Dear Sister and Brothers,
Christmas is a feast of joy, peace and love. It is a time to think of renewing our relationship with our family, friends and well-wishers. It’s a time of building relationship. Christian relationship is inclusive as it was in Jesus’ birth which had the Magi from the east, the shepherds from the fields and the Angels from Heaven. Relationship with our neighbors and with God based on Christian Love always calls for renewal. Our relationship includes all people without any distinction based on race, creed, color, language and gender.
Today’s celebration has the glamour of exteriority which blinds us to see the shocking realities of our society. Our global village is connected by modern technological development, but shattered by the modern social evils such as poverty, migration, homelessness, terrorism and religious intolerance. Sometime we ignore the plight of people who lost their human dignity, equality and rights.
The mystery of incarnation is a reminder of God’s involvement in Human life. God becoming human, like us, is a mystery but it is a clear indication that God cares for us. God journeys with us, God with us (Immanuel). The message of an angel was not just for Bethlehem it was for whole world. This message of love is given to us with an intention to proclaim to all, to the whole world.
May our journey of Advent with the theme of “ACT JUSTLY, LOVE TENDERLY and WALK HUMBLY WITH GOD” be actualized on this great feast of Christ’s birth. It doesn’t end with Christmas but we are called to continue journey of practicing this threefold virtues everyday of our lives.
MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR 2018!
Yours in Christ,
Ajith Kumar Antony Dass, ss.cc.
In the middle of a dark winter’s night in a small Midwest farming community, the two-story home of a young family caught fire. Quickly, parents and children followed their well-practiced emergency plan and made their way through the smoke-filled home out into the front yard. There the father quickly counted heads and realized that their 5-year-old son was not among them. Suddenly he heard a wail and looked up to see the boy at his bedroom window, crying and rubbing his eyes. Knowing the danger of reentering the house to rescue his son, the father called, “Jump, Son! I’ll catch you!” Between sobs, the boy responded to the voice he knew so well. “But, I can’t see you, Daddy!” The father answered with great assurance. “No, Son, you can’t see me, but I can see you! Jump!” At that, the boy jumped into the smoky darkness and found himself safely cradled in his father’s arms. Our scripture today is about trusting – about having faith – about being able to discern the fact that our God is always with us, even in storms of life.
2: Elizabeth Blackwell walked on water: For Elizabeth Blackwell “walking on water” meant something entirely different. Elizabeth Blackwell was born on February 3, 1821, in Bristol, England. As a girl, she moved with her family to the United States, where she first worked as a teacher. Elizabeth wanted to become a doctor in the 1840s. At the time, medical schools were only for men. Elizabeth Blackwell had to fight just to get in. Finally, at one school, Geneva College of Medicine in New York, the students voted to let her in as a joke. But the head of the school didn't know it was supposed to be a joke, and he let her in. When she got there, the students made fun of her. They refused to share their notes with her. Some professors tried to keep her out of their classes. She refused to give up. In 1849, she graduated at the head of her class. When no hospital would allow her to practice, she opened her own hospital. Then she opened a medical school to train women. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Blackwell) Elizabeth Blackwell courageously got out of the boat and walked on the roaring waters of opposition and gender discrimination in the medical profession. Today’s gospel tells us how Peter the apostle tried to walk on water and failed because of his weak faith in Jesus.
The first story talks about the trust we have in God and second deals with results of our Faith in Jesus.
In 1870, Pope Pius IX declared Joseph patron of the universal Church and instituted another feast, with an octave, to be held in his honour on Wednesday in the second week after Easter. This was abolished by Pope Pius XII, when in 1955 he established the Feast of "St. Joseph the Worker", to be celebrated on 1 May. This date joins with the May Day (International Workers' Day), a union, workers' and socialists' holiday commemorating the Haymarket affair in Chicago, and reflects Joseph's status as what many Catholics and other Christians consider the "patron of workers" and "model of workers." Catholic and other Christian teachings and stories about or relating to Joseph and the Holy Family frequently stress his patience, persistence, courage, and hard work.
The Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker (1 May) is an Optional Memorial, and so is omitted if impeded, unless the day is raised to a higher rank because Saint Joseph is the patron of the church, diocese, place, or institution. (However, the 1 May celebration is 1st class in the Tridentine calendar, so in it Saint Joseph the Worker was celebrated on 2 May in 2008 because 1 May was Ascension Thursday and in 2011 because 1 May was in the Easter octave.)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Risen Christ,
He is Risen!
This is the culmination of the Gospel, it is the Good News par excellence: Jesus, who was crucified, is risen! This event is the basis of our faith and our hope. The whole universe desires and moves towards Goodness, Truth, and Life. There is an old Vedic prayer which is also used in other religions:
Lord, Lead us from ignorance to Truth; Lead us from darkness to light; Lead us from death to life.
This prayer is fulfilled in Jesus Christ by his death and resurrection. He is the Lord who can lead us to truth, light and life because He is the Truth, Light and Life. He is risen to give us new life. If Christ were not raised, Christianity would lose its very meaning.
The message which Christians bring to the world is this: Jesus, Love incarnate, died on the cross for our sins, but God the Father raised him and made him the Lord of life and death. In Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over falsehood, life over death.
Today as we celebrate the Easter, do we hear the words of the Angel to women, “Do not be afraid”. Do not be afraid to encounter Christ in our daily lives, in every human situation and to proclaim Him to everyone. He is Risen and He is our Lord!
May this Easter bring newness into our hearts, families and community. May His new life spring out from our inner self to reach out to others who are seek God and His mercy.
Lord, we pray to you for all the peoples of the earth: you who have conquered death, grant us your life, grant us your peace!
Fr. Ajith Kumar, ss.cc.
Life in Palestine in the time of Jesus was hard. The popular means of transport was your feet. People walked long distances on rough, dusty roads to go from Galilee to Jerusalem, for example. Travellers often arrived their destinations with sore and aching feet. As a sign of hospitality, the host would see to it that his guests were given a warm foot bath and massage as a way of relieving their aches and pains. This was usually done by the house servants or slaves.
This service of bathing and soothing the tired feet were also provided by the rest houses or inns found at strategic locations along the major roads and highways. Travellers worn out along the way could go into these rest houses and have food and foot bath. Their energy thus restored they would then be able to continue and complete their long journey. That is how such rest houses along the way got the name "restaurants" -- they restored strength to tired and exhausted travellers on the way. The disciples would have understand Jesus washing their feet in light of this cultural background. And for us it is a pointer to the meaning of the Eucharist we celebrate.
Understood in light of the washing of feet, the Eucharist is a place of restoration for people on the way. The life of a Christian in the world is a pilgrimage, a long, hard journey. Along the way we get tired and worn out and we are tempted to give up and turn back. But Jesus has provided us with the Eucharist as a place where we can go in to bathe our aching feet and to be refreshed in body and soul for the journey that is still ahead. When we give communion to a sick person we call it viaticum which means "provisions for a journey." The Eucharist is always a viaticum: in the Eucharist we derive strength to continue our upward journey toward God.
In the story we find that Peter was uncomfortable with having Jesus wash his feet. Peter, who was somewhat of an activist, would have preferred to see himself doing the washing, washing the feet of Jesus and even of the other disciples. Sometimes it is harder to remain passive and allow someone else to bathe us than it is to bathe someone else, as every toddler can tell you. But having our feet washed and washing the feet of others are two sides of the coin we call the Christian life.
The first and most essential part is to let the Lord wash us. As Jesus said to Peter, "Unless I wash you, you have no share with me (John 13:8). First, the Lord washes us clean so that we belong to the Lord. Only then are we qualified and empowered to wash the feet of our sisters and brothers in the Lord. When this truth dawned on Peter, he overcame his reluctance and cried out, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" (v. 9). For this to happen all that the Lord needs from us is simply for us to be there, to present ourselves to him and to let him wash us
The other side of the coin, which is equally important, is that after our feet have been washed by the Lord, we must go and wash the feet of others. After Jesus had washed his disciples' feet, he said to them:
Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord -- and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you (John 13:12-15).
Jesus establishes a close link between him washing the disciples' feet and the disciples washing the feet of others. If the Eucharist is the place where the Lord washes our feet, daily life is the place where we ought to wash the feet of others. Eucharist leads to life leads to Eucharist. True Eucharist piety must lead to service of others. Jesus who broke the bread of the Eucharist also washed the feet of his disciples. We must follow his example both at the altar of the Eucharist and at the altar of Life.
Our Pastoral Plan is a product of many minds and hearts working together to envision the growth of our Parish community.
In August 2016, Bishop Larry had made his canonical visit to OLS, during which he blessed and launched our Pastoral Plan. Since then there have been different meeting to grasp and internalize the PP as a guide and road map,
We had a workshop for the Parish Council, Ministry Leaders, and other meetings. Now we have come to the point of disseminating this plan to the whole parish. So, this weekend of 2/11 - 12 there will be short presentation of our pastoral plan, which has five major fields of concentration.
Our Pastoral Plan is named as "Our Journey with Jesus". Our life is seen as a Journey and as members of OLS we are not alone. Our Journey is always accompanied by Jesus and our faith community. As we Journey, we have plans for stop over, things to carry, people to accompany,etc.
Our Journey has five elements, as Christians we are by the fact of our Baptism called to proclaim Christ (Evangelisation), to take care of people and facilities given to us (Stewardship). To do these two we need to deepen our faith (Faith Formation) and skills (leadership) and we begin it from me and my nuclear church, family (Marriage & Family Life)
Today’s readings invite us to rejoice at the rebirth of Jesus in our lives as we are preparing for our annual Christmas celebration. Today is called Gaudete Sunday because today’s Mass begins with the opening antiphon: “Gaudete in Domino semper,” i.e., “Rejoice in the Lord always.” So, to express our joy in the coming of Jesus as our Savior into our hearts and lives, we light the rose candle in the Advent wreath.
One Hasidic story tells of a pious Jew who asked his rabbi, "For about forty years I have opened the door for Elijah every Seder night, waiting for him to come, but he never does. What is the reason?" The rabbi answered, "In your neighborhood there lives a very poor family with many children. Call on the man and propose to him that you and your family celebrate the next Passover at his house, and for this purpose provide him and his whole family with everything necessary for the eight days of Passover. Then on the Seder night Elijah will certainly come." The man did as the rabbi told him, but after Passover he came back and claimed that again he had waited in vain to see Elijah. The rabbi answered, "I know very well that Elijah came on the Seder night to the house of your poor neighbor. But of course you could not see him." And the rabbi held a mirror before the face of the man and said, "Look, this was Elijah's face that night.”
This leads me to the question John asked: “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” the waiting for messiah is not sorrowful but joyful, not discouraging but encouraging this joy has to be shared with one another as Rabbi shared his joy and made the poor rejoiced. This is the invitation of this Sunday to each one of us. Let us rejoice in waiting for the lord and also share this joy with others with joyful attitude.
Scripture lessons: The prophet Isaiah, in the first reading, encourages the exiled Jews in Babylon to rejoice because their God is going to liberate them from slavery and lead them safely to their homeland. In the second reading, James the Apostle encourages the early Christians to rejoice and wait with patience for the imminent second coming of Jesus. Finally, in the first part of today’s Gospel reading, Jesus encourages John the Baptist in prison to rejoice by casting away his wrong expectations about the Messiah and simply accepting Jesus’ healing and preaching ministry as the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah. In the second part of today’s Gospel, Matthew presents Jesus, the true Messiah, paying the highest compliments to John the Baptist as his herald and the last of the prophets, and giving special credit to the courage of John’s prophetic convictions, asking his listeners to rejoice in the greatness of his herald.
1) We need to learn how to survive a Faith crisis:
3) We need to open our hearts and let God transform our lives:
2) “Go and tell others what you hear and see.”