✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Nov 17, 2022: Thursday

“Realising that living away from God – the Fire of Life – will always cause tepidity and apathy to sneak in!”

(Based on Rev 5:1-10 and Lk 19:41-44 – Thursday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time, Year 2)

A priest was once persuading a church member to be more active and enthusiastic in his Christian life…
… and to give a little more priority to his spiritual life.

They were sitting inside the man’s parlour

It was winter time, and the coal was burning in the fireplace.

The man objected saying, “I can be a good person, even without doing all the spiritual activities and the requirements of the Church.”

The priest kept silent.

But stepped to the fireplace

Took the tongs, and picked a blazing coal from the fire…
… and kept it away from the fire.

In silence, both of them watched the blazing coal – which was far from the fire – lose its heat…
… and going off.

“I see” said the man…
… as he realised the importance of staying near God.

Living a life away from God – the Fire of Life…
… will always cause tepidity and apathy to sneak in

Leading to a slow but sure loss of life.

The Gospel of the Day is the dramatic incident of Jesus crying over the City of Jerusalem…
… who had failed to understand the coming of the Messiah

And thus lost opportunity to truly be the “Jerusalem – the City of Peace!”

The heart of a parent is broken, when the child strays away from the ways of truth and honesty.

If this is the experience of our earthly parents, how much more will be the pain and suffering of our God…
… if we stray away from Him, who loves each one of us deeply with a tender affection?

It is this sorrow and grief that is strongly expressed by Jesus in the Gospel of the day.

Jesus laments over the City of Jerusalem.

St Luke records this lamentation of the Lord with a powerfully sentimental verse:
“As Jesus drew near, he saw the city and wept over it” (Lk 19: 41)

Jesus is usually an epitome of great joy and rejoicing.

Jesus, therefore, being made to shed tears shows the gravity of situation.

What made Jesus to shed tears?

The pain and the hurt He experienced because of the ill-response and harsh reaction of His chosen people, Israel, represented by the city of Jerusalem.

God had chosen Israel as His people.

Out of all the civilizations on the earth, He chose them as His beloved.

Through them He promised that the Saviour of the human race would come.

This promise ignited the hearts of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

God wiped out their enemies even in the most extreme of circumstances!

Time and again, God blessed them with judges, kings and prophets. He even provided them a place to worship.

But as the quote goes, “Familiarity breeds contempt!”

Israel, God’s own people no longer delighted in being His distinctive people.

For them, He became routine.
They began to consider Him of little value.

They allowed their hearts to grow hard, over and over, again and again.

Finally, Jesus, the long-promised Messiah came, the One whom God the Father had sent.

But most of the Jews by then, had grown stubborn and complacent in their ways.
They had no room for One who came to fulfil their Law and the Prophets.

They maltreated the Saviour of the World.

They rejected the Chosen One of God.
They abused the Anointed One of the Lord.

And this led, Jesus to shed tears.

This story of Jerusalem could well be our own life-story.

We have been specially chosen and loved by the Lord.

He has taken us through many dangers, sicknesses and accidents.

In times when everything seem lost, He has been our refuge.

In moments when all seemed totally blank and dark, He has been the glowing light.

On occasions we felt like quitting life and escaping from realities, He held us in good stead.

But we tend to easily forget all these good deeds and wonders of the Lord.

Yes, it’s a sad thing, but a sure reality: “For many of us, God is often, just a routine!”

We fail to be grateful and thankful to the Lord….
… by living a holy and virtuous life.
… by deepening our bond of love and affection with Him
… by translating His graces into deeds of charity and concern for our people.

We instead persecute and torture Him…
… by living a lethargic or unholy or even scandalous life
… by abandoning many of His commandments and the teachings of the Church
… by harming our brothers and sisters and being highly indifferent in situations.

God’s Heart – like that of a broken parent weeping for the child – is crying out for us…

Perhaps, He is telling us, “I am wounded!”

We have strayed much…
… it’s time to come back to Him

He calls us.

He longs to have us with Him always.

He wants us back in His loving embrace.

As little children, let us run, in sincere repentance and honest contrition, to the welcoming Heart of our Beloved God.

Let us not boast or brag saying that, “I can be a good person, even without doing all the spiritual activities and the requirements of the Church.”

Rather, let’s realize that “away from the fire”…
… even a blazing coal will slowly but surely lose its heat and go off!

May we be reminded that living away from God – the Fire of Life…
… will always cause tepidity and apathy to sneak in

Leading to a slow but sure loss of life.

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE MANY FORMS OF PENANCE IN CHRISTIAN LIFE

Conversion is accomplished in daily life by gestures of reconciliation, concern for the poor, the exercise and defense of justice and right…
… by the admission of faults to one’s brethren, fraternal correction, revision of life, examination of conscience, spiritual direction…
… acceptance of suffering, endurance of persecution for the sake of righteousness.

Taking up one’s cross each day and following Jesus is the surest way of penance. (CCC #1435)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Nov 16, 2022: Wednesday

“Being prepared to take risks in order to make progress in life!”

(Based on Rev 4:1-11 and Lk 19:11-28 – Wednesday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time, Year 2)

A little tortoise was constantly facing a complex of feeling too low in life.

Seeing the various other animals, moving swiftly and speedily…
… the tortoise would very often hide itself in its shell.

It felt that it could never progress in life!

One day, it came across a wise person and sought an advice of how to get the best from life.

The sage – a wise person – replied:
“My little tortoise, always remember that you have been created specifically.
So never feel low or bad about yourself.

And as far as progressing is concerned…
… Always remember: ‘Unless you stick your neck out, you can never progress!”

That was a simple, yet effective piece of advice, isn’t it

Unless the tortoise “stuck its neck out, it could never progress!”

Sticking the neck out of course, meant “taking a risk”…
… but unless that was done, progress was not going to happen.

The same is true for us in our life as well:

Unless we take risks… Unless we “stick out our necks”
… we can never progress!

The Gospel of the Day is a parable of a person who refused “to stick out his neck”…
… and thus not only failed to progress, but ended up on the losing side!

Jesus presents the very-practical “Parable of the Productive Servants”

A nobleman who, before going to a faraway country, entrusts money to his servants with an instruction, “Engage in trade with these, until I return” (Lk 19: 13)

The money given was a “mina”

A mina was a Greek coin.

The lowest level of the Greek Coinage System was the drachma…
…. equal to one day’s wages. (1 Drachma = 1 day’s wages)

One hundred drachmas equalled one Mina (100 Drachmas = 1 Mina).

Therefore, One Mina equalled nearly 100 days of wages (1 Mina = 100 days wages; i.e. nearly 3 months)

With this (fairly huge) amount of money, the Master instructs the servants to “invest”

Investment always means a “sense of risk!”

The parable goes on to say that…
… one of them made another ten (Lk 19: 16)
… the other made another five (Lk 19:18)

These two are greatly rewarded.

The one “who is willing to take risks” always finds life more rewarding and satisfying!

But, its over here, the parable presents the third servant, who decided to be “Mr. Keep it Safe!”

He came back to his master, with an excuse: “Sir, here is your coin” (Lk 19: 20)

He failed to make any investment

He failed to take “any risk”

He refused to “stick out his neck!”

Sticking the neck out of course, meant “taking a risk”…
… but unless that was done, progress was not going to happen.

And that would make him to end up on the losing side!

The Bible is replete with personalities, who would take “risks”…
… and thus emerge successful!

Noah would “take the risk” of listening to God and build the Ark for rescue from the deluge
Abraham would “take the risk” by obeying God and leaving His country and people
Moses would “take the risk” and trust in God to lead the people out of slavery
Jeremiah would “take the risk” of being a prophet despite of several oppositions to his life
Peter would “take the risk” of leaving his fishing profession to be ‘fishers of men’
… and many many more!

They “risked their life” for God – His Will and His Kingdom!

They would “stick out their neck” in progressing in the ways of God!

How about us?

Do we “take risks?”
… the “risk” to trust in God, in spite of the uncertainties of life
… the “risk” to know God has the best plan for us, despite the many hardships we face in life
… the “risk” to believe that God always walks with us, even though we go through the ‘deserts of life’

May we always realize: Unless we take risks… Unless we “stick out our necks”
… we can never progress!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


*Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE MANY FORMS OF PENANCE IN CHRISTIAN LIFE

The interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving…
… which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others.
Alongside the radical purification brought about by Baptism or martyrdom they cite as means of obtaining forgiveness of sins…
… effort at reconciliation with one’s neighbor, tears of repentance, concern for the salvation of one’s neighbor, the intercession of the saints

… and the practice of charity “which covers a multitude of sins.” (CCC #1434)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Nov 15, 2022: Tuesday

“Making significant changes in our life, to experience the magnanimous wonders and graces from our ‘Big God!’”

(Based on Rev 3:1-6, 14-22 and Lk 19:1-10 – Tuesday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time, Year 2)

A nice and interesting poem by Carol Connell, a Poet, goes thus:
“Trek began, short guy ran
Had a plan, crowd to scan
Find God-Man.

Carefully climb a tree,
Patiently wait to see
This, the key!

Jesus came, called Zac’s name
Not to blame, or to shame
Love, His aim.

Without flack, down came Zac
They went back, to his shack
Had a snack.

And so thence, Zac was tense
Soon relents, then repents
His offense.

Did restore, to the poor
Stole no more, settled score
Evermore!”

Biblical stories are indeed interesting and motivating…
… aren’t they?

One such Biblical story which is not just interesting & motivating, but also greatly popular is of the little man – Zacchaeus.

The Gospel of the Day takes us through this life-changing incident of this Little Man.

Thought little, this person teaches us big things
Though small, the story tells many great lessons.

The story begins with Jesus coming to Jericho and intending to pass through the town (Lk 19:1)

Jericho has a long history, especially seen in the Old Testament.

Jericho was the first city to be conquered by the Israelites under Joshua. (Josh 6:1-27)

It was surrounded by a huge wall.

However, with directives from God and under the leadership of Joshua, the city was laid siege.

On the appointed day, Joshua ordered the people to shout & the walls of the city collapsed and the Israelites destroyed it.

Joshua laid a curse on the one who would rebuild this city.

Thus, Jericho bore the brunt of a curse.

It is to this ‘place of curse’ that Jesus makes his entry.

As Jesus makes his entry to this cursed place, a little man named Zacchaeus climbs & hides himself behind the leaves of a sycamore tree.

Zacchaeus was a rejected man.

This rejection was on two levels:

  1. A personal level
  2. A societal level

The Gospel mentions that Zacchaeus was “short in stature” (Lk 19:3)

It is interesting to note that “Zacchaeus” in Greek means…
… the pure – a just one

However when St Luke speaks of him as being “short in stature”, it was a pointer…
… that he was perhaps living a life contradictory to what his own name suggested.

His being short was probably referring to the fact…
… that as a tax collector, he was living a life of corruption
… that as a rich man, he was still quite unsatisfied in life

Being short, he faced a sense of rejection…
… in his own self!

At the same time, Zacchaeus was also rejected by the society.

The Gospel describes him as being a tax collector.

Under the Roman system, tax collecting jobs were outsourced to people…
… who bought the right to collect taxes.

Tax collectors paid a fixed amount of tax to Rome

After that, they enriched themselves by forcing the public to pay far more than what Rome required.

Zacchaeus thus became a tax collector for the hated Roman government

He was probably treated as a heathen…
… isolated from all social life
… equated with the Gentiles at a distance when he went to the temple!

Thus, being a tax-collector, he faced a sense of rejection…
… in his own society and among his own people!

Besides, Zacchaeus was a “chief” tax collector…
… so his rejection was still more “chief” – greater and graver.

Do we also find ourselves to be rejected – just as Zacchaeus was?

Despising ourselves because of our own weaknesses and shortcomings?
… Being despised by the society, when we take a conviction that is opposed to the worldly and materialistic ways?

Despising ourselves, because of the weight of habitual sins and prolonged bad habits?
… Being despised by the society, when we fail to abide by the unholy trends of the modern world?

Zacchaeus, however, stands as an example and challenge to us…
… to not get dejected by such rejections!

Instead to “deeply desire” for the Lord and be ready to climb the sycamore tree of “sadness, rejection, disappointment and dejection” in our lives!

The Lord is gazing, addressing and seeking for us.

Am I ready to encounter, to listen and to be found by Him?

A ‘Yes’ to the question, will also mean taking some radical decisions in our life, just like Zacchaeus did…

Giving up of possessions…
Letting go of my undue desire for money, cheap popularity, the riches in my life etc.
Repaying those whom I have cheated…
Forgiving and accepting those whom I hurt, whom I don’t like, whom I am not in good terms etc.

Zacchaeus was a despised man.

He was despised because of his short stature.
He was despised because as a tax collector, he worked for the enemy-government and would cheat and defraud people.
He was despised because Jesus came to his house – a house of a sinner.

But the encounter with Jesus made him a transformed person

The encounter with Jesus made him to go beyond all complexes and filled him with deep joy!

This same transformation is at hand for us…

Let, us, learn from the ‘little man’ and make significant changes in our life, to experience the magnanimous wonders and graces from our ‘Big God!’

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE CONVERSION OF THE BAPTIZED

The human heart is heavy and hardened.
God must give man a new heart.
Conversion is first of all a work of the Grace of God who makes our hearts return to him: “Restore us to thyself, O LORD, that we may be restored!”
God gives us the strength to begin anew.
It is in discovering the greatness of God’s Love, that our heart is shaken by the horror and weight of sin and begins to fear offending God by sin and being separated from him.
The human heart is converted by looking upon him whom our sins have pierced: Let us fix our eyes on Christ’s blood and understand how precious it is to his Father, for, poured out for our salvation it has brought to the whole world the grace of repentance.

Since Easter, the Holy Spirit has proved “the world wrong about sin,” i.e., proved that the world has not believed in him whom the Father has sent. But this same Spirit who brings sin to light is also the Consoler who gives the human heart grace for repentance and conversion” (CCC #1432-1433)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Nov 14, 2022 Monday

“Facing every disappointment with trust in the Lord and confidence in His Providence!”

(Based on Rev 1:1-4; 2:1-5 and Lk 18:35-43 – Monday of the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year 2)

An elderly person, who was known to be very joyful and optimistic in life, was once asked by his little nephew: “Uncle, what is the secret of your happiness?

Don’t you ever have disappointments?”

The uncle looked at the little lad and responded:
“Child… life has taught me to trust in God above all, and know that His Hand is there with me, at all times.

When Disappointment comes to me, all that I do is:
Change a letter!

The ‘D’ in Disappointment has to be made ‘H’

Thus, every Disappointment, becomes HIS-Appointment!

And I experience His Providence with me, always!”

That’s truly beautiful, isn’t it?

Are we ready to change the ‘Disappointments’ in our life to ‘Hisappointments’…
… Appointments with the Lord?”

Every person in the world faces moments of disappointments and darkness.

Some of us get encompassed by it.
Some of us get dejected by it.

The Gospel of Day presents a blind man, who faced immense darkness, but did not allow to get encompassed or dejected by it…
.. rather changed, the Disappointment into His-appointment!

The story of the Blind Beggar, healed by Jesus is an incident recorded in all the three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke).

The star recipient in the story – the Blind Beggar – is the one who overcomes many hurdles and obstacles in his life…
… to obtain the glorious healing from the Lord.

What were some of these hurdles?

  1. He had to overcome the hurdle of “being blamed”

This blind man lived at a time when sicknesses were often traced to a life of sinfulness.

The man probably lived constantly under the shadow of this hurdle of “being blamed”.

He was probably blamed that he was blind because he or his ancestors had sinned greatly and was being “punished”.

But the man overcomes this “hurdle of being blamed” and finds the light of Jesus.

Am I in need of overcoming this guilt and shame of “being blamed”?

  1. He had to overcome the hurdle of ” being depressed and hopeless“

It is a pitiful fact to being a beggar, lying pathetically, sitting in his filthy, dirty rags on the side of the road.

The fact of his being blind made things even more worse.

Life was highly cruel on him and the darkness of hopelessness clouded him.

But he overcomes this “hurdle of being depressed and hopeless” and encounters the glow of Jesus.

Am I in need of overcoming this pain and sadness of being depressed and hopeless?”

  1. He had to overcome the hurdle of “discouragement and being put-down”

The crowd had become very hostile to the blind beggar, who wanted to meet Jesus and rebuked and shouted at him to be silent.

He had felt a ray of hope in Jesus, but the crowd considered him as a botheration and sought to suppress him.

But the man overcomes this hurdle of “discouragement and being put-down” and experiences the illumination of Jesus.

Am I in need of overcoming the crushing and burdensome factors of “discouragement and being put-down”?

The blind man shows us the way today, to overcoming hurdles…
…with an eager longing, a resolute determination and commendable humility.

Is my life blind, surrounded by the darkness of many hurdles? The Lord of Light is passing by…

Let’s raise our voices.
Let’s lift up our hearts.

Let’s jump over the hurdles!
“Jesus, Son of David…have mercy on me!”

Yes… life surely brings very often disappointments!

But with trust in the Lord and confidence in His Providence, let us…
‘Change a letter!…
… thus making ‘every Disappointment, as HIS-Appointment!’

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
INTERIOR PENANCE

Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed.
At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of his grace.

This conversion of heart is accompanied by a salutary pain and sadness which the Fathers called animi cruciatus (affliction of spirit) and compunctio cordis (repentance of heart) (CCC #1432)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Nov 13, 2022: Sunday

“Allowing Jesus, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, to adorn the temple of our lives!”

(Based on Mal 4:1-2, 2 Thess 3:7-12 and Lk 21:5-19 – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C)


“God himself cannot sink this ship!”

>> “The captain can, by simply moving an electric switch, instantly close all the doors, practically making the vessel unsinkable”

>> “We believe that the ship is unsinkable.”


These were some of the comments and claims that were made about Titanic – the largest ship in the first half of the 1900’s
>> But all these proud & arrogant assertions found a watery grave…
… with the sinking of the Titanic on the morning of 15th April, 1912 killing over one thousand five hundred people.


It was a massive tragedy of the loss of many lives.
>> But it was also a horrific lesson to humankind on the need to be aware of her limitations.
>> It was also a torrid warning to generations on the need to be on the guard, always.

“Being on the watch” is a necessity and a basic requirement in every sphere of human life!


The Gospel of the Day presents this message of being vigilant and alert in our lives.

Jesus is on the courtyard of the Jerusalem Temple and He hears “some people speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings” (Lk 21:5)



The Jerusalem Temple was a magnificent building and one of the wonders of those days.

The Temple had just been marvellously rebuilt by Herod the Great.
>> In all its beauty, the Jerusalem Temple was a vast glittering mass of white marble, touched here & there with gold & colour and precious stones.


“Whosoever had not gazed on it”, said the old rabbis, “had not seen the perfection of beauty.”
>> The historian Tacitus, called this spectacular edifice as “a temple of vast wealth”

Precious gifts such as crowns, shields, vessels of gold and silver were presented by princes and others who visited the holy house.
>> The Jerusalem Temple was indeed rich in these votive offerings.


With such a grand spectacle and gorgeous building in the background, Jesus makes a prophetic saying:
“All that you see here – the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down” (Lk 21:6)


These words would have come as a big shocker and a tantalizing scandal to His listeners.
>> Who would have thought that the Titanic would ever sink?
>> Who would have thought that the great Twin Towers in America would be in rubble?
>> Who would have thought the British Empire where “the sun never sets” would wane down?


To think of the Jerusalem Temple being totally destroyed was a case next to impossible.
>> The Jerusalem Temple was the holiest shrine of the Jews.
>> The Jerusalem Temple was the pulse and the heartbeat of the Jewish Faith.
>> The Jerusalem Temple was the greatest source of joy and pride for the Jews.


Any attack or any destruction of this great edifice of Faith was unimaginable and intolerable.
>> Yet, Jesus makes this powerful and daring prophecy.


What is the structure and edifice of joy and pride in our lives?

> Is it a structure…
… of fat bank-balances and transient fame and popularity
… of remarkable public positions and offices of high ranking
… of enjoying life with temporary pleasures and passing addictions?


All too often we have heard people saying:
“I have enough money & I am happy with my life!
>> Just enjoy today to the max. Who knows what happens tomorrow?”

“The status that I am in today, is a result of my hard-work and labour.
>> Why should anyone interfere in my private life to prevent me from enjoying it in my own style?”


History teaches us that structures built without the power and grace of God is bound to fall.

The Tower of Babel is a classic example from the Bible. (Gen 11: 4-9)
>> Built on human pride and aspiration, it had a catastrophic collapse


The lives of many people are also a lesson for us!
>> Samson… King Saul… King Solomon… Judas.

They had their moments of great glory and splendour.
>> But when pride and self-interest crept into their lives, they lost the touch of God’s hand!


We may glory and shine in beauty for some time, by just banking on our capabilities.
>> But unless, we remain in firm obedience and faithful commitment to the Lord, we are bound to fail!

None of us are, and can be unsinkable!


>> An obstinate stand that I can manage my life by myself is hazardous.

>> A proud feeling that no power in the world can shake me is dangerous.

>> An arrogant outlook that I am the sole master of my future and destiny is perilous.


Yes, let God be God in our lives!
>> Let Him enthrone the highest place and the privileged position in our lives.


May Jesus, the King of kings and the Lord of lords adorn the Temple of our lives.
>> With Him we can shine forever.
>> With Him we can stand forever.
>> With Him we can glory forever.


God Bless! Live Jesus!




————————————————–
Discovering the beauty of

the Catholic Church through the Catechism
INTERIOR PENANCE
>> Jesus’ call to conversion and penance, like that of the prophets before him, does not aim first at outward works, “sackcloth and ashes,” fasting and mortification…
… but at the conversion of the heart, interior conversion.
>> Without this, such penances remain sterile and false…
… however, interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures and works of penance. (CCC #1430)
—————————————————

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Nov 12, 2022: Saturday

“Reaching out in justice and giving comfort and consolation to the needy!”

(Based on 3 Jn 5-8 and Lk 18:1-8 – Saturday of the 32nd Week in Ordinary Time, Year 2)

One of the common technique of understanding and personalizing a Biblical text is by, what could be called as the Method of Assuming a Character.

One puts oneself in the shoes of one of the characters in the Biblical passage and draws reflections and thoughts for one’s spiritual growth.

In the Parable of the Prodigal Son…

One could assume the character of the Younger Son… and identify as one having gone away from God.
One could assume the character of the Father… and identify as one who longs for the return of those lost and those gone away from us.
One could assume the character of the Elder Son… and identify as one who gets irritated and even angry at the “apparently unjust” side of God’s love of being overly merciful!

In the Parable of the Good Samaritan…

One could assume the character of the injured man… and identify as one who is beaten up and lying helpless, seeking for assistance
One could assume the character of the thieves… and identify as one who sometimes engages in “not so good” activities and thus harming the lives of others
One could assume the character of the Levite or the Priest… and identify as one who fails to set right the priorities in life.
One could assume the character of the Good Samaritan… and identify as one who reaches out to people in their dire need.
One could assume the character of the inn-keeper… and identify as one who remains generous in allowing the injured man in the inn, despite a possible loss of money.

The Gospel of the Day is the Parable of the Persistent Widow.

For our reflection, we shall use the similar Method of “Assuming a Character”.

The Parable speaks of a judge and a widow.

The judge is characterised by some features:

He did not fear God.
He did not fear humans.

He was initially adamant in his refusal.

The widow is characterised by some features:

She had a genuine need.
She was denied justice.

She remained persistent till the end.

In our usual understanding, we assume the character of the Widow and God as the Judge and draw some of the following conclusions:

We are often in many and true needs.

But we often, find ourselves, a bit depressed at the delays in receiving the answers to our prayers.

The parable encourages and exhorts us to remain persistent in our prayer life and not to get discouraged by God’s delays, which apparently appears as God’s denials.

Yes, God’s delays are certainly not His denials!

God’s pauses are certainly not His refuses!

But for a change, for our reflection, we shall try to reverse our roles…

Let US assume the role of the JUDGE…and GOD as the WIDOW!

Sounds strange?

Me as the Judge?
God as the Widow?

Widows in the first century found themselves at a very sad state.

They were quite literally unprotected.

Many became homeless and destitute after the death of their husbands.

Often they were at mercy of cunning men, including some religious leaders who would “devour widows houses” (Mark 12:40)

A widow couldn’t count on anyone to come to her aid.

She represents the hopeless
… the unaided
… the oppressed.

In Mt 25:35, Jesus identifies Himself with the one who was hungry, thirsty, naked, stranger and the imprisoned.

Jesus in the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger and the imprisoned
… is the hopeless one
… the unaided one
… the oppressed one.

Jesus, like the widow in the Parable…comes knocking at our door…
… “Behold I stand at the door, and knock…“ (Rev 3:20)

As the oppressed and justice-deprived widow, Jesus, knocks at our door – we the Judges.

What is our reaction and response?

The cry of the one in pain and suffering reaches our hearts…

Do I reach out my heart to them and seek to ease their troubles and hardships?

The moaning of a broken family or a lost teenager or a spoilt child comes to us…

Do I pray for them and help them, in ways possible for me?

The sad tear of the abused or oppressed people with whom we work is seen by us…

Do I get out of my comfort-shell to make them feel comforted and consoled?

The disturbing reports of violence, corruption, injustice in the society falls on our senses…

Do I remain indifferent to them and become saturated with such atrocities?

Yes… the widow – the hopeless, the unaided and the oppressed one… keeps knocking at our doors…

As a Judge
… do I keep refusing?
… do I keep getting irritated?
… do I feel life as a botheration?

The Parable of the Persistent Widow is certainly a big lesson to remain firm and perseverant in our prayer life.

But this parable, when looked from another perspective, is also a big challenge to become a people who reach out in justice and give comfort and consolation to the needy.

Knock….knock…

Do we hear the knock, seeking for help?

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE CONVERSION OF THE BAPTIZED

St. Peter’s conversion after he had denied his master three times bears witness to this.
Jesus’ look of infinite mercy drew tears of repentance from Peter and, after the Lord’s resurrection, a threefold affirmation of love for him.
The second conversion also has a communitarian dimension, as is clear in the Lord’s call to a whole Church: “Repent!”

St. Ambrose says of the two conversions that, in the Church, “there are water and tears: the water of Baptism and the tears of repentance.” (CCC #1429)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Nov 11, 2022: Friday

“Getting our priorities right, and in humility, protecting our souls!”

(Based on 2 Jn 4-9 and Lk 17:26-37 – Friday of the 32nd Week in Ordinary Time, Year 2)

A humorous story is told of a heavy-weight boxer who would greatly brag about his prowess…
… and speak of how he would “he would conquer the world!”

It is said that one day, he came to a big city with two huge suitcases.

As he got down the bus, putting the suitcases down, he looked up to the tall building tower and exclaimed: “I will conquer this city!”

When he looked down, however…
… the suitcases were gone!

Very often, our lives are such…

We dream of conquering the entire world…
… but often fail to even have a control on ourselves!

We become “so worldly” that we fail to give heed “to the world to come!”

We become so occupied with the concerns of our earthly existence that sometimes we “forget about our Heavenly priorities!”

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus highlighting this essential element of Christian living: Being in the world, but living out of the world, with eyes firmly set on heavenly realms.

Jesus says, “Whoever seeks to gain his life, will lose it, but whoever loses his life, will preserve it” (Lk 17:33)

Very often our lives get too attached to material riches and attachments.

We fall prey to seeking great honour and fame in being a Christian…
… but are unable to grasp the fact that ‘to be a Christian is to be living a life of simplicity’.

We yield to temptations of being obsessed to seek power and positions of futile vanity…
… and fail time and again to live up to the Christian virtues of humility and modesty

We often become victims of engaging in dirty politics and authority-grabbing games…
… and become an anti-witness to the Lord who ‘came to serve, rather than be served’

We need to give heed to the words of the Lord who prayed that “we are in the world, but do not belong to this world” (Jn 17: 15)

A Christian life ought to be hallmarked by detachment and separation…
… detachment from too much of worldly distractions and vain glory
… separation from sinful ways and evil tendencies

It ought to be radiated with total focus and complete dedication…
… total focus on the Lord who ‘walked the talk’ by giving up His life in service
… complete dedication to the Kingdom of God which calls for a humble way of life

The world today is being ‘gripped in sin’, “as it was in the days of Noah” (Lk 17:26)

We need to open our eyes to realize the warning given by the Lord and be ‘on the watch’…
… after the example of the destruction of the sinful city of Sodom.

Perhaps our own life… or our family… or our community… our society…
… is resembling the city of Sodom

There is much drunkenness in worldly pleasures!
There is much ‘eating and consumption’ of corrupt practices!
There is much neglect of honest ways and of truthful conduct!
There is much enjoyment of bad, inhuman and cruel behaviours!

Let us deepen…
… our faith in the Lord
… our love for the Kingdom
… and our detachment from riches

St John prompts us: “Look to yourselves, that you may not lose what you have worked for, but may win a full reward!” (2 Jn 4:8)

We are reminded today that as Christians, we are people…
… who live in the world, yet are called to be out of the world.
… who live amidst possibilities of wealth, yet are called to be detached from them.
… who live with the prospect of gaining immense power, yet are exhorted to not be attached

We may be often tempted “to conquer the world and the city”…
… but let’s get our priorities right, and in humility, seek to first protect “the suitcases of our souls!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE CONVERSION OF THE BAPTIZED

Christ’s call to conversion continues to resound in the lives of Christians.
This second conversion is an uninterrupted task for the whole Church who, “clasping sinners to her bosom, [is] at once holy and always in need of purification, [and] follows constantly the path of penance and renewal.”
This endeavor of conversion is not just a human work.

It is the movement of a “contrite heart,” drawn and moved by grace to respond to the merciful love of God who loved us first. (CCC #1428)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULES – Nov 10, 2022: Thursday

“Living eagerly and enthusiastically to nurture and promote the Kingdom of God!”

(Based on Philem 1:7-20 and Lk 17:20-25 – Thursday of the 32nd Week in Ordinary Time, Year 2)

A simple story is told of a little girl who accompanied her grandfather to fetch water from the well.

After having drawn water, as the bucket was lowered and kept on the ground, the little girl asked her grandfather: “Grandpa, where does God live?”

The old man, lifted up the girl, and held her over the open well and asked: “What do you see?”

The excited girl, looked deep into the well and seeing her reflection exclaimed: “I see myself”
“That’s where God lives,” said the wise grandfather “God lives in you!”

Are we aware that each of one of us is an abode of the “Presence of the Lord?”

Do we mend our lives accordingly…
… and seek to live holier and saintly lives?

Our Christian lives must be lived eagerly and enthusiastically to nurture and promote the Kingdom of God…
… and live as citizens, worthy of a King Who is all-holy and all-honest!

Are we ready to collaborate with Jesus, to infuse a greater spirit of the Kingdom of God in this world…
… and to promote the reach and spread of the Kingdom of God?

The Gospel of the Day is a teaching on the Kingdom of God.

The Pharisees ask “when” the kingdom will come (Lk 17:20)
Jesus however explains “how” the Kingdom will come (17:22-35)

Jesus does not give an answer to the question of the Pharisees.
Rather, He makes to realize what should be the proper question.

It’s the style and technique of the Lord to get right the priorities and focus in life!

The people searched for Jesus after the miracle of the multiplication of loaves…

Jesus sets right their intentions by speaking of the need to hunger for the bread of life (Jn 6)

The disciples of John came to clarify whether Jesus was indeed the Messiah to come…

Jesus sets right their focus by turning their attention to all His signs and deeds (Lk 7:19ff)

The two disciples, James and John, sought for privileged places in Jesus’ future reign…

Jesus sets right their priorities by exhorting them to grow rather in humility and service (Mk 10: 35-45)

Nicodemus, in his encounter with Jesus, remained on peripheral questions and doubts…

Jesus sets right his doubts by calling his attention on living a life in the Spirit and being born anew spiritually (Jn 3: 1-21)

The Lord loves to challenge our doubts, theories and even convictions…
… to be in harmony with the priorities of the Kingdom.

Am I willing to allow the Lord to work in me to change some of my thinking patterns, that would be in accord to His Will?

Am I flexible to let the Lord to mould and shape my lifestyle and thus be in tune with the focus of His Kingdom?

The “Kingdom of God” is an oft-repeated phrase in the New Testament and especially in the Gospels.

What is the Kingdom of God?

A kingdom normally brings to picture a geographical territory, with its clear-cut boundaries and its rulers and citizens.

The Kingdom of God, is however, quite different!
The Kingdom of God is not a geographical dominion like worldly kingdoms!

The Kingdom of God is a spiritual reality where God’s Will is done.

It is a person; it is He – Jesus!
“Jesus leads people to realize the overwhelming fact that in Him, God is present among them and that He is God’s presence…” (from the book, “Jesus of Nazareth – Part I” by Pope Benedict XVI)

The Pharisees who asked Jesus on “when” the Kingdom would come, were probably expecting an external sort of a Kingdom.

They probably expected a Kingdom which would overturn and overthrow the Roman Government.

But Jesus clarifies the nature of this Kingdom…
He speaks of a Kingdom which is much more internal & spiritual, and whose impact would be felt and experienced in the external world.

One experiences the Kingdom of Heaven first in one’s inner life…
… and this is manifested in one’s external lifestyles…

The Samaritan Woman experienced the power of the Kingdom of God within herself, when she spoke to Jesus, the fountain of life…

And this experience of the Kingdom led her to proclaim the name of Jesus to all her villagers & bring many to the saving fold of the Lord.

The Disciples experienced the power of the Kingdom of God within them, when the Holy Spirit descended on them…

And this experience of the Kingdom was manifested in their bold and powerful witnessing life!

St Paul experienced the force of the Kingdom of God within him, when he encountered the Risen Lord on the way to Damascus…

And this experience of the Kingdom was displayed by him through his passionate life of preaching and missionary works.

In the Prayer, the Our Father, we pray:
“Thy Kingdom Come,
Thy Will be done…”

The Kingdom of God is, where the Will of God is fulfilled.

The question arises before us: Is the Kingdom of God here?
… or is the Kingdom yet to come?

This is where we speak of the concept of “Already and not yet”

The Kingdom of God is already here, but not yet!
The Kingdom of God already reigns now, but not yet, in its fullness!

As St Paul says in 1 Cor 13: 12, “At present, we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present, I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known”.

Do I experience the Kingdom of God in my life?

The Kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17)

I need to experience the joy and the peace of the Lord in my life…
I need to place the priorities of God over all else in my life…
That’s the Kingdom of God.
That’s the Reign of God.

We are invited today “to radiate heaven on our faces!”

May our Christian lives be lived eagerly and enthusiastically to nurture and promote the Kingdom of God…
… and thus live as citizens, worthy of a King Who is all-holy and all-honest!

Looking into the “wells of our lives and of others,” let us see the Presence of the Lord…
… and thus may we become a “Kingdom People!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE CONVERSION OF THE BAPTIZED

Jesus calls to conversion.
This call is an essential part of the proclamation of the kingdom: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.”
In the Church’s preaching this call is addressed first to those who do not yet know Christ and his Gospel.
Also, Baptism is the principal place for the first and fundamental conversion.

It is by faith in the Gospel and by Baptism that one renounces evil and gains salvation, that is, the forgiveness of all sins and the gift of new life. (CCC #1427)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULE – Nov 09, 2022: Wednesday

“Renewing our love for the Lord and growing in our duty, ‘to hold up the Church!'”

(Based on the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome)

An interesting story is told by a tourist who was visiting the Basilica of St John Lateran in Rome, Italy.

Just across the street of the Basilica, at a square, is a statue of St Francis of Assisi…
… with his arms outstretched.

This statue commemorates an important moment in Church history:
It was at this place – the Lateran Basilica – that the Great Saint went to ask the Pope for permission to start a religious order.

This was in the light of the Great Inspiration that he had received, when he heard the words of the Lord: “Rebuild my Church!”

The tourist says that recollecting this incident, as he stepped back, to have a better look at the statue…
… from a particular angle, he could see the Lateran Basilica between St. Francis’s outstretched arms

St Francis appeared to be holding the Church with his hands!

The tourist says:
“That’s a great image!
That’s a great lesson!

A church building is brick and mortar, wood and glass.

But – ultimately, it is supported by the arms and the labour of those who love it.
The Church is held up by the people who are in love with Christ!”

Yes, the Church is indeed “held up by the people who are in love with Christ!”

We, the children of the Church are today invited, to renew our love for the Lord and grow in our duty, “to hold up the Church”…
… on this Feast Day of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

The Gospel of the Day also vividly and dramatically displays the zeal and passion of the Lord, for the House of God through the incident of the Cleansing of the Jerusalem Temple.

Today, Holy Mother the Church celebrates the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

This Basilica is the oldest Christian church building in the world.

It is the first permanent, public place of worship for Christians in the world.

Christianity, in its infancy, suffered a great deal at the hands of her persecutors.

The Roman Empire sought to extend its domination over the entire world.

The power and might of the Roman Empire was determined to utterly destroy the Christian religion.

Christians, with a staunch belief in Jesus Christ, refused to worship the Roman pagan gods.

This led the Christians to be labelled as the enemies of the state and thus were sought to be eliminated.

Christians were arrested, imprisoned, tortured, and even cruelly executed!

This wave of violent persecution crashed against the Rock, the Church for three centuries!

It was only in 312, when the Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity that these persecutions ceased.

In gratitude to Christ, the new Emperor Constantine sponsored the construction of Christian churches, the first of which was the Church of the Most Holy Saviour, known today as the Basilica of St John Lateran…
… or simply called as the Lateran Basilica.

On this Feast day of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, the call of the Gospel is towards examining our relationship with God in the Church.

In the Old Testament, we read that the Lord had established a covenant with His people, Israel.

This covenant had its physical symbol in the Temple of Jerusalem.

The majestic and glorious Jerusalem Temple was an external symbol of God’s love-relationship with His people.

Jesus cleansing this Jerusalem Temple, was a strong message to the people, that He had come to revive and revamp the strained relationship between God and His people.

It was also symbolic of the need of the people to realize that the Jerusalem Temple which was to be destroyed in a few decades, was only a temporary symbol.

Jesus, Himself is the real and everlasting Temple…
… the permanent symbol of God’s eternal covenant with His people.

And so, He showcases an tremendous zeal and passion, in cleansing the Temple, of all the corruption and filth and fraud!

The Commemoration of this Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica and the Cleansing of the Jerusalem Temple is a call for each of us, to examine our own lives…

Is my relationship with God corrupted by many evil tendencies and pleasurable sins?

My heart needs a cleansing drive by the Lord…

Is my relationship with the other, who is also a Temple of the Holy Spirit, badly tainted with anger, jealousy, calumnious thoughts etc…

My relationships needs a cleansing drive by the Lord…

Is my relationship with the Church, strained by negative feelings of her dogmas and teachings, and stained by angry-feelings due to many scandals by her responsible authorities?

My mentality towards the Church needs a cleansing drive by the Lord…

This Feast is a call to revive our zeal and passion for the Lord, His Mission and His Church.

The Lord’s ways are sometimes very hard to follow and difficult to tread in this highly materialistic and sensational world.

But the Lord promises to be with us, in all our trials and hardships.

The Mission of the Lord to spread His Kingdom is a very challenging one and at times, they seem too very impossible and our efforts meaningless.

But the Lord assures His ever-abiding presence and love to those committed and faithful.

The Church of the Lord is sometimes often found to wrench in corrupt practices, discouraging scandals, heart-crushing and shameful incidents.

But the Lord assures that His might Spirit will guide the Church through any storms and “He will surely write straight… with crooked lines!”

The invitation is strong…
To be filled with a deeper love and zeal for the Lord, His Mission and His Church!

Undoubtedly, the challenges are deep…
… the trials seem too discouraging.

Yet, with the Grace of God, let us seek to renew our love for the Lord…
… and grow in our duty, “to hold up the Church!”

Happy Feast Day!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism*l
WHY A SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION AFTER BAPTISM?

Conversion to Christ, the new birth of Baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the Body and Blood of Christ received as food have made us “holy and without blemish,” just as the Church herself, the Bride of Christ, is “holy and without blemish.”
Nevertheless the new life received in Christian initiation has not abolished the frailty and weakness of human nature, nor the inclination to sin that tradition calls concupiscence, which remains in the baptized such that with the help of the grace of Christ they may prove themselves in the struggle of Christian life.

This is the struggle of conversion directed toward holiness and eternal life to which the Lord never ceases to call us. (CCC # 1426)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULE – Nov 08, 2022: Tuesday

“Seeking the Grace of growing in the service of the Lord!”

(Based on Tit 2:1-8, 11-14 and Lk 17:7-10 – Tuesday of the 32nd Week in Ordinary Time, Year 2)

The Pope is the Head of the Universal Church.

He is recognized by many titles…
.. Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church etc.

Another prominent title among these is: the Servant of the servants of God.

Servanthood is an important dimension in being a follower of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel of the Day is an invitation and reminder to this great aspect of our Christian Lives: Being a Servant.

The Lord narrates the Parable of the Unprofitable Servant.

In this parable, Jesus tells about a servant who works all day long out in the field, or out taking care of the flock.

And after he works all day long, he comes into the house…

Is he expected to sit down and rest and eat his own meal?

No!

Rather, he is required to serve his master by providing him the meal first.

And after doing all that work – all day long – there’s no word of thanks, no gratitude.

Jesus closes out this parable by saying that the servant was unprofitable because he only did what he was told to do.

Is it something practical?

Is it something easy?

Our modern-day psychology would speak of the concept of a “positive stroke” that is to be given to those working or those who undertake some labour.

It’s important that the employers in a company are given a “positive stroke” by appreciating their good works…

It’s important that the servants in a house are given a “positive stroke” by encouraging with good words and a cheerful countenance…

It’s important that the workers in a firm or factory are given a “positive stroke” by acknowledging their worth and constantly boosting their confidence level…

But the Gospel of the Day seems to be demanding much more from a Servant…

A servant who works whole day long ploughing in the field or tending the sheep…
A servant who delays his needs and instead prepares and serves meals for his master…
A servant, who after all his works, doesn’t expect words of gratitude…

The Parable is surely a tough one!

But, the One who preached this Parable is not a mere preacher, but is a practitioner!

Jesus, the one who preached this Parable, practised perfectly, this life of being a servant.

He is the Servant, who works in the field ploughing…
… sowing the seed of the Word of God, ploughing the Gospel in the hearts of people and toiling in the hot sun of oppositions and mockery

He is the Servant, who tends the sheep in the field…
… providing pasture for His people, protecting them from the wolves of the evil and going after any of the sheep which are lost in the wilderness

He is the Servant, who prepares a meal and serves at table…
… nourishing those at table with His own body, strengthening them with His own blood and constantly reinforcing in the journey of life

How are we to be such a Servant of the Lord?

  1. Having a mind of being a Servant of God:

The world of a servant centers not around himself, but around the Master.

Whatever pleases the Master, the servant does.

If we truly acknowledge God as our Master, then we too…
… will do the works which please Him
… will think and seek to do His Will
… will speak the words which are worthy of His grace

  1. Being Faithful in this task of being His servant

The world of a servant centers around total availability and openness to the needs of the Master.

If we truly accept God as our Master, then we too…
… will give ourselves to Him totally at all times
… will place His priorities over ours
… will avoid anything that blocks my complete service of Him

The Call is to be a Servant..
… who is dedicated and selfless.

Jesus is our model and example in being a Servant.

It’s a demand placed on us.

Servanthood is an important dimension in being a follower of Jesus Christ.

Let us seek for this grace of growing in the service of the Lord.

God Bless! Live Jesus!


📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
WHY A SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION AFTER BAPTISM?

“You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”
One must appreciate the magnitude of the gift God has given us in the sacraments of Christian initiation in order to grasp the degree to which sin is excluded for him who has “put on Christ.”
But the apostle John also says: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

And the Lord himself taught us to pray: “Forgive us our trespasses,” linking our forgiveness of one another’s offenses to the forgiveness of our sins that God will grant us! (CCC # 1425)