Thursday, January 17, 2019

Second Sunday of the Year :C: January 20, 2019

           "THE WEDDING AT CANA" 

First Reading: Isaiah 62: 1-5
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12: 4-11
Gospel Reading: John 2: 1-12

   * First reading is from the book of Prophet Isaiah. In this passage Isaiah promises  the Lord God's protection for the people of Israel. He assures them that they shall experience happiness and joy because God has taken delight in them. He says that like a bridegroom rejoices over the bride so shall the Lord God rejoice over Israel.

   * Second reading is from the first letter of St. Paul to Corinthians. In this passage Paul explains to the Corinthian community that different gifts received by individual members have come from the same Spirit. They are to be used for the common good. Gifts of healing, miracles, prophecy and the gift of tongue- all these are inspired by the same Spirit of the Lord so that the whole community may benefit from them.

"Water was turned into wine"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. John. In this passage the wedding feast at Cana of Galilee is narrated. It was a typical marriage celebration of Palestine. Everyone ate and drank and at a half way stage of the celebrations, wine ran short and the organizers were in great distress. The bridegroom's family was facing deep embarrassment. Mother Mary came to know about their predicament and interceded with Jesus to help them out in their need.
In spite of initial hesitation from Jesus, Mary was so sure of her Son that she told the people in charge to do just as  Jesus tells them to do. What resulted was a great miracle. Twelve stone jars full of water were turned into wine and everyone continued to celebrate without a worry. This was the first miracle performed by Jesus.
In this miracle we have a few lessons.
1. If we want miracles to take place in our lives, we have to invite Jesus into our lives.
2. When in trouble, we must take our burdens to the Lord. Blaming each other for the failures and lapses is not a solution.
3. When Jesus inspires us in difficult situations, we must put our faith in the Lord and follow His promptings.
4. We should allow the grace of God to intervene in our lives.
5. Any miracle in our lives should be an occasion for rejoicing and should lead us to a deeper trust in the Lord. 
Finally the miracle at Cana  affirms that in times of great distress and difficulties we should not lose heart but turn to Mother Mary to intercede for us and she will definitely help us.
Let us take our crisis times as challenges and opportunities because Jesus can truly turn "water into wine " in our lives too.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord: January 13, 2019

                      "MY BELOVED SON"

First Reading: Isaiah 42: 1-4, 6-7
Second Reading: Acts 10: 34-38
Gospel Reading: Luke 3: 15-16, 21-22

   * First reading is from the book of Prophet Isaiah. In this passage Isaiah speaks of a servant of God who will be an instrument of justice and peace to the people of God. Jesus is the promised servant of God who opens the eyes of the blind and liberates all those who are in prison and in darkness.

   * Second reading is from the Acts of the Apostles. In this passage St. Peter testifies that Jesus was sent by God to preach the good news of peace to people in Galilee and Judea. After being baptized by John the Baptist Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit to do works of healing and free those oppressed by evil powers. 

"Baptism with Holy Spirit and with fire"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Luke. This passage gives an account of John the Baptist's testimony regarding the mission of Jesus. The baptism of Jesus by John at the river Jordan is also mentioned. During the baptism Holy Spirit came down on Jesus. A voice from heaven was heard which announced " Thou art my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased".
Hence the voice from heaven affirmed that Jesus is the son sent by God the Father who always did what was pleasing to the heavenly Father.
The baptism of Jesus gives us the following messages :
1. Jesus identified Himself with the sinful humanity although He was sinless.
2. Jesus submitted Himself to the will of the heavenly Father.
3. God the Father approved the ministry of Jesus by empowering Him with the Holy Spirit.
Our baptism is very much related to the baptism of Jesus. For us baptism is a door and once we go through this door our lives are never the same. Most of us were baptized when we were infants and did not really understand its meaning and significance. By our baptism we became members of God's community. So being baptized would mean that we are choosing a life like that of Jesus. Like Jesus by our baptism we too became sons and daughters of the heavenly Father. We too were anointed by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus was baptized to fulfill the will of God. We too are invited to do the same by living our baptismal promises.
Let us take our baptismal promises seriously from now on. May the heavenly Father bless each one of us and announce that "this is my beloved son/daughter in whom I am well pleased".

Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Feast of Epiphany : C: January 6, 2019

"MANIFESTATION OF THE LORD JESUS"

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

   * First reading is from the book of Prophet Isaiah. In this passage Isaiah gives us a vision of  the restored city of Jerusalem. He assures us that in spite of darkness and gloom the Lord will come in splendor and glory and as a light that shines brightly on the people. There will be great rejoicing and abundance of wealth in the land.

   * Second reading is from the letter of St. Paul to Ephesians. In this passage Paul explains to us the universality of salvation. God is inviting every one - both Jews and Gentiles ( includes all non Jews)-alike to share on an equal footing the salvation won by Christ. He further clarifies that all are members of the same body and co-partners in the promise of Christ Jesus.

"Wise men from the east visit Child Jesus"
Epiphany comes from the Greek word "epiphainein" which means to reveal or to manifest. This signifies the manifestation of Christ to all nations as represented by the three wise men (Magi) from the east. The three wise men came searching for Christ. They found Him, worshiped Him and offered precious gifts. From that day millions of people have followed them and came to Christ the Lord. 
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Matthew. This passage graphically describes how the three wise men from the east came to Bethlehem after seeing a special star in the sky. Guided by the star they reached Jerusalem and went and met King Herod. They wanted some guidance from the king regarding the birth of Christ the Lord. Herod immediately called  his advisers and took their opinion. They referred to the prophecies of old and came to the conclusion that the new king is expected to be born in Bethlehem. The wise men left Herod's palace and went in search of Child Jesus and found Him in Bethlehem. They met Child Jesus with Mother Mary and paid their respect and offered gifts: gold,frankincense and myrrh. 
This Gospel story gives us three important messages.
1. It speaks of the journey of the three wise men from the east to Jerusalem a far away and unknown place in search of Christ child. The journey of theirs is a symbol of the search for truth by genuine seekers of God.
2. The meeting of wise men with Herod tells us that people in authority and power symbolized by Herod try to suppress and destroy truth and God's message and messengers.
3. The three wise men paid homage to Christ child and received blessings. It is a touching story of all moments of grace. There is joy of recognition of God and His presence and total surrender to God which is symbolized by their gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. 

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Feast of Holy Family : C: December 30,2018

               "FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY"

First Reading: Ecclesiasticus  3: 2-4,12-14
Second Reading: Colossians 3: 12-21
Gospel Reading: Luke 2: 41-51

   * First reading is from the book of Ecclesiastics. This passage gives advice to children of all ages to honour their parents. Honouring Father and Mother is a must for children. They are asked to take care of their parents in their old age and to show kindness and mercy even when the elderly are lacking understanding. There is a promise of God's reward to those who take care of their parents.  It is told that the children who respect and obey their parents are in fact giving glory to God and storing up spiritual treasure for themselves. 

   *Second reading is from St. Paul's letter to Colossians. In this passage Paul gives a description of an ideal Christian family. Love is the binding factor of Christian family life. Compassion, meekness, kindness and mutual respect and forgiveness are hallmarks of a good family. Paul advises the members of every Christian family to love and respect one another and have concern for one another.

"Crisis in the Holy Family : Jesus lost in Jerusalem temple"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Luke. In this passage Holy Family at Nazareth is portrayed as a model for all ideal and blessed families. But unfortunately it was not a place of total peace and tranquility if we assumed it be so. Joseph, Mary and boy Jesus had their share of struggles, misunderstandings and problems. Gospel narrates how boy Jesus was lost in the Jerusalem temple and later found by Mother Mary and St Joseph. When Jesus was 12 years old, Holy Family went to Jerusalem temple for the Passover feast. After the feast when the celebrations were over, while they returned, on their way back Mary and Joseph realised that boy Jesus was not with them. They searched diligently for the child for three days with heavy hearts. Finally they found him in the temple. Mary expressed her anguish to Jesus. He simply told her, "Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"
Although Jesus was well aware of His mission entrusted to Him by His heavenly Father, He obediently went to Nazareth with His parents respecting their wishes. He did not want to hurt them and He continued to prepare  for His public ministry staying with them.
Holy family gives us a lesson as to how we should deal with any crisis in our families: not by blaming one another but by going forward in faith with love and concern for one another. 
Here is a thought for those parents who say they don't understand their children.
"Your children are not your children. 
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. 
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts. 
You may house their bodies, but not their souls.
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams." - K. Gibran.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Fourth Sunday of Advent : C: December 23, 2018

"BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN"

First Reading: Micah  5 : 2-5
Second Reading: Hebrews 10: 5-10
Gospel Reading: Luke 1: 39-45

   * First reading is from the book of Prophet Micah. In this passage Micah speaks about a great ruler who will come from an insignificant place in Israel - Bethlehem. He will gather together the scattered people and unite the people once more. He will bring peace and security for the chosen people. The prophecy of Micah points to the coming of Christ as savior of Israel and of the whole world.

   * Second reading is from the letter to the Hebrews. This passage brings us the message that Jesus came not to offer sacrifices of the old law but to do the will of God. The sacrifices offered according to the Mosaic law were unable to purify people from their sins. But Jesus through His obedience and self sacrifice was able to bring about reconciliation between God and humankind.

"Blessed is she who believed"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Luke. This passage gives us a detailed description regarding the meeting of Blessed Mother Mary with her cousin Elizabeth. These two saintly women experienced the blessing of a loving and living God. Mary wanted to share her joy with her cousin. So she traveled to the hill country where Elizabeth lived.
When greeted by Mary, Elizabeth recognized the great privilege God had bestowed on Mary. Filled with the Holy Spirit Elizabeth praised Mary and the uniqueness of the child in her womb. Elizabeth joyously praised and thanked God for the great faith Mary had when she totally surrendered to the will of God and accepted God's Word in her womb.
It is through Mary that God keeps the promises foretold by Micah. The promises of God will take human form in her womb in the person of Jesus. In Mary we see that God does not merely make promises but fulfills them. In Mary we see someone who allows the promises of God to shape her whole life - not in a passive way but positively by her unconditional 'yes' to God.
In this final week of Advent, when we are eagerly preparing for Christmas, Elizabeth and Mary give us some deep insights as to how we could prepare for the great event.
1. By believing in the promises of God.
2. By recognizing what God has done in our lives and in the lives of others.
3. By sharing our joy with others.
"Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit after conceiving John, while Mary is filled with the Holy Spirit before conceiving the Lord" - St. Ambrose.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Third Sunday of Advent :C: December 16, 2018

"HE WHO IS MIGHTIER THAN I IS COMING"

First Reading: Zephaniah 3: 14-18
Second Reading: Philippians 4: 4-7
Gospel Reading: Luke 3: 10-18

   *First reading is from the book of Prophet Zephaniah. In this passage Zephaniah gives a message of hope for the people of Israel. He foretells the days of great rejoicing and gladness because the salvation of Israel is at hand. He says, the Lord God Himself stands in their midst as the King and the protector of His people. The Lord God has removed the judgement against the people and turns away their enemies.

   * Second reading is from the letter of St. Paul to Philippians. In this passage Paul urges the Christian community there and all of us to rejoice in the Lord to be free of anxiety and to live in a spirit of prayer and thanksgiving. The  Apostle wishes that peace of God will be in our hearts and minds.

"Witnessing of John the Baptist"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Luke. In this passage John the Baptist is asked by people from various walks of life what they are expected to do for the coming of the Messiah the anointed one. John gave them very down to earth advice. He asked them to share their surplus good and clothes with the starving and the naked. To the tax collectors his advice was not to rob the people but just collect what they are entitled to and take nothing more. To soldiers his advice was not to intimidate the people and not to use violence. John acknowledged the greatness of Jesus. So he told his disciples,"He who is mightier than I is coming"
Hence John witnessed to Jesus . He humbly accepted that he is not the anointed one the Messiah. John the Baptist is our role model for advent. Like John we are called to witness to Jesus. To do that we have to humbly accept our limitations and littleness and that we are not the Christ; not one of the great prophets; not one of the great preachers of our times.
In all humility we have to accept that we are simple humble followers of the Lord.
"The season of Advent is like springtime in nature, when everything is renewed and so is fresh and healthy. Advent is also meant to do this to us - to refresh us and make us healthy to be able to receive Christ in whatever form he may come to us" - St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
"No one can claim to be a follower of Christ and remain entirely unlike the Master whom  he professes to love" - Antony Padovano. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Second Sunday of Advent :C: December 9, 2018

"PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD"

First Reading: Baruch 5: 1-9
Second Reading: Philippians 1: 3-6, 8-9
Gospel Reading: Luke 3:1-6

Advent : Adventus in Latin means- Arrival or coming.
Advent indicates the three fold coming of the Lord Jesus: Past, Present and Future.
1. Past: We remember the Lord's humble first coming.
2. Present: We have His present and continual coming through the Word of God and Sacraments.
3. Future: We look forward to the final coming of the Lord in glory.

   * First reading is from the book of Prophet Baruch. In this passage prophet  Baruch gives a message of hope and gladness for the people of Israel, who were under the slavery of Babylon. He assures them that they will return to Jerusalem in glory. Every mountain and hill will be leveled and valleys will be filled up for their return.

   * Second reading is from the letter of St. Paul to Philippians. Paul instructs the Christians in Philippi  that God has created us for something good and that God's work in us will be completed. He urges them to abound in love and lead a pure and blameless life for the second coming of the Lord. Paul encourages them and tells them that they should not worry about future since God will be with them.

"John the Baptist's call to repentance"
Today's Gospel reading is from St. Luke. This passage gives us an account of John the Baptist's invitation to prepare the way of the Lord. In view of Christ's coming John urges us to prepare the way for Christ by giving our lives a new orientation, a complete turnabout. The repentance that is asked of us is not merely a turning away from sin but rather a change of heart. Hence to repent would mean that we recognize our brokenness and our need for redemption and turn to God. Humankind in general is broken , fragmented, damaged and wounded by sin. Hence we need to recognize our own brokenness to be saved from the situation. John proclaims Jesus  to be one who will fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah that all humankind will see the salvation of God. To prepare for His coming John invites us to prepare the way of the Lord. That is by making His paths straight. All that prevents His smooth coming has to be done away with: valleys shall be filled, mountains and hills shall be leveled and crooked ways have to be made straight.
"The voice of the great prophet asks us to prepare the way for the coming Lord in the deserts of today, internal and external deserts, thirsting for the water of life which is Christ"- Pope Benedict XVI
"Advent is the perfect time to clear and prepare the way" -Edward Hays.