement of our misery.

The fear of being able to resist temptations is better than considering ourselves strong and secure…
… because all that we do not expect from our own strength we hope to receive by means of God’s grace.

We must simply be on our guard and be humble so as not to fall victim to temptation!”

July 2, 2020 – 13th Week of the Ordinary Time

“Avoiding the ‘harbouring of evil in our hearts’ and throwing all unbecoming stuff from our hearts; instead, enthroning the Divine Mercy of the Lord in our hearts!”

(Based on Amos 7:10-17 and Mt 9:1-8 – Wednesday of the 13th Week of the Ordinary Time)

“Harbour” is a place on the coast, where ships may moor in shelter, especially one protected from rough water by piers, jetties, and other artificial structures.

The word “harbour” is also used to speak about a keep a thought or feeling, (typically a negative one) in one’s mind, especially secretly

The Gospel of the Day is an expose by Jesus, on how a group of people “harbour” wrong thoughts in the mind.

It is an exposition of this evil side of life that often empowers human hearts, and pops its head up, especially when encountered by goodness and holiness.

The Gospel is the healing of the paralytic, when Jesus comes into His own town.

Seeing the paralytic being brought on the stretcher, and admiring their faith, Jesus had said, “Courage child, your sins are forgiven” (Mt 9: 2)

However, some of the scribes got irked hearing these words and said, “This man is blaspheming”

But Jesus, who knows the hearts of people…. who reads the thoughts of all… said:
“Why do you think evil in your hearts?” (Mt 9: 4)

Another translation of this verse would read:
“Why do you harbour evil in your hearts?”

The Lord exposes the evil intention of the Scribes in questioning His action of cleansing the paralytic.

For the paralytic, it was a great moment…
… of being cleansed from sin, and being restored to holiness
… of having a very personal encounter of the Saviour and receiving wholeness

It was a sacred time…a holy instant!

But where there is the presence of Holiness, evil finds itself disturbed and distances itself!

Evil cannot exist beside the Sacred!

Human life often finds itself engaged and engrossed with evil things…

The pull to be bad constantly lurks in human minds…
The urge to be sinful often prowls in human hearts…

Therefore, when the paralytic was encountering goodness and holiness, the evil side in the scribes popped its head up, and questioned and quizzed our Blessed Lord.

The same question that Jesus asked the scribes is now thrown to us:
“Why do you think evil in your hearts?” or “Why do you harbour evil in your hearts?”

Am I a person who is unable to tolerate the good things happening in other people’s life?

Am I someone who gets irked and irritated when the other person prospers in happiness?

We sometimes adorn the walls of our hearts with many filthy stuff – uncharitable thoughts, indecent words and jokes, hurtful views of people or crude perspectives of situations.

The Lord feels hurt and sad by this our “harbouring of evil in our hearts”

Are we ready to throw of all those unbecoming stuff from our hearts, and place the Divine Mercy of the Lord, enthroned in our hearts?

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Let us not lower our eyes without humiliating at the same time the heart.

Let not others think we want the last place…

… without truly desiring it!

July 1, 2020 – 13th Week of Ordinary Time

“Growing deeper in our relation with the Lord; and with Him, being strong and bold against the “storms” of the evil one!

(Based on Amos 5:14-15, 21-24 and Mt 8:28-34 – Wednesday of the 13th Week of the Ordinary Time)

Four boys were on an expedition – through the rivers and valleys and the mountain ranges.

At the end of the day, they camped – with supper by a campfire – in a lonely ravine.

However, at midnight a terrific thunderstorm encountered them.

The boys were forced to take refuge from the storm in the barn of a farmer.

They felt safe from the stormy rain and lay on the hay…
… when suddenly they heard loud noises…

This time not that of nature.. but of a human voice – loud and wild.

All through the night they heard that terrible shouting.

Somehow, in fear and trembling, they managed to through the night.

When dawn appeared, they come down from the barn, and realised the reason for the noise…

The farmer’s father was insane, a maniac…
… locked up in one of the rooms of the house!

The expedition of the boys ended up with a dual-storm-experience!
… the storm of nature’s fury – in the thunderstorm and heavy rainfall
… the storm of human anger – unleashed by that poor man who was insane

The Gospel of the Day along with yesterday’s Gospel passage, present two storms that are encountered by Jesus and His Disciples…
… the storm of nature’s fury – as They got caught in the heavy tempest while in the boat (Mt 8: 23-27)
… the storm of human anger – as They met the two demoniacs coming out of the tombs (Mt 8: 28-34)

In both the “stormy” and “turbulent” encounters, Jesus calms the “violence” and displays His supremacy as the Lord of all storms and turbulence.

The Gospel of the Day is the incident of the healing of the two demoniacs.

The word “demons” might immediately put off many a people…including perhaps some of us…

“Modern and learned” sceptics of the Bible dismiss demon-possession as rubbish!

Some might say that it was just a primitive manner that people had, to describe psychic or social disorders.
Some might say that it was just a superstitious belief and practice.

But when we consider the Bible in its totality and especially the ministry of Jesus, it is very evidently seen that there is not much accommodation to superstitious beliefs or practices.

Any false or fanciful superstitious stuff was in fact, corrected or rectified!

The Church teaches that the Devil is real, and not just a mythical personification of evil.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that Satan “acts in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and … his action causes grave injuries” (CCC #395).

Pope Francis, in his first homily quoted: ‘He who does not pray to the Lord, prays to the Devil.’

This then is an important aspect that we see in today’s Gospel… Jesus performing this miracle of exorcism, showing His supreme power and authority over the satanic forces.

What is my understanding of Satan and the evil forces?

I need to realise that this real force opposes anything that is spiritual and holy.

This also means that wherever there is a spiritual action taking place, there is an opposition by the Devil and his evil power.

Do I arm myself with deeper faith, courage and conviction in God’s power?

Do I equip myself with greater holiness and sanctity to withstand evil influences?

The “Our Father” is a powerful prayer which invokes the power of God against the evil: “… and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from Evil”

Another important and interesting dimension that we see in today’s Gospel passage is the repulsion and disgust for Jesus…

This repulsion is displayed by two groups:

  1. The two demoniacs
  2. The people of the town

And this repulsion is characterised by a singular word – “begging”

The demoniacs BEGGED Him, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine” (Mt 8: 31)

Thereupon the whole town came to meet Jesus, and when they say Him, they BEGGED Him to leave their district” (Mt 8: 34)

The demoniacs couldn’t stand the Holiness and Power of the Lord and so they “begged” Him to cast them into the swine

The people of the town – we are not very sure, what exactly were their reasons – too had a repulsion to the Lord and “begged” Him to leave their district.

In both the cases, one thing is clear:
Holiness was opposed and was found repulsive by evil forces!

Where there is Holiness, evil cannot stand!

Where there is Sanctity, satan finds it unbearable!

This then, makes it imperative on our parts, as Christians, to embrace ourselves closer into holiness and immerse ourselves deeper into the power of God!

Evil is a reality…
But the power of God, is a much stronger force!

Jesus says, “Fear not, I have conquered the world”

May we grow deeper in our relation with the Lord, and with Him, be strong and bold against the “storms” of the evil one!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “The Devil doesn’t fear austerity…

… but holy obedience!”