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.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

First Sunday of Lent : A

      "TEMPTATIONS AND THE DEVIL"

First Reading: Genesis 2: 7-9
Second Reading: Romans 5: 12-17, 19
Gospel Reading: Matthew 4: 1-11

   * First reading is from the book of Genesis. This passage describes in detail the temptations faced by Adam and Eve , the first parents. They were tempted by the devil to eat the fruit of the tree of good and evil which was forbidden by the Lord God. Disregarding God's command, they ate the fruit and disobeyed God. As a result, sin entered the world.

  * Second reading is from the letter of St. Paul to Romans. Paul explains to the Christian community in Rome and to us, that sin and consequently death came to humankind because of the disobedience of one man, Adam. He assures us that through Jesus Christ , the second Adam, by His obedience to God, the whole humankind is redeemed. 

"The Temptations of Jesus in the Wilderness"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Matthew. This passage describes the way Jesus was tempted by the devil at the beginning of His public ministry. He had to struggle against evil. He was tempted in every way we are, yet He did not succumb to the temptations. 
After spending forty days in the wilderness, Jesus was faced with three different temptations. First temptation was , 'Are you hungry?, If so, change stones to bread'. The second temptation was, 'Do you want people to pay attention to you? If so, jump down from the pinnacle of the temple, and every one will look at you with admiration as one with super human powers'. Third and final temptation was 'Do you want to be the ruler of the world? If so worship devil and all is yours'.
Jesus firmly and categorically rejected all the three temptations. He told the devil, that it is not only bread that gives life, but the Word of God that gives true life. Then He said, it is not through spectacular acts that power of God is revealed, but look for a God who is among the lowly, the powerless and the persecuted. Finally he told the devil, it is not by worshiping the devil that God's kingdom is established. Because worshiping Satanic powers  is against the commandment of God.
Hence Jesus shows us the way to overcome our own temptations effectively. This holy season of Lent is the time to master our temptations. 
"Virtue is nothing without trial of temptation, for there is no conflict without an enemy, no victory without strife" St. Leo the Great (Pope)
"The more we see that any action springs not from the motive of obedience, the more evident is it that it is a temptation of the enemy" - St. Teresa of Avila.
" A temptation arises; it is the wind. It disturbs you " - St. Augustine. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Eighth Sunday of the Year : A

"STOP WORRYING AND START LIVING"

First Reading: Isaiah 49: 14-15
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Gospel Reading: Matthew 6: 24-34

   * First reading is from the book of Prophet Isaiah. In this passage Prophet Isaiah gives consolation and hope to the Jewish exiles in Babylon. He assures them that the Lord God will never forget them. Further he adds, even if a nursing mother forgets her infant (which is most uncommon), even then , the Lord God will will never ever forget His chosen people. This is the assurance of God to each one of us chosen by Him. We can always trust in God. He is always faithful.

   * Second reading is from the first letter of St. Paul to Corinthians. In this passage, Paul tells the Christian community in Corinth that God alone can judge rightly because He alone knows the secrets of the heart of a person. We should not make hasty judgments about other people. God is the only one who can judge rightly.

"Freedom from Worries and Anxieties"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Matthew. In this passage, Jesus urges His disciples and us not to be anxious about the things of this world. He urges us to trust in the providence of God. Different causes of anxieties and worries are taken into consideration by Jesus.
1. The disciples are not to be anxious about life. By being anxious, we cannot add one day to our life.
2. The disciples are not to be anxious about what they will eat or drink. Jesus gives us the example of the birds of the air. They neither sow nor reap like men do. But heavenly Father feeds them without fail. We are of more value than the birds.
3. The disciples are not to be anxious about their clothing. Jesus gives us the example of the lilies of the field. They are far better presented than King Solomon in his glorious days. If so, God will certainly take care of us.
4. The disciples are to have single minded loyalty. Divided loyalties are also cause of anxieties in our lives.
To be blessed by God, all we need to do is to seek God's Kingdom and His righteousness. The rest will follow. Finally, Jesus tells us that we need not be worried about tomorrow either because, tomorrow will have its own worries and problems to be dealt with.
Hence, Jesus' message liberates us of  all types of worries and anxieties, so that we may be free to follow His divine will.
"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength" - C.T.Boom.
"The secret of health of both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly " - The Buddha.  

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Seventh Sunday of the Year : A

                "LOVE YOUR ENEMIES"

First Reading: Leviticus 19: 1-2, 17-18
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 3: 16-23
Gospel Reading: Matthew 5: 38-48

   * First reading is from the book of Leviticus. In this passage, the Lord God asks Moses to instruct the Israelites regarding their way of life. They were told to be holy like the Lord Himself. To be holy would mean : Not to hate one's neighbour or take vengeance or grudge as they love themselves. This teaching of the Lord God is echoed in the teaching of Jesus.

   * Second reading is from the first letter of St. Paul to Corinthians. In this passage, Paul reminds the Corinthian Christians that Holy Spirit dwells among them. They are the temples of the Holy Spirit and hence they should be holy. Further, he adds that wisdom of the world is folly. Paul asks them to respect one another forgetting their differences.

"You must be Perfect as your Heavenly Father is Perfect"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Matthew. This passage contains one of the most difficult and revolutionary teachings of Jesus. To love those who love us is easy. But Jesus tells His disciples and us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. Such a teaching is never heard off.
Jesus gives us the example of the heavenly Father who is good to everyone. : both good and bad. Jesus goes beyond the teaching of Leviticus, where love was restricted to the neighbour. Revenge and retaliation is not for His disciples. Old Testament teaching of eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth is not to be practiced by His disciples. because, revenge and retaliation eventually destory a person and the society. Jesus asks His disciples to be better than the gentiles/ordinary people, in their behaviour.
Jesus' teaching is very sensible if we look at the world today. Hate never solves any problems , rather, when we hate another person, we give him/her tremendous power over us.: he/she robs us of our peace of mind and capacity to love. Let us turn our enemies into friends,
"Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends" - Abraham Lincon.
" Love is the only force capable of transforming any enemy into a  friend" - Martin Luther King Jr.
"Overcome the angry by non-anger: overcome the wicked by goodness."- The Buddha.
"To error is human but to forgive is divine"- a Proverb.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Sixth Sunday of the Year : A

"FULFILLMENT OF THE COMMANDMENTS"

First Reading: Sirach 15: 15-20
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 2: 6-10
Gospel Reading: Matthew 5: 20-37

   * First reading is from the book of Sirach. In this passage, the author says that God has given us freedom to choose good and evil. But God wants that we humans should always use our freedom with a sense of responsibility.

   * Second reading is from the first letter of St. Paul to Corinthians. In this passage, Paul tells the Christian community in Corinth that salvation through the cross of Christ is God's marvelous plan for the world. He gives us a future vision too: what no eye has seen, no ear has heard, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.

"Letter of the Law V/s Spirit of the Law"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Matthew. In this passage, Jesus reinterprets the ten commandments given by the Lord God to Moses on Mount Sinai. The new Moses, that is, Jesus gives us a new vision and a new understanding.
1. Jesus confirmed the Law in its condemnation of killing. But He went deeper in condemning the motivation that leads to such a crime: that is anger. He teaches us that reconciliation is far more important than offering sacrifices. The duty of making peace is more urgent than the duty to offer worship to God.
2. Jesus confirmed the law that adultery is a sin. But He went much further by teaching us that a person who looks lustfully at the opposite sex has already sinned in his/her heart. A person's sinful intentions and attitudes are equally sinful as the sin itself.
3. Jesus gave a clear teaching about divorce too. Law of Moses allowed a husband to divorce his wife on grounds of unchastity . But Jesus taught that divorce is unacceptable in the eyes of God.
Demands of Jesus from His followers is certainly very tough. On our own we cannot measure up to His standards. But with God's grace, we can certainly measure up to the standards set by Jesus.