✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Feb 05, 2023: Sunday

“Being willing to rise up to be the ‘salt of the earth” and ‘light to the world’ so that our Christian values can be preserved”

(Based on Isa 58:7-10, 1 Cor 2:1-5 and Mt 5:13-16 – 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A)

Here is a lovely story of a humble little monk named Telemachus living out in the farming regions of Asia.

Telemachus had no great ambitions in life.

He loved his little garden, and tilled it through the changing seasons.

But one day in the year 391, he felt a sense of urgency, a call of God’s direction in his life – to Rome.

Rome was the heart and soul of the mighty empire.

The feelings of such a call frightened him, but he went anyway, praying along the way for God’s direction.

When he finally got to the city it was in an uproar!

The armies of Rome had just come home from the battlefield in victory, and the crowds were turning out for a great celebration.

They flowed through the streets like a tidal wave, and Telemachus was caught in their frenzy and carried into the Colloseum.

He had never seen a gladiator contest before, but now his heart sickened.

Down in the arena men hacked at each other with swords and clubs.

The crowds roared at the sight of blood, and urged their favorites on to the death.

Telemachus couldn’t stand it.
He knew this wasn’t the way God wanted people to live or to die.

So little Telemachus worked his way through the crowds to the wall down by the arena. “In the name of Christ, forbear!”, he shouted.

Nobody heard him, so he crawled up onto the wall and shouted again: “In the name of Christ, forbear!”

This time the few who heard him only laughed. But Telemachus was not to be ignored.

He jumped into the arena, and ran through the sands toward the gladiators. “In the name of Christ, forbear!”

The crowds laughed at the silly little man, and threw stones at him.

Telemachus, however, was on a mission.
He threw himself between two gladiators to stop their fighting. “In the name of Christ, forbear!” he cried.

They hacked him apart!

They cut his body from shoulder to stomach, and he fell onto the sand with the blood running out of his life.

The gladiators were stunned, and stopped to watch him die.

Then the crowds fell back in silence, and, for a moment, no one in the Colloseum moved.

The site of the dead man, and the reaction of the crowd, led the emperor and his guests to silently stand, turn and leave the Colloseum.
After a few minutes, the Gladiators put their swords down and they too left.

All that remained in that giant stadium was the scrawny lifeless body of the young man.

History claims that this was the very last gladiator game at the coliseum.

The memory of that man screaming to the crowd, and the image of the blood thirsty lust of the crowd…
… had changed the hearts and the minds of the Romans in that instant.

Within an hour, the emperor issued an edict forbidding any future games of war within the Roman Empire.

There was no more killing in the Colloseum.
There were no more gladiator matches in Rome.

All because one man, stood up…
… and said “In the Name of Jesus, forbear!!”.

He, as a true Christian, became, the salt of the earth and light of the world.

This is the call of the Gospel of the Day.
Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth” (Mt 5: 13) and “You are the light of the world” (Mt 5: 14)

In ancient Greece, salt was considered so valuable it was called, “theon”, divine.

The Romans believed that nothing was of more value than salt except the Sun. Roman soldiers were even paid in salt.
An ancient Near Eastern custom still practiced among some Arabs today is that a pact of friendship is sealed with a gift of salt.

This call of the Gospel has gained significant importance and urgency in our world today.

We live in times and generation when the need to be a “salt” and “light” has gained tremendous urgency…

The world is losing a taste for things of everlasting value and instead relishes more of transient materials.

Can I be a “salt” in such situations giving the taste of eternity and goodness, to revive lives and to orient them towards the real joys of life?

The world is fast degrading and losing values in various areas like moral life, social situations, cultural integrity and religious fervour.

Can I be a “light”, casting away the darkness of ignorance and shedding new illumination and radiance for the revival of sanctified lives?

The world today, and even the Church, sometimes, is sadly deeply getting corrupted and there are strong strands of infection and contamination affecting various core dimensions.

Can I be a “salt” which rubs in consciousness for transformation and change and be a healing agent to prick the conscience of people to lead an integral life?

The world and even the Church, sometimes, is easy on closing the eye to the evils that are constantly rising, and fails to be a powerful voice for justice and peace

Can I be a “light” which casts its powerful rays on the dark shades of wickedness and expose the inhuman elements of the society, helping towards a harmonious and pleasant world?

“Salt” and “light” are symbols of purity.

To be the “salt” and “light” in the world, demands a high level of perfection and holiness in our lives.

Let us be willing to rise up to the challenge of being the “salt of the earth” and “light to the world” even if it requires giving up many of our comfort areas of life…
… so that our Christian values can be preserved and the love of God may shine forth to the world!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE ANOINTING OF THE SICK – HOW IS THIS SACRAMENT CELEBRATED?

The celebration of the sacrament includes the following principal elements: the “priests of the Church” – in silence – lay hands on the sick; they pray over them in the faith of the Church- this is the epiclesis proper to this sacrament; they then anoint them with oil blessed, if possible, by the bishop.

These liturgical actions indicate what grace this sacrament confers upon the sick. (CCC #1519)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Feb 04, 2023: Saturday

“Being filled with Wisdom, let us be a true shepherd according to the Heart of the Good Shepherd!”

(Based on Heb 13:15-17, 20-21 and Mk 6:30-34 – Saturday of the 4th Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1)

The French have a proverb, which states: “A good meal ought to begin with hunger.”

It is usually pretty hard to to enjoy a meal when one is not yet hungry.

But, when one is hungry…
… anything tastes good.

This hunger is of course, not only about physical hunger.

There are many other areas of life where we experience hunger…
Hunger for love…
Hunger for being wanted…
Hunger on emotional counts…
Hunger of the spiritual order…

These aspects of hunger…
… may never have a scientific statistic
… may never have flowcharts and pie diagrams to measure them

But these areas of hunger are a great reality and challenge, especially in our world today!

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus who addresses not just “statistical” hunger but also such hunger of human needs which “may never get numerically counted”…
… with an invitation to always “hunger for God and to serve His people!”
“When He disembarked and saw the vast crowd, His Heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things” (Mk 6:34)

The Apostles, who were sent on the mission (Mk 6: 7-13) had returned back and reported all that they had done (Mk 6:30)

They had driven out many demons…
They had anointed many with oil who were sick and cured them… (Mk 6:13)

They would have rejoiced greatly, but they were also physically tired.

They would have been satisfied with their works, but they did not have even the time to eat (Mk 6:31)

The Apostles had done many works, but Jesus sensed that they were tired

The Apostles were happy with their ministry, but Jesus sensed that they were hungry.

And so the Good Shepherd invites them to come away to a deserted place and rest (Mk 6:31)

Like these Apostles, many times, this can be our case too…

We may be doing a lot of things…
… but are we still feeling spiritually tired?

We may be happy with what we are doing…
… but are we still hungry deep within?

The Good Shepherd invites us…
… to take some rest in Him
… to relax in His Holy Heart

As in the case of the Apostles, so is the case of the people…

The people had seen many miracles, but Jesus sensed that they were still not truly filled
The people had witnessed many wonders, but Jesus sensed that they were still lost and unguided.

And so the Good Shepherd, with a moved Heart, feels compassion on them (Mk 6:34)

Like these people, many times this can be our case too…

We may have witnessed God’s wonders…
… but are we still spiritually found wanting?

We may be glad to doing the minimum in our spiritual life…
… but are we still missing something?

The Good Shepherd encourages us…
… with His Divine Word
… by His Compassionate Love

There is indeed a great hunger in the world.

Saint Mother Teresa said: “Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty, than the person who has nothing to eat”

We may be people who hunger for love and acceptance…

Let us go to Jesus, the Supreme Lover of our lives

We may be people dejected and depressed in life…

Let us go to Jesus, the Ultimate Happiness of our lives

We may be people feeling unlucky and ill-fated in life…

Let us go to Jesus, the Absolute Destiny of our lives

In turn, we also meet people who go through such “hunger”…
…for love, for acceptance, for encouragement, for hope, for basics of life etc…

Do I recognise, in the first place, such requirements of needy people?
Does my heart move in loving compassion for them?

Can I be a Good Shepherd, like Jesus, to them?

Let us be filled with His Wisdom…
… and making our hearts “a rich garden of virtues,” let us be a true shepherd according to the Heart of the Good Shepherd!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE ANOINTING OF THE SICK – HOW IS THIS SACRAMENT CELEBRATED?

Word and sacrament form an indivisible whole.
The Liturgy of the Word, preceded by an act of repentance, opens the celebration.

The words of Christ, the witness of the apostles, awaken the faith of the sick person and of the community to ask the Lord for the strength of His Spirit. (CCC #1518)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Feb 03, 2023: Friday

“Daring to be the voice that stands for, and upholds the Truth!”

(Based on Heb 13:1-8 and Mk 6:14-29 – Friday of the 4th Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1)

A particular prime minister of a country – outspoken and audacious – heavily denounced the policies and atrocities of his predecessor, who was a dictator.

Once during a public meeting, as he censured the former dictator with stringent words, he was interrupted by a shout from a heckler in the audience: “You were one of the colleagues of the former dictator, isn’t it? Why didn’t you stop him then?”

“WHO SAID THAT?” roared the prime minister!

This thundering question bellowed and boomed…
… causing an agonizing and fearful silence to prevail among the audience.!

No body dared to move a muscle!
There was complete hush among them all

After a few moments of silence…
… the premier softly replied: “Now you know why!”
“I was afraid to have my voice heard… so that I could be safe!”

The prime minister confessed his fear in “being a voice that was heard” so that he could shield his life…
… and thus ‘played safe!’

The Gospel of the Day is however, in stark contrast to this trend – with the presentation of the Bold and Courageous Voice of St John the Baptist…
… who “made his voice heard” – in standing and upholding the truth
… and who had to offer his life as a martyr for the Truth!

The Gospel presents before the Brutal Beheading of the Voice – St John the Baptist!

The voice was powerful.
The voice was a hope to many.
The voice, however, also disturbed a few… disturbed even to the point of revenge and vengeance.
And……slit…..! The voice was silenced!!

The Beheading of John the Baptist is one of the most brutal and visually-powerful incident in the entire Gospels.

John the Baptist was a Prophet.

And a True Prophet is a truth-teller!

As we read in today’s Gospel, this True Prophet, John, was the whistle-blower in crying “foul” over the illegitimate relationship between Kind Herod and his brother’s wife, Herodias.

Herodias hated John the Baptist.

Herodias hated him because he told the truth & she didn’t like the truth.
Herodias was determined to twist the truth into a lie and the lie into a truth.
Herodias, at her earliest opportunity, would seek to direct her revenge upon the truth teller!
Herodias wanted to get rid of that “crazy man” who was determined to put a moral mirror in front of her face.
Herodias, wanted this Voice to be silent!!

To silence the true voices of the society, is the bane of any generation….

How many voices-of-correction by the parents, is put to silence by disobedient children….
How many voices-of-moral lives by the Church, is put to silence, by modernists and liberalists…
How many voices-of-peace by innocent people, is put to silence, by fanatics and fundamentalists…
How many voices-of-indiscrimination by the citizens, is put to silence, by a negligent government…
How many voices-of-repentance by a spouse, is put to silence by a drunkard or an irresponsible partner…
How many a voices-of-holiness by the Lord, is put to silence, by superfluous spiritualities and comfy theologies..

The Voice of Truth cries…..but how many of us, seek to silence it!

Yes, the lives of Conscience-movers and truth-tellers are always at a risk.

And this risk can even lead one to be a misfit in the society…
… to be “different from others”
… to even risk one’s life!

St John the Baptist had the courage to be the truth-teller and risk his life, even to be a martyr.

What are the characteristics of a True Martyr?

  1. Martyrs get killed not just for their convictions….but for EXPRESSING their convictions:
    ‘Play Safe’ is an ad-tag in which many Christians find refuge.
    “Keep your mouth shut”…
    “Don’t offend people around us”…
    “It is better to be silent than sorry”…
    These are some of the common phrases which we Christians adopt, in moments of injustice, corruption, inequality & unfairness!

But true Martyrs EXPRESSED and ARTICULATED and DISPLAYED and UTTERED their faith!….

Yes, they WITNESSED their FAITH as a true MARTYR!

A true Martyr is a bold Witness!

St John the Baptist was not silent…
… he expressed and articulated the mistakes – and he was martyred!

  1. Martyrs don’t get swayed by popular opinions and cheap popularity
    A true martyr is not one who checks the pulse of public opinion & makes a statement to please and satisfy people.

He has the guts…
… to go against an oppressive and discrimination culture
… to voice out against an unjust and demeaning authority
… to stand firm in the midst of rippled spiritualities and patterns!

St John the Baptist was unfazed and unmoved before the Royal immoral powers….and he was martyred!

  1. Martyrs are willing and prepared to lay down their lives.
    Martyrs are not sadists or escapists…
    … who want to die for some pleasure / even to run away from the grinds of life!

Rather, they are people who are wholly prepared & enthusiastically willing to die, for the sake of their convictions!

They are passionate and intensely in love with their faith and their convictions!
They are unaffected and impassive to the dangers and risks that are involved!

St John the Baptist knew that he was walking precariously on the rope of risks…
… and he was always ready for it!

Today, on this First Friday of the Month, You and I…. are invited to be a voice…
… in a voiceless
… in a voice-oppressed
… in a voice-drowned
… in a voice-killed…world!

St John the Baptist dared to be that VOICE – “I am the voice…!” (Jn 1:23)

Shall we too dare?

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE ANOINTING OF THE SICK – HOW IS THIS SACRAMENT CELEBRATED?

Like all the sacraments the Anointing of the Sick is a liturgical and communal celebration, whether it takes place in the family home, a hospital or church, for a single sick person or a whole group of sick persons.
It is very fitting to celebrate it within the Eucharist, the memorial of the Lord’s Passover.
If circumstances suggest it, the celebration of the sacrament can be preceded by the sacrament of Penance and followed by the sacrament of the Eucharist.

As the sacrament of Christ’s Passover the Eucharist should always be the last sacrament of the earthly journey, the “viaticum” for “passing over” to eternal life. (CCC #1517)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Feb 02, 2023: Thursday

“Growing in our conviction of our ‘belongingness’ to the Lord and being fearless and courageous in giving ‘external expression to our Faith!’”

(Based on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord – Day of Consecrated Life)

In a session, for a gathering of priests and religious – as part of the Day of Consecrated Life – the speaker asked:
“Can anyone please tell me in a word, what your idea of consecration is?”

An elderly sister, sitting right on the first row, stood up…

The speaker motioned to her… to answer

The sister – who had much experience in life working in mission areas- held out a blank sheet of paper…

And replied: “Consecration is nothing but to sign your name at the bottom of this blank sheet of paper…
… and let God fill it in, as He will
… and be joyful and at peace!”

That is indeed a beautiful way of understanding Consecration, isn’t it?

A total surrender to God’s Will and being joyful

A complete submission to God’s Ways and remaining at peace!

Today on this Feast of the Presentation of the Lord…

As Christians, we are reminded to grow in our “conviction of belonging to the Lord”…
… and to be fearless and courageous in allowing God to take complete control of our lives!

Today is also a day when we celebrate the ‘Consecrated Way of Life.’

Consecration is giving oneself to the Lord wholly.

Consecration is seeking to be pure – completely – in heart and mind.

The Gospel of the Day presents St Joseph and Mother Mary presenting Jesus in the Temple.
“When the days were completed for their purification, according to the Law of Moses, they took Him up to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord” (Lk 2:22)

We are on the 40th Day after Christmas, the Nativity of Jesus.

The Book of Exodus spoke of the need of this presentation and consecration of the first-born child…
“Consecrate to me every first-born that opens the womb…
If your son ask you later on, ‘What does this mean’, you shall tell him, ‘ With a strong hand, the Lord brought us out of Egypt, the land of slavery….'” (Ex 12: 2, 14)

The act of presentation in the Temple…
… represented fulfilling of God’s command..
… recalled God’s deed of deliverance from slavery…
… reminded the deep love of God for His people…

The presentation of the Lord in the Temple, is also another reminder of the “ordinariness” of the Lord, in His incarnation…

Jesus was known as the child of “ordinary” human parents!
Jesus took birth and grew up in “ordinary” conditions and circumstances!
Jesus lived His life in an “ordinary” family situation!

By Baptism, all of us are also consecrated to the Lord…

Some of us, have also made a deeper consecration by the profession of vows…

The meaning of this consecration, also, derives from the consecration of the Lord…

We are “ordinary” by our sinful nature…
… yet the Lord exalts us to live a pure and holy life.

We are “ordinary” by our human nature…
… yet the Lord wishes to join with His Divine nature

We are “ordinary” in our deeds and works…
… yet the Lord wants to be His Kingdom partners

Our consecration…
… is a deep call and invitation to live a Holy Life
… is a loving obligation and sacred duty to be fully committed to Him

Each of us – whether single or in family life, whether a priest or a religious –
… ought to BELONG TO THE LORD AND TO HIM ALONE!

We are all consecrated and offered to the Lord.

Let us hold the hands of St Joseph and Mamma Mary, and renew our consecration to the Lord.

This is a day…
… to renew our commitment and zeal for the Lord
… to rekindle the fire of our love and faith in the Lord
… to restore our initial enthusiasm and interest for the Lord
… to revitalize our knowledge and comprehension of the Lord

Life will constantly take us to situations where we will face tough and hard moments.

Can we allow the Lord to fill the “papers of our life” – the canvas of our life – the way He wishes…
… and bowing before His Holy Will – say Yes to Him – and live in joy and peace?

May we grow in our conviction of our “belongingness” to the Lord…
… and be fearless and courageous in giving “external expression to our Faith!”

Yes, let us pray: “Lord, I belong to You and to You alone, Amen!”

Happy Feast to all of us, who are consecrated to the Lord, by our Baptism…
… specially to the Consecrated, by virtue of the evangelical vows!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE ANOINTING OF THE SICK – HOW IS THIS SACRAMENT CELEBRATED?

Like all the sacraments the Anointing of the Sick is a liturgical and communal celebration, whether it takes place in the family home, a hospital or church, for a single sick person or a whole group of sick persons.
It is very fitting to celebrate it within the Eucharist, the memorial of the Lord’s Passover.

If circumstances suggest it, the celebration of the sacrament can be preceded by the sacrament of Penance and followed by the sacrament of the Eucharist. >> As the sacrament of Christ’s Passover the Eucharist should always be the last sacrament of the earthly journey, the “viaticum” for “passing over” to eternal life (CCC #1517)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Feb 01, 2023: Wednesday

“Being ready to have a genuine and honest encounter with the Word of God!”

(Based on Heb 12:4-7, 11-15 and Mk 6:1-6 – Wednesday of the 4th Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1)

When the first missionaries went to Japan, a young Japanese boy wanted to learn English.

The missionaries handed him a copy of the Gospels and asked him to translate into his native language.
(The boy – an avid reader – had never heard about Jesus and considered the book as being just one of the “many books that he had read”)

After a few pages of translation, the boy became very agitated and restless.

Approaching the missionaries, he said to them: “Who is this Man about Whom I have been reading in this book? This Jesus!

You call Him a Man… but to me, he appears as a God!”

The boy was under the impression that he was reading a book about a famous Man…
… only to discover that he was actually encountering The Great God in the Book!

Yes, a genuine and honest encounter with the Word of God always causes a great impact on people…

Some either feel greatly drawn by the Divine…
Some however, also feel a great sense of denial and refusal of God’s Ways

The Gospel of the Day presents this dual-reaction to Jesus, the Word of God…
… an initial sense of rejoicing and enthrallment
… and later, a purposeful rejection of the Divine Ways and Will

The immensely charismatic personality of Jesus is revealed in the Gospel today.

Jesus came to His own country (Mk 6:1).
On the Sabbath Day, Jesus began to teach in the synagogue…
….and many who heard Him were astonished! (Mk 6:2a)

The popularity and the fame of Jesus was on the rise…

He had healed many who were with various sicknesses and diseases.
He had cast out demons from many who were possessed and under bondages.

Jesus became a sought-after person…
… an attraction for many people!

His tremendous passion for the missions was admiring…
His spectacular urge to preach the Kingdom of God was amazing…

This unfazed commitment to the mission, caused feelings of astonishment!

And so the people began to question…
“Where did this man get all this?
What kind of wisdom has been given Him?
What mighty deeds are wrought by His Hand?” (Mk 6:2b)

The mighty charismatic personality of Jesus caused a dual effect…
… one positive and one negative
… one supportive and one obstructive

We need to examine our life and check:
“What is the effect that Jesus has on our life?”

Are we persons who are supportive of the plans of God in our life…
… or do we obstruct the workings of the Lord, especially when we don’t understand His ways?

Are we persons who are grateful to the Lord for His mighty works in us…
… or are we able to see only at the negativities of life and end up criticizing God?

As Christians, we are people who have said “Yes” to follow ‘this’ Jesus…
… He who wants us to follow Him in healing the world
… He wishes us to become agents of casting out demons and unclean spirits
… He who waits on us to preach and teach the Kingdom of God to all people anywhere

To be like Jesus, we need to imitate Him, not just in works… but above all in His Being!
… Totally committed to a life of prayer and union with God (Mk 1:35)
… Passionately zealous for the salvation of people (Mk 1: 32-33)
… Absolutely focused on the needs of the Kingdom of God (Mk 1:38)

Do I have ‘prayer life and communion with the Lord’ as the greatest thrust and push in all my activities, undertakings and ministries?
Do I have a deep desire and commitment to bring God’s love to all people and be passionate to share Him to all others?
Do I remain undistracted in the midst of all worldly attractions and forego personal pleasures by remaining focused on His Kingdom alone?

Jesus, while in this world….
… was misunderstood
… was contradicted
… was criticized

While in the world, as Christians, we will also have to face a lot of oppositions, criticism and even persecutions…
…. Our own world may be filled with shattered hopes, unfulfilled dreams, meaningless miseries etc

But the Lord assures that I AM “the One who heals the broken-hearted”. (Ps 146:1)

As we thank the Lord for the month of January…
… and as we enter into the new month of February, let us be filled with the power and spirit of Jesus, “the One whom we ought to preach by our lives” (1 Cor 9:16)

A genuine and honest encounter with the Word of God always causes a great impact on people…

Some either feel greatly drawn by the Divine…
Some however, also feel a great sense of denial and refusal of God’s Ways

What is our reaction and response to Jesus, the Word of God?

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE ANOINTING OF THE SICK – WHO RECEIVES AND WHO ADMINISTERS THIS SACRAMENT?

Only priests (bishops and presbyters) are ministers of the Anointing of the Sick.
It is the duty of pastors to instruct the faithful on the benefits of this sacrament.
The faithful should encourage the sick to call for a priest to receive this sacrament.
The sick should prepare themselves to receive it with good dispositions, assisted by their pastor and the whole ecclesial community…

… which is invited to surround the sick in a special way through their prayers and fraternal attention. (CCC #1516)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Jan 30, 2023: Monday

“Displaying to the world that we are children of our Heavenly Father, by our ‘altruistic’ words and deeds and actions!”

(Based on Heb 11:32-40 and Mk 5:1-20 – Monday of the 4th Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1)

Altruism is the principle or practice of concern for the welfare of others.

Altruism is selflessness – the opposite of selfishness.

It consists of sacrificing something for someone with no expectation of any compensation or benefits, either direct or indirect.

The Gospel of the Day presents the Altruistic Ideal – Jesus – engaged in His great ministry of bringing the Kingdom of God to many…
… of healing
… of rebuking the evil spirits
… of bringing consolation and joy to the people.

And today He enters a Gentile territory…
… They came to the other side of the sea to the territory of Gerasenes” (Mk 5: 1)

In Luke 4:18, Jesus announced His Mission Programme of “…bringing good news to the poor, liberty to the captives, new sight to the blind, freedom to the oppressed…”

In accordance with this manifesto, Jesus sets forward to announce the Kingdom of God through His mighty deeds and works.

The Lord unveils the Compassionate Face of the Father and reveals His Benevolent Heart to the needy and the deprived.

As He enters the territory of Gerasenes, Jesus encounters a man “who came from the tombs with an unclean spirit” (Mk 5:2)

St Mark describes the hard state that the man was in…
… dwelling among the tombs
… none could restrain him
… bound in chains

Sometimes, in life, we too find ourselves in such a situation…
… though not physically, but mentally, socially and spiritually!

In all such “possessed” situations of life…
… are we ready to encounter the presence of the Lord?

In the sunset of darkness and pain in my life…
…. Do I encounter the Lord to receive the Light of hope and healing?

In the chained situations of emptiness in my spiritual life…
…. Do I encounter the Lord to receive the Freedom of faith and revival?

In the broken moments of frustrations and despair…
…. Do I encounter the Lord to receive the Restoration of encouragement and support?

St Mark goes on to describe the state of the demoniac…
… how he would hurt himself with stones (Mk 5: 5)
… how he cried out loudly to the Lord (Mk 5:7)
… how he pleaded the Lord to not chase away from that comfort zone (Mk 5:10)

We need to ask ourselves…

Am I tormented by the demons of evil forces and satanic powers…?
… The power of the Lord is here to deliver!

Am I tormented by the demons of bad, unhealthy addictions…?
… The power of the Lord is here to overcome!

Am I tormented by the demons of filthy words and dirty thoughts…?
… The power of the Lord is here to liberate!

Am I tormented by the demons of peer pressure and societal strains…?
… The power of the Lord is here to set free!

The Lord at the end of today’s Gospel passage declares His intentions of going to other towns (Mk 5:18) and also exhorts the demoniac who was healed to remain in his place, and to preach the good news of the Kingdom of God (Mk 5: 19-20).

The zeal and enthusiasm of the Lord to reach out the Gospel to many others is really amazing

And He also inspires and exhorts those who have been touched by Him, to become a witness to His Works and His Kingdom

Do I imitate the Lord…
…. in being zealous to reach out God’s goodness and kindness to many other people?
… in being fervent to let ignorant people to know the saving message of the Gospel?

The Gospel of the Day invites us to take note of the Altruistic Spirit of Jesus…

This Altruism of Jesus challenges us…
… to be willing to change our lives, go beyond our zones of comfort and help the needy with the Acceptance and Restoration of the Lord!
…. to reach out to many sick and suffering and troubled and weak-hearted and afflicted people with the Love and Compassion and Healing and Mercy of the Lord!

Jesus was possessed by a deep love of His Father…
… which made Him to be Altruistic in reaching out to others.

Jesus was filled with a deep fervour for the Kingdom…
… which made Him to be Altruistic in saving and healing others.

Today, You and I, are invited and challenged to imitate and follow Jesus, the Ideal Altruist!

Let us display to the world that we are children of our Heavenly Father and soldiers of the Kingdom of God, not only through our words but much more by our ‘altruistic’ words and deeds and actions.

St Gregory the Great would say, “He is not wise to me who is wise in words only, but he who is wise in deeds.”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE ANOINTING OF THE SICK – WHO RECEIVES AND WHO ADMINISTERS THIS SACRAMENT?

The Anointing of the Sick “is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death.

Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived.” (CCC #1514)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Jan 29, 2023: Sunday

“Being inspired by the teaching on the Beatitudes to be a True Follower of Christ and adopting Divine Attitudes in life!”

(Based on Zep 2:3; 3:12-13, 1 Cor 1:26-31 and Mt 5:1-12a – 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A)

This popular story is told of a trucker who went into a drive-in restaurant along the highway.

He had ordered a large meal and was beginning to enjoy it…
… when four guys on motorcycles – looking rough and toughs – came in.

These people – local ruffians – roughed up the trucker…
… devoured on the meal that he had ordered and finished it.

The trucker did not talk back to them.

He simply paid his bill and left.

The tough guys were revelling and gloating.
Proudly they began to say, “He didn’t have the guts to say a single word or to lift a hand.

So much of a weakling he was, isn’t it
He didn’t to even raise a voice or didn’t know to retaliate!”

The waiter who seeing all that was happening, came along and added: “He didn’t probably know much of driving either probably!

He just backed his truck over four bikes in the parking lot!”

That’s often how human tendencies are, isn’t it?
… the tendency to laud over others and to display one’s power and arrogance
… the tendency to give back in revenge and to seek for opportunities to avenge

These are tendencies that as human beings we all have – in one form or the other – in one measure or the other

But as a Christian – a follower of Christ – we are challenged to move beyond such “human” (or rather, inhuman!) tendencies, and adopt Divine Attitudes in life.

The Gospel of the Day is a beautiful charter of Divine Attributes – BE ATTITUDES – that are to be lived and practised in our day to day being and living!

The Eight Beatitudes – one of the most beautiful passages of the B.I.B.L.E. (sometimes expanded as being “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth”!) – presents to us a ready reference on how to live as a True Follower of Christ.

The passage begins with the sentence, “Jesus went up to the mountain and SAT DOWN…and HE BEGAN TO TEACH them” (Mt 5:1)

In the Jewish Tradition, the Rabbi (teacher) would sit and teach.

The Hebrew word ‘Rabbi’ is derived from “rav”, which means ‘Great One’.

When St Matthew specifically mentions that “Jesus sat down and taught”, Jesus is presented as the Rabbi: The Great One – The Teacher – who speaks with great authority.

Jesus is the New Moses, who presents the “New Law- the law of Absolute Love!”

What is this teaching of such great authority?

It’s a teaching which calls for a reversal of the worldly values!
It’s a teaching that turns the worldly standards of greatness upside down!

The world holds in high esteem the aspects of power, prestige, richness and prosperity.
The yardstick of greatness of people is very often measured in terms of these external achievements.

But Jesus, the teacher-par-excellence, reverses this false notion of the world…
… And pronounces BLESSEDNESS to the poor, the mourning, the meek, the hungry and thirsty, the merciful, the clean of heart, the peacemakers and the persecuted ones!

High jumpers while competing with each other, keep raising the bar higher and higher, to achieve victory.

Similarly, the Beatitudes that are pronounced by Jesus raises the bar – the standards of Christian life are raised to a great proportion.

All the beatitudes, focus on one aspect: The need to lower oneself and instead to understand that “God alone suffices!”

Prophet Zephaniah also reminds us of the need to humble ourselves and be dependent on the Lord:
“Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his commands; seek righteousness, seek humility;
perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the Lord’s wrath.” (Zeph 2:3)

Very often many questions pop up in our minds…
…. “Why is my life full of suffering, though I seek to live a genuine life?”
… “Why do the unjust prosper, and the people who pursue for justice fail to receive rewards?”
… “Why does success elude me whereas those who adopt wrong means bask in achievements?”

It’s hard to give a downright answer to such questions…
… but the Beatitudes gives us a glimpse into the mind of Jesus: That in all such occasions, our attitude ought to be, “God alone suffices!”

“GOD ALONE SUFFICES” ought to be our motto…
… when we find ourselves at the receiving end, even though after having worked hard, we don’t find the expected success
… when we are still subject to persecutions and hardships even though we live in honesty and truthfulness

In the words of St Paul, let our pride and glory always be the Lord and His Power: “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Cor 1:31)

Of course, this teaching is hard to follow… may even seem impractical…!

Yet, we are not alone…
… Jesus the teacher, Himself is our Model and Example… He walked the talk!

Hanging on the Cross, Jesus became the epitome of the Beatitudes that He Proclaimed

He is the One…
… Who was and is, the Poor, Mourning, Meek, Hungry and Thirsty,
… Who was and is, the Merciful, Clean of Heart, Peacemaker and the Persecuted One!

Today let us look to Jesus, the Teacher and the One who lived out the Beatitudes, and make our Christian life more meaningful!

As human beings we do have tendencies to laud over others or display power and arrogance or to give back in revenge or to seek for opportunities to avenge etc

But let this Teaching on the Beatitudes help us as a True Follower of Christ to move beyond such “inhuman” tendencies…
… and adopt Divine Attitudes in life.

In the words of Fulton Sheen:
“It’s hard to be a Christian…
… but it’s harder not to be one!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


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

The Apostolic Constitution ‘Sacram unctionem infirmorum,’ following upon the Second Vatican Council, established that henceforth, in the Roman Rite, the following be observed:

The sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is given to those who are seriously ill by anointing them on the forehead and hands with duly blessed oil – pressed from olives or from other plants – saying, only once: “Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up.” (CCC #1513)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Jan 28, 2023: Saturday

“Avoiding the ‘plank’ of transient assurances and embracing the ‘Rock’ of Everlasting Refuge!”

(Based on Heb 11:1-2, 8-19 and Mk 4:35-41 – Saturday of the 3rd Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1)

A captain of a ship – quite deep rooted in his faith and love for Christ – was addressing a group of teenage boys and girls.

He told them, “My dear young ones! Do not get swayed by your emotions and feelings, in your life of faith.

When you are struggling in the waters of sin, and you try to get closer to hold the hands of Jesus, you know what does the devil do?

He holds out a plank of ‘false feelings and assurances’ and says – ‘Get on to this… and you will feel better!

And when you lose focus from Jesus and step on to that ‘plank,’ he pulls it out…
… and your state of life will be worse than before!

Therefore my friends, remember always…
… Depend not on false feelings. Depend on Your Faith!
… Lose not your focus from Jesus. Allow His Hands to uphold you!

Avoid the plank of transient assurances.
Embrace the Rock of Everlasting Refuge!”

The Gospel of the Day is a beautiful encounter of the disciples experiencing “the waves of struggles”…
… and being reminded to “Embrace the Rock of Everlasting Refuge!”

It’s a very late evening… nearing midnight…
The disciples along with Jesus, who have embarked on a boat, are caught in the midst of a heavy storm.
“A violent squall came up and the waves were breaking over the boat…” (Mk 4: 36)

Some of the disciples were fishermen.

They had been many years at the sea.
They had often suffered the fury and vehemence of nature
They had been greatly used to many storms and tempests at sea.

But this storm seemed to be too fierce and too ferocious.

The disciples feared greatly!
The disciples panicked very much!

With death bells ringing in their ears, and a dreadful end before their eyes…
… the disciples were shocked to see Jesus, unmoved and unperturbed.

The Gospel says that “Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion” (Mk 4:38)

In the moment of their deep anguish and helpless, the disciples cry out:
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mk 4:38)

The boat could capsize anytime and all of them could be drowned soon…
The storms could lash brutally and the waves could overturn them any moment…
Time was fast running…

But Jesus seemed totally unfazed!
Jesus seemed totally disinterested!

So they cried out to Jesus… Lord, do you not care?!

How many times have we screamed similar words to God:
“Lord, do you not care?”

Lord, do you not care… that my family member is so sick?
Lord, do you not care… that I feel totally alone and miserable in my life?
Lord, do you not care… that my marriage is failing and my family is breaking up?
Lord, do you not care… that am without a job now and the future ahead is so bleak?
Lord, do you not care… that my life seems so meaningless and without any purpose?
Lord, do you not care… that I am plunged to loneliness and abandoned by all my friends?
Lord, do you not care that I encounter only failures, dejection and rejection in my endeavours?

When we look into the Gospel, it is amazing to know whose plan it was, in the first place to make this boat journey…

When we re-read the Gospel passage, we find the answer…

Mk 4:35 says, “On that day, as evening drew near, Jesus said to them, ‘Let us cross over to the other side!’”

Ah…..
Shall we read that again?

… JESUS said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side!”

The idea to go in the boat was not that of the disciples…

The idea to go in the boat was that of JESUS!

The encounter with the storms was not some accident!
The stumbling into the violent waves was not some unlucky thing!

It had a purpose!
It had a meaning!
It had an intention!

For the disciples, it was a moment of terror…
… But the Lord used this terrorizing time to teach them to have faith in Him!

For the disciples, it was a time of immense crisis…
… But the Lord used this critical moment, to teach them to trust in Him!

For the disciples, it was a time of dreadful fear…
… But the Lord used this fearful circumstance, to teach them to believe in Him!

The disciples – who had stepped on the “plank of fear”- were given a lesson: Lose not your focus from Jesus. His Hands will uphold you always!

Our moments of struggle are a time of testing…
Our moments of struggle are a time of learning…
Testing of our genuine faith… learning of deeper trusting!
Testing of our real convictions… learning of profound dependence!

The Lord reminds us of His Sovereignty, as he asked Job, who was going through the sea of sufferings: “Who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst out from the womb?

When I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed bounds for it, and set bars and doors…” (Job 38: 8-10)

When life takes us through the “waves of sin and struggle,” let us not get fascinated by the devil’s allurement to step on the plank of “false feelings and assurances”

Instead let us avoid the plank of transient assurances…
… and “embrace the Rock of Everlasting Refuge!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


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

From ancient times in the liturgical traditions of both East and West, we have testimonies to the practice of anointings of the sick with blessed oil.
Over the centuries, the Anointing of the Sick was conferred more and more exclusively on those at the point of death.
Because of this it received the name “Extreme Unction.”

Notwithstanding this evolution, the liturgy has never failed to beg the Lord that the sick person may recover his health if it would be conducive to his salvation. (CCC #1512)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Jan 27, 2023: Friday

“Joyfully exclaiming the Awesomeness of God and His Splendour!”

(Based on Heb 10:32-39 and Mk 4:26-34 – Friday of the 3rd Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1)

A family was visiting an art museum.

As they went around with much amazement, excitement and wonder, they came to a famous painting titled “Wheatfield under clouded sky”

This painting was by Vincent Willem van Gogh – a Dutch painter – who posthumously became one of the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art.

He had created about 2,100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings, include those of landscapes, still lives, portraits and self-portraits

As the children gazed in admiration at this classical painting, the mother of the family, exclaimed:
“If this work of art, that portrays the beauty of nature, makes us acclaim so much…
… how much more is the Beauty, Power and Goodness of the God Who has created all of this nature!”

And with a great sense of gratitude and appreciation to the Awesomeness of God, she went on to say:
“God writes with a pen that never blots…
… speaks with a tongue that never slips
… and acts with a hand that never fails!”

Yes, our God is an awesome God!

And the entire world – all of nature – beautifully sings forth the glory and splendour of God, Who is in total charge!

The Gospel of Day is a beautiful narration of Jesus, using an example from nature, to teach about the Glory and Splendour of God.

All through His teaching ministry, Jesus used different examples, metaphors and symbols to explain about the Kingdom of God.

Today, Jesus speaks about a man who scatters seeds on the land.

Without his awareness there is a growth.
“…and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how” (Mk 4:27)

One of the most tender ideas that this parable presents is that there are many things in life that are not understood and yet, it turns out to be beautiful!

The seed that grows, unnoticed and unseen, is a sign of the Kingdom of God.

The seed takes root.
The seed sprouts.
The seed grows.

But HOW this takes place, is unknown and unseen…

The effect of the growth is seen, but the process of the growth is unknown!

The result of the progress is observed, but the manner of the progress is hidden!

In John 3:8, we read, “The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes… so it is with everyone born of the Spirit”

The movement of the Spirit of God is gentle and mild!
The growth of God’s Kingdom is hidden and concealed!

This points to the tremendous fact that God is in total charge and control!
…that God is in perfect sovereignty and power!
…that God is in total dominion and management!

We are sometimes people prone to a lot of strategies and planning.

When things don’t turn out the way we have planned, we get worried and anxious.
When situations don’t fall in line with what we envisaged, we get tensed and upset!
But, today God tells… I am in total control!

When my life seems to be in a complete mess and nothing is understood by us…

God says, “I am in total control”

When circumstances around me go haywire and I lose control of things…

God says, “I am in total control”

When conditions are highly worse and it seems to be the end of the world for me…

God says, “I am in total control”

This is not to say that we need to have a passive and lethargic attitude to life.

This is not to say that we need to have a casual and a lazy mentality in life.
This is not even to say that we should not have plans and strategies in our life
But this is a great reminder to know and realise that God is the Ultimate Master!

There are no accidents… no “by chance” happenings…
… for a Christian.

Everything finds its place, in the Permissive Will of the Lord!

Do I trust in Him to lead through the dark moments into light?

Do I believe in Him to lead through the depressing moments into joy?
Do I have faith in Him to lead through the confusing moments to clarity?

Let us enjoy the silent working of the Spirit within us, and be part of the
… unseen, yet dynamic..
… silent, yet spectacular…
growth of the Kingdom of God!

As we gaze at the “large canvas of miracles” that we experience every day, every moment of our life…
… let us joyfully exclaim the Awesomeness of God and His Splendour, by confessing:
“God writes with a pen that never blots…
… speaks with a tongue that never slips
… and acts with a hand that never fails!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


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

The Church believes and confesses that among the seven sacraments there is one especially intended to strengthen those who are being tried by illness, the Anointing of the Sick
This sacred anointing of the sick was instituted by Christ our Lord as a true and proper sacrament of the New Testament

It is alluded to indeed by Mark, but is recommended to the faithful and promulgated by James the apostle and brother of the Lord. (CCC #1511)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Jan 26, 2023: Thursday

“Avoiding all ‘lame’ excuses and wholeheartedly accepting the Mission Mandate of the Lord, inspired by the example of St Timothy and St Titus!”

(Based on Titus 1:1-5 and Lk 10:1-9 – Feast of Saints Timothy and Titus, Bishops)

A lady – affected much with polio – and able to walk with just one leg approached a visa desk to go to the missions in the land of Africa.

She had been greatly influenced by the call of the Lord in the Gospels, to “be a missionary” and so decided to give her life totally for the missions.

The visa officer – himself a Christian – after reviewing and verifying her documents, had one last question to be ask, before giving the approval: “Can you give me a convincing answer as to why, with just one leg, you are taking up this risky mission journey?”

The lady, with a grin replied: “Well, I don’t find those with two legs going!”

The visa request was immediately granted!

Zeal for missions… zeal for reaching out in help and service
… is a task entrusted to every Christian.

Do we wholeheartedly accept this responsibility…
… or do we make ‘lame’ excuses and avoid this mandate?

Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of St Timothy and St Titus…
… Bishops in the early Church and close companions of St Paul

  1. St Timothy…
    … (came from Lystra in present-day Turkey) was the son of a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father

After St. Paul’s visit to Timothy’s home region of Lycaonia, around the year 51, the young man joined the apostle and accompanied him in his travels.

St Paul later sent him to Thessalonica to help the Church during a period of persecution.

Later, they came together in Corinth, and Timothy accompanied Paul on many of his missionary travels.

Around the year 64, Timothy became the first bishop of the Church of Ephesus.

In the year 93 AD, during his leadership of the Church in Ephesus, he took a stand against the worship of idols and was consequently killed by a mob.

St. John retreated to Ephesus before eventually dying on the island of Patmos, and that the Virgin Mary followed John to Ephesus, living in a house above the town.

It is also quite possible, that St. Timothy – being the Bishop of Ephesus – also had interactions with Mother Mary and St John, who had (as many scholars say and many writings testify) spent their last years in Ephesus.

St Timothy therefore would have drunk from the deepest wells of the Christian tradition – hearing about the life of Christ from the lips of the most important witnesses of His Life and Death!

  1. St Titus…
    … was born into a pagan family – is said to have studied Greek philosophy and poetry in his early years. >> He pursued a life of virtue, and purportedly had a prophetic dream that caused him to begin reading the Hebrew Scriptures.

According to tradition, Titus journeyed to Jerusalem and witnessed the preaching of Christ during the Lord’s ministry on earth….
… only later, however – after the conversion of St. Paul and the beginning of his ministry – did Titus receive baptism from the apostle, who called the pagan convert his “true child in our common faith.”

St Titus accompanied Paul to the Apostolic Council of Jerusalem during the year 51, and was later sent to the Corinthian Church on two occasions.
After the end of Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome, the apostle ordained Titus as the Bishop of Crete…
… He is credited with leading the Church of Crete, overturning paganism and promoting the faith through his prayers and preaching.

These two great saints teach us important lessons on living as a follower of Christ…
… Christ reminds and exhorts every one of us: “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves…” (Lk 10:2-3)

Being ready to face any challenge or opposition in being a witness to the Gospel
St Timothy and St Titus had to face innumerable opposition – from within community, from the persecutors around, in their mission journeys etc
… yet to remained firm and faithful to their mission mandate

Are we ready to brave every challenge to be a Courageous witness of the Gospel in our own life situations?

Are we ready to depend on the Lord for everything?
Are we ready to give heed to the words of the Lord to his missionary apostles,

As we are told, “Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road.” (Lk 10:4)…
… we are reminded on the need to avoid reliance on material dimensions of life; instead to have our dependence totally on the Lord!

St Timothy and St Titus experienced the fruits of this “total dependence” in their ministries!

Can we let go of our various attachments and trust deeper in the Providence of the Lord?

Untiring zeal and passion for the Kingdom
St Timothy and St Titus accompanied St Paul in his missionary journeys…
… and learnt the “art of passionate zeal for missions” in imitation of Christ

Are we ready to be enrolled into the school of Jesus, the Greatest Missionary and learn from him the “art of passionate zeal for missions?”

Zeal for missions… zeal for reaching out in help and service
… is indeed a task entrusted to every Christian.

God has blessed us immensely with many good things…
… and it is our duty to put all these blessings and graces for the Glory of the Lord

Do we wholeheartedly accept this responsibility…
… or do we make ‘lame’ excuses and avoid this mandate?

May the missionary zeal of St Timothy and St Titus inspire us…
… and help us to “rekindle the gift of God that is within…” (Cf. 2 Tim 1:6)

Happy Feast of St Timothy and St Titus!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE ANOINTING OF THE SICK – A SACRAMENT OF THE SICK

The Apostolic Constitution Sacram unctionem infirmorum, following upon the Second Vatican Council, established that henceforth, in the Roman Rite, the following be observed:
The sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is given to those who are seriously ill by anointing them on the forehead and hands with duly blessed oil – pressed from olives or from other plants – saying, only once:

“Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up.” (CCC #1513)