Saturday, March 31, 2018

EASTER SUNDAY Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Col 3:1-4; Jn 20:1-9   
According to an ancient Russian Orthodox tradition, the day before Easter was devoted to telling jokes. Priests would join the people in telling their best jokes to one another (presumably “clean” jokes!!) The reason was to reflect the joke God pulled on the devil in the Resurrection. Satan thought he won on Friday, but God had the last laugh on Easter Sunday. Someone said to me the other day, this year priests will have hard time making people believe when they say Jesus is risen, because Easter is on April Fools’ day.  Well if anyone says God is dead, or Jesus is not risen then it is a joke. Because we have overwhelming evidences to prove that Jesus is risen. Easter is the greatest feast of Christians which gives hope amid sorrows.

Eric Butterworth tells about a young soldier who lost his legs in battle. Something died within this young man when he found he would never walk again. He lay in his hospital bed, staring blankly at the ceiling. He refused to talk to anyone who tried to help him. He refused to cooperate with doctors or nurses who wanted to help him to adjust.
One day another inmate of the hospital strolled in and sat down on a chair near the bed. He drew a harmonica from his pocket and began to play softly. The patient looked at him for a second, then back to the ceiling. That was all for that day. Next day the player came again. For several days he continued to come and to play quietly. One day he said, "Does my playing annoy you?" The patient said, "No, I guess I like it." They talked a little more each day.
One day the harmonica player was in a jovial mood. He played a sprightly tune and began to do a tap dance. The soldier looked on but was apparently unimpressed. "Hey, why don't you smile once and let the world know you're alive!" the dancer said with a friendly smile. But the legless soldier said, "I might as well be dead as in the fix I'm in." "Okay," answered his happy friend, "so you're dead. But you're not as dead as a fellow who was crucified two thousand years ago, and He came out of it all right." "Oh, it's easy for you to preach," replied the patient, "but if you were in my fix, you'd sing a different tune." With this the dancer stood up and said, "I know a two-thousand-year-old resurrection is pretty far in the dim past. So maybe an up-to-date example will help you to believe it can be done." With that he pulled up his trouser legs and the young man in the bed looked and saw two artificial limbs. The tap-dancing fellow with the harmonica was not simply a Pollyanna. He once lay where that young soldier now lay. He himself had known the power of a resurrection. He had learned to live life abundantly--even without his legs. Needless to say, the young soldier's own resurrection began that moment. Easter isn't just about dying. It's about the power of belief in a world of lost hope. It is about knowing that no situation is beyond God's redeeming power.

In this world of pain, sorrows and tears, Easter reminds us that life is worth living.  It is our belief in the Real Presence of the Risen Jesus in our souls, in His Church, in the Blessed Sacrament and in Heaven that gives meaning to our personal, as well as to our common prayers.   Our trust in the all-pervading presence of the Risen Lord gives us strength to fight against temptations and freedom from unnecessary worries and fears.  
 The Resurrection is the greatest of the miracles -- it proves that Jesus is God.  There are overwhelming evidences for the resurrection. Transformed life of individual Christians itself is a strong proof.
A day after the terrible tragedy at Columbine High, CNN journalist Larry King did a live interview with a teenage girl named Mickie Cain, a student who had witnessed the massacre. Mickie was having a difficult time maintaining her composure and was able to blurt out only a few words before lapsing into uncontrollable sobs. Larry King was patient and gave her plenty of time to regain her composure. Mickie recounted the chilling story: “Let me tell you about my friend Cassie,” she said. “[Cassie] was amazing . . . She completely stood up for God when the killers asked her if there was anyone [in the classroom] who had faith in Christ. She spoke up [and said she did] and they shot her for it.” [Franklin Graham, The Name (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2002), pp. 14-15]. Such a testimony as Cassie made that day makes our witness look pretty pathetic, doesn’t it? The critical question is, would you make such a sacrifice for something that you knew was patently untrue? Of course not. And neither would those early disciples of Christ. They had met Christ, Risen from the grave, and they would not testify otherwise, even while being tortured. The witnesses are so credible, the change in their lives so dramatic, that their testimony cannot be disregarded.

The resurrected Christ appeared only to those who did believe. The angel told the men: Go to Judea and there you will find him. I would suggest that Judea represents the community of believers. Judea was to be the place where Jesus would plainly reveal to his followers that he was indeed alive. He did not reveal himself to the Caiaphases and Pilates and Herods of the world. Only Paul can be told as one of the exceptions. Jesus appeared to him even though he was an enemy of Jesus.

 Resurrection is Good News, but at the same time, it’s sometimes painful because it involves death. Before the power of the Resurrection can take hold in our own lives, we’re called to die to sin, to die to self. We may even have to die to our own dreams, so that God can do what He wants to do with our lives.

 We all choose death by old age." Wouldn't we all! But that just delays the big question: Then what? What comes after you finally die at the age of 110 on the golf course? Only Jesus has the answer. He says, "I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in Me, even though he die, will live with Me forever."
Dr. Seamands tells of a Muslim who became a Christian in Africa. "Some of his friends asked him, 'Why have you become a Christian?' He answered, 'Well, it's like this. Suppose you were going down the road and suddenly the road forked in two directions, and you didn't know which way to go, and there at the fork in the road were two men, one dead and one alive--which one would you ask which way to go?'" There is no religious founder who is alive today, except Jesus.

Resurrection means that we are not supposed to lie buried in the tomb of our sins, evil habits and dangerous addictions.  It gives us the Good News that no tomb can hold us down anymore - not the tomb of despair, discouragement or doubt, nor that of death.  Instead, we are expected to live a joyful and peaceful life, constantly experiencing the real presence of the Risen Lord in all the events of our lives.  “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad” (Psalm 118:24).  Wish you all a happy Easter.

Friday, March 30, 2018


As Jesus was hanging on the Cross, he made seven great statements, treasured by believers as the Seven Words from the Cross. If there were more we don’t know but surely it is significant that seven is God’s perfect number. It represents completeness and wholeness. They cover the basic needs of mankind.
These phrases were not recorded in a single Gospel but are taken from the combined accounts of the four Gospels. They are:
1.Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34. ...
2.Today you will be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43. ...
3.Behold your son: behold your mother. ...
4.My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? ...
5.I thirst. ...
6.It is finished. ...
7.Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

Today we reflect on only one of them, Father, forgive them…
When Jesus was hanging on the cross he asked for forgiveness for the people who were responsible for this great evil, and he gave a reason that they should be forgiven. He said it was because they were ignorant of their deeds. Bishop Fulton Sheen says their ignorance was a great blessing to them.
Sinning against someone of infinite virtue brings with it infinite guilt, but as He hung there on the cross he asked that the offenders be forgiven. 

Right up to his final hours on earth, Jesus preaches forgiveness. He teaches forgiveness in the Lord's prayer: "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us" (Matthew 6:12). When asked by Peter, how many times should we forgive someone, Jesus answers seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22). He forgives the paralytic at Capernaum (Mark 2:3-12), the sinful woman who anointed him in the home of Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:37-48), and the adulteress caught in the act and about to be stoned (John 8:1-11). During the Institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, Jesus tells them: this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matthew 26:27-28). And even following his Resurrection, his first act is to commission his disciples to forgive: "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (John 20:22-23).

Just when they began driving the nails into his hands and feet, Jesus said to God the Father: “…forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." In fact, the original Greek of the words “Jesus said” is better translated “Jesus was saying” – meaning Jesus kept saying this several times.  
Imagine the cross on the ground and Jesus is positioned on it. One soldier holds His arm in place while another hammers a huge nail into His wrist, ripping through skin and muscle, and deep into the wood. Through the horrible pain, Jesus says, “Father, forgive them.”  The soldiers cross over to other arm, driving another iron nail into it too. Again, Jesus says: “Father, forgive them.” Finally, they move to the base of the cross. They put one foot over the other, this time driving a thicker, longer nail right through both feet, into the wood. Despite the agony of pain, Jesus says: “Father, forgive them.”  

The bottom of the cross is placed at the mouth of a hole in the rocky ground. The soldiers start lifting the cross upright, with Jesus nailed to it. As the cross reaches vertical position, it’s base slides into the hole hits the bottom with a jerk and a thud. Jesus’ body is now hanging on the nails, metal slowly ripping flesh in a pain that cannot be imagined. Jesus looks at those who were killing Him, turns his eyes to heaven and again asks the Father: “forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing”.

The Cross of Christ is God’s ultimate demonstration of His love for each one of us. For more than 2000 years, the Father has continued to answer Jesus’ prayer: “Father, forgive them.” Over the centuries, millions are streaming into the Kingdom of God because of this powerful prayer that Jesus made on the Cross.  The centurion on hearing this extraordinary act of forgiveness exclaimed: truly this man was son of God.

As we come to venerate the cross now, remember this and be amazed: The Father has honored Jesus’ request for us! We are forgiven! The punishment of sin that should have been on us was poured on Jesus. Here’s our status: Forgiven! No longer guilty! Express our gratitude to God as we kiss the cross: Exclaim in your heart, thank you Jesus for forgiving me my sins.

Thursday, March 29, 2018


As we come to the end of Lent, we begin the Sacred Triduum, the high holy days of the Christian liturgical year when we remember and celebrate the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Holy Thursday calls us to remember: the institution of the Eucharist; the institution of the Priesthood; and the call to Christian service and discipleship. All these three things happened at the last supper.

Dr. Ray C. Stedman once noted, "We have to get out of our minds the famous Leonardo Da Vinci painting of the Last Supper, with everyone sitting on one side of the table . . . Da Vinci was a masterful artist, but he was a weak theologian. Someone has said that when they look at that picture, they imagine Jesus saying to the disciples, ˜Everyone who wants to be in the picture get on this side of the table!' But that is not how they sat at table that evening. They arranged themselves around a low, probably U-shaped table, and they reclined on their left elbows, their legs and feet sticking out diagonally from the table. A second misconception in that painting is the ‘angelic' look of the disciples' faces as they gaze at Jesus. Luke records that they came into the room, arguing over who was the greatest among them.
There was no servant there that night. The disciples certainly were not going to wash each other's feet. To do so would have lowered their position and prestige in the group. It is a strange scene. Jesus strips himself down to the garments of a common slave and washes the dust, mud, and sewage from the feet of the proud disciples.

In ancient Palestine foot-washing was a job reserved for slaves. It was one of the most unpleasant and humiliating tasks. People wore sandals or went barefoot. And they walked on roads shared by herdsmen driving their animals to market and traders moving goods by ox and camel. The dirt of these unpaved byways, therefore, was blended with dung. Even a short walk caked one's sandal-exposed feet with the filthy, smelly mix. That's what Jesus washed off his Apostles' feet.
In that one decisive act Jesus demonstrated that Christian greatness is not determined by position, or prerogatives, or education or titles or visibility. Christian greatness is determined by the willingness to meet the need of the moment with a deed of service. The need at that moment was to wash dirty feet.
Max Lucado describes it so vividly:
"As they argue, the basin sits in the corner, untouched. The towel lies on the floor, unused. The servant's clothing hangs on the wall, unworn. Each disciple sees these things. Each disciple knows their purpose. But no one moves, except Jesus.
"As they bicker, he stands. But he doesn't speak. He removes his robe and takes the servant's wrap off of the wall. Taking the pitcher, he pours the water into the basin. He kneels before them with the basin and sponge and begins to wash. The towel that covers his waist is also the towel that dries their feet." (3)
The Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated the nature of glory by washing mud off the feet of common, ordinary, laboring people. He did it in love not with a sense of disgust and disappointment. "Someone with my education shouldn't have to do that," we would have said. "Someone in my position doesn't do windows or floors. I have been elevated above this type of duty . . ." Jesus washed their feet. He took the position of servant.
When I was at St.Timothy’s one Sunday we had no servers showed up. I was going around looking for servers and one man offered to serve. He was the County judge at the time. I politely declined him telling I will try to find somebody else. I was impressed by his willingness to serve which usually even altar boys once they are in high school feel ashamed to do. Any way after two weeks I received a letter from him asking me to serve on the Jury. May be I should have allowed him to serve!  
The most miserable people are always worried about their proper titles. Always worried about rank and prestige. The happiest people are those who don't spend a great deal of time concerned with rank, order, prestige, or authority. They focus in on something greater.
Peter was ticked off at Jesus because, if the Lord did something humble like this, then Simon Peter as a follower of Jesus, must be willing to do it too. All destructive human pride must go in the service of God.

There was a story a number of years ago that was carried in the newspapers and in TIME magazine. A plane crashed on a runway in Philadelphia and caught on fire. At the door an attractive twenty‑four-year-old flight attendant, Mary Housley, took her place to help the passengers to the ground. As soon as she had finished getting all of the passengers to safety Housley also started to jump from the plane. But just before she made her escape, a passenger on the ground screamed, “My baby, my baby!” Somehow this passenger had left her baby behind on the plane. Flight attendant Mary Housley turned back into the plane to find the baby, and that was the last time anyone saw her alive. When the debris cooled they found Mary Housley’s body over the 4‑month-old baby she tried to rescue.
TIME magazine captioned her picture with these words, “She could have jumped.”
There are still heroes in the world. There are still people who sacrifice themselves for others and we are thankful for it. But many of us, have forgotten what Christ meant when he said that we are to be a servant of all.
As somebody once put it, “Live such a life that when it comes your time to die, even the undertaker is sad.” If we would be the greatest person in our community, we have got to be a person who is willing to serve the community, serve the town, serve the Scouts, serve the church. That is the key to greatness.
Jesus Christ, says Paul in Philippians, “though he was in the form of God became man and took upon himself the form of a servant.” There was Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. There was Jesus carrying his cross up Golgotha. There was Jesus saying to his disciple Peter after his resurrection, “Feed my sheep.” That’s who we are.

We are the Servant Community; we are the Body of Jesus Christ who gave himself as a ransom for others.
Today when we receive Holy Communion, our Lord will renew his commitment to us. He will wash our feet, cleanse our hearts and minds, and fill us with his strength. And how will we respond? How would he like us to respond? 
He has told us: "If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet." This is his commandment of love in concrete forms.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

PALM SUNDAY [C] Is 50:4-7; Phil 2:6-11; Lk 22:14-23 -- 23: 56

One of the great blockbuster movies which made ripples across the world was The Passion of Christ by the Oscar winning Hollywood actor and director Mel Gibson. The movie is about the last twelve hours in the life of Jesus. In Texas, a 21 year old man, Dan Leach, murdered his wife, Nichole Wilson, and stage-managed it as if she had hanged herself. The post mortem said it was a suicide. Her mother found her body on January 19, 2004 in her apartment. Two months later Dan Leach went and surrendered himself to the police, saying he was the one who murdered his wife and made it look like a suicide. When the detectives asked him why he had surrendered, he said, "After watching the movie The Passion of Christ, I was compelled to seek redemption." The whole movie is one unrelenting violence and bloodshed endured by Jesus -all for our redemption. The common reaction after watching the movie is either deep silence of the audience or tear stained cheeks. After watching the movie one man said, "No matter what you are - whether you believe in Jesus or not, you will begin to love Jesus, who suffered for you."

It is on Palm Sunday that we enter Holy Week and welcome Jesus into our lives, asking him to allow us a share in his suffering, death and Resurrection. This is also the time we remember and relive the events which brought about our redemption and salvation.  That is why the Holy Week liturgy presents us with the actual events of the dying and rising of Jesus. 
Over one-third of the material in the four Gospels is devoted to that last week in the earthly life of Jesus. We call this part of each Gospel the Passion Narrative, for it tells of His entry into Jerusalem, the Last Supper, His arrest, the trials, His crucifixion. Perhaps all this can come alive for us in a different way if we turn off the picture and listen. We can use the ear instead of the eye, for if we hear, we are more apt to be drawn in. If we only watch, we may be mere spectators. (That is one of the reasons why we have the statues in the church covered up).So let's try to create a sound picture.

Let us remember that Holy Week can become "holy” for us only if we actively and consciously take part in the liturgies of this week. This is also the week when we should lighten the burden of Christ’s passion as daily experienced by the hungry, the poor, the sick, the homeless, the lonely and the outcast through our corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
Let’s find time this week to listen to the Passion narratives and ponder on its significance for our life.  

Saturday, March 10, 2018

LENT IV B: II Chr 36:14-16, 19-23; Eph 2:4-10; Jn 3:14-21

During the years when slavery was legal in the United States, a gentleman happened upon a slave-bidding in a crowded street. As he watched from the edge of the crowd, he saw one slave after another led to a platform, their arms and legs shackled with ropes as if they were animals. Displayed before the jeering crowd, they were auctioned off, one by one. The gentleman studied the group of slaves waiting nearby. He paused when he saw a young girl standing at the back. Her eyes were filled with fear. She looked so frightened. As the auctioneer opened the bidding for the girl, the gentleman shouted out a bid that was twice the amount of any other selling price offered that day. There was silence for an instance, and then the gavel fell as, "sold to the gentleman" was heard. The rope, which bound her, was handed to the man. The young girl stared at the ground. Suddenly she looked up and spat in his face. Silently, he reached for a handkerchief and wiped the spittle from his face. He smiled gently at the young girl and said, "Follow me". She followed him reluctantly. When a slave was set free, legal documents were necessary. The gentleman paid the purchase price and signed the documents. When the transaction was complete, he turned to the young girl and presented the documents to her. Startled, she looked at him with uncertainty. Her narrowed eyes asked, what are you doing? The gentlemen responded to her questioning look. He said, "Here, take these papers. I bought you to make you free. As long as you have these papers in your possession, no man can ever make you a slave again. The girl looked into his face. What was happening? Slowly, she said, "You bought me, to make me free? You bought me, to make me free?" She fell to her knees and wept at the gentleman's feet. Through her tears of joy and gratitude, she said, "You bought me, to make me free....I'll serve you forever!"
You and I were once bound in slavery to sin. But the Lord Jesus paid the price, to make us free, when He shed His Blood at Calvary. How often have we spat in our Master's face - He who paid His all, for our freedom?

The central theme of today’s readings stress God’s mercy and compassion and remind us of the great love, kindness and grace extended to us in Christ. 
The Fourth Sunday of Lent is called Lætare (Rejoice) Sunday. Lætare Sunday reminds us of the Church's joy in anticipation of the Resurrection, a joy which cannot be contained even in Lent, though we still refrain from Alleluias and the singing of the Gloria until the magnificence of the Easter Vigil.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” This is the summary of the Gospel message of salvation through Christ Jesus.  This text is the very essence of the Gospel.  It tells us that the God takes the initiative in all salvation because of His love for man.  As St. Augustine puts it: "God loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to love."  It also explains to us the universality of the love of God.  God's motive is love and God's objective is salvation.  Those who actually receive eternal life must believe in the Son. “Such depth of God's love this Gospel reveals: God gave the only Son, allowed the only Son to be “lifted up” on a cross, and now remains patient with us while we struggle with choosing between darkness and light, evil and truth. Moreover, in the very midst of our ongoing struggle, it is God who brings us to greater belief and leads us to eternal life. Such is the depth of love God has for us!”

There is a story that comes out of the Bedouin culture. "Bedouin" is the Aramaic name for "desert dwellers." These people live much as the characters of the Old Testament did. During a heated argument, according to this story, a young Bedouin struck and killed a friend of his. Knowing the ancient, inflexible customs of his people, the young man fled, running across the desert under the cover of darkness, seeking safety.
He went to the black tent of the tribal chief in order to seek his protection. The old chief took the young Arab in. The chief assured him that he would be safe until the matter could be settled legally.
The next day, the young man's pursuers arrived, demanding the murderer be turned over to them. They would see that justice would prevail in their own way. "But I have given my word," protested the chief.
"But you don't know whom he killed!" they countered.
"I have given my word," the chief repeated.
"He killed your son!" one of them blurted out. The chief was deeply and visibly shaken with his news. He stood speechless with his head bowed for a long time. The accused and the accusers as well as curious onlookers waited breathlessly. What would happen to the young man? Finally the old man raised his head. "Then he shall become my son," he informed them, "and everything I have will one day be his."
The young man certainly didn't deserve such generosity. And that, of course, is the point. Love in its purest form is beyond comprehension. No one can merit it. It is freely given. It is agape, the love of God. Look to the cross. At the cross we encounter love in its purest form.
 We need to reciprocate God’s love by loving others. God’s love is unconditional, universal, forgiving and merciful.  Let us try, with His help, to make an earnest attempt to include these qualities as we share our love with others during Lent.