REFLECTION CAPSULE FOR THE DAY – January 14, 2021: Thursday

“Imitating Christ in His deep commitment and dedication!”

(Based on Heb 3:7-14 and Mk 1:40-45 – Thursday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time, Cycle 1)

Kalaupapa was a remote peninsula, surrounded by the roaring Pacific Ocean, on three sides on an island named Molokai.

This tiny place had become the prison for those forcibly banished as a result of being afflicted with Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy).

The souls outcast here became prisoners in their own land, harshly kicked from boats, washing onto shore without adequate supplies, infrastructure, medicine, or tools.

Families on surrounding islands, powerless to help, mourned for the cruel fate of their loved ones.

In this situation, a priest named Damien, volunteered to move to this place and serve the people who are afflicted by this dreaded disease.

Fr Damien was greeted with devastation.

He walked among the living dead.

Everywhere he looked…
… there was only bleeding and oozing sores
… rampant diseases of various kinds
… and perhaps worst of all, hopelessness and endless misery

Choosing to make this place as his home for life, Fr Damien began his first sermon, addressing the people in the leper colony: “We lepers….”

Fr Damien did not yet have a sign of the leprous infection, but he already identified himself with the afflicted ones, by including himself as “We lepers…”

But within fifteen years, he too would be afflicted with the same disease and die!

When one is committed to a cause, one identifies totally with the cause, even to the point of death!

When one is faithful to a mission, one equates with its demands, even to the point of being afflicted!

This is what Damien – St Damien – would teach from his life…

And this is what we learn, as St Damien did, from the life of Jesus: a total identification with the afflicted ones, in order to redeem and save them!

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus who effects a healing for a leper…
… but in the process, undergoes the isolation and separation that was the lot of the lepers.

Jesus is in the land of Galilee.

A leper comes to Him seeking for a cleansing: “If you wish, you can make me clean” (Mk 1: 40)
Looking at the leper, Jesus knew and understood the immense agony and dread that the man had undergone…

The ancient times had leprosy as one of the most feared diseases.

The book of Leviticus required that all those found unclean with leprosy “shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp” (Lev 13:46)

Jesus knew that to come into contact with a leper was to make oneself unclean.

Jesus knew that to touch a leper was to also share in the affliction and misery.

Yet, the Lord, who is the One who cleanses (Eze 36:25) and the One who refines (Is 48:10) decides to touch the leper…and bring about a healing!

“Jesus stretched out His hand, touched him and said to him, ‘ I do will it. Be made clean'” (Mk 1:41)

The leper was immediately made clean.

The leper had to also get it confirmed from the priest.

But Jesus, who cleansed and freed the leper, now Himself, undergoes the pain as that of a leper…

The Gospel says that, “…it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places…” (Mk 1:45)

Jesus now identifies Himself with the isolation that the leper himself had undergone

Jesus now undergoes Himself the staying away from society that the leper had undergone.

Yes, when one is faithful to a mission, one equates with its demands, even to the point of being afflicted!

When one is committed to a cause, one identifies totally with the cause, even to the point of death!

Each of us are called with a specific mission and purpose in life…

It requires a deep commitment.
It requires an identification with the people and situation.
It requires a complete giving of oneself to the cause and mission.

Am I ready to embrace such a dedication?

St Paul invites us to be “… imitators of Christ” just as he imitated Christ (1 Cor 11:1)

Let us remain open to this Invitation of the Lord, and not close our hearts… “Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test…” (Heb 3:8-9)

Let us imitate Christ in His deep commitment and dedication.

Let us imitate Christ who came to bring healing to all in this world.
Let us imitate Christ who shared in our sufferings to bring redemption and joy.

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
RESPOONDING TO THE EVER-EAGER CALL OF THE LORD TO SEEK HIM
Although man can forget God or reject him, He never ceases to call every man to seek him, so as to find life and happiness.

But this search for God demands of man every effort of intellect, a sound will, “an upright heart”…

… as well as the witness of others who teach him to seek God! (CCC #30)

REFLECTION CAPSULE FOR THE DAY – January 13, 2021: Wednesday

“Not merely running after ‘by-products;’ rather, seeking Jesus, Who is the Essence!”

(Based on Heb 2:14-18 and Mk 1:29-39 – Wednesday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time, Cycle 1)

A young boy went to his Uncle’s house for a few days of vacation.
His uncle was a scientist.

One day, the scientist-uncle told the boy, “Today we are going the method of obtaining petrol”

The boy was super-excited

He enjoyed fast cars and racing games.

And so, he was pretty curious to know how petrol was obtained.

They went to a place where oil was dug.

The boy looked in amazement at all the works being done – the digging into the earth, the huge pipes making their way into the depths, the extraction process!

After quite a while, the boy, pretty dejected approached his uncle and asked:
“I thought, you told me, we are going to see petrol being obtained.

But all that I find here, is that they are extracting oil!

Where is the petrol?”

At that time, the scientist-Uncle began to explain to the boy:
“Son! Remember, you never dig petrol!

You only dig for oil…
… and petrol is later, extracted from it, through a process of distillation!

Search not for petrol – which is a by-product…
… Look rather for the oil, which is the essence!

Is our Christian life sometimes similar?

Are we looking often only for the material goods and products from the Lord…
… or do we seek primarily for Jesus and His Kingdom?

We need to check and examine: Have we discovered the “Real” Jesus in our life?

The Gospel of the Day presents before us this great challenge: To identify the real Jesus!

The Gospel reading is a description of the Lord’s ministry as per St Mark’s account.

Jesus is engaged in His proclamation of the Kingdom of God.

He is proving Himself to be a person who is of the supernatural and the extraordinary realm.

He teaches the Scriptures with deep authority and conviction…
… People hear God speaking in their lives!

He silences and expels the forces of evil and influences the nature…
… People experience the Divine force in their lives!

He infuses life into the dead and proclaims his great power…
… People come across the marvellous works of the Lord!

He exercises His healing over the sick and the suffering…
… People witness His glorious control and supremacy!

People are…
… swayed over His mighty works
… super-excited by His amazing wonders
… overwhelmed with His wonderful deeds

But such occasions are the times of great testing and trial for anyone..

The easiest moments of losing oneself is in the midst of immense success!

The most tempting times of losing one’s focus is when there are widespread victories!

The Lord was surrounded by immense recognition and successes.

The crowds were thronging around Him and His popularity ratings were soaring.

But, just as the tree of success must be deeply grounded & rooted in the soil of stability and firmness…

So also, the Lord was fully aware of His goals and mission.

And so the Gospel of St Mark would explicitly point out the actions of the Lord…
‘Rising very early before dawn, He left and went off to a deserted place, where He prayed’ (Mk 1: 35)

‘He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose I have come”‘ (Mk 1: 38)

The Lord points out to the people and to His disciples the priorities of His Life – Being in communion with His Heavenly Father and Spreading the Kingdom of God!

He doesn’t get over-awed with success!
He doesn’t get carried away by reputations!

He reminds His disciples and His people to seek the “real” Jesus!

He brings to the notice of His disciples and His people to long for the “real” Jesus!

It’s a moment for us to check and examine our own lives: Am I following the “Real” Jesus?

Is Jesus merely a source of healings and remedies in my moments of physical sicknesses…
… or has He also become the true balm and consolation in my spiritual health and well-being?

Is Jesus only like a call-centre agent whom I seek in order to fix some problems of life…
… or Has He also become genuinely the treasure and the priceless fortune of my Life?

Is Jesus simply a solution and answer when crisis hits my life and things go badly…
… or has He also become authentically the greatest powerhouse and thrust of my Life?

Am I following the “Real” Jesus?

Or is it merely…
… a Jesus of quick-fix solutions?
… a Jesus who is a problem-solver?
… a Jesus who is remembered in times of trials alone?
… a Jesus who is expected to give all answers to my confusions?

The people and the disciples, as we see in the Gospel, seemed happy and satisfied to seek Jesus who performs wonders.

Surely, wonders and sensational deeds are good.

But they are not to be an end in itself….
They are not to be made the primary motto.

Miracles and marvels ought to become a launching pad for a deeper relationship with the Lord.

Let us not reduce the greatness of Jesus to just miracles…

Let us not bring down the immensity of Jesus to just physical needs.

Let us rather, seek…
… the True and Living Lord for a wholesome & integral growth for eternity.
… the Compassionate and Powerful Lord to grow in holiness & sanctity.

The Lord is the One Who knows us, understands us and wishes that we seek Him with a sincere heart. His understanding Presence with us, is assured in the Letter to the Hebrews:
“Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people.

For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted!” (Heb 2:17)

Just like digging is done for oil…
… and petrol is later, extracted from it, through a process of distillation!

We need to search first for Jesus and His Kingdom (Mt 6:33)
… and all other things – which are a by-product – will be given to us

Yes, let’s not merely run after ‘by-products’…
… Let us rather seek for Jesus, Who is the Essence!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
THE UNIVERSAL CALL OF HUMAN BEINGS AS A RELIGIOUS BEING AND THE VARIOUS DANGERS IT FACES

In many ways, throughout history down to the present day, men have given expression to their quest for God in their religious beliefs and behaviour: in their prayers, sacrifices, rituals, meditations, and so forth.
These forms of religious expression, despite the ambiguities they often bring with them, are so universal that one may well call man a religious being:
But this “intimate and vital bond of man to God” can be forgotten, overlooked, or even explicitly rejected by man.

Such attitudes can have different causes: revolt against evil in the world; religious ignorance or indifference; the cares and riches of this world; the scandal of bad example on the part of believers; currents of thought hostile to religion; finally, that attitude of sinful man which makes him hide from God out of fear and flee his call!” (CCC #28, 29)

REFLECTION CAPSULE FOR THE DAY – 12th January, 2021

“Submitting ourselves to His Power and Authority, knowing for sure that ‘when God orders, even the devil obeys!'”

(Based on Heb 2:5-12 and Mk 1:21-28 – Tuesday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1)

A beautiful and commonly quoted story goes thus:

A very poor woman called a Christian radio station asking for some assistance and help.

A man – known to be an unbeliever in God and who highly despised religion – who was listening to this radio program…
…. decided to make something out of it…

He decided to play a prank on the woman, and make her a fool.

He got the ladies’ address…
… then called his secretary and ordered her to buy food

And take to the woman with the following instruction:
“when the woman asks who sent the food…
… tell her that it’s from the devil.”

When the secretary arrived and delivered the food to the woman…
… the woman was so happy and readily accepted the food and moved inside her little house.

The Secretary, out of curiosity asked her: “But don’t you want to know who sent the food?”

The woman answered:
“NO, it doesn’t matter!

Because when GOD orders, even the devil obeys.”

Yes…
… when God orders, even the devil obeys!

The Gospel of the Day presents this act of encounter…
… where the shackles of captivity and bondage of Satan are broken by the power of release and liberation by Jesus!
… where Kingdom of Satan yields to the Kingdom of God!

Jesus is in the synagogue on the Sabbath Day and addressing the people. (Mk 1:21)

His teaching is full of power and conviction…
His teaching is filled with passion and fervour…

This presentation of Jesus, with full of power and authority is something remarkable…
… and worth to be imitated and inspired.

Jesus announced in his First Programmatic Speech (Lk 4: 16-30)…

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…
… to proclaim liberty to the captives”

In tune with this announcement, the Lord goes about “preaching liberty to the captives”…

Those people, who were captivated…
… by sin
… by oppression
… by evil forces and satanic powers

And this “liberation from captivity,” was done by Jesus…
… with a lot of power and authority
… with immense conviction and passion

When one is deeply convinced of one’s beliefs, it overflows into one’s words and actions

When one is highly passionate about one’s faith, it overwhelms one’s deeds and life.

As He thus taught the people, Jesus encountered a man with an unclean spirit, who cried out:
” What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” (Mk 1: 24)

Darkness cannot reign, when light shines!
Filth cannot dominate, where there is immense holiness!
Satanic powers begin to crumble, when the Word of God is proclaimed!

The man with the unclean spirit could not tolerate the Words and the Presence of Jesus!

His heart and mind began to reverberate
The depth of his soul was pierced

Irritation began in him..
… Restlessness began to overpower him

And finally, unable to withstand, he yelll out:  “What have you got to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?!” (Mk 1: 24)

But the Power of God was much more powerful than this yelling!

The Lord with might and power, boldness and  audacity ordered:
“QUIET! Come out of him” (Mk 1: 25)

And when God orders, even the devil obeys!

The Gospel says: “The unclean spirit convulsed him, and with a  loud cry came out of him” (Mk 1:26)

Our life is a constant battle with the powers of the evil.

Time and again, we have people and situations who discourage us

Many times we go through moments when spiritual life doesn’t seem to be encouraging

We often get tied down by the powers of temptation
… We often get disappointed by the struggles of sinful tendencies

But let’s know for sure: The power of the Lord is with us – waiting to save us!

We need to know for sure: That when God orders, even the devil obeys!

What is therefore needed is that, we need to…
… yield ourselves to the Orders of God!
… make ourselves open and docile to the Commands of God!

Let’s examine our Christian lives and check:

Do I constantly seek live a life, in the Presence of the Lord…
… so that no powers of Satan can touch us?

Do I nourish my spiritual life with the daily food of Prayer, Word of God and re-commitment to holiness…
… so that we are never under the bondage of the evil?

The mighty power of the Lord is with us

Always wanting to provide for us!
Always wanting to take care of us!

Let’s submit ourselves to His Power and Authority, knowing for sure:
“When God orders, even the devil obeys!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
THE DESIRE FOR GOD AND THE NEED TO ACKNOWLEDGE HIS PRESENCE

The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself.
Only in God will he find the truth
The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God.
For if man exists it is because God has created him through love…
… and through love continues to hold him in existence.
He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love…

… and entrusts himself to his Creator! (CCC #27)

REFLECTION CAPSULE FOR THE DAY – January 11, 2021: Monday

“Allowing the Lord to walk into our ordinary lives and accepting His invitation to be partakers of the Extraordinary and Effervescent Works of the Kingdom!”

(Based on Heb 1:1-6 and Mk 1:14-20 – Monday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time, Cycle 1)

A story is said of a rich man – much attached to possessions and wealth – who heard a sermon which exhorted to “Let God” work in one’s life.

The example cited was of how, at the creation of the world, God commanded a word and things were created…
… let there be light
… let there be the firmament and the waters
… let there be the living creatures etc
“Letting God” to work would allow miracles to take place in one’s life

Even though this man was not a very practising Catholic, and instead was much attached to his wealth…
… these words “Let God”… “Let God”… kept ringing in his hears.

However, he was not sure, how to “Let God” in his life.

As he sat in the evening with his family, his 6 year old child came to him, telling him, “Pappa, our catechism teacher asked us to write the title of today’s sermon as a homework. Would you kindly check if what I have written is right…?”

And so saying, the little boy handed over the book

The man was surprised to see the title written as “LET GO”
… and there it flashed to him: The way to “Let God” was to “Let Go!”

Yes…
“Letting God” to work in life…
… begins with “Letting Go!”

Have we discovered this fundamental truth of Christian Discipleship?

The Gospel of the Day is this beautiful presentation of the first disciples of Jesus, who “let go”…
… in order to follow Jesus

We have entered into the 1st Week of the New Liturgical Year with the Feast of the Baptism.

The “expectant and hopeful purple colours of Advent” and the “golden and white festive colours of the Christmastide” are now kept aside…
… and its time to live the “sublime and green colours of the ordinary time”

The Gospel presents Jesus entering into the “ordinary situations” of the people…
… and inviting them to be partakers of the “Extraordinary and Effervescent Works of the Kingdom!”

The Gospel says:

“And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen.” (Mk 1:16)
“And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets.” (Mk 1:19)

Simon, Andrew, James and John – would have begun their day just like any other day…
… hoping for a good catch
… but also wary that they may end up without much to carry back home

But Divine Providence had a special day in store for them

Jesus encounters these people on a “regular and ordinary day”
… only to convert that day to a “very special day of blessing and grace!”

Each of us also most probably begin our day, just like any other regular days…
… with mundane tasks
… regular errands and similar schedules

But if we are open and willing to allow the Lord to enter into our lives…
… each day can become a “very special day of blessing and grace!”

Yes, each day can indeed become “the day that the Lord has made” (Ps 118:24 )…
… if we remain open to God’s Voice and cooperate with His Merciful Grace in our lives!

Simon, Andrew, James and John – the first disciples responded to the call of the Lord

And they would have their lives transformed.

The Lord wishes to work out the same transformation in our lives as well.

But for this, we need to “let go”

Yes, we need to “Let Go” in order “to let God” work beautiful miracles in our lives

“Let go” of our tendencies to be attached to material possessions and giving priorities only to worldly riches…
… instead to focus more on the spiritual and eternal realities of life!

“Let go” of our egoistic attitudes…
… instead to accommodate and extend God’s Love to people with the virtues of forgiveness, humility and acceptance!

“Let go” of our bad habits and sinful inclinations…
… instead, to put on the vestment of holiness and purity of life!

The Lord wishes to work mightily in our lives

As the Letter to the Hebrews testifies: “In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets…
… but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world!” (Heb 1:1-2)

Jesus, the Son – the culmination and fulfilment of all revelation….
… desires to walk into our ordinary lives offers us the invitation to be partakers of the “Extraordinary and Effervescent Works of the Kingdom!”

Shall we “let go”….?
… so that we can “let God….”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
UNDERSTANDING WHAT IS FAITH
We begin our profession of faith by saying: “I believe” or “We believe”.

Faith is man’s response to God, who reveals himself and gives himself to man…

… at the same time bringing man a superabundant light, as he searches for the ultimate meaning of his life. (CCC # 26)

REFLECTION CAPSULE FOR THE DAY – 10th January, 2021

“Kindling  the fire and love of being a Christian by renewing our Baptismal vows and living our Baptism!”

(Based on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord)

An incident is told about St Katherine of Alexandria.

Katherine was a noble and learned young woman in this cultural hub of the ancient world of the 4th century. She had attained a lot of popularity in the town of Alexandria.

She was a Christian.

This was the time of the persecution of Christians by Emperor Maxentius.

Christians were given only two options:

Worshipping the emperor (which would violate the First Commandment)…
… or being put to death

In this context, the Governor of Alexandria also came up with another plan to humiliate and discourage the Christians.

He invited the famous Katherine to debate a group of fifteen (some say 50) of the best pagan philosophers and orators…
… Hoping that this dispute would refute all her pro-Christian arguments and thus morally discourage other Christians as well!

Katherine accepted the challenge.

They gathered in the governor’s palace and the discussion began.

But the plan backfired.

Instead of Katherine being converted, several members of the panel (some sources say, all members) were actually converted!

They asked for baptism immediately, so as to receive God’s grace into their souls.

But the governor was furious and condemned them all to immediate death.

To that, Katherine with concern and care assured all the new-converts that since they so sincerely desired to receive the sacrament…
… their own blood would take the place of water, and their own martyrdoms would take the place of baptism.

Those men were willing to give up everything else, only in order to receive the friendship and grace and Jesus Christ.

That’s the power of God’s Love!

And that’s the Power of Witnessing to God’s Love!

The fire of God’s Love that was kindled in St Katherine of Alexandria, at Baptism…
… continued to blaze in her, setting many other souls on fire for love of God!

Does the Fire of Love, that had been kindled in us, at our Baptism…
… continue to blaze powerfully in us?

Or has the fire been diminished and lessened?

Today, Holy Mother the Church celebrates the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus…
… and with an invitation: To “fan into flames” ( 2 Tim 1:6) the fire of God’s Love that has been kindled in us, at our Baptism!

The liturgical season of Christmas, celebrating the self-revelation of God through Jesus, comes to an end with the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord.

This incident of the Baptism of Jesus is greatly significant and important….

It is one of the few passages that appears in all the four Gospels.
It was the first public revelation of the Three Persons of the Trinity
It was the first official declaration of Jesus as the Son of God to the world.

For Jesus, it was…
… a moment of identification with us sinners.
… a moment of decision to begin His public ministry.
…a moment of approval when His Father called Him as His “beloved Son”.

Each one us, as Christians have been baptized in the Lord!

What does Baptism mean to us?

What has Baptism meant to us?

Baptism is a time when we call ourselves to have “put on” Christ…
… a time of conversion…from the old to the new!

For a moment, let’s borrow the idea of how the Jewish conversion would be effected…
… so that we could have a better and a deeper understanding of our Christian Baptism

For a Gentile man to become a full-fledged Jew there was a basic three-step process:

  1. The first was to offer a sacrifice
    A heifer or a pair of turtledoves was brought to the priest and given as a burnt offering to God. This meant some expense involved.

It required hardship, forfeiting  and sacrifice oneself to become a new person!

  1. The second was circumcision – the cutting away of a piece of flesh from a man’s body.
    For a Jewish boy, this was done when he was 8 days old, thus the pain wasn’t remembered.

But an adult male, who wanted to become a Jewish proselyte, had to undergo this procedure, regardless of his age.

It required deep pain, immense agony and even shedding of blood to become a new person!

  1. The third was baptism.
    The person stripped off all of his clothes.

He then went into the water naked before the Rabbis…
… dipped himself under water making sure to fully immerse his entire body!

It required a lot of humility and self-sacrifice to become a new person!

Christian Baptism may not have these external signs and actions as that of the Jews.

But the internal aspects are much more strongly present…
… and even more valid!

To be a Baptized Person in Jesus – a passage from the Old to the New, requires….

  1. Sacrifice of oneself
    …. Willingness to sacrifice one’s life for the Lord, in the form of money, talents, time, energy etc…

He who wishes to follow me, must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me (Mt 16:24)

  1. Undergoing pain and suffering
    … Openness to share the agony and grief of life through various life situations and being patient and faithful in all trials …

“The Lord your God will circumcise your heart… to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul…” (Dt 30: 6)

  1. Embracing a life of humility and dependence on God
    … Readiness to overcome our pride, our selfish desires and interests and allow God’s grace and mercy to flow through us…

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Pet 5:6)

Most of us have been Baptized when we were too little…

We were not aware….

But those who loved us and cared for us, were aware.

Today very often, the Ceremony of Baptism gets reduced to a mere ritual with only celebrations and get-togethers

We need to instead, revive the primary aspect of Baptism: As a life-transforming process, with its intrinsic elements of pain and sacrifices!

Baptism was a beginning… an initiation…into a life of grace…
… a journey with the Lord!

The Spirit of the Lord is within us…

And the call from Deep within us is strong:
“Rise up from slumber, if you are sleeping…
As a Baptized Christian, you have a very noble vocation and an immense responsibility…

Christian Life is no joke
… it does not tolerate passivity
… it does not allow lethargy!

Look up…

Mother Church is waiting to embrace you in deep love with Her Sacraments…

Mother Mary and all the Saints and Angels are encouraging you to become a Saint…

Yes, You are a Baptized Child of God
… Consecrated to the Lord
… Holy to Him!

Be true…

Be Faithful…
Be Enthusiastic…
Be Proud… to be a Christian”

Yes, the fire of God’s Love that has been kindled in us at Baptism…
… ought to continue to blaze in us, setting many other souls on fire for love of God!

Let us re-kindle the fire and love of being a Christian….

Let’s renew our Baptismal vows!
Let’s live our Baptism!

Happy Feast to all of us, baptized with our Dearest Lord!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
THE FUNDAMENTAL PASTORAL STATEMENT OF THE CATECHISM

The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends.
Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible…
… so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love…

… and have no other objective than to arrive at love! (CCC #25)

REFLECTION CAPSULE FOR THE DAY – 8th January, 2021

“Let’s extend to the Lord our hands… our hearts… our lives… so that He can touch us!”

(Based on 1 Jn 5:5-13 and Lk 5:12-16 – Friday after Epiphany)

Life sometimes is quite strange!

Often, when things go all well and it seems that everything is fine…disasters strike in life.

This is an experience of many of us in our lives.

Think of a man who is in his early thirties…

He has a wonderful wife, with two lovely children.

It’s a home with lot of joy and happiness…

One day, the man comes back home after work – he is a mason.

On coming back, he informs his wife of a tiny sore that has been nagging him for sometime

This sore had turned a bit reddish after the heavy days of work.

With much insistence and persuasion by the wife, the man agrees to show it to a doctor.

After the initial check up, the doctor tells them:
“Well, the sore certainly has grown a bit. I have some of my initial observations, but I need to work on them still.

Why don’t you stay up here in the hospital for a few days, so that I can further examine?”

And so they agree.

As days pass, the sore gets more infectious.

The doctor, now is ready with his well-studied and examined decision.. ” I am sorry to inform you… but you are infected with… Leprosy!!”

Hearing this, the man is terrified.

Leprosy, he knew, was not just an ordinary sickness.

It was a slow death sentence – distanced from family, distanced from society, distanced from self!

Imagine that situation of the happy living family!

The man is now to leave his wife and children; his land and work;
…  He is to go and live with people who were afflicted with a similar disease.

This was the law of the land.
This was the regulation practised in this area.

The Law required the lepers to keep as far away from all healthy people as possible.

Whenever someone drew near who did not have leprosy, the leper was supposed to shout, “Unclean! Unclean!”

So, with a heavy heart and a crushed spirit, the man leaves his loving wife and two children.

He goes off alone… to die!

He couldn’t even have an animal for a companion.

If he touched even a dog, the dog had to be killed so that it did not carry the disease back into the city.

Life as a leper was just too horrible and miserable!

Life sometimes is indeed quite strange!

The Gospel of the Day presents one such leper… A man who was “full of leprosy” ( Lk 5:12)

One fine day, however,  this leper looks up and sees a small group of people following a Man.

That man, the leader, he comes to know…
… is Jesus.

The leper has heard about Jesus.

He would wish to hear Him.

But the Law did not permit to go close!

As the group passes their way, this leper man remembers what the Law taught Him..

And he begins to shout, “Unclean! Unclean! I have leprosy! Stay away from me! Unclean!”

But then a strange thing happens!!

Jesus keeps coming closer to him.

His shouts increases… louder goes his cries…”Unclean, Unclean!”

But Jesus keeps coming closer and closer… till He has reached the leper man!

The leper has now been afflicted for many years.

He misses his family very deeply.

He knows he is at the edge of life… undergoing a slow death!

But…
… Before him, now stands, someone, who he has heard, has tremendous power!
… Before him, now stands, someone, who he has heard, can unshackle any bondage!

And so, with tears filling his eyes and dread filling his shocked face, he asks, ” Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean!” (Lk 5:12)

It was a cry of agony.
It was a wail of immense anguish.

He had suffered much.

He had been separated from loved ones for long.

Now he wanted a deliverance.

He wanted freedom from the captivity.

He wanted a wholesome life in his loathsome existence!

And then comes the spectacular words of Jesus, “I do will. Be clean!” (Lk 5:13)

The Lord touches him!

His body was touched!
His heart was healed!
His soul was cleansed!

Life was restored! Happiness was returned!

Do you and me also feel sometimes like a leper?

Situations of happiness being snatched away?
Moments of love and affection being afflicted?
Times of joy, serenity and calmness being affected?

Unloved? Rejected? Despised? Abused? Helpless? Hopeless? Dying?

We may be going through hard times…

We may feel that life is unfair to us…
We may feel that existence is meaningless…

But…
… The Lord wants to restore us!
… He wants to make us whole again!

Life is strange…
… but the Power of the Lord is more strong!

Life is complicated…
… but the Grace of the Lord is more compelling!

The Lord is here to touch us!

Let’s extend to Him our hands.. our hearts.. our lives…!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
PROFESSING OUR FAITH IN OUR GOOD GOD – OUR REDEEMER AND SANCTIFIER

Those who belong to Christ through faith and Baptism, must confess their baptismal faith before men.

The profession of faith summarizes the gifts that God gives man: as the Author of all that is good; as Redeemer; and as Sanctifier. (CCC #14)

REFLECTION CAPSULE FOR THE DAY – January 07, 2021: Thursday

“Entrusting our lives into the care of the Great Carpenter of Nazareth!”

(Based on 1 Jn 4:19-5:4 and Lk 4:14-22 – Thursday after Epiphany)

A carpenter is a person who works with wood.

The carpenter uses various tools and implements in order to cut, shape, chisel, carve and cut into the pieces of wood.

Gives new shapes… repairs the broken ones…polishes the rough edges etc…

The Gospel of the Day is an encounter with such a Carpenter.
Well… he is no ordinary one….

He is the Great Carpenter of Nazareth… JESUS!

Jesus is in His hometown of Nazareth.

He walks into the synagogue, as was His custom.
He is handed over the book of prophet Isaiah and reads a prophetic passage.

All were amazed at His gracious words and they began to ask each other, “Isn’t this the Son of Joseph” (Lk 4:22)

Yeah, Jesus was the Son of Joseph, the carpenter!

And this Child of Joseph, was Himself also a carpenter!
The people would have murmured this statement to belittle Jesus.
The people would have referred Him so, because of their bias and prejudice.
The people perhaps called Him that way to show that He was just ordinary – one of them.

But what the people murmured or muttered or grumbled was indeed true…

Even later on, the people would refer, “Is He not the carpenter, the son of Mary…” (Mk 6:3)

Truly, Jesus is the Carpenter…

Not just an ordinary one, but the Great Carpenter of Nazareth!

The Jewish people were in great expectation of a Messiah.

Their concept of a Messiah would have been one who is very powerful, kingly, majestic etc.

But Jesus, the Messiah doesn’t ornament Himself with all such expected grandeur.

He doesn’t robe Himself with a showy magnificence or armour Himself with majestic works.

He takes the role of a Carpenter.

He identified Himself with the common people…
He became one with humanity with hard labour and gritty toil.

On one of the tombstones, in Great Britain, there is an epitaph written for a man named Thomas Cobb.

It says, “Here lies Thomas Cobb, who mended shoes to the glory of God, for 40 years.”

Yes, glory and honour can be rendered to God in any activity- small or great, menial or expert!

What is my understanding about the duties and responsibilities entrusted to me?

Am I aware that in all works – small and great, I can be giving glory to God?
Do I perform all my tasks, with a Sacred Sense that it’s an extension of God’s creative works?

A carpenter’s work is to fashion new things from ordinary wood and also to repair things that have been damaged.

The Great Carpenter of Nazareth is wanting to do the same in our lives…

He wants to create us anew and refashion our lives.
He wants to give new shape and utility to our brokenness and damaged parts of life.

Are we ready to let the Great Carpenter of Nazareth to work in our lives?

Hammer in some of the nails of discipline and virtues?
Chisel away sin and other unwanted portions of our life?
Polish some places of life that have lost its sheen and shine?
Drill in some screws to tighten the lethargic and sluggish areas of life?
Level some habits in us that can hamper the balance of our spirituality?
Measure some of our activities to determine how much exactly is needed?

In Mt 12:20 we read, “… a bruised reed, He will not break…”

We all of us have our brokenness in life… damages in relations… bruises in thoughts…

But the Great Carpenter assures that He will not let our bruised reeds be broken!
He wants to mend us…
He wants to repair us…

He wants to fashion us anew!

St John reminds us: “We love, because he first loved us!” (1 Jn 4:19)

As a stanza in one of the lesser-known carol titled, “Behold a little Child” goes…
“Christ, Master Carpenter,
We come rough-hewn to Thee;
At last, through wood and nails,
Thou mad’st us whole and free;
In this thy world remake us, planned,
To truer beauty of Thine Hand.”

Yes, the Spirit of the Lord is upon this Great Carpenter of Galilee, “…to bring glad tidings to the poor;
Liberty to the captives; Recovery of sight to the blind;
Let the oppressed go free;
To proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord” (Lk 4: 18-19)

Knock…Knock… The Carpenter is already here…

Let’s open the door to Him…
… no matter, even if the door is also damaged!!

Let us entrust our lives into the care of the Great Carpenter of Nazareth….!

God bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
THE FOUR PILLARS OF THE CATECHISM
The Catechism builds its catechesis on four pillars:
(1) The baptismal profession of faith (the Creed)
(2) The sacraments of faith
(3) The life of faith (the Commandments)

(4) The prayer of the believer (the Lord’s Prayer) (CCC #13)

REFLECTION CAPSULE FOR THE DAY – Jan 06, 2021: Wednesday

“Trusting that the Lord is with us and hears our cry of deep anguish and fear!”

(Based on 1 Jn 4:11-18 and Mk 6:45-52 – Wednesday after Epiphany)

Played with li’l children?

When elders play some game, with little children, we usually change some rules of the game.

It could be a game of cricket, or football or just passing the ball etc…

We relax some of the rules to make it easy for the child to enjoy the game a little more.

Sometimes for fun, we even, play badly, so that the child may win…
Sometimes, we even make some adjustments and act as if we don’t know how to play well..
Sometimes, we even play, as if we are losing very badly so that the child may enjoy more…

We do a bit of “acting” and do some pretence, in order to see the reaction of the children.

Well…
… for the Lord, we are li’l Children…

And no doubt, He too loves to play some tricks with us, His Kids!

The Gospel of the Day is an example of how the Lord loves having “some fun” with us, His Little Kids…

The Lord has performed a stupendous multiplication of the five loaves & two fish among the five thousand men. (Mk 6: 34-44)

He then makes His disciples to get onto a boat, while He retires to enjoy His precious moments with His Abba Father on the mountains, to pray. (Mk 6: 45-46)

It’s at that time, the disciples, who are out in the sea, travelling on the boat, face a great storm.

As the disciples are struggling against the waves that hit them and the gushes of wind lashing against their boat, Jesus comes walking on the sea, towards them.

St Mark’s Gospel is very particular in mentioning a strangely overlooked statement: “He meant to pass them by” (Mk 6: 48b)

Another translation of this sentence would read, “He intended to pass them by!”

Now, that’s strange, right?

The disciples are struggling for life and are in deep danger…

And does the Lord wish to just pass them by?

The boat is to capsize and it’s a terrible resistance against the forces of nature…

And does the Lord just want to pass them by?

Did He not see them?

Or does He not care?

Well… this is where we introduce the aspect of the Lord having some “fun” with His children!

On another occasion also, Jesus would do something similar…

On the road to Emmaus, with the two disciples, when they reach close to their destination, Jesus does a similar “prank”
“As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus gave the impression that he was going on further” (Lk 24:28)

Yet, on both occasions…
… when Jesus is called up, He responds positively.

In the boat, when the disciples saw the Jesus intended to pass them by, they cried out in fear.

And this prayer… of fear and worry… was heard by the Lord, and He responds!

On the way to Emmaus, when the two saw that Jesus was going away, they requested his presence.

And this prayer… of earnestness and desire…was heard by the Lord, and He responds!

Similar situations here…

The Lord in a sort of a “prank”
… intends to pass by.

It seems that He is not so interested in their concerns…

Yet, when they call out to Him
… He responds!

Just like elders while playing with children, who “act” for some time….

Jesus’ “acting” of being disinterested or “not knowing what to do” pays off…

The disciples reach out to Him in earnest prayer…and a miracle is performed!
The Lord seems to pass by, not because He is not interested in us.
The Lord acts as if He is passing by, not because He does not care for us.

It is rather just His way of making us to also reach out to Him in prayer

Divine disposition does not do away with human actions….
Divine help does not rule out human initiatives.

We are not to sit back and wait in passivity for God’s help…

We are to call out on Him, in prayer, in faith, in love!

Our lives sometimes have to face the consequence of this “prank” or “acting” of the Lord.

We struggle in the boats of our life, against dreadful storms of problems…
We row hard with all our might, and sometimes feel that it’s going to be the end of our life…

We get frightened and are afraid that somehow the waves will have the better of ourselves…
And the Lord, just “seems” to pass by

But when we cry out in deep anguish and fear… the Lord hears!
Our anxiety and fears itself becomes a prayer in the Presence of the Lord!

Is our life passing through deadly storms of faithlessness and isolation?
Are the dreadful waves of hardships and miseries assaulting us?
Does it seem that the Lord is “just passing by”?

Lift up the sagging and weary spirits…
The Lord is very much with us!

Let’s open our hearts and lives to Him…and hear Him say, “Take courage, it is I… Do not be afraid!” (Mk 6:50)

God Bless! Live Jesus!


📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
THE RESPONSIBLE PEOPLE FOR THE USE AND SPREAD OF THE CATECHISM
The Catechism is intended primarily for those responsible for catechesis:

First of all the bishops, as teachers of the faith and pastors of the Church. It is offered to them as an instrument in fulfilling their responsibility of teaching the People of God.
Through the bishops, it is addressed to redactors of catechisms, to priests, and to catechists.

It will also be useful reading for all other Christian faithful.

REFLECTION CAPSULE FOR THE DAY – Jan 05, 2021: Tuesday

“Throw ourselves entirely into the care of our Divine Compassionate Shepherd especially in our moments of ‘doubting our abilities!’”

(Based on 1 Jn 4:7-10 and Mk 6:34-44 – January 05)

One of the easiest doubts that crops up in our day to day experience is the “doubt in our abilities”.

How can I do the job?
How can I be expected to study so much?
How can I ever be able to succeed in such a situation? etc…

Such a doubting of our abilities can leave many of our plans and aspirations to be at a standstill…

The Gospel of the Day brings us face-to-face with such kind of a situation – a situation of “doubts in abilities”

It was a late evening…
The Lord had finished preaching the Word of God to a large crowd of people.

The disciples sensed that it had got too late and requested the Lord to send the people away, so that they could fetch some food for themselves.
“This is a deserted place and it is already very late. Dismiss them so that they can go to the surrounding farms and villages and buy themselves something to eat” (Mk 6: 36)

But the Lord had different plans… as always!

The Lord loves to challenge us in our comforts…
The Lord loves to let loose our lethargic leanings…
The Lord loves to instigate our insipid inhibitions…

He tells the disciples, “Give them some food yourselves” (Mk 6: 37)

This statement came as a shocker for the disciples….
“Are we to buy two hundred days’ wages worth of food and give it to them to eat?” (Mk 6:37)

The disciples were not prepared to accept the challenge of the Lord…

They perhaps thought from a financial point of view… It would be too expensive to feed so many!
… And doubting their ability, they thought – “How can it be possible?”

They perhaps thought from a sociological point of view… It would be too impractical to handle so many!
… And doubting their ability, they thought – “How can it be possible?”

They perhaps thought from a comfort point of view… It would be a botheration for us to look after so many!
… And doubting their ability, they thought – “How can it be possible?”

Logic sometimes tells us that some things are too hard.
Reason sometimes prompts us that some situations are too bad.
Brain sometimes puts forward that some circumstances are beyond our control.
But the Lord invites them to look at the strength of their ability… which is He Himself!

When problems come, we often “doubt out abilities” because we look only into ourselves…
We fail to look to the Lord, who is the solution to our problems.

When difficulties encompass us, we often “doubt out abilities” because we think that we are the master of everything…
We fall short of recognizing the power of God, which is, in fact, our true strength

When crisis befalls us, we often “doubt out abilities”, because we get totally tensed and worried within ourselves…
We do not look up and see the hand of God, waiting to lead and guide us

The Disciples, who were “doubting their abilities”, finally let themselves into the ways of the Lord…

And then the miracle happened!!
When we entrust everything into God’s hands, miracles occur…
When we have faith in the mighty Providence of the Lord, wonders take place…

Before the Lord… logic can dissolve!

Before the Lord… reason can be floored!
Before the Lord… brains can be put to shame!

Yes…
… Life will continue to challenge us with problems, wherein we “doubt our abilities”
… Life will always ambush us with painful difficulties, wherein we “doubt our abilities”

Let all those moments…
… be a chance for us to allow the Lord to multiply His blessings in us.
… be an opportunity for us to let the Lord to increase His grace in us.

As St Paul of the Cross tells us, “Let us throw ourselves into the ocean of His goodness, where every failing will be cancelled and every anxiety turned into love.”

Let us throw ourselves entirely into the care of our Divine Compassionate Shepherd!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


📖 Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
THE AIM, SOURCE AND INTENTION OF THE CATECHISM
The Catechism aims at presenting an organic synthesis of the essential and fundamental contents of Catholic doctrine, as regards both faith and morals, in the light of the Second Vatican Council and the whole of the Church’s Tradition.

Its principal sources are the Sacred Scriptures, the Fathers of the Church, the liturgy, and the Church’s Magisterium.

It is intended to serve “as a point of reference for the catechisms or compendia that are composed in the various countries.” (CCC #11)

REFLECTION CAPSULE FOR THE DAY – January 04, 2021: Monday

“Taking control of our lives, by giving time for ‘ourselves’ even if needed to ‘withdraw’ at certain times just like our Dear Lord, the perfect strategist and ideal planner!”

(Based on 1 Jn 3:22-4:6 and Mt 4:12-17, 23-25 – January 04, 2021)

One of the subtle, taken-for-granted, yet successful techniques in life, is “withdrawal”.

(This “withdrawal” is NOT in the psychological sense of alienating oneself or going into an isolated state of mind)

This technique of “withdrawal” is seen in many areas of life….

While playing chess, as part of a clever strategy, one “withdraws” some of the pieces, in order to have a better control over the game.

This withdrawal is in order to alter the line of attack…
This withdrawal is to plan a new approach to win the game…

While driving a bike through heavy traffic (especially through the Indian roads), one “withdraws” one’s vehicle for some time, by slowing down…

This withdrawal is to allow a little more space ahead, so that we can overtake faster…
This withdrawal, by slowing down for few seconds, helps to find more empty spaces to go ahead faster…

Withdrawal, as a technique, is not a sign of weakness or surrender…

Rather, it’s a tactic to plan better and enhance organizing.

Withdrawal, as a technique, is not an indication of admitting defeat or submissiveness…

Rather, it’s a method to make more progress and find better ways out.

The Gospel of the Day begins with a mention of ‘withdrawal’ by Jesus…
“When He heard that John had been arrested, Jesus withdrew to Galilee” (Mt 4:12)

John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus had already begun preaching about the message of repentance.

King Herod, in Jerusalem, had to also face the “naked truths” of the preaching of John.

Living in immorality, King Herod had been strongly condemned for his actions, by John
Practising adultery, King Herod had been angered greatly by the bold exhortation of John

And so, King Herod had John the Baptist arrested.

The “Voice” had been stifled!
The “Voice” was suppressed!

St Matthew, however, says, that on hearing of John’s arrest, “Jesus withdrew”.

Was it a withdrawal out of fear?
Was it a withdrawal because Jesus got intimidated by King Herod?

Surely No!!

Why was it not an action of fear?

Because….
… Galilee, the place where Jesus withdrew, was equally a dangerous place since it was also under King Herod’s rule
… Jesus would display a far greater exhibition of courage, bravery and boldness than even John, by His ministry of Authentic Preaching and Awe-inspiring wondrous deeds.

God in His Divine plan wanted Jesus to perform much of His ministry in the Gentile region of Galilee.

Galilee was certainly not the most obvious place for the Messiah to begin His ministry.
Galilee was part of the Northern Kingdom of the nation, which was ruled by ungodly kings…

The population was mixed in race and looked down upon by the Jews of Judah & Jerusalem.

The people of Galilee were considered to be somewhat pagan in their spiritual life.

Yet, as part of His Divine strategy, Jesus “withdraws” to this most improbable place of Galilee to launch His ministry of Spiritual Revolution of the world.

Life sometimes makes us to “withdraw”…

In a situation of trouble and crisis, we need to sometimes “withdraw” into our selves and find time with the Lord, in order to assess and evaluate our circumstances.

In our dealings with others, we need to sometimes “withdraw” some of our words, expressions and feelings, in order to preserve and strengthen our relationships.

In our careers or future planning, we need to sometimes “withdraw” so that we can give sometime for ourselves and thus be able to perform better.

Life is not always rosy and life is not always a cakewalk.

Difficulties and struggles are ready to very often pounce on us.
Crisis and situations of terror are waiting to grab us by the neck.

Just like our Dear Lord, who is the perfect strategist and the ideal planner, we too need to take control of our lives, by giving time for “ourselves” even if needed to “withdraw” at certain times.

This withdrawal is not a retreat into depression…
… rather a time of preparation with the Lord.
This withdrawal is not falling into anxieties…
… rather a time of charging with the power of God

Let the words of St John penetrate our lives: “Little children, you are of God, and have overcome them; for He Who is in you, is greater than he who is in the world!” (1 Jn 4:4)

Let us become a powerful witness to Jesus, the Light of the Nations!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
UNDERSTANDING THE IMPORTANCE OF CATECHESIS
Catechesis is the Church’s efforts to make disciples, to help people believe that Jesus is the Son of God, so that believing they might have life in His Name, and to educate and instruct them in this life, thus building up the body of Christ.

Catechesis is an education in the faith of children, young people and adults which includes especially the teaching of Christian doctrine imparted, in an organic and systematic way, with a view to initiating the hearers into the fullness of Christian life! (Cf. CCC #4,5)