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.