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Father Sibi's Posts
  • Wednesday, November 25th, 2020

    26.11.2020 Luke 21:20-28

    The gospel reading paints a rather grim picture. It speaks of the fall of the city of Jerusalem, the destruction of its people and disturbing signs in nature. Reference is also made to wars, to great upheavals and to the fear they generate. Yet Jesus assures his disciples that this awful prospect is not the complete picture. This grim time is also the moment when the Son of Man will appear in great power and glory. In the time of greatest darkness, a light begins to shine (John 1:5). The Son of Man comes to redeem us. Those who are open to his coming will experience liberation. There are times in our lives when our own world can appear to be falling apart. Disturbing events happen over which we have little or no control; we can be left shaken and frightened. But the gospel passage invites us to the conviction that the Lord is close to us above all in those moments of trouble. When the wind blows strongly against our boat, He comes to us to be with us and to save us (Mark 6:45-56). It is out of this strong conviction that the Lord will never abandon us that the Psalmist sings “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Ps. 23: 4). He stands by us in his risen power, giving us strength in our weakness. His presence has the power to liberate us from our fears and to give us the confidence to stand erect with our heads held high, in the words of the gospel reading.

    CB

  • 25.11.2020 Lk. 21:12-19 Tuesday, November 24th, 2020

    Jesus speaks of persecution, imprisonment, betrayal and hatred from others. This was the lot waiting the disciples of Jesus. These words of Jesus proved true in the course of history. Bearing witness to Jesus and to his values in that culture meant being put on trial by religious and political authorities, leading to imprisonment and, sometimes, to death. Betrayal sometimes came even from the side of the family members and friends. The easiest and safest way for a believer was to keep the faith secret and private. But this was the idea of the Master. He spoke of bearing witness. He encouraged his disciples to perseverance and to a daring faith. He promised that He would never abandon them in those difficult moments and that He would ignite their minds with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. That is what we see in the lives of the apostles and of early Christians. They were common, mostly uneducated Individuals, yet the words of truth and wisdom that came out of their mouths were astonishing. Think about the preaching of Peter and of Stephen. Think about all those heroic martyrs who chose death than to denounce their faith. Where did they all get this courage from? It was out of the conviction that the Saviour would be with them that they were ready to risk their lives.
    What does this tell us? We don’t just keep the faith in some kind of private space; we live the faith in a public way. “No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.” (Mathew 5:15). It is not an easy task to keep the light of faith burning, nor is it easy to stand for the values that Jesus taught. He will always provide the resources we need to remain faithful. Because the Lord is with us to support us, the trials and tribulations that come our way on account of our faith are an opportunity for us to bear witness to what we believe. The promise Jesus gives us is, ‘your endurance will win you your lives’.
    ✍️CB

  • 24.11.2020 Lk 21:5-11 Tuesday, November 24th, 2020

    “Being on the guard” is basic requirement in every sphere of human life! The Gospel of the day presents this message of being vigilant and alert in our lives. Jesus is on the courtyard of the Jerusalem Temple and He hears “some people speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings” (Lk 21:5). The Jerusalem Temple was a magnificent building and one of the wonders of those days. The Temple had just been marvelously rebuilt by Herod the Great. In all its beauty, the Jerusalem Temple was a vast glittering mass of white marble, touched here and there with gold and precious stones. “Whosoever had not gazed on it”, said the old rabbis, “had not seen the perfection of beauty.” Tacitus, the historian, called this spectacular edifice as “a temple of vast wealth.“ Precious gifts such as crowns, shields, vessels of gold and silver were presented by princes and others who visited the holy house.
    With such a grand spectacle and gorgeous building in the background, Jesus makes a prophetic saying, “All that you see here – the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down” (Lk 21:6). These words would have come as a big shocker and a tantalizing scandal to His listeners. To think of the Jerusalem Temple being totally destroyed was a case next to impossible. The Jerusalem Temple was the holiest shrine of the Jews. It was the pulse and the heartbeat of the Jewish faith. It was the greatest source of joy and pride for the Jews. Any attack or any destruction of this great edifice of faith was unimaginable and intolerable. We know how Jeremiah was persecuted because he spoke against the Temple (Jer. 7 gives an account of the vain hope the people placed on the Temple).

    Yet, Jesus makes this powerful and daring prophecy. What is the structure and edifice of joy and pride in our lives? Is it just a structure of fat bank-balances and transient fame and popularity? Is it just a structure of remarkable public positions and offices of high ranking? Is it just a structure of enjoying life with temporary pleasures and passing addictions? All too often we have heard people saying: “I have enough money and I am happy with my life!Just enjoy today to the max. Who knows what happens tomorrow?” “The status that I am in today, is a result of my hard-work and labour. Why should anyone interfere in my private life and prevent me from enjoying it in my own style?”
    History teaches us that structures built without the power and grace of God is bound to fall. The Tower of Babel is a classic example from the Bible. (Gen 11: 4-9). Built on human pride and aspiration, it had a catastrophic collapse. The lives of many people are also a lesson for us; Samson… King Saul… King Solomon… Judas. They had their moments of great glory and splendour. But when pride and self-interest crept into their lives, they let go of the touch of God’s hand!
    We may glory and shine in beauty for some time by just banking on our capabilities. But unless, we remain in firm obedience and faithful commitment to the Lord, we are bound to fail! An obstinate stand that I can manage my life by myself is hazardous. A proud feeling that no power in the world can shake me is dangerous. An arrogant outlook that I am the sole master of my future and destiny is perilous. Let God be God in our lives. Let Him enthrone the highest place and the privileged position in our lives. May Jesus, the King of kings and the Lord of lords adorn the Temple of our lives.
    ✍️CB

  • 23.11.2020 Lk 21:1-4 Sunday, November 22nd, 2020

    When the books of Old Testament refer to the poor they often list three categories of people: the stranger, the orphan and the widow (Deut 14:29). The Hebrew Scriptures constantly invite people to be sensitive to the needs of these three types of vulnerable people: the stranger, the orphan and the widow (Ps 94:6; Jer 7:11). When it talks about the justice of God, the Old Testament speaks of the God who defends the stranger, the orphan and the widow (Ps 146:9). In the New Testament, Jesus invites those who want to follow him to be kind to the poor: “Go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me” (Mk 10:21).
    Against this backdrop, the gospel text of today becomes very telling. Jesus is inside the temple in Jerusalem, and he is touched by the generosity of this poor widow towards her religion, as she contributes to the maintenance of the temple and the upkeep of the priests. Jesus uses this occasion to once again impart a message on discipleship. The widow in today’s gospel was not only materially poor – because she was a widow, but also poor in spirit – because ‘she from the little she had has put in all she had to live on.’ A true disciple is poor in spirit – being able to totally depend on God. A true disciple is able to make themselves vulnerable in front of God. A true disciple is able to give to God the best part of oneself.
    Often we water down the meaning of this text, or rob the text of its depth of meaning by quoting it as an example of generosity. (Oh yes, generosity is a good human virtue!) Or, some avaricious church ministers may even use this text to exhort their people to contribute generously to church collection. I think, the meaning of the text here goes beyond money, wealth, and possessions: Am I able to make myself vulnerable in the presence of God? Am I able to stand before God, with my arms open and empty, with my mind still searching for answers, and my heart ready to respond to the Grace of God? Or am I seeking false security in my past achievements, in my name and fame, in my knowledge and education, in my material wealth, and in my attachment to people?
    The story of the widow is only the culmination in a series of people in the Gospels who abandon their false securities in the presence of God:

    The Magi opened their treasures and humbly prostrate before the baby in whom they have seen the presence of God (Mt 2:1-11);
    The disciples when called by Jesus leave their boats, hired men and even their father and follow Jesus (Mk 1:20, also Mt 4:22);
    When Mathew the tax collector encounters Jesus he is ready to leave his table and follow Jesus (Lk 5:27-28);
    Zacchaeus is willing to give half of his property to the poor (Lk 19:9);
    Bartimaeus, the blind beggar, leaves his upper garment and comes to Jesus in a symbolic nakedness (Mk 10:50); and,
    The Samaritan woman after her encounter with Jesus leaves her empty water jar at the feet of Jesus in a symbolic abandonment of her past (Jn 4:28).
    A question that we can all ask ourselves then is: what is it that I am still holding on to – that prevents me from totally surrendering myself to God?
    ✍️CB

  • 22.11.2020 Solemnity of Christ the King Saturday, November 21st, 2020

    I must admit that I find it difficult to imagine Jesus under the image of the “King”. When we think of “king” we think of power and prestige, beauty and splendour, wealth and honour.But where do we find Christ as King? We see Jesus between two criminals on the cross. We see Jesus in his greatest humiliation. We see him tormented, mistreated, mocked and ridiculed. Jesus not on a royal throne, but on the stake of shame, not with a royal crown, but with a crown of thorns.
    Instead of glory – shame; instead of power – powerlessness; instead of beauty – blood and wounds; instead of triumph – suffering and pain; instead of victory – seemingly failed, in the end, not a winner but a loser.
    What a contrast: Christ as King – Christ on the cross. How do they go together?
    This tension runs through the whole life of Jesus. In the beginning: not a palace, but a stable, not a soft bed, but a feeding trough. When the people want to make Jesus king after the multiplication of bread, he withdraws.
    When he enters Jerusalem, it is not an expensive state chariot that carries him, not even a proud horse, but a donkey. At the Last Supper he gets up from the table and does his slave-service. He bends down and washes their feet. Jesus does not choose the ascent but the descent, not earthly royal power but the way through suffering and the cross.
    Jesus replaces self-assertion with self-giving. He stands up for others. He does not wash the disciples’ heads, but their feet. He does not demand for himself, he gives. He gives everything. The great ones in history let people die for themselves. Jesus died for the people out of love. That is his greatness. Therein lies his kingship: in the power of love.
    The royal power of his love can still be seen in his powerlessness on the cross. If we want to experience it, we must go to the cross on Golgotha. There we hear Jesus say: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do. This is where Christ’s power to rule is revealed. He who can truly forgive, even his enemies, is the most powerful one on earth. For truly forgiving is the hardest thing among us human beings. But we also experience this in our personal lives. How good we are at paying back! How long can we hold grudges! How difficult is reconciliation for us!
    Jesus is King: Peace, love and mercy are his weapons.
    His kingdom is therefore not built with power and strength,
    but with the hearts of the people and with their willingness
    to be there for each other and to do good to each other.

    CB

  • 21.11.2020 Matthew 12:46-50 Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Friday, November 20th, 2020

    Today we celebrate a beautiful feast day of the Blessed Virgin Mary namely, the Feast of Mary’s Presentation in the Temple. We commemorate that wonderful moment when Saints Joachim and Anne presented their daughter, Mary, in the Temple. Like other children, Mary was presented in the Temple when she was about three years old, but hers was no ordinary Presentation. To echo the Prophet Zechariah, Mary entered as the Daughter of Zion (Zech. 9:9), and her coming to the Temple signalled that the time was at hand for God to be present to humanity in a new and unimaginable way: the Eternal Son would take upon himself our human nature in Mary’s womb.
    Today’s gospel reading suggests that there were times when she struggled to understand what was God’s purpose for her life, especially concerning her son Jesus. He had left home and started to preach throughout the land. Mary, his mother, might not have seen him for a long time. That is why she goes to meet him. But his answer is ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother.’ It was a time for Mary to ponder on the ways of God. What she wanted for Jesus was not necessarily what God wanted for him. In that sense, Mary’s experience can be very close to our own. Sometimes we struggle to discern the will of God. What we choose to do may not correspond to the plan of God. Like Mary, we have to keep ourselves open to where the Lord is leading us. In the gospel reading, Jesus declares that those who do the will of his Father, in whose lives God’s will is done, are his brothers and sisters and mother. It was above all Mary who did the will of Jesus’ heavenly Father. She was open to God’s presence from the earliest years of her life. We look to Mary to show us what it means to say ‘yes’ to God’s call in our lives. She was completely given over to doing God’s will, to allowing God to do his will in and through her.

  • 20.11.2020 Luke 19: 45-48 Thursday, November 19th, 2020

    For a Jew of Jesus’ time, the temple was everything: it was the economic, political, social, and religious center of the whole nation of Israel. And that he went into that sacred place and turned it upside down, and foretells its destruction must have shocked, chilled, and confused both the religious leaders and other Jewish people alike.

    The Temple was the place where sacrifice was offered as an act of worship to almighty God. Pilgrims coming from outside of Jerusalem could not bring animals from their homes because the animals had to be without blemish, and they would likely get bruised or hurt on the arduous journey to Jerusalem. For a long time, these sacrificial animals would be purchased in markets away from the temple, but over time, the selling of sacrificial animals crept inside the Temple walls. Money changers would charge a fee for changing foreign coin into the coin of the Temple. It was convenient, but convenient does not always mean holy. The temple, instead of being a house of prayer—a place of reverence filled with psalms of praise and teaching of God’s word, became a congested, noisy center of commercial activity and corruption.
    The Gospel today refers to the temple of our body, and Saint Paul refers to the body of a Christian in right relationship with God as a “Temple of the Holy Spirit”. Your body, your heart, your self is meant to be a temple, a holy place where God dwells and where prayer to God is central.
    What goes wrong with the temples of our bodies is the same thing that went wrong with the Temple in Jerusalem. What is meant to be a house of prayer becomes a den of thieves, extortion, and corruption. The evils of the world tend to creep in when we are not vigilant.
    If Jesus Christ is not at the center of our hearts, then something else is. Just as he did in the temple, Jesus wants to make our hearts houses of prayer where his Father is honored above all else, he wants to drive sin out of our hearts and remove everything that stands as an obstacle to him. He wants to take up residence in our hearts to such an extent that we glorify God in everything we do, as we go about the many demands of day-to-day living.

    ✍️CB

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