Thursday, January 18, 2018

Third Sunday of the Year :B: January 21, 2018


First Reading: Jonah 3: 1-5,10
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 7: 29-31
Gospel Reading: Mark 1: 14-20

   * First reading is from book of Prophet Jonah. This passage describes how the Lord God sent Prophet Jonah to Nineveh. Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria, the bitter enemy of Israel. Jonah wanted this city and its inhabitants to be destroyed. But the Lord God chose Jonah to go that city to preach His Word and to bring them to repentance and conversion. Jonah was very reluctant to go there but the Lord God almost by force sent him to preach to the people of Nineveh. When Jonah preached, the people of Nineveh from the greatest to the least repented of their sins and did penance. The Lord God spared the city from impending punishment and destruction.

   * Second reading is from the first letter of St. Paul to Corinthians. In this passage Paul exhorts the Christians in the port city of Corinth to abandon their old sinful ways and to have a new way of following the teachings of Christ. He encourages them to consider the values of God's Kingdom above everything else. He tells them and us that after experiencing  the love of Christ an attitude of detachment is necessary.

"The Kingdom of God is At Hand"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Mark. This passage speaks of the beginning of Jesus' ministry with the announcement of the Good News:"The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Good News." Through this announcement Jesus implies the following:
1. Repentance means experiencing conversion, a new way of life. It is a turning away from sin and turning to God's ways. Call to repentance is inclusive of everyone.
2. The Good News is that forgiveness is available. Recovery is possible. One can find one's true self even after the most disheartening fall or series of falls. We can come back to the Father's love where not judgement but welcome awaits us. In spite of our failures and sins, we are still very much loved unconditionally by God our loving Father. His love, His mercy, His forgiveness are available to us through His son Jesus. All we need to do is to recognize our need and seek His help with humility and sincerity. For He invites us to repentance and to the Good news of the Kingdom.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Second Sunday of the Year:B: January 14, 2018


First Reading : 1 Samuel 3: 3-10,19
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 6: 13-15, 17-20
Gospel Reading: John 1: 35-42

   * First reading is from the first book of Prophet Samuel. This passage gives us an account of the call of young Samuel by the Lord God. Samuel responded to God's call wholeheartedly and unconditionally. His response was one of total submission to the Lord and was "Speak, for thy servant hears". It was through prophet Samuel that God guided the chosen people to become a great nation. The call of Samuel is an example of the mysterious ways in which God acts. Samuel thus became the liberator of God's people.

   * Second reading is from the first letter of St. Paul to Corinthians. Paul wrote this letter to Christians in Corinth, a port city where people were living with much sexual immorality. In this passage Paul tells them and us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and hence we must not use them for sin but rather use them for the glory of God. Because of our call to be holy, we have to live up the image of God that we are and a source of blessings to our brothers and sisters.

           "Call of the First Disciples"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. John. In this passage John gives us an account of the call of the first disciples of Jesus: Andrew and his brother Peter and  their first encounter with Jesus. It was not merely a casual meeting but a meeting of hearts. A meeting can be a mere formality but in an encounter people open their hearts to one another and share their innermost ideas and concerns. This encounter between Jesus and the first disciples changed their lives. For the next three years, they would really know who Jesus is and they would experience His constant companionship.
Jesus invited His first disciples with the words,"Come and see". He is inviting us too in the same way. If we accept His invitation, He will reveal to us the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. Most of us can recall some encounters with another person that has influenced or changed our lives or made a lasting impression in our lives. Are we prepared to accept the invitation of the Lord Jesus?

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Feast of Epiphany : B: January 7, 2018


First Reading: Isaiah 60: 1-6
Second Reading: Ephesians 3: 2-3a,5-6
Gospel Reading: Matthew 2: 1-12

   * First reading is from the book of Prophet Isaiah. This passage refers to the joyful return of Jews from exile to the holy city of Jerusalem. They find their beloved Jerusalem in ruins. The Prophet encourages them  and cheers them up with a vision of a  future restored city. The second part of the passage speaks about the final pilgrimage of the people of God to the heavenly Jerusalem. This prophecy of Isaiah has some echoes of today's feast of Epiphany.

   * Second reading is from the letter of St. Paul to Ephesians. In this passage, Paul explains to the Christians in Ephesus that God invites the Jews and gentiles to share on an equal footing the salvation brought by Christ. The feast of Epiphany reminds us of God's invitation to all people to be part of the salvific event without any distinction of caste or place of origin. The Church is complete only when  both Jews and gentiles live in harmony as  members of the body of Christ.

"Manifestation of the Lord"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Matthew. This passage gives an account of how three wise men from the east came to pay homage to infant Jesus. They offered their precious gifts to the divine Child. But the Jewish leaders rejected the infant in the manger and plotted to kill the divine Child.
This story of the three wise men is a story of all genuine faith seekers. They left their homeland and everything precious to them and being guided by a star they diligently searched for the Child Jesus. When they found the Child and His mother, they worshiped Him. Thus the Gospel story gives us three important messages.
1. It speaks of the journey of the three wise men from the east to Jerusalem. This journey of theirs is a symbol of search for truth by genuine seekers of God.
2. The meeting between the wise men and King Herod tells us that people in authority and power try to suppress and destroy God's messengers for their selfish ends.
3. The wise men paying homage to Child Jesus is a touching story of all moments of grace and their total surrender to the Almighty.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Feast of Holy Family: B: December 31,2017


First Reading: Ecclesiastes 3: 2-6, 12-14
Second Reading: Colossians 3:12-21
Gospel Reading: Luke 2: 22-40

   * First reading is from the book of  Ecclesiastes. This passage gives a brief description regarding the obligations of children towards their parents. Honouring of parents brings great blessings to the offspring. Children are instructed to take care of their parents in their old age with understanding and forbearance. Hence the commandment of honouring one's father and mother is not merely restricted to obeying them when one is young but also caring for them in their old age.

   * Second reading is from the letter of St. Paul to Colossians. Paul gives some pastoral guidelines for an ideal Christian family life. He mentions those great virtues like compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness and patience. Above all these he says, put on love which is the perfect binding force for the family. He advises husbands not to be harsh with their wives and children to be obedient and fathers not to provoke their children. These advises and guidelines are very much applicable even in the 21st century.

"Child Jesus in the Jerusalem Temple"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Luke. This passage gives a detailed account of the presentation of child Jesus in the Jerusalem temple. We are reminded that parents of Jesus followed everything that the law commanded them to do. The Gospel passage also mentions about two benevolent old people who were present in the Jerusalem temple. Prophet Simeon and Prophetess Anna. They had lived prayerful lives of faith and with hope and eager expectation of the divine Messiah. Being wise and guided by the Holy Spirit, they recognized the moment of grace: the coming of the Messiah. They were greatly privileged to hold the divine child in their arms and to praise and thank God for all the blessings they have received as well as for the blessings for the whole world through this child.
We are told that after the purification ceremony, Holy Family returned to Nazareth to continue their lives in a simple and humble way.
Holy Family is a model for all families in adhering to the will of God. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas :B: December 25, 2017


First  Reading: Isaiah 9:1-7
Second Reading: Titus 2:11-14
Gospel Reading: Luke 2: 1-14

   * First reading is from the book of Prophet Isaiah. In this passage Isaiah speaks about Messianic hope of a Saviour who will rescue the people from their bondage. He prophecies that this Child will be a wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father and Prince of peace. This hope of the Prophet is fulfilled by the birth of Jesus  the Lord and Saviour.

   * Second reading is from St. Paul's letter to Titus. In this passage Paul reminds Titus and us, that Christ has been revealed as God's living and loving grace and salvation of human kind. He encourages us to live sober and righteous lives because God in Christ has brought about salvation.

'Silent Night, Holy Night.... Saviour is born'

Today's Gospel reading is from St. Luke. This passage gives us a beautiful and touching description of the night of the birth of our Saviour Lord Jesus. It is the story of beautiful Angels, shepherds taking care of their flock, Mother Mary with Child Jesus in the manger. The Christmas story unlike other stories is based on a historical event: that is the birth of Jesus in space and time. God's unending love for humankind is personally expressed in the birth of Jesus. His love is inviting all of us to the manger. The shepherds responded to the call at the first Christmas night.
When Jesus was born, the humble, simple shepherds were able to meet Him and receive His blessings. Child Jesus in the manger is inviting us too.
May the Divine Child Bless You
                                           - Fr. Joy Joseph

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Fourth Sunday of Advent: B : December 24, 2017


First Reading: 2 Samuel 7: 1-6, 8b-12, 14a -16
Second Reading: Romans 16: 25-27
Gospel Reading: Luke 1: 26-28

   * First reading is from the second book of Prophet Samuel. This passage gives some details about God's plan revealed to Prophet Nathan regarding David and his dynasty. King David wanted to build a house for the Lord God and he consulted Prophet Nathan regarding his wish. That night the Lord God revealed His plan to the Prophet that it will be the Lord God who will build a house for David forever. By sending His only Son Jesus to be born in David's lineage, God fulfilled His promise to the King that his Kingdom would last forever.

   * Second reading is from the letter of St.Paul to Romans. In this passage Paul tells the Christian community in Rome that God's plan of salvation for Jews and Gentiles, has come to fulfillment in Christ. It is now up to us to proclaim that good news to all nations.

"Behold, I am the Handmaid of the Lord"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Luke. This passage gives an account of the annunciation of the birth of the Lord Jesus. The meeting of Mary and the Angel is an illustration of living faith. Mary gives her consent to become the mother of the redeemer though she hardly understood the significance of her Yes. Hence, she became a special instrument in the hands of God. Mary has a unique role to play in the salvation history. But Mary was asked to put her freedom, her whole person at the service of the plan of God. The difference between Mary and us, is not that Mary was chosen while we are not, rather it is that she fully responded to be chosen for her role while we remain hesitant and half- hearted in our responses to God.
God invites each of us during this Advent like Mary and tells us "Rejoice highly favoured, for I have chosen you to live a holy and loving life". Let us respond positively to this invitation of God as we prepare for the coming of the Lord at Christmas.
"Mary full of Grace, conceived Jesus in her heart before she conceived Him in her womb. She was so attuned to the spiritual that the spiritual readily became physical within her " - St. Augustine. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Third Sunday of Advent : B : December 17, 2017


First Reading: Isaiah 61: 1-2, 16-11
Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-24
Gospel Reading: John 1: 6-8, 15-28

   * First reading is from the book of Prophet Isaiah. In this passage Isaiah declares that he had been anointed by the Lord God and sent to bring good news to the poor. He conveys a message of great hope to all those who live in hopelessness. It is the Spirit of God present in us that enables us to carry the message of salvation to the poor. Jesus Himself quotes this passage to announce the programme of His ministry.

   * Second reading is from the first letter of St. Paul to Thessalonians. In this passage Paul urges the Christian community of Thessalonika and all of us that we should rejoice always and pray constantly and show our gratitude to God for all the gifts and blessings we have received from Him. We should not despise the spiritual gifts but be earnest in doing good and avoiding evil. In this way we ought to live as we wait for the second coming of the Lord.

"John a Witness to the Light"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. John. In this Gospel passage, we meet John the Baptist who makes it abundantly clear that he is not the Messiah. John bore witness to the Light. That light was Christ. But what a wonderful witness John was! He witnessed not only with his words but especially through his deeds and his life of renunciation. When the Light finally appeared, John was quite content to fade from the scene and let Christ take over. This indeed was a wonderful way of witnessing.
Today, for many people Christ has become a very dim and distant figure. He is being constantly overshadowed by the powerful electronic media, man's greed and a world constantly projecting itself and slowly making God some kind of an appendix. The words of the Gospel are very much true today. "There stands one among you, whom you don't know".
Prophet Isaiah had said, "The Lord has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and opening of the prison to those who are bound" This prophecy of Isaiah can become a reality only when we become effective witness to Christ the Light. The third week of Advent invites us to be witnesses of Christ.