Jul 9 (Mt 9:32-38)

Avid book-readers will testify to the fact that when some books are read – especially interesting novels or epic stories or even some real-life or dramatic stories – there is a tendency to identify oneself with one of the characters in the book.

• Such character-identification can help one to examine one’s own personal life.

• Such character-identification can help one to chalk out strategies to live life better.

The Bible is a brilliant book which offers many characters to help us to examine and evaluate our own lives.

Today’s Gospel offers us various groups of people and characters with whom we might have some identification.

We shall analyze and reflect on our lives in the light of these various characters and groups of people….

1. The demon-possessed mute man

This person is a demoniac who was unable to speak

His condition has been miserable

… kept away from the society and his family

… unable to have a normal social or emotional or spiritual life

His own family would have missed him so much… so would his relatives and friends.

How often is my condition similar?

>> Evil forces keep me away from having a healthy social, emotional or a spiritual life…

>> Rejected, depressed in life and finding no meaning to live…

2. The people who brought this mute man to the Lord

We have no idea what was the intention of the people who brought the person to Jesus.

Maybe, they were people…

… who were genuinely concerned for the well-being of the person

… who were fed up and disturbed by his threatening presence

But in either case.., they bring the person to the Lord: either in faith or in desperation.

Problems beset many people…

• Sometimes we feel compassion for them

• Sometimes we feel sorry for them

• Sometimes they become a disturbance for us

In either case, can we become an instrument of bringing the people – sick, suffering and in distress – to the Lord’s healing presence?

3. The Pharisees

The healing action of Jesus becomes another occasion for them to criticize Jesus and to speak ill of Him.

They said, “He drives out demons by the prince of demons” (Mt 9:34)

It was as if complain and criticism had almost been firmly casted into their character!

Am I also like these Pharisees…

>> Unable to appreciate and encourage the good that is done to people?

>> Constantly looking for faults and failures of people and harping on those negative to others?

4. The crowds

The crowds follow Jesus with a great desire and longing…

• Some to meet the Lord, to hear His teaching and experience His love

• Some to receive a cure and healing from the Lord

• Some just out of curiosity or because others are following Him

>> What is my motive and intention in following the Lord?

>> Is my Christian Life, just remaining part of the crowd, or do I also seek and make efforts to move closer to Him?

5. The Disciples

They stand witness to the misery of the people, on the one side, and the power of the Lord, on the other.

They are now entrusted with a task and duty to “ask the Master of the harvest to send out labourers for His harvest” and also to imitate the Good Shepherd in caring for the lost sheep.

>> Do I hear the call of the Lord to be a labourer for the Kingdom of God and to imitate the Master Shepherd in bringing back lost sheep to His fold?

>> Am I willing to take up the challenge that the Lord places before us to be a ‘consolation for the miserable’, ‘food for the hungry’, ‘joy to those in sadness’ and ‘hope for those sinful and lost’?

6. Jesus

Jesus is the Epitome of Compassion.

He goes about His mission and duty, by bringing healing to those in misery and displaying His treasury of compassion and love to the needy.

>> Can I imitate our Blessed Lord in seeking to be sensitive to the needs of the people around me, and showing forth His compassion?

>> Do I remain unafraid of “demoniac” and “mute” and “criticized” situations of life, trusting in the Great Power of the Lord and being unfazed by any sort of oppositions or hardships in being the messenger of His Kingdom?

May the reflection on the characters of the Gospel help us to evaluate our own lives and form ourselves to be more and more worthy of our life as a Christian!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

——————————–

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “A heart full of love loves the commandments and the more difficult it seems, the more sweet and pleasing they become…

… because it pleases the Beloved and gives Him more honor.”

——————————–

Jul 8 (Mt 9:18-26)

A little boy had to walk around 2 kms to his school, through the congested and bustling city.

His mother had arranged a servant to accompany the child – while going and coming back from school – to ensure the child’s safety.

>> For this the servant was paid 30 rupees a day.

But when the child reached Third Standard (Grade 3) of school, he rebelled and told his mother:

” I’ll walk myself to school!

And if you give me 10 rupees a day, I will be extra careful. The rest of the money we can save and we all will be better off!”

After sometime of pleading and begging, the little boy finally got his way.

>> For the next three years, he walked himself – back and forth from school.

Years later, at a family party, the boy bragged about his independence and boasted to his family about how he had taken care of himself as a little boy, travelling alone to school.

His mother, on hearing the story, laughed and said:

“Did you really think you were alone?

>> “Every morning when you left for school, I left with you. I walked behind you all the way.

>> Every evening when you got out of school, I was there. I set my eyes on you and protected you.

I always kept myself hidden; but I was there and I followed you all the way home.

>> I was always there for you, especially when you needed me!”

Similar is the case of God as well, in our spiritual walk…

…. We are never left alone

… We are always followed by the Lord!

>> There are moments when we think we can manage alone

>> There are other times when we feel there is none with me, in our journey

But the Lord always walks with us…!

He is the “God who accompanies us, in our journey of life!”

>> He is the God Who is “Kind and Full of Compassion!”

The Gospel of the Day is the beautiful incident of God walking with His people, especially in their moments of pain, loneliness and helplessness…

>> A God who accompanies…

… the official whose daughter had died: by bringing life and smile to his family (Mt 9: 18-19, 23-26)

… the woman with haemorrhage: by cleansing and restoring her to health (Mt 9: 20-22)

The Gospel focuses our attention on the “walk” of two persons:

1. The official whose daughter had died:

“An official CAME FORWARD, knelt down before Jesus…” (Mt 9: 18)

2. The woman with haemorrhage:

“A woman suffering haemorrhages CAME UP BEHIND Jesus….” (Mt 9: 20)

The official came walking ‘forward’

>> The woman came walking ‘from behind’

Both were persons in distress and despair

>> Both were suffering physical agony and mental anguish

Human life is characterised in these two persons…

>> The way “forward” is often an uncertain and blurred path, filled with distress and despair

>> The way “from behind” had often been an experience of physical agony and mental anguish

Loneliness plagues us in this walk of life…

>> Hopelessness often overtakes our walk of life!

This arduous walk of life, sometimes causes…

… some of us to give up and call it quits

… some of us to drown ourselves into addictions and unhealthy habits

Some even wish to make it “all alone” in life, thinking I can manage everything by myself

… abandoning even God!

But the official and the woman in the Gospel today show us the way:

>> When the path of life becomes tough with distress and despair…

>> When the journey of life is filled with physical agony and mental anguish…

… “walk forward” towards Jesus – surrendering the future – and plead for help and mercy: like the official!

… “walk from behind” towards Jesus – leaving the past – and touch Him: like the woman!

It is then that we experience and feel the power of the “God who accompanies us, in our journey of life!”

>> The “forward step” of the official towards Jesus, surrendering his future…

… helped him to experience the mighty touch of the Lord in the life of his daughter (Mt 9:25)

… Life was restored; smiles were brought back; good news was spread all over!

>> The “behind” approach of the woman towards Jesus, letting go her past…

… helped her to experience the healing and sanctifying touch of the Lord (Mt 9: 22)

… Bleeding was ceased; courage was praised; faith was blessed!

The incidents in today’s Gospel passage, invite us…

… to surrender our future to the Lord: knowing that He will render all things for our good, if we trust and co-operate with Him

… to let go of our past to the Lord: knowing that He will touch and heal us, of all our former wounds, if we seek Him with deep desire and longing

Yes, in our walk of life, the Lord tells us:

“Do you really think you are alone?

>> “Every morning when you rise, I am with you. I walk behind you all the way.

>> Every evening when you rest, I am there. I set my eyes on you and protect you

I sometimes seem hidden; but I am there and I follow you all the way.

>> I am always there for you, especially when you need me!”

Let us grow in our trust and faith in the Lord and “walk” with Him!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

——————————–

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) –. “If you have firm trust in God, the success that comes to you will always be that which is most useful for you…

… whether it appears good or bad in your private judgment!”

——————————–

Jul 7 (Lk 10:1-12)

Arabian horses are made to go through painstaking and meticulous training in the dry deserts of the Middle East.

One of the most important aspects that the trainers expect from the horses is of “absolute obedience”.

>> This final test to assess their level of obedience is quite extreme…

The trainers compel the horses to be without water for many days.

A few days later, they turn the horses loose towards a pool of water…

>> The highly thirsty, parched and dehydrated horses, of course start running towards it.

But just as they get to the edge, ready to plunge in and drink, the trainer blows his whistle.

>> Screech….!

The horses are to stop mid-way…

The horses who have been completely trained and who have learned perfect obedience, stop!

>> They turn around and come pacing back to the trainer.

>> They stand there trembling, wanting water… but they wait in perfect obedience.

When the trainer is sure that he has their obedience, he gives them a signal to go back to drink.

>> Complete obedience  from the horses is a sign of their being completely trained.

Well.. this sure sounds hard and severe…

>> But perhaps, we need to learn an important aspect: the need for trustful obedience to our Master!.

·       When we are in the dry deserts of life, we got to be totally obedient to God.

·       When we are in the parched phases of life, we ought to fully heed the voice of the Lord.

The Gospel of the Day is an exhortation by the Lord to listen to Him, to give heed to His Word and to be obedient to Him.

“Jesus appointed seventy (two), whom He sent ahead of Him, in pairs to every town and place He intended to visit” (Lk 10:1)

They were “chosen and appointed”.

>> Why were these chosen?

…and not others?

Well… we can only make some guess-works… because the bottom-line is:

“They were ‘chosen'”

Choice is always a gift, and not a merit!

>> This gift cannot be demanded…. it is given by the Lord, out of His Will

Therefore, it demands a sense of “gratitude” and a spirit of “responsibility”!

The choosing of the seventy (two) also reflects Jesus as the New Moses!

Moses had chosen seventy elders.

>> We read this in the Book of Numbers:

“The LORD said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people.” (Num 11:16)

The “seventy” were chosen from the elders of the tribes of Israel to assist Moses.

>> They were to become an extension of the work that was entrusted to Moses, by Lord Yahweh

In the Gospels, the seventy (two) disciples are also called, by Jesus, for the similar task:

>> They were to become an extension of the work that was entrusted to Jesus by the Heavenly Father.

In this task of “becoming an extension”, one of the most important essentials was that of “listening to the words of the Master”

>> Obedience to the Word is a necessary criteria to become a true extension of the Lord!

Jesus very specifically lays downs rules and regulations to be followed in their mission journey and task:

“Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and salute no one on the road….” (Lk 10:4)

These exhortations by the Master would cause…

… a sense of insecurity for the disciples

… a feeling a being stranded in the problems that they could encounter.

Yet, the disciples were strongly urged to…

… Listen to His Exhortation

… to Trust in His Providence

… and to be obedient to His Word

·       The disciples were to listen to Jesus, the Beloved Son and grasp His teachings for life

·       The disciples were to listen to Jesus, Beloved Son’s commitment in the path of suffering

·       The disciples were to listen to the Beloved Son’s trust in God’s Will at every moment

Each one of us is called and chosen, as Christians, to be a disciple of Christ – “an extension of the Lord’s tasks in this world” …

… “You did not choose me, but I chose you; and appointed you to go and bear fruit; fruit that will last” (Jn 15:16)

·       Life will take us through many deserts and desolations of difficulties.

·       Life will put us through various storms and hurricanes of hardships.

But in all such moments, are we ready and open to listen to the Voice of the Lord?

Yes, when we are in the dry deserts of life, we better be totally obedient to God.

>> When we are in the parched phases of life, we ought to fully heed the voice of the Lord.

The Lord will take us through…

… every crisis

… every desert

… every darkness

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8: 31)

Let us grow in our efforts to be completely obedient to our Master!

>> Let us pray for His grace to be truly listening and following the voice of our Master!

Are we ready to listen and obey the voice of the Lord?

God Bless! Live Jesus!

——————————–

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “The devil doesn’t fear austerity…

… but holy obedience!”

——————————–

Jul 6 (Mt 9:14-17)

A man, occupying an important and influential position in the society was often criticized for his honest and just way of dealing with things.

Once his friend enquired of him: “Why don’t you give fitting replies to your critics?”

To that the person replied:

“In my native town lives a widow who has a dog.

>> Whenever the moon shines, it goes outside and barks all night.”

The friend, confused on that example, asked: “ I didn’t get you…

… what is it about the dog and the moon?”

“Oh,” the man continued, “the moon went on shining — that’s all.”

Our lives our often marked by a number of criticisms and condemnations.

>> People often make “their own” yardsticks, to measure others actions, and to find a way of criticizing others!

People make “their own” measuring tapes, to determine the deeds of other people, and thus find ways to put down other people!

Are we also sometimes in the category of those who “criticize and condemn” others?

The Gospel of the day is an invitation to examine this common human tendency of assessing others’ manners and conduct based on “standards and measurements” that are set by ourselves.

·      Do I evaluate the action of another person based on my own “prejudiced” mindset… or do I measure it with the yardstick that God uses?

·      Do I critically analyse other people’s attitudes from my own “biased” perspective… or do I gauge it with the benchmark that God proposes?

In the Gospel, we see the disciples of John who come to Jesus with a critical query:

“Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” (Mt 9:14)

It is interesting to note the reason that the disciples of John use here, in order to ask put forward their question…

It would be something like this…

“We, the disciples of John… we follow our Master in leading an ascetic and hard life.

>> We fast often times during the week… we live a hard life.

Look at the Pharisees too.. they fast twice a week, which is more than the stipulated requirement of the Law.

We engage ourselves in so much of fasting.

But look at your disciples…

They are only found to be enjoying life!

>> Why don’t they fast… like we do… ??”

>> They had perhaps made “their own” yardsticks to measure the actions of the disciples and found a way of criticising them!

>> They had perhaps made “their own” measuring tapes to determine the deeds of the disciples, and thus found ways to put them down!

But the Lord asks them to change this their “yardstick” and “measuring scale” of judging other people.

Jesus gives an example of the bridegroom and the context of a marriage.

Marriage is the time of joy and celebration… not of mourning or being sad.

It is a time of feasting.. and not fasting!

>> A time of feasting on God’s tremendous Providence and Grace!

>> A time of feasting on the Love and Compassion shown by the Lord!

The Lord makes a challenge….

… consider and evaluate situations from the “eyes of God” – in the way that God sees.

… assess and measure people in the “manner of God” – with the approach that God takes.

It is said that when God measures a person, He puts the tape around the heart, and not the head!

The attitude of “criticizing and complaining” is a constant temptation.

We may perhaps, also be victims of the same.

>> But let us always remain “true to ourselves, and honest in what we do”

Let the Charity of God always radiate in us and thus know for sure…

… “the moon of God’s Love always goes on shining!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

——————————–

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Never confuse your mistakes with your value as a human being. You’re a perfectly valuable, creative, worthwhile person simply because you exist.

>> And no amount of triumphs or tribulations can ever change that.

Unconditional self acceptance is the core of a peaceful mind!”

——————————–

Jul 5 (Mt 9:9-13)

One of the easiest traps in our life, today, is to acquire Cheap Popularity!

‘Popularism’ is a bane which affects many areas of our life.

People choose…

… to undermine values

… forsake principles

… abandon relations

… disown doctrine

… and even dilute ideologies

>> Just to gain some cheap and shoddy popularity!

But Jesus…came to the world, not seeking Cheap Popularity…

… rather, in quest of Precious Sinners!

He came not rendering instant glory…

… rather, in granting Everlasting Peace!

He came not to please people…

… rather, to Honour God!

And Jesus is clear in His Mission: To seek the wayward, to find the lost, to grant peace to sinners!

This Mission of the Lord would make Him lose His popularity ratings & reputed recognitions…

>> But Jesus dared…

… to prioritize Principles over Popularity

… choosing Reconciliation over Reputation!

The Gospel of the Day begins with the verse, “…Jesus saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me!” (Mt 9:9)

For the religious elite of the Society, this calling of Matthew, the Tax Collector was a shocking experience!

Tax Collectors were among the most hated people in the Jewish Society.

>> They were generally despised and tainted and stained on three different aspects:

a. National Traitors: A tax collector, “sold himself”, to the foreign Roman government, and was a betrayer of the Nation…one of the top-most nation-betrayers!

b. Morally Corrupt: Each tax collector had the right from the Roman government to gather taxes; and the more he gathered, the more he could keep….one of the top-most dishonest people!

c. Religiously Unclean: Their constant contacts with the Gentiles made them religiously suspicious….one of the top-most impure class!

And it is this Matthew, that Jesus invites to “Follow Him”!

>> An unpopular approach indeed!

But the Lord is least bothered of human appreciation and public popularity

>> He came to Seek the Lost….and gather the scattered ones.

And this offer of the Lord, was gladly welcomed by Matthew – opening himself to the Love of the Lord….

1. He opened His heart: Matthew became a new person.

>> Accepting Jesus, meant turning away from his old-ways, rejecting some of his corrupt business people, forsaking a good deal of income…

2. He Opened His Home: Matthew was excited to share his New Found Love, with others too… >> The transformation  in one person, became an opportunity, for many others, to experience God’s enterprising love and be challenged to undergo a  change!

3. He opened his hands: Matthew also opened his hands & worked for the Lord.

>> “It could be (wittily) said, that when Jesus called Matthew, he left his job to follow Christ, but he took along with him, his pen!”

>> And this would later help him to pen the Gospel…the Gospel according to St Matthew!!

The call of Matthew, was Jesus’ way of telling that things happen in the Kingdom of God, not for the Sake of Popularity…

… rather, The Kingdom is an Invitation and a Home to all who find themselves lost, least, broken, rejected, seeking, disturbed!

We all are in one way or the other, facing some of these problems or difficulties in life…

Let these not discourage us…!

As the saying goes:

Never say, “GOD, I have a big problem!”

>> Instead say, “Hey Problem, I have a big GOD”

The Lord is ever-ready to welcome us.

>> He is least bothered of what others think or criticize!!

>> He values our lives much more than losing popularity!

Yes, We are more precious to Him, than popularity!

>> He Values Us!

>> He Trusts us!

>> He Loves us!

All of us, can be assured of experiencing….

… Rest in His Heart

… Welcome in His Home

… Strength in His Hands!

On this First Friday of the month, consecrating ourselves to the Sacred Heart of the Lord…

>> Let us Follow Him, and like Mathew, let us…

… give our hearts, our homes and our hands to Him!

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI says:

“If you follow the will of God, in spite of all the terrible things that happen to you, you will never lose a final refuge…

… Go on, trusting, in the One Who loves you.”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

——————————–

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “We must never undervalue any person. >> The workman loves not that his work should be despised in his presence.

Now God is present everywhere…

… and every person is His work!”

——————————–

Jul 4 (Mt 9:1-8)

There is a funeral custom of a particular Austrian Royal Family.

>> This is in a church in which the Hapsburgs, the former ruling family of Austria are buried.

It is called the “Knocking Ceremony”

>> The custom takes place at the burial of every member of the Imperial Family before the entrance of the Capuchin cloister church.

When the coffin arrives at the entrance, the Grand Chamberlain knocks three times with a silver cane on the door of the Church which contains the Imperial crypt.

The guard inside asks: “Who is there?”

The Grand Chamberlain proclaims the name and titles of the deceased Hapsburg Emperor: “I am (Name) … Emperor of Austria, Apostolic King of Hungary, King of Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia…..etc….”

>> On hearing this, the porter refuses to open the door and says:  “I do not know you.”

The Grand Chamberlain knocks on the door again and in answer to the porter’s question “Who is there?” gives, this time, just the name of the deceased Emperor: “I am (Name) … His Majesty, the Emperor and the King ”

>> The guard inside, again refuses admission: “I do not know you.”

For a third time, the Grand Chamberlain knocks on the door and the guard asks: “Who is there?”

This time, the Grand Chamberlain simply says:  “I am (Name)… a poor mortal and a sinner.”

>> To this, comes the response:  “Come in.”

The progression in the questions and answers shows a progression towards humility.

>> It is only the humble who can be admitted to the Presence of the Lord!

Where there is humility, there is forgiveness of sin and celebration of mercy

>> Where there is only pride, there is criticism of sinners and condemnation of generosity!

The Gospel of the Day is a beautiful incident of a contrast of experiences:

>> The humble being received into the forgiving love of God

>> The pride being reprimanded to acknowledge the mercy of God!

The Gospel is the forgiveness and healing of the paralytic, when Jesus comes to His own city (Mt 9:1)

Seeing the paralytic being brought on the stretcher, and admiring their faith, Jesus had said:

“Courage child, your sins are forgiven” (Mt 9: 2)

However, some of the scribes got annoyed and commented:  “This man is blaspheming” (Mt 9:3)

But Jesus, who reads the hearts of all people said:

“But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, He then said to the paralytic ,’Rise, pick up your stretcher and go home” (Mt 9:6)

Jesus was seeking to establish an important aspect…

>> Every sin has its evil consequences on a person

It is not that every sickness/evil/ill-happening is a result of sin…

…but the reverse is always true: That Sin always has a negative influence on a person!

The paralytic man was brought on a stretcher by the people (Mt 9:2) for a physical healing

But Jesus demonstrates to the man, his friends as well as to all around…

… that more than physical healing, one needs a spiritual cleansing

… that it is only a spiritual empowerment that can lead to integral material health

This spiritual empowerment…. This spiritual cleansing…

… needs the element of Humility!

Humility is expressed in this incident by the man who “was brought on the stretcher”

>> The paralytic lay in utter helplessness and misery

>> The paralytic was totally vulnerable and powerless

These elements constitute humility…

… acknowledging one’s helplessness and depending totally on the power of God

… accepting that one is vulnerable and weak and needs God’s strength to be empowered

The scribes who were criticizing Jesus failed to have these elements…

>> They instead swelled up in pride and false knowledge

Only where there is humility,  can there be forgiveness of sin and a celebration of mercy

>> Where there is only pride, there is criticism of sinners and condemnation of generosity!

Are we sick and paralysed today?

>> Maybe our family and community lives are paralysed by attitudes of indifference, uncaring attitude, arguments and financial difficulties

>> Maybe our personal lives are paralysed by uncertainties, lack of hope and shortage of inspiration and motivation

>> Maybe our societal lives are paralysed by rejection from others, misunderstandings and unhealthy experiences of corruption and injustice.

We need the healing touch of the Lord… We need an empowerment

>> This healing has to primarily begin from the spiritual dimension

>> This empowerment needs to start first from the spiritual perspective.

When we go to the Lord in humility, we will be touched from within

… a spiritual cleansing happens and a spiritual empowerment is kindled!

The Lord came into the world, primarily as a Saviour…

… to save us!

>> And He intends that all of us seek Him with this prime motive above all…

… spiritual graces above material blessings

… growth in holiness over prosperity of earthly riches

One of the most important means that the Lord provides this opportunity to receive His Mercy and Healing is the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession)

Just as Jesus forgave the sins of the paralytic and restored him to bodily health…

…  so too Jesus wants the Church, through the Holy Spirit, to continue his work of healing and salvation especially through the Sacrament of Reconciliation

>> The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a Sacrament of Healing!

We need to examine ourselves…

>> Has examination of conscience become part of our daily Christian lifestyle?

>> Do I frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation more often and thus receive forgiveness of sins and strength for our spiritual life?

>> Do I make sufficient preparation for the Sacrament, and also seek to hold on to the promises and resolutions made at the Confessional?

Every Confession is to become a life-changing experience!

>> Confession is not a license to do more sins

>> Confession is not a permit to living in sin, thinking that “God will anyway forgive!”

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a great privilege…

… It is also a Sacred Duty and places a moral obligation to seek to grow in holiness!

Yes, let us realize…

… that it is only the humble who can be admitted to the Presence of the Lord!

May we knock at the “Door of the Lord’s presence”, acknowledging in humility, that “we are mortals and sinners”…

… seeking to be healed of all the “paralysis” in our life…

>> And thus, hear the Saviour Lord telling us:

“Take heart, my child, your sins are forgiven!

Rise, take up your stretcher and go home!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

——————————–

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Let us not lower our eyes without humiliating at the same time the heart.

>> Let not others think we want the last place…

… without truly desiring it!

——————————-

Jul 3 (Solemnity of St Thomas, the Apostle of India)

A young man joined the military service as a soldier.

One morning, he was ordered by the sergeant to report for duty at the canteen.

>> He, however refused.

The sergeant threatened to report him to the officer that day.

“All right,” said the young man, “go ahead. I did not enlist to be a bartender but a soldier, and I will not report at the canteen!”

His action of refusal was duly reported to the major who sent for him.

>> His companions taunted him as being “adamant” and “snobbish”

The young man went to the Major – with trembling knees but a steady heart – for he knew he was right.

The officer asked him, ‘Are you the young man who disobeyed orders this morning?’

>> “Yes, sir, I am.”

“Why did you do it?”

“Simply because I do not believe it is right to do what I was asked to do.

I enlisted to be a soldier and not a bartender.’

The officer arose quickly from his chair.

A trickle of fear went down the spine of the young man!

However, the officer extending his hand, said: “Young man, you are the kind of man we want.

I am glad to see a fellow who has the courage of his convictions.

You are not obliged to report at the canteen.

I am proud of your convictions!”

The young man was supposedly considered by others as being “adamant” and “proud”…

>> But the officer realized the worth of this young man – as having a courageous character of convictions!

True commitment and steadfast faithfulness in life requires the power of convictions and certainty!

Today we celebrate the Feast of St Thomas – who is popularly (or rather infamously) called as the “Doubting Apostle”.

The incredulity of St Thomas, Caravaggio, 1610

He was probably considered by others as being “adamant” and “proud”…

• It was his search for convictions in life that made him seek for a proof for the Lord’s appearance

• It was his desire for certainty in life that caused him to doubt at the words of his companions over the Lord’s Resurrection.

The Lord realized the worth of this young man- as having a courageous character of convictions!

When we go through the life of St Thomas as seen in the Gospels, we encounter a person constantly displaying courage, expressing commitment and seeking for convictions.

St Thomas indeed stands out among the other apostles…

1. It was probably St Thomas who first expressed his desire to give up his life for the Lord and His Kingdom…

“Let us also go, that we may die with Him” (Jn 11: 16)

>> St Thomas becomes a motivation for all those who follow Christ, to be bold and brave and even to give up one’s life for the Lord and His Kingdom

2. It was St Thomas who had the simplicity and the openness to ask Jesus when the Lord had declared that “Where I am going you know the way..” and the Lord had responded “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”…

“Master, we do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?” (Jn 14:5)

>> St Thomas becomes a consolation to all those who face genuine uncertainties in spiritual life and encourages to remain like a child – in openness, simplicity and frankness.

3. It was St Thomas who refused the trust the words of his companions on the issue of the Jesus’ Resurrection.

>> He knew that many of his companions had impulsive reactions and therefore, could not be believed for their words. Therefore, he insisted that his belief in Christ’s Resurrection would depend only on His personal experience with the Lord

“Unless I see the mark of the nails in His Hands and put my finger into His side, I will not believe” (Jn 20:25)

>> St Thomas becomes a refuge for all those who grapple with spiritual anxieties – lack of consolation in prayer life, deep longing to experience God and many confusions regarding spiritual teachings and faith experiences

In St Thomas we have a saint who is very human and with whom we – who are often prone to mistakes and frail in weaknesses – can easily connect.

• He was brave, but also had his moments of feeling lost

• He was courageous, but also had his moments of seeking answers for doubts

• He was enthusiastic, but also had his moments of staying away from the faith-community

St Thomas is a shining beacon of courage.

• He had his doubts.

>> But once cleared, he became a person of immense conviction.

This conviction made him to travel across many lands to give witness to Jesus, His Lord and Master… and even to give up His life, in martyrdom!

Yes, True commitment and Steadfast faithfulness in life requires the power of convictions and certainty!

May St Thomas help us, with his intercession and inspiration, to become Christians of Conviction and Certainty and to firmly cry out, in joyful acclamation, “My Lord and My God”

Happy Feast of St Thomas, the Convinced Disciple of Christ!

>> Happy Feast of Faith and Belief, Boldness and Courage to all!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

——————————–

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “There is no need to doubt that we possess faith in God…

… simply because we find it difficult to keep clear of sin

… or find ourselves diffident

… or even fearing that we will not be able to resist occasions of temptation.

No!

>> Diffidence in our strength of will is not due to lack of resolve but is a true acknowledgement of our misery.

The fear of being able to resist temptations is better than considering ourselves strong and secure…

… because all that we do not expect from our own strength we hope to receive by means of God’s grace.

We must simply be on our guard and be humble so as not to fall victim to temptation!”

——————————–