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Friday, 1 May 2015

“A prophet is respected everywhere except in his home town and by his own family.” (Mt 13:57)

“A prophet is respected everywhere except in his home town and by his own family.” (Mt 13:57)

Today’s Passages: Mt 13:54-58; Col 3:14-15, 17, 23-24
Meditation: Today’s meditation verse can be understood from different perspectives. Some may say that it serves as warning or counsel for today’s preachers; others say that it manifests Jesus’ desperation regarding his mission in his home town; still few say that it reveals Jesus’ condemnation against his home town. Regarding the last two opinions, there are some reservations for the words following do not support them.

The first one could be interpreted in the way that St. Paul puts before us, “Christ’s message in all its richness must live in your hearts.” (Col 3:17) In other words, we have to keep always the word of God in our hearts and minds and be prepared to proclaim the word of God in every situation. See the words of St. Paul through which he admonishes Timothy, “I solemnly urge you to preach the word of God, to insist upon proclaiming it whether time is right or not.” (2Tim 4:2)

The second reading says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for men.” (Col 3:23) Therefore, it is not that we are rejected or not, rather whatever we have done was for the glory of God. Even in our rejections let us not be dejected but assert like St. Paul, “I want you to know my brothers that the things that have happened to me have really helped the progress of the gospel.” (Phil 1:12)

Because, “we know that in all things God works for good with those who love, those whom he has called according to his purpose. Those whom God had already chosen he also set apart to become like his Son, so that the Son would be the first among many brothers.” (Rom 8:28-29) Further Paul says, “Who then can separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble do it, or hardship, or persecution, or hunger, or poverty, or danger, or death?” (Rom 8:35)This is also true of St. Joseph whose feast we celebrate today. He was the man who walked in the path of the Lord amidst sufferings and agonies and was justified.
        
Though he could not do anymore miracles there because of their unbelief, Jesus did not condemn them. “For, he did not come to condemn the world rather to save it.” (Jn 12:20) If lose the blessings from God we have to review ourselves and come to real faith. “This is how judgment works: the light has come into the world, but the people love the darkness than the light, because their deeds are evil.” (Jn 3:19) Let us be more concerned about our duties as his faithful servant than the unbelief or the rejection of the people of Nazareth.
          
 Prayer: Lord God, we thank you and praise you for your daily eternal bread. Lord, give us the courage and readiness to preach the message of your kingdom even in the midst of difficulties, do good to others and thereby become your faithful servants. This proclamation of the gospel and doing good to others may never be affected by the rejection we face in our lives. We ask for this grace through Christ our Lord. Amen!

Greetings: God is with you! Wish you a blessed and fruitful Easter Friday!


Thursday, 30 April 2015

“Whoever receives anyone I send receives me also; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.” (Jn 13:20)

“Whoever receives anyone I send receives me also; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.” (Jn 13:20)

Today’s Passages: Jn 13:16-20; Act 13:13-25
Meditation: Let us thank God for today’s meditation verse for it adds new life and vigor to our ministry. Jesus says, “Whoever receives anyone I send receives me also; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.” (Jn 13:20) How beautiful and meaning this verse is! However, we fail to put into practice often in our lives. Jesus himself exclaims, “Now that you know the truth, how happy you will be if you put it into practice!” (Jn 13:17)

Nowadays people are very selective as well as selfish. They are concerned only about those which affect or profit them or in short, what is related to them. ‘If you want something, have it! It doesn’t matter at all, whether it affects someone or not’ is the motto of today. Somewhere or somehow man loses the sense of correlations in the modern society. In due course, relationships become peripheral and artificial. Though gloomy and dissatisfied, everyone tries to keep a mask of business smile on his/her face. How dangerous and deceiving it is!

However, the word of the Lord always speaks of the co-relatedness; the revelation of the Holy Trinity itself tells about it more powerfully. Elizabeth speaks in a loud voice, “You are the most blessed of all women, and blessed is the child you will bear!” (Lk 1:43) A woman from the crowd speaks, “How happy is the woman who bore you and nursed you!” (Lk 11:27) Jesus himself says, “Father and I are one.” (Jn 10:30) Again, “You can be sure that whoever gives even a drink of cold water to one of the least of these my followers because he is my follower, will certainly receive a reward.” (Mt 10:42)
 
Once we lose this correlation, then, we may love and adore Jesus but keep away from the church; or we may love the church and may not give respect to the priests and religious. This looks funny and ridiculous indeed! St. Paul says, “Christ is like a single body’ which has many parts; it is still one body, even though it is made up of different parts.” (1 Cor 12:12) The question of the risen Lord to Saul at his conversion also conveys the same meaning, “Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?” “I am Jesus whom you persecute.” (Acts 9:4-5)

It is because of this same sense of co-relatedness, we find in the second reading, the officials of the synagogue sending a message to Paul and his companions, “Brothers we want you to speak to the people if you have a message of encouragement for them.” (Acts 13:15) Therefore, let us be more aware of this co-relatedness in our relation to Jesus, church, family and society.
                             
 Prayer: Lord God, we thank you and praise you for your daily eternal bread. Lord, give us the divine light to understand the real nature of the relation between you and the church. St. Paul clearly understood it and said, “Now I am happy about my sufferings for you, for by means of my physical sufferings I am helping to complete what still remains of Christ’s sufferings on behalf of his body, the church.” Lord, give us your light! We ask for this grace through Christ our Lord. Amen!


Greetings: God is with you! Wish you a blessed and fruitful Easter Thursday!

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

“I came, not to judge the world, but to save it.” (Jn 12:20)

“I came, not to judge the world, but to save it.” (Jn 12:20)

Today’s Passages: Jn 12:44-50; Act 12:24-13:5a
Meditation: Today’s meditation verse clearly directs us to the purpose and nature of our ministry. If we follow this method without fail we will surely be effective in our ministries. In the gospel of John many a time we find Jesus speaking about judgment and condemnation. In all these places he makes it plain that he is to save the world rather to judge it. Elsewhere he says, “God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to its savior.” (Jn 3:17)

Several times in our lives, we have failed to save others only because we did not understand the real meaning of this word of the Lord: “I came, not to judge the world, but to save it.” (Jn 12:20) With good intention we all go for mission but end up in big failure because we continue to judge. In this connection it is good to remember the words of Mother Theresa: “If you continue to judge others, you will not get time to love them.” How true and meaningful it is!

Therefore, let us keep this winning ‘mantra’ in our lives; wherever we go and whatever we do. We may be working with the good ones or the bad ones, the educated or the uneducated, and the rich or the poor. There are of course several possibilities of judging either of them. However, the purpose of mission and ministry is to save others, not to judge them. Would there be anyone righteous, if the Lord God had decided to judge the world? Surely no one! Remember that it is not our merit that we live but his loving mercy.

Jesus didn’t like the Pharisaic attitude of false righteousness. Several times we find Jesus criticizing them because of their ‘righteous attitude.’ The evangelist Luke notes, “Jesus also told this parable to people who were sure of their own goodness and despised everybody else.” In the parable of the prodigal son, unlike the elder son, we see the loving father finding no time to judge his son rather received him into his own.

In order to do this, we need surely the help of the Holy Spirit. We should continually pray for this divine gift and he will guide each one of us. The word of the Lord says, “Bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more then, will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Lk 11:13) Today’s second reading gives a beautiful description of it: “While they were serving the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said to them, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul, to do the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2)
 
Prayer: Lord God, we thank you and praise you for your daily eternal bread. O Lord, send your Spirit upon us so that we may be properly led by him and inherit the kingdom of God. Sometimes we are attracted to the false teachers and prophets who guide us only to judge others, not to save them. Make us surrender to the word of God and live an authentic Christian life. We ask for this grace through Christ our Lord. Amen!


Greetings: God is with you! Wish you a blessed and fruitful Easter Wednesday!

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

“My sheep listens to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (Jn 10:27)

“My sheep listens to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (Jn 10:27)

Today’s Passages: Jn 10:22-30; Act 11:19-26
Meditation: Today’s meditation verse is quite interesting and meaningful. Jesus the good shepherd is so confident to pronounce, “My sheep listens to my voice; I know them, they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never die. No one can snatch them away from me.” (Jn 10:27-28) “My sheep listens to my voice… they follow me.” How can he say like this? Contemporary experiences, however, urge us not to believe this; be it in the family or in the society. 

Where does this coolness of Jesus come from? I do believe that this is from his unique, eternal, and salvific love for the sheep. Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd, who is willing to die for his sheep.” (Jn 10:11) This love is indeed exemplary for he himself elsewhere says, “The greatest love a person can have for his friends is to give his life for them.” (Jn 10:13) Even today, therefore, two thousand years since his sacrificial death on the cross for the whole humankind, thousands of thousands flock unto him and believe in him. Yes, they listen to his voice and follow him.

This naturally urges me to rethink of my commitment to my duties and entrusted ones. Usually we ask the questions like: why do the people disregard our voice? Or why do they rush to keep away from us? Or why are we so much anxious and afraid of others snatching our dear ones away from us? These questions are right to be sure, however, our selfless love and dedication to our ministries as in the life of good shepherd too matter.

Is it not true, then, that I am working for my family and children, day and night? Is it not true that I am working extra time to afford the burdens of my dear ones? Is it not true that I am taking extra classes to my intellectually poor students? May be true, no one denies them. However, there are instances where people dedicate themselves for their own sake; for the sake of their name and fame. There the other becomes only a means to accomplish their selfish ambitions.

Eventually, children run away from their families, spouses get separated, and employer-employee relationship is broken. Indeed, no one is sure now a days that the other will listen to him or follow him. Here stands in a unique manner our good shepherd Jesus at our side, like friend, to lay down his life for me. This is not for him but for me, for me only. Let me listen to him gratefully to his divine, “I have come in order that you might have life – life in all its fullness.” (Jn 10:10)

Prayer: Lord God, we thank you and praise you for your daily eternal bread. Like St. Peter we too confess that you only have the words of eternal life. Give us your Holy Spirit to listen to your word at moment of your life and have eternal life. Together with the Psalmist I too pray and proclaim, “The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need.” (Ps 23:1) We ask for this grace through Christ our Lord. Amen!


Greetings: God is with you! Wish you a blessed and fruitful Easter Tuesday!

Monday, 27 April 2015

“I have come in order that you might have life – life in all its fullness.” (Jn 10:10)

“I have come in order that you might have life – life in all its fullness.” (Jn 10:10) 
Today’s Passages: Jn 10:1-10; Act 11:1-18

Meditation: Today’s mediation verse is really a gift from God our loving father and calls you and me personally for a particular mission. It is apparently connected with the salvific mission of our Lord Jesus Christ. In order to understand this we have to go back to the first chapters of the Book of Genesis. There we read that the Garden of Eden was given to Adam with a specific mission as “to cultivate and guard it.” (Gen 2:15) Of course, he was not simply given a zero balance account as we read in the second chapter.

The narrative goes like this: “God made all kinds of beautiful trees grow there and produce good fruit. In the middle of the garden stood the tree that gives life and the tree that gives knowledge of what is good and what is bad.” (Gen 2:9) How beautiful and worth-living the Garden of Eden is! In the second instance we find that God is giving to Adam a fitting and perfect life-partner: Eve. As the narrative progress we find Satan the intruder comes to the life of man in the form of a serpent.

Serpent the tempter deceived man through eternal lies. Man lost appreciation for God the creator and his commandments and promises. As a result, he failed to respond to God’s love faithfully and was thrown out of the Garden. “The thief comes only in order to steal, kill, and destroy.” (Jn 10:10) From there on what we find is God’s continuous and loving chase after man as to redeem him from the clutches of sin.

In the fourth gospel we read, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16) In his letter John will explain it more clearly and say, “This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven.” (1 Jn 4:10) From this we know for sure that out of his love only God created, promised, provided and redeemed everything and everyone.

It is against this background we can read and reflect on today’s meditation verse, “I have come in order that you might have life – life in all its fullness.” (Jn 10:10) It is God’s will that we might have life in its abundance. However, Satan doesn’t want the same and moreover, tries to misguide man through eternal lies. Eventually, man becomes slave of Satan and sin. St. Paul says, “For sin pays its wage – death; but God’s free gift is eternal life in union with Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 6:23)

In the second reading we find that the Gentiles too are given abundantly the gift of the Holy Spirit and the church rejoices over this gratuitous gift: “God gave those Gentiles the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 11:17) Let us also proclaim this abundance of love and life in and through our lives. Let us not become robbers but the good shepherds in the life of our brethren. 

The word of the Lord says, “Today I am giving you a choice between good and evil; between life and death. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I give you today, if you love him, obey him, and keep all his laws, then you will prosper and become a nation of many people.” (Dt 30:15) It is to me, after knowing God and Satan, the Good Shepherd and the robber; to decide whom should I follow.
                 
 Prayer: Lord God, we thank you and praise you for your daily eternal bread. How true it is that man is often cheated and destroyed by robber, the Satan. However, he is not coming to Jesus the good shepherd who lays down his life for him and be saved. Lord, have mercy on us sinners. Let us pray in a special way today for all those who are under the influence of sin and Satan the liar. We ask for this grace through Christ our Lord. Amen!


Greetings: God is with you! Wish you a blessed and fruitful Easter Monday!

Friday, 27 February 2015

“If you are not more righteous than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:20)

“If you are not more righteous than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:20) 

Today’s Passages: Mt 5:20-26; Ez 18:21-28
Meditation: Today’s meditation passages help us to renew ourselves and lead a fruitful Christian life during this Lenten season. It is easy to blame on others every now and then for our sins and problems in life and find justification for them. It is heard that many Christians in these days find themselves justified and satisfied by putting blame on their forefathers for their difficulties and problems in life and begin doing penances for them. This is not in any way appropriate for an authentic Christian life.

The first reading clearly exhorts us that each one is primarily responsible for one’s own life. God’s does not want the death of a sinner, rather his life. Therefore, each one has to decide on his own accord whether he should choose good or not. If he chooses good, he naturally lives; whereas if he chooses evil, he will die. He puts before us good and evil, life and death, it is we who decide the either. The punishment is not above all something from outside, rather it is from inside.

The word of the Lord says, “This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For whoever does wrong hates the light and does not come to the light for fear that his deeds will be shown as evil.” (Jn 3:19, 20) Here the judgment is not something imposed upon but it is the result of my free choice. Hence, it is the right time to take a decision as to salvation and live. For God promises, “He will live and not die, because he has opened his eyes and turned away from the sins he had committed.” (Ez 18:28)

Here the norm is not the other and his doing rather God himself. You will not be justified even if you have followed the teachings of the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. In the gospel reading, Lord Jesus says, “If you are not more righteous than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:20) Therefore, God alone has to be our norm of our life; no one or nothing else.

As the word of the Lord says, “Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the sake of the joy reserved for him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:2) The lives concentrated on Jesus and his words will not be left to peril. In that way, may this Lenten season be a fruitful and blessed one to all of us.
 
Prayer: Lord God, we thank you and praise you for your daily eternal bread. O Lord, send your Spirit upon us so that we may be properly led by him and inherit the kingdom of God. Sometimes we are attracted to the false teachers and prophets who guide us only to the letters of the law, not to its spirit. Make us surrender to the word of God and live an authentic Christian life. We ask for this grace through Christ our Lord. Amen!


Greetings: God is with you! Wish you a blessed and fruitful Lenten Friday!

Thursday, 26 February 2015

“Do for others what you want them to do for you: this is the meaning of the Law of Moses...” (Mt 7:12)

“Do for others what you want them to do for you: this is the meaning of the Law of Moses and of the teachings of the prophets.” (Mt 7:12) 

Today’s Passages: Mt 7:7-12; Est 14:1, 3-5, 12-14
Meditation: Today’s meditation passages precisely remind us of what God wants from us to be reconciled unto him and unto our brethren. In a sense we can see that the whole salvation history is making humanity aware of this principle of divine-human relationship. This can also be understood from the point of view of covenantal relationship between God and man: “If you listen to me and keep my covenant, you shall be my very own possession among all the peoples.” (Ex 19:5)

As the Israelite heard this message of God through Moses they all agreed: “all that the Lord has said, we will do.” (Ex 19:8) However, we know from Israel’s history that despite the fact that God was steadfast in his love and faithfulness, the people of Israel always has proved unfaithful to this covenantal relationship. Therefore, many a time they were put under various punishments. You cannot enjoy and experience the real love and faithfulness of God unless you love and obey God
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The more you love God the greater your experience of the love of God will be. Even if we don’t love him, God loves us but that experience of love may be more in the form of mercy and forgiveness. That is why we are asked to return to the first love and works (Rev 2:4-5). This is the pure love God and Adam experienced; this is the love Adam and Eve experienced in the beginning: “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” (Gen 2:23)

It is in this purity of mind only, one can trust in and desire for others’ good, and love them. However, is it possible today in our society? Where do begin from? Who will make the first step? The experiences we have already from the society pulls us back; no more fidelity possible! God showed us the way: “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 Jn 4:10) In the gospel reading we hear Jesus saying, “Do for others what you want them to do for you: this is the meaning of the Law of Moses and of the teachings of the prophets.” (Mt 7:12)

Yes, in this Lenten season, let us therefore, desire for the good of others and be good to others, and fulfill the law and the prophets. Whenever you do something good to others, even if they do not do something good in return to you, God will reward you abundantly. The narrative of the last judgment in the Mathew’s gospel chapter 25 makes it clearer. The word of God says, “Do not turn away your face from anyone who is poor so that God may not turn away his face from you.” (Tob 4:7) 
                         
 Prayer: Lord God, we thank you and praise you for your daily eternal bread. Lord, give us the courage and readiness to do good to others and be children of God. This doing good to others may always be led by the intention of your reward not human appreciation and glory. We ask for this grace through Christ our Lord. Amen!


Greetings: God is with you! Wish you a blessed and fruitful Lenten Thursday!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

“This is an evil generation. They ask for a sign, but no sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah.” (Lk 3:29)

“This is an evil generation. They ask for a sign, but no sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah.” (Lk 3:29) 

Today’s Passages: Lk 11:29-32; Jon 3:1-10
Meditation: Today’s meditation passages speak of the right attitude we all should cherish during this holy Lenten season. Jesus Christ is reproaching those people who do not pay due attention to their religious faith and life. Those who believe in God often find enough signs in and around them to believe and love God. However, those who do not have real faith in God seek for miracles and wonders because they do not want to believe in him. Asking for miracles itself is a sign of disbelief and at times contempt.

Therefore, in the second reading we find Jesus grieving to his heart says, “This is an evil generation. They ask for a sign, but no sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah.” (Lk 3:29) The reason why he calls them evil generation is clear that they repeatedly ask for a sign. They are no more able to know who God is and what he has already done for them in the past years. If you are not able to experience and acknowledge the miracles he has already done in your lives, then it will be useless to search for new miracles in your lives.

It is said that without appreciation there can be no appropriation. In order to have this appreciation for God and spiritual realities, first we have to remember and acknowledge God’s showering of graces in our lives. Psalm 118 is a beautiful thanksgiving psalm that praises God from the bottom of Israelite’s heart. Whenever we are tempted for asking fresh signs from God reading this psalm will give us right guidance. Satan will never be interested in guiding you to all other trees and its fruits in the garden, but the forbidden tree and its fruit. This is an evil generation indeed! They ask for a sign.

The only sign waiting for them is the sign of Jonah; the sign of repentance. We have to acknowledge first our ungratefulness toward God and repent on our sins. When the people of Nineveh repented on their sins, God showered graces upon them abundantly: “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened upon them.” (Jon 3:10) This Lenten season, then, should not be an occasion of asking for signs from God rather it is the time of our repentance, renewal, and return to the Lord.
                  
 Prayer: Lord God, we thank you and praise you for your daily eternal bread. How true it is that man often gets, gets, and forgets; and God gives, gives, and forgives. Lord Jesus Christ, give us a genuine and humble heart to acknowledge and appreciate your graces and forgiveness we received in our lives, and live an ever-grateful life. We ask for this grace through Christ our Lord. Amen!

Greetings: God is with you! Wish you a blessed and fruitful Lenten Wednesday!

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

“Do not be like them. Your father knows what you need, even before you ask him.” (Mt 6:8)

“Do not be like them. Your father knows what you need, even before you ask him.” (Mt 6:8) 

Today’s Passages: Mt 6:7-15; Is 55:10-11
Meditation: Today’s meditation passages rightly instruct us of the real way of Christian life. It is real and effective for it is given by God himself. The first reading speaks of the effectiveness of the word of God: “So is my word that goes forth out of my mouth: it will not return to me fruitless, but it will accomplish my will, and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Is 55:11) Therefore, let us receive this divine instruction for a different life style and put it into practice.

The idea of a separate people in a sense is not original of Christianity. It was there with the concept of the people of God; the Israel. God chose and set them apart from all other people on earth. They were given leaders to guide them and particular laws to be obeyed. This strong covenantal relationship between God and his people made Israel feel that they are different from others. However, as centuries passed, the warmth of the relationship lost its spirit and limited to its keeping of the letters of the law. So, God became man and began forming new people of Israel; Christianity.

Christian life is quite different from any other way of life. Be it any aspect of life, it has got its own specific way centered on Jesus Christ. Hence, in the second reading we find Jesus warning his disciples “Do not be like them,” (Mt 6:8) that is, like the Pharisees. For example, they had their own way of praying and fasting that did attract the attention of others (Mt 6:16-18). Sometimes, these prayers had the face of even self-righteousness (Lk 18:9-14: the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector). That means their concentration was no more on God and his will rather on themselves.

Therefore, Jesus instructs us the new Israel to regain the spirit of the law and put all our trust on God; concentrate on God and his will rather than on ourselves. He assures us, “Your father knows what you need, even before you ask him.” (Mt 6:8) Thus the prayer Jesus taught is more than a prayer; it is the summary of the way of Christian life. It guides each and every one to lead a genuine Christian life centered on the will of God the father.

This prayer rightly teaches us the meaning of the Lent and puts before us an action plan for this season. There in the prayer we find a total surrender to the will of God, hope in the promise of God’s salvation, trust in the mercy and providence of God, resolution to go reconciled with one’s brethren, keeping alert over evil and Satan etc. Actually, this is not only of the Lenten season but of the whole Christian life. Let us love praying and living this prayer, a real gift from our Lord Jesus Christ.

 Prayer: Lord God, we thank you and praise you for your daily eternal bread. O God, we thank you and praise for the great prayer you taught us. It is the quintessence of Jesus’ life we rightly understand it today. Help us to live this perfect prayer in our daily life, especially in this season of Lent. We ask for this grace through Christ our Lord. Amen!

Greetings: God is with you! Wish you a blessed and fruitful Lenten Tuesday!


Monday, 23 February 2015

“I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did it for me!” (Mt 25:40)

“I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did it for me!” (Mt 25:40) 

Today’s Passages: Mt 25:31-46; Lev 19:1-2, 11-18
Meditation: Today’s meditation passages rightly remind us of keeping the real motive of the Lenten season. As we enter the second week of the season, we should not lose the spirit we had on Ash Wednesday. Sometimes, it may lead us to mere keeping some abstinence or fasting. Though these are not bad in themselves, these alone cannot keep us united to Jesus Christ and his people. Therefore, let us pay due attention to today’s passages and their message.

In the first reading, we hear the Lord God saying, “Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.” (Lev 19:2) This, of course, is the purpose of the Lenten season we observe. However, how do we obtain this holiness? In the OT tradition everything that is connected to God is holy and therefore, there was a strong inclination to keep away from everyone and everything that is not holy and divine. In this way they thought that they were on the path of becoming holy people.

This way of understanding holiness is also found emphasized in the formulation of the laws of the people of God. In the first reading, from verses 11 to 18, we find “nine times” as a refrain, “you shall not.” I do believe that because of this mind set up the people were naturally inclined to be alert on what all things they should not do or observe. This type of observing the laws or rituals will not make us indeed holy rather may make us “satisfied” in our religious life.

But Jesus was against this “religious satisfaction” and therefore, he touched the untouchables, made friendship with the marginalized, and ate with the sinners and tax collectors. He even summarized the Ten Commandments into two; two simple positive laws: love your God and love your neighbor. It is not only your attempts to keep yourselves away from sins that matters, but also your attempts to possess holiness; Lenten season is not of a mere passive attitude, rather it is of more active heart and mind. This is apparently evident from today’s gospel reading.

Jesus rewards all those who had this positive mind and attitude: “I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did it for me!” (Mt 25:40)  Of course, this does not mean that your Lenten season is merely doing some social or charitable activities. In other words, this may lead to the temptation of some showy business like that of the Pharisees. Therefore, today’s passages remind you and me that becoming holy is not only a process of driving out evils from us but also filling us with the Holy Spirit; not only abstaining from something but doing good for others.

 Prayer: Lord God, we thank you and praise you for your daily eternal bread. O Lord God, help us to be genuine in our religious practices. Let us learn the meaning of real abstinence and fasting; it is also keeping ourselves away from anything and anyone that blocks our going closer to God and his little ones. We ask for this grace through Christ our Lord. Amen!


Greetings: God is with you! Wish you a blessed and fruitful Lenten Monday!

Friday, 20 February 2015

“Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples don’t fast at all?” (Mt 9:14)

“Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples don’t fast at all?” (Mt 9:14) 

Today’s Passages: Mt 9:14-15; Is 58:1-9a
Meditation: Today’s meditation verse really motivates us to review our attitude toward the fasting and penance we do during this holy Lenten season. Both the first and the second reading rightly support us in this direction. It is quite human to think of others, during this Lenten season, in view of their practice of prayer and fasting. How often do they practice it? Or how rigorously do they follow it? Moreover, there is also a tendency to think of one’s own Lenten practices as to its fruitfulness.

In the gospel reading we heard about a question: “Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples don’t fast at all?” (Lk 9:25) We are doing our prayers and penance and to some extent others too, but “why not then your disciples?” is the real question for many of us during this Lenten season. Is it not a real temptation that seeks self-righteousness? I hope it is indeed! Whenever you compare yourself with others in your religious practices, you are in the verge of self-righteousness. 
  
In the first reading we hear apparently a cry of a devotee as his religious activities go unnoticed: “Why are we fasting, if you do not see it? Why are we doing penance, if you never notice it?” (Is 58:3) Perhaps this prayer is a sign of one’s unbearable suffering or one’s loss of hope in God and prayer. That means it is prayer of a desperate person. It has also got another dimension as to its self righteousness. Why should I do this, if it is not considered well or at all? That means, I am not doing it for myself, rather I am doing it on behalf of others; to show others.

Therefore, in the very beginning of this holy Lenten season, we are asked to review thoroughly ourselves and find out whether we are ready to overcome these temptations or not. I have to be rest assured of myself the fact that whatever I do during this Lenten season is not for showing others rather it is for me and for the reparation of my sins only. Once I am convinced that these are for me, then, I am not bothered about others’ indifference or hypocrisy.

If I am free of these temptations, then I will be able to do the real fasting that is highlighted in the first reading: “Is it not this, the kind of fast that pleases me: to break the fetters of injustice, to untie the thongs of the yoke, to set the oppressed free, and to break every yoke. Is it not to share your food with the hungry, to bring into your house the homeless poor, to clothe the naked when you find them and not to turn away from your own kin?” (Is 58:6, 7) Of course, these may not come under cultic Lenten practices, but they are prophetic way of spirituality and Christianity.
                 
Prayer: Lord God, we thank you and praise you for your daily eternal bread. God, help us to learn the real meaning of repentance and fasting. We understand that it is not mere outward seasonal religious practices; rather it has to be practicing of authentic Christian life throughout our life. Let this Lenten season be an intense period of learning it. We ask for this grace through Christ our Lord. Amen!

Greetings: God is with you! Wish you a blessed and fruitful Lenten Friday!


Thursday, 19 February 2015

“What does it profit anyone to gain the whole world and lose or forfeit his very life?” (Lk 9:25)

“What does it profit anyone to gain the whole world and lose or forfeit his very life?” (Lk 9:25) 


Today’s Passages: Lk 9:22-25; Dt 30:15-20
Meditation: Today’s meditation verses lead us to God’s infinite mercy and love toward human beings. He created them and adorned each one of them with the freedom of will and choice. This manifests clearly that his creation was out of his pure infinite love for mankind. If it were otherwise, he would have made them like slaves; in order to satisfy his selfish needs. But psalmist solemnly declares, “You have made him little lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet.” (Ps 8:5, 6)

However, man could not understand this steadfast and true love of God fully and turned away from him by listening to the fake news of Satan. Real truth is always plain and unattractive, whereas the false truth is both covered and attractive. God is always plain in his revelations and therefore, he says, “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and descendants may live.” (Dt 30:19) That means God has already given you vivid and ample direction as to what is good and what is wrong. But, see closely the next step of Satan.

Because, it is precisely here that the Satan makes an entry into our virtuous life. He makes us first believe that we do not have such capacity at present but can achieve by following his words. In the book of Genesis we read, “The serpent said to the woman, ‘you will not die, for God knows that the day you eat it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing what is good and what is bad.” (Gen 3:4, 5) Here what happens is this; by obeying God’s command Eve continues to enjoy the promises of God as to the knowledge of right and bad, whereas by following the fake promise of Satan she will lose God’s real promise.

In the temptation narrative of Jesus too, we find similar fake promise of Satan making to Jesus: “All this I will give you, if you kneel and worship me.” (Mt 4:9) Actually, the Satan is putting this suggestion before God the creator of everything. Sometimes, having the divine powers received through the anointing of the Holy Spirit, we too are tempted to go after such fake promises. During this Lenten season, we must be able to say to these fake promises with the power of Jesus’ name: “Be off, Satan! Scripture says: Worship the Lord your God and serve him alone.” (Mt 4:10)

Today’s meditation verse also plainly speaks about the real meaning of life and its nature. However, Satan, who was already thrown out the paradise and lost eternal life, tries to make people believe that the life in this world is more real and meaningful. God has clearly revealed to us about the life here on earth and the life everlasting. But Satan magnifies the life here on earth and its pleasures and keeps silence about the eternal. Today, Jesus, the Son of God, the source of all living, in the second reading reveals the truth asking us, “What does it profit anyone to gain the whole world and lose or forfeit his very life?” (Lk 9:25) How do we respond to this question in this holy season of Lent?
    
Prayer: Lord God, we thank you and praise you for your daily eternal bread. Give us your Spirit in its abundance so that we may discern rightly what is good and what is bad; what is earthly and what is eternal. We ask for this grace through Christ our Lord. Amen!


Greetings: God is with you! Wish you a blessed and fruitful Lenten Thursday!