Thursday, May 24, 2018

Feast of the Most Holy Trinity : B ; May 27,2018

THE FATHER, THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT:TRINITY

First Reading: Deuteronomy 4: 32-34, 39-40
Second Reading : Romans 8: 14-12
Gospel Reading: Matthew 28: 16-20

   * First reading is from the book of Deuteronomy. In this passage, Moses reminds the people of Israel of the great and wonderful things the Lord God has done in their lives. God has protected them with a mighty hand. Hence it is absolutely important to follow the commandments of the Lord God in order to enjoy the fullness of life given by the Lord God.

   * Second reading is from the letter of St. Paul to Romans. In this passage, Paul explains to the Christians in Rome and to us that by the fact that Holy Spirit is present in us, we are made children of the Father. The Holy Spirit enables us to call God,"Abba Father". The Holy Spirit also makes us fellow heirs with Christ.

"The Mystery of one God: Three Persons"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Matthew . In this passage, Jesus instructs His disciples to baptize people and makes them disciples in the name of Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The mystery of Trinity reveals to us three different faces of God.
1.There is the face of God as Father, the beginning and the end of all, the creator and ruler. He is not only God we obey through the commandments, but also the God we address as "Our Father".
2. There is the face of God as Son, the redeemer. Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, the Divine Word of God who took on human nature so as to bring salvation to the humankind.
3. There is the face of God as Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the comforter who is always with us, the paraclate who teaches us and guides us.
St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians speaks of the trinitarian God working in us. "There are various gifts but the same Spirit, and there are various services but the same Lord and there are varieties of working but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one" 1 Cor. 12: 4-6
On this Feast of the Most Holy Trinity let us rejoice and say, "We have a Father who cares about us. We have a Brother who died for us. And we have a Spirit, a comforter who will guide us to the shores of eternity". Praise by the Holy Triuine God.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Pentecost Sunday :B: 20th May 2018

"DESCENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT"

First Reading : Acts 2: 1-11
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12: 3-7 , 12-13
Gospel Reading: John 20: 19-23

   * First reading is from the Acts of the Apostles. This passage gives us a vivid and forceful account of the happenings on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem.
The following details are mentioned.
1. There was a rush of a mighty wind and appearance of tongues of fire on each of the Apostles present. All of them were filled with the mighty power of the Holy Spirit. 2. They received the gift of tongues and were able to speak in other languages. Everyone present was able to hear in their own native language.
The mighty wind and tongues of fire are expressions of the powerful way in which the Spirit of God came down on the day of Pentecost. Speaking in different languages points to the fact that all man made barriers between humankind due to languages, culture and other differences are removed by the mighty presence of the Holy Spirit and God's community is united in the Spirit.

   *Second reading is from the first letter of St. Paul to Corinthians. Paul explains to the Christians in Corinth and us that the Holy Spirit gives various gifts to the members of the community. But these gifts are for the common good. Hence by the  Holy Spirit all of us are baptised into the one body of Christ.

"Receive The Holy Spirit"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. John. In this passage the Risen Lord's appearance to the disciples gathered in a closed upper room is narrated. After greeting them with words of peace and showing them His pierced hands and side, the Risen Lord breathed on them and blessed them saying "Receive the Holy Spirit".
According to biblical understanding, the wind and the Spirit signifies the breath of God. Hence Pentecost signifies a new creation and a beginning. Thus the Pentecost is the 'Birthday of the Church'.
We too need the Holy Spirit in order to live as Christians in this challenging world of today. On this Pentecost, let us pray 'Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on us'.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Feast of Ascension : B : May 13,2018

       "ASCENSION OF JESUS INTO HEAVEN"

First Reading : Acts 1:1-11
Second Reading: Ephesians 1: 17-23
Gospel Reading: Mark 16: 15-20

   * First reading is from the Acts of the Apostles. This passage gives us a description of the apparitions of Jesus on various occasions after being raised from death. After a period of forty days, Jesus ascended to heaven and promised His disciples that he would send the Holy Spirit upon them and they shall witness to Him in Jerusalem, in Judea and in Sameria and to the ends of the world. As they were listening to Him, Jesus was lifted up to heaven and a cloud took Him out of their sight.

   * Second reading is from the letter of St. Paul to Ephesians. In this passage Paul explains the meaning of Ascension to the Ephesian Christians. He asserts that God raised Jesus above all earthly powers and made Him not only head of the Church but the the Lord of whole creation. Those who believe in Him will accomplish great things.

"Lord Jesus was Taken into Heaven"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Mark. This passage tells us that after instructing the disciples, Jesus was taken up to Heaven and He sat down at the right hand of God. Further, that day Jesus commissioned His disciples to carry on the work that he began. Ascension of Jesus tells us that Jesus is no more physically present among the disciples. But now on they have to proclaim the good news to the whole world in His name.
The Feast of Ascension should gives us hope of a life after death and strengthen us by the abiding presence of Jesus among the disciples.
The following messages are given by this feast.
1. The Risen Lord is now in His glory and is 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 (a) by the Word of God (b) by His sacramental presence in the Holy Eucharist.
4. Jesus' ascension gives us the hope that one day all those who believe in Him will participate in His glory. 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Sixth Sunday of Easter B: May 6, 2018

"JESUS' COMMANDMENT OF LOVE"

 First Reading: Acts 10: 25-26, 34-35, 44-48
Second Reading: 1 John 4: 7-10
Gospel Reading: John 15: 9-17

   * First reading is from the Acts of the Apostles. This passage gives us a vivid account of the baptism of Cornelius - a non Jew and a Roman Centurion with his family. While Peter was speaking to them about Jesus and His ministry, Holy Spirit came down on them . This incident explicitly told the Apostles  that God is not selective in His love. His salvation is open to people of all nationalities. 

   * Second reading is from the first letter of St. John. This passage contains what is probably the most important statement ever made about God: that God is LOVE in its fullness. The proof of God's love is that He sent His only Son to give us eternal life and make expiation for the sins of the whole humanity.

'Love One Another As I have Loved You'
Today's Gospel reading is from St. John. In this passage Jesus expresses His love for His disciples. In return, their love for Him should be expressed by keeping His commandments. Jesus is not speaking of the ten commandments which God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai. In the Gospel we have certain guidelines for keeping His commandments.
It could mean the following :
1. Do not return evil for evil. Nothing is achieved by revenge and retaliation.
2. Do not judge others. Leave the judgement to God.
3. Do not worry about food and drink and cloths as if these are the most important things in life. Our first concern should be to live as Christ wants us.
4. Do not look back once you have decided to follow Jesus.
5. Let your light shine before people.
6. Love your enemies . Not just your friends and cronies.
7. Give and you will receive in abundance.
8. Forgive everyone who sins against you.
9. Take this bread and eat it. Take this cup and drink from it. Eucharist is the primary nourishment to live as followers of Christ.
10. Finally, love one another as I have loved you.
If we follow these dos and don'ts then probably we will be able to fulfill the commandment of love.
"Hungry for love, He looks at you.
Thirsty for kindness, He begs you.
Homeless for shelter in your heart, He asks you. Will you be that one to Him?" - St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta. 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Fifth Sunday of Easter:B: April 29, 2018

    "THE VINE AND THE BRANCHES"
           To be united with the Risen Lord

First Reading : Acts 9: 26-31
Second Reading: 1 John 3: 18-24
Gospel Reading : John 15: 1-8

   * First reading is from the Acts of the Apostles. This passage gives us a glimpse of Paul who was dramatically transformed from a persecutor of Christians to a staunch and fearless disciple of the Risen Lord. Paul (Saul) was known to be persecutor of Christians. After his Damascus experience and subsequent conversion , Paul wanted to join the Christian community at Jerusalem. But he was not accepted by the community. So Barnabas a disciple of good repute, introduced Paul to the Apostles. Paul started to preach boldly in Jerusalem but some Jews tried to kill him. So he was sent to Tarsus. Subsequently the early Church grew in strength in spite of much opposition.

   * Second reading is from the first letter of St. John. In this passage St. John tells us that if we wish to live as God wants, we must keep His commandments. That would mean that  we should believe in the name of Jesus and love one another as He commanded us to do. Those who keep His commandments are united to Him and the Holy Spirit is present in them.

"The Abiding Presence of the Lord in the Believer"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. John. In this passage Jesus speaks of the intimate and deep bond between Him and those who believe in Him. This relationship is compared to that of the vine and its branches. Branches have to be united with the vine to produce fruits. If the branches are cut off from the vine it cannot produce fruits. So also if we are not united with the Lord, we cannot be fruitful. Gospel also mentions about two types of branches. The first type are fruit bearing branches which will be pruned to produce more fruits. The second type of branches do not produce fruits and will be cut off from the vine.
We are united to  Jesus through our baptism . Hence, if we are fruit bearing branches we have to be prepared to be pruned to produce more fruits. But if we are branches that do not produce fruits, it is time to change our ways so that we too produce fruits lest we be cut away from the Lord.
Let our life be always in union with the Lord like the branches are united with the vine.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Fourth Sunday of Easter : B : April 22, 2018

            "JESUS THE GOOD SHEPHERD"

First Reading : Acts 4: 8-12
Second Reading: 1 John 3: 1-2


Gospel Reading: John 10: 11-18

   * First reading is from the Acts of the Apostles. This passage narrates in detail the healing of a cripple by Apostle Peter. St. Peter testifies to the people of Jerusalem that this miracle happened not by his power but by the power Jesus of Nazareth whom they had crucified. Although He was rejected by the Jews, there is no salvation for anyone except through Jesus.

   * Second reading is from the first letter of St. John. In this passage St. John tells us that through the love of Jesus, we are made children of God. In our future life, we shall see Jesus as He is and He will do greater things for us.

"The Good Shepherd Lays Down His Life for the Sheep"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. John. In this passage Jesus calles Himself the Good Shepherd. It is important for us to understand the background of a shepherd in Palestine at the time of Jesus. The shepherd was a man completely and wholeheartedly dedicated to the care and well being of his sheep. The relationship between the shepherd and the sheep was very intimate. He called each one by name and they knew his voice. The shepherd went in front and the sheep followed him. Often he would carry the weak and the very young on his shoulders. To protect his flock from robbers and animals of prey, he had to undergo extreme hardships and risk even his life. Jesus as a good shepherd cared for His followers. He cared about people especially the weak and the unwanted and the least and the lost. The evidence is there on the pages of the Gospels. We should draw great comfort from this fact. This is the kind of saviour we have. He is someone who really cares about us even to the extent of giving His life for us. 
The Good shepherd does not look for his own comfort but that of his sheep. This theme is echoed in the words of Jesus " I came not to be served but to serve and to give my life as a ransom for many"
Let us follow the Good Shepherd who first loves us. He says "I know my own and my own know me".
"The Lord is my shepherd there is nothing I shall want" - Psalm 23:1

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Third Sunday of Easter :B: April 15, 2018

                         'PEACE BE TO YOU'

First Reading: Acts 3: 13 - 15, 17-19
Second Reading: 1 John 2: 1-5a
Gospel Reading: Luke 24: 35-46

   * First reading is from the Acts of the Apostles. This passage is addressed to the people of Jerusalem by St. Peter. He openly told them that they have done a terrible crime and a grave sin by killing Jesus the author of life . However, since they have done it out of ignorance, it is time to repent and receive the forgiveness of God.

   * Second reading is from the first letter of St. John. In this passage, John tells us that Jesus is the advocate with the Father. Hence, whoever loves Jesus and keeps His commandments, the love of God is perfected in him.

'Confidence Building Measures'
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Luke. When Jesus was crucified and was buried, the dreams of the disciples lay shattered. Their world fell apart. Their immediate reaction was to cut themselves off from the hostile world and live behind closed doors. But Jesus the good shepherd did not leave them in their pain and misery. He appeared to them and gave them the assurance of His presence. 'Peace be with you' was His words of comfort.
After meeting the Risen Lord, hope returned to their lives. They realized that through the suffering and shameful death on the cross, Jesus attained His glory. The Risen Lord showed them His wounds. It took some time for the disciples to realize the implication and the meaning to sink in. But when the disciples experienced the presence of the Risen Lord, their confidence returned. Their broken bond with the Lord was mended.
The peace of the Risen Lord released the disciples from their shame, guilt, fears and worries. This gift of Jesus gradually transformed them to be courageous in witnessing to Him and even die for Him.
For us too the resurrection of Jesus is not something of the past but a present reality. The Risen Lord enters through our closed door too. He brings peace into our disturbed lives. He calms our fears and restlessness. He brings hope and light.
Let our prayer be, Risen Lord, help us to believe that you are always with us.
'Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without' - Buddha.
'Peace begins with a smile'. St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.