Saturday, April 17, 2021

The Mission of Being Witnesses of the Risen Lord

Third Sunday of Easter: 18 April 2021

Mass Reading:  Acts 3:13-15, 17-19; Psalm 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9; 1 John 2:1-5a; Lk 24:35-48

Sion's Kirke Copenhagen - altar painting, Artist: Poul Steffensen (1866-1923)

To listen to my audio reflections please click here

"Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures" (Luke 24:45). Perhaps these words of St Luke the Evangelist tell us concretely about Jesus and his disciples. The experiences of the apparition of Jesus leave the disciples not only strengthened in their faith in their master but also they see everything and that so far has happened in order to fulfil what is said in the scriptures. As true followers of the religion of Abraham, the disciples knew well about TaNaKh =Torah (Pentateuch), Nevi'im (prophets), and Ketuvim (writings). All the bits and pieces that they had experienced the earthly life of their Lord now they can weave it well and see how God has been working in their lives. Jesus' life and his action become very real to their eyes of faith and a life of hope. With this new encouragement and renewed spirit, they become witnesses of their Master's life and legacy to the ends of the universe.

1. Witness means ready to testify what is experienced

In our simple language to be a witness means to be present and testify the facts. The disciples of Jesus become the bold witness of his gospel. There is nothing that can deter them from giving witness after they experienced the Risen Jesus. They are exposed to the sufferings and hardships, trials and tribulations, yet their faith in the mission of the Lord is undiminished. In all these things their mind is open to the scripture and the Good News. The Gospel narrative of today continues to strengthen the disciples. One experience leads to another rich experience of the Risen Jesus and the disciples are being moulded to be strong in their convictions and belief. As the disciples feel strengthened by the experience of the disciples of Emmaus, the Risen Jesus makes his appearance to his friends once again casting away all the doubts if it all they had. Thus their doubts are cleared and spirit is raised. These experiences spring into action in proclaiming the gospel to the world. 

Often in our lives, too, only one God experience is not sufficient. But we need more of such experiences or at least such recurrent experiences even though of low intensity but certainly they need in order to build upon our faith in Jesus. The multiple experiences of God in our lives are necessary just like running water in a stream to keep life around and to blossom. However, an effort is necessary to keep that stream running and never allow to go dry. I could ponder today in what ways I can further the experience of the Lord in spite of the situations and problems that I face every day of my life? What are the temptations that make me to enter into a world of self-sufficiency and self-complacency? 

2. Doubt is not the answer to our call to witness

"But they [disciples] were startled and frightened and supposed that they saw a spirit" (Luke 24:27). Christ tells the disciples: “For a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39). Jesus is able to understand the feeling of his disciples. Only a person who knows his own very well might be able to know the inner happenings and feelings. Jesus urges us to shake off the doubts in our hearts and recognise God living and dwelling in each of us. Probably, one of the problems in living our authentic Christian faith is being unsure about ourselves, being unaware of who we are, and what we are. We are threatened by our own inadequacies and unfaithfulness to what we are. Fear, doubt, laziness, reluctance, unnecessary anxiety, angst, low self-esteem, lack of discipline in life, a feeling of I am good for nothing, dwelling on a question like what others think about me, and so on often defeat us to do what God calls us to. The more I dwell upon myself, the less capable or weak in grace am going to be and a true witness of our Lord. If you have experienced Jesus and continue to build your life on the Risen Lord then there is nothing that can stop you from believing in Him who has called you to be a Christian, priest, nun or religious. A mature Christian is one who believes in Him whatever may come in one's way, corona or failure, chronic illness or financial difficulties. 

Has the love of God reached perfection in you? Most of us would probably feel that this could never happen to us. That we’re just not good enough, we’ve got too many flaws and sins … or maybe even that it’s not the sort of thing we should even think about. But here is a reading where St John the Evangelist says it is possible for the love of God to reach perfection in us (I John 2:5)!  Maybe there is something that blocks out that light, or causes it to fade. The promise of the Risen Lord should brighten our lives.  

3. Risen Lord continues to strengthen us
One of the beautiful experiences the disciples went through is the repeated apparitions of the Risen Jesus. The Risen Christ comes back to his people whom he loved, his friends, his little children in order to console them, comfort them, as well as build them up. The meetings of Jesus are not just a moment experience but a continuous, multifaced and ongoing inputs. They experience their master's presence in various circumstances, unknown events and in surprising places. The disciples are ever ready to receive the Risen Lord in unfamiliar places. His presence incognito not only surprises the disciples but fills them with the hope that he continues to live with them. What is important is our readiness to receive the experience of the Risen Lord even in unforeseen situations.  

The words like “Were not our hearts burning within us?” should ring loudly to us all. This sign of terrific encounter with the Risen Lord always should enkindle to grow in the graces. So, the question is how do I get my own heart burning for the Lord? As the days continue to pass by, the monotony of activities and days might defeat us to feel that deep desire for the Lord in encountering in my life of prayer, activities, service, and such other things. Moreover, the ongoing onslaught of the second wave of the Corona pandemic may put us in a pessimistic attitude.  There may be tendencies just like the disciples to remain startled at the empty tomb and make little progress of being witnesses of the abundance of grace. The Risen Lord is no longer bound by space and time, moreover, the Lord is of all space and all time. As we proclaimed at the Easter Vigil with the paschal candles in our hands,  our Lord is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Jesus continues to make his bodily presence, not a ghostly one: he eats food with disciples and invites them to touch them. With the resurrection, Jesus would not return to his former public ministry instead in his manifestations at every appearance he would commission for the mission and the disciples continue the work of Jesus. It is ‘in Christ’ that all things are to be made new and, as today’s gospel tells us, it is in Christ’s ‘name’, his power and his presence, that the communion and mission of Christians are to be lived out.  

God revealed himself to humanity in a particular time of history. The church's mission today is to advance that revelation of God through the person of Jesus Christ to the rest of the world in witnessing the truth about Jesus, to bring people to repentance and wiping away of sins and the perfection of their love for God.  The world of today is no different than the times of Jesus. Just as in Jesus’ time, there is much suffering, corruption and inequality in the world today. And so we are called to be witnesses and to testify to the strength and dignity of humanity. Like the disciples, we too are called to be active witnesses to hope: for a better world, for a better future and for a more sustainable world where everyone can thrive. We could ask for the grace that it is not sufficient to know more "about" Jesus but to truly know Him personally and intimately and to know His plan for our lives.

Questions for Reflections

1. All through Easter we stand in the light of the Resurrection after the long shadows of the Cross. Do you feel yourself bathed in that light? What moves within you when you ponder that the light of Christ is shining on you?  

2. How am I living this Easter season? Am I too much worried about the Second wave of Corona pandemic in our country?

3. What might this look like being joyful witnesses in our world today? How are we to be witnesses?


Lord, I know that you are faithful over all things, even in the hard dark times of my life. Help me not back away from you in my time of grief. Help me instead to lean into you and trust you, even when I do not understand Your ways. Help me to see You in these harsh hard moments and to glorify You in my response. 

Giver of hope, grant me the courage to bear your hope to those I encounter, and your children all over the world. May I bear witness and testify to your presence among us, and use our voices to bring about your kingdom on earth.  In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

17 April 2021

Friday, April 9, 2021

Being Amazed at the Power of the Resurrection

Second Sunday of Easter: Sunday of Divine Mercy - 11 April 2021

Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24; 1 John 5:1-6; John 20:19-31 

(Mosaic by Fr Marko Rupnik, SJ)

To listen to my audio reflections please click here

The readings that we have for our liturgies during the Easter Season are centred around the resurrection of Jesus which contain not only what the Risen Lord did to those fear-stricken disciples but also to those who were around them. The beginning chapters of the Acts of the Apostles are full of life and vigour. The resurrection of Jesus brings together all his 11 disciples under a specific community with a particular task: To proclaim the resurrection of the Lord. 

1. Resurrection is courage in place of fear

And the effects of the event of the Resurrection are experienced by those people who follow the apostles of Jesus and see in them a new energy flowing. And it is aptly demonstrated by today's reading. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, the disciples are sent out to take God’s peace or “shalom” to the world. Peter becomes a significant figure within the early Christian Community in imitating Christ. If Christ proclaimed his Father’s mission, now Peter the disciple of Jesus proclaims Christ. Because those who have seen the Son have seen the Father, those who saw Jesus, have seen God. 

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Empty Tomb and the Reality of the Resurrection

Easter Sunday - The Resurrection of the Lord: 04 April 2021

Mass Readings: Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-9

(The Resurrection of Christ, 2006. Mosaic, by Fr Marko Rupnik, SJ, at St. Stanislaus College Chapel, Ljubljana, Slovenia.)

1. Empty tomb means entering into the mystery of God's life

“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him” (John 20:2). These are the first words of Mary Magdeline to the two close disciples of Jesus, Peter and John which she must have uttered with utter disbelief, panic and fear when she did not find Jesus in the tomb. The first Easter day is filled with full of emotions. Horror or fear grips the disciples as they find that someone had carried away the body of Jesus. We also notice confusion as they saw the empty tomb and the clothes lying on the ground. “Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed.” (John 20:8). As we celebrate Christ’s Resurrection, we praise him for his glory. Christ’s resurrection is something very special. It is rising from death and he will die no more. It’s about someone who has risen to an entirely new form of life, eternal life. It is a mystery of the reality of God's way of acting and perfecting us. So that we are not locked ourselves or to lie buried in the tomb of our own inadequacies of sin, evil habits, discouragement, doubt or to flee from what we fail to understand, or to close our eyes to problems or deny them.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Jesus at the Table - A Lasting Endless Meal

Holy (Maundy) Thursday: Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper: 01 April 2021

Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14; Psalm 116:12-13, 15-16bc, 17-18; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-15

Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples

To listen to my audio reflections click here

1. A lasting memory of Jesus at the Eucharist
One of the beautiful expressions of our Christian faith is participating in the Eucharist. This great sacrament was instituted on Holy Thursday evening when Jesus ate his last Passover meal with his 12  disciples. Incidentally, this last meal with his apostles on that very dramatic evening in Jerusalem is also solemnized and made as a memorial for the ages to come. This particular meal that Jesus ate with his close disciples is immortalized in the background of Jesus' imminent passion and death on the Cross. There is no other meal in the world that is remembered or repeated as that of Last Supper which took place 2000 years ago.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Moved by the Lord on the Cross

 Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion: 28 March 2021

Readings: Mark 11:1-10; Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24; Philippians 2:6-11; Mark 14:1—15:47

(Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem)

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1. Context of the celebration

As we commemorate Palm Sunday we are exactly one year since we began to feel the heat of the corona pandemic and its consequences. We have spent a year of anxiety and dreadful fear as some of us lost our dear and near ones, others experienced what this Covid-19 actually is with its nasty symptoms of temperature going up and down, body ache, unending cough, and throat infection. And others those with comorbidities and other ailments or illnesses had to postpone the surgeries, wait for the senior consultants in the hospitals to return to work, and so on.  No other time in the history of humanity experienced such a worldwide phenomenon whereof the whole global world on its knees with illness. Currently, the world is carrying a cross; humanity is placed on its shoulder a cross which is undoubtedly heavy, unbearable, and uncomfortable. Only God knows how long this cross will be carried. In this context of having no respite of this global illness, we begin to commemorate this Palm Sunday which takes into the Holy Week where we will contemplate Christ’s last days on this earth as a human person. In fact, the Holy Week embodies one of the richest liturgical weeks in our Christian life. A lot of significance is attached to this special period called “Holy Week” with varied forms of symbols being expressed and our faith and love for our Lord Jesus Christ is renewed and strengthened.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Annunciation of the Lord and Blessed Virgin Mary's Role

 Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord: 25 March 2021

Isaiah 7:10-14; 8:10; Psalms 40:7-8A, 8B-9, 10, 11; Hebrews 10:4-10; Luke 1:26-38

(Annunciation - Art by Fr Mark Rupnik, SJ)

The feast of St Joseph, the Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary (March 19th), and the feast of the Annunciation of the Lord to Mary (March 25th) is celebrated in close proximity. The days in between these feasts are very few. There is also a reason why the Annunciation of the Lord happens on the 25th of March and not any other day. Because according to the Gregorian calendar that we follow the timeline between the Annunciation and Christmas (December 25th) is exactly nine months! I suppose we get the point without much explanation.

1. God's divine action  plan begins with Mary's "Yes"

Many of the Catholic women religious congregations celebrate this feast of the Annunciation of the Lord with utmost devotion and as a titular feast. Mary's fiat voluntas tua, "Behold! I am the handmaid of the Lord, May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:35) is celebrated on this day. On this beautiful day, God not only chooses Mary as the woman in whom the Second person of the Trinity will be born but also Mary becomes an integral part of divine life having conceived by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Church venerates her as the Theotokos, the Mother of God. In other words, it's a sign that God continues to journey with humanity, with his people. A few lines from the scriptures support the role of Mary strongly: "When the appointed time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, to enable us to become his adopted sons and daughters" (Gal 4:4); Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. Behold, you will conceive and bear a son, and he will be called the Son of the Most High" (Luke 2:10). The event of Incarnation takes a definite shape in the world with Mary's 'yes' to the Lord of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Jesus the Source of Eternal Salvation

5th Sunday of Lent: 21 March 2021

Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 14-15; Hebrews 5:7-9; John 12:20-33

(Cross judges evil - Photo courtesy Jean Mark Arakelian)

The scriptural readings for the 5th Sunday of Lent are not only difficult but also challenging. The conversation that happens between Jesus and the Greeks speaks about Jesus' imminent passion, death and resurrection. Greeks are known for their knowledge and wisdom. They approach Jesus through Philip who must have known Greek as his name suggests. Interestingly, Jesus places before them a few very powerful statements which surely draw our attention as well. "Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit" (Jn 12:24); "He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life" (Jn 12:25); "Whoever serves me must follow me;" "where I am, there also will my servant be;" "The Father will honor whoever serves me" (Jn 12:26); "Now is the time of judgment on this world" (Jn12:31); "And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself” (Jn 12:32). Drawing up from the above words of Jesus we might gather very significant reflections.

1. Life is like a grain of wheat

Our life here on earth is temporal, fragile, vulnerable, finite, limited, unfinished, short and uncertain. Prophet Job would say "man’s days are numbered" (Job 14:5-7).  He further says, "naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return" (Job 1:21). And the Psalmist would pray "So teach us to number our days," (Psalm 90:12) in other words, help us to remember that our days are numbered, and help us to interpret our lives correctly. Perhaps death is the ultimate test of who we are, the moment of our personal judgement, just because we have nowhere to hide, no masks that will hold, and no one to stand in our stead. For the Gospel writer John, the cross is the key to glory. Death is the threshold of life.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Silent yet Strong Saint Joseph

Solemnity of Saint Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary: 19 March 2021

Annunciation to Saint Joseph

When we mention the name of St Joseph, the very first thing that comes to our mind is a man in utter calm and silence. Joseph, the husband of Mary does not speak in the scriptures; he is a man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence. He is a listener moreover a doer. All the four dreams (Mt 2:20-21; 2:13; 2:18-21; 2:22) through which he comes to know the Will of God do not say anything about him except that he followed the voice. In fact, he followed the voice boldly.

1. Silence means attentive holy listening

When Virgin Mary hears the voice of God through the angel Gabriel her first reaction was "how can this be, since I am a virgin" (Lk 1:34) However, when Joseph hears the voice of God there was complete "yes." Probably that is why we can write a lot about Joseph. With Pope Francis's "Patris Corde" apostolic letter St Joseph is once again back in the Church to reflect and meditate during this difficult year of the pandemic. St Joseph is the model in every sense of the word. In the current times when the political leaders of our countries seem to be turning out to be just verbal monsters than the listening leaders, St Joseph is a person we need to look for intercession. The Gospel of Mathew, while giving us the genealogy of Jesus says "Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary; of her was born Jesus who is called Christ" (Mt 1: 16). Interestingly we also read in the book of Genesis, the father of Joseph was Jacob who was called Israel (Gen 35:22-26).  Further, we hear a very fascinating story of Joseph of the Old Testament. "When extreme drought came to all the land of Egypt and the people cried out to Pharaoh for food, he told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you” (Gen 41:55). Joseph of the New Testament is a reminder for us that when we listen to Him, God will do everything for us.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Faith Brings Salvation

 4th Sunday of Lent: 14 March 2021

Readings: 2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23 Psalm 137:1-6; Ephesians 2:4-10; John 3:14-21

(Pensive Jesus)

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1. Faith heals you

Faith is a very significant and dominant theme in Chrisitan spirituality either in theory or in practice. "Faith has set you free", "faith has healed you" Jesus would extol the person when he or she sought his healing and liberation. The history of salvation which begins with the Father of Faith Abraham is nothing but a journey of faith (Genesis chapter 12). For St Paul too faith is a pillar on which his whole corpus of writings is situated and founded. 

Saturday, March 6, 2021

World is our Monastery

3rd Sunday of Lent: 07 March 2021 

Readings: Exodus 20:1–17; Psalm 19:8–11; 1 Corinthians 1:22–25; John 2:13–25

(Christ Driving the Traders from the Temple ca. 1570)

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I. Jesus takes the initiative

As Lent progresses, the readings that we have on this third Sunday of Lent invite us to move beyond our usual thinking. The Gospel says: "He [Jesus] made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables" (John 2:15). Probably it might shock us to see Jesus in a hasty action, a bit in rage, angry at the people, full of emotions who were doing merchandise in the courtyard of the temple. In place of healing ministry, Jesus is busy with the cleansing ministry, that too a bit violent way - drove out animals, scattered the money of the moneychangers, flipped tables. What a sight that must have been in the temple square! Didn't he have other ways of chasing those people from the temple area? Why Jesus was so much annoyed, unhappy at the way things were going on there? By challenging the economic apparatus in that time and place, Jesus redirects us to avoid the distractions of earthly rewards and to instead focus on our relationship with Him.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Transfigured to Strengthen and be Confirmed

2nd Sunday of Lent: 28 February 2021

Readings: Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18; Psalm 116:10, 15, 16-17, 18-19; Romans 8:31b-34; Mark 9:2-10

The icon of the Transfiguration - Byzantine
I. Transfiguration experience in order to encourage and strengthen
On this Second Sunday of Lent, the liturgical readings invite us to ask a question. Why is it that God continues to test people of their faithfulness? Whether it is Abraham in the first reading or Jesus on the Mount Tabor with an experience of transfiguration, God reveals to others what kind of faithfulness He expects from his own. In fact, more than to Jesus, the transfiguration experience is certainly a short in the arm for the three disciples namely Peter, James and John. Just before Jesus would go through the transfiguration on that high mountain, Jesus had predicted his imminent and violent death (Mk 8: 31-38). Perhaps, this whole episode of transfiguration must have been a consoling experience to his disciples in the midst of a bad dream that Jesus was speaking about. This experience opened the closed minds of the disciples about Jesus, moreover, it opened to them Christ's glory and that he is truly God's beloved son. This timely encounter changes everything including their opinion about Jesus and who really Jesus is. In fact, what Peter had testified about Jesus when they were asked: “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said, “You are the Christ.” (Mark 8:27-30). Here on this mountain, everything comes to a happy end. The faith of the disciples in Jesus is confirmed, strengthened and validated. Encountering others in a particular setup or situation changes us. Oftentimes, the untimely meetings, incidents, locations either confirm or consolidate what we have been thinking or reflecting about for a long time. 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

We are Made Alive in the Spirit

1st Sunday of Lent: 21 February 2021

Readings: Genesis 9:8–15; Psalm 25:4–9; 1 Peter 3:18–22; Mark 1:12–15

The Temptation of Christ by the Devil, by Félix Joseph Barrias, 1860

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I. Ordeals help one to make the right choices

On this First Sunday of Lent, the liturgy invites us to look at Christ and how he triumphed over Satan in his pursuit of God and His Will in life. Even though the Gospel writer St Mark in just two sentences speaks about Jesus' life in the wilderness, the primary message of the Messiah on repentance and believing in the Gospel takes a central stage here. This is how Jesus establishes his credibility and authority in his robust public ministry in Galilee. Only a person who has triumphed over temptations and Satan can preach about God and His mission to the people. Jesus' desert experience of forty days taught him how to focus on his vocation to which he was called. During this time he learnt what it was like to be hungry and thirsty as he managed to survive in the dry and inhospitable landscape.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Why Ashes When God is Compassion And Mercy?

(Photo courtesy: Jean Mark Arakelian)

To listen to the audio reflections please click here

1. To do what matters most

As we begin our Lenten journey, what are our uppermost thoughts? We started the Covid-19 lockdown during Lent last year, (March 2020). For many, the outbreak of the Corona pandemic has been a long, unending Lent. Many have lost their dear and near ones; a lot of our known acquaintances have lost their job, work and cut in their salaries; the majority of students including the tiny tots have not entered the school premises. Many have postponed marriages, jubilees, Final Vows, sacraments, and other family and community celebrations. The onslaught of Covid-19 has been felt across every sector of our life, be it economics, politics, social, cultural, religion, and so forth. In this context, we begin our 40 days of Lenten journey which leads to Easter. It is certainly a time to take stock of the things of our life and see what matters to us most. We might look at ourselves, look at those around us, look at where we are, consider where we might like to be. In other words, it is a time to reflect on our lives, a time of self-reflection or self-introspection, repentance and identifying areas for spiritual growth, to take a decision, and to make a fresh start. This will help us to discover our joy and anguish, temptation and fear, thus we may opt resolutely for honesty and integrity, clarity of vision and acceptance, generosity and gentleness.  Without a doubt, putting ashes either on our forehead or on the head will symbolize that we are ready to do that wholeheartedly and without postponing it. 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Enduring Love of God Heals Us

 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time: 14 February 2021

Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46; Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 11; 1 Corinthians 10:31—11:1; Mark 1:40-45

Jean-Marie Melchior Doze, Jesus Healing the Leper

I. Even a leper is a child of God

One of the beautiful things that a person with chronic illness would love to see in life is one's complete healing. This is what we see in the life of this man with leprosy in today's gospel (Mark 1:40-45). In this interaction between Jesus and a man who asks to be made clean, we see trust and faith from the leper, and compassion and willingness to act from Jesus. What a joy that man must have experienced having restored his health completely and reincorporated into the community where he was once an outcast since he got leprosy! In the Old Testament, leprosy is depicted as punishment for disobedience of God’s commands, a god-sent curse (Num 12:12–15; 2 Kgs 5:27; 15:5). Moreover, considered “unclean”—unfit to worship or live with the Israelites. The lepers are considered “stillborn,” the living dead (Num 12:12). Awfully describes the requirements and prohibitions imposed on lepers in today’s First Reading (Lev 13:1-2, 44-46)—torn garments, unshaven head, covered beard—are signs of death, penance, and mourning (Lev 10:6; Ez 24:17). Lepers could live out their lives without human contact, a complete ban on his functions as a member of human society, in other words, a complete social alienation. This gives an impression that only God can cure leprosy and cleanse from sin (2 Kgs 5:7), and only God has the power to bring about what He wills (Is 55:11; Wis 12:18). Jesus was 'moved with pity' looking at the state of life of the man with leprosy who does not even have a name to call. Those who have seen a leper will understand what it means to have those wounds on the body with that disease. 

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Serving God Untiringly in a World of Suffering and Pain

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time: 07 February 2021

Job 7:1-4, 6-7; Psalm 147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6; 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23; Mark 1:29-39

Christ Healing the Mother of Simon Peter’s Wife by John Bridges

To listen to my audio reflections please click on this link

The readings of this Sunday liturgy are captivating. Because they place before us an important fact of our life and that is our life in God. Our goal in life is to serve God. We carry in our lives the reminiscences of God's enduring presence. Therefore our lives should be pleasing to God. As I write these few Sunday reflections I am with the Sisters of Charity of Maria Bambina (SCCG) in Secunderabad preaching an eight-day retreat. While reading the "Rule of Life: Constitutions and Statutes" of the Sisters a line touched me very much is of Sr Vincenza one of the foundresses of the congregation, "He who knows the Crucified One, knows everything" (p.22). In other words, if you have experienced or encountered Him, then everything has a meaning. This is what we see in the life of prophet Job, preacher Paul, and Jesus the Messiah. Job endures suffering to such an extent where God allows Satan to take control of him completely except taking away his life. Since his conversion to Christ, Paul sees the meaning of life only in the preaching of Christ whom he encountered so powerfully. Jesus' whole day program was so packed, that he had very little time for himself. We see this in the following.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

On God Rests the Foundation of Our Identity

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time: 31 January 2021

Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35; Mark 1:21-28

(Photo courtesy: Jean Mark Arakelian)
Please click here to listen to my audio reflections
I.  Integration of Jesus in Jewish society

The gospel reading (Mark 1:21-28) has a dramatic scene: people are talking to one another Jesus’ ability to speak in a public worshipping place. Jesus a known figure but who did not belong to the group of Scribes and Pharisees had the capacity to teach the worshippers as if one had authority. Then there is a person embraced by the evil spirit, who shouts at Jesus. It seems that he has a stern and a bit commanding voice. But once Jesus says “be quiet” everything is mellowed down. In this gospel passage, the person with evil spirit has no name. His identity is rested on the evil that carried with him. Both at the beginning and the end, there is astonishment and amazement which puts people to think carefully. Jesus begins public life with public worship, practices the faith of his people and does public preaching. He becomes part of a society and in its life. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

Fr Reginald Foster: My Unusual Latin Teacher, a Passionate and True "Latin Lover"

Fr Reginald Foster at his workplace in the Vatican Secretariate 

Why Latin?

There are very few teachers who leave behind an indelible mark in students' life.  I must confess that Fr Reggi is one of them. In Roman circles, he was known as Father Reggi, Pope's Latinist or "Latin Lover." Even though a year of Latin was enough to get the required credits to complete Bachelerate in Theology, because of the persona and his teaching, I opted for another year of Latin at the Jesuit-run Gregorian University in Rome. I should say that among all the languages that I have studied (Kannada, English, Hindi, Russian, Italian, Greek, French and German) learning Latin was fun. It is purely because of Fr Reggi.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Following the Lord Means God Becomes Focus of Our Attention

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time 24 January 2021

Readings: Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Psalm 25:4-9; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20

(Vocation of the Apostles, a fresco in the Sistine Chapel by Domenico Ghirlandaio, 1481-82)
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We are living in a world where change is inevitable. People look for change not only in their lifestyle but also in the political life of the country. The euphoria of change is seen in its abundance at the wake of the corona pandemic which hit the world a year ago. From the Atlantic to the Indian ocean the world of politics has seen its change from a ranting boisterous president to a mild but a person of integrity in the person of Joe Biden. As the world breathes a sigh of relief with the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States, the Catholic world must cheer.  Is it a change from the old self to a new self, or transformation of evil into good? We like to hear the word “change” often even though we may not be ready to embrace change in a radical way. We may accept changes theoretically but in practice, we might like to say let that change come later. In today’s world, we feel days pass by quickly and change occurs at great velocity. We have seen changes in our lives since the time we record our early stages of life. 

I. A change requires a commitment to a new way of life

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)

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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.

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)

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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