Jan 19 (Is 49:3,5-6, 1 Cor 1:1-3 and Jn 1:29-34) 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

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

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

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

And Johny said, “I loved all the churches in Europe – they are so many and they are so beautiful!

They have so many glass paintings on the windows of these bog churches of many saints!”

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

And Johny, recollecting those glass paintings on the Church windows said:

“A saint is someone, who allows the Light of the Lord to pass through!”

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

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

The Liturgy of the Day invites each of us to allow the Light of the Lord to pass through…

… and become a light – a witness – of God’s Love to the world!

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

The Servant is named as Israel (Is 49:3)

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

But Israel failed in its vocation.

This title of the “Servant of the Lord” is, however, faithfully lived by Jesus…

… who is shown to be the one faithful Israelite (Mt 12:15-21, Phil 2:6-8).

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

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

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

>> St Paul understood the depth of his vocation by identifying himself with the Will of God…

… “Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God…” (1 Cor 1:1)

>> He also invites the people of Corinthians to live a sanctified life…

… “to the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints…” (1 Cor 1:2)

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

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

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

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

Jesus would later testify to this fact when He tells about John the Baptist:

“He was a burning and shining lamp…” (Jn 5:35)

Our Christian lives are to be lived…

… by seeking and doing God’s Will!

… by living a holy life!

It is this transparency and openness to the Will of God that will help us to allow the Light of the Lord to pass through…

… and become a light – a witness – of God’s Love to the world!

May our prayer be, like the words of that beautiful hymn to our Blessed Mother:

“Mamma Mary, help me be open

To let the Light shine through me

>> Mamma Mary, teach me obedience,

>> Make me transparent like You!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Faith is like a bright ray of sun light.

>> It enables us to see God in all things…

… as well as all things in God!”

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Jan 18 (1 Sam 9:1-4, 17-19, 10:1 and Mk 2:13-17 – 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Year 2, Cycle A)

“Be ready to meet the Lord even when ‘donkeys are lost or you are busy counting at the table!’

An old lady loved visiting antique shops.

One day while browsing one, she came across a beautiful old Singer-style sewing machine…

… the manual kind, mounted on a table with a foot pedal.

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

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

She stopped, stunned!

>> There in the rubbish stood an old Singer-style sewing machine…

… the manual kind, mounted on a table with a foot pedal.

On it hung a sign that said:

“In good condition— anyone can take.”

God is a God of surprises!

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

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

The readings of the day present two people who encounter the Call of the Lord in their “routines of life!”

… Saul, who would become the first king of Israel

… Levi, who would become an apostle of Christ

The people of Israel had remained adamant and stubborn in their demand for a king…

… just like all other nations of the world (Cf. 1 Sam 8:19-20)

>> They would thus move away from the Kingship of the Lord – obstinate to follow their own wills

Yet, God doesn’t forsake them

>> He provides a king from among them – the Divine Wisdom of preparing the people to receive Christ as the Ultimate King

Saul is chosen in an ordinary and regular context of life.

The reading describes how Saul is sent by his father to search for “lost donkeys!”

>> “Now the asses of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. So Kish said to Saul his son, “Take one of the servants with you, and arise, go and look for the asses.” (1 Sam 9:3).

In the East, asses/donkeys are a valuable property – indispensable for farm-work and travelling.

>> They were valuable to their owners, since they were their mode of transportation.

>> They were even a symbol of peace and wealth (Esau sent to Jacob, his brother “twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys” – Gen 32:14 – in order to appease him)

As Saul moves from place to place, in search of “lost donkeys” he is encountered by Samuel, the prophet, who would be instructed to anoint Saul as the king of Israel.

>> ‘When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, “Here is the man of whom I spoke to you! He it is who shall rule over my people.” (1 Sam 3:17)

The Gospel of the Day (Mk 2:13-17) presents Jesus, who is sent by His Father, to search for “lost sheep” and “sick patients”!

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

Levi was “busy at table counting taxes”…

… with his own worldly interests and concerns

… surrounded by people who hated tax-collectors like him, and looked down on him, in contempt and rejection

It is interesting to see…

… that even in a situation of “donkeys being lost”, God can intervene in human lives!

>> Even though Saul was only looking for “donkeys”, God was in search of Saul!

It is interesting to see…

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

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

Do we find ourselves in situations of “lost donkeys”…

… searching for wealth and means of comfort in life?

… searching for peace and satisfaction in life?

Do we find ourselves “busy at table counting taxes?”

… busy with many worldly concerns and worries?

… busy in being surrounded by people who reject and hate us?

Then let us know and understand that even in such ordinary situations of “lost donkeys” and being “busy at table counting taxes”…

… can become occasions when God wants to anoint us with His Oil of Graces and Gladness! (Cf. 1 Sam 10:1)

… can become moments when God wants to address you and tell you, “Follow me”! (Cf. Mk 2:14)

God is looking for you…

… even if you are not thinking much about Him!

>> Jesus wants you to follow Him closer…

… even if you are not much ready for it and busy with the affairs of the world!

Yes, God is a God of surprises!

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

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

May the life of the Saint of the Day – St Margaret of Hungary – be an inspiration for all of us

>> Though she was a princess among other women of noble descent, she never refrained from performing the most menial tasks and hard labor…

… encountering the Lord in the “everyday routines of her life!”

May her words inspire us, “”Many of the people who look forward to a long life put off doing good works, since they think that they will have plenty of time before they die.

>> As for me, I prefer to be among those who consider that they have no time to lose if they wish to give God all the glory that they can before they die.”

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Learn to see God in the details of your life…

… for He is everywhere!”

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Jan 17 (1 Sam 8:4-7, 10-22 and Mk 2:1-12 – 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Year 2, Cycle A)

“Remain open to the Presence of the Lord and do what is right always!”

A social worker – known for his many deeds of selfless service – was being honoured at a public function.

On being asked, what was his philosophy that made him to reach out to the needy, despite the many challenges, persecutions and oppositions, he answered:

“My philosophy is simple!

I have always trusted in the maxim: ‘What is right need not be popular always…

… and what is popular need not be right always!’

Holding onto this philosophy has always helped me…

… not to waver in my decisions with wrong influences – even when there was immense pressure

… not to be discouraged when I know it was right – even when the whole world did not agree

Do we hold on to doing what is right…

… even if we those are not popular?

The people of Israel in the Old Testament chose popularity over doing what was right…

… and thus would go against the Mind of God!

The First reading is this account of the people of Israel demanding for a “king”…

… in order to ‘identify themselves with all the surrounding nations’ and thus gaining in popularity and reputation

>> “…Now appoint for us a king to govern us like all the nations.” (1 Sam 8:5)

Israel was called “to be holy!”

>> “You shall be holy to me; for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.” (Lev 20:26)

The word for “Holy” in Hebrew is “Qadosh”

>> “Qadosh” literally means “to be set apart for a special purpose!”

Thus, the people of Israel were to have a distinct identity among all the nations of Israel, with the Lord God as their Only King (“The Lord will reign for ever and ever” – Exo 15:18)…

… and they His Chosen People – set apart to walk in His Paths!

>> “And I will take you for my people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (Exo 6:7)

But the people failed to hold on this “right” perspective of their calling…

… and sought after “popularity” and identification as the other nations!

>> ““No! but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations…

… and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles!” (1 Sam 8:19-20)

What about our lives?

Do we allow “right things and right deeds” to have priority…

… do we give greater preference to the “popular ones” even if they are not right?

>> As Christians, we are called “to be different from the world” and not allow ourselves to be diluted and corrupted by the wrong influences of the world

… “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (Jn 17:16)

Do we allow the Lord to be the Sole and Sovereign King of our lives?

The Israelites by demanding for a king were rejecting God – “…they have rejected me from being king over them.” (1 Sam 8:7)

>> Every time, we run after things which may be popular, but not right in the eyes of the Lord…

… we are rejecting the Kingship of God!

>> Every time, we go against the Virtues of the Kingdom in order to “please others or to fulfil our selfish desires”…

.. we fail to allow God to reign over us!

>> Every time, we disobey the commands and wishes of the Lord in order “to remain in good stead and in the well-liked and trendy books of others”…

… we end up dethroning God, as the King of our lives!

The Gospel of the Day (Mk 2:1-12) presents some of the Scribes who remained closed to the “right things” that Jesus did – healing of the paralytic: spiritually and physically…

… and were unwilling to usher in the Reign of God in their lives!

When hearts are closed, one fails to see the Presence of God – just like the people of Israel and the Scribes

>> When minds are unwilling to learn, one becomes rebellious and agitated – just like the people of Israel and the Scribes.

May we hold on – firmly and with conviction – to the philosophy: ‘What is right need not be popular always, and what is popular need not be right always!’…

… and allow the Lord to always be the King of kings of our hearts, so that “we can sing forever of the Love of the Lord!” (Ps 89:1)

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “A man who can own pearls does not bother about shells…

… and those who aspire to virtue do not trouble themselves over honors!”

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Jan 16 (1 Sam 4:1-11 and Mk 1:40-45 – 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Year 2, Cycle A)

“Beep, beep” came the sound of the mobile phone

The beeping sound indicated a very low level of the battery.

After a couple of minutes, another clicking sound came…

… with a message, “Your phone is going to shut down because the battery is over!”

The mobile had stayed away from the charger for too long!

>> It lost its ability to function the way it was created and designed…

… because it stayed away from its source of power for too long!

Christian life is so much more similar

>> “We lose the charge and power when we stay away from God, the Source of our Strength!”

We cannot keep pushing our life too long on a “low battery mode”…

… and also thus wonder, why are things not going on well in my life?

Am in danger of “being shut down” due to “low-battery life?”

>> Is my life today in need of “recharging” by dwelling with the Source of our life?

The 1st Book of Samuel today gives us an important lesson on the danger of being away from the Source of our life…

… through the example of Hophni and Phinehas, the priestly sons of Eli, the priest.

The Bible describes them as people who “had no regard for the Lord”

>> “The sons of Eli were worthless men; they had no regard for the Lord.” (1 Sam 2:12)

They abused their office of priesthood in a number of ways:

>> They took more than their share of the meat from the animals that were brought to the sanctuary as sacrifices (Cf 1 Sam 2:13-14)

>> They often took their portion at the wrong time during the sacrifice (Cf 1 Sam 2: 15-16)

>> They lay with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting (Cf 1 Sam 2:22)

Even though they were warned by their father Eli, these sons failed to give any regard and respect to his admonitions. (Cf. 1 Sam 2:22-25)

Continual and wilful disobedience to rules and laws – even minor ones – always takes one’s heart away from God…

… leading gradually to a fall from one’s commitment.

The reading of the day presents the disturbing incident of the Ark of the Covenant being captured by the Philistines and the death of Phinehas and Hophni (1 Sam 4:1-11).

The incident teaches some important and crucial spiritual reminders:

1. Depend not on human wisdom; rather trust in God’s Word

The Israelites lost around four thousand people on the battlefield against the Philistines (Cf 1 Sam 4:2b).

On returning back, as they evaluated the defeat, they made a consultation only among themselves…

… even though Samuel, the prophet of God was available (Cf 1 Sam 3:19-4:1)

>> They least bothered to find what was the Mind of God or to seek for His Guidance!

In our moments of decision-making and of evaluation, do we only take refuge in human knowledge and wisdom…

… or do we allow ourselves to consult the Mind of God and to learn from Him – primarily through prayer?

>> As the book of Proverbs says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.” (Prov 3:5)

2. Do not misuse/manipulate Divine Graces in one’s own personal ways and means

Without knowing the mind of the Lord, the Israelites decided to bring the Ark of the Covenant in their midst, for gaining victory.

>> The purpose to bring the Ark was not to honour or glorify the Name of the Lord, nor to ascribe dependence on the Lord…

… rather, when they ran out of all human resources – as a last resort – they sought to manipulate Divine Graces in their own way.

This is a great reminder for all of us to follow and obey the Holy Rubrics and Instructions of our Faith and Liturgy as instructed by the Church …

… instead of “creatively using or avoiding” rituals and ceremonies as per our own conveniences

>> Giving Supreme Glory and Honour to God in humble submission to the teachings of the Church ought to be the motto in everything that we do!

3. Do not expect God’s Holy blessings without repenting and turning to Him

>> When the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the camp of Israel, the two priests – Phinehas and Hophni – were accompanying.

These priests were very much in sin and transgression…

… and yet, without repenting they would handle the Divine Ark!

Seeking to receive God’s Holy Sacraments in a state of sin and without repentance can cause harm…

… instead of receiving blessings.

St Paul echoes this fearful reality when he says: “Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

>> For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.” (I Cor 11:28-30)

Do I prepare myself well in order to receive the Blessings of the Lord…?

… especially an honest examination of conscience – with repentance – for the Sacrament of Confession

… a meaningful and sincere preparation for the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist

Each of us are invited to live a deeper and closer relationship with the Lord at all times

>> As the leper, in the Gospel (Mk 1:40-45) would beseech the Lord, “If you will, you can make me clean”…

… may always first seek and allow God’s Will in our life, in order to receive His Healing and His Blessings

Let us remember that in our life, “we lose the charge and power when we stay away from God, the Source of our Strength!”

>> Let us avoid the danger of “being shut down” due to “low-battery life and instead “recharge” ourselves by earnestly praying: “Redeem us, Lord, because of your mercy!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “See, this divine lover is at the gate.

>> He does not merely knock, but He remains there knocking.

>> He calls to the soul!”

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Jan 15 (1 Sam 3:1-10, 19-20 and Mk 1:29-38 – 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Year 2, Cycle A)

“Soaking in the Presence of the Lord to allow His  Radiance to prophetically shine through us!”

A simple house-wife who was sharing in a prayer group about her life of faith, said:

“You know, my prayer life is very much groomed by the works that I do in my day to day life, at home.

Take the simple example of washing the dinner plates that sometimes, is left out overnight.

>> Cleaning these overnight left dishes, in the morning, is really a hard task – you need to scrub them really hard!

But a simple, though patient alternative, is to soak the dish in hot water and a dishwashing liquid!

>> Letting the dish abide in the hot water solution will allow the cleaning job to become much easier!

This simple example has taught me an important lesson for life: Remaining soaked in the Presence of the Lord, slowly, but surely has its great cleansing and shining effect in my life!”

Do we let ourselves to be “soaked in the Presence of the Lord”…

… to allow – perhaps a slow – but a sure cleansing and shining effect to take place in our life!

The Reading of the day (1 Sam 3:1-10, 19-20) describes one of the very popular “call narratives” of the Bible – the call of Samuel – who needed some time of “soaking in the Presence of the Lord”…

… which would slowly, but surely, help him be cleansed and to shine with the radiance of the Lord!

The story begins with a symbolic description of the settings of the call:

“At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was.” (1 Sam 3:2-3)

Eli, the priest’s eyes are described as being “dim” – probably symbolic of a weakened spiritual vision.

>> It points to the weak spiritual strength of the people of Israel, who had moved away from ways of God

Are my eyes “weak and dim?”

>> Do I need to strengthen my spiritual vision by recognizing and acknowledging His Presence closer to me?

The narrative states that “that the lamp of God” had not yet gone yet.

>> The priests were required to keep the lamps burning in the temple every night from evening until morning. (Exo 27:21)

This is a great statement of hope

>> Even though Israel as a nation were unfaithful to the Lord and had moved away into a state of “dimness”…

… the “lamp of God” was still burning with love for them, inviting them to repentance and righteousness!

This is the beauty of God’s Love: Even though people were away from Him, He did not forsake them nor abandon them!

>> He would raise up holy men – judges, prophets, kings…and finally His Own Son (Jn 1:14)…

… to redeem humankind!

It’s in this context that the boy Samuel is called by the Lord.

It is interesting to note that even though “Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was” (1 Sam 3:3), the boy did not recognize that it was the Lord Who was calling him.

>> He would even go to Eli, the priest, thinking it was he who called; and even Eli failed initially, to recognize that it was the Lord’s Voice.

How often this can happen in our lives as well!

>> We fail to hear the voice of the Lord in the many situations and circumstances

>> We seldom understand that it is the Lord Who speaks to us, through various people and contexts of life

But Eli and the boy Samuel had the great humility and the docility to remain open…

… to understand, gradually, that it was the Lord Who was addressing them!

This then is the great lesson for all of us:

>> When we remain open and docile to the Voice of God, we experience His Mighty Presence!

>> When we become patient, still and humble before God Almighty, He blesses us with us Awesome Encounter!

The prayer of the little boy, Samuel ought to become our prayer as well: “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (1 Sam 3:10)

Samuel would slowly but surely understand the profoundness and the primacy of saying Yes to the Lord!

>> It would require him to stand firm for God even in the face of many persecutions and trials!

>> It would demand from them to witness the Presence of God even when the nation felt His absence!

Jesus in the Gospel is an epitome of being zealous and passionate for the Kingdom…

… reaching out to all people who were in need and were in distress

… clear-cut in proclaiming the Good News without seeking for any self-glory

… and totally focussed and committed in seeking and doing the Will of the Father!

The call of every Christian is this prophetic call…

… just like Samuel

… just like Jesus

>> Standing firm for God even when things don’t go on well in life!

>> Reaching out to those in need, without seeking for one’s own name and fame!

>> Witnessing the Presence of God to others, even when others fail to see or even deny His Presence!

Do we let ourselves to be “soaked in the Presence of the Lord”…

… to allow – perhaps a slow – but a sure cleansing and shining effect to take place in our life!

May the dwelling in the Presence of the Lord

… through daily prayer

… through a meaningful Sacramental Life

… through reading the Word of God regularly

… through reaching out God’s Compassion and Mercy to the needy

… enable each of us to be Radiant in His Love and to always say: “Behold Lord, I come to do Your Will!” (Cf. Ps 40:8)

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “What we need is a cup of understanding, a barrel of love…

… and an ocean of patience!”

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Jan 14 (1 Sam 1:9-20 and Mk 1:21-28, 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Year 2, Cycle A)

“Surrender all to Him – just as you are – and find strength in the One Who empowers you!”

A young man, scanning across some books of the Parish library came across an interesting prayer card in one of the books.

The Prayer card read thus:

“If the request is wrong, God says, “No.”

>> If the timing is wrong, God says, “Slow.”

>> If you are wrong, God says, “Grow.”

>> But if the request is right, the timing is right and you are right, God says, “Go!”

This simple illustration on Prayer teaches an important dimension of prayer: An attitude of surrender to the Divine and Loving Plan of God in all our prayers and petitions!

Today’s reading from 1 Sam 1:9-20 gives us a beautiful insights about Prayer…

… through the person of Hannah.

Hannah stands along with the other great women of the Bible…

… who also faced barrenness in their life – but later would experience a great intervention from the Lord, in His time

>> Abraham’s wife Sarah who bore Isaac

>> Isaac’s wife Rebekah, who bore Jacob

>> Jacob’s wife Rachel, who bore Joseph

>> Manoah’s wife, who bore Samson

>> Zechariah’s wife Elizabeth, who bore John the Baptist

Child bearing was considered to be a blessing from God…

… while barrenness was considered as a disgrace (Cf. Gen 30:1, 22,23)

Even in this situation of disgrace and humiliation that she faced in the society, Hannah displays a great sense of faithfulness and trust in God.

Hannah’s prayerful attitude is a big challenge to all of us:

>> Do I remain faithful to God even when things don’t seem to be working out the way I wish in life?

>> Am I able to see the Providential Hand of God even in the midst of humiliations and rejections that I face in life?

Hannah teaches us Five Important attitudes that we can adopt in our Life of Prayer

1. Come before God, just as you are!

“Hannah rose and presented herself before the Lord. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord, and wept bitterly!” (1 Sam 1:9-10)

Hannah makes no show or pretense of herself while coming to God in prayer.

>> She comes to God, just as she is – in all her honesty – with all her emotions and feelings.

>> She knows that Her God will accept her, love her and listen to her, just as she is

2. Be fervent and totally immersed in prayer

Hannah offers her prayers to the Lord being “deeply distressed and weeping bitterly” (Cf. 1 Sam 1: 10).

In fact, seeing Hannah, with all her emotions, Eli, the priest even gets confused thinking she is drunk

>> “As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying silently; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard; therefore Eli thought she was drunk.” (1 Sam 1:12-13)

Hannah was totally focussed on the Lord and totally immersed in prayer…

… a prayer of the heart

… a prayer that emerged from the depths of her being

3. Be willing to offer your life and to make a commitment

Hannah’s prayer would not be just a request to the Lord

>> She was ready to also make an offering of Her life to the Lord

And so she makes a promise:

“She made this vow: “O Lord of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a Nazirite until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants, and no razor shall touch his head!” (1 Sam 1:11)

It was a prayer that contained the dimension of self-offering and giving oneself in the service of the Lord

4. Be ready to humble yourself and prepare your heart to receive God’s Blessing

Seeing her honest prayer, the priest Eli, makes a priestly pronouncement of blessing on Hannah.

>> Hannah receives this blessing with much humility, praying: “Let your servant find favour in your sight!” (1 Sam 1:18)

“Hannah” whose name meant “favour or grace”…

… humbles herself before God’s Power in the person of the priest and pleads to ‘find favour in His sight!’

5. Allow prayer to change yourself

After the time in prayer, Hannah – having offered herself to the Lord and willing to accept His Will in life – allows herself to be changed, renewed and refreshed…

…. “and her countenance was sad no longer!” (1 Sam 1:18b)

Prayer had brought about an attitudinal change in Hannah!

>> Does spending time with God in prayer bring about transformation and change in me – in my attitude?

Hannah – with all her disgraces and humiliations – showed great faithfulness and teaches us these five important attitudes for prayer:

1. Come before God, just as you are!

2. Be fervent and totally immersed in prayer

3. Be willing to offer your life and to make a commitment

4. Be ready to humble yourself and prepare your heart to receive God’s Blessing

5. Allow prayer to change yourself

Jesus was able to display much authority and certainty in His Ministry because He was a person immersed in prayer…

… intently focussed on doing the Will of His Father

As Christians, let us realize that our strength and confidence in life, ought to derive…

… from an authentic prayer life

… and an unflinching desire to seek and do the Will of the Father!

May we have an attitude of surrender to the Divine and Loving Plan of God in all our prayers and petitions…

… and thus allow “our hearts to always exult in the Lord!” (Cf 1 Sam 2:1)

God Bless! Live Jesus!

– Fr Jijo Jose Manjackal MSFS

Bengaluru, India

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “If after all your efforts you cannot succeed…

… you could not please our Lord more, than by sacrificing to Him your will

>> And remain in tranquility, humility and devotion…

… entirely conformed and submissive to His Divine Will and Good Pleasure!”

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Jan 13 (1 Sam 1:1-8 and Mk 1:14-20 – 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Year 1, Cycle A)

MEETING THE LORD IN THE DAILY SITUATIONS OF LIFE AND DEPENDING ON HIM

Two friends stood at a large railway station and watched an express-train with the most modern of engines go flying through.

“What a powerful engine!” remarked one of them to his friend, who was the station-master of that station.

“Yes”, said the station-master, who was a Christian, “On the rails!

>> But off the rails, it is the weakest thing in the world!”

“And”, he went on to add, “that’s how a Christian is!

>> His power lies in communion with His Lord, and being on the rail with the Church…

… but when he leaves the path of communion, he is the weakest person in the world!”

Do I understand that my strength as a Christian lies…

… in my communion with the Lord?

… and being on the rail with the Church?

Today onwards we are back to the Ordinary times of the Liturgical Season in the Church.

>> The Liturgical colours shifts from the solemn and majestic ‘golden and white’ colours to the ordinary, yet unassuming ‘green’.

It’s a time…

… to live the solemn celebrations in our regular affairs of life.

… to give witness to the majestic splendour of God’s love in our everyday activities.

>> The Lord, indeed, comes to meet and encounter us in the ordinary situations of our life.

The First Reading is taken from the Old Testament – from The First Book of Samuel

>> This book is a fascinating journey of faith in the context of hopelessness, lack of encouragements, battles, deceptions and undue demands!

We are introduced with some characters as we start this book:

“There was a certain man of Ramathaim, a Zuphite[a] from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah… He had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

Now this man used to go up year by year from his town to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord.” (1 Sam 1:1-3)

Who are some of these characters and what do they teach us?

1. Elkanah: A Levite – whose roots probably stretched back to Bethlehem –who  is a God-fearing man and a loving husband. His human circumstance however caused him to have a divided love and he failed to keep the family together.

>> “Am I a God-fearing person and do I fulfil the duties of my family?

>> Do I sometimes fail to preserve the unity in my family, by bowing to the circumstances of my life, instead of giving priority to the needs of my family?”

2. Hannah: Elkanah’s first wife, who was barren. She had to face a lot of humiliation and unjust criticism.

>> “Am I willing to trust in God even in times when I am unjustly criticized or made to go through the muddy waters of humiliation?”

3. Peninnah: Elkanah’s second wife, who had both sons and daughters. She is a person who mocks and derides at the unfortunateness in people, without being grateful to the Mercy of God!

>> “Do I swell up with pride and put down other people, without having any feelings of care and sensitivity?”

4. Eli: He is the priest of the Lord with his duties to take care of the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord that was at a place called Shiloh (the structure at Shiloh was often called a temple because of the presence of the Ark)

>> “Do I remain faithful to all the duties entrusted to me, and do I have a passion for the Lord and His Kingdom?”

5. Hophni and Phinehas: The sons of Eli, who, as we read the book, will be found to be people who failed to live their faithfulness to the Lord

>> “Do I hold on to the Traditions of the Church and remain ever faithful to the Lord in serving Him – even when externally, situations don’t seem to nurture my faith?”

The reading of the day (1 Sam 1:1-8) focusses on Hannah who was barren.

The annual feast in particular was a time of harsh treatment for Hannah

>> As part of the ceremony of apportioning the meat out to the family, Elkanah, the husband, would give multiple portions of meat to Peninnah with all her sons and daughters…

…. but Hannah would normally only receive one portion for herself.

>> Out of the goodness of his heart, Elkanah tried to compensate by giving her a double portion…

… but it didn’t really help.

All such “happy occasions” became in fact, bitter reminders to Hannah!

Life sometimes is apparently quite harsh and humiliating…

… just like it was to Hannah!

In all such situations of our life, can we remain faithful and loyal to the Lord?

>> Do I realise that “without being on the rail of communion with the Lord, we are highly weak and fragile!”

In times when we become victims of jealousy, can we still hold on to the Lord “as the Pride and Pearl of our Life?”

>> In moments when we are sidelined and not given our due worth, can we bank on the Lord “as the Pillar and Foundation of our Life?”

We are invited, in our most desperate and painful situations, to trust that God is in control…

… and to find comfort in prayer!

This is what our Blessed Lord will tell the first disciples, when He would invite them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” (Mk 1:17)

>> The Lord, indeed, comes to meet and encounter us in the ordinary situations of our life.

The disciples were to leave their boats and nets…

… their strengths and assets

… their worries and concerns

>> And completely depend on the Lord and have Him as “the Pride and Pearl” and “the Pillar and Foundation” of their life.

May we understand that our strength, as a Christian, lies…

… in our communion with the Lord

… and being on the rail with the Church!

As St Paul says, “I can do all things through Him Who strengthens me!”…

… May we join with the Psalmist to offer our life to the Lord and tell: “I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice and call on the name of the Lord!” (Ps 116:17)

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “He will unfailingly be pleased with our patience…

… and take note of our diligence and perseverance!”

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