Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fourth Tuesday of the Great Fast


Genesis 12:10-13:7
Joshua 8:1-17
Romans 9:14-29
John 5:19-47

Abraham was the chosen one among many. Just being a chosen one does not mean that everything will be alright. There would be testing times in everybody’s life. Things unexplainable would happen. Here, it is famine first; then the loss of own wife and finally his nephew. These calamities are not longstanding. Abraham is returned with flocks, silver and gold. His wife was also returned to him with the direct intervention of Yahweh among the abductors. Testing times are not for ever. Faith prevails everything.

After the minor jolt, Joshua could defeat Ai. Promises of Yahweh are true. When we go away from the covenant, there would be minor defeats. Deciphering these minor hurdles is the true nature of a faithful servant of God. With Yahweh, nothing is impossible.

Covenant is for both the parties involved in it. Since God is the initiator of the Covenant, we have a greater role to play. It is not out of necessity that God entered into the Covenant with each one of us. But for us, it is a necessity. Hence, our response to the everfaithul and everloving God must be of complete surrender. If we want to be counted among the few who are saved, we must be completely loyal to Him. God knows our frail nature, but does not wish us to take advantage of the frailty. We should not forget our role in the covenantal relationship. Role clarity itself is a virtue.

Father-Son relationship in the Holy Trinity is the perfect model for our covenantal relationship with God. Abraham did what he was instructed to do. Joshua literally obeyed Yahweh and hence he became the conqueror of Canaan. Paul was clear of his role initially as a zealous Pharisee and finally as the torchbearer of the new Way. John asks us to ponder over the mystery of our covenantal relationship with God, so that we speak what we hear from Him and we do as He instructs us to do.

How do we understand the plan of God in the face of extreme casualties? Rapes of the innocents during war, persecution etc, looting and killing in the name of religion, suffering of the innocent with severe diseases etc are all beyond our rationality. But one thing is sure, anyone who hears His word and believes Him, has eternal life. He passes from death to life.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Fourth Monday of the Great Fast


Stand up, take your mat and walk!



Gen 12:1-9


Josh 7:16-27

Rom 9:1-13

John 5:1-18

Abraham is ever remembered for his faith. To him Yahweh spoke directly. Abraham is a man of blessings mainly because he could hear very distinctly what Yahweh spoke to him. But he had a price to pay. He had to leave his country, his family and his father’s house. Abraham’s greatness lies in this. His blessings were not free blessings. It came with his unconditional surrender to Yahweh’s directions. Listen to God; follow His directions; accept the blessings; continue to praise Him in the altar of our life. Then, we are all in Canaan, the Promised Land.

The conqueror Joshua suffers an unexpected defeat by the minnows Ai. His confidant Achan was attracted by a beautiful mantle from Shinar, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels. Sin against God is not in the quantum of the action but in the manner of the action. Achan is supposed to be a soldier of Yahweh. He should not have been attracted by the little pleasures of the world and hence being distracted from his duty. The price for this comparatively small breach of trust was heavy. Thirty six of the Israelites were killed and the others had to run away. Finally, Achan with his sons and daughters, his oxen, asses and sheep, his tent all he possessed were all stoned, crushed and burned. Total commitment to God is that is expected from everyone of us.

Call to follow God is a call to each one. I am no longer blessed because I am from a traditional family. There was continuous selection process in history. Abraham from his land and through Abraham, Sarah and Lot were blessed. From among the children of Abraham, Isaac; and Jacob was preferred to his elder brother. How am I responding to my particular call? A Christian name and a Christian family will not help me if I am away from His path.

Healing of the paralytic at the pool of Bethzatha by Jesus raises the eyebrows of everyone including today. What was this paralytic doing for 38 years? What were the sins of a man who was paralysed for 38 years and who was in the public eye for those many years? Jesus instructs him not to sin again. While counting our blessings, are we able to count our sins? Irrespective of what day it is, Jesus forgives our sins and heals us from all the sickness. But, are we ready to stand up, take our mat and walk?

In the middle week of the Great Fast we should reaffirm that we can leave what we possess to follow Jesus. Are we able to denounce the inertial pleasure and take a path less travelled by?
Or are we attracted by the minor pleasures on the roadside. The call of Jesus is very clear i.e., stand up, take your mat and walk. Abraham did this and he and through him generations were blessed. Achan could not do this and resulting in losing his and lives of his family members. Paul and many Jews did this and they were saved. The paralytic at the poolside did and he was healed. Great Fast is time to introspect and run fast on the road to Canaan.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Annunciation - March 25


Readings on the day of Annunciation (March 25)
Genesis 15: 1-21
Acts 1:1-14
Hebrews 1:1-13 + 2:16-18
Luke 1:26-38


God has a definite plan for the salvation of all human beings. He reveals Himself in many ways as part of this plan. Several times in human history God revealed Himself through the angels. In the readings of today the presence and testimony of angel is very vital.

God involves with human history through covenants. In the Old Testament we see several covenants with individuals as well as with the community. In all covenants we see the showering of promises by God for the return of fidelity to Him. Abraham is one among the few who fulfilled all covenants and hence he was blessed with descendants who were like stars in the sky. Abraham proved his faith by believing in the promises which are seemingly unattainable. Abraham is a model and motivation to a life of faithfullness.

Ascension is the last act described in the New Testament where Jesus is physically present. In a short span of 33 years that He spent on earth, He revealed completely who God is. It is Mary who was the closest associate of this greatest act of God. Probably she would be the only human being who understood this perfectly. Naturally, she becomes the mother of all the progeny of Jesus who accept Him as the perfect revelation. As a perfect carrier of the perfect revelation, Mary is a perfect model and motivation to a life of faithfullness.

The theology of Incarnation is summarized in the prologue of the letter to the Hebrews. Though God chose many methods to reveal Himself, the perfect revelation took place in Jesus. He is superior to the greatest of all angels. Hence salvation is to be attained through Jesus. Today, faith is to be seen as the faith in Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, the first-born of all creatures. Mary is the person who first understood what incarnation is and she cooperated with it, thereby making every human being worthy of its promises.

God speaks to a humble virgin and seeks her permission to cure the sickness of the world. God’s ways are always mysterious. In the selection of Abraham, David and Mary, God chose unconventional paths and He had looked kindly upon them. The merit of the selected is in their proper response. God has impossible paths for everyone. It is the response of each one that matters. With God the impossible becomes possible. From Annunciation to Ascension, from the arrival to the departure of Jesus, the Son of God, Mary is the only human being who accompanied Him.

Abraham is known as the father of faith. Faith is the trust in God for the promises which are unattainable in human perception. There are human beings who could not trust God for the possibility of impossibilities. In history, Mary stands in the place of Abraham. But being a woman, she has a place higher than Abraham. Abraham listened to God and literally obeyed Him in all actions. He had faith in God who promised him progeny even at a very old age. Mary also listened to God and literally obeyed Him in all actions. She had faith in God who promised her progeny even at a very young age. For Abraham, the promise was a blessing and it would eventually lead him to happiness. He was blessed with the things he hoped for. But for Mary, the promise was never a blessing from a human point of view and it eventually led her to suffering. Having known this fact very clearly, Mary replied to the angel, “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you have said.” The remembrance of the Annunciation prompts everyone to utter these words in one’s existential situations.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Talents

In any public examination, for a particular subject, same group of candidates are given same set of questions. The maximum mark that can be obtained is the same for everybody.
But God is a different type of examiner.
He distributes each one a different question paper.
The questions are based on what is already given to each one.
He asks for the number of talents one has increased when one was given ten talents.
To the one who is given five talents, the question is with a different tone and expected answer also is accordingly.

St Paul in his letter to the Romans says, "God will give each one his due, according to his action."

In the same track, 10,000 meter race and 800 meter race are conducted. I cannot stop after completing 800 meters if I am supposed to run 10,000 meters. Similarly, I should not run 800 meters in the same pace I run 10,000 meters.


On Christians, expectations are more. On religious, expectations are much more. Furthermore is the expectations on all those who are specially talented.

St Paul adds, "There will be suffering and anguish for everyone committing evil, first the Jew, then the Greek. i.e., now, first the Christians, then the rest."
A person who is called to a priest, a religious, has to rethink what he is doing.
Is it according to the expectations?
Is he truly a spokesperson of Christ and the Church?
"For, everyone will be judged by his conscience."

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

As the age increases....

When I was in my teens,
I was obsessed with irrational numbers
And in youth, they said,
I was rather a prime number
As the magnitude of my age increased
I have no option but to be a composite number
But in this time of my years reaching the upper limit
No longer am I an integer as there are so many recurring digits after the decimal point.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Judge Not !

Jesus is very bold and clear in saying not to judge others. (Luke 6:37-42).
How do we lead a life not judging others?
Life is a sequence of judgments.
The moment we judge, we assume the role of God.
Can we be gods?
Or can we follow the instruction of Jesus blindly that, first remove the log from your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your neighbour's eye.
If that is the case, then there is trouble.
How do we accept our legitimate authority?
How do we accept the authority of our parents, teachers, elders, friends, church etc ?

The advice of Jesus has many dimensions.
He is asking us to introspect. Analyze oneself properly before passing judgments.
Next, the judgment is not just for the person who is judged, but it is for the judge too.
Every judgment we make is for us too.
When I am at the confessional, at the pulpit; when I am in a position to take a decision on others, I must see that I too am bound by my decisions.
The moment I am presenting a double face, Jesus wars me that I too will be judged.
Finally, when I am judged, as  a true Christian, it is my duty to accept the judgment in a Christian way, as how Christ Himself accepted judgment on Him.
If it is for a legitimate reason, I need not worry about the worthiness of the judgment or judge, but try to correct myself.
And if it is a faulty judgment, we then can rejoice in our heart, because we will definitely be paid for that in heaven.