Saturday, October 31, 2020

Called to be Holy and Blessed

Solemnity of All Saints: Readings - Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12

                  Court of Heaven by Fra Angelico
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Sharers of His Divine Inheritance

We are beginning the month of November by honouring all the saints of the Church. It's a day to recall that the Church is blessed with holy men and women, children and adults. In other words, these holy people are part of God who have lived a life in this world; a world full of messiness and complexities. They have struggled to live their life in truth, justice and peace. Finally they have found true peace and joy in the Lord.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Being Kind to Your Neighbour and to the Least

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Readings - Exodus 22:20–26; Psalm 18:2–4, 47, 51; 1 Thessalonians 1:5–10; Matthew 22:34–40

(Image courtesy: Creative Commons)

Our works of mercy and kindness must be the rule book

"Love ought to show itself in deeds rather than in words." These words of St Ignatius of Loyola in the book Spiritual Exercises No. 230 summarize this Sunday's readings. The word "Love" has a phenomenal meaning and connotations. In fact it finds its fullest expression only when we demonstrate in our deeds. Both Yahweh in the book of Exodus and Jesus in Mathew's gospel compel us how to practice that love. Our book of life must be summarised by our actions of love, in other words, my very existence must be expressed in works of mercy, charity, compassion and emptying myself to the other. Each one of us do these works of kindness, however, the readings encourage us to do more and put ourselves wholeheartedly in doing such things. Even though the 613 commands that are found in the first five books of the Old Testament (Torah) which help us to live our lives according to God's design still we need something more to make them complete, that is "love of God and love of our neighbour". Our love for our neighbour must express itself in concrete actions, such as those set out in today’s First Reading - Exodus 22:20–26. It means that our lives also should focus on the needs of the others.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Bearer of God's Image versus Caesar's Image

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Readings - Isaiah 45:1,4–6; Psalm 96:1,3–5, 7–10; 1 Thessalonians 1:1–5; Matthew 22:15–21

(Image courtesy: Jean Marc Arkelian)

Courage of Holy Martyrs must strengthen us

The 29th Sunday of the year which falls on the 18th October gives us a very challenging message with the feasts of martyr saints falling before and after as a symbol for a different interpretation. Because on the 17th October, the Church celebrates the feast of  St Ignatius of Antioch ((-107), one of the earliest Holy Martyrs of the Church. He is remembered greatly for his astonishing but bold words that he spoke at his martyrdom which took place in the Circus Maximus in Rome by the lions: "I am the wheat of the Lord; may I be ground by the teeth of the beasts to become the immaculate bread of Christ."  On the 19th of October the Church commemorates the memory of  the martyrdom of saints John de Brebeuf, Issac Jogues and companions.  The boldness of these saints to give life for Christ at such gruesome, cruel death is truly staggering. For example, St Issac Jogues (1607-1646), a French Jesuit, even though on a earlier occasion he was peeled of skin of his body and mutilated his fingers, once again returned to the mission territory of Huron and Iroquois tribes to work and for the second time he was peeled of his skin and killed. Looking at his courage, his killers (Mohawks) seems to have eaten up his heart because it resembled such an amazing courage. Jogues words speak about his impeccable endurance to follow the Crucified Christ: "My heart tells me that if I have the happiness of being employed in this mission, Ibo et non redibo [I shall go never to return]; but I shall be happy if our Lord will complete the sacrifice where he has begun it, and make the little blood I have shed in that land the pledge of what I would give from every vein of my body and my heart."  One of the most fascinating hagiographical (holy life) accounts that I have ever read and captivated my imagination of boldness of a missionary priest is that of a martyr saint that is of St Issac Jogues. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

God of Faith and God of Science

(Image courtesy: Jean Marc Arkelian)
Discoveries and inventions are very little in front of the immensity of knowing God

What Christian Scriptures want to say to us is that God is present everywhere and powerfully present in the working of this immense universe. I suppose we are conditioned by God's omnipresence and omnipotence in the affairs of this world. When this Corona is threatening us at our door steps, we are made aware that all our learnings and scientific discoveries in the medical field are so small, so little and so tiny. It's like a drop in the ocean. That means in order to draw strength, we should begin to think about the immensity and knowledge that is in God and kneel down and just begin to contemplate this unutterable mystery that we call God. All our discoveries and inventions have no effect or meaning at all at the face of our littleness and shallowness. The more we know our fragility, smallness, emptiness, vagueness, in fact about our life itself, we see the immensity, greatness and vastness of God. In other words, we are putting constraints around ourselves in knowing our God.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Courageously Joyful in Chasing the Dreams of Jesus

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Readings - Isaiah 25:6–10; Psalm 23:1–6; Philippians 4:12–14, 19–20; Matthew 22:1–14

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Every call is holy, just and considered

"For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). These words of Jesus must wake us up. Am I one of those who are called? Am I the chosen out of "many"? We often see this dichotomy of many and few. Why is that God does not choose all of them who are called? Many wrongly understand these words of our Saviour.  Often people believe that only a few are called to be priests or nuns or consecrated people. By our Baptism God has called and chosen everyone and left no one. Perhaps only a few make a real commitment to the call Jesus mentions about. Every call is holy, just and considered whether it is to form a family, remain single or be consecrated. Our call is to do the will of God. 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

God's Omnipotence and Motherly Protection Versus Corona's Omnipresence

(Image courtesy: Jean Marc Arkelian)


Fear of Covid and Faith in God

The intense fear of Covid and deep faith in God seem to be keeping our life going in these days of so much uncertainty. The unexpected arrival of the Corona virus into our country, state, and place of our inhabitation has made the omnipresence of this nasty infectious virus more than tolerable. A good number of seniors and those who could not tolerate the onslaught of Covid 19 have left this world to eternity. 

Corona virus has left no one untouched, from a pious lay person to a ferocious politician, from a simple beggar to a holy priest corona has played its game and won it. Those who are still around might be thinking when will this corona affect and take them as a victim. Others might be thinking what this nonsense of corona lockdown is, and in number of countries this laxity in people's behaviour has led to increase a sudden surge of corona infections. Many have downplayed the enormous health hazards this virus brings and succumbed to this killer bug as if a punishment to their pride and arrogance. Moreover, during this time, we must have lost count of the days, weeks and months. We are already in the eighth month since the Corona virus started to make news in India. 

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Taking Care of God's Vineyard and My Responsibility

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Readings - Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 80:9, 12, 13-14, 15-16, 19-20; Philippians 4:6-9; Matthew 21:33-43


Listening to the Master

In short, the Sunday readings bring home a very important idea that is taking care of God's vineyard. This Old Testament symbol "vineyard" tells about Israel (Isaiah 5:1-7), the Church and the Kingdom of God. Ultimately, God is the planter or the owner of this vineyard and we are just tenants or workers in the vineyard. Vineyard gives job to people, grapes to eat, beauty to eyes and wine to drink. In other words, vineyard gives security and solace to the one who does his or her job well. Unless and until we get back to the plan that God has for us, we would be remaining idle in the vineyard. Someone said, "an idle mind is a devil's workshop". Therefore, our job is just doing the job the owner has called us to do and not undoing what God intended for us. Jesus wants us to listen to him, listen to the owner of the vineyard who may appear in different persons. 

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Christian Media and Solidarity: Where are we now?

Recently, I have turned my attention to reading a number of Catholic journals published in India. We do get a good number of journals in our Jesuit Provincialate. I read through recently published - Vidyajyothi Journal of Theological Reflection, Jeevadhara, The New Leader, Jivan, Indian Currents, In Christo, Salaam, Word & Worship, Kristu Jyoti, Asian Horizons, Prabodhana, Journal of Indian Theology, Magnet, Ignis, etc. I was pleasantly surprised by their content. All these journals do deal with Covid 19 and  its repercussions. Certainly the editors of these journals should be appreciated for their courage and resilience to think about the present day reality and respond to it in their own way. Here are some of the titles of the articles that appeared in the journals. (Due to space constrain, I have restricted only to a few)