Saturday, January 16, 2021

Hearing God's Voice in our Midst

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time: 17th January 2021

Readings: 1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19; Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10; 1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20; John 1:35-42

(Lamb of God, Photo courtesy: creativecommons)

Please click here to listen to my audio reflections

I. Learning to listen to the voice of God

“Look, the Lamb of God” the pointed remark of John the Baptist at Jesus should intrigue us. John the Baptizer's job was to point people to Jesus, their long-awaited Messiah. Looking at both the prophets Eli in the first reading and John the Baptist in the Gospel, the prophets knew and recognised the longing for the call of God in their lives and the coming of the Messiah, the hope that had been passed from generation to generation. But this did not begin suddenly; rather, it grew and developed in them as they learned to listen to the voice of God. They learnt the art of discernment that is to know the Will of God. Samuel was no exception. God’s voice is not always easy to discern because it is seldom loud and never brash. It is much more likely to come to us quietly, in the quiet, maybe during the night, as Samuel found.

Today people are looking for someone to give them security in an insecure and obscure world. Our job is to point them to Christ and to show that he is the one whom they seek. We might try to answer the problems or try to clarify them today. However, all our human efforts to find solutions to the problems of humanity are futile and useless. Often they end up nowhere. Because they are all temporary and fragile moreover human. 

II. By living out faith in experience gets strengthened

These new disciples used several names for Jesus: Lamb of God (1:36), Rabbi (1:38), Messiah (1:41), Son of Go (1:49), and King of Israel (1:49). As they get to know Jesus, their appreciation for him grew enormously. They stick to him until the end.  The more time we spend in getting to know Christ, the more we will understand and appreciate who he is. We may be drawn to him for his teaching, but we will come to know him as the Son of God. Although these disciples made this verbal shift in a few days, they would not fully understand Jesus until three years later (Acts 2).  What they so easily professed had to be worked out in experience. We may find that words of faith come easily, but deep appreciation for Christ comes with living by faith.  

One of the two disciples was Andrew (1:40). The other was probably John, the writer of this book.  Why did these disciples leave John the Baptist? Because that's what John wanted them to do-he was pointing the way to Jesus, the one John had prepared them to follow. These were Jesus' first disciples, along with Simon Peter (1:42) and Nathanael (1:45). 

When the two disciples began to follow Jesus, he asked them, "what do you want?" Following Christ is not enough; we must follow him for the right reasons. To follow Christ for our own purposes would be asking Christ to follow us-to align with us to support and advance our cause, not his. We must examine our motives for following him. Are we seeking his glory or ours?

Andrew accepted John the Baptist's testimony about Jesus and immediately went to tell his brother, Simon, about him. There was no question in Andrew's mind that Jesus was the Messiah. Not only did he tell his brother, but he was also eager to introduce others to Jesus (6:8, 9; 12:22). 

Jesus saw not only who Simon was, but who he would become. That is why he gave him a new name-Cephas in Aramaic, Peter in Greek (Petros the name means "a rock").  Peter is not presented as rock-solid throughout the Gospels, but he became a solid rock in the days of the early church, as we learn in the book of Acts. By giving Simon a new name, Jesus introduced a change in character.

III. God's call never stops from being unheard

Ultimately, for we are not our own, but belong to the Lord, as Paul says in today’s Epistle to the Corinthians. God’s call can be easy to ignore, for a shorter or even a longer time, even for many years, but it is quietly insistent and never goes away fully. And it’s not only heard in the form of a voice but can come to us in other ways, too – through friends, through circumstances, through moments of beauty and of crisis. God is constantly calling to each of us—personally, by name (Isaiah 43:1; John 10:3). He wants us to seek Him in love, to long for His word (Wisdom 6:11–12). We must desire always, as the apostles did, to stay where the Lord stays, to constantly seek His face (Psalm 42:2). And, like Samuel, we will always be able to find, sooner or later, a wise elder to help us to make sense of it all. Sometimes we might be like Samuel hearing God's voice again and again, and the young boy Samuel did respond as directed, beginning a life-long relationship with his Lord. These scenes from salvation history should give us strength to embrace God’s will and to follow His call in our lives.

We must have ears open to obedience, and write His word within our hearts. We must trust in the Lord’s promise—that if we come to Him in faith, He will abide with us (John 15:14; 14:21–23), and raise us by His power. And we must reflect in our lives the love He has shown us, so that others too may find the Messiah.

Questions for Reflections:

1. Do you find it difficult to hear the voice of God in your life?

2. Where might this call of God have been sounding in your own living? 

3. When is the last time that you heard God's call? Perhaps you could try and hear and get some sense of that call of God, through today's reading.

4. Did you get some hint of that call – being called by your own name, called to a fuller, more authentic life? Or perhaps you long to hear such a call but are not aware of it yet. Maybe it’s been there already, but you need to find some stillness, some quiet, to hear it, really. What are the feelings that emerge in your heart at this moment? Take them to the Lord who calls; take these feelings to him, ask him to fulfil the longing you have.


Gracious Lord, You are the source of our true peace. In this fallen world of ours, there is so much alienation through hostility, enmity, strife, anger, unforgiveness, impatience, selfishness, envy, slander and malice. And this lack of peace in relationships spreads like a virus to larger social arenas. Help us Lord to listen to your Spirit of wisdom and love. Straighten our relationships with you and with my brothers and sisters. Thus I may recognize that you are my true Messiah, the anointed of God.  Let your boundless love, mercy, forgiveness and compassion may transform me and become your beloved child. AMEN.

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

16th January 2021

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Baptism - A Sign of Our Belonging to God

The Baptism of the Lord.  Sunday 10 January 2021

Readings: Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7; Psalm 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10; Acts 10:34-38; Mark 1:7-11

(The Baptism of Christ, by Piero della Francesca c. 1450-60)

Please click here to listen to my audio reflections

I. We are guided by our ancestors

Most of the cultures or traditions have definite ways of educating their people. For example, in ancient India, there were sages or gurus who mastered a certain kind of ability to give spiritual counsel to the seekers. Russian history boasts about Starets or elders who have reached a stage where people run to them seeking spiritual advice. 

Saturday, January 2, 2021

God Never Stops Making Himself Known

The Feast of the Epiphany (Manifestation) of the Lord. 03rd January 2021

Readings: Isaiah 60:1–6; Psalm 72:1–2, 7–8, 10–13; Ephesians 3:2–3, 5–6; Matthew 2:1–12

Adoration of the Magi, oil on wood by Perugino, c. 1496–98; in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen, France.

The feast of Epiphany that we celebrate today symbolizes God’s public manifestation in a concrete way to the three wise men of the East. They have become known most commonly as Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar. The child that was born on Christmas is revealed to be the long-awaited king of the Jews. Most of the Orthodox Christians including our Byzantine rite Catholics celebrate Christmas today (Jan. 07th) as the manifestation of the Lord for humanity. So if you meet any Orthodox Christians today or tomorrow you can wish them happy Christmas. There is a discrepancy between the Julian and Gregorian calendars of 13 days. 

I. We are pilgrims and seekers

Saturday, December 26, 2020

God is Our True Home and Family

The Feast of The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph - 26 December 2020

Readings:  Eccl. 3:2-6,12-14Psalm 128:1–2, 3, 4–5Col 3:12-21; Lk 2:22-40

I. Early signs determine the future

Simeon, the man of God, who was a righteous and devout man prophesized about the baby Jesus: “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel” (Lk 2:34). In the same temple there was also a prophetess, Anna, who was eighty-four years old, also knew who this baby Jesus going to be. It is very essential to note right here that the role of the prophet was not assigned only to men but also to women. I have seen often the neighbours or relatives who come to see the new baby express their feelings towards the lowly child with joy. They say the child looks like its mother or father; it has beautiful eyes, nice cheeks and so on. I have also heard people say about the child and what it may become; just like its father or mother or someone else. In a similar way, both Simeon and Anna incidentally prophesize about this newborn child in a temple in Bethlehem.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas - God's Loving Intervention in the Ordinary

Christmas 2020

I. God intervenes in difficult times
"Joy to the world! The Lord is come
Let earth receive her King!"

As we sing this beautiful popular Christmas hymn on this day, we must raise our hearts and minds in praising the Lord for this wonderful feast that we celebrate, the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. This feast which is so familiar and so dear to us in this special year of suffering should not dampen our hearts and spirits in rejoicing. Because Jesus came into this world when things were not so good to the Israelites. People lived under Roman rule, social and religious problems made the life of ordinary people difficult and dangerous. Those who were haves had too much and those who had too little survived with minimum things. Perhaps we are living in such precarious conditions today as we celebrate this Christmas.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Advent - A Sign of Finding God's Favour

Fourth Sunday of Advent - 20 December 2020

Readings 2 Samuel 7:1–5, 8–11, 16; Psalm 89:2–5, 27, 29; Romans 16:25–27; Luke 1:26–38

I. God is full of favours who fills us

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God" (Luke 1:30). Perhaps we would like to hear again and again these beautiful words of angel Gabriel addressed to a young virgin of Nazareth. They are so much comforting, soothing, fulfilling, encouraging and energising. We need these words as we end this calendar year with so much anxiety and uncertainty. For our good fortune, we have tremendously encouraging words on this Fourth Sunday of Advent. As we inch closer to celebrate the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ, certainly God has something very concrete to say to us. Our God is full of hope and courage. In Him and through Him we can do anything to find a future of certainty and unambiguity. God in our midst is like a rock; for He is our salvation and strength. “Rejoice, you who enjoy God’s favour! The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28) must ring in our ears as we put our trust in Him. Perhaps with the things of this world, we can get caught up in the busyness of our lives, or so overwhelmed by all that is going on around us. As a result sometimes it can be so hard to find joy or recognise God's favour. It is easy to feel like we have been abandoned. We can question where God is in the world today. Therefore, sometimes we need to stop, and take the time to look around, we can spot the little things that remind us that God is with us  and filling our empty selves with so many favours too.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Advent: Being a Joyful Witness of the Gospel

Third Sunday of Advent - 13 December 2020

Readings: Isaiah 61:1–2, 10–11; Luke 1:46–50, 53–54; 1 Thessalonians 5:16–24; John 1:6–8, 19–28

(The Apparition of Christ to the People [1837-57], a photo by Gandalf's Gallery)

I. A time to rejoice in the half-way of Advent

We are in the middle of the Season of Advent. The liturgy of this Sunday invites us to rejoice. Therefore, the third Sunday of Advent is traditionally called the Gaudete Sunday. In Latin, Gaudete means "to rejoice." Just like Lent, Advent is also a time to practice some sort of mortification and penance. Even though this kind of penitential elements might not be practised in Latin Rite Catholic Church but is very much prevalent in Byzantine Rite Churches (in Slavic countries like Russia, Ukraine, etc.) where people abstain from taking meat and other diary products. In the midst of such a dry and penitential atmosphere Gaudete Sunday or the Rejoice Sunday brings a little reprieve, a note of anticipated delight in the mid-way of Advent. Hence, the readings of this Sunday brighten us up especially Prophet Isaiah and St Paul amply describe the theme of joy in a very vibrant way asking people to rejoice because "God has clothed us with garments of salvation" (Is 61:2). We can rejoice because our Messiah did come.  God kept – and continues to keep – promises.  Rejoice!

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Saint Francis Xavier - A Frontier Apostle of Christ to Asia

(The Vision of St. Francis Xavier, by Giovanni Battista Gaulli)

On the 03rd of December every year, the Catholic Church commemorates the memory of Saint Francis Xavier (1506-1552), one of the most illustrious missionaries of the second millennium. No sea was dangerous for him, no nationalities were foreign to him, no language was a barrier for him, in fact, Jesus Christ was his compass, boats were his vehicles which carried him from Rome to Lisbon to Goa - India, to Moluccas - Indonesia, to Yamaguchi -Japan and finally to Sancian - China. All this Xavier did in the 16th century, that too, in just 11 years from 1541 to1552.  In his 10 years of life in Asia as the first Jesuit provincial of Goa he did the unimaginable work by planting the seeds of Christianity in so many parts.  Here is a short description on his life and work.