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.