REFLECTION CAPSULE – Sep 18, 2021: Saturday

“Submitting ourselves to this mysterious Power and Strength of God’s Power, and be willing to ‘sow them’ generously”

(Based on 1 Tim 6:13-16 and Lk 8:4-15 – Saturday of the 24th Week in Ordinary Time)

A devout woman, once bought a Bible in her native language.

She was very much afraid of her husband who was deadly against God and sent forth atheistic vibrations.

In fear, she would read the Bible in his absence, and would stealthily hide it away from his presence and sight.

One day, however, by mistake, she failed to hide the Holy Book, and her husband saw it on the table.

Without saying anything, the husband opened the pages of the Bible, scanned through some and read a few lines.

As the wife stood, a little away – stunned and trembling- not knowing what he would tell her, the husband said, “Hmmm… This seems to be a good book!”

And it so happened, that every night, the man demanded for That Book when he returned back from office.

A few weeks later, the man suggested his wife that he wished to meet her parents, as for nearly 3 years, he had stayed away from them.

A tremendous and miraculous wonder had taken place.

A woman’s persistent faith had been rewarded…
A man’s heart had been finely melted…
A relationship had been restored…

That’s the power of the Word!

The Word can work in unexpected ways…
The Word can transform in unknown places…
The Word can bear fruits in unexplored areas…

Are we ready to sow the Word, everywhere, any time?
Are we open to allow the Word to work, anywhere, any time?

The Gospel of the Day is the classic presentation of the power of the Word through the Parable of the Sower and its explanation.

This is a parable that, probably we have read, reflected and meditated several times.

One of the striking messages of this Popular Parable is the “unknown, unexpected and unexplored” manner in which the Word is sown.

Going through the various places in which the Seed was sown would probably make one to say..
… “why was it that so much Seed was simply wasted – on the wayside, on the rock, among the thorns – places where there was hardly any possibility of growth?”

… “Why was it that the Sower was so unscientific, so lacking in common sense and so careless in simply broadcasting the precious seeds haphazardly?”

Probably, a logical answer and a reasonable explanation to these questions is to be found in the fact that the Seed has a tremendous power and potential.

And therefore, the Sower ‘takes the risk’ of broadcasting the Seed everywhere.

This then is the challenge that is thrown open to us also…

Can I be a person who is willing to “broadcast” the seed of God’s Word even in the most unfavourable or the most unexpected areas – to people who are hostile, arrogant or even closed?

Can I be a person who does not count the fruits in advance or get discouraged and disappointed at the possible failures in the future; instead boldly sow the Seeds of goodness, kindness and service?

The Book of Isaiah 55: 11 says, “… My Word that goes out from My Mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

We need to submit ourselves to this mysterious power and strength of God’s Power…
… and be willing to “sow them” generously…
… to all
… at all times!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE SPIRIT OF THE PROMISE

Disfigured by sin and death, man remains “in the image of God,” in the image of the Son, but is deprived “of the glory of God,” of his “likeness.”
The promise made to Abraham inaugurates the economy of salvation, at the culmination of which the Son himself will assume that “image” and restore it in the Father’s “likeness” by giving it again its Glory, the Spirit who is “the giver of life.”
Against all human hope, God promises descendants to Abraham, as the fruit of faith and of the power of the Holy Spirit.
In Abraham’s progeny all the nations of the earth will be blessed.
This progeny will be Christ himself, in whom the outpouring of the Holy Spirit will “gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”

God commits himself by his own solemn oath to giving his beloved Son and “the promised Holy Spirit… [Who is] the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it” (Cf. CCC # 705-706)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – Sep 17, 2021: Friday

“Growing in the Love of the Lord with deeper piety, profound conviction and committed service to one another!”

(Based on 1 Tim 6:2c-12 and Lk 8:1-3 – Friday of the 24th Week in Ordinary Time)

A story is said of an elderly priest who was known for his deep piety, committed service and profound conviction in preaching.

His old age had rendered him nearly blind and he even found it quite hard to breathe normally…
… and in fact, struggled to speak even in whispers!

However, despite his old age, he loved to visit prayer meetings to speak about the love of Christ.

He would take the help of the catechist to get his message delivered to the people

Once, while preaching, he repeated the sentence:
“Jesus Christ is precious and He loves you very much!”

The catechist, thinking that the priest had made a mistake… reminded and whispered to him, “Father, you have already said that statement twice!”

The priest, turning to the catechist said in a strong tone, “Yes, I know I have said it twice, and I will say it once again!”

And so saying, with a firm and convinced voice, he told the people, “Jesus Christ is precious and He loves you very much!”

The priest re-iterated to the people of the Love of God, and How Precious He is!

Have we discovered and tasted the deep Love of God in our lives?

Do we treasure our Blessed Lord as Precious and follow Him with conviction and courage?

The Gospel of the Day is a beautiful narrative of a group of people – women, in particular – who experience the Love of the Lord, and considered Him as precious and worthy to be followed!

This passage is a strong narration by St Luke who presents Jesus, the true liberator, breaking some new ground in granting a new status to the discriminated and oppressed class of women.
“Accompanying Him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities…..and many others who provided them out of their resources” (Lk 8:1)

Women who had been healed and had experienced the Goodness of the Lord, accompany Him in His mission…
… and supported Him with their resources.

We can take a couple of lessons from these few, yet significant words from the Gospel of St Luke:

  1. Broken to Blossom

Jesus broke some societal traditions to help people to blossom people and experience genuine freedom and liberty.

Women were generally kept out of public life…

They were forbidden from reading the Sacred Scriptures.
They were mainly reduced to mere onlookers, and not participants in the Sabbath worship.
They had a specially designated outer court at the synagogue, which was located beneath the court for men.

But Jesus loved to break open… to let free… and to allow people to blossom!

Jesus permitted Mary of Bethany to sit at His feet (Lk 10: 39)

Jesus touched a little girl who was dead and restored her to life (Lk 8:54)
Jesus allowed Himself to be touched by a woman in hemorrhage (Lk 8:44)
Jesus engaged in a life-transforming conversation with the woman at the well (Jn 4:7-26)
Jesus let the sinful woman to wash his feet, and shower his feet with kisses of love (Lk 7: 38)
Jesus had strong words for the practice of divorce which had reduced women to mere objects (Mt 19:3-9)

The Lord showed Himself as being Precious and declared that He loved everyone very much – including the rejected and the oppressed!

Do I let unhealthy and inhuman practices or mentalities to govern my life…
… or am I ready to break free and blossom?

Do I give in to societal pressures in following certain norms or thought-patterns…
… even if they are harmful?

Do I fail to be bold and courageous to initiate a change in attitudes…
… to achieve genuine liberation?

  1. Transformed to Tread!

The women who were touched by the Lord, had found greater meaning in their life and they accompanied the Lord in His ministry and mission.

They were not people who only sought favours; they rather happily extended gratitude and thankfulness.

They were not people who wanted Jesus in order to get something from Him; they rather had much to give to the Lord in return.
They were not people who lived for mere material needs; they, in fact, focussed their attention on the higher values of life and of the Kingdom!

These women were willing to respond to the Precious Love of the Lord and prove with acts of service that even they loved the Lord very much!

What is my response to the Lord who has showered my life with many blessings at crucial moments of my life…

Do I tread in His path after having been transformed with His Grace?

Do I get stuck with seeking only material favours and fail to allow them to lead me to a deeper God-experience?
Do I only remain with the prayer of intercession and prayer of asking, but not grow higher to prayer of thanksgiving and prayer of praise?

We live in times when the cry for deeper respect and genuine esteem for women is on a high.

You and I can make a great change in our society, by our attitude and our determination, with the Grace of God!

Let us cast away barriers which reduce people to mere objects…
… which yokes people, especially women.

Let us imitate Jesus the liberator to ‘break open to blossom’…
… and also grow in our commitment to ‘tread after having been transformed by Him!’

As St Francis de Sales says, “The Love of God is calm, peaceful, and tranquil, and so the work done for its sake, even in worldly things…
… is gentle, trustful, and quiet!”

Let us never forget that “Jesus Christ is precious and He loves us very much!”

Let these words be repeated constantly in our life, with deep piety, profound conviction and committed service to one another!

The words of St Robert Bellarmine, the Saint of the Day and Doctor of the Church, is an inspiration to all of us:
“Love is a marvellous and heavenly thing.

It never tires and it never thinks it has done enough!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
God’s Spirit and Word in the Time of the Promises

The Word of God and his Breath are at the origin of the being and life of every creature
It belongs to the Holy Spirit to rule, sanctify, and animate creation, for He is God, consubstantial with the Father and the Son
Power over life pertains to the Spirit, for being God, He preserves creation in the Father through the Son.

God fashioned man with His own Hands [that is, the Son and the Holy Spirit] and impressed His own form on the flesh He had fashioned, in such a way that even what was visible might bear the divine form. (Cf. CCC # 703-704)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – Sep 16, 2021: Thursday

“Falling in love with the Lord and remaining faithful to the love-life in the Lord!”

(Based on 1 Tim 4:12-16 and Lk 7:36-50 – Thursday of the 24th Week in Ordinary Time)

A catechism teacher, while distributing answer scripts of the Catechism Exam to her 3rd Standard (3rd Grade) students told them:

“I am so happy that most of you have done so well for these exams.

But remember, all these classes and exams are in preparation for the Bigger Examination.”

And she went on to explain:
“This Bigger Examination – the General Examination – is the Last Judgement Day!

And as St Robert Bellarmine tells us, the School of Christ is the School of Love.

In the last day, when the general examination takes place…
… Love will be the whole syllabus!”

Yes…
… All of us are called to grow in this understanding and practise of the “syllabus of Love!”

Have I “fallen in love” with the Lord and remain faithful to the love-life in the Lord?

The Gospel of the Day presents a wonderful expression of love towards Jesus and the subsequent acknowledgement of this gesture of love, by the Lord of Love!

The incident of sinner woman, washing the feet of Jesus in the house of Simon the Pharisee, ends with a statement, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” (Lk 7: 49)

The answer of this statement is probably what is expressed by the woman in her gesture of love.

Jesus was a guest in the house of Simon, the Pharisee.

It was probably one of those meals whereby a respected and wise host would invite several of the socially elite to dine with an important guest.

At this meal, they would recline along the table, laying down on their sides, to eat.

The meal would also involve a series of debates and discussions, over many crucial issues, centred around the special guest.

However, suddenly, out of nowhere, a lady enters in the scene.

It was one of those highly embarrassing and highly disgusting moments for the Host!

The lady was a known sinner…
… In the society, she had earned a notorious reputation

Her very presence was causing terrible insult.

Her ensuing action…

wiping the feet with the ointment from the alabaster jar
wiping them with her hairs
kissing them with tenderness
… caused still further damage to the reputation and honour of the host and his Guest!

However, what followed later, was like adding salt to the wounds of the host…

Jesus publicly recognizes, acknowledges and appreciates the action of the sinful woman.

He says, in solemn tones of approval of the action of the woman, “… She has shown great love! The one to whom little is forgiven, loves little” (Lk 7: 48)

Jesus had openly and publicly acknowledged the tremendous and daring love of the woman for Him!

And in doing so, she had given an answer to the question that would be put forth later, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?”

Her actions of love gave an answer…
… that He was the One worthy of receiving the highest and deepest love – one that counts no humiliation or hardships!
… that He was the One deserving the sweetest and the most priceless affections of our hearts – one that is limitless!
… that He was the One meritorious of every expression of endearment and fondness – one that is passionate and pure!

What is my level of love for the Lord?

Am I courageous to express my love for Him in actions that trespass humiliations or shame or guilt?
Am I bold to show that I truly love Him by living a life in accordance with the virtues of the Gospel?
Am I credible enough to say that I really love Him by extending His care to all those who are in need?

As we go about doing all our works, let us not fail to prepare ourselves well for the bigger examination – the general examination – The Last Judgement Day!

And let’s remember that when this general examination takes place…
… Love will be the whole syllabus!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
GOD’S SPIRIT AND WORD IN THE TIME OF THE PROMISES

From the beginning until “the fullness of time,” the joint mission of the Father’s Word and Spirit remains hidden, but it is at work.
God’s Spirit prepares for the time of the Messiah.
Neither is fully revealed but both are already promised, to be watched for and welcomed at their manifestation.
So, for this reason, when the Church reads the Old Testament, she searches there for what the Spirit, “who has spoken through the prophets,” wants to tell us about Christ.
By “prophets” the faith of the Church here understands all whom the Holy Spirit inspired in the composition of the sacred books, both of the Old and the New Testaments.

Jewish tradition distinguishes first the Law (the five first books or Pentateuch), then the Prophets (our historical and prophetic books) and finally the Writings (especially the wisdom literature, in particular the Psalms) (Cf. CCC # 702)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – Sep 15, 2021: Wednesday

“May the Compassionate Heart of our Blessed Mother help us to imitate our Blessed Lord who was ‘meek and humble of heart’ and thus to ‘be Merciful, like the Heavenly Father is merciful!’”

(Based on the Feast of the Mother of Sorrows)

The Church abounds in celebration of many feasts.

All of them focuses our attention on the joyful and happy aspects of life.

But we know, that…
…. Life is not always a superhighway

Life is more a kuccha (temporary) road with many pits and rough areas!

The Church today celebrates one such feast of our Blessed Mother, which is a celebration for sure…
… but focuses our attention more on the darker realities of life – pain, suffering, tears and struggles: The Feast of the Mother of Compassion.

This feast is characterized by the commemoration of the Seven Sorrows of our Blessed Mother…
… seven major events, evoking compassion, in the life of “Mater Dolorosa” (Mother of Sorrows)

Let us journey with our Blessed Mamma through the Seven Mysteries of the Sorrows:

  • The First Sorrow: The Prophecy of Simeon
    The time was festive and the mood was joyous when Jesus was being presented in the Temple.

It’s in this special time that Simeon comes forward to bless the Child Jesus.

But it comes with a catch: Mother Mary was to be pierced by a sword – a sword of sorrow!

The celebratory atmosphere suddenly turns a bit gloomy and overcast!

Many are the times when we enjoy joyful moments, when a sudden crisis hits our life.

The Compassionate Mother Mary becomes the Model for us: To be Patient and Trustful!

  • The Second Sorrow: The flight into Egypt
    Mother Mary and Joseph took up the great duty in the safeguarding of their Little One, Jesus!

They listened to God’s voice…
…. to come together as the parents of God’s Child
… to share the difficulties during the Birth of the Child.

And now, they listen to God’s voice to flee to Egypt and save the Saviour of the World!

To listen to the voice of the Lord, was a remarkable aspect of the success of their life as a couple!

To listen to God’s voice through the Bible, through our authorities or through our life situations sometimes becomes difficult for us.

The Compassionate Mother Mary becomes a model for us: To be attentive and obedient to God’s voice.

  • Third Sorrow: The Loss of Jesus in the Temple
    The picture of the Holy Family had also some shadowy spots.

They were not free…
… from troubles
… from doubts
… from conflicting situations

The Holy Family was very much a human family.

But what made them Holy and a Model for families?

It was their willingness to let go of their personal mindsets and seek how God wanted them to live.

Often, we find our families or communities broken and unable to gel with each together.

The Compassionate Mother Mary, as the Mother of the Family, becomes a model for us: To adapt to God’s Will.

  • The Fourth Sorrow: Mary meets Jesus on the Way to Calvary
    The sight of the Mother and Child meeting on the Via Dolorous was a picture of total sadness!

Tears filled both their eyes…
… the Divine Child and the Sorrowful Mother!

One with a Cross over the shoulders…
… the other a cross in Her heart!

Both their lips, however, sang the same chorus – Fiat, Thy Will be done Lord!

Life often puts us to situations of total hopelessness and darkness…
… the way ahead seems closed!

The Compassionate Mother Mary becomes a model for us: To remain faithful and loyal.

  • The Fifth Sorrow: Jesus dies on the Cross

At the Annunciation, when asked to give birth to a child, Mary had asked the Angel: “But how can this be since I am a virgin”.

At Calvary, when seeing the death of the child, perhaps, Mary was asking the Lord, “But how can this be since I am a mother”

They were questions which expressed human limitations and the demand to let everything be resigned into the hands of God!

We ourselves have had many such mini-experiences of Dying – of loved ones, of relationships, of great dreams…

The Compassionate Mother Mary, becomes a model for us: To accept our human boundaries and give ourselves into God’s hand.

  • The Sixth Sorrow: Mary receives the Dead Body of Jesus in Her arms
    “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me”, was the cry of the Lord from the Cross.

With Her Dead Child in Her arms, perhaps, the Mother of God would have also echoed the same question!

No answer given.

Yet, the tears that dropped from her lovely eyes, to the cheeks of her tender baby, carried the power of Hope and Trust and Faith!

We too sometimes encounter situations and times, when life crushes us

The Compassionate Mother Mary becomes a Model for us: To remain resigned to God’s Providence and be hopeful in faith!

  • The Seventh Sorrow: The Body of Jesus is placed in the Tomb
    As the body of Jesus was placed inside the tomb, it seemed to be the end of the world for Mother Mary.

The life of the Old Testament Isaac was spared and Abraham had to joy of being reunited with his Son.

The life of the New Testament Isaac was however not spared!

Was it the end of her life too?

Circumstances often drags us to give up in life…and to abandon our call to be soldiers of God’s Kingdom!

The Compassionate Mother Mary becomes the model for us: To reply to life’s harsh challenges with an even bolder face of courage!

Let the Commemoration of this Feast of the Mother of Sorrows…
… spur us to live our Real Lives of Struggle and Hardships with Immense Faith, Hope and Love!

May Her Compassionate Love help us to imitate our Blessed Lord who was “meek and humble of heart”…
… and thus “be Merciful, like the Heavenly Father is merciful” (Lk 6:36)

Happy Feast of the Mother of Compassion!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE NAME, TITLES, AND SYMBOLS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

THE FINGER: “It is by the finger of God that [Jesus] cast out demons.”
If God’s law was written on tablets of stone “by the finger of God,” then the “letter from Christ” entrusted to the care of the apostles, is written “with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.”
The hymn Veni Creator Spiritus invokes the Holy Spirit as the “finger of the Father’s right hand.”
THE DOVE: At the end of the flood, whose symbolism refers to Baptism, a dove released by Noah returns with a fresh olive-tree branch in its beak as a sign that the earth was again habitable.
When Christ comes up from the water of his baptism, the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes down upon him and remains with him.

The Spirit comes down and remains in the purified hearts of the baptized. In certain churches, the Eucharist is reserved in a metal receptacle in the form of a dove (columbarium) suspended above the altar. Christian iconography traditionally uses a dove to suggest the Spirit. (Cf. CCC # 700-701)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – Sep 14, 2021: Tuesday

“Reflecting deeper on the Cross of our Blessed Lord, and preserving, nurturing and beautifying our lives – which is truly a ‘treasure in clay’ – in holiness and love!”

(Based on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross)

Venerable Fulton J Sheen is undoubtedly one of the greatest proponents of Catholicism of the 20th century.

In his autobiography titled, “Treasure in Clay,” Bishop Sheen gives a beautiful and heart-rending illustration of the Cross – the Crucifix:
“In the Crown of Thorns, I see my pride…
… my grasping for earthly toys, in the Pierced Hands,
… my flight from shepherding care, in the Pierced Feet
… my wasted love, in the Wounded Heart
… and my prurient desires, in the Flesh hanging from Him like Purple Rags!”

Yes…
… on the Most Holy Cross, we have the autobiography of all our lives!

On this Great and Blessed Feast of the Exaltation of the Most Holy Cross, we turn our gaze towards the Cross on which our Blessed Lord redeemed us…
… as we gratefully thank Him for His Awesome Sacrificial Love
… and pledge to live a life in expectation of this Great Sacrifice of our Crucified Lord!

In the Gospel (Jn 3: 13-17), Jesus tells to Nicodemus, “… as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life” (Jn 3: 14)

Centuries before Jesus was crucified, Divinity in its Immense Wisdom was already preparing for the plan of salvation!

Having been powerfully freed from the slavery in Egypt, the people of Israel were travelling to the Promised Land through the wilderness.

However, this difficult journey caused the people to lose their patience, and they murmured against God and His servant, Moses on the lack of comforts!

The result of this sin was the plague of poisonous serpents that caused suffering and death to them. (Num 21: 4-9)

However at the intercession of Moses, God had him lift up a bronze serpent on a pole, so that all who looked it would be healed!

This was the foreshadowing of the Cross of Christ!

(This method of Interpreting the Bible is also called “Biblical Typology”

“Biblical Typology” refers to a person, place or event in the Old Testament that has its own proper significance…
… but also prefigures a person, place or event, later in the New Testament

In the words of St Augustine: “The New Testament is hidden in the Old, and the Old Testament is made manifest in the New!”)

Like the people of Israel, our life is a journey through the wilderness.

Sometimes there is a lack of comfort.
Sometimes there is an inflation of hardships
Sometimes there is an increase in uncertainty.
… And we begin to complain, grumble… falling into many sinful ways and habits!

But Divine Love, wanting to have us back to Him, provides us the means to be rescued from the deadly effects of such sins…
… The Holy Cross is the Symbol of this redemption and salvation that is won for us, by Christ!

Are we ready to take refuge in the shadows of this Holy Cross…
… and affirming our sincere acceptance of Christ in our lives, do we live a holy life, worthy of our salvation?

St John of the Cross would say, “The road is narrow. He who wishes to travel it more easily, must cast off all things…
… and use the Cross as his cane.

In other words, he must be truly resolved to suffer willingly for the love of God in all things.”

Usually the heart is considered to be the great symbol of Love…

But, from a Christian perspective, probably, the Holy Cross is a greater and a more meaningful symbol of the Immense Love of God for each one of us.

The Cross demands sacrifice…
The Cross demands a self-emptying nature…
The Cross demands a complete commitment…
… And this is indeed the true nature of Love – sacrificial, self-emptying and committed! (Phil 2: 6-11)

As we honour and venerate the Holy Cross, may we hear the words of our Crucified Lord, tenderly whispering to us, with deep love and affection:
“You are mine, forever…
… and you belong to Me and to Me alone!

Hold on to My Cross, always!”

Two thieves on either sides, died with Christ on the Cross

One mocked Jesus…
… the other sought Jesus

One took pride in himself…
… the other humbled himself
One lost a golden opportunity…
… the other, won the Prized Paradise!

The Cross – with Jesus hanging – beckons to each one of one of us today

We have a choice…
… like both the thieves

What choice are we going to make?

Are we going to lose a golden opportunity…
… or are we going to seek the Prized Paradise?

ESCAPE FROM THE CROSS…
… OR EMBRACE THE CROSS!!

EXIT THE CROSS…
… OR EXALT THE CROSS!!

May we reflect deeper on the autobiography of our lives, written on the Cross of our Blessed Lord…
… and thus preserve, nurture and beautify our lives – which is truly a “treasure in clay” – in holiness and love!

In the words of Ven. Fulton Sheen, “The ideal is to reach a point in practice, where, like Our Lord on the Cross, we witness to God even amidst abandonment and the agony of a crucifixion!”

Wish you a very Happy Feast of the Holy Cross!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism

SEAL: The seal is a symbol close to that of anointing.
“The Father has set his seal” on Christ and also seals us in him.
Because this seal indicates the indelible effect of the anointing with the Holy Spirit in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders…
… the image of the seal (sphragis) has been used in some theological traditions to express the indelible “character” imprinted by these three unrepeatable Sacraments.
THE HAND: Jesus heals the sick and blesses little children by laying hands on them.
In His Name, the apostles will do the same.
Even more pointedly, it is by the Apostles’ imposition of hands that the Holy Spirit is given.
The Letter to the Hebrews lists the imposition of hands among the “fundamental elements” of its teaching.

The Church has kept this sign of the all-powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit in its sacramental epiclesis. (Cf. CCC # 698-699)

✝️ REFLECTION CAPSULE – Sep 13, 2021: Monday

“Making our faith and our Christian living, worthy of an ovation from the King of kings!”

(Based on 1 Tim 2:1-8 and Lk 7:1-10 – Monday of the 24th Week in Ordinary Time)

A standing ovation is a form of applause where members of a seated audience stand up while applauding…
… after extraordinary performances of particularly high acclaim.

Ovation comes from the Latin word “ovo”, which means “I rejoice”.

When a certain accomplishment causes great rejoicing and happiness, it is often, responded with an ovation..

Sportstars receive this ovation after a stupendous performance of sporting skills…

Musicians are accorded this ovation after a special rendition of their musical piece…

Orators and speakers are given this ovation after a marvellous speech or a talk…

The Gospel of the Day is a similar account of Jesus expressing His ovation for a person who showed tremendous faith.

When the faith and trust becomes so intense, even Jesus gives a special sign of appreciation!

We have today the incident of the healing of the Centurion’s servant.

Jesus lavishes His appreciations and admirations for a wonderful display of faith.

Here is the story an unusual faith found in an unusual man who displayed his faith in an unusual way.

  1. The Centurion was an unusual person…
    A Centurion was a person who worked for the Roman Empire and were Gentiles.

This Centurion however, was unusual, because of the fact, that he was very much concerned of his slave.

This was rare indeed!

In the Roman Empire, slaves had no rights.

They could be mistreated and even put to death.

It was said that “when your animals are old, you throw them out to die. You do the same with your slaves.”

So this is the unusual thing about this unusual Centurion – He cared very much about his slave!

  1. The centurion showed an unusual faith…
    The Centurion came to Jesus asking and pleading for help.

But when Jesus said that He would come to his house and heal him, the centurion was quick to answer him, ” I am not worthy to have you under my roof” ( Mt 8:8)

The spirit of a military man is clearly exhibited by the centurion..

A soldier’s way of thinking is extremely logical and to the point: When an order is given, instant obedience is expected.

“My commanding power goes beyond the realms of space…
…my presence or absence is no excuse for my soldiers to disobey”

The Centurion fully believed that Jesus was a mighty commander with all powers subjected to Him.

And so a word was enough for the healing to take place…

An expression of approval was good enough for the miracle to happen…

  1. The Centurion received an unusual response
    This tremendous expression of faith was enough for Jesus to admire and appreciate Him.

Jesus was astonished by this wonderful demonstration of confidence and belief: ” Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel, have I found such faith” (Mt 8: 10)

We have seen many instances of people praising and appreciating the works and wonders of Jesus.

But, it’s one of those rare occasions, when Jesus publicly acknowledges and asserts the glorious faith of the one seeking for help.

The Lord gives a wonderful ovation and applause for this wonderful presentation of faith.

This Gospel is a wonderful challenge for each of us to examine our life of faith…

In a situation when we are surrounded by sicknesses of negativity and discouragement,

Can we also boldly say, ” Only say a word, Lord… and I will be healed!”

In a situation when life-threatening moments of crushing-failures and despair encircle us,

Can we also boldly say, ” Only say a word, Lord… and I will be healed!”

In a situation when we get depressed by the various day to day problems of life,

Can we also boldly say, ” Only say a word, Lord… and I will be healed!”

As a famous saying goes, “It is easy to praise the Lord…

But it really is a challenge to receive praises from the Lord!”

When we stand firm in our faith in God, we receive ovations and appreciations from Him

When we have confidence in our love for God, we receive ovations and admiration from Him
When we remain strong in our Hope in God, we receive ovations and approval from Him.

The Trusting Confidence of the Centurion was blessed with a verbal ovation by the Saviour of the World!

Shall we also make our faith and our Christian living, worthy of an ovation from the King of kings?

God Bless! Live Jesus!


📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
SYMBOLS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
CLOUD AND LIGHT: These two images occur together in the manifestations of the Holy Spirit.

In the theophanies of the Old Testament, the cloud, now obscure, now luminous, reveals the living and saving God
while veiling the transcendence of His glory.

In the Holy Spirit, Christ fulfills these figures (Cf. CCC # 697)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – Sep 12, 2021: Sunday

“Being ready to give a bold and convinced answer to the Lord, from the depth of our hearts: ‘Lord, you are truly the Messiah of God; You truly are my Saviour and Lord!’”

(Based on Is 50:5-9a, Jas 2:14-18 and Mk 8:27-35 – 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

Most of us have been to hotels or cafeterias.

Hotels or cafeterias provide a menu book or a menu card, which allows customers to select and choose their choice of food or drink.

This choice of food depends on various factors:
The availability of food
… the company of friends we have
… the mood and feelings of our mind
… the time and occasion of the meal etc…

The choice of food varies based on several changing factors!

This cafeteria mentality works out very well for our food taste and our appetite.

But sometimes, we adopt a similar attitude, even in our Christian Lives!

We like to pick and choose aspects and portions of Christ and Christianity to fit into our choice…
We like to prefer and select parts and segments of Christ and Christianity which are more comfortable…

We follow a “Cafeteria Spirituality” in Christianity!

The Gospel of the Day warns and cautions against choosing this attitude of a Cafeteria Spirituality in following Christ and instead demands a total commitment:
“If anyone would follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me” (Mk 8: 34)

Today’s Gospel is the familiar passage of Jesus enquiring His disciples with the dual-query, “Who do people say that I am?” and “Who do you say that I am?” (Mk 7: 27b, 29)

The world may have innumerable answers when the question “Who do people say that I am?” is posed.

Many saw Jesus preaching zealously on repentance… and considered Him as John the Baptist
Many saw Jesus being mighty in deeds and wondrous acts… and considered Him as Elijah
Many saw Jesus powerfully authoritative in his words… and considered Him a Prophet

But most of them failed to see Jesus truly as the One He really was!

The SON OF GOD!

This can easily happen to any one of us too.

We may find Jesus as a source of many powers and many blessings and with many qualities.
… And we may tap this source for our various needs and wants.

We may be deeply impressed with Jesus and His huge treasury of teachings
… And we may admire and appreciate Him as a Great Moral Teacher

We may look at Jesus as being a wonderful person, like many other great people in the world
… And we may engage ourselves in studying about Him, collecting quotes on Him and reading various books on Him

But with all these “varied” qualities and dimensions, sometimes, we tend to forget the fact that our Blessed Lord…
… came not merely to be a storehouse of blessings and favours to be delivered
… came not simply to give some teachings and bring some societal transforms with some philosophies
… came not simply to be called as a “great man” and become a subject of many books, articles, talks etc

He primarily came to be Our Saviour!

He came to help us gain eternal life
He came to save us from our sins
He came to win us back to God

But sometimes, we adopt a “Cafeteria Spirituality” in our understanding and following of the Lord.

We choose the qualities we like but in the process, we might sometimes lose the very person Himself!

The Cafeteria Spirituality in our Spiritual Life may cater many of our wants.

But it might be found short of answering our basic need of redemption and salvation!

Jesus is primarily our Messiah…
… the Anointed one
… the Saviour of the World!

This is what Peter boldly expressed, “You are the Messiah of God!” (Mk 8:29b)

Prophet Isaiah invites us to have the attitude of Jesus, the Suffering Servant:
“The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame!” (Is 50:7)

This understanding of the Real Jesus can be experienced only through our complete commitment to the cause of Christ and a faithful following by taking up our crosses.

The Lord encounters each one of us today personally and puts forward the same question,

Who do YOU say that I am?

Am I going to adopt the “Cafeteria Spirituality” and answer vaguely, imprecisely and abstractedly…
… depending on my moods and likings and situations?

Or I am ready to give a bold and convinced answer to the Lord, from the depth of our hearts:
“Lord, you are truly the Messiah of God…
… You truly are my Saviour and Lord!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
SYMBOLS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

FIRE: While water signifies birth and the fruitfulness of life given in the Holy Spirit, fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit’s actions.
The prayer of the prophet Elijah, who “arose like fire” and whose “word burned like a torch,” brought down fire from heaven on the sacrifice on Mount Carmel.
This event was a “figure” of the fire of the Holy Spirit, Who transforms what He touches.
In the form of tongues “as of fire,” the Holy Spirit rests on the disciples on the morning of Pentecost and fills them with Himself

The spiritual tradition has retained this symbolism of fire as one of the most expressive images of the Holy Spirit’s actions. (Cf. CCC # 696)

REFLECTION CAPSULE – Sep 11, 2021: Saturday

“Responding to the Love of the Lord, with greater discipline and faithfulness!”

(Based on 1 Tim 1:15-17 and Lk 6:43-49 – Saturday of the 23rd Week in Ordinary Time)

It is said that “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment”.

Discipline, in general, is based on four F’s:

Firmness
Fondness
Frankness
Fairness

The Book of Proverbs 13: 24 says, “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them”.

Disciplining a person, with the principles of firmness, fondness, frankness and fairness, is an act of charity and an expression of genuine love.

The Gospel of the Day presents a verse of disciplining by the Lord – the One Who deeply yearns that we always walk in the right path and in the ways of perfection.

Jesus says, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, and not do what I tell you?” (Lk 6: 46)

The test of true love consists in a faithful obedience to the one who is loved.

The spouses may exchange gestures of love and affection…
… but do they also exhibit true love by caring for each other, respecting each other’s opinion and accepting one another as they are?

Children may say that they truly love and care for their parents…
… but do they also exhibit it in action, by being obedient to them and taking practical heed of their advices?

Students may express their concern and acknowledgement for their teachers…
… but do they also display it in their life, by faithful abiding to what is expected of them as students?

To say “I love you”, but failing to show it forth in actions of obedience, is mere farcical!

There is therefore, a great need to examine – in honesty and sincerity – when we say “I love you” to the Lord.

Our Blessed Lord raises a tone of pleading when He asks, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, and not do what I tell you?”

It has tones similar to…
… a parent who tells the child, “Why do you say, you like me, when you constantly disobey me and fail to give heed to my words?”

… a teacher who tells the student, “Why do you say, I want to be a good student, when you fail to make efforts to learn and do your
works,in the proper time and in the right manner?”

… an elderly person who advises a young person, “Why do you say, I wish to lead a happy life, but still continue to walk in the paths of immorality, dishonesty and lethargy?”

The Lord is deeply interested in the well-being of our lives…
.. but somehow, we fail to understand this aspect, and continue to live a life, as per our own wishes and fancies!

And therefore, the Lord raises the rod of discipline, and makes it very clear – a stern warning – with the parable of the Two Foundations.

Unless you live a life, founded on the rock of obedience, the “house” of your life will not stand!
If you seek to base your life on the “sands” of disobedience, be assured, that soon it will have a tragic collapse!

The Lord is FIRM, FOND, FRANK and FAIR with us, in His Love for us!

Let us respond to this Love with greater discipline and faithfulness

Let us seek the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary to give heed to the “disciplining call” of the Lord, and reform our lives…
… so that our love for the Lord may show forth in true obedience and sincere submission!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
SYMBOLS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

WATER: The symbolism of water signifies the Holy Spirit’s action in Baptism, since after the invocation of the Holy Spirit it becomes the efficacious sacramental sign of new birth…
… just as the gestation of our first birth took place in water, so the water of Baptism truly signifies that our birth into the Divine Life is given to us in the Holy Spirit.
As “by one Spirit we were all baptized,” so we are also “made to drink of one Spirit.”
Thus the Spirit is also personally the Living Water welling up from Christ crucified as its source and welling up in us to eternal life.

ANOINTING: The symbolism of anointing with oil also signifies the Holy Spirit, to the point of becoming a synonym for the Holy Spirit.
In Christian initiation, anointing is the sacramental sign of Confirmation, called “chrismation” in the Churches of the East. Its full force can be grasped only in relation to the primary anointing accomplished by the Holy Spirit, that of Jesus. Christ (in Hebrew “messiah”) means the one “anointed” by God’s Spirit.
Jesus is God’s Anointed in a unique way: the humanity the Son assumed was entirely anointed by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit established him as “Christ.”
The Virgin Mary conceived Christ by the Holy Spirit who, through the angel, proclaimed Him the Christ at His birth, and prompted Simeon to come to the temple to see the Christ of the Lord.
The Spirit filled Christ and the Power of the Spirit went out from Him in His acts of healing and of saving.
Finally, it was the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.

Now, fully established as “Christ” in his humanity victorious over death, Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit abundantly until “the saints” constitute – in their union with the humanity of the Son of God – that perfect man “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”: “the whole Christ,” in St. Augustine’s expression. (Cf. CCC # 694-695)

Reflection Capsule – Sep 10, 2021: Friday

“Allowing the LORD – with His Compassionate Hand and Delicate Touch – to work on our eyes, so that we can be compassionate and charitable in dealing with the faults of others!”

(Based on 1 Tim 1:1-2, 12-14 and Lk 6:39-42 – Friday of the 23rd Week in Ordinary Time)

The eye is one of the most sensitive parts of the human body.
>> An eye surgery, therefore, becomes one of the most vulnerable surgeries of all.

It takes a compassionate hand and a delicate touch to do surgery in the eye.

When there is an eye trouble, we need a doctor who knows what he/she is doing because even the slightest mistake can have catastrophic consequences.


The Gospel of the Day focuses our attention on the EYE…
… and the need to have a clear and fine eye!

Jesus says, “Can a blind person, guide a blind person?” (Lk 6: 39)


The Lord has blessed us with the gift of the Eye…
>> We are to marvel at the treasure of creation and the beauty and marvel at the wonders in nature.
>> We are to see the many gifts and talents that we possess in ourselves.
>> We are also to see the resources and assets in others and to grow in our love for our fellow beings.


This love for the others also, however, makes us…
… to encounter the weaknesses and shortcomings in others!
… to get impatient and irritated with others!

Christian love is not blind.
Christ never says to, “ignore the faults of others.”
>> But He surely does say, “Take care of your own faults first.”

That’s why Jesus says, “Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly, to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye” (Lk 6:42b)


Look in the mirror!
Ø Am I quick to see how arrogant people are…
… when I myself am often given into to anger and quick-temper?

Ø Am I quick to see how lethargic people are in their spiritual life…
… when I myself fail to be active and energetic?

Ø Am I quick to see how corrupt and dishonest people are…
… when I myself often resort to unhealthy lifestyles?


Sometimes we tend to have a microscopic view when we look at the faults of others…
>> A microscope magnifies an image and displays the view in a much enlarged and amplified manner.


Maybe the following check-list will help us to discern whether I am microscopic in my perception of others:

Do I…

… blow small things out of proportion and make mountains out of molehills, without realizing its drastic consequences?

… maximize the sins of others – their faults, their bad habits and their shortcomings, without understanding their contexts and backgrounds and situations?

… come to quick, hasty or negative conclusions without seeking to garner the full truth & the complete information & details?

… unnecessarily get involved in situations where we should not be involved and thus bring upon unnecessary tensions and worries upon ourselves?

… pass along critical stories to others and fail to verify the authenticity of the rumours and even fail to stop a particular gossip from disseminating?

… have a strong bias to find others guilty and often look at the other with eyes of suspicion and doubt and scepticism?

… behave too harsh even when speaking the truth and fail to realize the emotions and the feelings that could cripple the person under guilt?

… add aggravating remarks and sprinkle home-made masalas when re-telling a story about the life or event of another person and thus twist things in the way I want?

… take delight in condemning others and harping upon the misdeeds of others and thus enjoy a certain amount of pleasure and gratification through this process of character assassination?


Christian charity demands that we seek to correct others and help others in their growth and progress of spiritual health!

But in dealing with the fault of others, what is most needed is: A clear vision!
>> Psalm 139:23-24 says:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”


The order or the sequence in which we go about this process is highly crucial and vital:
>> First, we judge ourselves.
>> First, we be hard on ourselves.
>> First, we ask the Lord to show us our sins.

Until we do that, the “speck” in our brother’s eye will look like a log to us…
… while the log in us will be invisible!
>> Only then are we ready to find the fault in others and help them to overcome the “spot” in their lives!

This stage of our life will be characterized by the virtues of:
>> Humility
>> Gentleness
>> Patience
>> Discretion

Our sins will bother us more than the sins of others!
>> Our failures will disturb us more than the failures of others!
>> Our weaknesses will unsettle us more than the weaknesses of others!

The line is fine and thin: between correcting others and being charitable to others
>> The line is slender and slim: between helping others and being judgemental on others


Yes, the eye is highly sensitive and an eye surgery, is one of the most vulnerable surgeries of all.
>> Let us allow the LORD – with His Compassionate Hand and Delicate Touch to do the surgery in our eyes!

Let us seek for this grace of being compassionate and charitable in dealing with the faults of others!


God Bless! Live Jesus!

——————————–
Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
TITLES OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
>> When He proclaims and promises the coming of the Holy Spirit, Jesus calls him the “Paraclete,” literally, “he who is called to one’s side” – Advocatus
>> “Paraclete” is commonly translated by “consoler,” and Jesus is the first consoler.
>> The Lord also called the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of Truth.”
>> Besides the proper name of “Holy Spirit,” which is most frequently used in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles, we also find in St. Paul the titles: the Spirit of the Promise, the Spirit of Adoption, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of the Lord and the Spirit of God – and, in St. Peter, the Spirit of Glory! (Cf. CCC # 692-693)
——————————–

REFLECTION CAPSULE – Sep 09, 2021: Thursday

“Living in love and holiness, by cooperating with the Grace of God, instead of being ‘imprisoned in our past and the circumstances of life’”

(Based on Col 3:12-17 and Lk 6:27-38 – Thursday of the 23rd Week in Ordinary Time)

A nine year old girl was walking through the fields, a little away from her home, when two persons, appearing to befriend her, asked her to help collect fruits from the forest.

Brought up with the good habit of showing courtesy to elders, the girl hurried to obey.

But soon she realised that it was a trick to kidnap her!

“I saw two persons behind me,” she would recall later…
… “One of them briskly grabbed me with one hand, while the other one pulled out a knife and held it to my side.
He told me, ‘If you cry, you’ll die! Follow us!?’”

After a forced march, the girl was sold as a slave.

The captors gave her a name, in Arabic, which meant (ironically) “The Lucky One!”

Though this title was intended to be a sarcastic one, it came about to express the girl’s approach towards life.

In the coming years, she gladly accepted the name.

After her release, she amazingly, even thanked God for the good that had come, from her suffering:
“If I were to meet those who kidnapped me, and even those who tortured me,” she wrote, “I would kneel and kiss their hands.
For if these things had not happened, I would not have been a Christian and a religious today!”

The name of the girl is St Bakhita – a Saint for those who are “prisoners of the past and of the circumstances of life!”!” (Her Feast is celebrated on February 08 – which is also known as the World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action Against Human Trafficking)

She was able to heroically display the Christian virtue of forgiveness…
… especially to enemies – those who had persecuted her and had cause irreparable damages to her life!

In life, so often we get “imprisoned by our past and of the circumstances of life!”

This is true especially from the perspective of relationships…

There are many who cause hurts and pains to us
There are many against whom we have causes to hold grudge in the heart
There are many with whom we find it difficult to relate and extremely hard to forgive

The past clings to us in a mighty way…

“Enemies” are, undoubtedly, a reality in most of our lives!

What is our attitude and approach to these “enemies” in our life?

The Gospel of the Day is a bold challenge by Jesus to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you!” (Lk 6:27)

One of the sayings goes thus, “Divinity cannot be confined to one’s pockets or be contained in one’s purse!”

So vivid is this saying in the life of Jesus, the Fullness of Divinity.

Jesus does not allow to be confined to the tiny pockets of our mindsets
Jesus does not permit to be limited to the finite purses of our expectations

He goes much beyond… His teachings reach a new level…

This is what we come across when we challenge ourselves with the words of the Lord:
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you!” (Lk 6: 27)

There are four explicit commands that are given:

  1. Love
  2. Do Good
  3. Bless
  4. Pray

All these four exhortations are very often in direct contrast to what we expect or what we wish

  1. Love your enemies

Our natural tendency towards our “enemies” is that of animosity or grudge or at the best, indifference

But Jesus says to go beyond… Love them!

Love them… in a way, that they are able to experience the Mighty Love that God has for each one of us!
Love them… in a way, that no hateful feelings get sown or nurtured in our hearts and we be free in our minds!

  1. Do good to those who hate

Our common inclination to those who hate is to say, “Why should I have anything to do with someone who is least interested in me and only keeps hurting me?”

But Jesus says to go beyond – Do good to them!

Do good to them… in a way, that our good actions – little or big, seen or unseen – become actions that evoke repentance and contrition!
Do good to them… in a way, that gestures of charity is a way to crush our own ego and pride feelings and makes us to be humbler, in imitation of Christ who totally humbled Himself!

  1. Bless those who curse you

Our first instinct to those who curse us to “give back still strongly” in return and wish the worst for the concerned person.

But Jesus says to go beyond – Bless them!

Bless them… in a way, that our holy wishes may move the heart of the one who offends us and we become a channel and active instrument to allow God’s forgiveness to flow
Bless them… in a way, that our words of grace may heal the vibrations of negativity and hatred and evokes the mighty power of God against the dark forces of Satan

  1. Pray for those who abuse you

Our immediate reaction to those who abuse is to abuse in return or to let out a volley of unfit phrases or violent actions and gestures

But Jesus says to go beyond – Pray for them!

Pray for them… in a way, that the grace of God’s mercy and compassion may descend into the relationship
Pray for them… in a way, that the words of abuse may fizzle out in the blazing power of prayer and holiness

Life constantly seeks to “imprison us in our past and in the circumstances of life!”

But God’s Grace coupled with our willingness to co-operate with His grace, will allow us to “live in love and holiness”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE NAME, TITLES, AND SYMBOLS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

“Holy Spirit” is the proper Name of the One whom we adore and glorify with the Father and the Son.
The Church has received this Name from the Lord and professes it in the Baptism of her new children.
The term “Spirit” translates the Hebrew word “ruah,” which, in its primary sense, means breath, air, wind.
Jesus indeed uses the sensory image of the wind to suggest to Nicodemus the transcendent newness of him who is personally God’s breath, the divine Spirit.

On the other hand, “Spirit” and “Holy” are divine attributes common to the Three Divine Persons. >> By joining the two terms, Scripture, Liturgy, and theological language designate the inexpressible Person of the Holy Spirit, without any possible equivocation with other uses of the terms “spirit” and “holy.” (Cf. CCC # 691)