Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Feast of Ascension: Sunday: A : May 28,2017

"JESUS WAS LIFTED UP TO HEAVEN"

First Reading: Acts 1: 1-11
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:17-23
Gospel Reading: Matthew 28: 16-20

   *First reading is from the Acts of the Apostles. In this passage St. Luke gives us a brief description of Jesus' meeting with His disciples after His resurrection. Jesus instructed them to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit and later they were to witness to Him in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the end of the world. After that, as they were talking to Him, Jesus was lifted up to heaven and a cloud took Him out of their sight. This description of Jesus' ascension  is to strengthen our faith in the Risen Lord.

   * Second reading is from the letter of St. Paul to Ephesians. In this passage, Paul tells the Ephesian community and us the meaning of ascension of Jesus. He explains that, God by raising Jesus from the dead, He has given Him authority and power to rule over the whole world. Now, Jesus is the head of the Church and everything in world. Those who believe in Him will accomplish great things.

"Authority in Heaven and on Earth is Given"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Matthew. In this passage, the Ascension scene of Jesus is narrated. On a mountain in Gallilie , Jesus gave instructions to His disciples  who were gathered there. He told them that all authority in heaven and on earth is given to Him by God the Father. He also told them to go to the whole world and make disciples. They were to baptise the believers in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. He promised them that He would be with them till the end of the world. Thus the Ascension of Jesus is the assurance that Jesus will be with us His disciples always, till the end of times.
Feast of Ascension  gives us the following messages.
1. The Risen Lord is now in His glory seated at the right hand of God the Father.
2. Jesus assures us that after His ascension, He will send the Holy Spirit to guide us.
3. Jesus promises us that , even after being ascended into heaven, he will continue to be with us till the end of the world:  by the Word of God and by His presence in the Holy Eucharist
4. Jesus ascension gives us the hope that one day those who believe in Him will participate in His glory.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Sixth Sunday of Easter :A : May 21, 2017

      "PROMISE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT"

First Reading: Acts 8: 5-8, 14-17
Second Reading: 1 Peter 3: 15-18
Gospel Reading: John 14: 15-21

    * First reading is from the Acts of the Apostles. This passage gives an account of the mission journey of Apostle Philip to Samaria. Philip proclaimed the Word of God and Samaritans received the Gospel with great enthusiasm and joy. Many signs and wonders were manifested among the believers. Peter and John too went to Samaria and prayed for the new converts and the Samaritans too received the Holy Spirit.

    * Second reading is from the first letter of St. Peter. In this passage, Peter urges the Christian community to defend their faith with gentleness and reverence. He exhorts them to suffer for doing right in the eyes of God and not for doing wrong. He gives the great example of Christ Himself who died for the sins of all humankind. They should be also ready  and willing to accept sufferings  for the sake of Christ.

"Father will give you another Counselor"
Today's Gospel reading is from the Gospel of St. John. This passage is a part of the farewell discourse of Jesus to His disciples before his tragic death on the cross. Jesus explains to them that to love Himself  is to keep His commandments and the one who loves Him will be loved by the Father which is a manifestation of the love of Jesus. During the course of His discourse, Jesus assures His disciples of His continued presence through the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit , indwelling in us who makes us experience Jesus in our lives and helps us to be true followers of the Lord. Only the Holy Spirit can effect transformations in our lives.
The commandments of Jesus are summarised in the commandment of Love which is the expression of a disciple's total way of life. To live this commandment of Love, we need the presence of the Holy Spirit . Jesus further told the disciples about the indwelling presence of Himself and the Father.
Hence the messages given in today's Gospel passage are the following:
1. To love Jesus is to keep His commandments.
2. Jesus promises to be with His disciples by the gift of the Holy Spirit.
3. Jesus assures the disciples that the one who keeps His commandment will experience the indwelling of Jesus and the Father. 
" Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love, in a quiet , absolute and final way" -  Pedro Arrupe SJ

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Fifth Sunday of Easter : A : May 14, 2017

"JESUS IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE"

First Reading: Acts 6: 1-7
Second Reading: 1 Peter 2: 4-9
Gospel Reading: John 14: 1-12

   * First reading is from the Acts of the Apostles. This passage explains to us that the Apostles were busy in preaching the Good news and spending time in prayer. Hence they chose and ordained seven devout men to take care of the charitable works for the poor. By appointing more people for the service of the community, the Apostles shared their responsibilities and took care of the needs of the growing community of believers.

   * Second reading is from the first letter of St. Peter. In this passage , Peter reminds us that we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood and a people set apart to sing  praises of God. He invites all of us to come to Jesus the living stone which was rejected by men but chosen by God and who is precious in the sight of God.

"He who has Seen Me has Seen the Father"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. John. In this passage, Jesus explains to His Apostles His intimate and close relationship with His Father. During the discourse, Jesus clarifies some of their fears and doubts.
He explains to them the following  : 1. Disciples are not to be troubled and anxious because , Jesus  is going to prepare a place for them in the Father's house. 2. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life 3. Knowing Jesus is to know the Father. 4. The authority of Jesus is based on the fact that the Father dwells in Him. 5. The one who believes in Jesus will be able to do greater works than Him.
Hence , Jesus speaks of His deep and intimate relationship with the Heavenly Father and that through our faith in Him, we as disciples will experience the divine intimacy and empowerment. So Jesus is the way that leads us to the Father, the truth that sets us free from all fears and anxieties in life and He is the life that fills us with gladness and peace. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Fourth Sunday of Easter: A : May 7, 2017

        "JESUS THE GOOD SHEPHERD"

First Reading: Acts 2: 14, 36-41
Second Reading: 1 Peter 2: 20-25
Gospel Reading: John 10: 1-10

   * First reading is from the Acts of the Apostles. This passage is a part of the testimony of St. Peter on the day of Pentecost. Peter spoke very boldly and courageously about the crucified and Risen Christ who has  brought salvation for human kind. He urges everyone to repent and be baptised in the name of Jesus to receive forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. After listening to the Apostle, a large group of people - about three thousand - received baptism that same day and accepted Jesus as their saviour and Lord.

   * Second reading is from the first letter of St. Peter. In this passage, Apostle Peter exhorts all Christians to be ready to suffer patiently for righteousness. Jesus our good Shepherd has given us an example by bearing unjust suffering with patience and bore His sufferings for the love of us.

         "I Am the Door of the Sheepfold"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. John. In this passage, Jesus compares His love for His followers to the love of a shepherd for his sheep. He gives us the example of two types of people who enter the sheepfold. First type is a person who does not enter through the gate of the sheepfold. He is not a shepherd but a thief who comes to steal and to destroy. The second type is a person who enters through the gate of the sheepfold. He is the shepherd of the sheep. He is the one who knows the sheep by name and takes care of them day and night. He is the good Shepherd.
Jesus further adds that, He is the door of the sheepfold. Jesus being the door of the sheepfold, gives three kinds of safety and security to His sheep. 1. Jesus gives safety to His flock by guarding the sheep from harmful influences from outside. 2. Jesus protects the sheep from evil and destructive powers which could harm the flock. 3. Jesus protects the sheep from worries and anxieties so that His sheep is at peace. Anyone who enters through the door of the sheepfold, will have the safety that only Jesus can give. 4. Jesus is door that leads to salvation and life eternal. All who want to be saved must pass through the door that is Jesus.
Let us too listen to the good Shepherd and follow Him so that we too may be found worthy of salvation promised by Him. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Third Sunday of Easter: A: April 30, 2017

"JOURNEY TO EMMAUS:DESPAIR TO JOY"

First Reading: Acts 2: 14, 22-33
Second Reading: 1 Peter 1:17-21
Gospel Reading: Luke 24: 13-35

   * First reading is from the Acts of the Apostles. This passage is a part of the sermon preached by St. Peter on Pentecost day. Filled with the Holy Spirit , Peter boldly proclaimed that the crucified and risen Christ is the promised Messiah and the Lord of the whole Universe. Hence the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the core of the good news.

   * Second reading is from the first letter of St. Peter. In this passage Peter tells us that Jesus redeemed us with His blood. He urges us to have a strong faith and hope in the Risen Lord and that  we must try to respond with a life of holiness. 

"Recognition of the Risen Lord"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Luke. This passage narrates the story of two disciples who went to Emmaus on Easter  Sunday evening. Their dreams had been shattered when Jesus was crucified and was buried. But the Risen Lord joined them on their journey and showed them that it was necessary for Him to die and to enter into glory. In the Gospel story, Emmaus became a place of transformation when they recognized the Lord at the breaking of bread. But this recognition of the Lord could happen only because they opened their hearts to the stranger with love and hospitality and with an invitation, 'stay with us'. Taking the stranger into their home and even sharing their meal with Him became the Eucharist table , and then their eyes were opened. When we allow others to have a place in our hearts, the Risen Lord becomes real in our lives. We too become like the two disciples who returned from Emmaus full of joy and hope.
Emmaus story is the story of our lives. 1. Risen Lord walks with us as a stranger when we are in deep pain and distress. 2. Risen Lord explains to us the meaning of our sufferings through the Word of God: the Scriptures and encourages us. 3. Risen Lord reveals Himself to us through the breaking of the bread : Eucharist. When Jesus broke the Bread at Emmaus, He used the same words that He used at the Last Supper.
"Emmaus Road- Journey from despair to Joy" - M. D'ambrosio
"The one who came and walked with them the one who talked with them and disclosed himself to them, preparing them to encounter Him as their Risen Lord, is the one who now opens their eyes to see Him in the breaking of the bread" - M.P, Souza.
" It began as an encounter. Some people came into contact with Jesus of Nazareth and what took place in the life of Jesus and in connection with his death, gave their personal lives new meaning and new significance. They felt that they had been born again, that they had  understood and this new identity found expression in a similar solidarity toward others, their fellow men" E. Schillebeeckx (on Emmaus experience)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Second Sunday of Easter:A:Divine Mercy : April 23, 2017

                  "DOUBTING THOMAS"

First Reading: Acts 2: 42-47
Second Reading: 1 Peter 1: 3-9
Gospel Reading: John 20: 19-31

   * First reading is from the Acts of the Apostles. This passage gives us a glimpse of the life of the early Christian community. After the powerful experience of the presence of the Risen Lord , Christians lived like people one in heart and mind. Their life powerfully attracted non believers to faith and brought healing to the wounded hearts of many. The community's faith in the Risen Lord led to a joyful fellowship in worship and of unity of mind. Hence the first Christians showed the depth of their faith by the fruits they produced in their lives.

   * Second reading is from the first letter of St. Peter. In this passage, Apostle Peter praises and glorifies God for His great mercy in giving us a new birth in Jesus Christ and for the blessings of faith, love and joy in the Lord. He says that , " hope helps us to bear patiently the trials of this life".

"Blessed are Those who have not seen and Yet Believed"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. John. This passage gives us a narration of the way the Risen Lord met Thomas the Apostle. Thomas was one of the twelve, chosen by Jesus. He was present during the public life of Jesus. He was a witness to the cruel crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus. He like every other disciple, lost hope and went away dis- spirited and disheartened. But when he returned on Easter day, other disciples told him about the most exciting events of that morning: Jesus appearing to Peter and some of the disciples. In his disappointment he told them that "unless I see in His hands the print of the nails and place my fingers in the mark of the nails, and place my hands in His side, I will not believe". The Risen Lord took up the challenge of Thomas and confronted him along with other disciples. Jesus showed His hands and legs and His wounded side and asked Thomas to be believing. Realizing his folly, Thomas immediately expressed his faith in the Lord and committed himself to the Lord. Thomas' story is for all those people who were not present when the Risen Lord appeared - that includes all of us - on the Easter Sunday and did not see the Risen Lord. Hence, Thomas became a key link between the age of the Apostles who saw the Risen Lord with their own eyes and all the future disciples who will never see Jesus in this life and yet believe in Him. 
"To believe with certainty we must begin with doubting" - Stanislaus I
"It is by doubting that we come to investigate and by investigating that we recognize the truth" - P. Abelard.
"It may be that , Thomas' critical mind compelled Jesus to explain the teachings more deeply to him than to other credulous disciples" - G. A. Tyrrell.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Easter Sunday : A : April 16, 2017

        "CHRIST IS RISEN! ALLELUIA"

First Reading: Acts 10: 34, 37-43
Second Reading: Colossians 3: 1-4
Gospel Reading: John 20: 1-9

   * First reading is from the Acts of the Apostles. This passage gives us the powerful testimony of the Apostle Peter regarding the resurrection of Jesus. He tells us how he was a witness to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  He affirmed that the Risen Lord is the saviour of all those who believe in Him, as well as the judge of the living and the dead. Everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sin.

   * Second reading is from the letter of St. Paul to Colossians. In this passage, Paul tells us that through our baptism , we share in the risen life of Christ through a hidden and mysterious way. As members the body of Christ, we share in the victory of Christ and become a new creation in Him.

"Empty Tomb: Sign of Resurrection"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. John. The circumstances of the resurrection experiences of disciples are described by St. John in this passage. Gradually disciples of Jesus came to the realization that Jesus is indeed risen. Early on Sunday morning, after the tragic events on Friday, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb of Jesus to anoint the body of Jesus. It was still dark and she was surprised and shocked to see that the stone which had covered the tomb was rolled away and the body of Jesus was no where to be found. She was totally disturbed and she ran to Peter and other disciples to tell them about this strange happening. Hearing her story, Peter and John went to the tomb to see what happened to the body of Jesus. To their amazement , they too found that tomb was empty and Jesus body could not be located. Thus the finding of the Empty Tomb was the first sign that Jesus is Risen from the dead. 
At first disciples and others could not really believe that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead as he had told them. But gradually , they experienced the presence of the risen Lord and came to the conviction that Jesus is indeed risen from the dead. After that, Risen Lord appeared to several disciples innumerable times and strengthened them in His Resurrection. To experience the Risen Lord, we too need to go through the empty tomb experience. We have to empty ourselves of our pre-conceived ideas: all that hold us away from the Lord. Then we too can experience the Risen Lord.
"The resurrection , then is not a theory but a historical reality revealed by the man Jesus Christ by means of his 'Passover' his 'passage' that has opened 'new way' between heaven and earth" - Pope Benedict XVI
" The resurrection completes the inauguration of God's Kingdom" - N.T Wright. 
"By His Resurrection, Christ conquered sin and death, destroyed Satan's dark Kingdom, freed the enslaved human race and broke the seal on the greatest mysteries of god and man" St. Nikolai.
                                                       HAPPY EASTER!