Saturday, June 28, 2014

Feast of Ss Peter & Paul  Acts 12:1-11; II Tim 4:6-8, 17-18 Mt 16:13-19     
Quo Vadis Domine Church in Rome commemorates the experience which followed St. Peter’s decision to avoid persecution and death by going to another city rather than remaining in Rome.
According to tradition Peter was leaving Rome with his friend, Nazarius, during the height of Nero’s persecution of Christians. He met the risen Jesus on the outskirts of the city. Jesus, however, was walking into, not out of Rome. "Quo vadis, Domine?" ("Where are you going, Lord?" he asked.  "I must go to Rome to be crucified once more, Jesus said. Peter understood that Jesus was going in as he was going out of Rome. Peter turned and went back to Rome to be crucified in AD.64.
Today we observe the feast of the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul. 
Peter was son of Jonah and brother of Andrew. He might have been a follower of John the Baptist. It was his brother Andrew who introduced him to Jesus, and Jesus changed his name from Simon to Cephas or Peter. With James and John he was privileged to witness the Transfiguration, the raising of a dead child to life and the agony in Gethsemane. Peter is willing to accept Jesus' doctrine of forgiveness, but suggests a limit of seven times. He walks on the water in faith, but sinks in doubt. He refuses to let Jesus wash his feet, then wants his whole body cleansed. He swears at the Last Supper that he will never deny Jesus, and then swears to a servant maid that he has never known the man. He loyally resists the first attempt to arrest Jesus by cutting off Malchus' ear, but in the end he runs away with the others. In the depth of his sorrow, Jesus looks on him and forgives him, and he goes out and sheds bitter tears. The Risen Jesus told Peter to feed his lambs and his sheep (John 21:15-17). He was sent with John to prepare for the last Passover before Jesus' death. His name is first on every list of apostles. Jesus made him the leader of his apostles and the rock on which he would build his Church. He also convened the first Church Council in Jerusalem and wrote two epistles to the whole Church. From the earliest days of the Church, Peter was recognized as the Prince of the Apostles and the first Supreme Pontiff.
Paul, the fanatical Pharisee and scholar of Judaism was miraculously converted and chosen by the Holy Spirit to be the “apostle to the Gentiles.” Paul's experience of the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus was the driving force that made him one of the most zealous, dynamic and courageous ambassadors of Christ the Church has ever had. The dying Christ was in him; the living Christ was his life. He wrote 14 epistles, made several missionary journeys and spent his final days in prison in Caesarea and Rome.  He was beheaded in Rome. Over his grave was built St. Paul’s Cathedral in Rome.
After Jesus, Paul is the most prominent person in the New Testament. 14 of the 27 books of the New Testament are letters attributed to Paul and more than half of the Acts of the Apostles is devoted to Paul’s conversion and to his apostolic activities in spreading the Good News. Paul’s greatness lies in his passion for the Good News about Jesus and his desire to share it. That is why Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed the period from June 29, 2008, to June 29, 2009, as the Pauline Year to commemorate the 2,000th anniversary of the apostle’s birth.  
Peter and Paul were not saints when they answered the call of Jesus; in fact, they were also sinners and they made a lot of mistakes just like us. Peter even denied Jesus Christ to save himself. He abandoned Jesus in his last days. He said that he would give his life for Jesus, but when he was confronted with the reality of life, he cowered. Paul, on the other hand, tortured and persecuted the Christians. But in the end Peter and Paul were humble enough to admit their weaknesses and worked very hard to build a church by converting thousands of people to Christ and shepherding the flock assigned to them by Jesus Christ.    
What made Peter and Paul  do sacrifices of their lives ?
Because, in the words of Apostle Paul, they were held captive by the words and teachings of Jesus Christ. It is Paul’s way of saying they were slaves to Christ.
We are called by Christ and commissioned to go out like Peter and Paul to preach the gospel, and if necessitated give our lives as a libation for him. Have I given myself to Jesus so much as to say I am ready to die for him?  Paul said: for me to live or die is the same in Christ. I can do everything in Christ who strengthens me. Do I try to do everything IN Christ and For Christ  as Paul did?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

CORPUS CHRISTI (Deut 8: 2-4, I Cor 10: 16-17 Jn 6: 51-58)  
The Church celebrates one of the deepest mysteries of our faith with the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. During the liturgical year there are at least two feasts that invite us to meditate on the mystery of the Eucharist: the Maundy Thursday and the Feast of Corpus Christi.  On Maundy Thursday, the reflection on the Eucharist is centered on the memorial of the Passover meal and the institution of the priesthood.  The feast of today gives us yet another opportunity to contemplate the mystery of the Eucharist and what it offers us. 
We believe in the “Real Presence” of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist because 1) Jesus promised it after miraculously feeding the 5000. 2) Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist during his Last Supper. 3) Jesus commanded his disciples to repeat it in his memory. 4) “Nothing is impossible for God.”
 In the First Reading Moses recalls the way in which God fed the people of Israel in the desert with manna, that miraculous food which Christians were later to see as a pre-figuration of the Eucharist.
There are three things we should always keep in mind about this wonderful sacrament: what it is, how it happens, and why Christ gave it to us.
The Eucharist is not just a symbol of Christ's spiritual presence.  It is not just a reminder of Christ's self-offering in the past. No, Jesus Christ is truly present in this sacrament.  This is why St Paul, in today's Second Reading, calls Holy Communion a "participation" in the body and blood of Christ. And this is why Jesus himself, in today's Gospel reading, repeats six times - SIX times - that his flesh is real food and his blood is real drink.
He loves us so much that he wants his own life to flow through our veins; he wants to accompany us always and everywhere, until he leads us home to be with him forever in heaven.
Most non-Catholic Christians believe that the Eucharist is, just a symbol of Christ's presence, not the real thing. But the Catholics and the Orthodox Christians believe that Christ is not just symbolically present in the Eucharist, he is truly, really present. 
Just as Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana, at every Mass he turns bread and wine into his own body and blood. Only God can do that kind of thing - only God can perform miracles. Unlike at the multiplication of the bread, at Cana a transubstantiation took place. Substance of water was changed into wine, not just multiplication or amplification of some wine into more wine.
In some cases, at Mass, not just substance but even the accidents were also changed. History is full of numerous documented cases of consecrated hosts miraculously turning into bleeding flesh. Last year when I was on the pilgrimage to Fatima, I visited a Eucharistic miracle that happened in 1200s. Still 800 years later, it is visibly present for people to observe, verify and believe.

Heb.9:22 says: there is no forgiveness of sins without shedding blood. A person’s life consists in his/her blood. You cannot take all the blood from someone and have him or her live. If that were possible, I think, blood cancer could be easily healed, by completely changing the blood. The imagery of blood also recalls the idea of sacrifice, and Jesus’ sacrifice for humanity. Among other religions, the Jewish religion also contained sacrifice. A lamb was sacrificed in the temple at Passover as an expiation, to atone for the sins of the people since the last Passover. For us, Jesus became that Lamb of sacrifice, once and for all times; uniting us with God: creating communion between us and God.
Jesus’ body brings healing and his blood brings forgiveness of sins.  The consecration words says, blood poured out for the forgiveness of sins.
The Holy Eucharist is given to us by the Lord in His Infinite love towards our continued and complete healing.”  Recently I heard, a lady in Canada who had toothache received Holy Communion and told Jesus I will not leave you unless you heal my toothache. And she got immediate healing. Isaiah says: By his wounds we are healed. Jesus’ body was lacerated at the crucifixion. And he heals us and gives us everlasting life by his death on the cross. But the blood that he poured out forgives our sins and frees us from all diabolic forces. So we need to ask the Father to purify us in the blood of Jesus and fill us with the Holy Spirit at the time of the Mass.
Any time we pray asking the Father to purify us in the blood of Jesus and fill us with the Holy Spirit He will drive away all fears and worries and negative thoughts from us. If you suspect somebody is against you, you may pray: Abba Father, purify (name) in the holy blood of Jesus your Son and fill him with the Holy Spirit. Then all the evil plans he would contrive against you will be neutralized by the power of the blood of the lamb. When you come into the Church you need to pray: Abba Father, purify the celebrant all the congregation in the blood of Jesus and fill them with the Holy Spirit.
Last Monday I was going for a retreat in New Jersey. From last Monday we have only one Mass here on weekdays. So, I thought, I will not concelebrate here and when I get there, if we have a mass there I will join that. You know what happened when I got to the airport at 10.30 am?  US airways flight in which I was supposed to travel, got delayed for over an hour. Then that flight was cancelled. I thought I would cancel my plan and come back here. Since Fr.Baiju was with me and he wanted to go, I stayed on for his company. Then the customer service gave us a boarding pass to for a United airways flight to Newark. After waiting for over an hour and a half the flight came. Then when we showed the boarding pass to board, I was told, I could not go by that flight as the US airways did not pay the United airways. We tried to contact the customer care but meanwhile the flight also left. Then with apology they issued another boarding pass for a flight that would come 2 hours later. Long story short we got 5 hours delayed. And during the retreat the preacher said, if we miss Mass or fail to protect ourselves with the power of the holy blood of Jesus, we are sure to meet with obstructions. And then it really came home to me why I missed all those flights.

Today is the feast glorifying the power of the blood of Jesus and the healing effect of the body of Christ. With faith and a worthy attitude let’s receive him and be strengthened in our resolve to live for him. Judas had a bad resolve to cheat the Lord when he received the communion and so he was strengthened in that evil intention, rather than abandoning that resolution. Let’s resolve to live for him who shed his blood for us and adore and joyfully receive the healer of our souls, in this Holy Mass.