March 28, 2020 – 4th Week of Lent

“Seeking to grow in our relationship with Jesus, the Truth Incarnate and being faithful to Him forever!”

(Based on Jer 11:18-20 and Jn 7: 40-52)

Christianity and the teachings of the Catholic Church have baffled and amazed many people.

Some have even tried – even violently – to find alternatives for the same…
… only to realise, that a genuine search for the Truth would lead them to Christianity and the Catholic Church!

One such person who rejected Christianity for the sake of “finding the truth” was G.K. Chesterton.

Chesterton sought to formulate the one blanket philosophy that could explain everything as everything is…
… because he did not believe Christianity or any other modern worldview to be completely it.

He was after the “master key of philosophies,” for he was certain no one had yet found it.

Eventually he knitted together a philosophy that appeared to be wholly true and sane and sensible…
… only to discover that his discovered philosophy of sanity was, in fact, not his – it was the Truth already taught by the Church!

In his own words, “I tried to be some ten minutes in advance of the truth.

And I found that I was eighteen hundred years behind it!”

G.K. Chesterton would later say, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”

The Christian Ideal indeed demands living with convictions…
… in the midst of opposing views and interpretations.

Jesus, the Master – the Truth Incarnate – lived this life of conviction…
… and in the face of oppositions and worldly thought-patterns, He became a sign of “contradictions and paradox!”

And therefore Christ had to undergo varied responses from those who encountered Him…
… very few understood Him, a little
… many of them failed to understand Him
… many of them even badly misunderstood Him

He remained The Truth – yet, the sign of contradiction.

The Gospel of the Day presents this deep contradiction that was experienced by the people of His time – including the religious leaders.

The passage records two conversations:

The first one among the crowd
The second one among the chief priests and the Pharisees

Both have a similar subject: Jesus.
Both have a similar dilemma: Confusion about Jesus.

The people in the crowd were confused in recognizing who really Jesus was.

The words of the Lord were so authoritative and astonishing that some considered Him as a prophet revisited and some even seeing Him as the Messiah (Jn 7:41).

However, others were not convinced and they began to debate on the origin of the Messiah.

The second conversation, between the chief priests and Pharisees, was not just about some personal opinions, but involved the proper following of the Law as well.

Nicodemus, the one who had met Jesus, one night, however , began to defend Jesus.

It was to him, that Jesus, on that night, had told, one of the most loved verses, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son; that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16)

After his encounter with the Truth-Incarnate, Nicodemus….
… the genuine seeker of truth, had the spark in his heart, kindled by the Lord of Love.
… the honest searcher of reality, had the longing within, nourished by the Lord of Holiness.

And so he stood firm and bold, to defend the One whom he perceived as the Truth!

But here, one also gets to see the deep hatred that was grooming in the minds of the leaders…

Nicodemus told that, in judging Jesus, it was necessary to follow the Law properly: “Does our law condemn a person, before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?” (Jn 7:51)

He did not say that he agreed with Jesus…

He did not say that he denied Jesus could be a criminal…

All he said was to follow the law – to be just and fair!

But that statement provoked the anger of the other blinded-and-obstinate religious leaders!

The forces of confusion and dilemma watered him down, and contradictions reigned galore!

Where there is the proclamation of truth, there is the presence of many false screams, seeking to drown it hard!
Where there is the defence of truth, there is the defiance of many evil forces, wanting to do away with it!

Jeremiah, the Prophet foretold this “opposition to the Truth” that Jesus would encounter:
“But I was like a gentle lamb, led to the slaughter. I did not know it was against me, they devised schemes, saying, ‘Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more!’” (Jer 11:18)

Jesus is a sign of contractions.

He is The Truth.

In His presence, no lie can stand.
In His presence, no evil can withstand.

But it is this confusion, that can lead a person to understand the reality, if one is open and honest!

Yes, it’s pretty strange that sometimes contradictions that can actually help us to recognize The Truth!

Georges Bataille, a French intellectual and literary figure writes, “I believe that truth has only one face: that of a violent contradiction”

The Lord – the Truth Incarnate is ready to reveal Himself to those open at heart and honest in seeking Him.

Are we ready to learn more from Him and to know Him more?
Are we ready to draw the waters of Holiness from the Fountain of Truth?
Are we ready to blaze our lives with the fire of passionate love from the Furnace of Truth?

Let us not be…
… confused by the Lord who was the sign of contradiction.
… puzzled by the Lord who was the sign of paradoxes.

Instead, let us be…
… convinced in the Lord of Truth!
… passionate for the Lord of Truth!

Let us reminded of the fact that a genuine search for the Truth would always lead to Christianity and the Catholic Church!

God bless! Live Jesus!


Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “There are three things we must do to be at peace…
… have a pure intention to desire the honour and glory of God in all things
… do the little that we can, unto that end, following the advice of our spiritual father… and leave all the rest, to God’s Care!”

March 27, 2020 – 4th Week of Lent

“Living and standing firmly for Christian Convictions!”

(Based on Wis 2:1a, 12-22 and Jn 7: 1-2, 10, 25-30)

An incident is told about a great Christian missionary who had pioneered the Christian work in a far-off island.

A group of well-wishers – some of them who wished to join this Missionary in his work – wrote a letter to him, asking:
“Have you found a good road to where you are?

If so, we want to know how to send other men to join you.”

The Christian missionary however replied back:
“If you have men who will come only if they know there is a good road, I don’t want them.

I want men who will come if there is no road at all!”

The beauty of life is enhanced, when people are willing to take the “road less travelled!”

And this can happen, only “when one’s life is guided by convictions!”

It is convictions in life…
… that will help to experience true serenity and happiness.
… that will help to tide across the various storms encountered.

Am I living a life of deep convictions in faith, which makes people to take notice of the Lord and help them come closer to Him?
Am I filled with a deep passion for the Lord, which makes others to be attracted and fascinated to the Kingdom of the Lord?

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus, boldly facing and withstanding the various storms of difficulties, and thus emerging as an Epitome of passion and conviction.

Jesus is progressing in His ministry.

On one side, there has been a increase in His popularity ratings…
… many sick being healed, many oppressed finding solace, many rejected finding consolation.

On the other side, however, there has also been an augmentation in opposition to Him…
… many being offended by His radical call of transformation, many finding Him blaspheming, many snubbed at His uncompromising authority.

But Jesus remains unperturbed!

He continues to preach the Word of God…
He continues to openly declare His relation with the Father…
He continues to publicly affirm His mission and purpose on the earth…

Jesus is the Epitome of convictions and passion!

Nothing could make Him to compromise His convictions…
Nothing could make Him to lay down His principles of life…
Neither threats, nor adulations… neither opposition, nor exaltation!

The Book of Wisdom prophesied the Person of Jesus Christ and His convictions that would amaze even His opponents:
He professes to have knowledge of God, and calls Himself a Child of the Lord.

He became to us a reproof of our thoughts; the very sight of him is a burden to us, because His manner of life is unlike that of others, and His ways are strange.
We are considered by Him as something base, and He avoids our ways as unclean; He calls the last end of the righteous happy, and boasts that God is His Father! (Wis 2:13-16)

Can I also seek to grow in my life of conviction in my faith?

Can I also try to deepen my passion for the Lord and His Kingdom?

One of the very popular and yet, good-to-remind quote is:
“My life may be the only Gospel…
… that people may encounter
…that people may read
…that people may experience”

Let our lives powerfully and convincingly radiate the message of the Gospel!

The beauty of Christian life is enhanced, only when we are willing to take the “road less travelled!”

And this can happen, only “when one’s life is guided by convictions!”

May our Blessed Lord grant us the Grace to always live and stand firmly for “Christian Convictions!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Have Jesus always for your Patron…
… His Cross for a mast on which you spread your resolutions as a sailYour anchor shall be a profound confidence in Him, and you shall sail prosperously!”

March 26, 2020 – 4th Week of Lent

“Seeking to be true and faithful, rather than just be popular!”

(Based on Ex 32:7-14 and Jn 5:31-47)

Written on the stone pavements of a street in a remote village are the following words:
“One of the evils of this modern day is the scarcity of men and women in places of leadership who are willing to speak their convictions…
… at the risk of popularity!”

Christian life is a constant challenge between two aspects: Being Popular or being Right!

There is a constant challenge to stand against prospects of gaining false fame and phony popularity, by compromising on one’s Christian ideologies and values.

Can we be Christians who value one’s integrity for Christ’s sake…
… than to compromise one’s principles and turn popular?

Can we be Christians who give priority to being honest for the Lord’s honour…
… than to dilute one’s ethics and gain cheap fame?

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus who stood firm and rock-solid, in his mission commitment, even in the face of opposition, indifference and apathy from the Jews.

The context of today’s Gospel Passage – Jn 5:31-47 – is the aftermath of the Healing of the Crippled Man by the pool of Bethesda, on the Sabbath Day (Jn 5:1-18)

This incident had sparked a rage of opposition against Jesus…

He was persecuted because the act of healing was done on the Sabbath (Jn 5: 16)
His defense caused the Jews to kill Him, because Jesus equated Himself with God (Jn 5:18)

There was a strong wave of antagonism and hostility, against Jesus…
… that was pressurizing Him to compromise His teachings
… that was coercing Him to dilute His principles

But Jesus stood firm and rock-solid, in his mission commitment, even in the face of opposition, indifference and apathy from the Jews.

He therefore presents before the Jews, witnesses which would testify to Him, to His Divinity.

He uses the language of a courtroom – “witnesses” – to prove His credibility as the Divine Person

The Jews considered that two witnesses were needed for the veracity of a testimony or person.

The Torah says, “One witness shall not arise against a man for any sin or guilt that he may commit; according to two witnesses or according to three witnesses a matter shall stand.” (Dt 19:15)

Jesus, however brings in 4 witnesses…

  1. The Witness of John the Baptist (Jn 5: 33-34)
  2. The Witness of His Works (Jn 5: 36)
  3. The Witness of God the Father (Jn 5: 37-38)
  4. The Witness of God’s Word – the Scriptures (Jn 5: 39-40)

Our Christian Life is a constant challenge…
… to let go of our values and principles
… to compromise on our efforts and mission works

But we need to be inspired and imitate our Blessed Lord…
… Who was unwilling to let go of His Commitment and Dedication to the Mission

And like Jesus, we too have the help of “Divine Witnesses” to accord veracity to our testimony.

There will be moments when…
… we get into situations of being asked to be dishonest, lethargic and be untruthful

We need to seek the Witness of John the Baptist…
… who remained uncompromising in living a life of truth, dare and boldness!

There will be moments when…
… life surrounds us doubts in the form of sicknesses and tragedies

We need to seek the Witness of the Works of Jesus…
… which brought new life and healing to the hopeless, the lost and the dying!

There will be moments when…
…our life will be caught in a turmoil of confusions and uncertainties

We need to seek the Witness of God the Father…
… Whose unconditional love and compassion, strengthens us and lifts us without fail!

There will be moments when…
… our convictions get challenged by the straying and deceitful philosophies of the world

We need to seek the Witness of God’s Word – the Scriptures …
… Which can bring clarity and passion in our Christian life.

Let this Gospel Passage challenge and inspire us…
… to remain ever uncompromising in our Christian Life.

To stand for God and His Kingdom
To live to share His Love and Mercy

Yes, “one of the evils of this modern day, is the scarcity of men and women in places of leadership who are willing to speak their convictions…
… at the risk of popularity!”

In the Old Testament, Moses displayed a great heart of leadership, in interceding for the people of Israel…
… and offered himself, in humility, to plead for the Mercy of the Lord. (Ex 32:7-14)

He chose the path of being true faithful, even if he had to tread the path of being not popular!

Let us dare to show this “spirit of leadership” like Jesus our Master…
… by seeking to be true and faithful, rather than just be popular!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “If only God would seal my heart, so that nothing could ever enter there but His Divine Love…… and nothing could open it, but charity!”

March 25, 2020 – Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

“Saying Yes to God’s Will, like our Blessed Mother, and allow the Lord to be born, in our hearts and in our world today!”

(Based on The Solemnity of the Annunication of the Lord – Lk 1: 26-38)

A little six-year-old boy had often heard his Catholic companions reciting the prayer “Hail Mary.”

He liked it so much that he copied it, memorized it and would recite it every day.

“Look, Mommy, what a beautiful prayer,” he said to his mother one day.

“Never again say it,” answered the mother who was against Catholic practices. “It is a superstitious prayer of Catholics who think Mary as a goddess. After all, she is a woman like any other. “

From that day on the little boy discontinued his daily “Hail Mary” and gave himself more time to reading the Bible instead.

One day, while reading the Gospel, he came across the passage about the Annunciation of the Angel to Our Lady.

Full of joy, the little boy ran to his mother and said: “Mommy, I have found the ‘Hail Mary’ in the Bible which says: ‘Hail full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou amongst women.
‘Why do you call it a superstitious prayer?”

On another occasion he found that beautiful Salutation of St. Elizabeth to the Virgin Mary which said, “Blessed are You among women and blessed is the Fruit of Your Womb”

This little boy, as he grew up…
… made a serious study of both Protestantism and Catholicism.

He found the latter to be the only true religion and embraced it and became one of its most ardent apostles…
… going on to become a Priest!

Mother Mary is indeed the beautiful instrument chosen by God, to lead many more to His Love.

Today is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.

This announcement of the Good News of the beginning of salvation history, with the encounter of Blessed Virgin Mary with Angel Gabriel, is the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord.

Mother Mary, at the Annunciation teaches us many things…

  1. Mother Mary teaches the supreme goodness of obedience

Heaven had chosen a simple girl, Mary to be the Mother of Jesus, the Saviour.
When Angel Gabriel was sent to seek Her consent, Mary, after the initial moments of fear, bowed Herself in obedience: “Behold, I am the Handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to Me, according to Your Word” (Lk 1: 38)
This obedience to God’s Will would turn out to be Her fortress and strength – in moments of uncertainty, loneliness, dread and agony.

  1. “Faithfulness, thy true Daughter is Mary!”

One of the most outstanding qualities to be admired and imitated from our Blessed Mother is “to be faithful”
In Mother Mary, we have a person, who remained faithful at all times…
… even when there were dark clouds of unwarranted humiliation looming over her
… even when unforeseen difficulties encountered Her during the birth of Jesus
… even when she encountered many situations which were not understood by Her
… even when life surrounded her with agonising moments and heartbreaking instances

The “Fiat” at the Annunciation would be lived all through Her life

This act of being “faithful forever” was a result of the constant choices that She made to listen and obey to God’s Will always.

  1. Mary was ready to be moulded and shaped by God
    When Mary was entrusted with the greatness of the task, She gave Herself readily to the power of God

She didn’t hold back anything; She was complete in Her surrender

It is when we offer ourselves wholly and be ready to be moulded and shaped by the Lord, that He can perform wonders through us.

  1. Mary held on to Jesus as the Greatest Treasure of Her life
    The greatness and the eminence of Mother Mary came as result of Her single-minded focus and love: Everything for Jesus and in Jesus.

When in womb…
… Her sole attention was on Jesus

While in the manger…
… Her whole care was for Jesus

While in His ministry…
… Her thoughts were centred on Him

While on the Cross…
… Her entire self rested on Him

It is when Jesus becomes the Treasure of our life, that our lives gets enshrined in Grace and Holiness

  1. Mary is the New Ark of the Covenant, bearing Jesus.
    The Scriptures easily point to the fact that Mother Mary is the New Ark of the Covenant

The ark in the OT travelled to the land of Judah and remained for 3 months (2 Sam: 6:1-11)

The Ark in the NT, Mary travels to Judah, to meet Her cousin Elizabeth and remained for 3 months (Lk 1:39, 56)

David danced and leaped, and shouted before the ark in the OT (2 Sam 6:14)

In the NT, John, the babe, leaped and Elizabeth exclaimed with a loud cry before Mary (Lk 1: 41, 43)
Inside the ark of the Old Covenant was the manna – the miraculous bread from heaven, the staff of Aaron, the Priest and the tablets of the covenant (Heb 9:4)
The NT Ark, Mother Mary had within Her Jesus, the Bread of Life, Jesus, the Eternal Priest and Jesus, the Law-giving Word!

As the New Ark of the Covenant, Mother Mary deserves our highest veneration and honour, which will lead us to a greater closeness and intimacy with the One, She derives all Her praise – Jesus, Her Son and our Brother!

May we embrace Mary, the beautiful instrument chosen by God…
… and be led to love the Lord more!

The Feast of the Annunciation is an invitation for us…

To grow deeper into embracing the Will of God in our lives.
To give consent to the inspirations of the Lord that comes constantly to us.
To be open to march forward in faith and hope, in our life of faith in the Lord.

The Lord is wishing to find a place in a willing heart, even today…

Just as Mary, our Loving Mother, who said Yes to the Will of the Lord, let us also, say Yes to God’s Will…
… and allow the Lord to find a place to be born, in our world today.

Happy Feast of the Annunciation.

Let us continue to hold on to our Blessed Mamma
Let us continue to seek to grow in the Love of Her Beloved Son.

God bless! Live Jesus!


Quotable-quote-for-the-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “The Sacred Virgin was a very perfect religious, and she is the special Protectress of souls who dedicate themselves which She practiced and manifested more excellently than all others on the day of Her glorious Annunciation…
… First, a virginity and purity, which has nothing like in all creation

… Secondly, a sovereign and profound humility joined and united inseparably to charity!”

March 24, 2020 – 4th Week of Lent

“Delaying no more, in drawing closer to the Streams of Graces and Healing!”

(Based on Ez 47:1-9,12 and Jn 5:1-3, 5-16)

The entrance of a particular church once had a large banner that had large, bold letters printed on it.

The words in this banner, read thus: Those people who expect salvation at the eleventh hour…
… often die at 10:30!

Postponement in spiritual matters, is indeed a perilous matter!

Procrastination – the tendency to postpone/delay – is an inclination that is to be greatly avoided in our spiritual journey.

Life often takes us through paralyzing and crippling situations

And this may cause us to often “delay or postpone”

But the Gospel of the Day is a mighty reminder on how we ought to not postpone…
… rather be “proactive” in our spiritual life.

The Gospel passage is a beautiful presentation of this aspect:  On how to have our heads raised up, in hope and trust, despite many crushing and crippling causes in life.

Jesus is in Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. As he passed through the town, he came near a pool, named Bethzatha.

Jesus encounters a person there, who has been ill for a very long period… thirty eight years! (Jn 5:5)

We are not exactly told what illness was it…

Probably a paralyzing illness…
… a cripple of the legs
… or even a combination of many other sicknesses.

But one thing is known: this sickness made the person to not walk!

The sickness had immobilized him.

But more than his physical body, it seems, that the sickness had crippled also his mind:

His way of thinking seemed jammed in having hope in life…
His outlook to life seemed blurred to see optimism and hope…
His perspective of people seemed to distort his confidence and trust…

When Jesus questions the man, “Do you want to be well?”, the man answers not with a positive affirmation or an optimistic assertion.

Instead he begins to get into a complaining and a pitiable mode, ” Sir, I have no one…” (Jn 5: 7)

A ray of hope was offered to him…
… but instead the man continued to see only the dark clouds.

A glimpse of joy was revealed to him…
… but instead the man persisted on the sad aspects alone.

The long period of sickness had blotted his vision and faded his hopes.

But the Lord.. the ever-challenging God, does not allow the man to remain in this unfortunate and “look-on-me-with-sympathy-please” mode…

Instead, Jesus charges him, “Rise, take up your mat and walk” (Jn 5:8)

And immediately the man became well, took up his mat and walked!

The presence of the Lord vanished away the man’s doubts and lame excuses…
The mighty word of the Lord purged away the man’s feelings of looking at life negatively…

The man who had the tendency to probably “procrastinate – delay and postone”…
… now becomes “proactive!”

The man became proactive…
… casting away his attitude of complaining to become a person of courage
… dropping off his crippling attitude of “none-to-help” and picking up the mat of power and grace

Problems beset each of us in this world.

  Difficulties surround all of us, at various times and situations

But, the one who is “proactive” in life, is able to get over these “paralyzing” factors of life!

Jesus gives us this courage and the hope to “not postpone or delay” matters connected to our spiritual life

Such a pro-active action is spurred by the mighty love and mercy of the Lord.
Such a pro-active move is an approach, impelled by a tremendous faith and hope in the Lord.

You and I, very often may find ourselves in crippling situations of life.

We may keep on lying down
We may keep on being a “complaint-box”
We may keep on postponing our good and only blame people and situations

Or…

We may raise up our heads to see the Lord challenging us to walk
We may garner strength and courage and be bold to pick up our mats of suffering
We may imbue ourselves with the Lord’s power to never let anything cripple our minds

We are invited to draw Power and Strength from the living streams of God’s Grace, offered to us, in the Sacraments…
…and in particular, in this time of immense struggle and challenge, through various acts of devotion especially the Rosary, Stations of the Cross, Devotional Reading of the Bible, Chaplet of the Divine Mercy etc.

Through Prophet Ezekiel, we are reminded and encouraged to understand that where the Waters of God’s Grace flows, there is life and healing:
“And wherever the river goes, every living creature which swarms will live, and there will be very many fish; for this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh…
… so everything will live where the river goes.

And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month…
… because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.” (Ez 47:9,12)

Let us delay no more, in drawing closer to these Streams of Graces and Healing!

Yes, Postponement in spiritual matters, is indeed a perilous matter!

Let’s remember: Those people who expect salvation at the eleventh hour…
… often die at 10:30!

Shall we be ready, “to rise, take up our mats, and walk?”

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “We all have a vocation.

We believe that God has called us to this state of life to fill a special need that no one else can accomplish!”

March 23, 2020 – 4th Week of Lent

“Leaping over the walls of discouragement, and in faith and hope, experiencing the thrilling Love of the Lord!”

(Based on Is 65:17-21 and Jn 4:43-54)

Heard of Impalas?

Impalas are medium-sized antelopes (animals like deer, with smooth hair and upward pointing horns) that roam the African Savannas (large plains with hills and forests).

They have a great speciality:

 Impalas are fleet runners, able to leap distances of up to 33 feet (10 meters)!

They use this technique to escape predators and sometimes, apparently, simply to amuse themselves.

The impala can also clear bushes and other obstacles by soaring some 10 feet (3 meters) in the air.

Typically, a running impala will simply jump over anything in its path!

But there’s a catch…
These extremely versatile animals can, however,  be kept in a zoo with only a 3-foot tall wall surrounding them!

How is that possible?

How is just a 3-foot wall enough, to enclosure an animal that can leap upto 33 feet and soar around 10 feet in the air?

It’s easy to explain…..

The impala will not jump if they are unable to see the spot where their feet will land!

So, even though they can jump several feet higher than the wall surrounding them in a zoo, they do not jump, because the 3-foot wall obstructs their sight of the outside, where they would land!

Since they cannot see where they land, they do not jump … even though they could.

They can, but they remain limited!
They are able to, but they remain restricted!

How often are we too caught up with this mentality in life?

  Small enclosures block our view…and therefore we fail to jump…even though we can!
Mini problems restrict us in our lives…and we fail to leap…even though we can!

 
The Gospel of the Day presents an incident of a “leap in faith”…
… of a person who fails to get bogged down by enclosures surrounding him, and instead trusting in the power of Lord, “jumps”…and is blessed!

Jesus is in the land of Galilee…away from his hometown. (Jn 4:43)
·   His own people in the hometown have rejected Him.
·   The known persons of His native place have failed to give heed to His mighty deeds.

And so He arrives, yet again, at a Gentile place… where they welcome Him wholeheartedly!

 
How true is this of many a human situation…

Those familiar to oneself, fail to understand…but those outside, are able to give better respect!
Those known to a person, fail to see the value of the person…but those who are unknown, recognise the speciality of the person!

Familiarity, very often, breeds contempt!

In this gentile land, a royal official whose son was ill – nearing death -approached Jesus, seeking for a healing.

He travels a far distance – nearly 25 miles, from Capernaum to Galilee – and coming to Jesus, he asks, “Sir, come down, before my child dies” (Jn 4: 49)

The request of this official would perhaps, remind some of us of another person, who came with a similar problem….
… The centurion – in Mt 8: 5-13 – whose servant was at home, paralyzed.

This centurion had showed tremendous faith and was even greatly praised by Jesus.

But the royal official, in today’s Gospel, had a mixed bag of faith…
·   He had faith in Jesus, which made him to come a long distance to meet Jesus.
… his faith was however, prompted mainly only because of a need for a healing.

·   He had faith in Jesus, which made him to request the Lord for a healing.
… his faith, was however, limited by physical distance (since he asked the Lord to come to his house, unlike the Centurion (Mt 8:8)

Often our faith resembles this royal official…
… turning to the Lord only in times of afflictions and troubles
… having our own doubts on whether the Lord can really work miracle in the way I want

But we must also remember…
… hard and difficult situations, are willed by God, to allow for miracles and healings, which ought to become the springboard for a deeper and committed life of faith!

… the Lord has His own ways and means of working powerfully in our lives, and we need to have the openness and humility to receive them in His way and in His time!

 
When the Lord gives His word, ” You may go; your son will live” (Jn 4:50), this royal official, with a mixed bag of faith…. makes a tremendous “leap and jump” in faith.

The Gospel says, “… the man believed what Jesus said to him and left” (Jn 4: 50b)

There were many enclosures – of pain, doubt, uncertainty – surrounding the royal official…
… but he makes a giant “leap” trusting in the Lord.

Perhaps, he was not sure, where he would land, but he still “jumped” in faith!

Our lives, very often necessitate this “jumping” in faith, trusting in the mighty power of the Lord.

Unlike the Impalas which do not jump, when they can’t see where they are landing, this royal official, trusted in the Lord, and takes the “leap” of faith.

We too are called to do the same…
… Not be afraid, where we will be landing, but trusting in the goodness of the Lord, we make a “leap” of faith.
·   Barriers of immense difficulties and crisis often surround us.
·   Walls of tremendous hardships and pains often block our lives.

But, the Lord has empowered us with graces to jump and leap over them all!
·   It’s His grace that strengthens us.
·   It’s His mercy that empowers us.

It is this Grace and Mercy of the Lord that gives us the hope that the Lord is working in our lives…
… even in the midst of crisis and problems, including the present one that the entire world is encountering.

Through Prophet Isaiah, God assures us:
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.

But be glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy!” (Is 65:7-8)
 

Are we going to get enclosed by the walls of discouragements, despair and depression?
… or shall we, with faith, “leap” over these walls and experience the joy and thrill in the Lord?

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “When you encounter difficulties and contradictions, do not try to break them…

… but bend them with gentleness and time!”

March 22, 2020 – 4th Sunday of Lent

“Allowing our eyes to be opened to the Light of God’s Will in our lives!”

(Based on Jn 9:1-41)

Plato was a Greek philosopher, who along with Aristotle, is considered to have laid the foundations of Western Philosophy.

In his work, “Republic”, he writes about the famous “Allegory of the Cave.”

The Allegory begins with an imagination of a cave, where people have been imprisoned from birth.

These prisoners are chained so that their legs and necks are fixed, forcing them to gaze at the wall in front of them and not look around at the cave, each other, or themselves.

Behind the prisoners is a fire, and between the fire and the prisoners is a raised walkway with a low wall…
… behind which people walk carrying objects or puppets “of men and other living things”.

The prisoners are only able to see the shadows cast upon the cave wall in front of them.

The sounds of the people talking echo off the walls, and the prisoners believe these sounds come from the shadows.

For the prisoners, the shadows are reality, because they have never seen anything else.

They do not realize that what they see are shadows of objects in front of a fire, much less that these objects are inspired by real things outside the cave.

The allegory then invites us to suppose that one prisoner is freed.

This “freed” prisoner would look around and see the fire.

The light would hurt his eyes and make it difficult for him to see the objects casting the shadows.

He would escape from this struggle by turning away to the things which he was able to look at…
… and these he would believe to be clearer than what was being shown to him.

Now suppose that someone should drag him…the steep way up, into the light of the sun.

The prisoner would be angry and in pain.

However, slowly, his eyes would adjust to the light of the sun.

  First he sees only the shadows.
Gradually he sees the reflections of people and things in water and then later see the people and things themselves.
Eventually, he is able to look at the stars and moon at night until finally he can look upon the sun itself.

He would make an Upward movement – towards faith and trust!

The allegory goes on to say that the freed prisoner “would feel blessed for the change”, and pity the other prisoners…
… and would want to bring his fellow cave dwellers out of the cave and into the sunlight.

The returning prisoner, whose eyes have become accustomed to the sunlight, would be blind when he re-enters the cave…
… just as he was when he was first exposed to the sun.

The prisoners, inside however, would infer from the returning man’s blindness, that the journey out of the cave had harmed him and that they should not undertake a similar journey.

These chained prisoners would be “filled with anger and antagonism” and resist the truth!

In fact, if they, were able, would even reach out and kill anyone who attempted to take them out of the cave.

They would make a Downward movement – towards scepticism and unbelief!

This allegory very beautifully speaks of a similar situation in the Gospel of the Day…
… a man – who was imprisoned by blindness – “feeling blessed” in having encountered Jesus, the Sun
… other men – who remained chained in ignorance and darkness – “filled with anger and antagonism” – resisting the Truth!

Chapter 9 of the Gospel of St John is a story of “blindness” encountering Light- with contrasting effects:

A man who is “born blind”, touched by the Light of the World, experiences healing
Other people “remain blind”, by opposing the Light of the World, emitting hostility.

We thus see, in this long yet beautiful passage contrasting movements:

An Upward movement – towards faith and trust – of the man who was born blind

A Downward movement – towards scepticism and unbelief – of the people who clung to prejudices

  1. The Upward movement – towards faith and trust – of the man who was born blind

Jesus declares that the blindness of the man was an occasion for “the glory of God to be revealed” (Jn 9: 3)

This revelation of the Glory of God comes about with Jesus doing a unique action…
… “spitting on the ground, making clay with the saliva and smearing the clay in the eyes” of the man born blind (Jn:6)

This action of the Son would remind us of the action done by His Father, who at the beginning of creation, would reveal His Glory, by “forming man out of the clay of the ground, and blowing in his nostrils, the breath of life!” (Gen2:7)

This act of the revelation of God would trigger the upward movement- of faith and trust- of the blind man…

a. Initially he on being asked about Jesus, he would say, “I don’t know” (Jn 9:12)

b. Then, he would say how Jesus is “a prophet” (Jn 9: 17)

c. Then, he would get defensive about Jesus and say that “if He is not from God, He would not be able to do anything” (Jn 9: 33)

d. Finally, after realising that Jesus is the Son of God, he would worship Him and say, “I do believe, Lord!” (Jn 9: 38)

  1. A Downward movement – towards scepticism and unbelief – of the people who clung to prejudices

An act of goodness always gathers detractors and critics…
… and Jesus, the Perfection of Goodness greatly experienced it.

a. Initially, the Pharisees pointed to the violation of the Sabbath Law, to prove that He is not from God: “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath” (Jn 9: 16)

b. Then, they would question the parents of the man, because they thought, he had not been blind from birth: “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How does he now see?” (Jn 9: 19)

c. Then, they would defend their arguments basing on their loyalty to the authenticity of Moses, the law-giver: “We know that God spoke to Moses, but we do not know where this One is from” (Jn 9: 29)

d. Finally, they would engage into a direct dispute with the Lord Himself: “Surely, we are not also blind, are we?” (Jn 9: 40)

Jesus perfectly sums up…

The Upward Movement- towards faith and trust
The Downward Movement – towards scepticism and unbelief…
… by saying: ” I came into this world, for judgment, so that those who DO NOT SEE MIGHT SEE… and those WHO DO SEE MIGHT BECOME BLIND” (Jn 9: 39)

We need to ask ourselves:
“What is the direction of my Spiritual Life…
… is it having an Upward Movement, towards Faith and trust?
… or is it having a Downward Movement, towards, Scepticism and Unbelief?”

St Paul says, that we need to “live as children of  Light, for Light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth” (Eph 5: 8-9)

The Lord, in our every day of life, uses a number of occasions – pleasant and unpleasant situations –  to “reveal His glory”

Do we remain open to His Light in order to have an upward movement into deeper faith and trust?
Or do we get closed in darkness and thus make a downward movement into deeper scepticism and unbelief?

As in the “Allegory of the Cave”…
… let us not remain  chained in ignorance and darkness – “filled with anger and antagonism” – resisting the Truth

Instead, allow ourselves to be led into the light and thus “feel blessed” in having encountered Jesus, the Sun!

God Bless! Live Jesus!


Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Bloom where you are planted!”