Monday, December 31, 2012


New Year's Day is the one holiday that is almost universal. It is the world's most observed holiday. But as Catholics we have one important dimension to this day. It is the feast of  Mary Mother of God. It is appropriate to have a mother to accompany our first steps. The Church ensures us that our first step of the new year be guided by our spiritual mother.
A new year is like a new baby: it has to be given a name, and yes, today’s readings are about naming.  The first reading says, “So shall they invoke my name upon the people”, and in the Gospel the child is named Jesus.  We begin the year in God’s name, and in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Before we begin to use any thing we get it blessed in the name of God, especially a new house, a new car or any other articles especially religious articles. It assures God’s ever abiding presence with us in and through those things. With God’s guiding hand we can be assured that we will reach safe to our destination.
One small boy went to a crowded festival with his dad. He was holding on to the little finger of his dad as he went watching different shows. Suddenly he lost hold of his dad’s finger and got lost in the crowd. He looked around and he could not find his dad. He walked around went past many stalls and shows, but he could enjoy none as before, he could feel no peace, until he traced his dad back and held on to his finger. All those shows he saw without holding to his dad’s finger he could not enjoy. So are we in this world. We need to get back to hold on to that little finger of our DAD, before we can peacefully get around and enjoy the world and its shows. Only when we have that strong finger in our hold we can confidently walk around. On the first day of the year we are here to hold the finger of that dad.
On this new day we are excited about the possibilities of this upcoming year. God has great things planned for you and me, and our families. But He will do His part if we will do our part! We must pray like as if everything depends upon God, and we must work as if everything depends upon us. We must remember to keep work and prayer hand in hand.
One other important thing to keep in mind this new year is to adopt the attitude of optimism. Only when we have a positive attitude we get extra energy to overcome the challenges of our life. A positive attitude comes from prayer and faith in God.
When our attitude to life is right, our whole life would be right. Every new year’s day I remember this story which I learned in my elementary school. It is about two boys. One had a very positive outlook to everything and the other was a pessimist. One day their teacher gave them an assignment. He gave them five dollars each and showed them one each  rooms and told them to fill them with anything you chose. And he will come and examine after two weeks. The bad spirited boy thought to himself, how can I fill this big room with just five dollars… he thought for some days and finally thought he would ask the garbage man to fill the room with garbage. And made deal with him and paid him five dollars. The other boy also thought for some days on his plan and he finally came up with this idea. He went and bought a candle and a few incense sticks and a match box. And on the day the teacher came to examine the room he lighted the candle and the incense sticks in the room and the room was filled with light and perfume smell. It goes without saying that the teacher was encouraged by the attitude and actions of the good spirited boy. When our attitude is right our whole life is going to be enlightened and happy. We have a similar story in the bible. The story of Cain and Abel. Both of them offered offerings to God. Both of them offered their first fruits…but Cain’s attitude was not right so his offering was not accepted by God. God blessed Abel and that was the reason for Cain’s jealousy. Today on this first day of the year God is going to bless us.
He told Joshua to bless his people with this blessing: The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!
He is offering us a mother too so that we can hold her finger too and in case we fail to hold our dad’s hand she will protect us and take us safely to him.
Let us put ourselves and the year of 2013 into her motherly hands. She will take care to guide us on the path to heaven. May you have a year filled with God's blessing, grace, and peace.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Glory to God in the highest and PEACE to people of good will. We repeat this message of the angels  in our Gloria every Sunday except in Advent and lent. Peace is something every generation sought after. In fact every generation thought that their previous generation had more peace and less crimes, violence and wars.

Why is it that we don’t have peace within ourselves and between ourselves in spite of our celebrating the birth of the prince of peace year after year. ? Peace comes from forgiveness. You may have heard this saying:
If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist. If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer. But our greatest need was forgiveness, So God sent us a Saviour. Roy Lessin.

The primary mission of Jesus was to forgive sins. The angel said: You shall name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. Therefore Peace flows from forgiveness. Right after the first sin, we see the rupture of peace between the first couple. Adam said: SHE gave me the fruit. They started to accuse each other.

Absence of peace is always the result of un-forgiveness. Un-forgiveness leads to bitterness, anger, grudge, and murder. So the cause of rupture of peace is the failure to deal with sin that is within ourselves.
Our public schools have been teaching children that evil does not reside in their souls and is therefore, by default, circumstantial. They teach evil does not reside in you, it is something outside of you. So, instead of fighting the evil inside, one is tempted to go and fight evil outside of oneself. This is what Adam Lanza did, by shooting the innocent children in New town, Ct. He thought evil resided in his mom and the children whom she spend most of her time with. So he decided to destroy them both. Even some of us may think the cause was: his psychology, his mother, the divorce. It’s something outside him, instead of looking at the real cause that was in him.
The London Daily Mail reported on Dec. 19 that a former classmate claimed Lanza “worshipped the devil and had an online page dedicated to Satan. And he played violent video games. He encouraged the evil take deep root in him by using to these evil practices. So, his psychological imbalance was only the secondary reasons. Not all people who have similar imbalances go shooting like he did.
So, what we have here is not a gun problem but a sin problem. Sin can only be handled by God. Only he can forgive our sins. Instead of inviting God into our life we turn God further away from our nation. And the further we drive Him out of our society, out of our schools and courts, and out of our media and out of our homes, or the more we give mere lip service to religion, the worse, things can get.
Our schools no longer teach the Ten Commandments, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled school prayer was unconstitutional in 1962. As long as the nation continues to “marginalize God” in its public life, the country can expect “more and more of these types of tragedies.”
We are raising generations of people with no faith in God or Jesus and, hence, no moral conscience and no self-control and no teaching of religious values. When we send our kids to games on Sundays without giving them a chance to attend the Church, you can expect them to behave weirdly.
The greatest wrong with the present generation is that they say there is no absolute good. They say they know and can decide for themselves what is good. This morning one young man came to me and during the course of the conversation he said: Even though I don’t fully believe the bible or in the Church, I am good. I said, who said you are good. What is the criterion to decide you are good. Is there any criterion by which you judged yourself as good ?  One young man came to Jesus and addressed him: Good teacher … Jesus reacted this way..why do you call me good..? Only God is good. It was not that Jesus was not good. It was not that he was not God.. but he wanted to tell him that everything is judged good or bad in reference to God. So away from God you can judge nothing to be good. The closer you are to divine values you are good. Even if some one who does not believe in God is said to be good, it is because he draws goodness from God without openly admitting it. Today’s generation says abortion is good, gay marriage is good. The pope said this week ‘there can be no peace with out dealing with abortion and gay marriage’. Because they stand contradicting to biblical values.
The Pope said the family in Western society is undergoing a "crisis that threatens it to its foundations," owing to false ideas of human nature that equate freedom with selfishness and present God-given sexual identities as a matter of individual choice to the profound detriment of humanity dignity.

It’s not accidental that there’s no room for the Christ-child at the inn. This rejection is a perennial attitude of the whole human race. We have to change that now as ‘there is no room for him in this country, except on the dollar bill which is also kind of being challenged.
Let’s remember the words of St.John: to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God.” Let’s respond to God’s call to holiness, let’s be the living residences of the Incarnate God; remembering that the more we push him out of our life, we become lost in our sin and left with peace-less life.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Advent IV [C] (Dec 23) Micah 5:1-4, Hebr. 10:5-10    Luke 1:39-45

Repeated prophecies about the coming of a Messiah abounds in the sacred writings. But these prophesies were shrouded in obscurity. A clear picture of the Messiah is  given in about 700 BC by  prophet Mica. We listened to his description in the First reading. The reading clearly says that the Savior will be born in Bethlehem. Basing on this the Jewish leaders were able to inform Herod when he was searching for Jesus that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem.

Why did God send prophets announcing the coming of the Savior ? For the same reason we reserve rooms in a hotel when we go on a tour- so that we may get enough room to stay. So that our purpose may be achieved without difficulty. But we know in spite of proclaiming in advance of the coming of the Savior, the bible says that he did not have room even in an inn. When we hear about that we feel very sorry about that situation. We wish if we had been there we would definitely have given him room in our home.

The church keeps three or four weeks of advent so that we may prepare well for the coming of the Savior. But does Jesus really get a warm welcome at the end of our preparations ? Well, this email which supposedly have been sent by Jesus will reveal the truth.
As you well know, we are getting closer to my birthday. Every year there is a celebration in my honor and I think that this year the celebration will be repeated. During this time there are many people shopping for gifts, there are many radio announcements, TV commercials, and in every part of the world everyone is talking that my birthday is getting closer and closer. It is really very nice to know, that at least once a year, some people think of me. As you know, the celebration of my birthday began many years ago. At first people seemed to understand and be thankful of all that I did for them, but in these times, no one seems to know the reason for the Celebration. Family and friends get together and have a lot of fun, but they don't know the meaning of the celebration.
I remember that last year there was a great feast in my honor. The dinner table was full of delicious foods, pastries, fruits, assorted nuts and chocolates. The decorations were exquisite and there were many, many beautifully wrapped gifts. But, do you want to know something? I wasn't invited. I was the guest of honor and they didn't remember to send me an invitation. The party was for me, but when that great day came, I was left outside, they closed the door in my face.... and I wanted to be with them and share their table. In truth, that didn't surprise me because in the last few years all close their doors to me. Since I wasn't invited, I decided to enter the party without making any noise. I went in and stood in a corner. They were all drinking; there were some who were drunk and telling jokes and laughing at everything. They were having a grand time. To top it all, this big fat man all dressed in red wearing a long white beard entered the room yelling Ho-Ho-Ho! He seemed drunk. He sat on the sofa and all the children ran to him, saying: "Santa Claus, Santa Claus".  As if the party were in his honor! At 12 Midnight all the people began to hug each other; I extended my arms waiting for someone to hug me and ... do you know ... no one hugged me.
Suddenly they all began to share gifts. They opened them one by one with great expectation. When all had been opened, I looked to see if, maybe, there was one for me. What would you feel if on your birthday everybody shared gifts and you did not get one? I then understood that I was unwanted at that party and quietly left. Every year it gets worse. People only remember to eat and drink, the gifts, the parties and nobody remembers me. I would like this Christmas that you allow me to enter into your life.
I would like that you recognize the fact that almost two thousand years ago I came to this world to give my life for you, on the cross, to save you. Today, I only want that you believe this with all your heart. I want to share something with you. As many didn't invite me to their party, I will have my own celebration, a grandiose party that no one has ever imagined, a spectacular party. I'm still making the final arrangements. Today I am sending out many invitations and there is an invitation for you. I want to know if you wish to attend and I will make a reservation for you and write your name with golden letters in my great guest book. Only those on the guest list will be invited to the party. Those who don't answer the invitation will be left outside. Be prepared because when all is ready you will be part of my great party. See you soon.
Love You Always!
Do you think this imaginary email from Jesus is close to any reality of our celebrations ? If we think so, still there are two days left for us to change our mind and get down to earnest preparation which would really get Jesus in the celebration. Let Christ be the center of our Christmas. He is the reason for this season. Let’s not celebrate this feast as a holiday, but a holy day when the Son of God came down to earth and dwelt in my heart.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Advent III –C- Zeph. 3:14-18a; Phil. 4:4-7; Lk 3:10-18  

Two men, Charlie and Roger, got together and opened a butcher shop. The business did quite well and they prospered. One day a preacher came to town, and Charlie gave his life to Christ. He tried to persuade Roger to accept Christ also, but to no avail. "Why won't you, Roger?" asked the newly baptized Charlie. "Listen, Charlie," Roger said. "If I get religion too, who's going to weigh the meat?"
Roger has this going for him, that he understands that believing in Christ implies a radical change in personal and professional behavior. Many people who identify themselves as Christians do not seem to get it. According to a Gallup poll conducted in 1987 in the USA, there is little difference in moral behavior between people who go to church and people who don't. There is as much pilfering and dishonesty among church members as among non-members. There seems to be a widespread misconception among Christians that we can add Christ to our lives without subtracting sin. Accepting Jesus as one's personal Lord and Savior is seen as a matter of changing one's belief and not much to do with changing one's behavior. Many street preachers preach, "Only believe, and you will be saved?" Most non Catholics say of themselves as “saved” people. Because they think only by believing they are saved.
They don’t care about how one lives after one comes to faith.

Faith in Jesus Christ saves us. But that faith has to be proven to be genuine by the way one lives. St.James tells us to prove our faith by our actions. Yes, you will be saved by just believing, if you die soon after your coming to faith and you get no time to prove your faith. But if you continue to live on this earth you have to show your faith that it is genuine by your every day actions.

The gospel is a leaven that affects every aspect of our personal, business and social life. To repent is to turn from evil and do good. "Only believe, and you will be saved" is at best a half-truth. Someone explained it this way.
Repentance means to "return from going down the wrong road." Rebirth means to "start anew on
the right road." Faith in Jesus involves not only repentance, but rebirth as well.

William Willimon, Chaplain at Duke University, says that John the Baptist reminds us of boundaries we must respect and gates we must pass through. At Duke, Willimon reminds the students, "If you are going to graduate, you must first get past the English Department. If you are going to practice law, you must pass the bar. If you want to get to medical school you must survive Organic Chemistry." Likewise, "If you want to get to the joy of Bethlehem in the presence of Jesus, you must get past John the Baptist in the desert." The word from John is "repent," which means "about-face" or turning 180 degrees.

Just think for a moment how different the world would be if everyone followed these simple directives of John. John is announcing the coming of the Savior, the Messiah, the Lord of life and history. And he is telling the people how they can enter into a personal relationship with that Savior, how they can come to experience what St Paul calls in today’s Second Reading “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.”

Christianity is not about doing the right thing. It is not all about morality.  It is about being the right person. It is about faith in Jesus Christ leading to a converted life and right relationship with God. Good works alone do not give us justification. It is the faith that gives Justification. The basic problem with Christian faith today is that we profess to believe but do not match it with practical behavior.
Advent and lent provide us with settings and circumstances hospitable for religious experience. The people who listened to John the baptizer were eager to make changes in their life and they asked him what shall we do ? His answer to them was “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.. Be content with your pay..
 If we, like those people, are eager to bring changes in our life, let’s ask the same question: Lord, what shall I do today to experience and live the life of the Word Incarnate in my life ?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

ADVENT II : BARUCH 5:1-9; PHIL 1:4-6, 8-11; LK 3:1-6

Three pastors got together for coffee one morning. Much to their surprise they discovered that all their churches had problems with bats infesting their belfries. The bats were making a terrible mess. "I got so mad," said one pastor, "I took a shotgun and fired at them. It made holes in the ceiling, but did nothing to the bats."  "I tried trapping them alive," said the second. "Then I drove 50 miles before releasing them, but they beat me back to the church."  "I haven't had any more problems," said the third.  "What did you do?" asked the others, amazed.  "I simply baptized and confirmed them," he replied. "I haven't seen them since."   You may laugh at this. But you will stop laughing when you hear that there are kids in our confirmation class who do not even know who Fr.Bolte is. When he visited the confirmation class one of the kids asked “who are you ?”. Fr.Bolte has been here seven and a half years now.  It is a shame to share it here, but hearing it would open at least some eyes. You leave your children for PSR classes, but they don’t get the opportunity to attend the mass often. Some times I see some kids at PSR staring at me as if what is this foreigner doing here.

Parents and god parents come to present a child to God at baptism. They make promises to bring up that child in the household of faith, and then they disappear. We rarely see them again. What did those promises mean? On this second Sunday of the New Church Year our lesson from the Gospels focuses our attention on the place of baptism in our lives.
John the Baptizer went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, proclaiming: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 

John was inviting people to be purified of the unholy elements in their lives.  Quoting the prophet Isaiah, John the Baptist declared, “Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth” (Lk 3:5).   If a king were planning to travel, work crews would be dispatched to repair the roads.  Ideally, the roads for the king's journey would be straight, level, and smooth.  John considered himself as the courier of the king.  But the preparation on which he insisted was a preparation of heart and of life.  "The king is coming," he said in effect.  “Mend, not your roads, but your lives.”  

We are called to examine our own souls on a regular basis, especially in this joyful but penitential season of Advent. We need to take some time to step away from the noise, from the hustle and bustle of our busy world. We need to look into hearts, to see where selfishness has put obstacles in our relationships with God and with other people. We need to see where habits of laziness and self-indulgence have worn away our self-discipline. All of us need to fill in some spiritual potholes and clear away some unwelcome debris, so that the graces God has in store for us this Advent will be able to stream unhindered into our hearts. The heart is the road God wants to follow so as to come into and transform our lives; it is up to us to do the necessary repairs to allow that to happen.
There is no better first step for doing that, of course, than preparing and making a good confession. The Fathers of the Church have called the Sacrament of Reconciliation our “second baptism,” in which we’re brought back to the Jordan and cleansed interiorly as we were on the day of our Christening.  Advent, like Lent, is a season given to us so that we may repent of our sins and be reconciled with God and His Church by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We have our parish advent reconciliation this Tuesday evening. You will have a choice of 6 priests you can go to make your confession to. Make use of the opportunity to straighten the path for the Lord- to fill in the “valleys” of our souls which have resulted from our shallow prayer life and a minimalist way of living our faith.  We have to straighten out whatever crooked paths we’ve been walking, like involvement in some secret or habitual sins or in a sinful relationship.  If we have been involved in some dishonest practices at work or at home, we are called to straighten them out and make restitution.  If we have been harboring grudges or hatred, or failing to be reconciled with others, now is the time to clear away all the debris.  If we have been pushing God off to the side of our road, if we have been saying to Him that we don’t really have the time for Him, now is the time for us to get our priorities straight.  
Without dying in Christ, without implementing the promises we made at the baptism we cannot live the life of Christ.

 A soap manufacturer and a pastor were walking together down a street in a large city.  The soap manufacturer casually said, "The gospel you preach hasn't done much good, has it?  Just observe. There is still a lot of wickedness in the world, and a lot of wicked people, too!"  The pastor made no reply until they passed a dirty little child making mud pies in the gutter.  Seizing the opportunity, the pastor said, "I see that soap hasn't done much good in the world either; for there is much dirt still here, and many dirty people are still around."  The soap man said, "Oh, well, soap only works when it is applied."  And the pastor said, "Exactly!  So it is with the gospel."
So, if we don’t grow in Christ, if we don’t see God’s saving acting breaking into our lives, it is because we haven’t taken serious the promise we made to God at Baptism.
Let’s pray that the Lord's coming this Christmas will be a heart moving experience leading to life-changing and world-transforming for us; helping us to fill in valleys by repentance, move mountains by faith (Mt 17:20), straighten the crooked ways by healing, and smooth the rough ways by forgiveness. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Advent I (C):Jer. 33:14-16 1Thes.3:12-4:2;Lk 21:25-28, 34-36
Several years ago a bus driver in Oklahoma reached an unusual record.  In 23 years he had driven a bus over 900,000 miles without a single accident.  When asked how he had done it, he gave this simple answer: “Watch the road.”  In today’s gospel Jesus gives the same advice in several ways: “Be vigilant at all times,” “Stand erect,” “Raise your heads,” “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy.”  This is not only a good spiritual advice for the Advent season but also a safe rule for daily life.  A good football player or basketball player should always concentrate his attention on the ball and the players.  A good student must be alert, awake and attentive, watching the teacher and listening to his or her words.  A good Catholic in the Church must be physically and mentally alert, watching the altar and actively participating in the prayers and songs.  Like the Roman god Janus, who had two faces, one looking at the past year and the other looking into future, Christians during the Advent season are to look at the past event of the first coming of Jesus into the world and expectantly look forward to his second coming in glory. 
Advent calls us to prepare for two celebrations.  To prepare to celebrate the coming of the Lord at Christmas to share our daily lives so intimately. It also calls us to be prepared for that coming of the Lord at the end of time and at the last day for each one of us when what Advent begins will be completed.
C.S. Lewis said that when the author appears on the stage, you know the play is over. This is how he understands the doctrine of the Second Coming of our Lord. It means that he who has begun a good work will bring it to the best conclusion of which he is capable. After all, no one has ever claimed that this planet earth was intended to exist forever. In what is called by scientists "the second law of thermodynamics," it is clearly predicted that the energy supply of this planet will eventually come to an end, which means that a conclusion of life as we know it here is inevitable. The concept of the Second Coming merely affirms that such a conclusion will be purposeful. It is going to come to the kind of climax that he who conceived the drama wants for it. 

In today’s gospel, the evangelists were not preparing their readers for Christmas.  Instead, they were helping these Christians to boost their spirits while they waited for Jesus to accomplish things in their lives that would give them a share in His risen life.  That’s why, after reminding his community about the signs which would precede Jesus' Second Coming, Luke gives them Jesus’ warning: "Be on guard lest your spirits become bloated with indulgence and drunkenness and worldly cares.  Pray constantly for the strength to escape whatever is in prospect and to stand secure before the Son of Man."  Since our own transformation is an ongoing process, we move yearly through the liturgical celebration of the mystery of our salvation.  While Advent is set aside to commemorate Jesus’ coming in the flesh as well as His final coming in glory, it is also a time for us to open ourselves to the Lord’s coming into our lives and our world today.  In order to do this, we must read the signs of the times and adjust our lives accordingly.
On the night of April 15th 1912, the Titanic hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank.  Over 1,500 people lost their lives in one of the worst sea disasters in history.  A few years ago a magazine recalled the great disaster and asked its readers this shocking –almost blasphemous question: “If we’d been on the Titanic when it sank, would we have arranged the deckchairs?”  At first we say to ourselves, “What a ridiculous question!  No one in his right mind would ignore wailing sirens on a sinking ship and rearrange its deck chairs!  No one with an ounce of sanity would ignore the shouts of drowning people and keep arranging deck chairs!” But as we continue to read the magazine, we see the reason for the strange question.  And suddenly we ask ourselves, “Are we perhaps, rearranging the deckchairs on a sinking ship?  For example, are we so caught up with material things in life that we are giving a back seat to spiritual things?  Are we so busy making a living that we are forgetting the purpose of life?  Are we so taken up with life that we are forgetting why God gave us life?”
Today’s readings invite us to assess our lives during Advent and to make the necessary alterations in the light of the approaching Christmas celebration.  It is a call to “look up” to see that Christ is still here.  We must raise our heads in hope and anticipation, knowing that the Lord is coming again.  Luke reminds us to trust in Jesus, amid the tragedies that sometimes occur in our daily lives.  Our marriage may break up; we may lose our job, discover that we have cancer or some terminal illness, or become estranged from our children.  In all such situations, when we feel overwhelmed by disaster and feel that our lives have no meaning, Jesus says: "Stand up, raise your heads, because your salvation is near" (Lk 21:28).
The Incarnation of the Word into human flesh, which we celebrate at the end of these four weeks, will hopefully be born also in our flesh. This is the whole purpose of the Advent liturgy. To discover the magnitude of God’s love and salvation in a little babe born in a manger in Bethlehem and making that babe be born in our lives, and make him the center of our lives.
Christmas may be for children, but Advent is for adults. In our adult years since our baptism we have tried to walk in his paths, stumbling, going astray, drifting off course. Now is the time to re-enter the flow of his providence for us and the world and to re-enter with joy the friendship he shares.
Let’s now earnestly serve the Lord faithfully and make the best use of our time now in the light of his second coming.