October 29, 2020 – 30th Week in Ordinary Time

“Finding rest, shelter and protection under the wings of the Lord, our Mother Hen!”

(Based on Eph 6:10-20 and Lk 13:31-35 – Thursday of the 30th Week in Ordinary Time)

As children, we have often heard short stories…

One of the famous stories we have heard is about the Fox and the Hen.

The Fox tries his level best to kill the hen and it almost succeeds, until, the hen, by its cleverness, escapes through the clutches of the fox!

The fox is described with dominative and oppressive characters.

The hen is described with a defenceless and subjugated character.

Yet, the hen with its cleverness and adeptness manages to escape through its grasp.

The Gospel of the day presents such similar images of the Hen and the Fox to deliver a powerful message for our spiritual lives.

The passage begins with some Pharisees giving a warning to Jesus to leave that place since Herod wanted to kill Him.

Firstly, we encounter an unusual image of the Pharisees…

Usually, they are a group who present a very opposing and critical attitude.

The thought of a Pharisee, usually, brings an image of people who are knowledgeable, yet judgemental and disapproving in their behaviour.

But here is a welcome distinction…

These Pharisees display a concern towards Jesus and warn Him of the dangers posed by King Herod.

Why did these Pharisees do so?
…In malice, to further trap Jesus?
…In jealousy, to keep Jesus away from the crowds?
…In concern, to help in His mission?

We can’t say for sure.

We can’t ascertain what really their motive behind warning Jesus was.

But it does allows us space to think that all people cannot be judged as wrong all the time!

At least an inkling of goodness exists in all, even in the midst of thick evil!

The answer of the Lord to the warning is a strong one…”Go and tell that fox…!” (Lk 13:32)

The image of the fox appears….King Herod.

Why does Jesus call King Herod as a fox?

The fox was an unclean animal for a Jew.

More than the slyness of the animal, Jesus was perhaps referring more to its uncleanness.

Herod always had issues with respect to being a clean and credible Jew…
After the death of his father, King Herod the Great (the one who had killed the many innocent male children at the birth of Jesus), this Herod Antipas had been put in power by Caesar Augustus, the Roman Emperor, in 4 BC.

History tells that in 17 AD, to honour his Roman rulers, he build a grand new capital city named Tiberius, after the current emperor, only to discover that it was built on top of an old Jewish cemetery.

No pious Jew ever entered it, and was occupied exclusively by the pagans.

Herod also had his moral issues…

He divorced his first wife, in order to marry Herodias, the wife of his brother, Philip.
John the Baptist had been a persistent critic of Herod for this dubious marriage.

Herod had John killed because he had promised his daughter anything she wanted if she danced for him, and John’s head on a platter is what she wanted.

True, that King Herod Antipas was a powerful man and a person of great influence.
… But Jesus, the King of Kings and the God of all, fears him not and calls him “a fox!”

When one is filled with the mighty Spirit of God, no earthly forces can cause fright or scare!
When one fully trusts in the strength of God, no worldly might can cause anxiety or dread!
When one is committed to one’s convictions and missions, no power can deter away from it!

This leads Jesus to give another image…
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how many times, I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings…“

The image of a mother Hen appears…Jesus Christ

It is one of the most overtly feminine references to God in all of scripture.

Jesus will be the mother hen who stands between the chicks and those who mean to harm.
She has no pointed fangs or rippling muscles.

But all she has, is her willingness to shield her babies with her own body.

If the fox wants them, he will have to kill her first.

This is the image that Jesus for Himself… a Hen.

It lays bare God’s vulnerability.

Here is the contrast…
King Herod, presented as a Fox…powerful, rude, forceful

Jesus, presented as a mother Hen…protective, sacrificial, shielding

This mother Hen, Jesus, invites each of us, His chicks, to find shelter under His wings.
Am I willing to take shelter under the wings of Jesus, the mother Hen?

St Paul exhorts us to remain firm and strong in the Lord and to put on the armour of the Lord:
“… be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armour of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil!” (Eph 6:10-11)

The Gospel has a sad note: When the mother hen tried to gather her chicks underneath her wings, “they were unwilling” (Lk 13:34b)

The chicks are unwilling to remain under the shade of the hen’s wings…

Maybe they wanted more freedom…
Maybe they just wanted to have their own way of living life…
Maybe they did not find the mother hen too exciting, whereas the active fox attracted them…

We too are sometimes so…

We fail to come under the shade of God’s wings…
We become unwilling.

The story of the fox and the hen continues…

Do I get attracted more to the energetic and tempting fox…

Or do I find rest, shelter and protection under the wings of the mother hen?

The choice is before us…

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “”We must not fear fear!”

October 28, 2020 – Feast of St Simon and St Jude

“May the life and intercession of St Simon and St Jude – two hidden, yet Great Apostles of the Lord – impel us to love God and His people, and spread the Gospel of God to many more!”

(Based on the Feast of Apostles – St Simon and St Jude)

A garden of flowers delights most people!

A garden consists of a variety of flowers, with varied colours, sizes, shapes.
Some flowers tend to capture our attention more…some escape the gaze of our eyes.

However, this in no way, reduces or increases their relevance and importance.

Each flower has its own specialty.
Each flower has its own attraction.

Jesus in His garden of ministry, chose twelve apostles.

Some apostles tend to capture our attention more…some escape the gaze of our eyes.

However, this in no way, reduces or increases their relevance and importance.

Each apostle has his own specialty
Each apostle has his own attraction.

Today Holy Mother the Church celebrates the feast of two apostles: St Jude and St Simon.

These are apostles, who in most probability escape the gaze of our eyes.

These two saints are usually known as the “unknown apostles”.
Yet, they have their own greatness before God and their own importance to inspire us in our lives!

The scarcity of their appearance in the New Testament is so vivid that except in the list of the names of the apostles…
… the name of Simon never appears elsewhere whereas the name of Jude makes only a single appearance in the discourse of Jesus after the last supper (Jn 14: 22).

In the Gospel of Matthew & Mark, the apostle Simon is given the title of a Canaanean, while Luke mentions him as “Zealot”.

This apostle Simon must have belonged to the Zealot Party.

The Zealot Party was a first-century political movement among Judean Jews who sought to overthrow the occupying Roman government.

According to the Jewish historian Josephus, four main Jewish groups existed at the time of Christ – the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes and the Zealots.

The Zealots were known for their aggression and violent behaviour.

They advocated that no one, but Yahweh alone should rule over Israel and hence, obedience to the Roman government should be refused.

The selection of Simon, the Zealot as an Apostle, is a great insight into the workings of Jesus, in His Kingdom Ministry…
The Lord accepts us with our hard instincts.

The Lord takes into account our various mentalities and mindsets.

In His Divine Love, He squashes all such factors and patterns us into people fit for His Kingdom.

He doesn’t reject us in our over-zeal.
He doesn’t cast us away because of our impulses.

All that He expects is an openness to follow Him fully and allow ourselves to be moulded!

The Apostle Jude is given another title by St Matthew and St Mark: Thaddeus.

Thaddeus means “the courageous heart”

St Jude is one of the most popular saints in our world today, considering the fact that he is often called as “The Miraculous Saint”.

St Jude is the one whose aid is often sought when all hope is lost, especially in grave illness & life-&-death situations.

There is a story that since his name is identical with Judas Iscariot, who had betrayed Jesus, St Jude would hardly be interceded too, except in the most desperate situations!

And hence, perhaps, he got identified as the ‘Patron in Helpless Causes!’

St Bridget of Sweden & St Bernard had visions from God asking each to accept St Jude as ‘Patron Saint of the Impossible’.

The Apostle Jude teaches us a few insights for our spiritual growth:

  1. Like the name – Jude Thaddeus – we are invited too, to have a “heart full of courage”.
    The Kingdom of God requires brave soldiers and people of immense valour.

The Lord needs followers who are imbued with the might of His Holy Spirit and who boldly proclaim the Gospel and witness its values by their lives.
No situation of discouragement or setbacks will hinder the march of a “Courageous Heart”!

  1. St Jude, as the Patron of Desperate Cases, inspires us to have a deeper faith and trust in the Providence and Mercy of God.

The Lord is all-knowing.

He wills what is best for us.

However, in our human frailty, we often tend to lose our hope and become highly desperate.

But this Saint teaches to grow deeper in our faith & know that “behind every dark cloud is a silver lining of the sun… (Son!)”!

  1. St Jude also teaches the powerful role of Intercessory Prayer.
    We are all created in the Image and Likeness of God, and each of us have a bounden duty to the other…
    … to take care, to love each other and to pray for one another.

When we pray for others and bring others to the presence of God, we help them in their difficulties and join with them in solidarity and compassion.

There are many hidden flowers in a garden.

Yet, each one has its own beauty and fragrance and value.

These two apostles – St Simon and St Jude – are fairly hidden in the Gospels, and yet we can learn and be inspired much by them.

May the life and intercession of these two hidden, yet Great Apostles of the Lord…
… impel us further, to love God and His people…
… and spread the Gospel of God to many more!

Happy Feast of the Apostles St Jude and St Simon.

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Devotion is simply a spiritual activity and liveliness by means of which Divine Love works in us…
… and causes us to work briskly and lovingly.

And just as charity leads us to a general practice of all God’s Commandments…

… so devotion leads us to practise them readily and diligently!”

October 27, 2020 – 30th Week in Ordinary Time

“Allowing God to take charge of our lives and offering all to His Hand, so that small things grow large and small gifts expand!”

(Based on Eph 5:21-33 and Lk 13:18-21 – Tuesday of the 30th Week in Ordinary Time)

A young Christian businessman who had established himself well in his area of work, was once interviewed by a journalist…
… and asked for the secret of his quick success.

“Well”, said the young businessman, “I attribute all my success to my Lord!
From my college days, I have sought to give God the first place in my life.

And He has always led me!

There is a simple formula that I always hold on to…
The formula goes thus:
‘Where God’s in charge,
Little things grow large!
And in God’s Hand,
Small gifts expand!”

So true, isn’t it?

If we allow the Hand of God to work even in the small things that we do…
… we will surely experience the bountifulness of His Grace working miraculously!

The Gospel of the Day is a recounting of this Great Truth of our life, when Jesus expounds the “Miracle of God’s Hand in the littleness of our life” with the help of two examples:

  1. The Mustard Seed

“… a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his garden…
… and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches!” (Lk 13: 19)

  1. Leaven

“… like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened!” (Lk 13:21)

One of the beautiful lessons that the Lord teaches from these two metaphors of daily life is that: Our little works done for God, should never cause us to feel discouraged in life!

The little mustard seed and the little leaven…
… were not really expected to do great things
… were not quite symbols of greatness or majesty

Yet, the Lord – in His Divine Wisdom – uses these “little aspects of life” to project His Mighty Story of the Kingdom!

As St Paul says: “God chose the foolish of the world, to shame the wise…
… and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong..” (1 Cor 1: 27)

This is the truth we come across in the Mighty Story of the Kingdom, as we scan through the pages of the Bible…
… even in the Life of Jesus!

Jesus was born into a small Family from Nazareth in the smallest of villages (Bethlehem).
His Ministry started in one of the smallest places – Galilee.

Galilee was an insignificant portion of an obscure part of the Roman world.

He went no further than Jerusalem with His message

In the time of the Roman Empire, Jerusalem was not considered a cultural centre.
… Rome, Athens and Alexandria featured more prominently on the political and cultural radar.
In fact, for the Romans, Jerusalem was a city of fanatic Jews – to be best controlled by an army of troops and easily-swaying kings like Herod and his family!

Yet, Jesus has become the greatest influencer in Human History!

“Where God’s in charge,
Little things grow large!
And in God’s Hand,
Small gifts expand!”

Life doesn’t always give us great opportunities to perform big acts of charity and kindness.

But our life is filled with immense chances…
… to “sow tiny mustard seeds”
… and to “mix little leaven”…

Do we make the best use of such chances:

  1. To sow the “tiny mustard seeds”…

Of Gentleness… in the rough terrains of pride and haughty lives
Of Love… in the field of broken relationships and strained associations
Of Mercy… in the territories of hateful feelings and unforgiving hearts

  1. To “mix the little leaven”…

Of undiluted Christian convictions… in the dough of easy-going-life and relativistic mentality
Of contagious passion… with the flour of lethargic and lazy attitudes to life
Of credible life witness… in the mixture of scandalous trends and discouraging religiosity

Servant of God, Fr Peter Mermier (the Founder of the MSFS – Missionaries of St Francis de Sales) says:
“We do a lot in doing a little, if we do it for God, when and as He wishes!”

God doesn’t mind much the size of our works…
… but at the amount of love we add to it!

God doesn’t look at the fanfare in our acts of service…
… but at the volume of selflessness we add to it!

St Paul tells us: “… Christ is the Head of the Church, His Body, and is Himself its Saviour…” (Eph 5:23)

Of course, the world may not appreciate such “simple and little works”!

But let the “tiny mustard seed” and the “little leaven” remind us:

Our little works done for God, should never cause us to feel discouraged in life!

“Where God’s in charge,
Little things grow large!
And in God’s Hand,
Small gifts expand!”

(P.S: Psst… Did you add an “extra bit of God’s Love” while reading this reflection…?)

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “One kind word wins more willing service…

… than a hundred harsh orders or stern reproofs!”

October 26, 2020 – 30th Week in Ordinary Time

“Responding to the invitation of the Lord of all Liberation and Wholeness to experience His Healing Touch!”

(Based on Eph 4:32-5:8 and Lk 13:10-17 – Monday of the 30th Week in Ordinary Time)

There is a simple little poem, which goes thus:

“A horse can’t pull, while kicking,
This fact we merely mention.
And he can’t kick, while pulling,
Which is our chief contention!

Let’s therefore, imitate the good horse
And lead a life that’s fitting;
Just pull an honest load, and then
There’ll be no time for kicking!”

These few lines of the poem explain in clear terms…
… on how the aspect of criticism and bad-mouthing is a result of a lack of focus and proper attitude!

Are we sometimes people who fail to have such “horse-sense”?

This lack of a “horse-sense” can lead to the…
… habit of spitting out unpleasant words at others, without the least concern.
… practise of spitting out harsh and judgmental words, with minimal mercy.
… tendency to spitting out critical words to put down people in humiliation.

The Gospel of the Day brings a classical example of a person who failed to have this “horse-sense”.

The context of the Gospel passage is that of Jesus healing a woman who had been crippled for eighteen on a Sabbath Day.

However, after the healing, the leader of the synagogue was indignant that Jesus had cured on a Sabbath.

He told, “There are six days when work should be done.
Come on those days to be cured, not on the Sabbath day” (Lk 13:14)

This leader of the synagogue, was displaying the lack of a “horse-sense”.

Here was something noble and good being done…

But he fails to see the goodness and instead shouts at the people for not keeping the laws.

Here was something miraculous and godly being performed…

But he closes himself to the Kingdom of God and focuses on the need to obey human rules.

His lack of “horse-sense” seemed badly exposed!

Jesus, the Lord of healing and restoration, encountered the woman who had been crippled for many years…

She was bent.
She was in pain probably.
She was also very much dispirited too.

Jesus saw her need…
… but the leader of the synagogue saw her as a nuisance.

Jesus understood her pain…
… but the leader of the synagogue chose to inflict shame on the people.

This is the trouble very often: One concentrates only on the negative aspects of persons and situations!

Jesus lashes out at such an attitude!

He calls the leader of the synagogue a hypocrite, and draws his attention to the greater and important dimensions of life!

“This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years, ought she not have been set free on this Sabbath day from this bondage?” (Lk 13:16)

The man focused on the rule of Sabbath…
… Jesus focused on the Law of Love and Liberation.

The man saw the commandment violated…
… Jesus saw a life that had been violated and was in need of renewal.

The man burst out in anger and pride…
… Jesus blossomed out in Compassion and Humanness.

Do I display any such characteristics?

Failing to see the goodness in people…
… and instead speak only of their faults and mistakes

Failing to trust in God in hard situations…
… and instead only criticize and blame God

Getting wild with people for tiny faults…
… without considering their context and circumstances

Spreading calumny and rumours…
…. about the unpleasant aspects of others

The Lord of all Liberation and Wholeness today invites us to experience His Healing Touch.

Many of us are crippled and infirmed…

We need a healing.
We need a touch of the Lord.

A negative attitude in life can cause much damage to the people around us.

It can make our life unclean and miserable and cause people to avoid us.
It can make our families, our communities and our societies to be unliveable and unpleasant.

As St Paul exhorts us: “… be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.
And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God!” (Eph 4:32-5:2)

A strong decision needs to be made: to stop the usage of…
… bad words
… defamatory news
… harmful statements
… uncharitable remarks
… and to stop spitting cruel and heartless comments!

Let us be aware:
“A horse can’t pull, while kicking,
And he can’t kick, while pulling,

Let’s therefore, imitate the good horse
And lead a life that’s fitting;
Just pull an honest load, and then
There’ll be no time for kicking!”

May the intercession and words of St Peter of Alcantara – a contemporary of well-known 16th-century Spanish saints, Ignatius of Loyola and John of the Cross and confessor to Saint Teresa of Avila – the Saint of the Day, be an inspiration for us:
“Truly, matters in the world are in a bad state; but if you and I begin in earnest to reform ourselves, a really good beginning will have been made!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Let us be as precise and balanced as possible

in our words!”

October 25, 2020 – 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Adopting the attitude of ‘loving others’ so that measure of our Love for God is visibly seen!”

(Based on Exod 22:21-27, 1 Thess 1:5b-10 and Mt 22:34-40 – 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

One of the important equipment aboard a ship is a boiler.

This marine boiler is “a closed vessel, in which water or other liquid is heated and steam is generated.

This steam is superheated, under pressure or vacuum, for use, external to itself.”

In an engine-room of the ship, it is highly difficult to look into the great boiler and see how much water it contains.

But thankfully, beside this great boiler, is a tiny glass-tube.

This serves as the gauge (= an instrument that measures and gives a visual display of the amount, level, or contents of something)

When the tube is full, the boiler is full.

When the tube is empty, the boiler is also empty

The level of water in the little tube is an indicator of the level of the water in the great boiler.

This illustration very practically demonstrates the kind of correspondence that exists between the one’s level of loving one’s neighbour and loving God.

The level of the love towards one’s neighbour is an indicator of the level of one’s love towards God.

Love of God and Love of neighbour are two sides of the same coin.

Such are the expressions, sentiments and teachings that are derived from the Gospel of the Day, when Jesus responds on the query, “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” (Mt 22: 36)

The Gospel passage opens with the verse, “When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they came together” (Mt 22: 24)

Let us dwell on a couple of interesting viewpoints on this often overlooked, yet a “worth-reflecting” verse…

  1. The verse says that the Sadducees had been silenced

The Greek used for “silenced” is the word “Phimoo”.

“Phimoo” means a muzzle.
A muzzle is device or a guard, usually made with straps of wire, fitted over the mouth of an animal to prevent it from biting or eating or opening its mouth.

The Sadducees had approached Jesus, as we read in the previous verses (Mt 22: 22-33) to encounter Him on the subject of the Resurrection of the Dead.

They had sought to grill Jesus…
They had desired to put Jesus to the shame…

But the tables had been overturned!

The Sadducees found themselves “silenced” – muzzled and gagged!

They were made silent not out of their choice…

They wished to talk, but somehow they were made to be quiet!
They wanted to fight out, but the answer of the Lord totally muted them!

They wanted to humiliate Jesus with their human wisdom…
… but Divine Wisdom, tracked their evil intentions, and they were made totally silent!

Do we make the mistake to challenge God’s Wisdom and Will by trying to distort them by our own evil manipulations?

Do we try to boast and be proud by taking offence at God’s Word and making attempts to rig and distort His Word?

The result will be that sooner or later, we would be pushed into silence…
… and made to realise that nothing can be greater than God and His Wisdom!

  1. The verse also says that the Pharisees “came together”
    The silencing of the Sadducees would have delighted the Pharisees.

These two groups were at loggerheads with each other, on some theological issues especially the Resurrection of the Dead, which the Sadducees did not approve.

However, on the other hand, the Pharisees would have also felt the rising presence of a greater Enemy – Jesus!

And so, with a wicked mentality, “they come together”…

not to seek a genuine clarification
not to grow more in Divine Wisdom
… but with a clear ulterior motive – of testing Jesus by somehow trapping Him in His words and teachings!

In our lives, do we also engage ourselves in this “Pharisaic style of coming together?”…
… to discuss plans and strategies on putting down other persons or scheming against them?
… to ‘examine the conscience of other persons’ and making them the subject of slander, mockery and enjoying vile pleasures?

It’s in this background that the Scholar of the Law approaches Jesus with this question to test Him, “Which commandment in the Law is the greatest?” (Mt 22: 36)

This man, who questioned Jesus was no ordinary man or any ignorant person.

He was a Scholar of the Law.

Some translations would put it as “a Lawyer”.

He was an expert in the Mosaic Law.
… Like a Scribe, someone who studied the law, interpreted the law and taught the law!

Jesus, aware of all this background…
… the wicked conspiracy that was brewing against Him
… the plot of testing that was hanging in the air

Responds with something immensely marvellous and spectacular:
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind… You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Mt 22: 37, 39)

Here was a gem of an answer…

The air was filled with “hateful” thoughts and “wicked planning”
… but Jesus dares to answer with the sublime answer of “Love!”

The Lord was being targeted badly with stones of “hatred, jealousy, aversion and hostility”
… but He powerfully showers back the flowers of “love, tenderness and commitment!”

And that is the essence of the Greatest Commandment that Jesus put forth – Love of God and Love of Neighbour.

Life sometimes hits very hard at us – in the form of we not being accepted by others, in being ridiculed or criticized or slandered by others and in finding ourselves as the subject of hatred and injustice.
… Can we still dare to “love them”?

Life sometimes is very unfair to us, we feel – by not rewarding us with the prizes that we consider, we deserve, in answer to the hard-work we put in… or by not allowing us to enjoy the joys of life and instead being bombarded with tensions and worries
… Can we still go out of the way and live a life “in love and for love”?

Love, as Jesus defines, is not simply about feelings and emotions, as is the popular and the ‘commercial’ understanding.

Love surely has, without any doubt, the dimensions of being ‘a tender feeling’ and ‘an expressive emotion’.

But beyond that, Love is…
… a commitment
… a dedication
… and a decision

that one makes to be faithful – to a person or a duty or a situation!

“Agape” is the Love to which we are called…
… a self-giving love
… a self-sacrificing love
… an other-centered love

God Yahweh reminds us that He is the Anawim God – the God Who stands for the poor: “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. If you do afflict them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry” (Exod 22:21-23)

And therefore we have a duty to be other-centered:

It is when we adopt this attitude of “loving others” that the measure of our Love for God is visibly seen.

The level of the love towards one’s neighbour is an indicator of the level of one’s love towards God…
… just like the level of water in the little tube, is an indicator of the level of the water in the great boiler in a ship.

Let the words of St Louis, a just and a righteous King who ruled France in the 13th century, be an inspiration for us: “Fix your whole heart upon God, and love Him with all your strength, for without this no one can be saved or be of any worth.”

“Have a tender pitiful heart for the poor, and for all those whom you believe to be in misery of heart or body, and, according to your ability, comfort and aid them with some alms”
“Love all good, and hate all evil, in whomsoever it may be.”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “When we see a soul that has raptures in prayer without ecstasy in life…

… these raptures are exceedingly doubtful and dangerous!”

October 24, 2020 – 29th Week in Ordinary Time

“In Faith and Love, trusting that the Lord – Our Mother Eagle, will always care for us – to Be His, forever!”

(Based on Eph 4:7-16 and Lk 13:1-9 – Saturday of the 29th Week in Ordinary Time)

It’s interesting to know the making of an Eagle’s nest!

When a mother eagle builds her nest, she starts with thorns, broken branches, sharp rocks, and a number of other items that seem entirely unsuitable for the house.

But then she lines the nest with a thick padding of wool, feathers, and fur from animals she has killed, making it soft and comfortable for the eggs.

By the time the growing birds reach flying age, the comfort of the nest and the luxury of free meals make them quite reluctant to leave.

That’s when the mother eagle begins “stirring up the nest.”

With her strong talons, she begins pulling up the thick carpet of fur and feathers, bringing the sharp rocks and branches to the surface.

As more of the bedding gets plucked up, the nest becomes more uncomfortable for the young eagles.

Eventually, this and other urgings prompt the growing eagles to leave their once-comfortable abode and move on to more mature behaviour.

Our life is often such!

We take for granted comfortable situations, merciful acts and providential events.

But when something unpleasant happens, we are unable to digest them

When something “bad” happens, we look for people to be blamed and scapegoats to be accused!

And most of the time, the Scapegoat turns out to be “God”!

God is blamed…
… for all negative situations that come up suddenly
… for all uneventful happenings and calamities
… for all tragic moments in personal and societal life

This time of the pandemic, has been in particular, a time of many such questions and doubts arising in our hearts.

The Gospel of the Day opens our eyes to consider the “Jesus” way of looking and understanding such “uneventful” mishaps and “tragic” calamities.

Humanity is a daily witness to calamities, catastrophes, adversities and disasters.

Tragedies occur in the life of every human being.

Every now and then, we hear of many reports of unpredictable or unimaginable misfortunes occurring in the lives of people….tsunamis, floods, earthquakes….or bomb blasts, mass killings etc… In our own personal lives too, we experience a lot of painful moments…
…. very often, unexpectedly.

In the face of all these horrors… we are faced with many doubts and questions….

Why do these things happen to the innocent?
Why doesn’t the Good and Loving God do anything about all this?

Sometimes, we even take on a critical and judgmental attitude and say, “Probably, God is punishing all these people for their sins or their misdeeds”

In today’s Gospel, Jesus also is presented with a couple of human tragedies and made to react on them.

The first tragedy is about the Galileans who suffered at the hands of Pilate (Lk 13: 1-3)
The second is about the people who dies when the tower of Siloam fell on them (Lk 13: 4)

The first one is about a disaster brought about because of the cruel deeds of human beings

The second because of the misfortunes in nature.

In both these cases, however, the people who died, were mere subjects to death…

They had an unfortunate death, without perhaps really being guilty.

And so the natural reaction of the people of the times was that, the people who died would have been greater sins, and they are being punished by God.”

“These people deserved death because of their sins” was the popular slogan of those times.

Perhaps, when faced with calamities, we too often take upon this judgmental attitude,

But here Jesus points out the great reality…
These calamities and disasters are not to be another occasion for us to pass judgments

Rather, they become golden opportunities for us to make a self-reflection on our lives.

Like the tree which is given one more year – to be dug around, to be given manure and to produce… these tragedies and events in life, present us with more time to examine, how do we live our lives.

Do we take our lives for granted?

Perhaps, we have a tendency to often think there is plenty of time in life.

And complacency creeps into our life.

But these tragedies point to us the fact, that after all human life is very short.

And in this short-lived life, we need to make the best use of God’s graces to repent and to lead a Holy life.

In Rev 22.7, Jesus says “Behold, I am coming soon”
As Christians, we believe in the Coming of the Lord.

No one knows the hour
No one knows the day

But, being prepared, being vigilant always, is a must, is a necessity.

As St Paul tells us, “we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…” (Eph 4:15)

Human tragedies and personal misfortunes are to be understood as God’s manifestations of Love for us, to have our lives set clearly on our priorities for God and His Kingdom

They are not to evoke fear or elements of judging

Rather, should prompt us to take life more seriously, and to make Real Repentance and live a Holier lives.

One of the practical tip that we could easily practice is our Daily Examination of Conscience.

When we daily examine our conscience, and make efforts to amend our lives with true repentance, we are able to live the graces that are showered on us.

Also, a meaningful Regular Confession helps us not only to be forgiven of our sins, but also gives grace to lead a more holy and unblemished life.

The Lord invites us today, to wake up from our slumber of taking life easy and cool

He disturbs us in our comfortable and cosy life…
… and challenges us to make real repentance and lead a genuinely holy life.

Disasters, tragedies and misfortunes will keep happening.

But they are also a reminder for us to be eternally vigilant and keep guard over the sanctity of our lives.

In moments of the “stirring of our nest” in life, let’s not panic or be disturbed…

Rather, in Faith and Love, let’s trust that the Lord – Our Mother Eagle – will always care for us…
… and wants us to seek Him… to Be His, forever!

Today we also seek the intercession of St Antony Mary Claret, the founder of the Congregation of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (CMF – Claretians) and be inspired by his words:
“Love is the most necessary of all virtues.

Love in the person who preaches the word of God is like fire in a musket.

If a person were to throw a bullet with his hands, he would hardly make a dent in anything…
… but if the person takes the same bullet and ignites some gunpowder behind it, it can kill.

It is much the same with the word of God.

If it is spoken by someone who is filled with the fire of charity- the fire of love of God and neighbour- it will work wonders!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Let the world turn upside down, let everything be in darkness, in smoke, in uproar…

… God is with us!”

October 23, 2020 – 29th Week in Ordinary Time

“Seeing the signs of the times, recognizing God’s power and marching joyfully in Him!”

(Based on Eph 4:1-6 and Lk 12:54-59 – Friday of the 29th Week in Ordinary Time)

Our world is seeing immense technological advances.

Such developments have greatly helped humanity…
… to avoid many possible natural disasters
… to be forewarned against future calamities
… to minimize the damages caused by nature’s fury

Such amazing technological advances by human beings is an example of how we are learning to explore the deeper aspects of the mysteries in nature and the universe.

Human beings are truly marching miles in reading the signs in nature and the universe.

In the midst of all these great achievements, we are posed with some probing questions…
…are we falling short in reading the signs with respect to humanity’s moral degradation?
…are we failing to read the signs of the times with respect to humanity’s spiritual decline?
…are we missing out reading the signs regarding the reign of God in our lives?

The Gospel of the Day is a reminder and a wake-up call, by Jesus to this dimension of our lives. Jesus says: “You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” (Lk 12:56)

From ages past, human beings have been gaining expertise on interpreting the signs and indications given in nature…

Spotting of some dark clouds, to predict heavy rains…
A red sky at dusk, indicating a clearer sky the following day…
Strange movements of animals and birds, to predict earthquakes or other calamities…

Jesus uses this example in nature to expose the hollowness and duplicity of the people of His time.

Jesus came in the world to usher in the Kingdom of God.

He came to announce to the world that God is not some distant entity but rather is very seriously interested to be close to their lives.

To this end of announcing the Kingdom of God… Jesus performed a number of signs…

He taught the Scriptures and the Laws with a greater freshness and stronger authority.
He healed the blind, the deaf and the dumb to make them witness His power.
He raised up the dead and powerfully demonstrated the saving power of God.
He restored the crippled and cast out demons to show them God’s might.
He forgave sinners and accepted the outcast to display God’s deep mercy and compassion.
He searched for the lost and invited the oppressed to experience the depth of God’s love.
He performed many miracles in nature to show God’s supremacy over the whole creation.

But many of the people failed to see beyond these signs…

All these miracles & manifestations of the Lord were very often looked upon with much suspicion & sometimes, even contempt!

Jesus pities such an attitude!

The people could interpret so easily the signs in nature…
… but they failed to interpret the signs of the Kingdom of God!

They failed to understand the call of God, in the wonders done by Him.

The people could easily predict certain things by seeing the climate…
… but they refused to hear God’s inviting voice, in the marvels performed by Him.

The remained stubborn to the invitation of the Lord towards change of sinful attitudes

The people could easily tell certain events of the future by observing their surroundings…
… but they adamantly declined to turn to Him in repentance, by seeing His deeds.

They purposely chose to be stuck to their “tunneled” minds and failing to accept God’s mercy

This is a danger that any one of us could also have in our own personal lives…

God sustains our daily life with much care…but we fail to give praise for His wonders.

We take for granted all these daily blessings.

God protects us from various calamities…but we fail to admit His providence.

We take for granted His shielding hand.

God infuses our lives with many inspirations…but we fail to give heed to His voice.

We take for granted all His tender invitations.

Personal sins are God’s ways of calling us to experience His Mercy and Justice.

Delays in prayers are God’s ways of asking us to Trust in Him more deeply.
Accidents and calamities are God’s ways of calling us to trust in His Providence.
Unexpected failures and pains are God’s ways of making us to Share in His Sufferings.
Happy and a satisfied life is God’s ways of inviting us to Thank and Praise Him more.
Failure to overcome our bad tendencies is God’s ways of calling to us to a Life of Humility
Despair in life and hopelessness is God’s way of appealing us to grow much more in Faith.

Signs from God, may sometimes be liked…sometimes be disliked.

St Augustine said, ‘If you believe what you like in the Gospels but reject what you don’t like, it’s not the Gospel you believe, but yourself’

In trust and faith, let us walk with the Lord, knowing that all things “work for good, for those who love Him” (Rom 8:28)

Let St Paul’s exhortation to the Church at Ephesus be a message for us too:
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace!” (Eph 4:1-3)

Human beings have come a long way in technological advancements & seeking to conquer the outer space & powers of nature…

But we still have a long way to understand the mighty works being performed by God in our personal & communitarian lives.

Let us see the signs… Let us recognize God’s power… Let us march joyfully in Him!

May the words of the Saint of the Day – St John of Capistrano, who is called as the “Soldier Saint” – the patron of lawyers and judges, inspire us:
“Those who are called to the table of the Lord must glow with the brightness that comes from the good example of a praiseworthy and blameless life.

They must completely remove from their lives the filth and uncleanness of vice.
The brightness of their wisdom must make them like the Light of the world that brings light to others!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “God allows great trials and temptations
only to those…
… whom God wishes to raise to pure and excellent love!”

October 22, 2020 – 29th Week in Ordinary Time

“Choosing the path of suffering and self-sacrifice in our journey with the Lord!”

(Based on Eph 3:14-21 and Lk 12:49-53 – Feast of Pope St John Paul II – Thursday of the 29th Week in Ordinary Time)

One of the common questions that is usually asked to kids is:
”What do you want to become when you grow big?”

And the answers we get are sometimes common, sometimes interesting, sometimes even weird…

“I want to be a doctor”,
“I want to be an engineer“,
“I want to be the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs”,
”I want to fly to Mars”…

But suppose, if the same question were to be put forward to another Kid…

This Kid would have given perhaps the strangest and the shocking answers of all:
“When I grow big, I want to Die!
I am living my life, so that I can die!”

Guess who is this Kid?

Well…no marks for guessing who it is..

It is Jesus!

Death was the goal of His life!

The Gospel of the Day presents this burning and intense desire of the Lord, “There is a baptism with which I must be baptized and how great is my anguish, until it is accomplished” (Lk 12: 50)

Christ came into the world to save the world.

And this salvation was possible for Him, only through the way of suffering.

This is the Baptism to which Christ refers to….

A Baptism of suffering.
A Baptism of obedience.
A Baptism of self-sacrifice.

This way of the Lord is not easy.

It causes division and separation, even in families.

How does this division happen?
When one stands for the values and the person of Christ, the world mocks and fools.

When one holds on to one’s faith and convictions in Christ, there is immense shame inflicted.

A member in the family stands for Church values and principles, whereas others in the house oppose.

A division is created among them, in the Name of Christ!

A student in the class stands for honesty and truthfulness and refuses to join in copying and malpractices during the examination.

A division is created among them, in the Name of Christ!

A friend stands for his convictions and refuses to join his peers in some bad habits or activities which are unbecoming.

A division is created among them, in the Name of Christ!

A person counters accepting bribes at work or opposes doing some manipulation in the place of work to gain some extra finances.

A division is created among them, in the Name of Christ!

Christianity indeed is the strangest of all religions…

Usually religions advocate a way of life which calls for comfort and relaxation.

Christianity disturbs one’s life from comfort to become a people who comfort others.

Usually religions promote happiness of life by following some rituals and ceremonies.

Christianity challenges one to uproot one’s sinful roots and discover true peace and joy.

Christ is indeed the strangest of all religious figures…

All religious figures have their greatness in just their teachings and exhortations.

Christ stands unparalleled in making His life itself as the greatest message and teaching.

All religious figures ride on popularity wave of external manifestations and wonders.

Christ stands out in becoming a single icon of absolute self-sacrifice and victimhood!

All religious figures propose a variety of tips for living and paths of attaining immortality

Christ alone became the way itself to be walked and the truth itself to be followed!

Its sometimes easy to follow other ways of life…because they are comfortable and secure.

Its always hard to follow the way of Christ…because He always challenges in our coziness.

The Lord invites us to be bold in accepting the Crosses of our life & to share with Him, in the Baptism of suffering & pain.

We still have much to grow.

What are we growing ourselves into?

Christ is the example for us.

He chose suffering and self-sacrifice as His path to glory.

His way is the way of suffering.
His way is the way of pain.
His way is the way of the Cross.

… His way is also the way of joy!
… His way is also the way to glory!
… His way is also the way of healing!

And now He beckons each one of us too…

Shall we also join Him in His intense desire for Baptism?

We seek today the intercession of Pope St John Paul II, arguably the most-popular and loved Pope of our times.

His convincing life, uncompromising teaching and courageous words are a challenge and inspiration to all of us…
… “What really matters in life is that we are loved by Christ and that we love Him in return. In comparison to the love of Jesus, everything else is secondary. And, without the love of Jesus, everything is useless.”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Reputation is rarely proportioned to virtue!”

October 21, 2020 – 29th Week in Ordinary Time

“Being armed and ever-ready to serve in the Kingdom, with a sense of responsibility and commitment!”

(Based on Eph 3:2-12 and Lk 12:39-48 – Wednesday of the 29th Week in Ordinary Time)

An incident is reported that took place a few years ago.

A former astronaut took over as head of a major airline company.
He was extremely ambitious to make his company the best airline service provider.

Once, when this new president was making an inspection of a particular department, he came across an employee…
… resting his feet on the desk, while the telephone was ringing continuously.

“Are you not going to pick up the phone?” queried the boss, with a sense of displeasure.

“That’s not my department!” answered the employee indifferently!

He had not recognised his new boss.

“I work in the maintenance section!” he replied.

“Huh!” quipped the president, “Not anymore!”

The casual attitude and the laid-back and easy-going approach of the employee cost him his job.

The new boss would not tolerate any people, who failed to show a sense of responsibility and commitment…
… which are essential and undeniable qualities in the pursuit of perfection and excellence!

What about us?
Is our Christian life characterised by responsibility and commitment?

Or do we have a casual attitude and a laid-back and easy-going approach?

The Gospel of the Day presents to us a strong reminder by the Lord to take our Christian life seriously…
… with its undeniable duties and its unavoidable sense of responsibility.

Jesus speaks of the coming of the Son of Man at an unexpected time…
… just as the coming of a thief is unknown to the master of a house (Lk 12: 39-40)

What are some of the characteristics of the coming of a thief to the house?

  1. It happens in the quiet of the night….
    … so that no one becomes aware and the setting is perfectly safe

There is a sense of ‘anonymity’

  1. It takes place when none of the people in the house are expecting it…
    … thus leaving them completely startled and unprepared

There is the element of ‘total surprise’

  1. It happens in areas where there is emptiness or lesser security measures
    … thus creating greater potency to danger and sharper damage

There is a factor of ‘missed opportunity to take care’

These then are the “loopholes” in our spiritual life, that can cause us to be off-guard…
… when the Lord appears in His Second Coming (just as the coming of the thief in the night)…

A sense of ‘anonymity’
An element of ‘total surprise’
A factor of ‘missed opportunity to take care’

Do we remain “anonymous” to the Lord…
… by remaining ignorant of His teachings and commandments – even though He addresses very often through the Bible and the Church?
… by failing to give heed to the repeated reminders by the Lord through various advices from our caring one, and the guidance we receive through sermons, reflections, messages and life-situations?

Do we get caught with “total surprise” at the Will of God in our lives…
… failing to see the providential hand of God in the struggles and hardships that we undergo?
… entering into a sense of despair and discouragement when things don’t happen the way we plan?

Do we become victims of “missing opportunities to take care”…
… by failing to do the many good works which we can perform, but fail, owing to our slackness?
… by taking the stance of being indifferent in situations of injustice and discriminations?

The Lord clearly warns even in the Book of Revelation…
… “If therefore you shall not watch, I will come to you as a thief, and you shall not know what hour I will come upon you.” (Rev 3:1-3)

Though this passage may cause a sense of fear and insecurity, we also need to consider, the converse…
… that if we are prepared and alert
… that if we are ready and vigilant

then the “coming of the Lord” becomes a joyful waiting and an expectant hope!

Nothing fears the one who is prepared, to meet the Lord!

St Paul encourages us through these words: “But you brothers, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you as a thief!” (1 Thess 5: 2-4)

When we are in the Light of Christ…
… by a constant life of vigilant prayer
… by a faithful life of sacraments
… by a committed life to the Church

No darkness can overpower us; No fear of thieves can cause panic!

As Christians, each one us are entrusted the duty of being faithful “employees” of the Kingdom of God!

Are we going to “rest our feet on the desk”…
… with a casual attitude and a laid-back and easy-going approach…?

Or shall we be “armed and ever-ready to serve”…
… with a sense of responsibility and commitment…?

Be ready…

Our Boss – The Lord – may come anytime….!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “As long as we are determined to take no pleasure in temptations…

… we can never offend God!”

October 20, 2020 – 29th Week in Ordinary Time

“In our moments of failure and weaknesses, having the courage to approach the Throne of God’s Mercy and asking Him to light our lives!”

(Based on Eph 2:12-22 and Lk 12:36-38 – Tuesday of the 29th Week in Ordinary Time)

Little Jane heard a sermon in church on “Let your light shine!”

She remembered the verse; however, did not understand the text much, until her mother explained: “It means, to be good, obedient and cheerful”

That evening, after coming back from playing with her friends – where she had been a little naughty and mischievous – Jane came back to her mother and said:
“Ma, sorry I have blown myself out!

Can you light me again?”

Every Christian is called to become a beacon of light in the darkness and to be a shining star in the ambience of every night.

Is the Light of Christ shining in me?

The Gospel of the Day too shares this aspect and reminds the aspect of being watchful for the Coming of the Lord, by keeping the Light of Christ alight!

Jesus said to His disciples, “Be ready, dressed for service, AND KEEP YOUR LAMPS LIT…” (Lk 12: 35)

To keep our lamps lit – is the reminder and challenge of the Gospel today.

At our Baptism, we all have received the Light of Christ.

This light, is not just to be preserved…
… but is to be nurtured and fostered daily.

But we live in a world when there are many a winds seeking to put off this light in us.
… we live in a world, where there is a strong engulfing of the darkness, trying to devour the light in us.

What are the different winds that are seeking to put off the Light of Christ in us?

A. The wind of “losing the focus from God”
i. King David
King David was a shining light to the people of his kingdom, as long as he followed the teachings and had his focus on God.

But when he allowed his focus to shift from God, he sinned.
He allowed himself to focus on the object of his pleasure by sinning with the wife of Uriah.

The wind of “losing the focus from God” blew strong to put off the light in him….

ii. Samson
Samson was a shining light of power and might, as long as he was faithful to God and had his focus on God.

But when he allowed his focus to shift from God, he sinned.
He allowed himself to focus on the object of his delight by revealing the secret to Delilah

The wind of “losing the focus from God” blew strong to put off the light in him….

iii. Peter
Peter was a shining light to his disciples as a person of faith, as long as he followed the instructions of his Master to walk on the waters.

But when he allowed his focus to shift from the Lord, he began to sink.
He allowed himself to focus on the object of his fear and self-panic.

The wind of “losing the focus from God” blew strong to put off the light in him….

B. The wind of “being focused on one’s own selfish interests”
i. Saul
Saul was adorned to be the first king of Israel; however, as his reign continued, his own selfish motives began to creep in his kingship.

When he “began to be more self-centered”, he began to lose the approval of God.

The wind of “being focused on one’s own selfish interests” blew strong to put off the light in him?

ii. The Pharisees and Scribes
The Pharisees and Scribes during the time of Jesus, insisted much on their selfish agenda in the imposition and following of the Laws.

When they “began to be more self-centered”, they began to lose the favour of God.

The wind of “being focused on one’s own selfish interests” blew strong to put off the light in them…

iii. Judas
Judas was chosen to be one of the Twelve in the mission of the Lord; but as time grew, he continued to feed his greed for money and wealth

When he “began to be more self-centered”, he began to lose the esteem of God.

The wind of “being focused on one’s own selfish interests” blew strong to put off the light in him…

  1. The wind of “false principles and ideologies”
    i. People of Israel
    The people of Israel had been blessed with the commandments of God. They, however, were dismayed at the delay of Moses on Mt Sinai, and instead got enamoured and attracted to false gods and especially to the deity of mammon and wealth.

When they “began to abandon the True Teaching and attached themselves to false beliefs”, they angered God and brought upon themselves the wrath of the Lord.

The wind of “false principles and ideologies” blew strong to put off the light in them…

ii. People of Galatians 1:6
St Paul accuses the people of Galatia, that were abandoning the Gospel which they first heard, and instead were being attracted to the pleasurable and false teachings of the false prophets.

When they “began to abandon the True Teaching and attached themselves to false beliefs”, they strayed away from the path of salvation.

The wind of “false principles and ideologies” blew strong to put off the light in them…

Let’s examine our own lives…

Am I allowing the wind of “losing the focus from God” to put off the light in us?
Am I allowing the wind of “being focused on one’s own selfish interests” to put off the light in us?
Am I allowing the wind of “false principles and ideologies” to put off the light in us?

As the saying goes, “We can’t prevent birds from flying over our heads, but we can certainly prevent them from laying a nest on our heads!”

We cannot prevent these winds to rage and hit our lives…
… but we can certainly prevent them from blowing off the Light of Christ in us!

This strength comes from our determination, perseverance & commitment…

And above all, being united with Jesus, the Source of Light…
… in daily prayer
… frequent sacraments
… constant nourishment with the Word
… and faithfulness to our daily duties of our vocation and life!

St Paul reminds us of the greatness of God’s Presence in our lives and of our vocation:
“So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit!” (Eph 2:19-22)

In our moments of failure and weaknesses, let us also have the courage to approach the Throne of God’s Mercy saying: “Lord, sorry I have blown myself out!

Can you light me again?”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “The truly loving heart loves God’s good pleasure
not in consolations only…

… but also in afflictions!”