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!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Palm Sunday : A : April 9,2017

"JESUS' ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM"

Gospel for Procession : Matthew 21: 1-11
First Reading : Isaiah 50: 4-7
Second Reading: Philippians 2:6-11
Gospel Reading: Matthew 26:14-27:66

Today we commemorate the Lord's triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Jesus entered the city to fulfill God's plan of salvation culminating in His suffering and death on the cross.
   *Gospel for procession: This passage is a narration of Jesus's entry into Jerusalem for the last time. Jesus went to the city not as a conquering King but as a gentle , humble bearer of Good News , travelling on a donkey. People enthusiastically welcomed Him with much gladness and gaiety and they sang "Hosanna to the Son of God"
   * First reading is from the book of Prophet Isaiah. In this passage , Isaiah speaks of his own suffering in order to carry out his mission. But he was sustained by the firm belief that God will not abandon him. Sufferings of the Prophet prefigure the sufferings of  Jesus.
   * Second reading is from the letter of St. Paul to Philippians. In this passage, Paul tells us that although Jesus was  God, He took on Himself human condition and accepted death on the cross. So God the Father has raised Him up and made Him Lord of heaven and earth.
"The Passion and Sufferings of Jesus"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Matthew. This passage gives a detailed account of the passion and sufferings of Lord Jesus and how the prophecies of the scriptures are fulfilled. It is amazing to see that perfectly religious, sane people are capable of siding with evil or doing evil in certain situations. This is very much evident from the happenings on Good Friday when people who were apparently righteous put Jesus to death or colluded with the people who did the crime.
We meet the following people in the Gospel: 1. The Pharisees. These where austere religious men who devoted all their energy for religion and had a good knowledge of the law. They were very sure of their righteousness which led them to evil. 2. Caiaphas. A man who upheld religious orthodoxy and did not want anyone to oppose it. 3. Pilate. A man who only thought about his chair . He knew Jesus was innocent, yet he condemned him because he was afraid of the Jewish authorities. 4. Judas. A disappointed and disillusioned man who thought it no harm to betray his Master. 5. Peter. A weak and cowardly man. To protect his skin he was ready to disown his Master.
Holy week is the time to look at ourselves and find out where we stand in this drama of the Passion of the Lord. It is always easy to condemn others and throw stones at Judas, Peter, Caiaphas, Pilate and Pharisees.
"Palm Sunday tells us that it is the Cross that is the true tree of life" - Pope Benedict XVI
"Palm Sunday is like a glimpse of Easter. It is a little bit joyful after being somber during Lent" - L. Gele
"It is Palm Sunday and so begins our journey with Jesus from Jerusalem's gate to Golgotha's Cross to Easter's triumph" - Anon.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Fifth Sunday of Lent: A : April 2, 2017

               "FROM DEATH TO LIFE"

First Reading : Ezekiel 37: 12-14
Second Reading: Romans 8:8-11
Gospel Reading : John 11: 1-45

   * First reading is from the book of Prophet Ezekiel. In this passage, Prophet Ezekiel assures the people of Israel , who were under the Babylonian captivity, that God's power will restore them from slavery and misery. He compares their captivity in terms of death and that of their liberation and return home in terms of resurrection and spiritual renewal. He promises them that, they will know and experience Yahweh as their Lord and saviour.

   * Second reading is from St. Paul's letter to Romans. In this passage, Paul reminds the Christian community in Rome and all of us that those who live according to the flesh live in accordance with their natural inclination. But we are in the Spirit and hence we belong to Christ. Paul assures us that it was the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead. The same Spirit lives in us. So the Spirit will give life to our mortal bodies.

"I am the Resurrection and the Life"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. John. This passage gives us a vivid account of the death of Lazarus and subsequently how Jesus raised him from the dead. This miracle story is the seventh and the most spectacular of the signs performed by Jesus: which includes the wedding feast at Caana, Woman at the well, the healing of the royal official's son, the miracle of loaves , walking on the water,healing of the blind man and finally raising of Lazarus.
By the time Jesus arrived at Bethany, Lazarus was already dead and buried for many days. Martha voiced her regret: if Jesus had come early, things would have been different. But Jesus' absence was very essential to the whole story.  As told by Jesus, through the death of Lazarus, 'Son of Man will be glorified'. Death of Lazarus will serve to show Jesus as the life giver.
Lazarus- means helpless. He is dead, lifeless in a tomb with a stone in front and the smell of decay inside. This is the state of Lazarus before being raised to life. Jesus wants each one of us to do the same- what He did to Lazarus. He wants us to step out of our tombs. When Martha told Jesus that she knows her brother will rise again at the resurrection, Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life". When  Jesus becomes the mainstay of our lives, we can experience resurrection here and now. Jesus is the Lord of life. If we believe in Him, death is something that only affects our bodies. We will still live even after our physical lives are over.
"While the resurrection promises us a new and perfect life in future, God loves us too much to leave us alone to contend with the pain, guilt and loneliness of our present life ". - J. Macdowell. 
"He alone can believe in immortality, who feels the resurrection in him already" F.W.Roberts.
"Every parting gives a foretaste of death, every coming together again a foretaste of the resurrection" -A. Schopenhauer. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Fourth Sunday of Lent : A : March 26,2017

                  "THE GIFT OF VISION"

First Reading: 1 Samuel 16: 1, 6-7. 10-12
Second Reading: Ephesians 5:8-14
Gospel Reading : John 9: 1-41

   * First reading is from the book of Prophet Samuel. In this passage, Samuel was asked by the Lord God to anoint one of the sons of Jesse to be the King of Israel. God chose David the youngest of the sons of Jesse to be the King although the Prophet thought better of other sons of Jesse. This explains the fact that God chooses the weak, makes them strong and works through them to manifest His power and glory. When people look at appearances, God looks at the heart of a person and makes His choice. 

   * Second reading is from the letter of St. Paul to Ephesians. In this passage, Paul reminds the Christians in Ephesus that although once they were in darkness, now they are in the light of the Lord God. Hence as children of the light  they should bear the fruits of the light and they should not take part in the unfruitful works of darkness.

"Gaining Vision and Losing Vision"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. John. In this passage, healing of the man born blind is narrated in great details. This man suffered from blindness and approached for a cure from many doctors and healers of that time but none could heal him. Finally, he approached Jesus to be healed of his blindness. Jesus made a paste and applied it to his eyes and asked him to wash his eyes in the pool of Siloam. As a result, he was healed of his blindness and he was able to see everything. The blind man received physical vision which was followed by a deeper vision of Jesus as the story unfolds.
The healing took place on a Sabbath. When the Pharisees questioned this man regarding his healing and how received his vision, he explained to them the healing process. Gradually, his vision of Jesus became more and more clear. At first he said, 'a man called Jesus healed me'. When further questioned, he said , ' He is a Prophet". When they try to intimidate him, he told the Pharisees, "unless this man came from God, he would not be able to do such a miracle". Later , when Jesus asked him, 'do you believe in the Son of Man' he declared,"Lord I believe and knelt before Him and worshiped Him".
The man born blind resisted all pressures by the Pharisees and he grew in faith to accept Jesus as Lord. This transformation took place based on his own experience of being a blind man to a man with total vision.
The man born blind had a transformation whereas the Pharisees although had physical vision became more and more blinded and lost their vision. The story of the blind man has a deep significance for each of us. At first we met the Lord as a man called Jesus. Then the realization comes that he is a Prophet. Later on we realize that he has come from God. Finally we have to realize and accept that He is the Saviour and Lord of our lives. Lent is the time for us to have a deeper vision of Jesus and to get in touch with the divine.
"While light is being given to this man (blind man) by the light of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Pharisees show their own blindness and darkness in which they live by attacking this miracle of Christ" - St. Gregory Palamas 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Third Sunday of Lent : A : March 19.2017

"JESUS THE GIVER OF LIVING WATER"

First Reading: Exodus 17: 3-7
Second Reading: Romans 5: 1-2, 5-8
Gospel Reading: John 4: 5-42

   * First reading is from the book of Exodus. In this passage, we see that during their journey from Egypt to the promised land, people of Israel became agitated because they had no water to drink. They revolted and spoke against Moses and the Lord God who brought them out of slavery. Then God commanded Moses to strike a rock and immediately water gushed out and they had plenty of water to drink. God showed His care and concern for His people in spite of their ungratefulness and lack of trust.

   * Second reading is from St. Paul's letter to Romans. In this passage, Paul explains to the Christian community in Rome and us that God has proved His extraordinary love for us by the fact that Christ died for us while we are still sinners. God's love is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit . So God's grace as flowing water is poured down upon each of us.

"Jesus and the Woman at the Well"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. John. This passage narrates the meeting of Jesus with a Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. In a most dramatic move, Jesus asked for water from that woman . Samaritans and Jews had a rather hostile relationship at that time. Jesus a Jew asking for water from a Samaritan woman was most unusual in that context. Yet the woman after some initial hesitation, gave Him water. Jesus' encounter with the woman gradually changed her attitude to life. She soon realized that here is a person who understood her life situation. She shared with Him her sad story : her confused and sinful life.
Gradually and gently Jesus made her realize what she had been running away from. Till now , she was thirsting for transitory and worldly pleasures. Jesus talked to her about another kind of water that becomes a fountain from within leading to eternal life.
Similarly, Jesus comes into our lives like a weary, thirsty traveler asking for some water. Jesus makes inroads into our lives as the one  who is helpless and who stands in need of us. What He wants from us is more than water. He thirsts for our hearts. Like the Samaritan woman, who brought many people to Jesus, let us too go out to surroundings and bring many to the presence of the Lord.
"The account of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well proves unexpected daily occurrences bring about lasting changes in life when Christ is the centre of the experience" - St. Gregory Palamas.
" She (Samaritan woman) exhibited the actions of an Apostle, preaching the Gospel to all, and calling them to Jesus and drawing a whole city forth to Him" - St. John Chrysostem.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Second Sunday of Lent: A

"TRANSFIGURATION OF JESUS: BELOVED SON"

First Reading: Genesis 12:1-4
Second Reading: 2 Timothy 1:8-10
Gospel Reading: Matthew 17: 1-9

   * First reading is from the book of Genesis. This passage describes the call of Abraham ; the Father of Faith. Abraham was asked by the Lord God to leave his home, his clan and his country to a land that the Lord God would show him. Abraham trusted in the promises of the Lord God and obeyed Him. Because of his obedience, the Lord God blessed Abraham and hence he became a blessing to the whole world and became the father of a nation.

   * Second reading is from the second letter of St. Paul to Timothy. In this passage, Paul assures Timothy and us that God has called us to holiness and He helps us with His graces to achieve it. He urges us never to be ashamed of testifying to our Lord Jesus by sharing His sufferings and death in order to receive His light and eternal life.

"Transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Matthew. In this gospel passage, we have a wonderful description of  the Transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor. Jesus was transfigured on the top of the mountain in the presence of His beloved disciples. There, the disciples got a glimpse of the heavenly glory of Jesus the Son of God. 
This mystical experience is full of symbols. The holy mountain recalls the mount Sinai where the Lord God revealed Himself to Moses. The dazzling face of Jesus suggests the face of Moses after his meeting with Yahweh. The appearance of Moses and Elijah symbolizes the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets in the person of Jesus. Finally the affirmation from the Father 'This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased, listen to him' is for the disciples to trust in Jesus and His message.
The transfiguration experience strengthened the faith of the disciples so that they were able to face the difficulties and hardships in the near future. They had to travel from Mount Tabor to Mount Calvary. 
During this time of Lent, we are also invited to have this transfiguration experience of Mount Tabor. Our memory of transfiguration experience, transmitted through the disciples should empower us to carry our crosses and follow the Lord. Through this experience, Jesus reveals to us that we too are beloved sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father.
"The radiance of the transfiguration reveals clearly and unmistakably the one who had been promised by signs and foretelling him under the veils of mystery" - St. Leo the Great.
" At his transfiguration Christ showed his disciples the splendour of his beauty , to which he will shape and colour those who are his " - St. Thomas Aquinas.
" The light of the Transfiguration of the Lord is not something that comes to be and then vanishes nor is it a subject of the sensory faculties" - St. Gregory Palamas.